Over the next three months, I’ll be videotaping brief interviews with Episcopalians as they answer the follow-up questions following each of Brian McLaren’s recent claims (see below). It is my hope to combine an inspiring collection of “I dream of a church where . . .” statements with practical “next steps” statements that will offer a sense of vision to new leaders in our Episcopal Church. I’ll be wandering the halls of General Convention for two weeks, video camera in hand.
a.) Watch Brian McLaren’s presentation.
b.) Read through the outline below and choose follow-up questions that inspire you to take action.
c.) Make note of your responses – maybe even spend some time journaling the way that your heart came alive as you considered the possibilities of the kind of Church that Brian is naming.
d.) Contact me to let me know that you would like to be included in this videotaped interview series. You may contact me at 646-203-6266 or at firstname.lastname@example.org We’ll work out meeting somewhere to conduct the interview!
Brian McLaren’s presentation to the
Episcopal Diocese of Washington
(slightly edited by Reverend Tom Brackett)
Online location of video footage: http://convention.edow.org/article.php?id=50
“The Episcopal Moment” – a moment of opportunity and possibility
-- precisely because of the challenges.
Many of us in church life are living in three worlds simultaneously:
Premodern (Table and sword),
Modern (Book and the gun) and the
Postmodern (The screen and the bomb).
Four distinct advantages that Episcopalians have in 21st century United States
A "Via Media" Mindset: Many Anglicans never surrendered to the modern mindset.
A Celtic Mindset: We have vestiges of non-Roman Christianity in our makeup.
A Diverse Mindset: We give people space to differ in their opinions.
A Liturgical Mindset: Space to experience God, bonding to meaning, beauty of worship, participatory.
Four dis-advantages that Episcopalians have in 21st century United States
An Upper Class Mindset: Elitist, "civilized", older, one-size fits all.
An Institutional Mindset: Centralized, controlled, change-resistant, risk averse, bureaucratic -- averse to charismatic leaders.
A Christendom Mindset: Parish/geography, people ought to come to us.
Christendom is the mindset that Christianity is “normative” and that people just ought to behave and come to church – it’s their job!
A Bi-polar Mindset: Cold war between Liberals and Conservatives – a horrible distraction from our higher calling to the Mission of God.
Here are the elements that Brian McLaren says are required for us to seize this Episcopal Moment!
1) A "bring them in" spirit (not merely welcoming within our “caste”): Diversity, innovation, welcoming all seekers (especially the young!), inviting friends, relatives, associates, neighbors.
Question: What would it take for you to be excited about inviting your friends to church? What embarrasses or concerns you about inviting your friends to attend a service with you?
2) A "let's experiment" spirit (not institutional): Entrepreneurial, self-organizing, evolutionary, experimental – adding experiments (for 4 to 8 weeks), adding new services, planting new congregations (inside existing?), adding new models or examples (Fresh Expressions, Mixed Economies and Anglimergent?).
Question: Who is in a position to say "yes" to new ideas in your local area of ministry? Who can bring new ideas? Are there new ideas that you believe need to be explored there in your Diocese? Who are the artists and Cultural Creatives to whom you think we should pay attention? Is there music you wish you could bring into your church’s worship service?
3) A "we're beginning again" spirit (renewing, not conserving, a history): Demography, adaptive, agile--a huge rummage sale "What needs to be put on the curb?", getting rid of the junk in "cleaning house", changes in physical, social, and/or spiritual architecture.
Question: Would you rather be motivated by desperate necessity or surging creativity? What would your Diocese or Parish look like if it could seize the possibility of a total makeover? What would you be willing to put on the curb to make space for Fresh Expressions of Church? Can you name any specifics?
4) A "transcend and include" spirit (above liberal and conservative): Where is the via media? Which future do you prefer (conservative, liberal, centrist, or transcendent inclusive)? The Via Media way of being includes and it invites all to transcend!
5) The Holy Spirit! People aren't seeking religion, they are seeking spirituality. You can't give what you don't have (you have to smoke what you're selling). People need to experience God, worship, transformation, belonging, participation in God's creative and healing mission in our world...
Question: How are you being called to be a "sample" of what God wants to do in the lives of others?
McLaren goes on to cast a vision for the church as a collection of individuals in partnership with God for the transformation of the world.
Loving God, we seek the way, helping, watching, learning, leading, each step forging new links, each dialogue opening further the channels of peace and understanding. We stand poised on the brink of greatness, drawn by the Spirit into new realms of hope and trust. The barriers and crutches of past centuries are slowly crumbling. We pray the skeletons of division and discord will be laid to rest, and that the people of God will be truly mobilized. For these and all your mercies, we thank you and praise you, O God. AMEN