What We Seek in a New Rector

Bishop Marc Andrus and the St. Timothy’s Vestry has approved the updated parish Executive Summary and our parish OTM (Office of Transition Ministry) profile formally launching the application period for new Rector candidates.   The rector search committee prepared an executive summary profile to provide potential candidates a clear understanding of our values and the St. Timothy’s congregation’s sense of what God is calling us to be in His service.

The profile material summarizes the results of the 15 parish engagement meetings. The search committee met regularly with the vestry to report progress, conducted an online parish survey, and used social media to gather youth input.

St. Timothy’s seeks a rector to help us live into spiritual values enunciated through this parish engagement using an appreciative inquiry process. Our selection process seeks to enable the vestry to call a new rector by Pentecost.

St. Timothy’s Parish Values

During the parish engagement process the search committee asked the parish what they value most about our community.

Community: To us St. Timothy’s feels like home. We value our strong, inclusive sense of community where everyone is welcomed and made to feel like family.  We want everyone crossing our doorstep to feel they are welcome and at home in God’s house.

Worship: Our parish values joyful worship and music experiences.  St. Timothy’s currently provides a variety of worship styles. These include intergenerational spiritual experiences to help everyone live into their faith journey.  These worship styles range from the traditional with organ, contemplative with no music, to Taizé with chants and meditation, and family-oriented with lively music and children’s liturgy to provide our children an embracing experience to build an enduring faith foundation.

Outreach:St. Timothy’s has a high level of commitment to outreach and service to those who are in need. The parish encourages active participation in service ministries and outreach to bring us together, help us live into our baptismal covenant and discern what God is calling us to be as the Body of Christ in our wider community.

Pastoral Care: St. Timothy’s cares.  As our parish demographics change we seek to adapt by expanding our lay participation in pastoral care ministries and service to respond to those needs.  We value having a caring community that helps each other and where every member feels embraced and held up in their times of need.

Fellowship: Our parish values intergenerational fellowship.  Just as we celebrate together and serve others in need we want to be a beloved community of faith among our parish family members and the wider church.

Rector Priorities

 In response to what the parish values most about the church, the search committee asked the parish about their top qualities for a new rector.

What We Seek in a New Rector: The parish seeks an enthusiastic, progressive person to inspire our faith journey, celebrate our inclusive diversity, and help us live into our Episcopal faith traditions.  We know from experience that the parish responds most to someone with strong inter-personal skills, i.e. a “people person”.

Leader: St. Timothy’s seeks a dynamic, collaborative leader, a wise steward and manager with a well-rounded and evident experience.

Pastoral: The parish seeks a rector who enjoys pastoral care, and can empower lay passions for pastoral care and outreach to serve others in times of need.

Worship: St. Timothy’s seeks someone who will provide us with engaging sermons and liturgy to celebrate our faith in both new and familiar ways, while keeping us engaged in DioCal and the interfaith work of the church.

Community: St. Timothy’s is seeking a partner to join us in our growth as a welcoming, inclusive and joyful community. The parish needs its rector to have compassion for us, be one of us, know our names, look us in the eye, and accept us as we are, while helping us achieve our collective vision.

Children, Youth and Families:  St. Timothy’s is seeking a partner to assist in creating an environment where our children develop a faith foundation to guide their lives through children, youth and family ministries, Noah’s Ark Preschool, great music and intergenerational fellowship.


Lessons from a Failed Rector Search Process

This is a short story of what happened at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Danville, California when the relationship between the rector and the parish could not be saved by a deliberative process of reconciliation and discernment. After a relatively short tenure with a growing sense of dis-ease came an open, candid, healthy and holy process of reconciliation and discernment. The end of that process brought consensus but the answer was not the one either St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church or the rector wanted. The decision to resign as Rector was his but the process completed made clear that there was little support for an alternative outcome.

What happened?

The views expressed by the rector’s supporters centered on the following:

  1. He is an experienced, seasoned; personable Rector who believed he was called to St. Timothy’s to help the parish ‘change’ so it could grow again after a long period of declining membership and changing demographics.
  2. But what he found after his arrival was a resistance to change and a lack of support for the changes he did make.
  3. The reasons for that disconnect were ascribed to the failure of the interim process before he was called to enable the parish to make the break from the last rector in order to prepare the way for the next. Huh?

