Re: the happy news from London below, here is a more detailed look at what the local Anglican bishops have been doing for the past 20 years:
"Hope arrived as bishop in 1991; he first changed the criteria for the appointment of new priests, who were no longer to be chosen for their ability to care for the existing congregation, but for their ability to mobilise mission. ‘Every major individual church growth story since 1990 began with the appointment of a new incumbent chosen with mission and growth in mind and tasked to lead it.’ Next, Hope asked every parish to produce a ‘mission action plan’ (Wolffe and Jackson repeat the joke I remember from the time, that none of those three words had previously featured in the vocabulary of the average Anglican parish…), and appointed people to give the parishes support in the development and implementation of the MAP. Third, the system of calculating a parish’s required contribution to the diocese based solely on its numbers was discontinued. This system had rewarded failure and penalised success (falling numbers saved you money and vice-versa); in its place came a system of negotiation which would challenge failure and allow growing churches to request to keep a greater proportion of their income in order to cement growth.
Within the parishes, clergy have been released (by changing social expectations) from many traditional and time-consuming roles within the local community and able to focus their efforts on areas of perceived need; London clergy tend to be younger, and involved in strong interchurch networks, such as New Wine; a model of church planting that has emphasised the revival of fading congregations by transplanting leadership and a new congregation from a growing neighboring parish has also been a significant motor for growth, in that a significant number of shrinking congregations have been revitalised."
Imagine. Mission is systemically and institutionally rewarded. Money is shifted to support mission, not just the maintenance of existing structures. And 20 years later, adult membership has grown 70%. In secular, multi-cultural London.
Interesting in Catholic teaching on this very topic? Here is the link to the presentation that Fr. Michael Sweeney OP and I made in Rome on this very topic: The Parish: Mission or Maintenance.
What do you think?