- WHAT'S ON
According to the official census figures the population of England and Wales has grown by 3.7 million people in just the past 10 years. Such a rate of growth, 7.1%, represents the greatest 10 year increase in over one hundred years.
Birmingham’s own population exceeds the national average with an increase of 90,000 people between 2001 and 2011. The census also confirmed that Birmingham is the youngest city in Europe with 37% of the population under the age of 25.
We need new churches simply to reverse the decline of churches over the past 30 years. The total number of churches in the UK fell from 50,231 in 1980 to 47,635 in 2005 a fall of 5.16%, whilst in the same period the UK population grew from 56.3 Million to 60.2 Million a rise of 6.7%.
A recent study of 64,303 adults in the UK found that of 18-34’s only 38% defined themselves as Christian. Yet, 53% chose to describe themselves as having no religion. How do we reach an increasingly secular society with the gospel? The gospel doesn’t change and the message of Christ crucified is our only message but we do need to find innovative, creative and flexible models of church that are highly-contextualised to best reach a secular culture. New churches have always led the way.
200,000 people in Birmingham self-define as having no religion.
Secularisation is not the only challenge because at the same time we are becoming increasingly diverse. In the 2001 census 16.8% of the Birmingham population identified themselves as Muslim. By 2011 that figure had risen to 21.8%, representing a 2% increase a year. The Muslim population for England and Wales as a whole remains less than 5.0%. The challenge is obvious and the statistics demonstrate the direction of travel: ever-more diversity!
Of under 11’s in our city 57% are from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
New communities have entered our cities and reaching them for Christ presents fantastic opportunities and very real challenges.
The church has a lot of work to do to persuade those who live in our cities that we have a role to play. In that same study of over 60,000 UK adults:
When 4 in 5 people are deeply suspicious of the presence of religion in their society there is much that the church must do to demonstrate a commitment to serve and bless our cities.