Monthly Archives: April 2012

Church Attendance & Belief in God

At our service yesterday morning I shared some of the details of a report that I read recently from The Church Army. For me, as a church leader, it makes challenging reading.

If you want to read the report yourself you can read a summary of it entitled: How does church attendance relate to beliefs and values? Or you can read the report itself on pages 7-10 of their publication Tomorrow’s Evangelism, it is entitled: Lies, dammed lies, and statistics: what do statistics really tell us?

The most challenging aspect for me, and what I preached on this morning, is the question of the uniqueness of the Christian faith. What I find deeply challenging in the Church Army article is how the understanding of this question relates to frequency of church involvement.

This really started me thinking. I had a conversation with someone at the end of the service who suggested that there were maybe less than 10 people in our church community who are there at every Sunday service! I don’t think it is quite that bad, but our of an Electoral Roll of 92 I could think of less than 15 people who are involved every Sunday morning! That in itself worries me. However I know St Paul’s is not alone in that the regularity of attendance at public worship is now less than I think it has ever been before, and that includes those who would consider themselves part of the core of church membership.

Sunday has changed and there are many reasons people don’t worship every week, indeed the term ‘regularly’ is often understood these days as being once a fortnight, or even once a month. Those reasons include Sunday sports and leisure, families who are geographically distant, the breakdown of family life for many, and a plethora of other attractions now on Sundays that compete for our attention and participation. As a church leader for instance I know that on a hot sunny Sunday in spring attendance at church services will be reduced, sometimes significantly!

I find this hard as I was brought up with the understanding that worship and God came first, above and before anything and everything else. If I could physically get out of bed on a Sunday morning I went to worship. As our children grew up this was the norm for our family which meant saying no to sports and other activities. As they are now grown up both our children know that we are not available on a Sunday morning, not just because I’m a vicar, but because worship and God simply come first.

Even more worrying is the correlation that the Church Army highlight of frequency of church involvement with belief in the Uniqueness of Christianity. In the report they correlate frequency of church involvement with the answers to the following question:

These are statements one sometimes hears. Please choose the statement that best describes your view?
1 – There is only one true religion
2 – There is only one true religion, but other religions do contain some basic truths as well
3 – There is not one true religion, but all great world religions contain some basic truths
4 – None of the great religions have any truths to offer

Approx 60% of those who are involved in churches on a weekly basis answered either that ‘there is only one true religion’ or that ‘there is only one true religion, but other religions do contain some basic truths as well’ leaving nearly 40% to answer ‘there is not one true religion, but all great world religions contain some basic truths’ – this 40% statistic is worrying to me, however it is the next set of statistics that is even more worrying. For those who are involved less than weekly (a significant proportion of those involved now in many churches) nearly 60% say that ‘there is not one true religion, but all great world religions contain some basic truths.’ The article suggests that those who attend less than weekly should perhaps be viewed as ‘partly-churched’ or as ‘church-fringe.’

This raises lots, and lots of questions. What, for instance, does it say about monthly or bi-monthly services for families like our Tea Service or Messy Church (or monthly 8am Traditional Communion services)? What difference in our understanding of our church communities would it make if we only counted those who were involved on at least a weekly basis? How do we understand discipleship, are we preaching and teaching a form on ‘Christianity lite’?

If you want to listen to my sermon from this morning on the question: Is there only one true religion, or are there many paths to God? you can find it here.

Blogs Links & Quotable Quotes

Here is my weekly roundup of things I’ve been reading and quotes that I thought I’d pass on.

The first blog post is a MUST READ:

  • The Pastors Wife is Simply a Wife – This is a really helpful article explaining something that very few people understand. Why then, when I posted this on Facebook, was it only liked by my wife and another minister’s wife!

Here are other things I’ve been reading/watching that I found interesting:

 And here are some quotable quotes:

  • ‘The only thing that Christianity cannot be is moderately important.’ C.S. Lewis
  • ‘Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.’
  • Are you an Anglican or an Anglican’t?
  • “I know God will not give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.” Mother Teresa
  • The average man or woman laughs 6 times a day. The average child laughs 150 times a day. Jesus encourages us to be more like children.
  • Here is the test to find whether your mission on earth is finished. If you’re alive, it isn’t.
  • Jesus promised his disciples 3 things: to be ‘absurdly happy, completely fearless, and in constant trouble.’

