Something sadly fascinating is happening to The Traditional Church.
The ‘Old Church’ is declining fast. Membership is plummeting as many of their number stray to other interests on a Sunday.
Many, disillusioned with the decline in biblical moral standards, unhappy that the drive towards inclusivity has resulted in the denial, implicit or explicit, of much traditional Church teaching, are losing Faith, losing Hope, and just giving up on so much of the traditional main-stream Church.
The smaller Churches, often non-denominational, are burgeoning, simply because they offer Hope, they offer real Faith rather than just lip service to a much watered down original, and they offer true biblical values and standards which members are strongly encouraged to adhere to!
Yet even these are struggling to retain members. Many reasons, but high on the list is the air of legalism or religiosity that has lingered as a hangover from Traditional Churches.
People didn’t know or understand what went on inside a Church; they didn’t like the formality; and much of the old cliquiness remained — again, which people didn’t like.
So now there is evolving an even newer alternative in the para-Church movement. A far more relaxed and informal way of doing Church, this new movement doesn’t meet in traditional Church Buildings.
It meets in community centres, in hotel or pub function rooms, in places so unlike a Church, as to be unrecognisable.
It meets in homes too — sometimes as a formally organised House Church, but sometimes as the best available place until size of meetings dictate a larger public venue.
And much of the success is down to providing a relaxed atmosphere with soft drinks and cakes both before and even after the meetings.
Worship is frequently one or two people with guitars or piano, performed with passion and feeling which can envelop everyone present.
Prayers are extemporaneous and ministry time can involve everyone not just two or three prayed for by three or four on the prayer team.
In larger gatherings, often 100 or more people, great care is taken to ensure that decency and propriety is maintained at all times — but the sick are healed, the deaf hear, miracles are public for all to witness, testimonies are encouraged, and everyone present is made to feel part, an important part, of proceedings.
One such para-church is https://thefillingstation.org.uk/ with over 80 locations worldwide, including 70-odd in The United Kingdom mainland.
I commend them to you!
You’re guaranteed a warm welcome, a cup of tea or coffee, and some cake and biscuits — and that’s before the meeting starts. The meetings are amazing!
An important caveat.
I must emphasise that I’m in no way part of the organisation. I attend two of them as we are able to do so, but I have no official role and my remarks are those of an appreciative ‘fan’!
~ Chris G. Bennett
Chris Bennett came to salvation in 1962 but didn’t begin ministry until 2007 — a late-comer! Now mandated by The LORD to prophesy and open old wells of revival in the U.K., but especially in Wales. He has also operated Healing Rooms, and worked with deliverance teams, all with his wife, Linda. Happily now doing whatever The LORD asks of them! Founder, with wife Linda, of their ministry The Upper Room Encounter.