People who imagine that churches in Britain are three-parts empty, populated by old ladies and doomed to be converted into carpet warehouses could be in for a shock.
The church in Britain is growing.
A new survey, Church Growth in Britain from 1980 to the Present, published by an international team of researchers at Cranmer Hall, home of an Anglican theological college in Durham, shows that
* There are 500,000 Christians in black majority churches in Britain. Sixty years ago there were hardly any.
* At least 5,000 churches have been started in Britain since 1980.
* There are one million Christians in Britain from black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities.
* The adult membership of Anglican churches in the London diocese has risen by over 70 per cent since 1990.
Roughly the same number of churches have closed as have opened. Some denominations - notably 'mainline' denominations like Anglican, Methodist, URC and Catholic - have seen serious decline. But some churches, especially churches rooted in ethnic minority communities and newer denominations, have seen major growth.
David Goodhew, writing in the Church of England Newspaper, says church growth happens most often where there is population growth, immigration and economic dynamism. Church planting is the most effective single strategy for growing the church. A theology of church growth is needed.
The idea that countries in the West are getting more secular and nothing can be done about it flies in the face of the evidence.
"Jesus remains as magnetic as he was 2,000 years ago. The Holy Spirit is just as widely at work - if we have eyes to see him. Research into church growth in contemporary Britain shows that when people step out in faith God uses that faith to grow churches and bless communities."