Blog Template Theology of the Body: Kate Schori and church planting

Monday, November 27, 2006

Kate Schori and church planting

Today I had a long conversation with one of my best friends from college and the topic briefly turned to a guy that I roomed with for a year in the fraternity to which I belonged. My friend couldn't remember my old roommate's name. So after hanging up the phone I decided to use the omnipotent power (is that redundant?) of Google to find out what had happened to him. Turns out that since we graduated from college he has gone on to plant three new churches in Florida. He was always strongly evangelical in disposition, so this is no surprise, but if you think about it, planting three new churches in just over fifteen years is quite an accomplishment.

Thinking of my friend made me rethink Lyle Lovett's, I mean Kate Schori's embarrassing interview with the NY Times, which was discussed earlier this week. In thinking about it, what is worse than her condescending attitude toward those breeding Catholics is her seeming ignorance of her own church's initiatives. I'm not an Episcopalian, but I thought to myself that surely the Episcopal Church has some kind of evangelism initiative, so I poked around the national website until I found information about it. Turns out that there is a 20/20 initiative to double the size of the Episcopalian Church by 2020 through evangelism. So instead of attributing church growth to pure demographics, Schori had a great opportunity to say that there are alternative ways to think about church growth and that the Episcopalian Church has made a commitment to bring new people to the church.

On the other hand, as an outsider, I wonder if the 20/20 initiative is a lip-service initiative and her neglect in mentioning it is indicative of an overall lack of real commitment. I realize this is an evangelical blog, populated mainly by Anglicans, so I'm preaching to the converted, but given the paucity of resources devoted to the initiative on the website, I'd say the odds of doubling the size of the denomination by 2020 are about the same as me being being the Pope in 2020.

Or put it this way, according the website, "during the 16-year period between 1980 and 1996 the Episcopal Church planted 337 new churches nationwide." Between 1990 and 2006 my friend planted three churches. In other words, one guy was basically able to equal 1% of the output of a 2.2 million member denomination.

I don't mean this as a slam against my good Episcopal friends, and I'm sure many of you are alarmed about this, but I just thought it was a more interesting way to think about Schori's interview.