The Big Conversation – Christadelphians in the United Kingdom

Jon Downes - TBC Facts and Figures v0.3 - 01In the United Kingdom people may find several villages and towns where there reside Christadelphians,  a body of Christians who try to base their beliefs and practices wholly on the Bible, which they regard as God’s word. They try therefore to rid themselves of the various ideas and rituals which have attached themselves to Christendom over the last 2,000 years and to return to the beliefs and practices of the first century apostles.

Being a group of people who want to follow the Nazarene Jew Jeshua, who did not want to do his own will, but always did the Will of his heavenly Father, they as the man born in Bethlehem, are living in this world but not wanting to be of this world following human traditions and human dogmas. That does not make them so popular, because people may look strange at those people who do not want to celebrate Halloween and other pagan festivities.

Because the Christadelphians are a community without the trappings of elaborate buildings, priests or icons, their institutions and fellowship-rooms not be seen straight away. The outer sights are not important for the Christadelphians who prefer to give honour to God and show a deep respect for God’s word and love to have a strong sense of family and fellowship.

On the above map you can see some of the more than 300 ecclesiae in Great Britain and Ireland. They were taken under the loop by brother Jon Downes who on the 10th of October asked

What is happening?

For him the present size & growth or non-growth of UK ecclesiae show there isn’t a, ‘No Change’ option

It’s not that we aren’t trying!

he said to about 350 Christadelphians present at Dudley college.

In this world of figures, comparisons and evaluations it is all about numbers in graphics which have to show an up-going trend and reach high peaks. this for sure can not be said about our very small community. Lots of people may think when it is not big it has no value and can not be good. But people should look at the intrinsic value and to see what a group or church is believing, following up, and how they keep to what they preach. It is true that minorities do not exert influence, and that they should have to contend on the culture or the systems around it.

Christadelphians do not fall in the temptation to pretend to be a majority, even if one is not. They do know they are just a little grain of sand in our religious world. But that does not mean that many more little grains can be put together with water and with clay form a nice vase. Though sometimes it can look like we are coming to sit more in an urn. Especially in Belgium we are in distress and can do with some support form abroad. Though looking at other countries can show us also how important it is to make more work of the announcing or making known of our society.

All over the world people may not forget that the church of Jesus Christ is never a majority, in any fallen culture, even if we happen to outnumber every[one] else around us. They should come to see that the real church of God is the church of Christ were people are willing to follow Jesus his words, his teachings, but also his manners and his aspirations. It is a place where people are willing to share the agapè love of Christ, who was even willing to give his life for others, even for those who turned against him. Would we do that?

Where Christian churches have held fast to the truth that the Holy Scriptures have been given by God as an authoritative and infallible rule of faith and practice, they have never wandered very seriously out of the right way. But when, on the other hand, reason has been exalted above revelation, and made the the exponent of revelation, all kinds of errors and mischiefs have been the result, and got many sorts of denominations which have lots of rituals people may like very much but which are not according to God’s Law. And that part is the most important in our building community. We should all try to live according God’s Law and love His Words more than the words of man.

Unfortunately, lots of Christians do not closely follow the Bible today and prefer to join churches in which they can keep up their human traditions. They have changed things to how they want them to be.
Since the times of Jesus, there have been small groups of people who believed what the Bible said. Many of these people were cruelly treated in times past as a result of their beliefs. Such believers united in the North of America when in 1864 broke out the Civil War. Dr. Thomas thought up the word “Christadelphian“, a name combining the name “Christ” with the Greek word “adelphi” meaning “brother”. So the name “Christadelphian” means “brothers and sisters in Christ“.

Christadelphians are grateful to John Thomas for his efforts in searching out the message of the Bible. John Thomas was not a prophet or someone special. He read the Bible, just as we try to do. Christadelphians follow Jesus Christ, not John Thomas. Not following just one man or just one human organisation gives that we may have different ideas about certain things, but that doe snot mean we would not have union with each other, though we must agree that there are certain Christadelphian groups who shamefully do not want to have contact with other Christadelphians.  According to the Belgian Free Christadelphians this is also part of the reasons why it is so difficult to show the world a bigger group of religious people under one name: Christadelphians.

