Telling the truth in the UK

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I spent part of yesterday with a insightful missiologist who lives here in the UK. He is not some young, radical, grenade-throwing deconstructionist, rather a respected, older (than me) mission expert with extensive experience in church planting movements and particularly ministry in the Islamic world.

His comments about Christianity in England, and about Europe at large, were jolting. His observations sobering. Here are a few gems, or bombshells depending, on one’s perspective:

“In Europe as a whole, little can be done missionally with the existing, institutional church. It’s over.

At the same time, there is no use criticizing the existing institutional church. It is a good “holding tank” for modern people who are believers.

The existing church is helpless in relating to the culture around it with spiritual reality and relevance. Take for example, the Alpha course. Only 5% of the people converted through it are in the church 5 years later. 85% converted through it have had previous contact with the church. But only 8% of England is made up of such 1st or 2nd generation Christians. 92% is 2nd generation “pagan.” That means that 92% can’t even understand what the church is talking about.

The church in England, of all persuasions, has no idea how to converse with people outside its doors. The institution here is fortressed. Christendom is hunkered down in the bunkers.

The Celtic model is a good model for Europe. Small, apostolic communities which were a blessing to the community but were “outside” of the existing social structure.

Being non-conformist is not esteemed in England. For things to start outside of the box, they need to be started by people outside of the box and by people who are willing to be persecuted.

People with apostolic gifting plant new vineyards and don’t stop and become winemakers.

The Christian movement in Britian does not know how to stand up in the face of radical Islam. To do so will need a dramatic realignment within the culture and within the family. Instead, most Christians are terrified of Muslims.

Of the 20-25 initiatives I am aware that are actively attempting to minister among Muslims in London, all are church-based and none are effective.

Statistically, 2015 to 2020 is the tipping point where Muslim influence will be predominant in Europe.

Modernity in Europe is absolutely entrenched in the institutional expressions of church. Europe doesn’t need a new reformation. We need a whole new expression of the Kingdom of God in the West that embraces community and family, where individuals are important but not more important than the group.”

6 Responses to “Telling the truth in the UK”

  1. Wes Roberts Says:

    ...well Sam!

    ...you got my rockets fired!!

    ...sincerely…THANX

    http://wesroberts.typepad.com/wes/2008/07/could-we-please.html

  2. Mike Brantley Says:

    Sam,
    This is a heart quickening blog.

    It has moved our entire community, strengthened our resolve, quickened our efforts and kept us awake last night. It moved us emotionally over those we are loving to Christ, as one of those Celtic communities.

    Is there more to this conversation you could email me?

    Struck my heart strings and fired up my passion and resolve.

  3. Roger Saner Says:

    This sounds like an amazing conversation, Sam – wish I was there! You’re not going to give away who the missiologist is, by any chance?

    Here in South Africa things are slightly more complicated, with some strong Christendom structures and thinking, yet the institution can be pretty missional too. Will it follow the church in Europe? I’m not sure…I think we’re a different animal, and that’s probably due to generally being more cultural conservative. Maybe globalisation will change that…

  4. Weekend Linkage « life as usual must go… Says:

    [...] Sam telling the truth about Christianity in the UK and Europe. [...]

  5. Jim Says:

    Having lived in Germany from 1982 to 2000 I agree with most the missiologist observations. On a good note there are numerous missionary churches around most if not all US military installations that not only reach out to the US military, but the local community as well. While stationed at Ramstein AB we attended Rheinland Baptist Church located outside the gate. We were there for five years. Gib Wood, a missionary with Baptist Missions to Forgotten Peoples, has led this work since 1986. It is a church of about 250 with roughly 30-40 Germans attending weekly. In our 17 years in Germany we attended several good “American Military” churches in England, Italy, Germany, Belgium, etc. One of their objectives is to see locals’ established churches in the surrounding areas.

  6. Shrivelled Hand » Blog Archive » Little can be done missionally with the existing, institutional church. It’s over. Says:

    [...] from Sam Metcalfe’s discussion with an un-named missiologist here. I’m not alone in wanting to know who they are, and to see more of the [...]

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