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Source: (consider it) Thread: Reverse evangelism
leo
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
f we are all saved, even after corrective discipline, why bother going to church anyway?

To celebrate that fact. To receive strength to tell others presently living in fear.

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Ethne Alba
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Thank you Leo...i was still slightly alarmed at the golf club/ church comment [Paranoid]

[ 02. February 2017, 17:50: Message edited by: Ethne Alba ]

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Martin60
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
quote:
Originally posted by Martin60, slightly edited by me (bold):
Purgatory is a long walk to paradise until we're all sufficiently better. Healed, therapied, restituted, reconciled with all we've wronged and been wronged by, educated, trained, ready. Ready to contribute, to serve. As in the end of the most beautiful film ever made, Tree of Life. I doubt many of us if any will be ready when we wake up.

I imagine if it exists, Purgatory is going to be a painful process for most of us. I suspect the only ones who will move through it quickly will be those who have learned how to be fully-functioning, forgiving, penitant, loving people in this life.
I never want the walk to end personally. That is paradise for me.

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by Ethne Alba:
Thank you Leo...i was still slightly alarmed at the golf club/ church comment [Paranoid]

OK I pushed that one way too far! Apologies.

How though do we define our (2017) understanding of what it means to belong? Do we belong because we go along, or because we join in or once we have accepted the core values and beliefs of the group/organisation?

If we do belong once we go along, then we should be allowed input into vision and direction. I've thought about it but can't find any church that does that ... they all require some kind of visible commitment (membership[/Electoral Roll/etc) before that's possible. Just seems a disconnect here.

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Baptist Trainfan
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You will of course know that, in Baptist churches, there are legal issues in that only "signed-on-the-line" church members can be responsible (and are liable) for major decisions such as calling a Minister or rebuilding the property. Of course, in small informal groups you can just say that "we all belong", but things get harder when tangible "things" such as money and buildings are involved.

However, if we specify beliefs as a criterion for belonging, then one can go for a very detailed exposition (39 Articles, EA Statement of Faith, Westminster Confession) or a much looser and less well-defined one (BUGB Declaration of Principle).

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mr cheesy
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I've often wondered how that works with the Quakers, who obviously also have buildings and other expenses. Do you have some kind of membership roll.. anyone?

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SvitlanaV2
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ExclamationMark

'Belonging' is more than membership. The obvious example here is the CofE - whether or not one is confirmed isn't really the litmus test of feeling at home there. As I said in my previous post, I think for many people belonging is about more community.

Statisticians have found that focusing on members only is an inaccurate way of establishing how many people attend and benefit from worship in some denominations (e.g. particularly Pentecostal ones). In some cases, many or even most worshippers in a given congregation may not be 'in membership' at all. Could we really say that these people - who in some cases may attend more regularly than actual members - don't belong?

Actually, it occurs to me that these days official church membership is often of more benefit to institutions than to individuals. People may want to serve and support their churches, but the official duties of membership don't seem very attractive to many. This is most obvious when it comes to young Christians. I think Peter Brierley has made this point.

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ExclamationMark
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
ExclamationMark

'Belonging' is more than membership. The obvious example here is the CofE - whether or not one is confirmed isn't really the litmus test of feeling at home there. As I said in my previous post, I think for many people belonging is about more community.

Statisticians have found that focusing on members only is an inaccurate way of establishing how many people attend and benefit from worship in some denominations (e.g. particularly Pentecostal ones). In some cases, many or even most worshippers in a given congregation may not be 'in membership' at all. Could we really say that these people - who in some cases may attend more regularly than actual members - don't belong?

Actually, it occurs to me that these days official church membership is often of more benefit to institutions than to individuals. People may want to serve and support their churches, but the official duties of membership don't seem very attractive to many. This is most obvious when it comes to young Christians. I think Peter Brierley has made this point.

I certainly agree that belonging is more than membership. But, if you claim to belong wont you want to take part in more than just coming on a Sunday? Isn't that a very individualistic view of faith?

From my POV the definition of belonging seems to have been revised to resemble "an association with" not "a commitment to." The former to me represents a more accurate understanding of the church as we find it in the NT.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
'Belonging' is more than membership. The obvious example here is the CofE - whether or not one is confirmed isn't really the litmus test of feeling at home there.

Yes, and the CofE has real problems in defining who is "in" and who is "out". Electoral rolls seem to bear little relationship to faith or commitment, more formal "membership" doesn't fit well with being a "Church for everyone". It has to sort this out but might find that impossible while it is still Established.
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goperryrevs
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
From my POV the definition of belonging seems to have been revised to resemble "an association with" not "a commitment to." The former to me represents a more accurate understanding of the church as we find it in the NT.

