- Over the past 20-30 years, what have been the major changes in way of life for the people in your community where you live?
- What effects have any such changes had on the life of the Church in your area?
- In what ways has your church responded and what more could be done?
In recent years Wellington has gone from being a thriving independent market town to a suburb of Telford and a commuter ‘holding-pen’ for Wolverhampton and Birmingham. This means that, for many people, rather than Wellington being the place where they live, work, shop, and go out they now live in Wellington, work in Birmingham, shop in Telford and go out in Wolverhampton. The implications for the Church are massive as, even if people are looking for a Church they will no longer necessarily go to their local church but will look for the Church that suits them. This, combined with the shift away from a ‘Christendom’ society means that the Church can’t just assume that people will want to come to their local church and it has had to think more creatively about how to reach people with the good news of the kingdom. Over the last few years we have started running a messy Church in a local primary school, planted a new congregation in a nearby housing estate, restarted our midweek communion service and started opening the Church on some lunchtimes as a place for college students to meet. These are just some of the ways we are trying to connect with people who don’t or won’t come along to our Sunday services.
I also think it’s hard to overstate the impact that technology, and particularly the internet, have had on society over the last twenty years. The majority of the population now have internet access and for many, particularly teenagers and young adults, this is the primary way of finding information. This means that churches without a web presence are immediately out of touch with, if not invisible to, a growing proportion of society. This is matched only by those with a website that is totally out of date! We have invested a significant amount of time in our web presence over the last year and I spend two mornings a week keeping our website, Facebook and Twitter pages up to date. The internet has enormous potential for mission but in order to be effective the Church has to keep up to speed with the rapid technological evolution taking place. I can only see this becoming a more significant factor in the decades to come.