The Quiet Revolution: Part 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece about Eucharist on the Lord’s Day, in part related to the coming shortage of clergy, smaller congregations may face. After an helpful conversation in the Executive Council, I want to share some practical strategies we discussed, to which congregations may turn increasingly to in the coming years- there are surely others we did not think of. In each case, openness to new forms is required even as we rely on the consistency of the Gospel itself.

Yoking and Catechists - Here congregations share a single priest; in the other congregations on a particular Sunday catechists lead Morning Prayer. A variant of this model is: Minster and Satellites- where the outstations are missions of the ‘Mother Ship.’ This is actually an ancient model in Christendom.

Dual Use- here we look for neighbors who rent space and so support the church. These work best when the renter’s mission is apposite to ours.

Planting- obviously here the plant is launched from a parish, though there is at first a period of incubation. A variant here is: An internal plant- where the second congregation shares space, but with a different ministerial emphasis. This can also overlap with the idea of a ‘reboot.’

Ecumenical Neighbor- is a hybrid of several of these ideas, where a congregation of a different denomination rents space which gifts and foci we may lack.

I should add that an example of each can be found in our diocese, and we will need yet more in the years to come. Of yet greater importance will be the formation of lay and ordained leaders in the priority of the Gospel and in traversing the pastoral and theological issues they will face.



Complete the Race (II Timothy 4:17)

At the end of our vacation we find ourselves in Chicago for its Marathon weekend (the fastest, I have read this morning, perhaps because it is cool and relatively level). Marathons offer many good things. You can see world-class athletes from places like Ethiopia and Kenya. There is a feel of fiesta with signs by family members, getups by some for-fun runners, and food for sale.

But as I looked out my hotel window at 7:30 a.m., I watched the race of competitors who have lost legs or their use. Wheeling vehicles by arm for 26 miles means serious fitness and determination.

Those competitors were to me, this morning, a symbol of the Church too. For each is wounded. The larger family cheers them on. Each by grace has risen up to run the race. Ahead is the goal, the prize, the welcome home. We find the companionship of Jesus the Lord, there, and along the route too.