Christian Life 

Churchgoing not in decline, says Tearfund

CongregationChurchgoing is not in decline, according to figures released by Tearfund today which show that one in four adults in the UK attend church at least once a year.

According to research carried out by Tearfund, 12.8 million adults in the UK attend church at least once a year, of whom 7.3 million attend at least once a month.

Christian relief and development agency Tearfund regularly interview 7,000 members of the public about their churchgoing habits, as part of wider research about perceptions of society and world issues, and have identified an upward trend in church attendance.

The report found a significant increase in monthly attendance, bringing the figure for autumn 2008 to 15 per cent after a number of years of reported decline, according to Matthew Frost, Chief Executive of Tearfund.

Similarly, the proportion of UK adults attending church at least once a year has increased from 21 per cent in 2007 to 26 per cent in 2008, an increase from around one in five adults to around one in four.

"Our understanding is that more people are attending now than before, even if that is only a couple of times a year rather than every week," said Mr Frost. "This might mean going to church at one of the high points in their family’s year, such as Christmas or Easter, or attending Sunday services or midweek events.

"This is of course immensely encouraging, because it shows that people are associating church and a belief in God with hope and joy, and a positive way to spend their time."

Church meetingThe research questions were framed deliberately to exclude attendance for weddings, baptisms, funerals and other invitation-only events so as to concentrate on voluntary attendance.

Groups showing a larger increase in attendance than the average between September 2007 and September 2008 included 25 to 34-year-olds, up 7 per cent from 15 per cent to 22 per cent, 65 to 74-year-olds, up 6 per cent to 33 per cent, and over 75 year olds, up 10 per cent to 39 per cent.

Geographically, the highest increases were found in Wales, which was up 12 per cent from to 24 per cent, South East England, up 8 per cent to 27 per cent, Scotland, up 8 per cent to 27 per cent, and Northwest England, up 7 per cent to 28 per cent.

Tearfund’s work around the world is delivered primarily through local churches and community organisations working on the ground in 64 countries, to tackle spiritual and material poverty. The research, compiled of 7,000 interviews with adults around the UK, takes place twice a year and identifies trends in awareness of faith and world issues in order to influence the organisation’s development and communication.

Christians Together, 30/01/2009

(page   1   2   3)
Tony (Guest) 04/02/2009 18:52
Peter, you haven't responded to any of my comments at all. The following is all about Matthew 7:1. If you can read it all (it's quite lengthy) you will see that we are in fact called to judge others! Check it out for yourself

Do not judge, ..’ Matthew 7:1

This verse at the beginning of Matthew chapter 7 is commonly used within the church to control and prevent people checking out the word of God for themselves or for identifying false prophets by their teaching. It is also used by well meaning Christians who are simply deceived, not having checked out the scriptures fully.

It is a very important subject and one which deserves full Biblical scrutiny as there is a danger, especially with young Christians, of them being led astray.

Jesus did say, ‘Do not judge’ but he then goes on to say in verses 2-5,

‘For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hippocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.’

It is important to read the words very carefully here. What Jesus is saying is, ‘don’t judge someone for their sin when you yourself are sinning. In other words we can judge, as long as we are not doing the same thing.

Verse 6 goes on to say, ‘Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet. and turn again and rend you.’

How do we identify the dogs or swine - obviously this would involve judging.

Many have been indoctrinated into the constraint of don’t say anything against another no matter what, using the argument that it is up to God to deal with the person concerned.

This may be true when it comes to judging the heart (1 Corinthians 4:5) or secrets of individuals (Romans 2:16), as this is for Jesus to do. However, their are many commands in scripture telling us to judge and some of them are listed below.

‘Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgement.’ John 7:24

This means that we shouldn’t judge by our own opinions but judge by the word of God, i.e. righteously.

‘Thus saith the Lord; Execute ye judgement and righteousness … Jeremiah 22:3

‘Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.’ 1 Corinthians 14:29

‘Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world.’ 1 John 4:1.

