A new survey indicates that the reason for the decline in UK Church attendance has more to do with a lack of sincerity in preaching, and an inability to defend Christianity at the pulpit than a lack of faith.
A year-long survey of 14,000 UK churchgoers from many different denominations has revealed that overwhelmingly, attendants want churches to "robustly defend moral values with conviction and courage and cease being 'silent' and 'lukewarm' in the face of moral and social collapse.'
There are many who answered the survey, "who feel that their views are not being heard or represented," said Lord Bromley Betchworth in an introduction to the report. "They are appalled that the moral values and treasured beliefs are being stood on their head and want churches to play a leading role in standing up for these things."
The survey asked simple open ended questions and many answers were given in the form of letters. The huge response reflected a growing frustration and anger felt by many at the direction of society in general. One respondent said, "Thank you for the chance to express our beliefs without fear."
A great majority of the responses, 91% wrote a similar theme, saying that one of the main reasons for the exit of so many was that apologetics, the reasoned defense of Christianity was not being taught. "It's a myth today that people of this country have rejected Christianity; they simply haven't been told enough about it to either accept or reject it," wrote one person.
Experiencing Holiness was something that the respondents felt was also missing. The respondents didn't feel that the they needed to live a morally demanding life because of readily available forgiveness. With the attitude that "God loves me anyway," those surveyed said many didn't feel compelled to repent of their behavior.
With 70% of the respondents being over the age of 30, there was also a desire to return to traditional liturgy. Many also expressing a desire for more "real conviction and sincerity" in the service.
The sermon, considered the "meat in the sandwich" of the service, was spoiled according to some. One person wrote "On Sunday I listened to a sermon on the subject of Elijah being fed by the ravens. the sermon was good in explaining what happened, but failed to point out why this should be significant to me in my everyday walk with Jesus."
Another said, "We want sermons on Biblical topics which help us live as faithful Christians in the 21st century."
Some also felt authentic fellowship was lacking as well as a "visionary and prophetic" teaching which "provided reassurance and comfort for the faithful by explaining the purpose of the second coming of Christ." They felt they needed churches that challenged immorality, taught repentance and highlighted Biblical prophecies to be fulfilled before Christ's return.
The survey was called, "Let the People Speak". The chairman of the Ecumenical Survey Committee is the Rev. Jonathan Willans.
The entire report can be found online at: www.churchsurvey.co.uk