Monday, 16 September 2013

Update on the Welsh Outpouring 2013


It is now  5 months since the phenomenon that has become known as the Welsh Outpouring started in Victory Church Cwmbran, Wales. Although I, and others, have referred to this as the “Cwmbran Outpouring”, Welsh Outpouring is a better description as this has always been about what God intends to do in Wales, not just in Cwmbran. The weekend  6-7th Sept was very much a watershed as the church hosted the Wales for Christ conference in the St David’s theatre Cardiff.

Wales for Christ

What was remarkable about this conference is that the same power and presence of God experienced in the warehouse in Cwmbran was present in the St David’s theatre Cardiff. There were different speakers, different worship bands, and very different surroundings, but it made no difference, God blessed exactly the same. Even though there were breaks between sessions, we just came back in to the same presence each time. On top of that the meeting did much to motivate and inspire people to do what is needed: take Wales for Christ, to spread the gospel and see conversions in our land. It may have been a conference but it was like back-to-back outpouring meetings!

It would be unfair of me to give a review of the talks as I may misrepresent the speakers. Hopefully the church will make the talks available online for people to hear for themselves. There are however two things I want to pick up that connect with my church growth work.

Firstly, Andrew Parsons, a pastor at Victory church, expressed the longing to see “more going to heaven than going to hell”. I certainly can’t fault the sentiment, but it got me thinking – has this happened in the past? Of course we can’t measure how many people are going to heaven, and until recently it has been hard to measure how many attend church, but we can measure how many belong to a church.

Let’s go back to the 1904-5 revival in Wales. In 1903 the combined membership of all protestant denominations in Wales comprised some 47.4% of the Welsh adult population [1]. After the revival in 1905 the membership stood at 53.4%. In the two years of the revival the increases in membership of the churches were 5.4% and 11.5% respectively. Compared with typical increases of around 1% per year before that it is clear the 1904-5 revival had a remarkable effect on church membership. If we were cheeky and said that all church members were on the way to heaven and the rest were not, then the Andrew Parson’s comment was actually achieved by the 1904-5 revival! But I admit that is a bit cheeky; there are a whole host of reasons why that identification cannot be made. But it sets the context for a longing for more to be saved than not saved.

What should be remembered is that a church membership of 53.4% of the adult population was the largest ever achieved in Wales since records have been kept from the early 1800s. The 1700s would have been much lower still. Indeed the current participation rates of less than 10% in church are more typical history than a 50% membership/commitment. England did not get anywhere near that figure! To expect more in church than not in church is very unrealistic, unless like the 1905 figure for Wales, it had been preceded by outpourings of the Spirit and much hard work by the Christians in the church. The 1904-5 revival was the pinnacle of what God had started in 1735, and a church of enthusiasts worked with God’s Spirit to achieve it. Given that we are now going though an outpouring, and the Wales for Christ weekend showed how committed many people are to spreading the gospel, I would say the Andrew Parson’s longing for more going to heaven than hell is an achievable aim, despite the current desperate attendance figures of the church. God is moving again, he did it before, so he can do it again! It may just take a bit of time.

Secondly, one of the afternoon speakers, evangelist Mark Greenwood, was talking about the unusual and enthusiastic forms of witness among Christians, the ones who are “bonkers” for Christ. He longed that people would be bonkers for Him again and take “risks” with their witness. He then said about such people, somewhat ironically, “2 years of discipleship class will squeeze that out of them!” I.e. their enthusiasm would have been diminished through the institution of church!  I have fitted my church growth models to a wide variety of denominations in the UK, USA and some other countries and 2 years is about the typical length of the enthusiastic period that comes out of nearly all of them [2]. So it may have been an offhand comment by Mark Greenwood, but I have plenty of data to back it up.

The reasons for enthusiasm only lasting 2 years after conversion may be much wider then the stifling influence of an institution. Often it is that people get more involved in church and lose their unconverted friends, or that those friends have got used to the way the new convert behaves. They are no longer new. But one of the effects of an outpouring is to renew existing believers, even old-timers. So it may be after the last five months many Christians are about to go “bonkers” for Christ!

