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Vigour, Vitality, and Virtue : How to stay awake in church: Breathing new life into Anglicanism. Clergy Day 2 nd July St Joseph’s Centre. What is our present status as a Christian community?

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vigour vitality and virtue how to stay awake in church breathing new life into anglicanism

Vigour, Vitality, and Virtue:How to stay awake in church:Breathing new life into Anglicanism

Clergy Day 2nd July St Joseph’s Centre


What is our present status

as a Christian community?

Is the church a little ill, slightly pale perhaps, or just aged and sleepy? How can we re-en-passion the church – lift it from malaise and rise up in the Spirit of God to become a mighty, current, informed, prophetic and, at the very least, interesting voice in this mad, wonderful, and broken world?



  • What does the global Christian picture look like?
  • What is the current status of the Anglican Church today?
    • And what about the Diocese of Johannesburg?
  • Why is the Anglican Church in decline?
  • What might some of our options be:
    • Option 1
    • Option 2
    • Option 3
    • Option 4
  • Some recommended principles
  • Discussion
  • Close

Global data upend usual picture of Christianity trends

Posted on: March 19, 2013 10:48 AM

Despite a century-long decline, religious affiliation has shown a marked resurgence … Africa and China have witnessed the most marked religious change. These are among the findings discussed by religious demographer Dr Todd M. Johnson in an overview of religious identity and trends in world Christianity since 1910, presented at the Ecumenical Centre, Geneva, on 13 March. Hosted by the World Council of Churches (WCC) programme on Ecumenical Theological Education, Johnson’s lecture preceded his participation in a WCC sponsored conference about the pedagogical uses of work from research centres on global Christianity.

The CSGC’s data stretches from 1910 to 2010 and fully confirm the large-scale southward shift in Christianity’s centre of gravity. Yet the global character of the data also yields some striking trends.

The data also illustrate that animist and indigenous religious traditions remain vibrant but have dramatically declined among both African and Asian populations. Africa has witnessed strong growth in Christian affiliation during the last 100 years, from 9 to 47.9 percent claiming Christian affiliation.

Migration has become a large factor in religious demographics, dramatically altering the religious make-up of some nations. The CSGC’s research shows that statistics on Evangelical and Pentecostal groups are difficult to compile, since the charismatic trend goes beyond denominational affiliations.


Fastest growth over the century was seen in the category of agnostics and atheists…

He argued that while the discipline of religious demography is emergent, its initial findings about the changing landscape of global religious life pose deep questions about enculturation, theological formulation, and church organization.



Christianity Declines In Europe, Increases in Africa and Asia, Says Survey

By Setrige Crawford , Christian Post Reporter

December 23, 2011|3:29 pm

The number of Christians in Africa, Asia and the Americas are on the rise, while Christianity is declining in Europe, according to a new survey.

A U.S.-based Pew Forum reports that the number of Christians in the world is currently 2.18 billion, which is one third of the world’s population. Back then, 66.3 percent of the world’s Christians were Europeans, according to reports. That number, however, has dropped to 25.9 percent. Sub-Saharan Africa’s Christian population is up from 1.4 percent in 1910 to 23.6 percent.


Evangelical Churches Still Growing, Mainline Protestantism In Decline

By Richard YeakleyReligion News Service

While mainline Protestant churches in the U.S. continue to experience decades-long decline, the memberships of Pentecostal traditions are on the rise, according to new figures compiled by the National Council of Churches… Catholics posted minimal growth of less than 1 percent, and Southern Baptist membership fell for a third straight year, according to the 2011 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches… Other denominations reporting declines include the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Episcopal Church …


The percentage of American adults who identify themselves as Christians dropped from 86% in 1990 to 77% in 2001. This is an unprecedented drop of almost 1 percentage point per year.

There appears to be a major increase in interest in spirituality among North Americans. However, this has not translated into greater church involvement.

At the present rates of change, Islam will become the dominant religion in the world before 2050

At the present rate of change, most Americans would identify themselves as non-religious or non-Christian by the year 2035

Agnostics, Atheists, secularists. and NOTAs (none of the above) are growing rapidly.


