It’s a risk, this blog. We’re also hosting the What if 2010 one-day missional conversation. It’s a risk too. It’s a risk because we’re trying to dream and hope for the future of the Alberta Synod and the ELCIC. It’s a risk because it may not make a difference to a church structure that may be unwilling or unable to change. The Anglican Church, for example, spent a lot of time and money on a vision campaign called Vision 2019. According to the Anglican Journal, it was largely a disappointment. Here are some highlights from the article,
From February to October 2009, Canadian Anglicans sent in emails, voice messages, letters and videos answering the question, “Where is your church now, and where do you want the Anglican Church of Canada to be by 2019?” In all, 1,009 people responded, a tiny sample given the total number of people in the church.
In spite of all the rhetoric, all the time and energy invested, we have failed to dream outside the box. Where are the new ways of doing church? What are they and how will we embrace them? We have given lip service to notions of becoming missional with no clear direction for how to do so.
What we need to see in Vision 2019 is the kind of fire-in-the-belly passion that will inspire the average person to be part of our church and to support our mission. Where is our strategy for reaching the secular world, the unchurched, the spiritually hungry? How will Vision 2019 bring us closer to finding Jesus in ordinary Canadians and walking with them?
Tragically, any innovation that might have emerged from the grassroots has been lost, crushed under the weight of our own bureaucracy. Once again, we have invested heavily in maintaining the status quo, placing the Marks of Mission around the neck of Vision 2019 like a string of pearls. But let’s not fool ourselves. She’s still mutton dressed as lamb.
We need to be more ambitious about our timelines. Ten years is eight years too long. With church attendance in steep decline and finances plummeting, we need to get serious about implementing new ways of being church. To move with greater alacrity, we need to look for models of transformation that are already proving themselves. Do we have the courage to make Vision 2019 relevant?
It’s a risk to hope that the ideas we generate will make a difference, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take, and a cause we all need to champion.