Monday, October 02, 2006

The Redevelopment of a Denomination

Is it possible for a denomination to be redeveloped? This is the ultimate question that “the big meeting” last week should have been talking about. The “big meeting” was a gathering of the General Assembly Council with synod and presbytery executives. The PCUSA has been in crisis mode for many years: membership losses, budget shortfalls, etc. Now we find out that our presbyteries are having financial difficulties (no kidding?!?). Amongst all of their discussions one should wonder if they were asking the most important question. Is it possible for a denomination to be redeveloped?

Several years ago I was very active on our presbytery’s redevelopment committee. Many churches in our presbytery had been experiencing membership decline or plateaued membership for many years. GA was pushing the idea of “redeveloping” congregations. We would have one or two from our committee go and meet with a session. Typically, we would go and observe a session for a couple of their meetings. Eventually we would give them some suggestions on how they might prayerfully consider moving in new directions. It was heart rending to be in those session meetings. The elders from the particular churches loved their local church and wanted their church grow and prosper. Yet, much of what they did was a hindrance to growth. They refused to do anything different. They liked everything about their church except the lack of people. So… it was the same-old-same-old thing.

At the General Assembly level it was recognized that the only way a church could redevelop was to have a total change in what they did as a church—the church needed a change in its DNA. Few churches are willing to go through such a significant transformation.

Now, back to the original question: “Is it possible for a denomination to be redeveloped?” The national leadership of the PCUSA needs to look at congregational redevelopment and apply the same principles to the denomination. The denomination cannot keep doing things the same old way and hope that we will turn around. That is insanity! Our national leadership is like the members of the sessions I met. I am convinced that our national leadership truly loves the denomination and that they want the denomination to grow and thrive. Yet, I do not believe that they love it enough to “pay the price” for redevelopment. How can I make such a bold statement? I have yet to see resignations from national leadership. I have yet to see significant change in how they lead the church. Talk is cheap—actions are costly and painful.

Tomorrow I will look more closely at the possibility of denominational redevelopment.

1 Comments:

At 2:20 PM , Anonymous Kyle said...

Hi Lance,

I look forward to reading your ideas this week. I wonder if "redevelopment" is enough? I'll admit that it wasn't until 8 months ago that I really got into the "politics" of the PCUSA, but it is really hard for me to see two groups with such opposing view points working together to get anything accomplished.

Each side accusing the other of being "schismatic".

Power hungry leadership in Louisville that, in my opinion, will never take a side that doesn't allow for them to stay in power.

A Book of Order that doesn't allow for removal of leadership.

This just doesn't look good. And unless a majority group comes forward or stands up to be counted, there could be a huge spike in the rental of local School Gymnasiums around the country.

-Kyle
p.s. Thanks for recommending my wife to photograph your Labor Day Weekend wedding.

 

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