(Living Church) Brian McLaren Book to Shape D.C. Diocese

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Speaking at Washington National Cathedral on Jan. 27, [Bishop Mariann] Budde said the diocese will emphasize congregational renewal and revitalization. The bishop said she intends to hire a new diocesan staff person responsible for congregational leadership and development.

She also announced a new diocesan initiative to begin in March called People of the Way, which will help congregations enhance their spiritual formation practices. This initiative will draw from Brian McLaren’s Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices (Thomas Nelson, 2010).

While “the Episcopal Church is a jewel on the spectrum of Christianity,” today its “spiritual muscles” are “a bit out of shape,” Budde said. “The undeniable reality is that our church is not thriving. … I want to turn the trends of decline around.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryEvangelism and Church GrowthMinistry of the LaityMinistry of the Ordained* Culture-WatchBooksReligion & Culture

18 Comments
Posted January 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Terry Tee wrote:

I have been in a new parish for the last four months.  My role right now is not to dream dreams or bring out new visions, much as I would like to do so.  I know from experience that it will take me at least a year, probably more, to get to know the people, understand the dynamics a bit more, learn more about the neighbourhood.  All these things are necessary before action.  I kinda thought a diocesan bishop would do the same.

January 31, 8:04 pm | [comment link]
2. Terry Tee wrote:

Forgive second bite at cherry.  The other thing that strikes me is the danger of saying ‘It worked in the last place.’  Yes of course we have to draw on experience:  what else do we have ? (apart from grace).  But each place is different, and if you talk too much about the last place and the great things you did there then understandably it irritates the people in the new place.

January 31, 8:06 pm | [comment link]
3. A Senior Priest wrote:

I honestly hope her idea works.

January 31, 8:17 pm | [comment link]
4. Reformed Wanderer wrote:

I can’t help but note that in this entire statement of strategies to grow and renew churches, there is not one mention of God, or Jesus, or the Holy Spirit.

January 31, 10:32 pm | [comment link]
5. ls from oz wrote:

Brian McLaren? Be afraid, be very afraid . .  .

February 1, 6:14 am | [comment link]
6. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

#1 God bless you and your new ministry Fr Tee.

February 1, 6:28 am | [comment link]
7. Stefano wrote:

On the surface, the points are good ones based on best practices previously enunciated from many respected sources. If the whole effort is built upon the Rock all well and good. If it is built on sand…...

Let’s wait, pray and see.

February 1, 7:41 am | [comment link]
8. pendennis88 wrote:

There seems to be this idea in the upper reaches of TEC that if they can become “emergent”, oodles of young hipsters will join, reversing the steep declines noted in Hadaway’s recent statistical summary.  However, I’m not sure that anyone has an idea of what an emergent church actually looks like in real life.  I certainly don’t, with the possible exception of McLaren’s own, and so far it seems sui generis.  Nor is it clear how what is largely a shrinking clubby group of elderly unitarians with a fondness for traditional liturgy will become such a thing.  I’m sure the DC clergy will be happy to hear about what they’ve been doing wrong and must start doing differently now, though.

February 1, 10:14 am | [comment link]
9. C. Wingate wrote:

re 5: Indeed. McLaren has turned into another restorationist “start from zero” type brimming full of sophomore-inspired realizations about how everything the institutional church was wrong. And of course, nobody else has uncovered the truth until now. Of course, anyone with any real theological education has been all over this stuff and the many Anglicans who have contested it over the last century. It would certainly be an improvement if Budde tries to get the diocese to think outside the despotic box, but as far as theological examination is concerned, McLaren is someone to avoid.

February 1, 10:42 am | [comment link]
10. paradoxymoron wrote:

All she needs now are some motivational posters of people rowing together, and cubicles for people to sit in.

February 1, 1:15 pm | [comment link]
11. BlueOntario wrote:

As pendennis88 in post #8 descibes it, this is an interesting contrast to the plan for church growth that the PB has been calling for. Recall Hadaway’s slide on immigrants which ties into the PB’s plan. I hope that someone will maintain a list of all the ideas on church growth that have been sprung upon TEc, and will be over the next few years. That list should include robbing the mission budget.

