The Methodist Church has announced a new team aimed at encouraging 'growth and confidence' within the Church.
The Church now has a director of evangelism and growth, Trey Hall, and three new appointments have been made focusing on apologetics, church planting and community engagement.
The team will focus on supporting the Methodist Church's 4,650 churches through promoting everyday evangelism, helping churches reach out into their local communities and starting new churches.
According to the Church, the new team is part of its 'response to God and to the cultural and demographic shifts within society. Facing a declining membership along with other denominations, the Methodist Church wants to connect with people who are currently unaffiliated to faith or exploring spirituality in different ways.'
Hall said: 'We want to take some joyous risks in evangelism and growth as we learn to speak and live out God's goodness in honest, inclusive, and culturally compelling ways. This will certainly be a challenge, but it's a challenge that will build up life, creativity, and energy ahead as we seek to live out our calling.'
Methodists now number around 188,000. Membership numbers were over 800,000 in 1906 and over 600,000 in 1980.
Connexional secretary Doug Swanney told the Methodist Conference in 2017 its Statistics for Mission report 'tells us quite starkly we are failing to mitigate our top risk of failing to create enough new disciples'.
The risk of further precipitate decline is exacerbated by the Church's age profile: in 2013, 18 per cent of Methodists were over 81 and 51 per cent were between 66 and 80.
The new members of staff are Steve Hollinghurst, contemporary apologetics officer, an Anglican priest and author; Matt Finch, pioneering and church planting officer, a Methodist minister in the St Neots and Huntingdon circuit; and
Emma Nash, mission and community engagement officer, a Baptist evangelist and minister.