- Paperback: 280 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; New edition edition (28 May 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1409425762
- ISBN-13: 978-1409425762
- Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.6 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 571,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Church Growth in Britain (Ashgate Contemporary Ecclesiology) Paperback – 28 May 2012
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'Goodhew rounds off this very interesting collection by arguing that the religious landscape of the UK is more complex and dynamic than previously thought. I agree and recommend this text as core reading for anyone with an interest in the unfolding dynamics of Christianity in the UK.' ----- Theology
'This is an important study that should certainly be read by anyone in a leadership position in the church.' ----- Church of England Newspaper
'For years, the media have fed us a diet of stories and comment to the effect that the Church in the country is in terminal decline. This excellent book, by a team of leading international researchers, challenges this dominant narrative by providing firm evidence that the truth is much more complex: alongside decline in some areas, substantial church growth has taken place in Britain in recent decades.' ----- Church Times
About the Author
David Goodhew is an Anglican priest and Director of Ministerial Practice at Cranmer Hall, an Anglican theological college which is part of St John's College, Durham. A former fellow and chaplain of St Catharine's College, Cambridge and an experienced parish priest, he has published widely in the field of modern British church history and South African history, including the first monograph-length study of a South African township, Respectability and Resistance: a History of Sophiatown
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First, this is not a sociological perspective: only 2 of the 16 contributors are sociologists: the rest are religious professionals, theologians and historians. Second, were they sociologists they would not so often confuse `the growth of some churches' with `church growth' (which implies that the UK is becoming more religious). There is a great deal of value in this collection of studies of growing churches and each essay can be read with profit but the evidence presented comes nowhere near to filling the role that some readers (and its publishers) which to accord it. The general weakness is that evidence of growth is cited without reference either to changes in overall population or to the possibility that apparent growth is simply transfer. For example, Goodhew's study of York refers repeatedly to church growth but its own evidence shows only that - if none of the people who attend newly created churches had previously attended other churches - the proportion of the York population that goes to church now is about the same as it was in 2001. What he presents as growth in church attendance is, on the most generous assumptions, only keeping up with population growth. The same applies to Wolfe and Jackson's claims for London. They describe a growth in church attendance of 15 per cent over the last twenty years as an `Anglican resurgence' when the adult population has grown over the same by about 20-22 per cent. That seems like a proportionate decline.
I strongly recommend this book but I also recommend that readers note the absence of good evidence for net growth.
Ultimately, this criticism can be traced to a uncritical account of secularization. To take a representative example, Paul Chambers castigates `most academics' , who are apparently unduly `concerned with focusing on statistical measures of religious belief and church membership' (233), whilst he himself utilizes dubious census results based on `identification' with Christianity, to make the totally unrelated claim that `religious belief [...] remains buoyant' (221), seemingly not appreciating that secularization predicted precisely this move from public institutional religion to private individualized `beliefs'. In pointing out this flaw, I am merely playing devil's advocate.Read more ›
This is an edited Sociological book of strong academic credence. It outlines the glocalisation reasons why church growth is hidden in the UK, and where and why it is happening. It is one-sided, not from bias, but as there are endless tomes on church decline in the UK, so this is an analysis of the contrary experience of perhaps over half of the UK's churches. For example, there is evidence that for every church which closes in the UK another one opens.
One of the problems is that new churches do not like to be counted. In my Baptist days we faithfully counted membership every ten years and submitted the figures, as did 85% of churches. Now this is down to just 52% - which itself is an estimate. My current church watches the watchers suspiciously, so is strong, dynamic, loving and growing. But it is up a side-street, way away from smaller fellowships in very visible High Street buildings.
You cannot measure that which cannot be measured. So the authors of the chapters have tackled this as a series of case studies. Some of these places and people I know, so I would attest to the truth of what has been presented. This is a clear indication of a different UK Christian scene from that evidenced by the declining state-affiliated mainstream.
This is not a how-to-do book. It is a this-is-how-WE-did-it book. It looks at growth in such as London, York and Edinburgh.Read more ›