Lots of good stuff over at Start the Week today, including a link to a new book on fasting (see previous post), a conference on the spirituality of Doctor Who, and an extensive review article on Richter & Francis's Gone for Good? - an in depth study of church leavers and the dynamics of this process. Here's an excerpt from the full article
The authors do identify those most likely to return to church – those ‘whose church-leaving was associated with life transitions and life changes, and alternative lives and alternative meanings’ (a term the authors use to describe tensions between the demands of everyday life and church attendance). (pp. 302-3).
On the other hand, those least likely to return included ‘Those whose church-leaving was associated with matters of belief and unbelief, growing up and changing, incompatible lifestyles, costs and benefits, disillusionment with the church, problems with relevance, and problems with conservatism’ (p. 303)
Given the wide range of reasons given for church leaving, and basing their theory on the theology of individual differences propounded by Francis in recent works, the authors go on to suggest that ‘church switching’ is infinitely preferable to church-leaving and argue that this be encouraged. They propose a ‘multiplex church’ which like the mega-cinemas familiar to us all have many points of entry and departure and a number of different styles to choose from, according to personal taste. The term encompasses both a multiplicity of separate congregations within the same premises as well as a multiplicity of different styles of church in a given locality.
There's also a link to Resurrection Debate an ongoing online debate over the resurrection of Jesus, which is worth a look, though there's quite a lot to plough through. Apologetics remains a key task of the church, and as Easter approaches there is the chance to make the case again for Christianity as a reasonable, historically based faith which deals with a God who is alive, relevant, loving and powerful.