Churches in England closing in large numbers

By November 1, 2004

England (MNN) — While England is a country that allows freedom of religion, that may be changing in the minds of those who live there.

Jack Shiflett is with the Association of Baptist for World Evangelism. He says in some neighborhoods in key cities, Asians make up about 75-percent of the population. Shiflett says preaching the Gospel in these areas can be difficult. “There’s a risk of being threatened and beaten up and then turn you over to the police after the fact. So, it is a serious situation already in England even though there is freedom of religion on every hand.”

The bad part about this trend is that churches are disappearing. Shiflett says thousands are leaving not only the Church of England, but evangelical churches. “The church of England is finding it necessary, because of the lack of people who are members of the Church of England, to sell off their building. It’s not uncommon in East London or in other places to see former churches that are now mosques or temples.”

He says that’s why ABWE is working there. “ABWE’s ministry there is to come along side the local church and to strengthen them. And, what our primary ministry in the last 18 years has been church rescue.” The idea is to help the local church in evangelism and discipleship. As they do, the churches grow and begin reaching out to their community. Shiflett says this will allow them to share the love and message of Christ with their neighbors. That’s why they’re partnering with Asians to reach Asians.

The prayer they have right now, says Shiflett, is that the government will continue to allow religious freedom in a pluralistic society. “If anybody claims to have unique truth, they can become a target almost of the government because they’re considered troublemakers. Often times Christianity is rejected, not because it’s been tried and proven false, it’s rejected because it claims to be truth.”

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