A recent writer has also pointed out that some of our traditional strategies for reaching new people with the gospel are now much more difficult. In particular what was once a strength of the parish – belonging to local neighbourhoods – is now much less a strength. Even if most people in a church lived locally, their friendships and relationships are more likely to be at work or in their recreation world. Many will not have much to do with the people who live in their street.

I think that many local parishes will continue to decline and be amalgamated or just close down. Some will survive. Some of these will be those with a good foundation in property, lack of debt, well run services, keen lay leaders and energetic ministers. Some will survive even though they may have abandoned most traditional Christian beliefs. They will survive by the force of their program and the attraction of sufficient people of shared interests and belief. Although probably not for very long.

What about us? Surviving is not the same as growing, nor is it the same as making disciples. What is needed? Just people who really want to see others turn to Christ. The one infallible sign of this is that these people pray that others will turn to Christ. Everything else follows from that.

Dale