I understand and sympathise with your perspective. However, I think there's a deeper outworking in terms of how we love our neighbour. ISTM that Jesus' way was to ignore standard structures and barriers of belonging and not belonging - cultural, religious, class, and so on.

Jesus treated everyone as if they 'belonged'. Especially those whom society rejected: the woman at the well; lepers; tax collectors; prostitutes.

Although I understand your concern from a organisational / structural perspective, it seems to me it's asking the wrong question. Perhaps, rather than questioning "Does this person belong properly or not?", we should ask "How can we ensure people feel as if they belong, whoever they are?".

Sadly, we often get this wrong. I remember the Christian Union at my university was clique-city. We HAVE to get away from that. To welcome all, as Christ welcomes all. That's not easy, and it might involve putting our default categories to one side.

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Gamaliel
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Establishment or the lack thereof has precious little to do with it, Baptist Trainfan.

The Church in Wales has been Disestablished since 1920. The Church of Ireland for longer.

Has either of those satisfactorily 'resolved' the issues of who is 'in' and who 'isn't'?

ISTM that non-conformists, and particularly Baptists, make a bigger deal out of the Establishment issue than many Anglicans.

A bigger issue, it seems to me, is how the parish system equates with or cuts across different styles of churchman ship.

If you are an Anglo-Catholic living within the boundaries of an evangelical parish, or vice-versa, then you ain't going to feel too happy on a Sunday morning ...

Try as you might, you ain't ever going to feel like you 'belong' - unless you dilute your Anglo-Catholicism or your evangelicalism to some extent.

Equally, if you are simply one of the locals and roll up to your nearest parish church one day you may or may not like what you see ... So you'll never darken the door of any church ...

The community thing is key, I think, but that has to develop organically. You can cultivate it but not force it.

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Gamaliel
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I cross-posted with Goperryrevs. Absolutely. I completely agree. It's easier said than done, though.

I can see what EM is getting at but I don't know how we ensure that anyone coming in has the opportunity to shape and mould the direction of travel, as it were. Most churches operate according to a template. Even if they are 'new' or 'emergent' they soon develop one.

I saw this time and again with the restorationist 'new churches'. Reinventing the wheel every five minutes. We used to joke that God had a short memory or was continually changing his mind ...

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Gamaliel:
If you are an Anglo-Catholic living within the boundaries of an evangelical parish, or vice-versa, then you ain't going to feel too happy on a Sunday morning ...

Try as you might, you ain't ever going to feel like you 'belong' - unless you dilute your Anglo-Catholicism or your evangelicalism to some extent.

Equally, if you are simply one of the locals and roll up to your nearest parish church one day you may or may not like what you see ... So you'll never darken the door of any church ...

Yes, I've often thought this is a real problem for Anglican churches that want to be "the church for the parish" - although we probably need to accept that we now live in a consumerist (and mobile) society which means that people will make choices ...
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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
I certainly agree that belonging is more than membership. But, if you claim to belong wont you want to take part in more than just coming on a Sunday? Isn't that a very individualistic view of faith?

From my POV the definition of belonging seems to have been revised to resemble "an association with" not "a commitment to." The former to me represents a more accurate understanding of the church as we find it in the NT.

I agree that a sense of community, if that's what people are looking for, is likely to be developed if church folk communicate more than once a week. But you don't need to be a member to turn up for a midweek prayer group, or for a senior member of the church to turn up to your house and help you with your new baby. (I suppose that different congregations or denominations will have their own rules about this sort of thing, though.)

Regarding how non-members would influence decision-making in their congregations, I'd say that even members can find it difficult to have significant influence! The Ship is full of church members, lay and ordained, who'd like to change the culture of their congregations in some way but find it incredibly difficult to do so! As an 'ordinary' member you may have a vote in a church meeting, but it could be argued that that has little to do with real influence. Again, that must depend on the church in question.

Your thoughts about association versus commitment is interesting. There's a lot less commitment in all walks of life, and we have far more choices than we had years ago.

[ 03. February 2017, 19:19: Message edited by: SvitlanaV2 ]

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SvitlanaV2
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I've been reflecting on the Church of Sweden. Though disestablished, it receives some of its income from taxes collected by the state. It's also more unified in terms of churchmanship, and doesn't have or need a significant evangelical wing.

The advantage of all this is that the CofSw is more in tune with the expectations of the surrounding population. It doesn't have to attempt the impossible task of reconciling struggling factions within itself while also claiming to speak with or for the non-churchgoing majority.

