Church growth in Britain 2: Mainstream churches

The section on mainstream churches contains chapters on the London diocese (of the Church of England) (by John Wolffe and Bob Jackson); Catholicism in London’s East End (Alana Harris); Baptist growth in England (Ian Randall); growth in (Anglican) cathedral congregations (Lynda Barley); and reverse mission (Rebecca Catto). For me, the study of London Anglicanism is the single most interesting chapter in the book. By giving a comparison with Southwark (the diocese that covers the Anglican parishes of the London urban area south of the river Thames, roughly), where a steady decline has only very recently stabilised, the authors are able to demonstrate that London’s growth is not an inevitable result of demographic changes in the capital. The simple story of...

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Church Growth in Britain?

David Goodhew (ed.) Church Growth in Britain: 1980 to the Present (Ashgate, 2012) I suppose most of us in academia have a list in our heads of books that ought to be written: there are positions that you know to be true, but that have not yet been demonstrated to be so to the satisfaction of the academy. This book crosses off number one on my list of such books. I have known for years that the standard public narrative of catastrophic church decline in contemporary Britain is at some level a misrepresentation: it is based on collecting statistics concerning Sunday attendances from mainstream denominations; but most vibrant church life in Britain today is not happening in mainstream denominations on Sundays; most of it is happening beyond the ‘mainstream’; that...

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