Friday, February 08, 2008

The Gospel in Solihull

I did some sums the other day.

In the UK there are 60 million people and 38k churches of all stripes*. That makes one church for every 1600 people.

In Solihull (including Olton and Shirley i.e. the town of Solihull, not the metropolitan borough) there are 99k people and 22 non-Catholic churches. I think there are two Catholic. In other words, including all stripes, one church for every 4100.

I don't know if there is a right number. Would one for 1000 be healthy? Whatever, relative to the rest of the UK, there is a spiritual need in Solihull.

Furthermore, most of the churches are old and dying. SPC is 2 years old. There is a new Baptist church the other side of Solihull which is a year old. Then there are two, possibly three, that are less than 20yo, half a dozen that were formed in the 60s and 70s with the boom in housing. The rest are 100-200yo apart from St Alphege C oE which is 800+.

The picture is bleak. I did not mention the URC church that closed last year. Many others may well see the same fate if things continue as they are.

There is little genuine gospel preaching and ministry. And where there is, many hearers simply do not get it. One local pastor told me how, after speaking to a congregational meeting about the need to share the good news, one member came up to him and asked, "But what do we have that's good news to share?" The pastor was 'gobsmacked'.

We have a job to do here. Christ will build his church (Matt 16:19). He does it by planting churches (Mat 28:18-20). We need more.

May God help us, to his glory.

(* based on the figures in this CCPAS press release.)

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