The Future of the Welsh Outpouring

 In the last week Victory church have announced that they are reducing the number of outpouring meetings from five a week to two. Clearly the people involved are tired, the commitment by the church has been immense and I am very thankful for all their hard work. Some people, particularly the outpouring’s detractors, may see this as a fad that has passed, but far from it. The purpose of an outpouring is to move people out into the communities, spread the gospel and make converts and disciples. The outpouring does not end because time is released to pursue the mission; it just enters a different phase. The same happened in 1904-5 revival, the special meetings passed in 1905, but new churches with an emphasis on the work of the Spirit were started and established over the following 20 years or more, the work of the Spirit did not stop, but spread, in that case all over the world.

In the Acts of the Apostles, the church did not stay in Jerusalem, the place where the blessing was first received, they moved out into Samaria, Judea and the ends of the Earth, even if God had to give them a bit of a shove with persecution. They could not continue going to the temple and meeting in rooms each day, however powerful the blessings. Remarkably God did more wonders through them among the population than he did in their gatherings – the meat is on the street, as the late John Wimber was fond of saying. Even more remarkably there were public outpourings of the Spirit on people, as shown in Samaria, Caesarea, and Ephesus. The outpouring moves to a different phase, no longer tied by location and worship meetings, but in the market place, just about anywhere.

A similar pattern of outpouring and expansion can be seen in the 1700s in Wales. Early on the Spirit was poured out in Llangeitho, through the conversion and ministry of Daniel Rowland. A similar move took place at Trevecca with Howell Harris. But the work did not stop at those centres. Slowly various groups of Methodists were established in different parts of Wales. The centre of the outpouring remained at Llangeitho, sometimes people would visit for a couple of weeks at a time, but at the same time new fellowships were being planted across Wales. The result was rapid church growth up to the mightiest revival of all in 1859. The sequence: outpouring, plant, build up, was repeated for over 100 years. Certain periods, where the work of the Spirit was so intense, have become known as the “revivals”, but the outpouring rarely stopped in that period [3].

The vision put out by Wales for Christ at the conference is for such a church planting initiative. This was of course planned before the outpouring started, but the outpouring has now given more momentum to the plans. Indeed what outpourings do is create hunger and expectation in visitors from other parts of the country, so that when the church plant takes place there are local enthusiasts, touched by the King in the outpouring, ready to be part of the church plant. In addition the new plant widens the pool of unbelievers the church can reach, the susceptibles in epidemiological terms. This can put the church back over the tipping point for revival growth. Outpourings generate the needed enthusiasts; church plants tip the church into revival growth. This is how the 18th and 19th century Welsh Methodists took Wales for Christ, it is how the New Frontiers and Vineyard denominations have been growing in the last 20 years, and this is the direction of Victory church now. Thus scaling down the outpouring meetings makes perfect sense. Incidentally church planting is not a strategy Victory church are expecting to do alone, and they hoped that other churches in Wales would do the same [4].

Characteristics of the Welsh Outpouring

Certain characteristics of the outpouring have struck me as being typical of revival:

1. Experiencing the outpouring is like being saved again. I know you can only become a Christian once, but when the Spirit moves even the most mature in Christ realise their sins and find refuge at the cross again. This for me has been a feature of every meeting I have been to at Cwmbran.  I have heard people say they have felt they have been born again “again”. There are similar experiences in the Bible [5] and in past revivals [6].

2. The emphasis on the blood of the Lamb. It was the late Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones who said one of the signs of an authentic revival is that there is a renewed emphasis on the blood of Christ [7]. That is, there is a return to the cross as the only means of salvation through the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. It is fair to say this is probably one of the most unpopular doctrines in the Christian church generally and Christians of all churchmanships either dismiss it or revise it. But when the Spirit moves, back it comes. This has been the experience at Cwmbran, as shown by the types of songs and hymns that have been sung, and the constant cross-centred sermons.

3. The after effects of the meetings. I have referred to this in previous blogs [8], Jesus being even closer in the days and weeks following a meeting. This is the difference between a human-led meeting, which can excite for a moment, and a Spirit-led one, which makes permanent changes. Examples of this can be found in many of the revivals of the past [9].

4. The number converted. For this we can only go on the number of reported first time commitments, which was 1157 after outpouring meeting 157 [10]. There have been more since. This may seem small compared with the 100,000 converts in the 15 months of the 1904-5 revival, but the current “Welsh” outpouring is one church; there were hundreds of churches involved in 1904-5. So over 1000 first time commitments is remarkable, even if all were not actually converted.

