Some excellent advice. I wasn’t sure though, what sort of “activism” you were criticizing in the sentence “many clergy, overwhelmed and unclear what to do, simply hid in their office or in activism.”
One additional item I would put: Continue evangelism and outreach, no matter what. Every person has a soul that will either be saved or lost. We must be “fishers of men” in all fishing conditions.
I still miss the community of the congregation after my active membership ceased some forty years ago. But I somehow think that the small group of friends who gather in my living room to meditate and learn together are on to something of great importance, although I cannot say exactly what.
Low tide is the best time to shrimp.
My Northern California seminary and parish had become overly political. Fundraising and networking with the wealthy had superseded the church’s mission of supporting spiritual growth and community. Like the mid-term elections, politics are fickle. The church should not be in this business.
In North London, my Anglican parish is quietly building a spiritual community through house groups, study days, and a gorgeous musical programme. All support spiritual reflection and face-to-face connections. The parish is also filled with book readers which certainly helps.
The American church can not afford to dumb itself down like Tea Party politics. As Rev Mead teaches at the St Albans Institute, small groups meeting for study and prayer supported by central resources, is our only hope for turning the tide.
Some very good advice here. I wonder, though, whether we wre not in large measure responsible for the changing tide and, if so, we can expect it to return. The spiritual wisdom commended here should be combined with fresh imaginative leadership or will amount to little more than palliative care for mainline Protestantism.
Walter and Loren,
I have found this positively one of the most hope filled writings I have ever encountered on the fate of the mainline church. I have been in the ministry for 30 years. I now serve a 1100 member UCC congregation in college town of Lawrence, Kansas.
The church is thriving. Young adults are in leadership positions. They are very engaged in social action work. Seeing these young adults so excited about the faith, about what the church could be, can be has been a fuel to my ministry.
given that the tide is going out…I find what is happening all the more exciting.
It’s no cake walk. for sure. But your advice about engaging the ancient stories, about being a place of hope and community for people is responding to a very real need.
Thank you for telling the truth and yet drawing hope. Peter Luckey, Senior Pastor
Plymouth UCC, Lawrence, Kansas
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