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Faith Comment published in the Petersfield Post

25 February 2015: Dom Clarke - Church leader - St Matthew's, Blackmoor and Whitehill

The 16%

There are two quotes that have been discussed, thought and prayed about recently up in our corner of north-east Hampshire and members of country parishes. The first is from ex-Archbishop George Carey who said in 2013 that the Church of England was only one generation away from extinction. The second is a tweet from Richard Dawkins in which he claimed that only 16% of self identified Christians actually believed in God. The 84% we assume are just hedging their bets.

Life in the Church of England gets increasingly tough with expensive buildings to maintain, ageing and dwindling congregations and, although we do see small pockets of encouraging growth it is unsure whether in the end it is just 'too little, too late' as George Carey believes. A faith life, worship, prayer and fellowship all compete with a whole range of other choices that fill our busy lives.

Christians however are people ultimately of hope, and perhaps our only hope is in an utter re-thinking of what "church" is and how we do it. Now, more than ever the Church is in desperate need of renewal and revival, certainly in this country. Abroad, in places like China and much of Africa the church is expanding exponentially and rapidly. Places where life is not quite as comfortable as here and in places that experience persecution and prejudice.

For the church to survive beyond this generation we now have to ask ourselves tough questions before it is too late: How are we prepared to change? What can we give up? Where should our focus be? What is our new vision? Are we one of the 16% or the 84%? Our answer and our hope is found in Jesus and a stripping back of everything else to this one amazing person. After all, at the end of the day it is all about him.

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