Census figures show Christianity in sharp decline while belief in Islam dramatically increases


Monday 20 May 2013

A fresh analysis of the 2011 census has shown that Christian faith in the UK is declining rapidly amongst the British-born population, whilst belief in Islam has dramatically increased. A report published by the Office for National Statistics revealed that the percentage of people following a Christian faith dropped from 71.7 per cent in 2001 to 59.3 per cent in 2011. More than one in 10 under 25s in the UK now describe themselves as Muslim.  Figures for Christianity were boosted however by the 1.2 million foreign-born Christians residing in the UK, such as Polish Catholics and evangelicals from countries such as Nigeria. Meanwhile, the percentage of the people who have no religion rose from 14.8 per cent to 25% of the population.


And what about the Diocese of Johannesburg?

No up-to-date available stats, but trend seems to be the same as the European trend, but at a slower pace, why?

Because we live in a mixed demographic

What we do know is that in 1995 there were 13000 members on our Parish Rolls, today there are…

13000 members on our Parish Rolls!!!!

Johannesburg has seen a growth in population of 21% in the same time-frame, which effectively means…..

That proportionately, we have declined by 21% since 1995



The South African Survey 2009/2010, says that;

In 1980 there were 845 420

In 1996 there were 1 600 001 - this is massive growth – why?

In 2001 there were 1 722 076 – since 1980 this is growth of a massive 103.7%

Whereas since 2001 these figures are again declining…..

As a matter of interest, the ZCC has grown by 546% over the same period – why?


Just another interesting, and cautionary note…..

Although an established church, the Church of England does not receive any direct government support. Donations comprise its largest source of income, and it also relies heavily on the income from its various historic endowments.

On 17 May 2012 The Church of England welcomed an agreement with the Government over the future funding of alterations and repairs to its 12,500 listed buildings, to the tune of 42 million pounds per year

Meanwhile, the Church moved the majority of its income-generating assets (which in the past included a great deal of land, but today mostly take the form of financial stocks and bonds) out of the hands of individual clergy and bishops to the care of a body called the Church Commissioners, which uses these funds to pay a range of non-parish expenses, including clergy pensions and the expenses of cathedrals and bishops’ houses. These funds amount to around 8 billion pounds…


The Diocese of Johannesburg is currently about R 500 000.00 in the red!!! (Although some of this will be recovered)


Whichever way we look at it, the financial health of the church must to some degree be a reflection of its overall health – theologically, spiritually, liturgically and so on…

Recall , from our previous slides, that the centre of Christian gravity has shifted from the Northern to the Southern hemispheres – most notably central and Southern Africa.

That said, what ‘kind’ or ‘expression’ of Christianity is this, and why is it so?

The answer to this question reveals itself as we address the next section of this presentation!


Why is the Anglican Church in decline?


By The Rev. William R. Coats

I will argue that the largest contributor to our membership loss is not the drift to liberalism but a sharp decline in the birth rate among those descended from the British Isles or Northern Europe - our essential "tribal" base. If one assumes that the church has traditionally "grown" or replenished itself not through evangelism but simply through the addition of its own children, it would follow that a decline in numbers of those who "come up through the system" would account for the overall decline in numbers… We have always ‘grown\' primarily by bringing our children up through the ranks, as it were. Indeed, until very recently, seminaries were training parish priests not to "grow" their churches but to preside and maintain what was perceived to be a naturally expanding institution. The drop in numbers of children per household, therefore, would seriously affect the overall membership in our church and becomes a possible explanation for the Episcopal Church\'s decline in overall numbers.


Measuring Church Growth: by Carl S. Dudley - is professor of church and community at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. This article appeared in the Christian Century  June 6-13, 1979, p. 635.

Mainline churches will not “win back” lost members by imitating the successful programs by which other groups secure the loyalties of other populations. Our problems are more complex and challenging. We cannot discover our ministry by mimicking the styles of others; we must look again at the roots of our confessional commitments.

When we lift our heads high enough to see beyond the embarrassing statistics of the present situation, we may discover that we have numerous biblical and historical models for creative Christian minorities in an essentially secular world, We can admit our minority status without assuming a sectarian posture. We can discover from current research many of the factors which contributed to the decline in mainline church membership. We can learn that church leadership and programs were not the precipitating causes: we are simply not that important when compared to much larger cultural forces. We can learn much about the people who would once have joined mainline churches -- where they are, what they believe, and how they can be reached. Finally, we can give up the myth of a righteous monopoly -- the idea that all religious people will join churches, and that churches should be interested only in religion. In short, we can regain our modesty.

