I read with interest Ven. Dr. Bill Harrison’s critique of the recent widely published research paper “Theology matters”. (“Characteristics of growing churches”, HCN January 2017)
After dissing the methodology, he gives us a simple exposition on the eight steps to healthy and vibrant churches.
Although these are all worthy tips, I am surprised that there is little mention of the foundation of the church, Jesus Christ; or the importance of Prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit in leading His church forward.
My sample is anecdotal and statistically small, but my observation is that churches that place a primacy on these aspects seem healthier, whether using finances, size, demographics or outreach as a yardstick. Good practice in business is to look for models that work and are successful, and whether within our denomination or outside, it would be helpful to hear of churches that are blessed by ‘making disciples of all people’.
The Anglican Church is facing some huge challenges; we should resist the urge to ‘shoot the messenger’ when news comes that does not agree with conventional thought. After all, Jesus was the original outlier.
…but only if we put it into action!
I share the emphasis upon the importance of God the Holy Trinity, including the work of Christ Jesus in creating the church and the Holy Spirit in animating it; I also believe firmly in the power of prayer, our conversation with God.
These appear in the Natural Church Development (NCD) priorities and are particularly named as part of “Passionate Spirituality,” “Inspiring Worship,” and “Need-oriented Evangelism.”
The point of the NCD research is that growth can best be fostered by putting our Trinitarian belief into action in certain ways; holding Christian beliefs, either liberal or conservative, won’t help if we don’t live them out in worship, discipling, outreach, and evangelism.
Incidentally, the Haskell, Flatt, Burgoyne research runs counter to the experience of other Anglicans. Further critiques are emerging and I will strive to keep our readers informed as it appears.
Ven. Dr. William Harrison