IMO the CofE would feel more at ease it it could become more like the CofSw. It would lose a proportion of its most conservative worshippers, but they (and their money) would be free to serve their evangelistic purposes independently, while the CofE would be able to present a more harmonious and less alienating face to the wider secularised society.

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by mr cheesy:
I've often wondered how that works with the Quakers, who obviously also have buildings and other expenses. Do you have some kind of membership roll.. anyone?

Friends' meetings have people called "members" and other people called "regular attenders" or something, I think. AFAIK, both sets of people are listed on some kind of list. I assume the formal business of the meeting (property ownership and similar legal relationships) is overseen by the members. Hopefully one of our shipmate Friends will come along and correct me.
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Gamaliel
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I know an Anglican cleric who was ordained in the Church in Sweden and he would very much be in tune with that perspective, SvitlanaV2.

Thing is, the Church in Sweden looks incredibly bland to me. It's antiseptic in a wholesome but ultimately sterile way. I'm not saying Scandinavians don't have 'style' but IKEA is a bit soulless ...

There are problems with having the breadth of churchmanship which Anglicanism affords but I can't see that many people opting for a somewhat sterile Scandinavian option.

There are evangelical and Pentecostal denominations in Sweden, of course. So it's not as if the Church of Sweden is the only option.

The harsh reality with the CofE, of course, is that if all the conservatives left, taking their parish share with them, then it'd knock a big hole on their funds.

The scenario you depict would also presuppose a CofE where the left-hand knew what the right hand was doing. The CofE is far too unmanageable to adopt an IKEA solution.

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SvitlanaV2
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It may be a good thing that Swedish evangelicals exist in separate denominations. It creates a clear division of labour; as I said, the independent evangelicals are free to engage in evangelism as they see fit, while the CofSw focuses on its role of representing the nation's religious heritage and offering a tolerant version of Christianity.

Also, as I noted, the CofSw benefits from state taxes, reducing the reliance on evangelical congregations with money. This means the endless fuss about Dead Horse issues - with all the associated bad PR that folks on the Ship worry about - is kept at a minimum.

The CinSw may be rather bland, but if that's what the Swedes want and expect, what's the problem? It's not as if church worship is (or is expected to be) a way for life for any but a tiny number of them.

Regarding the unmanageability of the CofE, you make that sound a bit like a badge of pride!

[Biased]

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Gamaliel
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So the CofE should be state funded? How would that work?

As for Swedes expecting their church to be bland ... Well, obviously those who turn to the more full-on evangelical and charismatic churches don't expect that, otherwise they'd stay put in the Church in Sweden.

Those Swedes I know, whilst not wanting full-on evangelicalism tell me that there's either widespread religious indifference or else people are turning to exotic New Agey stuff or revivals of pagan Norse religion.

I'm not saying that the CofE is unmanageable with pride - simply stating a fact.

I often find with your posts that you present completely unworkable solutions to perceived problems as if the church is some kind of business organisation that could be sorted out by a wise CEO and a bit of common sense. It doesn't work like that.

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SvitlanaV2
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Gamaliel

Let's be honest. In real life most 'solutions' to the problems of our churches are unworkable. Few people really expect our churches to change significantly for the better. They're going to chug along in the same old way until they don't. I know that.

But I find it more interesting to propose some solutions, even weird ones, than to come to the Ship just to grumble. I don't expect anyone to care too much either way, though. You're free to take it or leave it.

I agree, there's some weird stuff in Sweden. Cool place, though. Fond memories, etc.

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SvitlanaV2
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(FWIW, the idea that the CofE should more closely resemble the CofSw isn't original to me. It's apparently suggested by Linda Woodhead and Andrew Brown in their recent controversial book, That Was the Church That Was. If anyone here has read the book I'd be very interested to read some comments, perhaps on a new thread.)
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Curiosity killed ...

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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
Well, this is the thing. Clergymen don't tell their congregations that 'built-in senescence' is okay, and indeed to be accepted or even welcomed.

Um, no, we followed a book by Stephen Croft for Lent one year, called Jesus' People: What the Church should do next?. In that book +Croft queries the church models of growth and suggests that it would be better for churches accept the Biblical model of the vine. If we model churches on the vine we can accept that branches grow and wither, that some areas need to be pruned and the whole plant has bursts of growth and needs time to lie fallow and recover.

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SvitlanaV2
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Now that suggests yet another response to the OP: Stop worrying about the best way to evangelise and just go with the flow, or 'cycle'. Que sera sera!

As for me, IME of mainstream settings few churches mention growth as such, but neither do they talk openly about decline. There's ambivalence about both things. It's good that your church has had a more open conversation.

