Ivy Church in Manchester was featured in a story in the Independent on 26 July 2014. The church is featured because it is not typical of public perceptions of churches in Britain – it is growing and vibrant rather than dwindling and dull.
Five years ago the church had about 250 people and now it has over 1000 and meets in multiple venues. And the reason for the growth? The Pastor, Anthony Delaney says, “When we’re loving people like God said we should, often that raises a question for people: ‘Why are you doing this?’ people ask. The answer is: ‘Because we believe God loves us’. It isn’t that we’re doing this to convert you, but it does raise questions in people’s minds if we are the ones going and helping.”
He is saying that serving people in the community is an act motivated by God’s love, and when people recognise the love of God, it draws them into the church community.
He adds that another reason people are attracted to the church: it is designed to make people who don’t normally go to church feel comfortable. “I dress normally and talk about spiritual issues in a way normal people get… We have children and young people galore, the only problem we have is trying to fit everyone in!”
Although Ivy is not a megachurch (yet), the link between social engagement and growth is fascinating. And I wonder whether this church’s growth is considered news worthy because it resists the secularisation thesis?