Wednesday, December 02, 2015

New Zealand Church, Like The Episcopal Church is Dropping Like A Stone

Bosco Peters is an Anglican priest in New Zealand, and while I do not agree with his take on most church controversies, I did appreciate the fact that he included his diocese's statistics in a recent blog post.

Here are some of his numbers,

Receiving Communion at Christmas
Year       Received Communion
1990       19,784
2000       15,492
2010       13,411
2014       10,542
Total Church Attendance
Year                               Total Church Attendance
1990 (Sundays only)     472,025
1996 (Every Day)            584,703
2000                                  560,901
2010                                  451,889
2014                                  356,290
My only knowledge of New Zealand comes from a limited exposure to their prayer book during a service foisted upon me by a priest-to-be of the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina, and another NZ Prayer Book service at a picnic service by our former curate, and Bosco Peter's blog. My first impression is that the church in New Zealand's decline may be due to the same revisionist thinking that infects the Episcopal church in the U.S.A.

"Progressives" in the Church are currently those pushing for prayer book and hymnal revision, same sex marriage rites, gender neutral language, communion of the unbaptized, and what ever else tickles their fancy. This sounds like the same path that the Episcopal church and the Church in New Zealand have tried in the past. The results of going down that road are reflected in the declining numbers of Sunday worshipers and the tiny fraction of members who are involved in prayer groups and Bible study groups. I guess the current crop of church leaders are hoping for a different result this time (most of us would call that the definition of insanity). CS Lewis in The Case for Christianity had something to say about such "progressive" thinking,

“We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. There is nothing progressive about being pig-headed and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world it's pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We're on the wrong road. And if that is so we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on” ― C.S. Lewis

How far down the wrong road does one have to go before realizing that one has made a mistake?

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