Old Ways Won’t Open New Doors

New Episcopal Initiative Seeks to Explore Paths to the Future of the Church

By The Rev. Ken Howard

As my readers know, I just returned from the Episcopal Church’s General Convention – its triennial legislative gathering – held this year in Austin, Texas.

Blessedly, this year I attended as a exhibitor, as previous experiences as an elected deputy filled me with all the excitement of watching proverbial paint dry. But while the processes of church legislation are boring to folks like me, it’s good there are people who love making the sausage, because a good deal of what they do is necessary, and occasionally, they produce something beautiful (the Nicene Creed, for example, was the product of a church convention – definite proof that miracles happen).

Nestled among this years avalanche of legislation produced by EpiscoCon (my pet name), was one such jewel: an ambitious (some might say audacious) three-year missional congregational redevelopment initiative that some have called missio:Engage. While the precise scope, shape, and reach of the project has yet to fully emerge (the church often needs time to contemplate the implications of what it has done before it can move legislative theory into programmatic reality), and the funding for the program will not come online until January 2019, from our discussions with those guiding the legislation, a few things are clear.

This is not intended to be your typical, top-down, prescriptive, institutionally-driven program, but more like institutionally-resourced, data-grounded research and development, inviting those bishops and dioceses with the will to prioritize the exploration and engaging of missional opportunity over tweaking, putting out fires, and fighting creeping decline to take part in a scary, yet exciting journey to find new doorways into their future.

FaithX and Datastory already have been working closely with Episcopal denominational and diocesan leaders to develop the tools and processes that will make this journey possible. And in the weeks months ahead, we will be informing our readers about how their dioceses can access these resources, so that those with the necessary vision and will can equip themselves to take full advantage of this exciting initiative when it comes online in January.

Watch this space.