When you probed these three commonly held views the rationale for this mismatch between the Rector and the Parish boiled down to a failure of the search and selection process and how the interim period was managed. That failure, according to this point of view, began by naming Associate Rector as Interim Rector. Doing so, the theory goes, prevented the parish from making a clean break from the past making it more difficult to focus on what the parish discerned God was calling it to be and do in His service for the future.

What can we learn from this experience?

In my view none of the issues the rector faced at St. Timothy’s had anything to do with the congregation clinging the retired rector or wishing that we had been able to call the Interim to stay on as permanent rector despite the church rule prohibiting such a call. By the time the new rector arrived at St. Timothy’s the former rector had been gone for two years. I think the parish grieved his retirement after 22 years but the passage of time made us realize that the parish could go forward without him because its strengths came from God not from the rector. The Associate’s contribution as interim rector sustained us and enabled us to withstand the long search process and the failure of the first process. In deciding to accept the call as interim rector she decided not to be part of that search process. She was our bridge to the future. Her willingness to love us enough to let us go because she felt we could thrive in the arms of another rector endeared us to her all the more in her time left with us.

Lessons from a Failed Rector Search Process

I believe the first search process failure was compounded by the way the search process unfolded when it was learned that the consensus candidate was involved in another search process and did not want to make a decision on accepting a call to St. Timothy’s until the outcome of the other search process reached its conclusion. The Vestry felt strongly enough about his candidacy that they agreed to wait for the competing process to be completed —a decision that took several months longer than expected—instead of forcing the candidate to ‘fish or cut bait’—will you accept a call to St. Timothy’s or not?

By waiting, the Vestry faced several unintended consequences that are useful insight for all search processes:

  1. The parish lost control of the search process. By waiting for someone else to act we put the fate of the parish in the hands of someone else. If we forced the preferred candidate to make a choice and he said no we had to start over—and the vestry did not feel that other candidates measured up to their preferred choice. But forcing his hand forced the candidate to decide if he wanted to risk NOT being selected at the other parish. Waiting it out, in hindsight, was imprudent. It told us that the process was too long already costing us the best candidates.
  2. The consensus candidate was not part of the consensus. By asking the Vestry to wait for the other process the candidate was telling St. Timothy’s he was not convinced this was the right call for him. In hindsight, the wiser course for the Vestry would have been to force the decision and NOT WAIT. You either love us or you don’t! Which is it?
  3. The candidate pool dried up! By waiting it became clear to others that St. Timothy’s had found the person they wanted so candidates looked elsewhere. It may also be true that a small candidate pool tells us something about our competitiveness or the cost of moving to the San Francisco Bay area from lower cost states that we must address, or other factors.
  4. The search process failed and had to be restarted. None of this failed first search process had anything to do with the rector but it cast doubt on the entire process and left the parish feeling unfulfilled. The second search process resulted in a smaller candidate pool and a rushed process as the parish frustration grew at the long time it was taking and lead to a sense of relief more than joy at the end of the process. This sense of frustration forced the rector to bear an unfair burden in the sense that his calling was seen as a second-best outcome for the parish.

Those critical voices that became more prominent and outspoken during the reconciliation and discernment process framed their criticisms around the following factors that led them to the conclusion that calling the rector to St. Timothy’s was a mismatch and largely prevailed in building a consensus that he should leave. Those factors included:

  1. Too Many Surprises, Too Little Communication. The rector’s style of communication was to keep his own counsel and then to announce changes he had already decided to make. This happened early on with changes to the Vestry process, a new commission structure, and a dilution of the role of the rector’s warden. Over time the same thing happened with changes in the service order, music and other worship and liturgy elements. At first there was just grumbling—‘why didn’t we know about this first?’ Then there was second-guessing ‘why are we doing this?’ Then there was concern about motivation made worse by the call of a new associate priest making ‘rookie mistakes’ that irritated more than illuminated why things were being changed.
  2. Going through the Motions. As the rector settled in and his routine was clearer, there developed a sense among the congregation that he was ‘going through the motions’ rather than engaging in pastoral care and other areas important to the parish. Interpreted as aloofness at first it was not until later that the parish learned he was dealing with his own problem with depression. I remember my reaction on hearing that news. Were we making his condition worse by piling on the pressure to address these parish concerns? Could we do something constructive to support him through this journey rather than grumble about things that, by comparison, seem trivial?
  3. Among Us but not One with Us. I remember the point in time when I realized that there was a low probability of reconciliation. It was a feeling of clarity and discernment. It happened in the midst of one of the parish workshops when one of the parish members had the courage to stand up and say what was on almost every heart in the parish hall that day—this isn’t working and airing our issues in this process is leading us to the discernible conclusion that it isn’t likely to get better. It was not a mean-spirited statement and there was no animus in the words or sentiment. It was healthy, it was candid, it was confessional. And because it was all of those things—it was holy coming from the heart of the congregation. The rector was among us but neither he nor we felt we were one with each other.

Why write this?

These views are my personal feelings and I do not pretend to speak for the parish, the Vestry, the Rector or anyone else. This blog has become a source of information on Episcopal Church selection processes, profiles and the issues of church vitality. I started this blog when I began my term on the Executive Council of the Diocese of California before the rector’s retirement at St. Timothy’s. I continued it during the search process. I stop writing in it in 2012 when a new rector was called feeling that its usefulness had ended.

When the rector announced his resignation,  I offered the aging contents of this blog’s chronicle of the first search process to the wardens and vestry for whatever value it may be to them. I went to the blog admin page and was surprised to discover that even after lying fallow for three years it still receives an average of about 100 hits per month from people ‘googling’ church vitality, Episcopal Church selection process for calling a new rector or similar phrases.

I offer this post as a candid observation of how our search and selection process at St. Timothy’s unfolded for whatever lessons can be learned from documenting our experience.

Rector Search Process Starts Over

The Wardens held a town meeting between services yesterday, May 6th, to update the congregation on the restarting of the rector search process after the candidate called chose another congregation.  There were many questions:

  • Why did this happen?
  • Why after 16 candidates and six months of screening, weeding and interviewing only one candidate was “a good fit”?
  • How are we doing as a congregation?

This last question was on everyone’s mind but few had been able to put it in words nearly so well.  The answer reflected the mood of the crowd accurately.  We are doing OK.  Our pledge levels are down a little as we expected.  We are continuing to get a steady, albeit small, stream of newcomers our church shopping.  We are in reasonably good financial shape but still must close a $120,000 revenue gap by year end to avoid dipping into reserves.

What about Kathy?  What about Kurt?  That was the next set of questions referring to our Interim Rector Kathy Trapani, and Associate Priest Kurt Levensaler.  In announcing the failure of the call process a week earlier The Rectors Warden Shelton Ensley said that Kathy had agreed to stay on as Interim Rector.  The reaction was clearly positive to that news, but in the intervening week there was a modest buzz of chatter as people talked in the crowd.  The chatter reflected a sentiment that is shared by many.

“We wish we could just call Kathy on a permanent basis and be done with this process.”

The church rules on these things have evolved for hundred of years and the tradition is a new rector gets a clean slate with the opportunity to build his or her own team.  This was simple in the days of small parish churches where the rector may actually have been the only employed person.  As churches grew it got more complicated but the tradition of church planting in the 1940’s through 1960’s meant that the turnover created candidates for mission church plants and kept the growth process growing.

Today is a different realty but the church rules still have not changed to reflect this new reality.  In some ways it is not different for any of the rest of us as the economy pressures both spouses to work if they can.  Underwater housing prices make relocation difficult at best.  And just as our national economic growth is slow to flat the church has faced a long slow period of declining membership, pledging and participation limiting congregational resources.

But the rules of calling a new rector are seemingly set in stone.  If Kathy, for example, wanted to use this opportunity of the re-opening of the rector’s position to apply for the job she must resign as interim rector and priest before she can apply.  So she finds herself today in one of those rock versus hard place situations.  She had expected, as all of us did, that the call process would be answered with a YES and a new rector would now have been named.  Kathy as interim rector would have resigned to allow a period in between her departure and the new rector’s arrival as the church rules suggest.  Imagine  the frustration at having prepared yourself to depart only to find your torment might continue for another six to twelve months as another round of applications and interviews works its way to a conclusion.