February 1, 2:38 pm | [comment link]
12. lostdesert wrote:

Scary.  From wikipedia (I know, I know), but the facts are salient.  Poetry, novel writing, and song making.  Hmmmm.  At the age of 30 he starts a church. See below.

Contrast with my pastor who is now, and always has been, learning about the Bible.  How does TEC find these foolish people?  Get a Bible, open it up, read it, study it, find a good Biblical leader and teach those people sitting in the pews.  It’s all about the Bible. 

Born in 1956, Brian McLaren graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with degrees in English (BA, summa cum laude, 1978, and MA, 1981). His academic interests include medieval drama, romantic poets, modern philosophical literature, and the novels of Dr. Walker Percy. He is also a musician and songwriter.

After several years of teaching English and consulting in higher education, he left academia in 1986 to become the founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church, a nondenominational church in the Baltimore-Washington region. The church has grown to involve several hundred people, many of whom were previously unchurched.[2] In 2004 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity from the Carey Theological Seminary in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.[3]

February 1, 5:38 pm | [comment link]
13. AnglicanFirst wrote:

“Poetry, novel writing, and song making.  Hmmmm.  At the age of 30 he starts a church. See below.”

But who, involved in Christian ministry ( of any flavor), discerned that he not only sensed a call to Christian ministry but also was ready to prepare himself for ordained ministry?

Where was he educated and mentored in preparation for Christian ministry?

Or is this another case of ‘Billy Bob’ opening his own place of worship based upon his own internalized sense of what ‘he thinks,’ disconnected from the Church Catholic?

February 1, 7:05 pm | [comment link]
14. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

#13
“disconnected from the Church Catholic?”
Not sure I would say that.  Billy Bob’s church may not be part of the Catholic Church or the Anglican Church, much as a house church meeting in secret in China, or a few Christians in North Korea meeting in someone’s home at enormous risk to themselves, but the are all part of the church militant here on earth, and part of the body of Christ and the ‘church catholic’.

I don’t think much of the theology of Brian McClaren, which like that of Rob Bell and Rowan Williams is shallow and eccentric, but I would never assert that any of them are not part of the church catholic, or universal in the true sense of the word catholic.

February 1, 7:37 pm | [comment link]
15. AnglicanFirst wrote:

Reply to #14.

How do you define “catholic?”

In the broadest sense of the word?

Or in the apostolic/apostolic succession sense of the word?

When I say Church Catholic I mean the Roman, Orthodox and Anglican (including Anglicans not in full communion with Canterbury) churches plus some odd bits and pieces of the three main Catholic churches that have accumulated over the years.

I certainly wouldn’t include Calvinists under the heading of “Church Catholic” for instance.

February 1, 11:33 pm | [comment link]
16. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

#15 AnglicanFirst
Good point - it does depend on definition.  For me the ‘church’ is the body of Christ and ‘catholic’ is in the sense of ‘all’ or ‘universal’, that is the ‘church catholic’ is the body of believers.  Broadly I would say that this is those who subscribe to Nicene Christianity and are Trinitarian churches.  There are problems at the margins, for example there are churches in India who go back to John the Baptist and which are Monophysites, and I would not call them part of the church catholic, although I would hesitate to make a judgement on their relationship to God and to Christ.  The Church of England in considering which churches they regard themselves as in communion with in the ‘body’ generally makes a Trinitarian distinction.

It sounds as though your definition is largely compatible with that of the Roman Catholic church with its distinction between itself and those it regards as of the church but separated and what it obliquely refers to as “ecclesial communities”.  So I can see that your definition is perhaps narrower than mine.

So then the question is where do the other churches fit into all this - the Copts, the Assemblies of God, the ancient Indian churches like Mar Thoma, the Baptists - well they all subscribe to Trinitarian and Nicene doctrine - they all baptise with water in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, so in assessing Methodists for example, or your example Billy Bob’s church or a house church in China, I would take their teaching into account.