Final Thoughts

It should be noted that this outpouring is home grown, that is, it is Welsh! One of the great joys of this outpouring is that it started in Wales, it was not something brought in from outside! Before you think this is a strange outburst of national pride, let me explain why this is important to me. Back in 2002 an Anglican clergyman gave a prophecy to my own church at one of our renewal days about the situation in Wales. He said, “the problem in Welsh churches is that people are always waiting for someone, like a big name preacher, to come to Wales to bring a blessing, to light the fire. You hear it in the prayers for revival. But I say don’t wait for others, light your own fires.” We took that to heart as a church and got down to the work of renewal.

The Welsh Outpouring is an example of “lighting your own fires”, but on a much larger scale. God works through us to revive his church, we do not need to wait for a celebrity preacher to come. Indeed the most powerful meetings in the Welsh Outpouring have been the ones led by the local pastors and worship groups, not the visiting preachers.

Perhaps the fact that Welsh Christians “lit their own fires” will help us regain our confidence that God will work powerfully in this land, and banish the low esteem in Welsh churches [11].  I am deeply grateful for all commitment the people at Victory church have shown in this outpouring; those who have been “lighting the fires”. Outpourings are of God, but our response is hard work.  I have learnt more about the work of God in revival in the last five months than in the last thirty years of Christian experience, and more than I could ever learn in a lifetime of reading books on revival! I am very much looking forward to seeing how this move of God develops.

References and Notes


[1] See Explanatory Notes on "Mathematical Modeling of Church Growth”.
Church membership and Anglican electoral role were not open to children so they have been excluded from the figures. The Roman Catholic Church was relatively small at the time, and as my data source did not have accurate figures for them they are also excluded.

[2] The enthusiastic period in the 1904-5 revival was much shorter, a matter of weeks. This is because the actions of the enthusiasts that drove the growth, such as invites to the revival meetings, was very different to the normal measured pattern of witness in the family and work place. The revival was about “come to tonight’s meeting”. Most people who could be invited would have been invited within a couple of weeks of the first experience.

[3] J.C. Ryle, (1978) [1885],  Christian Leaders of the 18th Century, Banner of Truth. E. Evans (1985), Daniel Rowland and The Great Evangelical Awakening In Wales, Banner of Truth.

[4] Victory Church has announced another church plant. They have six churches so far. Someone from another Welsh church of a different denomination told me they had a new plant in Wales coming soon, with another in the planning stage.

[5] Psalm 51 is a classic account, and the life of the apostle Peter shows similar post conversion experiences of conversion.

[6] David Matthews (2002) [1951], I Saw the Welsh Revival, Ambassador Publications, chapter 9. His personal experience of what the revival felt like for him is essential reading for all Christians seeking a move of God. This will let you know what to expect!

[7] D.M. Lloyd-Jones (1986), Revival, Kingsway, pp.47-49.

[8] When the Presence of God Persists.

[9] David Matthews (2002) [1951], I Saw the Welsh Revival, Ambassador Publications, chapter 6, pp.46-47. David Matthews was very fond of “quality” church music and viewed Sankey hymns with disdain. But the revival changed that and he found himself leaving the “heavenly atmosphere” of a meeting at five in the morning, whistling the hymn, “Throw Out the Lifeline”. Remarkably he heard someone else that night whistling it with him. It was a policeman, also indelibly changed by the revival. The policeman asked him, “Have you caught the revival fever too?” Indeed Matthews had caught it, and the effects of the revival persisted with him for the coming months and indeed the rest of his life, as his book illustrates.

[10] Given out at the Wales for Christ weekend 6-7th September 2013.

[11] I often preach on revival in churches and I get the same message back wherever I go, “the last revival immunised Wales against revival, it won’t happen again”. There is a great need for people to move from reading stories of what God did in past revivals to believing what he can do now. Hopefully the outpouring will do this.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Liberal and Conservative Churches Part 1


Recently I came across two comments about liberalism within the Christian church that struck me:

Liberal theology cannot sustain a local congregation. It kills churches. In fact, it only survives due to tenured academics. Rick Warren [1]

Congregationally speaking, Protestant liberalism is deader than Henry VIII. While survey after survey shows a secularizing American population, this hasn't helped the growth of liberal Protestant churches. Where are the Unitarian mega-churches, the Episcopalian church-planting movements? Russell D. Moore [2]

As both comments have implications for church growth I thought I would explore them with the help of some system dynamics.

