Following a visit to the Newfrontiers conference hosted by Terry Virgo, John Stevens has written a post for the Gospel coalition's website highlighting the nine key trends he has observed in the British church.
John is the national director for Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches.
Here is his list followed by a few thoughts of my own:
1) Growing Christmas Carol Services
This seems to reveal the church as an event rather than a relating community. Again we see numbers being a key mark of church success.
2) Effective Evangelistic Outreach through Christians Against Poverty and Foodbanks
CAP do an excellent work but this observation showing a link between evangelical outreach and good work seems to suggest that doing good should be for its own sake. Before you say that I am over stating it look at the material from any evangelical relief agency and you will see that they have to include examples of salvation experiences in order to make their work seem acceptable. CAP should be applauded for what they do to relieve suffering not as a means to an evangelical end.
3) Proliferation of Multi-Site Churches
It seems that the pinicle of success is linked with expansion. This seems to reveal more of a franchise rather than an incarnational model.
4) Remembering the Needs of the Global Church
I get very concerned when western churches feel more concern with the tribulations of other Christians than they do of human beings in general. It seems to represent a tribal response to suffering.
5) The Christian Situation in the United States Is Not the Same as in the UK
The fact that the US needs to be the comparison is a worry. The world contains effective churches outside of empire. If we were to take the journey to see our world from the bottom up rather than the top down we might realise that we are comparing ourselves with the wrong standard.
6) The Importance of Planning for Leadership Transition
The CEO model of leadership demands it but there are other models available for church leadership. What we will reproduce is the vision based model that reflects more of the attitudes and hopes of corporations rather than an incarnational church that is prepared to leave the ninety-nine to find the one.
7) Responding to Changes in Attitude Towards Homosexuality in Society
Are the churches responding or reacting. Shouldn't we be taking the lead and not just responding.
8) Relatively Small Number of Conversions
Here again is a key measure of success (KPI ). We have a tendency to look for people to have Damascus Road experiences rather than Emmaus Road encounters.
9) Still Longing for Revival
Because faithfulness in the now is not a good enough aspiration. If we were honest we would see that we can raise more money and commitment from having an aspiration for a promised revival.
It is hard to resist the view that this list contains no connection with political issues faced by the world. Where is the fight for peace or the stand to compel governments to accountability for creating the society where people need to use food banks and debt release charities.
We need new ways of viewing church.