5/07/2010

Kevin Martin writes good words on renewal of mission in The Episcopal Church

Over on Covenant - Communion, a place where some of the best of right leaning Episcopalian stuff is written, there is lots to disagree with. But sometimes there is a real gem of an article. Such is the case with Kevin Martin's essay, Reversing the Church’s Decline. It also appeared online in The Living Church.

Martin outlines four points to ponder:

  1. Develop younger lay and ordained leaders with an emphasis on reaching younger generations of unchurched people.
  2. Start new congregations using proven innovative methods to reach newer and younger communities for the Church.
  3. Intentionally identify 10 to 20 percent of congregations that demonstrate a readiness for revitalization and give them the leadership and tools to accomplish this.
  4. Enact a plan to reach different ethnic populations, especially Latinos in the U.S.

There are all sorts of variations on the first of these, of course. For example the issue about younger leaders to reach younger generations might be a limited version of a larger idea: That a profoundly resurrection oriented faith requires leaders who are both incarnational and nimble. What we want are leaders who die to the old self and rise to the new, dragging the rest of us along. It may be that young leaders are more available to such a task, but I've seen the frozen young as well as the deadened old. I'll take quickening where ever I can find it.

Items 2 and 3 are just plain good sense. Item 4 is about mission to real "lumps" of people who have a sense of community, not imaginary statistical or social constructs.

We could add others, of course, but Martin has given us a good start. And, as he notes, it is work that is local even if the strategies and the determination can be more widely taught, held and lifted up.

I hope some of these strategies can make it into discussion at the next General Convention and widely on diocesan levels.



1 comment:

  1. Outsider's commentary:

    Regarding the young, although widespread scepticism has been normal in your denomination since the 'Enlightenment' I don't see it turning unitarian tomorrow but rather - witness Derek Olsen at haligweorc and Episcopal Café - the start of a back-to-basics movement, credally orthodox and emphasising your formularies and classic liturgy but liberal on controversial issues. Something parallelling Pope Benedict's Catholic renewal, which appeals to the young, and, among slightly older people, the conversions to Orthodoxy starting about 20 years ago. I have no idea how long your 'new Oxford Movement' would last.

    Regarding Latinos, you've done that before, with Italians 80 years ago. It didn't work: you had a few independent parishes come on board; most are now closed and the one remaining, St Anthony's in Hackensack, NJ, is conservative, opposing you on the issues.

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