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Ethne Alba
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Decline.
A word that, due to our love of synodical governance, will be on every parish's PCC agenda before too long...this year.

Unless of course that parish is of a "head in the sand, bum in the air" variety. In which case (even as you read this..), their future is already under debate in the appropriate diocesan sub committee.

But can a geographical area decide that a church has viability....even if the congregation themselves are purposefully refusing to engage...........?
I'm thinking rural....???

[ 05. February 2017, 12:02: Message edited by: Ethne Alba ]

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Curiosity killed ...

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No, the whole point of the exercises from the Croft book is to consider what areas of the local church are working well, which have had their time and need to be allowed wither, which are ripe for growth. Or has the church been through a turbulent time and need some fallow time of prayer to discern their way forward.

One of the tendencies within churches (and all organisations) is to continue with initiatives that may no longer be relevant. The Lenten exercises were to consider whether what we were doing was still relevant - to us or the church - and to prune or pass on things that needed cutting back or away to give us time and energy to put into those things that are needed now.

I suspect +Croft's thoughts were at diocesan level too.

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leo
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
(FWIW, the idea that the CofE should more closely resemble the CofSw isn't original to me. It's apparently suggested by Linda Woodhead and Andrew Brown in their recent controversial book, That Was the Church That Was. If anyone here has read the book I'd be very interested to read some comments, perhaps on a new thread.)

My 2p worth

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My Jewish-positive lectionary blog is at http://recognisingjewishrootsinthelectionary.wordpress.com/
My reviews at http://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com

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Philip Charles

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As a believer in universalism the question 'are you saved?' is irrelevant. The relevant question is, 'do you know that you are saved?' If the answer to the second question is 'yes' the implications of this realization begin to be worked out in the person's life, a process of sanctification. To me purgatory is a process where we get fixed up, like a visit to a dentist to fix up our teeth. The pain is incidental the the repair process, not a punishment. Is there a spiritual equivalent of 'I wish I looked after my teeth'?

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There are 10 kinds of people. Those who understand binary and those who don't.

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SvitlanaV2
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quote:
Originally posted by leo:
quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
(FWIW, the idea that the CofE should more closely resemble the CofSw isn't original to me. It's apparently suggested by Linda Woodhead and Andrew Brown in their recent controversial book, That Was the Church That Was. If anyone here has read the book I'd be very interested to read some comments, perhaps on a new thread.)

My 2p worth
Thanks for that.

Simon Jenkins of 'The Guardian' has also read the book, and he believes that the CofE needs to find some way of passing the care of many ancient church buildings into community or other secular hands.

Ironically, in 'secular' France, Sweden and certain other countries it's the state that ensures the upkeep of old church buildings through taxes. In the English case, though, the secular public will probably be unwilling to pay taxes for the upkeep of church buildings with congregations. Jenkins' alternative involving community ownership is therefore more likely.


The pros with passing the upkeep to someone else:

Evangelism may have more of a chance if congregations are less preoccupied with maintaining buildings.

State or quasi state churches can more easily claim to represent and speak to whole communities if financial difficulties don't force them to focus on their paying (and often somewhat conservative) members.

The cons:

Jenkins' option implies church closures, but closures lead to reduced membership and engagement overall. This won't aid evangelism.

The Swedish option clearly leads to a fewer practicing church members, which evangelists may find hard to justify.


Of course, the OP was primarly about the kinds of Christians who are tempted to hype up non-existent revivals. They're not the Christians I've been talking about. But both kinds are facing a similar challenge in Western Europe: how to reimagine evangelism in a meaningful but realistic way in environments where Christian decline is very evident and will increasingly be so, even if a few spots of growth are evident here and there.

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Gamaliel
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The upkeep of church buildings is an enormous head-ache of course, and the CofE is sitting on some pretty impressive historical real-estate.

There are some impressive and innovative examples around, such as one I've seen in a Herefordshire village where the post-office was moved into the 'back' of an ancient parish church and where the collaboration kept both the church and PO open and provided a valuable community hub.

I'd like to see more initiatives of that kind, but they are easier said than done and hard to pull off.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

Posts: 15406 | From: Cheshire, UK | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Baptist Trainfan
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Especially if people (not necessarily the church-goers!) say, "How shocking to have a Post Office in the church, mixing God with mammon!" Probably these critics are folk who have long been into online banking and have cars to drive to the nearest town whenever they please, not the poor old folk who have never learned to use the Internet and are reliant on the bus which only runs on the second Tuesday of each month.
Posts: 9232 | From: The other side of the Severn | Registered: Sep 2009  |  IP: Logged



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