There seems to have been a recent burst all over the media again asking is the UK still a Christian country? For example Caroline Wyatt, the BBC religious affairs correspondent has written a good article at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32722155. Surveys and statistics point to the decline in the proportion of Christians in the UK, the rise of Islam across the world and the change in balance of Christianity in the world away from Europe. Should Christians be worried? Should we rush through changes in churches to stop the tide going out? Should we get depressed or rise up to the challenge?
Yes and no.
Looking at predictions from surveys about future growth and decline obviously takes out the supernatural God aspect that is what these surveys are actually all about.
And God does not always follow our predictions.
It can make us feel like withdrawing to our safe Christian places with other similar like-minded people as much as we can.
But that was never Jesus’ way.
This is in many ways not new. The biblical picture always has God’s people as a minority.
Did it stop God working? No.
Did it stop Christianity growing? No.
Did it stop people following Jesus despite standing out as being different, ridicule, persecution and martyrdom? No.
So if we want to know how to respond to where we are now, let’s look at where we have been.
As John Drane says in his classic The McDonaldization of the church: “Today’s pluralistic world has very many similarities with the world of the New Testament, some of them quite specific as for example the popularity of Gnostic-like movements with the New Age. We do well to remember that in the kind of pluralistic world inhabited by the first Christians, it was stories and community that made the difference.”
Together let’s keep telling the story of what we have seen and heard (Acts 4 v 20).
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