One of the gifts of the Spirit is ‘the discerning of spirits’(1Corinthians 12:10)

‘I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thy canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them that say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars.’ Revelation 2:2

In the above verse from Revelation Jesus is commending those in the Eshesian church who judged and arrived at the truth, i.e. ‘found them liars.’

The following verses tell us that Christians are specifically instructed to judge the actions of those within the church.

‘For what have I to do to judge them also that that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life if then ye have judgements of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.’ 1 Corinthians 5:12-6:4

Not to do so results in much sin within the body of Christ. In fact, God’s word teaches,

‘But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man’. 1 Corinthians 2:15

Much of the New Testament was written to publicly correct false teaching within the church. In 2 Timothy 4:10 Paul judges and warns about a man named Demas, and in 2:17 he warns of the heresy of two others.

We too are also called to identify false teachers for the purpose of protecting the sheep.

‘That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.’ Ephesians 4:14

How can we protect the sheep if we don’t speak out? Jesus warned us again and again to be on our guard against false prophets and deception in the church.

‘And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘take heed that no man deceives you’. Matthew 24:4

And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many. Matthew 24:11

For there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders in so much that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:24

Let no man deceive you with vain words, for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Ephesians 5:6

Let no man deceive you by any means. 2 Thessalonians 2:3

How are we supposed to spot a false prophet or false teaching if we don’t judge?

Those who don’t judge are called ‘babes’ in the Bible

‘For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe.’ Hebrews 5:12-13

The above two verses mean that ‘mature’ Christians are those who have trained themselves to exercise judgement, to discern between good and evil, through the Word, not feelings. Those that don’t judge are ‘babes’ in the Word. One of the ways to show that you are spiritually mature is to seek the truth in the Word under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, without being persuaded by public opinion, church tradition or a person’s status.

Why should we as Christians judge and speak up risking falling out with others, when Jesus will undoubtedly do it when He returns? Well, first of all, I have witnessed new Christians being led astray by false teaching and it breaks my heart. We should love them enough to ’speak the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15), and point out their error.

In a like manner, if we love brothers and sisters who are living a life of sin, we should judge righteously, and tell them. This gives the person the opportunity and choice of whether or not to continue sinning or to repent - the opportunity to choose between life and death!

So there is a right way to judge, and that is according to the truth of God’s word, which is the same measure by which each of us will be judged when Jesus returns.

But let’s do it in love, with no ulterior motives, and let’s be like the Bereans.

‘(The Bereans) were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the wor
Peter Carr (Guest) 04/02/2009 19:19
Tony, I did respond to 2 negative statements that you made about CLAN Gathering and Alpha. Suffice to say there are times when Christians have to agree to disagree, I suspect that this is one such occasion.

The Lord bless you and keep you...Num 6: 24 - 26
Penny Lee 04/02/2009 21:05

I agree with much of what you say but disagree with how we should respond to it. I know full well that many churches are way off beam, but don't demonise them all. There are some, and they are probably now few and far between, but there are some who are operating closely to God's will and they are thriving. And I'm not talking about numbers here, I'm talking about the blessings they enjoy by being close to our Lord.

Didn't the same Lord give warnings about ignoring gross sins within our church community? He didn't though tell us just to walk away - no, He told us to challenge the person/people concerned and get it sorted out. We are not doing this today because we are scared to offend and that fear is now coming back to bite us on the behind! Our churches are in a mess because of our (yes, you and me) failure to address difficult issues. Instead, we shook our heads in despair and walked away - and I'm as guilty of this as anyone else. How then can we be surprised when these very people took high office within our church and corrupted it from within?

One final thought - what happens to those who find Jesus on their own and have no knowledge of other Christians? Where do they go for fellowship when there are no churches? Small house groups etc. have their place but so have church buildings which are recognised as such and have an open door to those who are truly seeking.

