The Rev. Joseph Andrew Lane, Vicar of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in San Rafael, completed a doctor of ministry in congregational development at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois in May 2011. His thesis is entitled:
Canaries in the Coalmine:
The Impact of Creative People on Congregational Development in the Episcopal Church
Here’s the abstract:
“The Episcopal Church is suspended between a very real desire to welcome new members and an equally real sense of anxiety over its decline in membership. Meanwhile, growing numbers of potential worshipers from what Richard Florida has named the Creative Class are standing just outside the door—scientists, engineers, architects, designers, writers, artists and musicians who use their creativity as a key factor in their work in business, education, health care, law and other professions. In terms of congregations, I would include as members of the Creative Class volunteers who employ creativity in their church work, that is, people whose work-a-day vocation is not necessarily creative but whose avocation or, one might say, vocation-in-faith is. This thesis takes a close look at people already in Episcopal churches who exercise their creative gifts in unusual ways—“canaries in the coalmine” who might signal to other members of the Creative Class the hospitality of the Episcopal Church—and it shares the advice they offer to church leaders devoted to congregational development.”
If you’d like to check out the whole thing, click here
What I liked about this paper was Father Lane’s attempt to connect the old church language with the real world language of business and professional people looking for their place in the church. Yes doing that often involves dealing with buzz words and jargon but when you cut to the chase, the paper calls us back to the beginning of the church and the words Paul himself used to describe it:
2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
So don’t be afraid to change a few things that are getting in the way of growing your own congregation. If someone questions you—tell them to talk to Paul!
- Visualize The Great Commission (churchgrowthprogram.com)
- Writing About Church Growth & Decline (diocalparishgrowth.com)
- Growing the Church is about Community (discernablefutures.wordpress.com)