Dear <<First Name>>,
I hope you enjoyed Simon Cross’ reflections from Fiji; it’s clear that his time there will inform his future ministry and we wish him well in his continued studies.
Now we turn to a related theme. One of the facets of the life of the Church now is growth in the non Western Church coupled with severe decline in the Western Church. Mainline denominations struggle with the best ways to resource churches with ministers, and congregations struggle to have enough volunteers to keep them going. Some denominations, including ourselves, have increased the number of volunteer ministers they ordain – and widened the scope of the work they do – but, at the same time, “rationalised” the number of churches/parishes to make a ministerial load easier.
Patterns of Church life and Biblical interpretation which were conveyed by the Colonial era missionaries have often (but not always) become the mainstream views in these still growing churches in the global south churches whilst, in the West, the insights of 19th and 20th Century scholarship have meant often (but not always) a more complex understanding of the Bible and its various authors and editors has prevailed. In the West most churches are in decline; those that aren’t grab the headlines but often lose people as quickly as new converts join.
Over the next week Gethin Rhys, Policy Officer for Cytûn: Churches Together in Wales, will help us muse on some reasons why the Church in the West is in decline – given our history Gethin is perhaps surprised that the Church has survived here at all – and sites the decline of the Church in our colonial history which we’ve not yet faced up to, repented of, nor sought to put right.
I think it will be a stimulating week of reflections!
With every good wish
The Rev’d Andy Braunston
Minister for Digital Worship