I really feel that, after this trial is through, our churches will be much healthier places to be as only the faithful will remain in them.
John Parker (Guest) 04/02/2009 23:04
I think that messages elsewhere suggested that God is winnowing and purifying. At the time of (reducing) Gideon's men those who were sifted out were (a) those who lacked the backbone for the battle and then (b) those who lacked discernment. The Lakeland fiasco illustrated the huge problem that there is regarding the latter. Regarding the former, the increasing persecution which is coming on the Christian faith in the UK may result in many falling away.
Let's pray that we will place our faith and trust in the Lord and that being fully kitted out in the armour of God and with a deep knowledge of his word we can separate out the true from the false. Remembering that the wheat and the tares will grow together until the end.(Matt 13:29-30)
Peter Carr (Guest) 05/02/2009 07:31
"The Lakeland fiasco illustrated the huge problem that there is regarding the latter."

I think that the jury is still out on this one, I don't think that the Lord has pronounced final judgement on it yet!
John Parker (Guest) 05/02/2009 22:56
Peter, you said - "I think that the jury is still out on this one".

If that's the case it's very sad, because it suggests that the jury is displaying the very lack of discernment that I was referring to.

But have a look at what one 'insider' has said -

As far as the Lord is concerned, I am not necessarily looking for anything sulphurous to come down from on high - the Holy Spirit often just quietly departs; and amongst all the noise, no one notices that He is gone. The band just plays on.
Peter Carr 06/02/2009 07:33
All I am saying is lets be careful about judging. Only the Lord knows what was achieved as a result of Lakeland. If we are uncomfortable with it, then we should simply avoid it. Judgement rests with Him!
John Parker (Guest) 06/02/2009 11:32
Peter, if you are saying that we have no role to play, then I'm sorry, I need to disagree.

We are called to 'judge' (in the sense of 'evaluating') everything (1 John 4:4 1 Thes 5:21 Rev 2:2). Otherwise we are to cast our discernment to the wind and absorb every wind of (false) doctrine (Eph 4:14)

Where we need to be careful is in making that evaluation in a wrong spirit. We need to (as the Father and Son does) keep our attitude as one of seeking restoration and not condemnation.

The fundamental problem with Lakeland is not about Todd Bentley, it's about Christian leaders failing to exercise a biblical oversight and instead allow the whole thing to develop the way it did.

It may be the case that you have, in some situation, experienced 'judgement' being exercised with a wrong spirit, but I appeal to you, do not abandon the biblical requirement of assessing what we find around us - in word or deed. Let's speak the truth in love so that we grow up to maturity (Eph 4:15) May you be blessed.
Peter Carr 06/02/2009 11:43
"Where we need to be careful is in making that evaluation in a wrong spirit. We need to (as the Father and Son does) keep our attitude as one of seeking restoration and not condemnation."

I don't disagree with you John, and suspect that maybe we are saying the same thing from a different perspective. The problem is that often moves of God in the past have not been seen as such even by the mainstream church!!
Tony Fort (guest) (Guest) 13/10/2009 10:55
What is all this talk of 'the true church' and 'false teaching'? It is part of being human to be mistaken sometimes. So how is any man to judge what (and who) is true or not? In the absence of empirical truth, humans are capable of nothing more than estimates.
Show me a man who says his church is "the true" one, and I will estimate him to be either a fool or a conscious hypocrite. For he is implying that all other churches are false, and how can he possibly know that?
If you believe that Jesus spoke the truth, just read the Sermon on the Mount every day, and act on it. You'll suddenly find yourself living a good life (in my estimation at least) and you'll no longer feel the need to judge others!
(page   1   2   3)

NOTICE: - The 'Response' facility on some articles may be restricted to CT site members. In these circumstances comments/questions from non-site members should be sent to the Editor by e-mail: editor<atsign>

Christians Together in the Highlands and Islands > Christian Life > Churchgoing not in decline, says Tearfund