Posted by: stpowen | June 28, 2017

The Turning of the Tide?

Psalm 85:5-7. ‘ Will You be angry with us forever?  Will you prolong Your anger to all generations?  Will you not restore us again, that Your people may rejoice in You?  Show us Your mercy, LORD, and grant us Your salvation.’

Daniel 9:2-3. ‘In the first year of [Darius’] reign I, Daniel, understood by the books the number of years specified by the word of the LORD through Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.  then I set my face towards the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes……’

It has become axiomatic that the Church in Britain is in terminal decline and that it is only a matter of time until it becomes utterly insignificant.  Particularly, we are told that young people are quite indifferent to religion and that the numbers to be found in churches are tiny.

Those of us who ponder these matters have never wholly believed this narrative.  Whilst it is true that numbers in liberal churches are in free-fall, those in evangelical churches, regardless of denomination, have remained steady and even grown slightly.  However, I must admit to surprise and delight when I read the following article in the Sunday Telegraph of June 18th.

At first the statistics seem strange.  We are told that 13% of 11-18 year-olds say they are regular churchgoers, and 21% describe themselves as ‘active followers of Jesus’ so 8% actively follow the Lord but don’t go to church.  A moment’s thought resolves the puzzlement.  These 8% have somehow become Christians but are prevented by their parents from attending a place of worship.  The good news is that these young people will soon be going to University where they can join the Christian Union and join their friends in church on the Lord’s day.

As a member of the Gideons, I suppose I should not be so surprised.  When we visit schools and offer copies of the New Testament to the children, the acceptance rate tends to be over 90%.  20% of children who had professed Christ said that reading the Bible had been important to them.  Other surveys reveal that young people tend to be depressed and likely to self-harm;  large numbers of them admit to suicidal thoughts.  Little wonder then, when secularism, homosexuality and gender issues are being forced upon their young minds, that they should seek for a better, purer way of life and teaching that has the ring of truth.

‘Said the swallow to the sparrow, “I should really like to know

Why these foolish human beings rush around and worry so.”

Said the sparrow to the swallow, “Well I think that it must be

That they have no heavenly Father, such as cares for you and me.”‘

One of the most interesting things in the survey is the number of children (13%) who said that visiting a church had been an important factor in coming to Christ.  Perhaps such a visit was the first time they had seen Christianity as a living faith rather than as just another subject to be studied.  Surely therefore churches need to be proactive in contacting schools and inviting them to visit?

So, is this the turning of the tide?  Is God, having passed by two generations, about to revive Britain once more?  It would be rash to conclude so on such slender evidence.  Yet more evidence is out there.  In University towns, there are always two or three big churches which have large numbers of students attending.  These young people are the politicians, the BBC producers, the film-makers and opinion-formers of tomorrow.  No doubt great trials lie ahead for the churches of Christ, as the secular establishment and the homosexual lobby seeks to bend them to their will, but perhaps the tide has turned.

So what do we do about it?  Do we sit back and wait for God to do His stuff and change the nation?  By no means!  When Daniel realised that the captivity of Israel was coming to an end, he went to prayer.  So must we, urgently, fervently, constantly, ‘until…righteousness goes forth as brightness and …salvation as a burning lamp’ (Isaiah 62:1).  I have posted several times about the Concert of Prayer initiative, and it is several years now that evangelical churches of several denominations and none have been meeting together once a quarter to confess the sins of the nation, as Daniel did, and to pray for revival.  The next such meeting will be on either July 1st or 8th.  Readers living in East Devon are more than welcome to come to Scott Drive Church, Exmouth between 10-00am and 12 Noon on July 8th and join in.  Who knows if God will not answer our prayers more quickly than anyone expects.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

‘Then Hezekiah and all the peole rejoiced that God had prepared the people, since the events took place so suddenly’ (2 Chronicles 29:36).


  1. Those in Southwest London can come and join the Concert of Prayer with us on Saturday (10am-11.30am), Christ, Church, Sugden Hall, Station Road, Teddington, TW11 9AA. All welcome.

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