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Transforming Communities: Re-imagining the Church for the 21st Century – Steven Croft

May 29, 2015

TCThe average church congregation size is sixty and its members are ageing. Once they cannot afford the upkeep of their church building, mainstream denominations amalgamate them and thus manage decline, thereby shoring up a system designed for a bygone age when people lived in the same community for a long time and did not work on a Sunday. Fewer clergy doing more administration and attending more meetings are not able to do the job for which they were ordained. We can choose to have unwelcome change thrust upon us by circumstances or can grasp the mettle and transform ourselves.

The author, on the staff of Cranmer Hall, Durham, envisages a change in the way we ‘do church’, meeting in one another’s houses as our main weekly event with occasional fellowship with other house churches with whom we share a minister in a ‘minster’ church.

The house church is not new: it was the standard pattern in the early church and for the puritans, early Methodists and Latin American base communities, suited to a period of mission rather than stagnation. It can form an intimate setting in which members care pastorally for each other and have scope to exercise their unique gifts in teaching and discussion. I cannot help wondering, however, whether it will be as easy to gain new members by inviting them to such house meetings; currently seekers may drop into church buildings because they are public places; however, it is worth remembering that many who have never been inside a church find it quite daunting to get past the porch.

This book has ample discussion material for PCCs and for individuals who want to feel enthusiastic rather than enervated about the Church’s future.

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