Why we are shrinking

Mark D. W. Edington writing for Episcopal Life Online:

Step outside the church into the world they deal with every day and it’s easy to see why. They confront the challenging of living and working in a world where organizations that succeed in responding to change are being ruthlessly flattened, collapsing old hierarchies in favor of structures more supple and responsive to the needs of the people they serve.

And – especially among the generation now rising – their skill at using information technologies to assess alternatives, no matter what the need, makes them significantly less devoted to, and more skeptical of, the old virtue of brand loyalty – Ford, Ivory, Sunoco or Episcopal.

Their purpose in finding a church is, in short, very different from what ours appears to be in being a church. We want to work from the basis of our faith to articulate faith-informed positions on issues of the day. But they are looking primarily for a way into relationship with God and God’s people; to be in a community of faith that looks something like the communities that they know from the other spheres of their lives.

Those other communities have characteristics that make our churches seem alien, even forbidding. First, most folks outside the church are quite accustomed to living and working in communities where people hold a great diversity of views on social and political issues. They live in neighborhoods and communities, they work in offices and classrooms and laboratories where they have become adept at making relationships with people with ideas and commitments different from – even sometimes in conflict with – their own. And they are not threatened by this.

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