Being joined together by our common faith in the Bible, and the way we live, we all should try to meet each other and have contact with each other as loving siblings. All being brothers and sisters in Christ. Though each “ecclesia” has to look after its own affairs, and choose members who determine arrangements and organise activities on behalf of their members they should feel that unity with Christ with other Christadelphians world wide and show the outside world that Jesus Christ is their head of each ecclesia.

Living in this world we do agree that “It’s not about the numbers” … …but the “numbers tell a story”. And those numbers in west Europe may be alarming. Therefore there was the call to come thereto in the UK to discuss that matter of dwindling ciphers.

Like any other western capitalist country in the UK Bible ownership and Bible knowledge has slumped, some english people also do find it a form of indoctrination when parents in their home pray and talk about God in front of their children of that child.

Jon Downes presented the anxious members a snapshot of our society in the UK.

Jon Downes - TBC Facts and Figures v0.3 - 06and showed those present how a typical ecclesia looks like.

Jon Downes - TBC Facts and Figures v0.3 - 08When we look at the adult baptisms in our community from related people (3,5) and from non related
(1.0) plus counting the (0.5) refellowshipping members, comparing them with the average of 10 people falling asleep and 2 people leaving the fellowship, we might say that such numbers bring the graphic line downwards.

What might happen to the Christadelphian community in the United Kingdom when they do not something to change the coarse.

happened.

Therefore lets look at the United Kingdom as an example.

what might this give to that community, where we find, like everywhere in the world members becoming older and dying, whilst the world is getting less interested in God and commandment.

What might happen to the Christadelphian community in the United Kingdom when they do not something to change the coarse

In case we can bring the Gospel of the Good News to many more ears, we should be able by a co-effort of preaching to increase the interest in God again and get again some people interested in joining a community of lovers of Christ and lovers of God.

Jon Downes - TBC Facts and Figures v0.3 - 15

We must see that

The lost are our hope

and that there is good reason to try to reach the lost. We as brothers and sisters in Christ should love the people in the world so much that we will be offering some of our spare time for preaching work.

We are the hope of the lost

Luckily it is not all ad  or sad news.

Good News!

tells brother Downes is that we can look at

  • 120 baptisms a year (4 average sized ecclesias)
  • In the last 40 years, 39 new ecclesias. (Although 96 have closed & some were renamed).
  • In the last 15 years,1/4 of all baptisms from non Christadelphian backgrounds were by just 16 ecclesias. (Although 1/3 didn’t baptise any)
  • While many ecclesias are shrinking many are growing.
  • Numbers in Africa are growing!
  • Bible Learning Centres & Learning English are having a big impact

Instead of going for Plan A is it not better that we go for Plan B?

Plan A discussed tat the Big Conversation of 2015 October 10 at Dudley college, UK
Plan A discussed at the Big Conversation of 2015 October 10 at Dudley college, UK
  • Current UK Christadelphian population of 8-8500 is based on 223 2015 ALS Diary returns on households & 178 2015 CCH survey returns. 10 Ecclesias had neither return and were estimated on previous diary returns.
  • 1985 to 2015 data based on records kept from the back of the Christadelphian, clearly subject to some error, gaps and misreporting. The last 12 months of Magazine entries were analysed separately and yielded results consistent with the records obtained.
  • Net loss of 120 per annum and the 10, 5, 1 ratio derived from average of last 10 years data. Approx 240 out and 120 in. These do not include brothers and sisters movement in and out of the UK.
  • Forecast from 2015 based on a linear continuation which could easily be a) more dramatic because of rapid closure of small ecclesias, ageing population, reduced home pool to draw from, fewer people to witness, higher rates of leaving the community b) less dramatic as in a smaller community there are fewer people falling asleep each year.
How to cope with small churches getting growing ecclesiae
How to cope with small churches getting growing ecclesiae

One of the deceases of this time is that too many people want to enjoy their own little cocoon and not getting out of their comfort zone to share life with the spiritually needy. Those who call themselves Christian may not forget that this means to be a follower of Jesus Christ and demands also doing what he required from his followers. Jesus asked us to go out in the world to proclaim the Kingdom of God. We are to make every effort to bring hope and healing in Jesus name to those in need.

