The following was written by the Reverend Dr. Gary Nicolosi, Diocesan Congregational Development Officer...
No more getting by, barely surviving, hanging on, doing ministry as we have always done it, remaining in our comfort zone, while being impervious to what is happening around us.
Everything is now up for review. There are no sacred cows, no hands-off issues. Nothing is off limits. No church or organization is immune from scrutiny. No job is guaranteed – not mine, not the Bishop’s – nobody’s.
Today’s church is running on institutional fumes and atrophying affinities. No organization, sacred or otherwise, can stem or reverse decline if massive membership and loyalty loses go on for decades. Quite frankly, we face challenges like none before in the history of this diocese.
So what needs to be done? As I see it, there are three essential elements to reversing decline.
First,We need a critical mass of active members in every parish. What that critical mass is will vary depending on the community. [...]
What is crucial is that any size church has enough active members and enough money to do exciting, innovative ministry to draw young families with children, develops creative, needmeeting programs to attract and keep newcomers, impacts the community with outreach initiatives, and transforms lives as a place where people encounter God.
Second,We need effective clergy and lay leadership in our churches. Most of our clergy are comfortable with a pastoral model of ministry. That model has served us well over the years. After all, by and large Anglican clergy are effective pastors who demonstrate a high level of caring and compassion for their parishioners.
However, in a post-Christian world where people no longer come to church, the church has to go to them. We need leaders who are proactive rather than reactive, initiators rather than responders, entrepreneurs rather than maintenance keepers, able to think and act beyond the box rather than within the box. This means expanding our pastoral model to a more missional model that actively seeks to reach non-churchgoers at their point of need and understanding. If divinity schools will not – or cannot – train our clergy in this model, then the diocese will have to do it.
Third,We need a diocesan culture that promotes and fosters growth. In other words, we need the right structures to make the system work. If it is true that every organization is designed for the performance it achieves, then our task is to re-design the diocesan structure to obtain the results we desire. Structure follows strategy.
Read the full story in the October issue of the Diocesan Post
But what interests me here are some of the bold proposals put forth by Gary Nicolosi. Great ideas, but as my Grandpa used to say, " it all might be a day late, and a dollar short." I was especially intrigued, and shocked by the idea that clergy compensation be tied to actual performance. Wow! What a novel idea. If that doesn’t goad the clergy into drastic action (and scare their wives), nothing will. But such fear can also become counter-productive, because frightened leaders do dumb things. But more than that, my concern is it puts the sole responsibility on the pastor. Surely all these issues should concern the " whole " faith community, and all should bear some responsibility. Having had been involved in the Anglican church for 20 years, I know how much they love their sacred cows. Everyone seems to have one roped, and not willing to release it back into the wild. A re-design of structure will be a real test of faith. Real faith will always stretch a community, real faith will never break it.
As Methodist pastor and church consultant William Easum put it so well in an engaging book a while ago, Sacred Cows Make Great Hamburgers.