If an alarm bell rings in the forest…

I rise today to testify that it is awfully difficult to get Episcopalians excited about evangelism. We are, after all, a Church that in 2003 allocated $750,000 for a national ad campaign. That’s about 1/10th of what would be required to do the job well. And, to demonstrate our cluelessness, we’ve decided to increase the amount requested in 2006 by a smidegen, but devote the increase to studying the effectiveness of the hilariously underfunded initial effort.

Because our Church is struggling to hold itself together due to our differences over the role of gay Christians, we sometimes have trouble admitting and addressing problems that don’t stem entirely from the current controversy. Our gradual loss of membership is one such problem. (Yes, some people have left the Church because of the current controversy, but that’s a small part of the story.)

I was delighted, then, to visit Anglicans Online today and find them talking good sense. As follows:

Every province of the Anglican Communion will differ in how well it attracts and retains young people, but it’s obvious that first-world countries are losing the battle. Statistics drawn from the Anglican Church in Australia, the Church of England, and the Episcopal Church in the USA we suspect would be much the same and the differences likely to be uninteresting. Whilst we in the church continue our global and often embarrassing bun fights about sexuality, how much creative energy and thought have we spent looking hard at the issue of handing down to our children the Communion we’re so desperately fighting for?

It’s easy to see, based on numbers alone, that in a generation the church as we have known it won’t be able to exist as it has. The buildings and the budgets, the salaries and stipends simply won’t be supportable, balanced, and paid. The people who remain in the pews won’t be able to carry on the infrastructure; it will be financially impossible. This isn’t a speculative doom-and-gloom forecast; it’s simply looking at the numbers and projecting forward. Of course there will be some young people who come into the church once they’re married and have children of their own. But these, we suspect, will mostly be those who had some connection with the church in their childhood.

There is no doubt much good thinking about this critical issue, whether in individual parishes or dioceses. But we’re not aware of any Anglican Communion summit-level activity tackling this issue, which we might crudely call ‘passing on the brand’. If we believe that Anglican Christianity is the fullest expression of Christianity — and if we don’t, why are we Anglican? — we must do better at bringing our children into it.”

Have a look at the whole piece, and then come on back to talk about it.

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