Definitions

Note that the Rick Warren comment refers to liberal theology, but the Russell Moore comment refers to liberal churches. The two concepts are related but not identical. For now though I will define a liberal church as one with a liberal theology, realising that this is not the whole story.

A liberal theology refers to a method of arriving at truth which uses scripture as a general, and non-exclusive, guide rather than as a set of propositions that must be believed. Thus rather than scripture indicating a fixed canon of belief for all time, its truths may be modified according to the age. Unlike orthodoxy the bias of the human authors of scripture can be questioned, and even the text itself. Material from outside the Bible, such as history and tradition, may have equal value in determining truth, all weighed by human reason. Thus in a liberal church there is never a fixed set of beliefs. Such a church will be lenient over what it considers the faith, and would expect diversity within its midst.

Now I suspect that this definition does not do justice to the use of the word “liberal” by many people, including Christians who call themselves liberal. There are degrees of liberalism, and some may emphasise liberalism in behaviour more than that of doctrine, and vice versa. But hopefully this is sufficient to examine the church growth implications of the Warren and Moore quotes, and expand them a bit.

By contrast a conservative church holds to a conservative theology which is fixed by scripture alone for all time. Thus a conservative church will (or should) be strict over what it considers the faith.

Where Do Liberal Churches Come From?

Both Warren and Moore indicate that liberal churches are inherently weak; they hasten church decline (Warren), and they are unable to start new churches (Moore). The fact remains that although the denominations that are dominated by liberal beliefs are declining the fastest, and have been since Dean Kelley’s [3] study from the 1970s, they do not decline that fast. So why are there still liberal churches? Why do they survive, and in some cases thrive?

I will put forward three reasons:

1. Church Leaders Liberalise, but  Members Remain Conservative

One reason church leaders liberalise is that the seminary system encourages liberal beliefs in church leaders. I think that is what Rick Warren was getting at when he said, “it only survives due to tenured academics”. A similar point was made by sociologist Rodney Stark, who in a book review, suggested European churches suffered from “institutionalised clerical atheism” [4], i.e. the institution of the church encourages doubt in its ministers.  My suggestion is that this is aided in part by the seminary/ theological college system of training, the institution that affects the belief system of those it trains.

Thus in this scenario those who are called into full time ministry are sent away to a college, where they learn theology at the hands of academics with liberal beliefs. They are then sent to conservative congregations and spend their ministry trying to change their people’s views with the “latest scholarship” they picked up at seminary.

(i) First result of liberal leadership
One potential result of the liberal ministry is that those who are conservative in the congregation leave and go elsewhere. The church in which I was initially raised is an example of this. In common with many Welsh Presbyterian churches it was rooted in the conservative evangelical theology of the 18th century revivals. When the 1960s started a liberal minister came, who taught people to doubt the orthodoxy they had received. In ten years the church emptied from a few hundred to only a handful of members, as people left and found other conservative churches. After another decade the church was closed. This was repeated across the UK, so for a while the number of liberal churches grew, but not all their people were liberal. As such the number of members in liberal churches declined, firstly through transfer then through death, lack of young people and inadequate conversion.

Figure 1 expresses these ideas. The more people in church the more become leaders, the more liberalise and the more liberal teaching injected back into church. This teaching reduces conversion, reduces the number of children of church members who progress to membership, and increases, after some delay, the number who leave the churches so affected. All the loops are balancing loops sending the church numbers to zero.

Figure 1: Liberal ministry causing church decline

(ii)  Second result of liberal leadership
A second result of a liberal ministry is that the most academic of the liberal ministers have such a difficult time in churches that they find a better role for themselves back in the academic environment. Thus they return to seminary as educators and the cycle of the seminary liberalising the next generation of ministers is complete. This is captured in the reinforcing loop of figure 2. The reinforcing nature of the loop suggests that the process of liberalising accelerates, and combined with figure 1 church decline accelerates.
Figure 2: Liberal ministry reinforcing the liberalising of seminaries

The conservative churches that survive are strong and have a healthy membership. They send the larger numbers to seminary, but some of these trainee ministers become liberal and start the decline process again in the next batch of conservative churches to take on liberal ministers. Thus although a given liberal congregation may die in a couple of generations, liberalism, and liberal churches last much longer, fed by the seminary system that changes the beliefs of its conservative intake.

