Archive for December, 2007

How to Kill a Movement

Saturday, December 8th, 2007

Movement Killer-3

1. Require education for the leadership
2. Demand conformity of methodology
3. Refuse to provide administrative help and let it suffocate under it’s own weight
4. Get spooked by supernatural phenomena outside your paradigm
5. Make no room for younger, less experienced leadership
6. Be obsessed by theological purity
7. Put the safety of the people involved as a higher priority than sacrifice
8. Centralize the funding
9. Punish out-of-the box thinking
10. Manage it by goals and strategic plans
11. Reward faithfulness rather than entrepreneurial ability
12. Get tied to property and buildings
13. Let your critics define you
14. Be threatened by giftedness that’s not like you
15. Create an endowment
16. Treat creativity as heresy
17. Refuse to exercise discipline for the right things
18. Make sure you are related to existing institutions for credibility
19. Promote on the basis of seniority and longevity
20. Insist that decisions be based on policy instead of values
21. Make nurture and conservation of gains a focus
22. Don’t be intentional about leadership selection
23. Be risk adverse under the guise of stewarding your people
24. Justify your reluctance to raise money
25. Have a big need for approval and affirmation

Above all else, control it if, God forbid, he actually shows up!

Which way Anglicans?

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

St Pauls Cathedral[1]

Do you jump ship on a sinking vessel or hang in there and try to save it?

That’s a perennial dilemma that many people face in denominations and churches that are on the downside of their life-cycle.

There is a part of me that genuinely longs to see a whole new wave of spiritual vitality and renewal sweep through the Anglican churches of Great Britain. I appreciate the incredible legacy of the institution and the way God has worked through it throughout history. And today there are some bright spots in the Church of England which include some gifted, godly people who feel God has led them to remain committed to what appears to be an ecclesiastical Titanic.

However, I have my doubts that this moribund institution will ever see again the type of movement of the Spirit of God that occurred during the four great awakenings and revivals that swept the Western world in the past 300 years and had profound effects at every level of British society. The ingredients, both internally and externally that would provide fertile ground for such a movement are simply not there.

What is encouraging is that God is not bound by such human limitations. His long-suffering and ongoing compassion toward a society such as contemporary England will not be thwarted by churchly forms that have lost their potency.

My guess is that the best hope for the UK is for to God multiply a new generation of Charles Simeons, inside or outside Anglican structures, through whom the transformational power of the Spirit will flow. They are the types of men and women I want to look for.

Deo planto is sic!

No one is buying what the Anglicans are selling

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Vestments

Perhaps one of the advantages of being cultural outsiders here in the UK is that we may have a little more objectivity than those immersed in their own culture. I know this happens in the States when those from outside American culture see what we don’t see because we are captives of our own surroundings.

The past couple of months, I have been overwhelmed, and sobered, by the presence and the state of the Anglican Church in Great Britain. There is virtually no place one can stand and not be in visual sight of an Anglican church building. The legacy of this institutional bastion of Christendom is astounding.

What is sobering, however, is how completely out of touch and irrelevant the overwhelming majority of the Anglican Communion seems to be to present day Britain. With less than 1-2% of the population ever attending a service in one of these historic relics called churches, you’d think the Anglican leadership would realize that what they are selling, no one is buying. If the Church of England was a business, the whole outfit would have been in bankruptcy a long time ago. (And from what I have begun to discover, it’s probably headed that way regardless. Apparently the only thing that keeps the institution afloat is selling off their properties and “redundant” churches).

It appears that the Church of England and its leaders are simply in a different universe than the culture around them. The communicative disconnect is jarring in a country where more than 1/3 of the people are admitted atheists or agnostics and more people in the UK attend mosques on Sunday than darken the door of an Anglican church.

On one hand, there is so much to admire about the Anglican heritage. The depth of the theological and liturgical tradition, and a remarkable legacy are attractive to anyone desiring a sense of rootedness and historicity. As with Orthodoxy and Catholicism, there will always be people drawn to the richness of a tradition that has evolved through the ages. Yet Anglicans hold fast to an attractionistic model of ministry that expects the secularized and increasingly postmodern populace to come to them, which simply will not happen.

What is also heartbreaking is to see the wasted resources. It’s staggering. If even a slight percentage of the buildings, parsonages, and properties that are owned by the Church of England were made available to people with spiritual passion and biblical vision—particularly in the emerging generation—the impact on this society could be profound.

An article in the magazine of the National Trust describes the future of the largest landholder in England. It laments that “…congregations and parish incomes are in a free fall” and over the next decade, “…the trickle of churches becoming redundant is predicted to become a torrent.”

It appears that theological and missiological realities have not been adequate motivational forces to generate the necessary renewal within the Church of England that could stem its slide into oblivion. Perhaps the immense practical pressure that money and property problems exert will force the desperately needed institutional change.

Regardless, God is not limited by such human institutions and will eventually bypass such forms to create new, vibrant expressions of his Kingdom presence. Such processes have happened over and over again throughout history and it’s no different today in contemporary Britain.