Turnaround churches: Can Baptists learn from Anglicans?

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If turning around a declining church were easy, more declining churches would be reversing course.

And if Christians in the United States think turning around a church is difficult, think of trying it in the Church of England, where tradition reaches back hundreds of years and hierarchical structure often hamstrings changes local congregations want to make.

But Bob and Mary Hopkins believe fresh expressions—a term they prefer over “revitalizing a congregation”—can come even to Anglican churches in the United Kingdom.

Although they began—and continue—as church planters in urban settings with Anglican Church Planting Initiatives, from 1998 to 2005, the Hopkins served on the leadership team of St. Thomas’ Church in Sheffield, which grew to 1,500 in attendance, primarily reaching young adults with emerging culture interests.

They acknowledge cultural differences between the United Kingdom and the United States, but they emphasize that differences favor American churches. According to the Hopkins, culture in the United Kingdom is more influenced by secular atheism and is further into an era being called post-Christendom. The Brits have fewer megachurches and a greater percentage of smaller congregations. In addition, their congregations are attended by older people—average age 61—with fewer financial resources.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church Growth* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists

Posted February 28, 2010 at 3:03 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Terry Tee wrote:

If I recall correctly, St Thomas, Sheffield, was a high-profile creation-centred spirituality church, lauded by Matthew Fox, which then ca 1995 went into a spectacular crash and burn.  Clearly it has continued innovative ministry under more mainstream evangelical management, and continued to appeal to many young adults.  I congratulate them on a difficult job done well, to the glory of the Lord.  Even so, I read the article with some misgivings.  Liturgical churches, Catholic or Anglican, do not fit easily into the small flexible model proposed by the couple.  I also wondered about fragmentation.  If there are small groups all over the place, what is your sense of belonging to the greater Body of Christ?  Finally, after reading it I went out to celebrate the Sunday evening Mass.  As usual, around 200 people, many of them young adults.  I do sometimes wonder what it is that draws them.  The Mass is said, no music, low-key, the sermon orientated towards younger adults, but nothing dramatic.  Still, they come.  I think the ingredients are simple but profound.  A beautiful church, a reflective atmosphere, scripture and sacrament, a chance to chill out at the end of one busy week and before plunging into another.  I hope this is not hubris - there is much in our liturgy that we could do better - but my point is that it is not necessarily great innovation that draws people.

March 1, 6:21 am | [comment link]
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