I had cause to delve into the Church archives recently, looking for information on the New Life movement. In the 1950s our Church was growing rapidly, in part due to massive suburban development. In a predominantly “churched” society the Church launched “New Life” which had three components: personal evangelism, congregational stewardship campaigns and the amassing of a £500,000 fund to be used to purchase land and build churches and halls in newly developed suburbs. Each parish had a target amount to raise to contribute toward the national goal.
The concept was great – deepening faith, encouraging people to invite their neighbours to church, growing the giving, and sharing resources to extend the denomination.
As we all know, the growth bubble wasn’t sustained and a number of the churches and halls built with New Life funds are now in the wrong places relative to the households in the area.
I can contrast this with a conversation I had a few months ago when I was told that our Church should be buying up land in growing areas and planting new congregations. Now, as in the 1950s, the only way this can occur is through congregations generously sharing resources (sometimes at their own expense) to ensure that every opportunity is given for the new plants to take root and sprout. We are at our best when we share as a denomination, and we are not at our best when we are consumed with “mine” and “ours”. Growth will come when we let go of God’s resources.
What do you think? Is it time for “New Life” again??