Back to basics to do a new thing

Bishop Greg Rickel of the Diocese of Olympia is getting creative about church growth and evangelism. The Seattle Times reports:

In this season of baptisms, and given that he’s a bishop, it seems strange to hear the Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel speak proudly of the time he talked some parents out of baptizing their child.

He was convinced the parents were doing it only because other family members insisted.

And that, says Rickel, who is preaching this Easter Sunday at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, is dumbing down the faith.

“My goal is not to baptize as many people (as I can) so I can count them up as Episcopalians,” he said. “My goal is to have an authentic faith that people can really articulate and understand.”

….

For Rickel, who’s made reaching those under 35 one of his primary goals, it’s not about trying to achieve megachurch-sized numbers — something many Episcopal churches aren’t good at anyway, he says.

Rather, he’s emphasizing a back-to-basics approach that gets at the core of what Episcopalians believe and why, and the rich traditions they have — because too many people, Episcopalians included, he says, aren’t clear on that.

At the same time, he’s looking forward, leading his flock in trying to figure out where the culture is headed and how the church fits into that. He’s encouraging congregations to experiment with different ways of thinking about and operating as a church, fully aware that some experiments will fail and some old ways of doing things will die.

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