February 20, 2013

30 Prescriptions for a Healthy, Transformed Church

A few days ago I returned from east-central Africa, where I spent time with Anglicans in the Diocese of Nzara in the Episcopal Church of the Sudan. Today I woke up feeling I might have something to say in the wake of it.

I guess maybe consider this pastiche a kind of spitball of the urgings that have begun to stir in me in the wake of all I have seen and heard.

Let us:

  1. Put Jesus Christ at the center of things and keep him there
  2. Quit keeping score and embrace a theology of the cross
  3. Move beyond “being on the right side of history” to stand permanently with the oppressed and marginal
  4. Move beyond schism and factionalism
  5. Not give a damn about being Number One anymore
  6. Stop trying to fix everything (especially using the Magic Bullet approach)
  7. Put an end to one-upsmanship
  8. Stop interrupting/talking over each other and start listening to each other
  9. Start reading large amounts of Scripture with each other for the pure joy of it
  10. Start praying with each other because we want to and it’s a privilege to do so
  11. Stop selling people short and unapologetically put them to work
  12. Infuse liturgy with space enough for people to really insert themselves
  13. Revive the art of sympathetic, Christ-centered preaching
  14. Revive the art of transformative catechesis
  15. Start congregations as small, mobile units
  16. Welcome everyone and mean it
  17. Deal with antagonism using the cures offered by Scripture
  18. Combine congregations as necessary
  19. Ensure that the costs of participation in the Body of Christ are known up-front
  20. Have everyone come together as often as can be done
  21. Teach everyone and learn from everyone
  22. Remake the church the center of civic life, with or without buildings
  23. Bring everyone with something to say to the table
  24. Listen to the artists and ask them to help
  25. Make it clear that we can only do as much as we can do; that it is vain to do any more than that
  26. State with absolute certitude why we need a building before we build it, and be prepared to move out if our reasons change
  27. Stop fighting about money and move together toward fiscal solvency
  28. Throw grand funerals
  29. Choose to exercise the virtue of joy so often that at some point – in maybe a century? – it is the common birthright of our people and sewn into our DNA
  30. Resolve to take a voice in politics that transcends party and is consistent with Christ alone

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