There has been much discussion both in the media and among Christians about the church’s decline in recent decades. A Pew Research Study released in 2015 revealed that in the U.S., Christians as a whole declined by almost 8% between 2007 and 2014. Mainline Protestant church membership declined by 3.4%; Roman Catholic church membership declined by 3.1%; evangelical churches declined at a slower, but steady rate. Meanwhile, the number of Americans, particularly younger Americans, who identified themselves as atheists, agnostics, or as nothing in particular, rose by 6.7%.
The Anglican Church is experiencing this decline. The reasons for it have been analyzed and re-analyzed, along with many suggestions for how the church can remain relevant, spreading the good news in a society that no longer orients itself around the church as it did for so many years. The church needs to adapt to not being the cultural center it used to be, and the Diocese of London is modeling creative and effective ways to make that happen.
Under the circumstances, we should pay close attention to the fact that in a city that is largely disengaged with the church (only around 8% of London’s population attends church on Sunday), the Diocese of London has been growing. It grew by 16% between 2002-2012, and it has maintained those numbers since then. It has been experimenting with new approaches to building worship communities, and those communities have proven remarkably effective. Jason Fout, an associate professor of Anglican theology at Bexley Seabury Seminary Foundation, spends a lot of his time teaching in London and has studied the Diocese of London extensively to discover the reasons for its great success in a time of decline.
In this class, Jason describes what the Diocese of London is doing and why it works. In his first lesson, he offers an overview of the Diocese of London’s approach and its success. In the second lesson, he discusses ways in which Diocese of London churches (Holy Trinity Brompton in particular) have reduced the thresholds that were keeping them from connecting with people in their communities. In the third and fourth lesson, he examines the Diocese of London’s approach to planting churches and building new worship communities and why these ventures have been successful.
This class is ideal for anyone interested in learning about revitalizing churches and connecting effectively with people in their communities. For a preview of the course, please click here.