The congregation faces the same rock and hard place situation.  The wardens told us, quite accurately, that we need to do this process right even if that means doing it over.  We agree with that.  Nothing is worse than a bad outcome where a candidate is called who does not “fit” and we end up in a divorce proceeding rather than a happy marriage.   They also tell us rightly that time is an ally not an enemy because it gives us a period of transition to grieve the departure of Steven and prepare for the arrival of a new rector hopefully full of confidence that in this interim period we have discerned who we are as a faith community, what we feel called to be in doing God’s work, and whom is the best “fit” to lead us where God wants us to go.

OK—we get all of that—we do!

But that brings me back to the chatter in the back of the parish hall on Sunday.

Well, if Kathy was prepared to leave expecting the call process to be finished, are we holding her back from what God is calling her to do next?  Is this fair to ask?  And the wardens did say to us that nothing precludes either Kathy or Kurt from pursuing other opportunities themselves.

Another conversation said—well, maybe God is sending us a message we are too thick headed to get!  Maybe that message is the call process ended without a call because the candidate with the best “fit” is already here.  Yes but what about those dang church rules?

Ah, the rules!  That is not for us to decide said the person fomenting this mischief.  That is between Kathy and God!  If Kathy feels God is calling her to apply to be Rector then He has given her another opportunity to decide that by restarting this call process.  She was prepared to leave us if the call process worked as expected.  Now she must decide if she is prepared to leave us in order to to tell us, consistent with those dang rules, that she does NOT want to leave us.  And if she leaves us we have an opportunity to select her return to us with open arms.  I know, some rules are crazy.

No guarantees for either side in this choice except this:

If Kathy leaves us to be a candidate for rector and she is not chosen then she knows and we know that God did not mean for this to happen—but neither Kathy nor the parish will wonder whether we gave up on each other too soon. Because we trust that God is with us and has already made a decision about who our next rector will be, this scenario is the surest way to discern the difference between a fantasy about what might have been from God’s intention about what could be if we exercise our free will prudently on both sides—but both sides must be willing to give it all away.

If Kathy leaves us to be a candidate and she does not choose us or she is called to another place then she knows and we know that God has a plan for her elsewhere that is more important for His work in the vineyard than this.   While that would be a painful choice for both sides it would be a true and pure and perfect manifestation of God’s will and we would accept it knowing that we must keep searching until we discern the person He has chosen for us.

If Kathy continues as interim rector and the new call process succeeds she will leave us and we will love her all the more for her fidelity and patience with us when we needed her to be ‘our rock’ in this uncertain process. This is the path we are on today as we pray each Sunday for the search committee and the call process to help us discern God’s will in our midst.

But as we do pray for the search process let’s quit blaming those dang church rules for limiting our choices.  The rules force both the candidates and the parish to be  deliberate, to make choices, to be intentional not wishy-washy, to be willing to risk something new, to be willing to give it all away by leaving a current congregation and going to another—or leave this congregation and put it all in God’s hands for the opportunity to stay years longer rather than months longer if that is His will.

But both the parish and the interim rector must be willing to ‘give it all away’ in order to discern what God was calling us to do next—–no guarantees—-just faith, pure and perfect faith.

Our Search Process Starts Over But It did Not Fail Us!

The wardens at St. Timothy’s appeared at each of the three services today to announce that a call had been made to a candidate to be Rector but that the candidate had chosen to purse an alternative opportunity.

They also told us that having reconsidered the other two finalists in the year and one-half long search process, the Vestry concluded that a better course of action was to begin the search process anew.


Few who began this journey what seems now like years ago could image this outcome, but there it was.  Jilted at the altar!

The buzz at coffee hour was a combination of reactions:

  • How could this happen after such a long tortured process?
  • We should have expected this after the candidate said when the call was offered that there were other options.
  • What was wrong with the search process that we ended up with this outcome?

