Friday, February 09, 2007


This is the report based on a survey that I took part in (at least I think I remembered to fill it in and send it off) and it's about men and full-time pastoral ministry in the UK. There are other related items on this website.

And while we're on the subject of statistics and issues of growth and decline in the UK Church, 'Christian Research' have some excellent information on their t'internet site, including some details from the 2005 English Church survey.

To me, the most alarming statistic from the 2005 survey is that now only 6.3% of the population attends Church (just over 3 million people). There is some good news as well in the report (decline is slowing down, about a third of churches are now growing) but 6.3% is very low indeed. Especially when you consider that the 6.3% is not made up entirely of gospel people or gospel churches.

All of which is a good reminder of why someone would go to bible college in the first place. By the grace of God we'll see these statistics turn around to the glory of God in Christ.


dave williams said...

Thank you for publishing these reports. I took part in the survey but haven't heard anything back -except an article in Evangelicals Now which seemed to obsess on the "Calling" point -which seemed to be an odd reading of the data.

I'm interested in the practicalities side. I don't know what others views are -I wonder whether those of us who are getting through and hve been in ministry for a while are less worried about the finances becaue we've got the support -but what about the many who wouldn't even consider it...I'm fortunate -I had a good job that enabled me to save and a Church that is paying a chunk and some friends and relatives even still it's going to be tight! I think there needs to be some serious thinking amongst the Independent Churches on that one. But probably we need a bit of a revolution on the money issue full stop!

Did you see the report on the record number of ordinations in Sydney -now they are taking things seriously!

Pete said...

I'm afraid I haven't seen the report you mention, where's the best place to find it?

I think the issues you raise about the practicalities and especially the finance is massive, and no doubt there are dozens of people around college who can tell a tale or two about that sort of thing. The point is,

a. if we believe in more people in the ministry,

b. and if we believe in training them,

c. and if we believe that full time residential training in a seminary is the best way to provide a large chunk of that training,

then we've got to find a way forward with the finances. The problem as I see it is that at a more fundamental level many churches are not commited to or convinced of one of the three 'ifs' above. And i suspect the gen next report ios aimed especially at trying to address that sort of thing, and especially with an eye to independent churches.

Claire and I have experienced the wonderful blessing of a church thoroughly committed to our training. In the end it is a sign of the gospel being at work in people's minds and wallets, combined with the sort of leadership that communicates sacrificial visionary thinking.

dave williams said...


I think the report was in the Church Times.

I agree whole heartedly with your "ifs" -I too have been blessed with a church committed to training.

I have just commented to a friend that listening to Jensen the other week I couldn't help feeling that we are still playing at church, evangelism and planting. He is driven by those things whereas we do them but would be quite happy with our Evangelical Churches staying as they are. The Christian Research reports should wake us up but then we go to our ful churches listen to a good exposition and are cheered up by some Townend songs.

Now if we are committed to those three ifs...then isn't now a time for us to do some thinking together and then committing together that we will work together on following through on them so that the next generation are in a better position than us. There will always be obstacles to ministry but lets make sure that in 30 years time a report doesn't say the same things as this one

Mandy said...

Just be careful about what you read in to the recent ordination - it's not quite the bumper crop that it looks like, because almost half of those deaconed have been working in churches for a number of years. See the story that Anglican media wrote after the ordination here

Pete said...

Thanks Mandy, the article does throw a different light on the numbers. Still, very positive to see structures being reformed with gospel priorities in mind.

That said, we have a lot to learn from our Aussie brethren in the whole area of training for ministry.

Dave, I think your third paragraph is absolutely right. I think that in many respects the right sort of conversations are being had within the emerging gospel partnerships around the country. I for one hope that good structures and lasting institutions for gospel training and growth come out of these partnerships.

(and I want to start a bible college in the peak district)

Dave Williams said...


There is Cliff College but I think it's theology might not be quite where you want it!

Maybe the Northern Training Institute will evolve into such?

Big Pete said...

Cliff college does good food, has a bar and rubbish theology!

Neil said...

But a non-alcoholic bar! That's Methodists for you (I went to a Methodist secondary school!)

Pete said...

Yeah, I've been there for weekends when the food wasn't so good either.

There is a very nice local pub however with some fine ales, and a nice coffee shop.

Obviously, the college in the peaks that I envisage would have a very good bar stocked with the finest German beers (apparently Luther considered ale helpful for theological reflection).

Dave Williams said...

So I guess we get a large enough group of crack reformed theologians together for a weekend and take them over!

Pete said...

I'm not sure I want to be party to criticising other colleges, especially those I've never been to as a student. I know it's only (partial) joking but I'm not sure it's helpful. This blog hardly has a wide-ranging readership but comments made will form part of people's impressions of Oak Hill.

I know I'm culpable by mentioning my 'college in the peaks' dream (which I stand by), but let's keep comments to the specific issues in the original post.