Mainline Protestant churches appear to be uniquely prepared to work with those who believe without belonging. With them we apparently share many values of the past as well as hopes for the future. We may not get them “back” into the churches, but we can join with them to do the Lord’s work on earth. And we may rediscover the Christian church in the process


And a complex of other reasons…

There is a direct, albeit complex correlation between the EXTENT and TYPES of religious subscription and:

Political stability

Access to the economy

The quality of education

The roll of the country/community in the global arena

Exposure to internationalisation

Socio-cultural heritage

Reconfiguration of the concept of family


There is a clear correlation between literalist, conservative, and doctrinaire versions of Christianity and the variables listed above.


What might some of our options be?

    • Option 1 Stay as we are… there is no need for change.
    • Option 2 Revert to literalist paradigms
    • Option 3 Opt for a kind of new liberalism (Emerging Church)
    • Option 4 Is there another option?

There is a tendency to focus attention on the church as an ‘institution’ when we are concerned about its growth. Attention is often paid to its organisation, management, administration, process, legislation, and strategy – its vision, mission, goals, and objectives. A great deal of time and energy is spent, and rightly so, on these types of initiatives. But what if the main cause of decline is not about its organisation? What if the main cause of decline is about its theology?

the pros and cons of option 1 stay as we are there is no need for change
The pros and cons of option 1“Stay as we are… there is no need for change”


  • No intervention is required
  • Retain present “stability”
  • No disruption to the church
  • Familiar and comfortable


  • Nothing happens!

The pros and cons of option 2“Revert to literalist paradigms”


  • Does not permit freedom of thought or open learning
  • Can’t always deliver on its promises
  • Highly discriminatory : “we are right, everybody else is wrong”
  • Can become tribal and defensive
  • Tends to indoctrinate rather than inform
  • Is often authoritarian and autocratic
  • Biblical inerrancy and inspiration leads to prejudice (genderismetc)
  • Often imposes guilt and fear
  • Can lead to violence in extreme cases
  • Can be oppressive and abusive


  • Possesses the “Truth”
  • Provides certainty in the midst of uncertainty
  • Offers guarantees
  • Strongly bonded and community oriented
  • Very protective of adherents
  • Clear sense of identity
  • Therefore reduces anxiety
  • Has definitive answers to the world’s problems
  • Clear moral, ethical codes, lifestyles
  • Adherents are often very happy

The pros and cons of option 3“Opt for a kind of new liberalism”


  • Can become ‘wishy-washy’
  • Has no clear sense of identity
  • Can be too compromising and become disoriented
  • Tends to cater for intellectual elites
  • Can develop superiority complexes
  • Can become too esoteric
  • Can become too critical of traditionalists/conservatives
  • May be out of touch with ‘grass-roots’ issues
  • Can struggle to find a focussed vision
  • Tends to attract “goofballs”


  • Is very hospitable to difference
  • Very inclusive
  • Intellectually open
  • Highly adaptable
  • Strong sense of justice
  • Very active in the wider world
  • Is interesting because it draws in new information
  • Is very aware of human rights issues and equality
  • Is in touch with secular issues
  • Often embraces deep spirituality

Why is this kind of liberalism so popular now?

Kevin Ward’s research indicates that in 1947 the vast majority of the population believed in a personal God, whereas the majority in 1993 preferred the idea of God as an impersonal Spirit (Ward 2004:5). This shift need not be perceived as a movement against God, but as a plea for deeper, trans-dogmatic experience of a God less territorialised by institutionalised religious framing. Wade Roof’s research among baby boomers also found that 73% preferred to use the language of ‘spirituality’ rather than ‘religion’. Religion, according to these findings; ‘... connotes rigid, authoritarian, oppressive institutions; dogmatism and lack of openness to alternative perspectives, and cold formalism or ritualism. Spirituality, by contrast, suggests flexibility and creativity; tolerance and respect for alternative insights from others; room for doubt and searching; and an emphasis upon personal experience’ (Roof 1993: np). This statistics would since have changed, but the impetus is clear: the fact that religious apperceptions are in a state of flux is undeniable.



