I was born into a family that attended the Episcopal Church, and most likely I will die as a member of the Episcopal Church.
I felt that I needed to make that statement so that some who may question the things that I say means that I am unhappy with the church. I love going to an Episcopal service, and even though there are other denominations around whose services are similar in style, it doesn’t mean that I desire to attend them.
But over the years that Episcopal Church has had problems in that it has been shrinking in its membership size. Now this is true with many of the long established churches, but I have never really been involved with them in a deeper level.
Now the church has tried things to get people to attend, but for the most part it has failed. As I think about it, I think one of the reasons has to do with the service and the lessons that are read each week. Seriously. If you were to take a look at the Book Of Common Prayers that it has used, even though a new one will come out every so often that contains changes, the service has really stayed the same. But if one were to look even deeper, one will see that the church has not really changed either. Even though women are now being ordained as they should have been all along, what the church teaches has remained the same with no real things to be thought about.
Now you may be wondering what I mean by that. The church operates on a 3 year cycle on its calendar. In that cycle the lessons never change. Now with some of the different points in the year, I can understand why the church would want to use the same lessons, as they are fitting. But we are in a time of year right now where things could open up a bunch.
I think that one of the things that gets people into other denominations and away from the Episcopal and others is that many of them actually go through the entire Bible. Imagine if the Pentecost Season were to be like that. Now I am not saying that each congregation should go out on its own and pick stuff to use, but the national church picks what is read each week in a way that through a period of time takes use through the entire Bible. Now I was lucky in that the Bible Studies that occurred at the congregation that I was in when I lived in the Diocese Of California, the upcoming weeks lessons weren’t used (as it is in many congregations,) but an entire book/letter was chosen by the group and each week they would pick up from where they had left off the previous week. Imagine if the whole church were to use a model like this. Imagine the conversations that will happen under something like this. Imagine Episcopalians actually wanting pick up and read the Bible before church and at other times. But to do so would require change, and change is something that the people of the church seem to fear (both Laity AND Clergy.)
But sadly I can hear the reasons on why we can’t now. Oh those excuses that would be given. But if the church really wants to grow, it has to make changes that will get some upset, but it is time for the church again having to buy more pews to be able to sit those who come, not to be selling them because nobody is sitting in them.
So what are some of the ideas that you have that you think will help the growth of the Episcopal Church which are radical? Please post them in the comments here.