How To Kill a Christian Church in Four Easy Steps

Written by:
Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Hello, General Convention! Here’s the answer I would give; and it doesn’t appear to be that hard:

  1. Define the Gospel of Christ in terms of the smallest social unit and interest possible (e.g. homosexuals and their right to sexual affirmation)
  2. Define the episcopacy according to the smallest unit possible (e.g. New Hampshire and its gay bishop)
  3. Drive out anybody who has a larger vision – traditional Christians, evangelicals, Bible-readers, people who study Christian lives and thought earlier than 1968 and farther afield than NY and LA.
  4. Spend as much money as you can doing this instead of anything else and say this is “mission”.

Crudely stereotyped? Well, let’s admit to facts: The Episcopal Church is dying, having lost a third of its members in the last 10 years, and the decline still humming along; it has fewer and fewer young people and children as a proportion of its membership, fewer baptisms, fewer confirmations; and less and less money; it is closing more and more churches, watching dioceses disappear, go bankrupt or face merger; it’s seminaries are shutting their doors; it has produced little theology of note in over 20 years; its church planters and evangelists have mostly left; and its budget is shrinking and in line to be slashed yet further, with national programs and personnel falling by the wayside within a vacuum of missionary planning.

These are facts. But what are the causes? Multiple, no doubt. But there is a thread of correlation worth taking seriously: nixing evangelism programs and the theology behind them in the 1990’s; steady and relentless pursuit of a gay-centered political and theological agenda in the same period and after; imperviousness to larger church and Communion views to the contrary after 2003; vigorous (and expensive) focus on the legal pursuit of departing or objecting bishops and their flocks after 2005; passage of canonical disciplinary amendments that permit intimidation of dissenting clergy in 2009; massive budgetary losses and use of trust funds for the support of these legal costs and the decline of membership giving in the same period; imploding governance structures since 2011.

And let’s not forget the present: General Convention convenes with a slew of more traditional bishops officially under misconduct investigations over arguing on behalf of an alternative interpretation of TEC’s Constitution; a massive exodus of traditional Episcopalians underway; a theological education system in shambles; and a budget and budgetary process marked by the mutual recriminations of the church’s leadership elite.

Hello, General Convention! Anybody ready for an intervention? Anglican 9-1-1? Charges of criminally negligent ecclesiocide? For all of which I am willing offer an amicus brief…

July 02 2012 05:49 pm | Articles