I remembered in one conversation a few weeks ago with a person visiting us for the first time that the visitor was surprised that we were in the search process.  ” The place does not feel like it—it’s so . . . normal.”

There was also quiet rejoicing that Kathy Trapani, our Interim Rector, and rock during this transition process would be with us for a while longer.  Better to have a long inter-regnum than a tearful goodbye was the common view.

So what should we make of this?

  • God was not happy with the choice the Vestry made so He said no—and so it was.
  • God was not happy with candidate’s indecision so he said no because He was protecting us from a false start
  • God knows what is ahead for St. Timothy’s and thinks we need more time working in the vineyard to discern it.

Sill absorbing this news I do not know the answer to why this happened, but I know this:

  • God loves us unconditionally and has sent us Kathy Trapani to be our interim Rector until He decides who the new Rector will be—and He leaves us in her caring, capable hands for a while longer.  This is a place we are happy to be!
  • God loves us unconditionally and He has something bigger, better and more consequential in store for us and we must be patient until He decides the time is right to reveal it.
  • God loves us unconditionally and the person called was not a good fit for us and so we keep looking until we find the one who will be a caring pastor for our flock as we have prayed for each Sunday.

We give thanks that our Vestry had the courage to do what they think is best for us.

We give thanks to Kathy for sticking with us— and for this we love her all the more!

We give thanks to God for protecting us from harm and holding our hand on this journey of faith!

Be at Peace about this—and get back to work!

Our Good Friday Passion

The Good Friday service is a sober, somber, brooding celebration.  The music is heavy, the periods of silence seems everlasting.  I confess that each year I am tempted to skip Good Friday and go straight to the Great Vigil.  But this year I am glad I didn’t.

Kurt asked us in his homily what we are prepared to suffer or even die for.  OK that got my attention.

The telling of the passion story is best taken in sitting there with your eyes closed.  Reading along distracts me from the story by the density of the words so I miss the nuances of the meaning of the reading.

The rhythm of Holy Week is hectic.  At St. Timothy’s this year has come off like clockwork.  Our team of clergy and staff has gone about their work with usual precision.  It may seem like chaos to them but to us in the pews it has been professional, holy, and just as we expected.  We all know that we are nearing the end of our interim period.  We know the Vestry is interviewing finalists and soon God will reveal to us whom he has chosen to be our new rector.  For now we wait, we pray, we will celebrate Easter as we have each year.

But this Good Friday it hit me.

When the doors of the church opened after the reading of the passion and Kathy Trapani came through those doors carrying the Cross—it hit me.  This was it.  This was the last time we would see Kathy carrying the cross for us on our way to Easter, to a new Rector, to a new start as a parish.

Suddenly the sense of passion came alive.  She was stoic.  She was determined.  She walked down that aisle on a mission.  It had to be perfect.  It had to be poignant.  It had to make her invisible to us so that all we saw was that Cross coming to its place of honor.  And so it was.

And there holding up the cross as she put it in its proper place for the last time was the person who has carried us on her back, held our hand, wept with us, laughed with us and sat with us in our times of need.

The tradition at St. Timothy’s has been to rotate the celebrant role among the clergy.  It is a collegial tradition that honors each member of our clergy team and gives them the opportunity to live into their vocation fully.

Maybe it was just the luck of the rotation draw that saw Kathy in the role of celebrant tonight. But in my passion this night I think it was a pure and perfect gift from God—the honor of carrying the Cross. Kathy’s journey from the pews to seminary to her ordination and then call as a member of our clergy team, her dedicated service in our midst comes full circle in the honor of carrying the Cross into the church as she nears the end of her journey as our Interim Rector soon to take her leave.

A pure and perfect gift from God.

I prayed this night that Jesus would fill her up with the satisfaction of knowing that she has done this job so well, so truly, so faithfully that the passion of having to give it up will turn into Easter by what God has planned next on her journey of faith.  But tonight it was Good Friday and the passion of the night will lead us to Easter.  And on Easter we will give thanks for the Risen Lord and also for His pure and perfect gift of a good shepherd.

It was a Good Friday!

