My recent information in regard to local Assemblies in the West of England and South Wales only serves to prove the sad demise of our collective testimony. There are more and more closures, and few if any, newly-formed gatherings.
Declension is the result of a turning away from first principles. The character of many meetings may be judged by what has become acceptable without recourse to "what saith the Lord."
A significant "aid" to brethren and sisters seeking to find a company of believers cleaving to the Lord and the word of His grace, (through removal or other circumstances; e.g. recently born anew, holiday.) is the "Assemblies in Britain" address book. Earlier publications of this book omitted companies who tolerated false doctrine or fundamental error. This is apparently no longer the case. Companies who have no history of adherence to New Testament church principles are included. Meetings to which any believer with a modicom of light would never venture near. Yet they are listed as if conforming to the pattern we attempt to imitate.
Some of the practices I have evidence of include clerisy, the sisters taking an audible part, speaking in tongues, many other "charasmatic" features and any amount of musical accompaniment at all the meetings, even the "Breaking of Bread" when this is (infrequently) held. Part of our difficulty stems from the acceptance of a "denominational" hymnbook, foisted upon many assemblies no doubt. The hymns included are often vain repetition, simplistic to a fault, using familiar language when addressing Persons of the Godhead, even addressing the Holy Spirit in contradiction to the Word of God. Many of the "hymns" could not be sung without accompanyment, rendering them useless under certain circumstances. Among the contributors we have the inclusion of Roman Catholics, and indeed they are happy to use the hymnbook in question, itself a sad commentary on the books' reception among the assemblies of Gods' people. A further sad observation in regard to this danger is the fact that a lot of doctrine imbibed by simple believers is based upon hymnology! In conclusion let us beware of taking for granted the pristine nature of any meeting listed in the "address book" and where possible use an alternative hymnbook. (A number of gatherings still allow visiting speakers to choose the hymnbook used prior to the introduction of "M.P.")