The Archbishop of Canterbury alleged in his Christmas message that the key to church growth was a good vicar. Maybe or maybe not says the Rt Revd Adrian Newman is the Bishop of Stepney, in London in the Church Times:
Here in this wonderful part of East London, I have the privilege of working alongside some of the best clerics I have ever come across – yet, while some of their churches are growing, some are not. This is a pattern you will find repeated in areas of urban deprivation across the country.
I find that the “standard” growth formula of expanding suburban churches rarely works in deprived parishes, where confident and able lay leadership is scarce, upward mobility robs churches of asset bases, and the dysfunctionality of everyday living means that congregations contain a disproportionate number of needy individuals. There are numerous well-researched inhibitors to growth in the inner city – even in the most vibrant churches, and even with the best clergy.
an emphasis on growth will be misguided if it adopts only models of homogeneity, because what we grow might not be a fully authentic expression of a Christian Church for a divided world. Ultimately, that simple equation – good vicar = growing church – needs to be nuanced if it is to have real value for us in facing the challenges ahead.
Read more here.