As our Archdeacons start the conversation on how we can continue to follow the growth agenda and look to become a bigger church making a bigger difference we begin to look at the different areas of the consultation document. This week we look at the challenges we face.
When the Growth Agenda was launched in 2011 and updated in 2013 we faced some clear challenges. The context of the world in which we are called to ministry and mission is changing and challenging. We want, in our thoughts, prayers and planning, to be ready to accept and embrace that need for change whilst pursuing a faithful obedience to the Gospel.
The Growth Conversation paper recognises four sharp realities we face.
1. Church attendance has been in fairly relentless decline and whilst initially we began to change this we have reducing attendance levels.
2. We have less stipendiary clergy. We have to select and train more people if we are to avoid longer vacancies.
3. Our congregations are getting older. The average age of a church attender is 61 and only 0.6% of 18 to 24 year olds attend church. That is a startling figure.
4. The national church has agreed we cannot subsidise decline – we need to fashion a vibrant church.
In our conversation we need to face these realities and agree a way forward. The challenges are not for negotiation, they cannot be changed for they represent the clear reality the church faces. We can control our response and this is what this conversation is about. We have carried out work to:
• Develop local leaders
• Encourage vocations
• Explore the sustainability of individual churches
• Tackle the buildings issue
• Make good appointments
• Grow our giving base
• Find ways to make parish life, mission and ministry easier
Take part in the conversation.
Are you clear about the current realities and the challenges we face? Is this the reality that you see in your congregation, your parish, your church? Should we continue to work on the seven areas we have listed about? Give us your views. Check out the side box for links to our social media pages and email address.