The Gospel in Solihull

I did some sums the other day.

In the UK there are 60 million people and 38k churches of all stripes*. That makes one church for every 1600 people.

In Solihull (including Olton and Shirley i.e. the town of Solihull, not the metropolitan borough) there are 99k people and 22 non-Catholic churches. I think there are two Catholic. In other words, including all stripes, one church for every 4100.

I don’t know if there is a right number. Would one for 1000 be healthy? Whatever, relative to the rest of the UK, there is a spiritual need in Solihull.

Furthermore, most of the churches are old and dying. SPC is 2 years old. There is a new Baptist church the other side of Solihull which is a year old. Then there are two, possibly three, that are less than 20yo, half a dozen that were formed in the 60s and 70s with the boom in housing. The rest are 100-200yo apart from St Alphege C oE which is 800+.

The picture is bleak. I did not mention the URC church that closed last year. Many others may well see the same fate if things continue as they are.

There is little genuine gospel preaching and ministry. And where there is, many hearers simply do not get it. One local pastor told me how, after speaking to a congregational meeting about the need to share the good news, one member came up to him and asked, “But what do we have that’s good news to share?” The pastor was ‘gobsmacked’.

We have a job to do here. Christ will build his church (Matt 16:19). He does it by planting churches (Mat 28:18-20). We need more.

May God help us, to his glory.

(* based on the figures in this CCPAS press release.)

The Gospel in Solihull

6 thoughts on “The Gospel in Solihull

  1. Richard Huss says:

    “I did not mention the URC church that closed last year.”

    Or St. Francis CofE which closed perhaps 3 years ago and is now a pile of bricks on Cornyx Lane, or the CofE in Catherine de Barnes (only just out of town) which now has services only monthly.

    Tim Keller is right on planting churches, isn’t he?

    Best wishes,

    Richard Huss
    Lay Chair of Solihull Deanery Synod (C of E)

  2. Stephen says:

    Hi Richard,
    Thanks for dropping by. I didn’t know about the state of those CoE churches.

    So, you read Tim Keller, do you? Yes, I like his preaching and his arguments for church planting are compelling. He is seeing the fruit of the approach in New York which was previously difficult.

    I have added you to my secret blogroll!

  3. richardhuss says:

    Sorry not to reply earlier, we have been away in Northern Ireland for a week.

    Yes, I have read/listened to a certain amount of Tim Keller’s material after my brother (who is an Anglican curate in Banbury) was enthusing after hearing him speak. (Was it at the EMA? Not sure.)

    Whether this is normal behaviour in the Church of England I would not like to speculate.

  4. Stephen says:

    I would recommend reading Keller. He has not written many books, but there are plenty of articles floating about. Blogger Steve McKoy has gathered them together here. He is good on apologetics and his writing on church planting is thought provoking. However, as with most writers, you need to be able to pick out the bones.

    I know other anglicans who are enjoy the EMA. Anyway, how do you define ‘normal’ in the C of E? Nothing surprises me!

  5. richardhuss says:

    Hmmm, how do you define what is “normal” in the CofE. You raise a good question.

    I guess I would want to be clear in differentiating what is “normal” – that is, what Anglicans jolly well ought to believe – from what is “usual”; and to define what is “normal” primarily in terms of scripture, then of the historic creeds, then of our own formularies such as the 39 Articles and the Prayer Book. This in itself probably says rather a lot about what sort of CofE I am.

    Whether or not this is the usual definition of normality in the CofE is another good question.

  6. richardhuss says:

    Coming back to your original point, I’ve racked by brains and come up with a list of about 30 churches in Solihull, Shirley and Olton. Might be vaguely interesting to compare lists; it may well be that we’re just looking at slightly different areas.

    Irrespective of exact numbers, the point about the need of the area for the gospel and for more churches is spot on.

    We also seem to be “blessed” with an inordinate number of JWs, Christadelphians, Mormons and the like around here. (We’ve even had Mormons turn up at our church building with their “Elder Chuck from Utah” name badges on…)

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