Here’s a new resource: The Church Army‘s Sheffield Center Online Library of Evangelism Research. Free papers on evangelism and fresh expressions. Finally, a research hub for thinking about new ways of being church. Granted, they’re in the United Kingdom, which they describe this way: “Britain after Christendom is becoming a foreign mission field.”
I wasn’t raised in the church. As a child, I had no notion that there were real people who gathered, Sunday by Sunday, to worship God. The idea that I might do such a thing never occurred to me. Even today, my circle of friends includes both those raised in the church and those who can’t imagine darkening its door. Was the landscape of my childhood a foreign mission field? Well, yes. Yes, it was.
The situation in Great Britain has changed even more significantly than in the U.S. From the page Evangelism after Christendom:
For the past 1,000 years in Britain, whilst at no time could one count on the church attendance of most of the adult population, children by and large had an upbringing in which experience of church and Christian faith would have been a part. During the 20th Century however all this changed. At the start of the century about 80% of those under 15 had at least monthly contact through Sunday school, church attendance or some form of Christian youth work. By the end of the century this had fallen to 12%.
In the light of this it is not surprising that church populations are aging far faster than the population at large and many churches have almost no members under 40. If we carry on doing evangelism the same way this situation only looks likely to get worse. We need to find a new way to do evangelism as Christendom fades.
The situation in the United States is different — the numbers aren’t in such stark decline — but the reality is that we also need to find a new way to do evangelism as Christendom fades. It’s good to have another resource in that effort. I only wish we had something similar on this side of the pond!
Check out the whole Sheffield Center site; it’s both encouraging and challenging. Is anything like this happening in the United States?
Good to meet you! I’m Nurya…
Welcome!Here, a mother and priest chronicles her attempts at practicing resurrection. This sometimes involves small children and organizations known as "church." Other times it just means telling the truth. Occasionally chickens are mentioned. Click "About" for more...
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