Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Real Work of Bishops

From Patheos-

But let’s hope that the bishops return to the subject of congregational vitality and give it serious, concerted attention, because if there is one issue facing the leadership of mainline Protestantism today it is the fate and future of shrinking congregations with ever-smaller numbers and evaporating resources.

Why we face those challenges can be traced to a number of factors: Shifting rural-urban demographics; the growth in numbers of those who identify as spiritual but not religious or as Nones; the changing generational interests and expectations; the rise of immigrant populations that have their own traditions; and the decline in numbers of white, middle class communities are just a few of the factors that are beyond the church’s control.

But there are other challenges that that the church can and must address: the failure of mainline Protestantism to give people a vital, inescapable, spiritually grounded explanation for why they should attend church; our over-identification with political causes that can be pursued just as easily without a religious motivation; the lackluster character of our programs for children and youth; (in the case of my denomination) the inescapable and unacknowledged classism of our denomination; and the failure of our congregations to give more than lip service to welcoming people of color, unless they are willing to conform to our cultural affectations and Progressive Protestantism’s theology. There are also serious strategic issues: the location and viability of congregations; resource distribution; the linguistic barriers to serving immigrant communities; and the supervision and training of lay and ordained leadership.

More here-

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