Friday, 2 September 2011

What's the quality and quantity of your light?

I was reading some interesting statics about Britain today recenly. While 92% of Americans believe in God, only 35% in Britain do and 43% say they have no religion, according to Britain's National Centre for Social Research. The number of people who affiliate themselves with the Church of England was 23% of the population in 2009 from 40% in 1983. In truth though, if Britain's Christian tradition is dying out, the leaders of the faith have only themselves to blame, for perpetuating the country's highly centralized religious structure. Some would argue that we have become one of the most godless societies on earth. Its principle religious exports today are thinkers who despise religion. From Richard Dawkins, who has compared religion to child abuse, to Christopher Hitchens, who titled his 2007 book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, the British have cornered the market on being anti-God, at least the Christian and Jewish varieties.

Some would argue that the demise of religion in Britain is a good thing, but I’m not too sure! This decline of faith and optimism may account for why Britain -- once the most advanced nation on earth, which gave the world parliamentary democracy and its inimitable centers of higher learning -- is today more famous for exporting reality shows like Big Brother, The only way is Essex and Project Catwalk. For while religion affirms the infinite dignity of the human person, its absence robs life of its sanctity. Exploitation for fame and humiliation and cash are the inevitable outgrowth. Britain abolished the slave trade in 1807 and ended it completely three decades before the U.S., with Christian abolitionists like William Wilberforce taking the lead against the abomination. But two centuries later Britain is better known for football hooliganism, the gratuitous depictions of women in its most-circulated publications and the demise of the family with one of the highest out-of-wedlock birthrates in the world.

I find it interesting to reflect that at the same time attendance figures for chruch have been declining a very fast rate. Some recent research states that by 2050 Sunday attendance to C of E services will fall below 88,000, compared with just under a million now. In fact all mainline demonations within England have and will continue to expereince declining membership, one of the main reason for this is the age profile in may congreations, within the Methodist Church the average age of its members is 82!! For Baptists the average size of congreation is 35 adults, with many congreations having no under 16’s in them! Someone said to me recently that we shouldn’t just complain about how dark it is but we should review the quality and quantity of the light! Christainity has a role to play as light and salt into society and I very much belive that if the church began to get its act togther more then we would see a ripple effect for good into our commiunites and families. It is sometimes too easy just to moan and complain about the “state of our society” for me and others who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ we must examine our lives and our churches in order that we can shine more brighly and be the salt in our world to help stop further decay!