There are Calvinists in the Church of England, and I know that Rome considers Calvinism a heresy.  I don’t subscribe to some of their more outlandish claims, but when I have had the opportunity to raise these with Calvinists, as these blogs provide the opportunity, I am told that I misunderstand what Calvin said, and am just repeating a common misunderstanding.  Do I believe in 144,000 elect?  No.  Do I believe that Mary had no more children and the Pope can speak infallibly?  I have no idea, but do not think that it is necessary for me to know in order to take advantages of Christ’s offer of salvation.  However, I would not on these grounds, much as I may disagree with some aspects of their teaching, regard either as anything other than my brothers and sisters in Christ, that is in the church catholic.

I have worshipped in Baptist, Methodist, Assemblies of God and Roman Catholic Churches, and to be honest, bar small distinctions in music and dress, would be hard pressed from the format and homilies to tell you much about any jarring distinctions or even without a sign at the front, which church I was in.

So yes, I do draw the term ‘Church Catholic’ fairly widely to broadly include the Nicene and Trinitarian churches, and many of the breakoffs from the main three traditions within that, but perhaps would [depending on faithfulness of teaching] include a house church in China, a pentecostal church in Iran, or a few brave saints meeting in North Korea perhaps with the remembered fragments of the teaching their parents handed down to them and a hidden copy of the bible or a radio surreptitiously listened to within the ‘Church Catholic’.

February 2, 7:45 am | [comment link]
17. AnglicanFirst wrote:

Reply to Pageantmaster (#16.).

Defintions are important.  And it seems that we are possibly dancing around “the Church Catholic” and “the church catholic” in our resposes to each other.

As I see it from my reading of Scripture, tradion and history, the Church Catholic is the more direct descendant of the Apostolic Church and the Church Fasthers.  It is not sepcicifically a Roman church since it can be argued that the Romans have drifted into heresies, dogmas and church structures that are difficult to explain on the basis of the pre-Roman domination of the western church.  However, when you participate in the activities of most of the Church Catholic, you know that you are participating in activities that, most of them, that have their roots in Christ, the Apostles and the Church Fathers.

When you participate in the activities of the new members of the “church catholic” you know that you are participating in activities mostly emerging/developed at about the time of the Reformation and afterwards.

As for the Presbyterians, there are issues such as ‘predestination versus free will’ (which started to be seriously discussed in Augustine’s time) and a lingering malevolence toward anything that seems to be of Roman origin among many of its rank and file.  I have personally encountered some of these persons.  And, its difficult to forget the destructive violence wrought by the Calvinists in both Scotland and England toward things that did not fit in with Calvinist ideas popular at that time.

February 2, 9:10 am | [comment link]
18. Pageantmaster [Katie bought Welby] wrote:

#17 Thanks AnglicanFirst
May I ask from your reading when we may look back to for the time of the Apostolic church and Church fathers for our example of the Church Catholic: the church at Jerusalem before the sack; the Pauline churches of the Med; the church of Paul and Peter in Rome; the post-Nicene church; the Byzantine church of the Eastern Empire; the church before the Great Schism; the Celtic church before Whitby; the Medieval church before Trent; the Anglican church after the Reformation, the Roman Catholic church after Trent, or Vatican I or even Vatican II?  Please explain why this excludes the Reformed churches of the Continent and their progeny, many of whom came to the US?

On your last point, yes, some ultra-Presbyterians in the Scottish Western Isles do indeed have not so much malevolence towards, as a conviction of the errors of Rome [and in passing don’t think much of the faithfulness of us Anglicans either].  But I think that you will find that Scottish Presbyterianism nowadays are more friendly towards the Roman Catholic Church, much as the modern Roman Catholic church is considerably reformed when compared to its pre-Trent form [whatever some on this blog may tell you].

February 2, 5:15 pm | [comment link]
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