I think this has been the canonical evangelical view of the effects of liberalism on the church, and within which the Warren and Moore quotes are set.  However I think there are more dynamics taking place than the above scenario suggests.

2. Church Members Liberalise, but Leaders Remain Conservative

In this scenario the minister is conservative but the congregation is in varying degrees of belief from conservative to liberal. These are not two distinct groups but a spectrum of people from one extreme to the other. Three results spring out.

(i) First result of conservative leadership
The liberal members leave and join liberal churches. Now at this point I am indebted to a medievalist blogger, Magistra, et Mater [5], who has used my models to examine the interaction between liberal and conservative churches [6]. Starting with my concept of enthusiasts as the church members who are chiefly responsible for conversion, Magistra suggests that some of them cease to be enthusiasts because they lose enthusiasm for the conservative faith in which they were converted. Thus not only do they become inactive in evangelistic work, they become more liberal as well. There comes a point where such liberal people cannot fit into the church of their conversion, thus they leave and join a liberal church [7]. They are now a specific source of recruitment to the liberal church.

These ideas are captured in figure 3, where the conservative church is in red and the liberal one in blue.  The enthusiasts recruit from the unbelievers. After a time they cease recruiting and become inactive believers, initially conservative but later becoming liberal. They are still in the conservative church. Eventually the liberal members of the conservative church leave and join a liberal church, figure 3, part A [8].

Figure 3: Sources of recruitment to liberal churches due to conservative churches


(ii) Second result of conservative leadership
I will go further and suggest that there are a number of enthusiasts who get emotionally hurt by their church and also leave. I have noticed a tendency for such hurt people to reject the beliefs of those who hurt them, thus zealous conservative evangelicals abandon that version of the faith, because that was the belief system of the people they fell out with. After some time such hurt people also find a home in a more liberal church. Where beliefs are less strong, there is more tolerance and people are less likely to get hurt, figure 3, part B.

(iii) Third result of conservative leadership
Magistra describes another effect of the recruitment activities of an enthusiastic conservative church, that of negative evangelism. In this case the enthusiasts of the conservative church have a negative impact on unbelievers, turning them from the gospel message. She extends my model to include hardened unbelievers, who are no longer open to the message of the conservative church, figure 3 part C. However if they come across a liberal church, perhaps through the community work of that church, they might find less negative connotations, less demands made, less questions asked, and this is a happier home for their religious quest [6].


Thus I have suggested three sources of recruitment to the liberal church. The result is that rather than dying out, liberal churches can last many generations, albeit at the expense of conservative churches.  I am not sure if this is a standard narrative as liberal churches see it. Perhaps someone could comment on this.

One side effect of this transfer of liberal people from conservative churches, is that it keeps conservative churches conservative. Strictness in maintaining doctrinal and behavioural standards leads to a strong church, according to Dean Kelley’s definition, which can attract and retain others [3]. Thus the losses of the liberal people from the conservative church may be offset by conversion, and retention of those with conservative views, and net growth of the church could result.

3. Church Leaders and Members Liberalise Together

Here the issue is not just the interaction between liberal and conservative churches, but the interaction of church with an outside world not part of any church. For a church to grow it needs effective contact with that world. No church can afford to be so irrelevant it cannot get its message across. But the beliefs and practices of the world keep changing, thus there is pressure on the church to keep changing to keep itself relevant. Thus the church over time may change its beliefs in stages, to keep in step with culture, usually 10 to 15 years behind as change comes slowly in the church. Thus there is a slow evolution of practices and beliefs of minister and members alike.

For example, evangelical Christians are thought of as the more conservative end of Christianity, there is (in theory) a fixed creed and fixed set of behaviour patterns. However some evangelicals prefer to say they are “conservative evangelical” as they recognise that not all evangelicals are as true to that system of belief as they are. However there are also: "open evangelicals", “progressive evangelicals”, “small ‘e’ evangelicals”, “accepting evangelicals”, to name but a few! Each extra word flags that some aspect of belief, behaviour or attitude has, or could be modified. These are clear signs of a movement that is diversifying, which is another way of saying becoming more liberal.

