Magazine article Anglican Journal

Now That We Have Your Attention

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Now That We Have Your Attention

Article excerpt

JOHN Kenneth Galbraith once remarked that the main function of economic foresting was to make astrology appear as a reputable science. The same could be said of other types of projections, including predictions of the demise of the Anglican Church in Canada based on patterns of declining church membership. In addition to raising the profile of astrologers, such predictions have another function, and that is to create anxiety.

Decline in Anglican affiliation, membership and participation measured as a percentage of the Canadian population beginning about 1941 is a fact and has been known for some time by people who take an interest in Canadian religion. Furthermore, unlike 20 years ago, this fact is generally known and accepted today by the majority of people who participate in congregational life. Generally speaking, most of the historic Protestant congregations are either stable or in numerical decline. Certainly some are experiencing growth in numbers, and new congregations are being founded even as older ones close or amalgamate. However, overall the number of congregations is also decreasing. People know this general picture to be true, even if they happen to be in a thriving congregation. But one cannot extrapolate from this general picture to speak of the future, desperate days of the Last of the Anglicans.

I think the function of such dramatic forecasting is to create anxiety. These projections are intended to wake people up, especially people with some authority, by creating as much distress as possible. The objective is to get attention and to shift focus. Who, after all, wants to be part of a church whose end is in sight, not from the Second Coming, but through the inaction of its leaders?

The danger with anxiety is that it encourages us to focus on the wrong things. A focus on "getting more Anglicans" is an unworkable solution to the wrong problem. The church growth consultants I know and read all ask the difficult question, "What for? What significant difference will it make to a newcomer's life to be part of your congregation?" This is a good question that shifts the focus from numbers to the quality of congregational life. Now that our attention is engaged we can look at some creative and productive responses that congregations and their leaders can take:

----- Developing self-confidence and discovering that the gifts you have are the gifts you need. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.