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Tuesday, April 7, 1998 Published at 05:11 GMT 06:11 UK


'We will be practical and relevant'
image: [ The churches are making 10 pledges to attract more people ]
The churches are making 10 pledges to attract more people

The UK's Christian churches are getting ready for the Millennium with a list of pledges similar to a modern-day set of 10 Commandments aimed at attracting more people to religion.

The BBC's religious affairs correspondent Emily Buchanan reports (43")
The Archbishop of Canterbury and Cardinal Basil Hume, Archbishop of Westminster, are giving their endorsement to a new initiative aimed at helping churches become more welcoming, relevant and challenging.

The initiative comes at a time when fewer people in the UK are going to church than ever before. More than half the population claims to be Christian but only 10% go to church regularly.

[ image: Cardinal Hume:
Cardinal Hume: "I hope that as many churches as possible will be able to put this into practice"
It is estimated 1500 people leave churches every week - many because they say the services are boring or irrelevant. The campaign proposes 10 goals to help stem the decline. The organisers deny it means blanket modernisation, but rather better customer care.

The man behind the plan - called Fanfare for a new Generation - is the Reverend Steve Chalk. He says it is designed to encourage people back to church.

"Churches have often been accused of being irrelevant, out of touch and boring. Through the New Millennium Challenge, our goal is to reverse this trend."

Mr Chalk says people need to have some kind of spirituality in their lives and the Millennium is a good focus to use.

[ image: Sir Cliff Richard was one of three people who came up with the idea]
Sir Cliff Richard was one of three people who came up with the idea
"People in Britain are waking up spiritually. There's a real spiritual hunger which I believe will increase as the new Millennium approaches. As churches, we've got to be ready," he continued.

"Churches will have their place in the Millennium Dome and the overall celebrations, but if Christianity is not central we only have ourselves to blame."

The whole scheme is based upon what Mr Chalk calls "10 practical goals" which should be put into practice on January 2, 2000. These pledges to potential church-goers are aimed at making churches more welcoming.

  • We will make you welcome
  • We will be family friendly
  • We will make sure you can hear clearly
  • We will be practical and relevent
  • We will help you explore answers to your deepest questions
  • We will offer you time to stop and think in a busy life
  • We will help you make sense of the Bible and who Jesus is
  • We will make sure your visit will be helpful but challenging
  • We will help you discover for yourself God's love, acceptance and forgiveness
  • We will offer you the chance to make a new start

Cardinal Hume, as part of his endorsement for the plan is releasing a video called "Basil in Blunderland" which shows the head of the Roman Catholics playing a game of hide and seek while he explains his personal spiritual journey.

An information pack to support churches who will be taking part in the scheme will be available from May.

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