Research Questions

I have proposed three reasons why liberal churches survive, maybe grow, or at least do not decline as fast as one might think: Seminaries generate liberal ministers; liberal people are generated by the actions of conservative churches; and conservative churches themselves liberalise to stay relevant.  My research questions are:

1) What are the relative effects of the three scenarios? That is, which of the three has the strongest effect on the survival of liberal churches and which has the least, at any given time?

2) Are there other scenarios I have missed?

3) Do the two types of churches actually need each other to survive, as suggested by Magistra [7]? In other words is there a symbiosis between them that keeps the conservative true, and provides the liberals with new recruits?

A Spanner in the Works

This blog was originally meant to be a single article, but as ever the material and ideas keep expanding so it is now part one of two blogs, part two to follow. I will finish it by throwing a spanner in the works – I will query the definitions of conservative and liberal!

In the 1970s a former Methodist minister turned researcher, the aforementioned Dean Kelley, published a book entitled “Why Conservative Churches are Growing” [3]. Looking at membership data of a range of denominations in the USA he demonstrated that whereas most of the conservative denominations were growing, the liberal ones were in varying stages of decline. As I write this blog it is still generally the case, although some conservative churches, such as the Southern Baptists, are now slowly declining [9]. Again it is against this viewpoint that the comments by Warren and Moore were made.

However Kelley was the first to admit the title of his book was confusing [3, p.xvii]. His thesis was not about conservative churches, or growth; it was about strict churches being strong.  Strong churches may grow, but there again they may not, depending on the context.

Thus a conservative church could be lenient (the opposite of Kelley’s strong) because it does not insist that all its members follow its beliefs or behaviour code, or because it does not direct much effort or zeal into evangelism. Discipline and missionary zeal are two of Kelley’s indicators of strictness. Such a church would be weak, which according to Kelley would include tolerating individualism, a reserve in sharing the faith, and a general lukewarmness for spiritual things. Such a church may be in decline despite its conservative beliefs.

By contrast a liberal church may be strict. Yes it tolerates a wide range of beliefs, but it does not tolerate those whose beliefs exclude others. A standard liberal creed is “we are tolerant of everything, except intolerance” [10].  As such there are people who would not fit in such a liberal church, and would have to go elsewhere. All tolerance has bounds! Such a liberal church may be very vocal in proclaiming its stance, not in evangelism, but in campaigning and lobbying non-Christian groups in society. As such there would be considerable zeal for producing opinion change, which could easily result in recruitment. Such a church would be stronger than the conservative one mentioned above, and might well grow more.

The issues connected with growth are not just theological as the words “conservative” and “liberal” would imply, but organisational. How strictly does the church keep to its beliefs, ethos, and behavioural norms, whatever they are?  The subject will be returned to in a later blog.

John Hayward
Church Growth Modelling, churchmodel.org.uk

Notes and References


[1] The comment first appeared on Facebook and Twitter February 2013
It has been reproduced on many other websites, and only came to my attention recently. Rick Warren is founder and leader of Saddleback Church in California. 

[2] Quoted by: Jonathan Merritt, The Rise of the Christian Left in America, The Atlantic, July 25th 2013.
Russell D. Moore is president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

[3] Dean Kelley, Why Conservative Churches are Growing: A Study in the Sociology of Religion. Mercer University Press, revised 1986, originally 1972.

[4] Rodney Stark, Review of Pentecostalism: The World their Parish.   Review of Religious Research, 44(2), P.203, 2002. In the last paragraph he suggests that institutionalised clerical atheism is a barrier to church growth in Europe, and thus a subject worthy of investigation.

[5] Magistra et Mater: Where history, religion and motherhood meet and have a long intellectual conversation,  http://magistraetmater.blog.co.uk/

[6] Magistra prefers to use the labels hard and soft church, rather than conservative and liberal. Hard church, soft church, no church. 24/7/08.

[7] Magistra et Mater:  Church growth, negative evangelism and beta churches. 22/4/13.

[8] Compare with the model in Magistra et Mater, Hard church, soft church and mission, 26/7/08.

 [9] John S. Dickerson, The Decline of Evangelical America, The New York Times Sunday Review, 15/12/12.

 [10] I was once part of a church growth research group that visited a liberal church working in an inner city area. They were the only church in the area. When one of the group asked the minister if any evangelical church had ever tried working in the area, he replied “No, and if they did he would run them out because they would upset the prostitutes and the gays!” The degree of strictness, dare I say intolerance, shocked even the more conservative members of our research group.