mission shaped church
they want to be. The reality is that for most people across England the
Church as it is is peripheral, obscure, confusing or irrelevant.
different responses are needed
These five groups in the diagram might be considered to be different tribes
for a missionary to face. Each needs a different approach. The sober reality
is that we do most of our evangelism, and even our church planting, among
the 30 per cent nearest to us the fringe and open de churched. But the
stark question remains: what of our mission to the remaining 60 per cent
of the nation?
Any apostolic church that derives its nature from the apostolic (or sending)
character of God has no option but to face its mission to the non churched,
even if this is at the cost of finding new ways of being and doing church to
exist alongside what we do and are at present.
The task is to become church for them, among them and
with them, and under the Spirit of God to lead them to
become church in their own culture.
The gap is as wide as any that is experienced by a cross cultural missionary.
It will require a reworking of language and approach, and it is here that both
church planting and fresh expressions of church offer real possibilities.
there is also a time bomb
The Church of England has for generations relied on a `returners' strategy
that young people will one day come back to church, perhaps when they
are older and wiser, or perhaps when they have young families of their own.
But this optimistic approach is seriously flawed. Sunday school figures for
the United Kingdom over the last century reveal the general collapse of
connection and engagement with children and young people.
We are becoming a nation of non churched people in terms of Sunday
school contact. Even by the end of the First World War, the majority of
children were not in Sunday school. Those who were 10 years old in 1950
are now fast approaching retirement, and of them 70 per cent were not
in Sunday school. That means that the majority of even the elderly are non
churched. The Youth Strategy and Children's Strategies of the Archbishops'
Council will seek to bring new life to the Church's involvement among
children and young people, both through the development of Church
schools, and through imaginative approaches to evangelism. These