Bishop advocates 'planting' to make attendances grow

Andrew Brown
Sunday 23 October 2011 08:00

A NEW Anglican church is being 'planted' every fortnight, and 100,000 worshippers may be brought into the church by this means before the year 2000, according to a bishop who has produced a report on the controversial practice, writes Andrew Brown.

The Bishop of Southwell, the Rt Rev Patrick Harris, said that the secret of success was to identify and respond to local needs. A seed group from an existing congregation would start to hold services in a new building, most often hired for the occasion, and hope that the new neighbours would join in.

Of the 177 church plantings that he had studied, only four had been controversial, and these had all occurred before 1991. The practice gained a bad name when large charismatic evangelical churches such as St Andrews, Chorleywood, Hertfordshire, were felt to be muscling in on the parishes of their smaller neighbours.

However, Bishop Harris said yesterday that the overwhelming majority of church plantings took place within parish boundaries.

Some were no more than the provision of another service in existing church buildings, deliberately designed to attract a wholly different congregation.

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