Thursday 5 April 2018

The Bible in Transmission (Spring 2018) on Challenging Church: Growth, Change and Diversity

The latest issue of The Bible in Transmission, from Bible Society, is available online here, offering a collection of articles on the theme of ‘Challenging Church: Growth, Change and Diversity’.

I have taken the ‘tasters’ of articles below from Chine McDonald’s editorial.

The prevailing narrative coming from research into church attendance suggests that the Church in the UK could now be in irreversible decline. In our opening article, David Goodhew, the Director of the Centre for Church Growth Research in Durham, raises the disturbing question as to whether this decline has, in part, theological roots. Goodhew argues that we need to be liberated from such thinking. As he says, ‘Having a nuanced theology of church growth will assist churches in growing numerically, but doing so in a godly way.’

Although the prevailing narrative is of a Church in decline, the picture is perhaps a little more complex than we might think, as Dr Rhiannon McAleer, Bible Society’s Head of Research, explores in her article. McAleer’s statistical overview of the UK Church demonstrates that although there is decline, there are also pockets of hope, in which denominations are seeing signs of flourishing in terms of church planting and growth. 

Israel Olofinjana, a member of the training team at the Centre for Missionaries from the Majority World, explores the impact of black majority churches in Britain and world mission.

Dr Harvey Kwiyani, lecturer in African Christianity and Theology at Liverpool Hope University, explores growing churches, migration and multiculturalism in more detail.

Examining the issue of migration from a theological and biblical perspective, Father Beck challenges Christians to properly understand migration so that the Church as a community may more closely reflect what it means to be the people of God.

Growth is a sign of life. As Linda Rayner explains, the Fresh Expressions movement is just one of the ways in which churches are adapting to the times, changing where they meet and the way in which they do things in order to fulfil the Great Commission.

Another movement that has begun to emerge in recent years is Together for the Common Good. In her article, Jenny Sinclair explains how the principle of seeking the common good can untap the potential of churches, build relationships and strengthen communities.

A story we seldom hear in discussions about church growth is the signs of hope and flourishing taking place within rural churches. But it is time to tell a new story, writes Jill Hopkinson.

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