The Gifts and Lessons of Our Search Process

“Almighty God, giver of every good gift; look graciously on your church, and so guide the minds and hearts of those who shall choose a rector for this parish, that we may receive a faithful pastor, who will care for your people and equip us for our ministries; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen”

Those are the words we pray every time we gather around the table at St. Timothy’s.  This prayer for the selection of a rector occurs following the Collect for the Day in the order of proceedings and then we go to the readings appointed for the day as we ‘listen and respond to God’s word.’

As I write this the first Sunday after Epiphany 2012, it is hard to imagine that it has been eighteen months since we learned that Steve Strane, our rector for 22 years was retiring.  Such announcements are always the source of anxiety and trepidation.  The rules of the church are rather inflexible in such matters for good or ill and as we faced the loss of our long time rector, his ‘trusty sidekick’ Kathy Trapani faced a Hobson’s choice of her own.  She could step into the role of Interim Rector and continue to serve our parish family during this interim period and then exit as a new rector was called.  Or she could apply to be Rector to replace Steven but that would require her to resign now in order to be a candidate.  Such a deal!

So what happened?

I believe God does not ask us to shoulder burdens He knows we cannot bear.  God has been with us at each step of this interim process and because of His Grace we have learned more about our faith, our values as a community, and our vision for the future of our faith community than we thought possible.

We learned that as much as we loved Steven Strane and were sorry to see him retire, that he gave us something we hardly recognized in his midst but THE GIFT has helped sustain us in his absence and empower us in the future.  THE GIFT was a style of collegiality and his humble, welcoming, loving manner that made each person feel at home when they walked in the door the first time, and called by name the next time and every time they came to the table.  THE GIFT was the lesson to love one another as Jesus loved us.

We learned that as much as we loved Kathy and would be sorry to see her leave us, we could celebrate each day we were together doing God’s work in the vineyard of St. Timothy’s and giving thanks for the many blessings that our time together has brought.  This turned from a maudlin lament about Kathy’s eventual departure into a joyful celebration at Kathy’s love for us—so intentional—that our interim period has been seamless, healthy, happy and Holy!  God loves us SO MUCH that he sent Kathy to be our guide and scout through the wilderness. We never doubted her steel and competence.  We never felt abandoned or adrift. We never doubted her leadership nor wondered where she was leading us. The trusty sidekick has become our shepherd and while our time in the fold is transitional it is no less joyous and we are no less grateful for this holy time together.

We learned that in God’s great economy if Kathy had not stepped up to be our interim rector we would not have had the opportunity to call Kurt Levensaler to be Associate Priest.  In Kurt God has sent us a breath of fresh air, a voice of new ideas, a new style, a fresh start that is essential to our transition and to our future.  God has given us the great gift of practicing the joyous act of welcoming new clergy that we will face in our near future.  Kurt is our bridge from the joyous place we have been through the joyous wonder of our transitional wilderness to our joyous future with a new rector.

We know God loves us so much that He has given us the Grace of a steady, healthy, optimistic advent in our search process.  That grace and our confidence in the search committee and vestry to tend the process and keep it moving deliberately forward until they discern whom God is calling to be our new rector and reveals that call to them.

We believe and so we have faith in the process, in our transitional clergy and lay leaders.

We believe and so we celebrate the strengths of our community of faith and we believe that God wants us to keep working in our share of his vineyard using the resources, judgment and love for one another that he gave us—its grace, pure and perfect grace that surrounds us and fills us with joy and anticipation.

We believe and so with we give thanks for THE GIFT for even with the passage of time it still reminds us of the unconditional love that lives into Jesus call to us, for modeling for us how to turn that gift into work in the vineyard, and for preparing us for the future.

And then there is this,

In the Gospel reading appointed for this day from Mark 1:4-11:

“John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.  He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

We know God is with us in the advent of our search process and at a time of His choosing he will reveal to our search committee the one he has chosen to be our next rector.  In the meanwhile, He has prepared us for his plan for our future by giving us THE GIFT of good shepherds to teach us, to love us and to prepare us for this time ahead.  He has given us the gift of time to reflect and the opportunity to grow, to change and prepare ourselves for the time ahead.

We know that in hearing the news of that call of a new rector we are receiving the Holy Spirit anew–a gift of pure and perfect grace.

The New is Here

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!