‘Key limiting factors’: the end of stipendiary parish ministry

Jul 3, 2021 by

by Archbishop Cranmer:

Priests are expensive. Church buildings are expensive. Theological formation is expensive. So the Church of England has set out its ‘Vision and Strategy‘ for cost-cutting: 10,000 new lay-led churches over the next 10 years, to make one million new disciples for Christ. Far better to bring Jesus to the local school or village hall, where the people are, and have them led by ordinary people, like most people are, than to try to sustain a model of church which is, to speak candidly, unsustainable.

The Puritans would be stifling a smirk all the way to their barren meeting-house. Gone are the naves, altars, vestments, organs, icons, stained glass windows and the monuments to centuries of parish continuity: in come rows of plastic chairs in a magnolia hall, where all eyes are drawn to the only point of interest: the lay leader wearing trainers and trackie bottoms, who declares ‘This is the day that the Lord has made!’, introduces the latest Graham Kendrick chorus (guitar, drums), quotes a few more scriptures, and then speaks on the absolute authority of the Bible in all our lives and how we all need to repent of our sin and love one another.

Some will love this unadorned gospel simplicity because it is ‘more biblical’. Others will wonder where this leaves the local parish church and the vicar – not to mention the Eucharist.

Or perhaps we should mention the Eucharist.

And perhaps we also ought to mention theological training.

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