Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Looking Forward to February 22, And also March 1....

I am preaching at Presbytery next Sunday.  But since the sermon will also work for our Annual Meeting Sunday, why not use it twice!

The Scripture Readings for this week are:
  • Matthew 28:16-20
  • Joshua 24:1-18
The sermon title is Why Are We Here?

Early Thoughts: A couple of weeks ago I posted a query on-line.  If you had to state the purpose of the church in a tweet (140 characters) what would you say?

In any organization we need to be clear about what our purpose is, what we are all about, what is our mission.  We need to know this in order to plan and live because everything we do needs to follow from our primary purpose/mission.

It is my fear that we in the United Church are no longer clear about our primary mission/purpose.  And so any attempt we make to change the trends that David Ewart ( the so-called 'prophet of doom') keeps pointing out (and note that one specific trend goes back to 1925--since then the UCCan has been shrinking as a percentage of the Canadian population) is going to amount to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic unless we rediscover, or discover anew for the first time, our primary purpose/mission both as a denomination and as individual congregations.

Our problem is not governance.  Well to be frank governance is an issue at all levels of the church.  But the problem will not be solved by rejigging how we operate.  Changing the committee structure doesn't invite more people to become a part of the community, or give them a reasons to stay (though sometimes not doing it might scare them off).  To bring new life into the church means knowing what we are all about and sharing that.

In the near future the Comprehensive Review Task Group will release its report (I think it is already written but is now being translated and prepared for release).  As I read the signs, this report will suggest a radical rejigging of how we as a denomination operate.  As in it will no longer be the denomination we have grown to know.  And I know we will all have opinions about what that report suggests.  But I have a hope.

My hope is that the report begins by stating boldly an understanding of the purpose and mission of the United Church of Canada.   This would be a bold thing -- I am not sure such a statement has been made for many many years.  But the rest of the report about HOW we are the church needs to rest on a statement of WHY we are the church.  Based on what the CRTG has released thus far during their work, I don't expect this to happen.  But I hope it does.

And even if it doesn't we all, as congregations and Presbyteries and Conferences, we all need to ask ourselves "why are we here?".  Then we can build from that foundation.  And in my experience a statement of mission needs to be short and memorable to be much good.  We can (and will) then expand more about what it means to us but we need to put it succinctly -- and succinct is not exactly what the UCCan is known for. 

So what would your tweet be?

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