When the church pulls in the crowds

I don’t often comment on religious matters; it’s been some time since I could describe myself as “evangelical” and I’ve only rarely darkened the door of my local church since I became a minister. But a comment I just heard on BBC 24 has tweaked my interest. Supporters of the liberal wing of the Anglican church are warning their more evangelical brethren that their opposition to gay marriage and women priests is in danger of making the church irrelevant to 21st century society, and that consequently, the church will wither.

I make no value judgment on this, but in my experience, it’s evangelical churches, the ones who actually stand up for what they believe (and for what they believe the Bible says) and who are often in direct conflict with current social values, which are growing; the “mainstream” church seems to be the one withering on the vine.

I used to be a member of Queens Park Baptist Church whose evangelicalism and literal interpretation of the Bible clearly had some attractiveness – it grew in membership to the extent that it had to purchase a new building and split the congregation so that people would have somewhere to sit! My old friend, David McCarthy, who’s the vicar over at St Silas in Glasgow’s west end, and who writes the Gadegtvicar blog, is an authority on this.

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3 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Church, Hinterland, Society

3 responses to “When the church pulls in the crowds

  1. Richard

    As the Earl of Onslow once said: “At the turn of the century, the Church of England were pro-fox-hunting and anti-buggery. Now they’re pro-buggery and anti-fox-hunting.”

    Personally I subscribe to Richard Dawkins’ analysis of the situation when he describes comparative religion as being like an argument over which imaginary friend is better placed to tell you how to run your life…

  2. But, thankfully, the C0E is not a one size fits all. Nor is the 21st Century a universal set of values against which you can judge relevance.

  3. I had the privilege of seeing around Queen’s Park Baptist Church when there at a conference in 2006 and was well-impressed with the facilities they had for the local youth.

    My favourite memory of the day was sharing the gospel and my considerable lunch with some homeless people gathered under one of the arches.

    I was surprised how many of them had a faith in Christ, but on reflection, I think people who have experienced real suffering have a greater spiritual awareness.

    Maybe you were right; maybe we have had it too good (materialistically), so that the nation’s spirituality has been replaced by a mockery of things holy, wise, virtuous, honourable and decent to the detriment of the whole of society.

    I hope you can visit the church more often, Mr Harris. The gospel is the blueprint for a peaceful and decent society and we can all – including politicians – learn a great deal from it.

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