We are to see that the tangible goodness of God flows into every nook and cranny of our communities – especially in those places where darkness seems to prevail. {Walking With Intentionality}

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Preceding articles:

Religious Practices around the world

Manifests for believers #3 Catholic versus Protestant

Ecclesia to exist, grow and communities to have people communicating with each other

The Ecclesia in the churchsystem

Reasons to come together

The Big Conversation

The Big Conversation follow up

Reasons why you may not miss the opportunity to go to a Small Church

Engaging the culture without losing the gospel

Evangelisation, local preaching opposite overseas evangelism

Feeling-good, search for happiness and the church

Members of the ecclesia uniting and seeking God’s help in tribulation

Why we do not have our worship-services in a church building

Belgian Christadelphians 2013 & 2014 in review

Personal thoughts, communication, establishing ecclesia and guest writings

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Additional reading:

  1. People are turning their back on Christianity
  2. Looking on what is going on and not being of it
  3. London an exaggerated microcosm of the UK at large
  4. Parents forbidden to pray in front of their children or to take them to church
  5. State and attitude of certain people to blame for radicalisation
  6. More Muslim children than Christian children growing up in our cities
  7. Will Islam conquer Europe
  8. Christianity to be enshrined
  9. Halloween custom of the nations
  10. Wrong ideas about religious terrorism
  11. A call easy to understand
  12. Discipleship way of life on the narrow way to everlasting life
  13. Many forgot how Christ should be our anchor and our focus
  14. The meek one riding on an ass
  15. Do not be afraid to learn or to speak
  16. Reasons to come together
  17. Congregate, to gather, to meet
  18. Fellowship
  19. Disciple of Christ counting lives and friends dear to them
  20. The first on the list of the concerns of the saint
  21. Holiness and expression of worship coming from inside
  22. To find ways of Godly understanding
  23. Perishable non theologians daring to go out to preach
  24. Who are the honest ones?
  25. Certain people trying to stem freedom of speech
  26. Priority to form a loving brotherhood
  27. Newsweek asks: How ignorant are you?
  28. Religious Freedom in a Multicultural World
  29. Some christians do have problems with the Christian connection with Jews
  30. American atheists most religiously literate Americans
  31. Determine the drive
  32. Try driving forward instead of backwards
  33. Campbell, Thomas and Bijbelvorsers
  34. Looking at older articles series over Russell on the previous Bible-scholar Association
  35. Wanting to know more about basic teachings of Christadelphianism
  36. Christadelphians or Messianic Christians or Messianic Jews
  37. Christadelphian people
  38. Who are Christadelphians
  39. What are Brothers in Christ
  40. Two new encyclopaedic articles
  41. Christadelphians today
  42. Keeping an ecclesia in modern times
  43. Small churches of the few Christadelphians
  44. Christianity to be enshrined
  45. Christianity is a love affair
  46. Intentions of an Ecclesia
  47. Character transformed by the influence of our fellowships
  48. Love for each other attracting others
  49. What makes a consecrated Christian
  50. A call easy to understand
  51. If you have integrity
  52. Work with joy and pray with love
  53. To know Christ is filling life with meaning
  54. The truth is very plain to see and God can be clearly seen

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Other articles of interest:

  1. Walking in Total Dependence Upon God
  2. What is God’s Will For Your Life?
  3. On the Affirmation of Scripture
  4. A Snapshot of the Church in America
  5. a little church
  6. Four Pressing Needs in Rural Communities, and How the Church Should Respond
  7. If It’s All About Relationship…
  8. Leading a church is not a hands free exercise
  9. Walking With Intentionality
  10. Living Our Faith in a New Way
  11. What’s in It for Me?
  12. Deacon Selection In the Small Church
  13. Lord’s Day 10: God is in Control
  14. Just Try a Few Things
  15. “When Faith Goes, All Good Things Go”
  16. Growing Deep
  17. All the Wrong Reasons
  18. Little Church
  19. Leading Change
  20. Small Groups & Grow A Small Church by Multiplying Its Small Groups
  21. Living well
  22. Blessed by His Hand
  23. Encouragement for the Small
  24. How Did You Get Here?
  25. How to Impersonate a Big Church
  26. What Do You Do Well?
  27. Recognize the Facts
  28. What are your top two struggles?
  29. The Best Thing You Can Do
  30. On the road to sainthood and not silent about it
  31. Incognito Zone: Where the Church Is Booming
  32. House Church Reaches Out to Atheists, Agnostics in California
  33. The one religion that’s not part of my spiritual quest
  34. Six Ways Not to Forsake the Assembly
  35. Tent Making
  36. Journey On The Narrow Path

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