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How denominations /churches can combat pressures and causes for disconnection
What churches can do to reintegrate those reconnecting.

Debbie Thrower, Chaplain to Older People.

It is tempting to think that older people have made up their minds about God. If they profess a belief, that they have their faith life more or less “sewn up”- once a church goer always a church goer- but experience of listening to older people suggests that this is far from the case.

The Connect4Life research indicates to me that whatever age we are we may have profound issues with the way in which church engages with people. For some older people, criticism of the church may lead to a gradual disconnection; a steady loss of faith leading to the decision to abandon church altogether. For others a crisis of some sort may precipitate a more sudden disconnection.

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by Ed Mackenzie, Evangelism, Spirituality and Discipleship Officer for the Methodist Church.

Although based on a small sample of respondents, the Connect4Life research provides a helpful stimulus for thinking about how churches can best reach the ‘disconnected’, those who once belonged to the church but who do so no longer. The ‘disconnected’ correlate to the ‘de-churched’ category, estimated in Tearfund’s 2007 research as a staggering 33% of UK adults.1 The high figures suggests that the ‘backdoor’ of church is sometimes left open, and that churchgoers can sometimes leave without being noticed.

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By Bishop Graham Cray, Leader of the Fresh Expressions team

I look at these findings from a distinctive perspective, because, although I am deeply committed to enabling the disconnected to reconnect to church, my primary calling is to help the church connect with a larger group still (in England at least), the unconnected, those who have never had a connection to church in the first place.

Tangentially, because it addresses why people leave and reconnect, this research helps to ensure that the unconnected who are drawn into church through fresh expressions have the best chance of staying connected, rather than continue the cycle of disconnection.

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George Fisher is Director of Mission at Lichfield Diocese.

One of the things I am acutely conscious of is the lack of pastoral care in churches. Our pastoral care systems are based on a model of society and church life which was true 40 years ago but is not true today, and they are therefore inadequate. In the past a ‘regular church attender’ was there probably 50 out of 52 weeks of the year, missing one week for their annual leave and another for illness. In fact many attended more than once on a Sunday. Also, many clergy only had one church and therefore the task of seeing who was missing was relatively simple – the Vicar looked out over his flock.

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Jim Currin is Secretary for Evangelisation at CTE.

Olaf Fogwill and his colleagues are to be commended for approaching a difficult subject with some enthusiasm – namely how to learn from people who have been disconnected from church and then reconnected again.

When I was first asked to comment on the Connect4Life series of booklets for The Good Bookstall website, the booklet which stood out as quite significant was the one that can be offered to people who have left church but invited to ‘Give it 7 Days’. I thought this was quite a unique contribution to the body of Christian evangelistic literature, and worthy of a lot of churches having it handy to give to those who would be prepared to ‘give it another go.’

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