Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A new way of doing church?

For the past couple of years, our presbytery (which is made up of around 80 presbyterian congregations around Cincinnati) has been wrestling with a "transformation" process.

Understand that this desire for transformation is rooted in perceived dysfunction in how the churches relate to one another, how committees get their work done (or not done), budget, staffing at the presbytery level, conflcit over theology and process -- just a few minor issues. All of this done against the backdrop of a church that is in decline -- a loss of over 40k members last year, an undetermined amount this year, and a projected 80k loss for 2007. So many of the more tenured pastors and elders in the presbytery have been longing for transformation.

Last night, the transformation team presented their preliminary report of suggestions. Now bear in mind, this team has been at work for over a year; they've studied, worked with feedback received through a consulting process (see the feedback report -- while it applies to this presbytery, it gives a decent snapshot of what's happening in denominational churches across the country), they've hosted special training seminars (see my prior posts on the Jill Hudson training event: post one, post two, post three)

Now they've distilled their work into a vision document that they hope will generate significant discussion between now and the Nov 14 Presbytery meeting. Unfortunately, that document is not yet available online on the Presbytery website -- and I don't have the patience to re-type the whole thing. So I'll summarize. They ask us to envision a presbytery that is Mission shaped, Permission Giving, and Outcome Oriented.

Then they flesh these concepts out with bullet pointed lists of what those characteristics may actually look like. Finally, they include a page on our unity in faith, centered around the great commission and a page of bullet points on where transformation is already happening. While I sat next to Markus Watson, we made a quick agreement that we'll blog through this document together as a means of having a public discussion (Markus, tag, you're it) -- and I invite other folks who were there to be doing the same thing (or commenting on our blogs).

I'm thinking that next week I'll spend a post on each of the three main points of the vision -- looking forward to having you along. More to come!

Soli Deo Gloria