The next Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby, Dean of Liverpool, has outlined his vision ahead of the last service to be delivered by him in his current role on October 2.

“The business of growth encompasses growth in depth of spirituality, growth in engagement with communities and many other things, but in this context I mean growing numbers,” he said.

“If the church is to meet the challenges of today - not least those that are posed by government funding cuts - we have to have more people on the ground. Jesus spoke of praying for people to go out into the harvest.

As he prepares for the move to the Diocese of Durham, a diocese with some of the lowest rates of church attendance in the country, Mr Welby sees the mixed economy of church as a vital part of growth.

“I think partly because historically the church has always operated mixed economy when it was at its best,” he explains.

(But) "Without stability you end up just following fashion, Benedict knew that very well, and without the catalyst of the Spirit you end up just becoming utterly embedded and unable to move in what you’ve always done.”

He takes a cautious approach, saying that fresh expressions of church need to be “calibrated and thought through rather than just done ad hoc, as a sort of knee jerk reaction when we need to have a fresh expression”.

What Mr Welby will be looking for when he takes up his new role as bishop is whether or not a fresh expression is “genuinely” a fresh expression, what it is trying to achieve, and in what way it adds to the work of the church and the Kingdom of God.

With brutal honesty, he adds: “If fresh expressions is not at its heart involving an encounter with Christ then I’m not remotely interested.”

Dean Welby can be contacted at>>>


THE DAY AFTER — 16 Comments

  1. So just for the hell of it, let’s all send him an email saying that St. Laika’s is a fresh expression that he should embrace and fund…

  2. Actually he didn’t say anything about more bums on seats. He said we need ‘more people on the ground’ – I.e. Out in the harvest field. Seems to me Jesus said something about that too.

  3. but in this context I mean growing numbers,” he said.

    Oh, I think that’s one of the things he’s on about, Tim. I have no problem with that but I may have a problem with his motivation. AsI don’t know what that is yet, I will refrain from drawing conclusions from his Holy Trinity Brompton PLC past, and say no more.

    I’m more interested in finding out his reasons for making “an encounter with Christ” the primary aim of mission rather than anything else. And also, does he define what that encounter must be. I’m being serious here and I’m not saying he is wrong or anything.

  4. Very wise, Fr. MadPriest. An encounter with Christ could be an Emmaus moment, or (as we are the vessels in which Christ encounters the world) something completely different. If someone goes to church and is rudely directed to sit elsewhere by a churchwarden, that’s an encounter with Christ (in the someone’s eyes) and not a nice one.

    HTB scares the living sh*t out of me.

  5. Really, MP? It means that? I mean I know some people get paid more than others but is that really what he was referring to publicly in that way???

    Gosh. They’re not even ashamed of it.


  6. He’s a new broom 🙂

    He’s also the next archbishop of Canterbury. Our media is pushing the “What the Church of England needs is strong leadership” crap (just like they did for our government back in the late seventies and we ended up with Thatcher). I think, although he won’t be aware of it, that Justin is being fast tracked for that role. His oil company background and Eton schooling makes him an ideal candidate.

    Also, the next ABC has to be an evangelical.

    Of course, I could be wrong…

  7. Ellie, he is quoting from the Archbishop of Canterbury who has said that we need both traditional churches (the parish system) and also fresh expressions, not in competition but complementing each other. That’s what the ABC means by ‘a mixed economy church’.

  8. If he is the next Archbishop of Canterbury I will drop my membership and become a Spiritualist.

    My money’s still on Nick Baines.

    I do think that lots of people who matter in the C of E are as scared of HTB as I am and would be unlikely to be very happy if he were to become ABC. Nick is safer, a good man and good bishop, and a good communicator. After The Most Rev’d and Rt Hon. Waffler-in-Chief, a clear communicator is needed.

    But, of course I may be wrong, too.

  9. Yes, Chris. And the time scale that has been hinted at goes against Justin. Personally, I think it’s a shame that if it has to be an evangelical it won’t be Liverpool. Over the years I have really changed my mind about that guy.

  10. Fr. MadPriest, I agree with you partially on James Jones. He’s come a long way since he was appointed. You’re right, though. He’s 65 and just too old to be considered for Canterbury. He’s also just had a serious heart operation.

    HTB evangelicals are scary in the extreme; evangelicals like Jones are actually comforting, as they tend to grow and change over time. HTB evanglicals, as they have all the answers, tend not to develop theologically and personally.

    I light candles every Sunday that Nick will get Canterbury.