Thursday, 5 January 2012

Good News! The Christian Church is Growing in Numbers

– at least in London. An article by Peter Oborne in the Telegraph on Sunday on 1 January, called "The Return to Religion," highlighted the increased numbers in congregations, over recent years, in London churches.

It featured the increase in congregation at St Mary's Islington, where our previous vicar, Simon Harvey, now serves. (However unlikely his description of Simon as “… an anachronistic figure. His white surplice flapping in the wind” might seem.)

Yet this rise was very modest compared to some of the other churches mentioned. The increase had been found in churches with widely different styles of worship – from Pentecostal churches to Anglican cathedrals.

When Bishop Tom Butler, the previous Bishop of Leicester, was asked in 1999 what he hoped for the church in the new millennium, he replied: "bums on seats aren't everything, but it would be a good start."

We must rejoice for this evidence of the increased numbers of "bums on seats," which is a change from the previous trend. But what is important is not the number of people in church but whether they have met with the living Lord Jesus and whether that experience has changed their lives. As the church attenders encounter Christ, may that become their reality.

At present, this growth in church attendance is mainly in London. Our prayer must be that it should spread to Oadby and Leicester. To all and sundry: you would be very welcome at St Paul's.