(Time to Listen Series)
Category: Emerging Church & Postmodern Faith
This, the first title in a new series of booklets, looks at recent social trends and attitudes towards the church, God and belief. Drawing on evidence-based research it addresses the question of how British society engages with the church. Through combining analysis of surveys and questionnaires with real-life stories it reveals some surprising signs of encouragement: Britons still believe in God, they increasingly believe in a soul and their sense of spiritual awareness is increasing.
Prayer is seen to be a widely valued spiritual experience but one which does not need to have any connection with church attendance. In many ways it seems that people are happy to believe but unwilling to belong. The practice of Christianity is thought to be more important by British people than participation in church life: most young people believe that giving to charity is more important than voting.
The evidence suggests that religious literacy is at a very low level but when churches provide ways back in for people, they come: Christmas is a wonderful opportunity for witness to the Christian story. Remembering, whether that be deceased loved ones or wars past, is another way to welcome people home. The traditional rites of passage still present a door into the Christian faith for many families. The imaginative use of imagery and symbolism helps - the Christingle service has proved to be immensely popular.
The assertion that 'people don't want to be told what to believe so much as to be shown how to' rings true to experience here in West London. People often seek a quiet prayerful spirituality with a sense of mystery but somehow this needs to be accessible too.
There is plenty in this booklet to feed reflection on church life and mission today, although I wonder whether people will be willing to spend £6.99 on 53 pages.
Next: Time to Listen Vol 2: Churchgoing Today
Sue Groom, June 2006
The Revd Sue Groom is the Director of Deanery Licensed Ministry for the Kensington Episcopal Area of London. Before this she was Vicar of St Matthew's, Yiewsley and also served as the Reader Training Officer for the Willesden Episcopal Area. She is the author of Linguistic Analysis of Biblical Hebrew (Paternoster Press, 2003).Order from www.christianbookshops.org | Order from St Andrew's Bookshops
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