Bethel Music UK Tour: Southampton

During my sabbatical I spent a month in Redding California visiting Bethel Church. For me the best part of my time there was the worship. Whether it was at the conference I attended, the services, the Healing Rooms, the Diamond Fellowship or the housegroup I visited, there was an deep awareness of God’s presence as his people worshiped.

Bethel’s worship team is coming to the UK for a tour next month and will be coming to Southampton. If your interested in going details can be found here:

Blogs Links & Quotable Quotes

Again, some things that I have been reading on the blogsphere, along with some quotable quotes I’ve collected. Hope they’re helpful:

Quotable Quotes:
  • What if the CofE became a planet of the APEs? A landscape full of apostles, prophets and evangelists? Instead of a haven for pastor/teachers!
  • ‘Do not be afraid’ appears in the bible 366 times – once for every day of 2012.
  • You are not controlled by your circumstances. You are controlled by the experience of God you’re having within them.
  • Prayer is not a “spare wheel” that you pull out when in trouble, but it is a “steering wheel” that directs the right path throughout.
  • A Car’s WINDSHIELD is so large & the Rear view Mirror is so small? Because our PAST is not as important as our FUTURE. So, Look Ahead and Move on.
  • Friendship is like a BOOK. It takes few seconds to burn, but it takes years to write.
  • All things in life are temporary. If going well, enjoy it, they will not last forever. If going wrong, don’t worry, they can’t last long either.
  • Old Friends are Gold! New Friends are Diamond! If you get a Diamond, don’t forget the Gold! Because to hold a Diamond, you always need a Base of Gold!
  • Often when we lose hope and think this is the end, GOD smiles from above and says, “Relax, sweetheart, it’s just a bend, not the end!
  • When GOD solves your problems, you have faith in HIS abilities; when GOD doesn’t solve your problems HE has faith in your abilities.
  • A blind person asked St. Anthony: “Can there be anything worse than losing eye sight?” He replied: “Yes, losing your vision!”
  • When you pray for others, God listens to you and blesses them, and sometimes, when you are safe and happy, remember that someone has prayed for you.
  • WORRYING does not take away tomorrow’s TROUBLES, it takes away today’s PEACE.

Hope To See You on Sunday

Well, the sabbatical has ended. We finished with a great week’s holiday in York where Bella revisited some sites of her younger years. And while we were the the Queen decided to pop in as well, some photos are below.

I started back yesterday and am busy preparing the services and my sermons for Sunday. I know that the Sunday after Easter is traditionally called ‘Low Sunday’ because attendance is low, but let’s make it high Sunday. As an incentive the Vicar has a special gift for everyone who comes to our morning service, 10.30am at St Paul’s.

We will also be having a special ecumenical evening service with the HOTS team and anyone else who wants to come at 6.30pm (there might even be some special gifts left over from the morning!).

Hope to see lots of you on Sunday,



Blogs, Links & Quotable Quotes

Firstly an apology, I am in the process of changing the appearance of my website and installing a new theme, yesterday WordPress emailed a number of sample posts to everyone. Please delete and ignore them. Normal service is renewed and the site will be undated in the coming days with a new look.

Here are things that I’ve found to be interesting and that I’ve been reading, hope you enjoy them as well.

Links & blog Posts:

Quotable Quotes:

  • “95% of today’s church activities would continue if the Holy Spirit were removed from us. In the early Church, 95% of all her activites would have stopped if the Holy Spirit were removed.” Billy Graham
  • Jesus didn’t go to the cross so we wouldn’t have to. He went to the cross so we could join him there. Dallas Willard
  • There’s no such thing as a junior Holy Spirit.
  • We need to stop being unbelieving believers.
  • Some of us, our heart got saved years ago but our faces never got the message!
  • The light that shines the fathest shines the brightest at home.
  • The move of God is always strengthened when it goes out.
  • You can either impact the world or you can have the best party on the Titanic.