  • Dr Jeremy Jacobs

Peter Corning of the Institute for the Study of Complex Systems explains that the term emergent was coined by the pioneer psychologist G. H. Lewes in his multivolume Problems of Life and Mind (1874-1879). Lewes, following the lead of the philosopher John Stuart Mill, argued that certain phenomena in nature produce what he called “qualitative novelty” - material changes that cannot be expressed in simple quantitative terms; they are emergents rather than resultants’ [my italics]. In Lewes’ own words (1874-1879:413): Every resultant is either a sum or a difference of the co-operant forces; their sum, when their directions are the same - their difference, when their directions are contrary. Further, every resultant is clearly traceable in its components, because these are homogeneous and commensurable. It is otherwise with emergents, when, instead of adding measurable motion to measurable motion, or things of one kind to other individuals of their kind, there is a co-operation of things of unlike kinds. The emergent is unlike its components insofar as these are incommensurable, and it cannot be reduced to their sum or their difference.



Emergence is a word which describes the complexity and innovation of a property which cannot be reduced to, or explained merely in terms of its antecedents.


Emergence is a word which describes the novelty of a new ‘thing’ that cannot be explained only in terms of the old things which made it up.


The whole (if it is novel) is greater than the sum of its parts


Now, if you apply the principle of “emergence” to the Christian faith, and how it may develop in the years to come, you get….

Brian McLaren: The person most commonly associated with the movement. Former English professor who is now a pastor, traveling speaker, and author of several books. Recognized as one of TIME magazine\'s "25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America." His book, A New Kind of Christianwon an award of merit from Christianity Today in 2002. See also, A Generous Orthodoxy, which has achieved something akin to Scripture status in the Emerging Church movement. (website at

Tony Jones: National Coordinator of Emergent, an organized network of cooperating emerging ministries ( He is a doctoral fellow and senior research fellow in practical theology at Princeton Theological Seminary whose books have been highly influential in the movement.

Dan Kimball: Author of several books, including The Emerging Church; Vintage Christianity for New Generations (Christianity Today best book of 2004). (

Stanley Hauerwas: Professor of Theological Ethics at Duke Divinity School. Named "America\'s Best Theologian" in 2001 by TIME magazine. Heavily influenced by postmodern philosophers, he has in turn had a profound affect on the Emerging Church movement. Known to frequently use profanities in his speaking engagements.

Rob Bell: Pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, in Grandville, Michigan. Author of Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith. (



Narrative, metaphor, and myth (with reason as its attentive aid) as more viable conveyors of spiritual ‘truth’ than dogma and doctrine.

Developing a new ‘idiom’ for religion.

Creative and artistic pursuits of transformation rather than subscription to credal or catechetical legislations.

Re-integrating science and biology as foundational to the cultivation of spirituality (rather than villainising the ‘world and the flesh’).

Spontaneity and unpredictability over rigidity and certainty.

Multi-sensory, multi-tasking, multi-media, multi-faceted, multi-dimensional, but not confusion - seeking out complex synchronicities, not compromised pluralities.

Savouring the benefits of the heuristic process.

Valuing mutual benefit over individual reward (a reaction against post-modern individualism).

Wide reaching righteousness and justice issues rather than personal moralism.

Strong aesthetic and materialistic values.


The pros and cons of option 4“????????????????????????”

I have an idea, but discretion precedes presumption. Let me adopt the Socratic method instead!


The Socratic method is simply the process of facilitating a discussion in such a way that people come upon the answers themselves because someone has asked the right kinds of questions.

But maybe some basic principles will help us along….


Some recommended principles

The main theme of Jesus’ entire teaching, The Kingdom of Heaven, must always remain the central refrain of our faith.

The Kingdom of Heaven IS the Person and Spirit of Jesus himself – the true image and likeness of our own being – a template of our own spiritual becoming.

Our purpose is therefore to incarnate - to live ourselves increasingly into this Christ-likeness as the living presence of our loving God in the world today. This is our spiritual journey – our sanctification!

