Difficulties Our Churches Face

Have you heard of The Shropshire Ecumenical Council? You have not even heard of Shropshire, you say? Neither had I. Until I came across an article that was about the gathering of many Christian churches to address together their problems. Besides the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church is a member is a member of the Council, and so is the local Greek Orthodox Church (Holy Fathers of Nicaea in Shrewsbury). The information is dated, but is still quite relevant.

The Council addresses the difficulties and challenges the participant churches face, regardless of jurisdiction, which include:

  • Declining numbers and therefore decreased resources
  • Ageing membership
  • Missing the 20/40 age group
  • Reaching out to children
  • Declining values in society
  • Church values tend to corrupt the churches
  • The Church is marginalized by secular society
  • There is an unwillingness on the part of some people to change
  • There is a lack of confidence in the Gospel
  • There is a greater ease with social action than with evangelism

To counter these difficulties the Council put forward a number of tasks.

The people need to be helped to:

  • Gain self-confidence in expressing their faith
  • Proclaim conviction in God’s love
  • Demonstrate confidence in God

The Church needs to:

  • Provide books, enquiry resources and news leaflets
  • Promote reading and study
  • Be a source of peace in the world
  • Witness Christ’s love
  • Be authentic
  • Regain confidence in themselves and their message
  • Recognize the impact it still has

The proposed action plans include:

  • Cutting busyness and becoming fruitful
  • Helping members to seek the vision
  • Putting emphasis on a creative Christ-like, hope-filled churches
  • Speaking to and engaging children and parents
  • Coordinating activities with other churches
  • Enabling their congregations to discern their local mission

The Council recognizes that the Church,

  • Must be strong and healthy to bring the message of salvation to the world
  • Must be socially active in every community
  • Must respond to a call to be “more Christian in the world and more human in the church”
  • Needs to be there for all enquirers
  • Can exert a positive influence in our spiritual life
  • Can only propose the Christian faith and morals, not impose them on others

All and all, this is interesting material, which can give clergy and lay leaders food for thought—and action! Oh, I forgot to tell you. Shropshire is a county in central western England.

(Edited by Fr. E.H)



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