15 March 2005
PEOPLE TODAY are still asking life’s big questions, so how can the Church offer its ancient wisdom to a generation in which interest in spiritual matters is booming?
That’s the question being posed by six writers in Evangelism in a Spiritual Age, published this month by the Church of England in its ‘Explorations’ series.
Yvonne Richmond, Nick Spencer, Rob Frost, Anne Richards, Mark Ireland and Steven Croft tackle the issues and emerge with practical suggestions for the local church.
Drawing on research carried out by the Diocese of Coventry in their 2003 ‘Beyond the Fringe’ project, the ‘six questions that won’t go away’ are identified as:
- why are we here?
- what happens after we die?
- the universe: accident or design?
- is there a God?
- what about the supernatural?
- why is there so much suffering in the world?
The 2001 national census figures put Christian affiliation at nearly 72 per cent and yet this does not translate into church attendance. The new book looks at the challenge for the Church in reaching out and connecting with people searching for spirituality – people who are not currently looking towards the Church for answers to those ‘big questions.’
Mark Ireland, Diocesan Missioner for Lichfield recommends some of the steps the local church can take in his chapter The local church perspective.
- Making a good parish website a priority;
- Removing ‘secret codes’ on church notice boards (eg ‘3rd Sunday BCP’);
- Advertising services of blessing of a new home through local estate agents;
- Taking worship outside the building;
- Getting a stall at the local ‘Mind Body Spirit’ fair or wedding show;
- Welcoming an Asian congregation by offering bilingual services.
The book has won support from the Rt Revd. Graham Cray, Bishop of Maidstone, who chaired the working group that produced the best-selling ‘Mission-shaped Church’ report.
He said: e saidH“This excellent book combines qualitative research, cultural analysis, theological reflection and practical advice. It is a most welcome resource as we learn to communicate our faith in a changing culture.”
Evangelism in a Spiritual Age ispublished by Church House Publishing, priced £11.99, and is available from all Christian bookshops and Church House Bookshop, 31 Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3BN, tel. 020-7898 1300, e mail email@example.com, or on the web at: www.chbookshop.co.uk (mail order available).