This Christ-likeness, as the presence of God’s love in and through our lives, is not: racist, sexist, egotistical, prejudicial, judgemental, discriminatory, exclusive, bigoted…

The ‘lived out’ gifts and fruits of the Spirit of Jesus therefore precede our various and differing beliefs about his earthly life-story.

Religious Truth is therefore not measured in the extent to which we blindly subscribe to dogmas and doctrines, but in our love for God, our neighbours, and ourselves AS disciples of Christ! (The first and great commandment…)

This form of Truth does not dismiss the place and purpose of dogma and doctrine – it merely apportions it to its rightful place – to serve God and humanity, not for God and humanity to be servile to it!


As such our worship must be exuberant, passionate, and deeply reflective of the indwelling Christ – “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28)

We need to cultivate a strong sense of identity as a community who are deeply in love with God in Christ – not necessarily as Biblical literalists, but as true servant leaders on a quest to bring salvation of Christ to our broken world.

What is salvation in this sense other than the redeeming love of Christ which brings healing, reconciliation, wholeness, forgiveness, reverence, respect, and sanctity into EVERY aspect of our personal and corporate lives.

The sacrament of the altar, the Body and Blood of Christ thus pulses as the Spirit of Christ through our veins – how can we possibly claim this, live this, unless we love each other through our differences? Did Christ only die for those who subscribe to a particular religious ideology – or did he die for all?

If his love lived and died for all, then we must live and love all without prejudice.

And our pastoral heart, our relationships with each other and the world is the key to making all of this possible!

Also, in order to love this world, we must understand this world, and we must therefore study this world – in all its complex nuances and mysteries.

Our theology must therefore be SIGNIFICANTLY empowered by strong and on-going education – in all fields of research.

And so on and so on and so on…..


Mark Fanklin said in his presentation last month that the

Characteristics of Servant Leadership

  • Listening
  • Accepting and empathising
  • Tolerance of weakness and imperfection
  • Foresight, anticipation and intuition
  • Awareness and perception
  • Persuasion and example
  • Persistence and determination
  • Courage to venture and risk
  • Creates autonomy through opportunity

And he placed particular emphasis on:

Life long learning

  • We need to keep in step with society
  • We must learn continuously
  • Adapt or die!!!
  • Be open to new ideas
  • Must be prepared to change
  • Are we/our leaders dinosaurs?

Aldridge, A., Religion in the Contemporary World (Polity Press, 2000)

Table of Contents

Preface to the Third Edition viii

Acknowledgements x

1 Defining Religion: Social Conflicts and Sociological Debates 1

2 Secularization: The Social Insignificance of Religion? 35

Karl Marx and the projection theory of religion 35

Émile Durkheim and the social functions of religion 38

Max Weber and the disenchantment of the world 41

Pluralization, relativism and consumer choice 57

Reason, rationality and science 59

3 Secularization Challenged: A New Paradigm? 66

The new paradigm and the rise of the megachurches 91

The Pentecostals 93

Further reading 95

4 Dangerous Religions? Sects, Cults and Brainwashing 97

The rise of \'brainwashing\' 115

Identifying potentially destructive movements 119

The fall of \'brainwashing\' 126

Further reading 129

5 Dangerous Religions? Fundamentalism 131

Bible believers 132

Fundamentalism and monotheism 134

Features of fundamentalism 138


6 Civil Religion and Political Ritual 148

7 Gender and Sexuality 165

The subordination of women 165

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) identities 177

8 The Spiritual Revolution 181

Believing without belonging 183

From religion to spirituality? 186

Religion online and online religion 195

Individualism and the crisis of religious authority 197

Religion in consumer society 203

Lived religion and sociological analysis 205

9 The Challenge of Diversity 208

The debate about multiculturalism 208

The challenge of diversity 214

Grassroots responses to diversity 220


We, the church, and the world are all in need of salvation – of restoration , healing, and sanctification. We will not succeed in doing this by legislating, indoctrinating, organising, administering, strategizing, and visioning UNLESS the entire process is defined by the Love of God in and through our Lord Jesus Christ.

In brief, we need to love ourselves, the church, and the world back into freedom, and it all begins, continues, and succeeds through the integrity of our relationships.