The former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, has warned that the Church of England is just “one generation away from extinction.” At a meeting of church leaders convened to discuss the growing crisis, various internal and external causes were identified:

Internally there has been “a failure to bring youngsters into church services” and clergy have spent too long “arguing over words and phrases, while the people of England are left floundering amid meaninglessness, anxiety and despair.” External factors include increasingly anti-Christian government and courts, and a growing wariness and antipathy towards faith in the wider population.

The Christian Spring
Down the road, in the Roman Catholic church, ex-Catholic Herald Editor, Christine Odone begs to disagree and argues that the church is on the bring of “The Christian Spring!”

Odone accepts that “plenty of things have been going wrong. First and foremost, our enemies are organized as never before. Secularists have made a concerted effort to erase Christianity from public life here and across the West. They have silenced prayers before meetings, the ringing of church bells, and even the girl scouts who once pledged to serve God.” She continues:

As I have written in my ebook, No God Zone, the secularists have successfully enshrined their bias against religion in laws across Europe. The Observatory on Intolerance against Christians in Europe has reported that EU member states have enacted 41 laws that discriminate against Christians. The effect of such legislation is huge: some professions, such as doctors, therapists and even pharmacists, are now closed to Christians, who would otherwise have to go against their conscience on issues such as abortion, euthanasia or the morning after pill.

Secularists, as I have written before, seem to want only one thing: for Christians to be driven back into the catacombs. Prayers, and services, will soon have to be practiced away from prejudiced eyes, in the privacy of a home or a private chapel.

Despite all this, however, she believes she can see three shoots of a Christian Spring: Pope Francis, Justin Welby (present Archbishop of Canterbury), and the backlash effect (the idea that people will get sick of their immorality and will want to be good again!).

Prepare for Winter
If that’s the best she’s got, I’m with Carey in preparing for Winter.

We might sum up her hope in one word: MAN (or HUMANITY to be gender inclusive), and pretty mixed-up humanity at that.

The spiritual climate is really bleak in the UK, and the US is only 5-10 years behind. If Christians are to have any hope for the future, it has to be grounded exclusively in God. If there’s any verse that our generation needs to hear it’s “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of” (Isaiah 2:22 KJV).

What does that look like though? It looks like giving up on our strategies, our ideas, our marketing, our meetings, our reports, our celebrities, our talents, and our brains.

It also looks like prayer, prayer, and more prayer – private and public, personal and corporate.

Man alone has caused the problem. God alone is the solution.

Until we believe and act on that, the night will continue to grow longer, darker, and colder.

But if we do get it, if we really do start calling upon the name of the Lord in prayer, and looking to Him alone for revival and blessing, I firmly believe the ice will melt, crocuses will bloom, cuckoos will sing, and the sun will shine again.

  • Chris Schroeder

    Sunny but cold here in the North East of the UK. Winter coats but rays of light.
    One barometer of the UK climate might be attendance at this (timely) Jonathan Edwards for the Church conference :)

    Just ordered your book Jesus On Every Page – this will also be our next church book at Gateshead Pres.
    Looking forward to reading it, especially your treatment of JE. Thanks for putting this together.

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  • Ron Gilbert

    And so it goes.
    China and other present or past Communist outposts have become lands of Christian opportunity: young people from China are seeking Christ at home and abroad, with the blessing of parents who felt the spiritual void first.
    If Christ tarries, the cycles will continue until the last of His purchased people is gathered in.

  • Kent Butterfield

    David my good brother, I agree with your exhortation for us to get to praying and looking exclusively towards God for revival. The estimation of our churches being only 5-10 years away from England’s churches I disagree. It was the former Arch Bishop of Canterbury who was assessing his broken down denomination that has been on a decline for hundreds of years. There is not enough evangelical churches in England however. We in America have many weak churches but many strong ones that are making numerous inroads into our culture. New liberal seminaries are not forming but reformed seminaries are very slowly on the rise (as evident by your own). More and more good books are written or republished in America to disseminate God’s truth. It is not enough for certain so we must pray and labor more, relying only on the power of the Word of God and the moving of the Holy Spirit. America is unique in that the Church has many weaknesses and yet many strengths. Would you not say the Church in England has many weaknesses and very LITTLE strength? Regardless, we agree we must humbly beseech God’s grace upon our land and turns us away from the path of destruction to the path of righteousness.

    • David Murray

      I take your point, Kent. I was thinking more of the general spiritual culture with that comment more than the church scene. Specifically I was thinking of the trends in education, judicial decisions, legislation and in particular in the areas of gay marriage, abortion, religious freedom, hate crimes, etc.

      I do rejoice with you in the greater number of healthy churches in the US.

  • Zachary McKenzie

    I must first admit that I am from the U.S. and we (the U.S.) are as you said 5-10 years behind. With that said, I am hearing a different voice coming from the ecclesia, especially from the millennials. Yes the latest PEW study reveals that 30% of the millennials are the so called “nones” but what I find interesting is that many of them are still very spiritual. They don’t associate with the church because of its “inward” focus thus hindering the true outpouring of God’s love. Maybe David Bosch was right in his missional model. Do we see the decline when in fact there is a new vision (or old) of the church? Have we lost sight of what it means to be the ecclesia? Have we been deceived to measure the churches success by the number of members? Maybe my outlook is skewed. Maybe as we enter post-modernity and post-Christendom in the U.S. we will see the impeding “winter.” Then again, maybe we have been staring at the shadow on the wall for too long and can’t recognize what the church actually is and how far it has fallen away from its mission.

    • David Murray

      Good points and challenging questions, Zachary.