Mat’s November Letter

I don’t often shop in M&S but I’m really pleased it’s there. If it wasn’t there then where would I go when I can’t find things elsewhere? It’s sort of comforting… and the food hall is good. But if everyone had that approach to it, it wouldn’t have regular customers and it wouldn’t exist would it?

I sometimes wonder if this is the attitude of many people to the church ‘glad it’s there and we’ll use it if we need to’.

I’m reading a book at the moment called ‘Church Growth in Britain’ (Ed David Goodhew). It argues from extensive research that whilst commitment to mainstream church is generally falling (although some individual churches are growing), personal spiritual awakening is definitely growing. It concludes that growing churches meet this spiritual hunger, are unashamed of the core Christian beliefs and are happy to adapt culturally (i.e. they are open to change). It concludes that growing churches have effective leadership, strong engagement with children and young people, have community building and social outreach activities and avoidance of large financial burdens. I believe we have all of these, or at least the beginnings of all of these. So I have to ask myself why it is that our growth seems to have stalled in the past few months. Our Sunday attendance has been low, our giving is reduced, our mid-week group attendance is declining and we are once again struggling to find volunteers for our children’s work. I’d be genuinely interested in your thoughts on this.

In my reflections I’ve wondered whether some of us feel we are not an important part in the life and ministry of the church. Each part of the body is needed and special. We do miss you if you’re not there. The community is not the same without you and our worship is poorer for it.
At its heart St Matthew’s has to be about a community committed to God and seeking to be disciples of Jesus in the world; a community that lives for Jesus and encourages one another to do the same. It is absolutely not about staff team, or PCC or the building. They/we/it exist to serve the community of St Matthew’s in its ministry to the parish and the City. My fear is that we are losing the desire to both meet together (at various points in the week including Sundays) and to work together to proclaim Jesus as Lord. Are we, are you, am I committed to Jesus and this community? Do we want to see growth? Are we prepared to change?

I am hoping that this letter will spark some prayer and conversation perhaps in mid-week groups. If it does please do pass on any thoughts to PCC and me.

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