21 August 2012
Book review - Church Growth in Britain: 1980 to the present (edited by David Goodhew)
Are our churches in terminal decline? Or have the depressing statistics we read about been grossly exaggerated? This wide-ranging academic study of church growth in the UK suggests that, alongside much-trumpeted signs of decline, there has been a substantial increase in attendance figures between 1980 and 2010, contrary to popular belief.
Written by a variety of academic authors, the book suggests that the growth can be found across a range of social and geographical contexts. It seems that our church numbers aren't dwindling as much as has been previously thought. But before we get carried away with the headlines and cry 'revival at last', we need to take a look at some of the research which suggests that increased numbers have particularly been down to immigration rather than a backlash to secularisation, per se. Chapters by Hugh Osgood and Richard Burgess look particularly at church growth within black majority churches. But what's great about this book is its multi-dimensional viewpoint of British churches, in all their diversity, their various locations and demographics – from fresh expressions in the Church of England, to Scottish culture and the Church in Edinburgh, to evangelical vitality in Northern Ireland. It paints a picture of the UK Church which is vibrant rather than static.
This is an important book for leaders to understand their congregation's place within the wider Church in the UK.
by Chine Mbubaegbu.