Imaging #2: Let 100 flowers bloom. Horizontal networking and organization.
Why not let most programmatic work bloom as networks of people in the church want them to bloom and have Episcopal Church funding for occasions to bring those who work in a given field together to share ideas and (hopefully) to keep each other focused on positive work by the Church rather than inter-group fighting?
Examples: Publishing a paper.
There used to be hard copy Episcopal Life, published from the Church Center. It was too expensive and reached, it was felt, fewer and fewer people. So it was discontinued. Now there is an independent journal, Episcopal Journal, and it seems to be doing pretty well. Here in Delaware our own Delaware Communion is bundled with it monthly.
The Living Church keeps on keeping on, changing a bit with greater emphasis on thought pieces. It drives me crazy at times, but I read it.
There are wonderful online "journals." In my mind one of the best is Episcopal Cafe. It is perhaps a bit left of center, but there are other collectors of material - TitusOneNine, Covenant (run by the Living Church crowd) - that offer some balance.
What if we are more proactive in supporting the work of such groups while at the same time continuing with ENS and its news service?
Example: Producing Video:
There are a variety of video resources providing both thematic content and news. Most of them are not programs of the Church Center. Some are very good. Some are so so. Anglican TV stands far to the right and is pretty mixed and promotes a church that thinks The Episcopal Church is awful. Still, it is a challenging video presence. Trinity stands middle and is very good, as is the superb work of Fr. Matthew. There are also a variety of parish offerings.
TECtube's Channel on YouTube has lots of interesting stuff. As yet there seems to be no clear progressive Video presence in Episcopal - land, although some offerings are nicely edgy.
When I googled "youtube episcopal church" here were the first four offerings: A diocesan website homepage; TECtube's Channel; a parish based edgy "Who are we," and Preludium's own Episcopal Church, a Question, which has now been seen by over 14,000 people.
Here is that list:
www.ladiocese.org/ - CachedHoly Family Services, an institution of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, offers ... Youtube · The Episcopal Church · Best Practices | Education Resources ...You've visited this page 9 times. Last visit: 4/1/10
www.youtube.com/user/TECtube - CachedEpiscopalChurch.org ... The following content has been identified by the YouTube community as being ... St. Thomas Church Choir - See Amid the Winter Snow ...
www.youtube.com/watch?v=eT-APVyFcq43 min - Oct 18, 2009 - Uploaded by kingofpeacekingsland
A revised version of this video is online at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= vJ_lUoloW4M.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3pCmU7b2d43 min - Jan 8, 2007 - Uploaded by poetmark
Why become part of a splinter group, why not take part in the life of the Episcopal Church?
So again, why not encourage more work independently of a Church Center office, but including its offerings and its YouTube presence, putting more emphasis on the Church Center encouraging good work than doing the work by professionals "in-house." Some of this is already taking place in a new communications strategy that encourages video presentations by staff and others. Remember the "I'm an Episcopalian" experiment that was carried out two years ago? Some of those videos have a life of their own including this one from our parish: I'm an Episcopalian. Almost 3000 people have seen this one.
In these and other areas the explosion of creative work done around the church needs mostly to be shared, and that sharing ought not be by way of a vertical "filter" but by way of horizontal value. This places greater importance on watchful engagement so that really unreliable and misleading videos do not stand unchallenged. But it does mean that many more voices will be heard, and some of them will be amazingly valuable.
So imaging #2: an Episcopal Church brave enough to be itself in a more horizontal communications environment, with less "official" materials and more shared ideas.
Potential savings to the Church budget, considerable. Potential value to the Church, beyond calculation.