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Moving “the front line” of your ministry forward

Moving “the front line” of your ministry forward

Bishop Steve Lane of the Diocese of Maine has asked clergy and members of his diocese to move “the front line” of their ministry out into the community. In Windham, the Rev. Tim Higgins is getting out of his office and into bars and cafes. The Lake Region Weekly reports:

Higgins said that a confluence of factors has led to the statewide decline in church attendance, including an increasing ethos of individualism, the popularity of Sunday morning youth sports, and the spread of a naturalistic spirituality.

“God used to be a part of giving the help to pull yourself up,” he said. “God’s not so much a part of folks’ daily lives, daily commitments, daily culture, I think. Just not as important, not as active. Folks are spiritual. There’s a whole new separation between spirituality and religion, whereby I can get my spirituality on the top of a mountain or in the river, or at the lake or something like that, which I agree with completely. But … we need one another, and church provides that community to help us grow in our faith, and then also grow in our spirituality with one another. You don’t get that on top of a mountain.”

In what ways are you and your congregation moving “the front line” forward into the community? What other ways might be possible?

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Mattmarino

Way to go, Bishop Lane and Fr. Higgins!

Arizona’s +Kirk has an episcopacy built around a similar vision.

The Great Commission always was “go” rather than “come.” The curse of a great building is it becomes an energy vortex. Changing the direction of the time and energy flow will take a lot of work, but will be worth it.

I came from a parachurch ministry that meets students in their world. When I came to faith with them in the early 80’s their numbers roughly equaled the number of youth in churches in our diocese. Thirty years later we have about 400 teenagers in church. They minister to 40,000 Arizona students.

Ironically, it was a ministry started by mainline people who wanted to reach unchurched kids so that they could expose them to our great liturgical and historical discipleship programs.

We can take the Good News of Jesus to the culture. We’ve done it before. We can do it again.

Thank you, bishop, for your charge. And thank you, Jim, for posting it.

Cynthia Katsarelis

It sounds great. I’m intrigued by the question. I am also disillusioned. Don’t get me wrong, my parish is growing, but it isn’t because of our outreach ministries that are on the front line of homelessness and injustice in our downtown Denver community. Again, don’t get me wrong, I am deeply proud of those ministries. But people are coming to our church because of the great music and awesome Anglo-Catholic liturgy. Our choir director has done much, much more in getting people in the door than our charity work.

How awesome it would be to have people coming through the door for the music and liturgy, and because their sense of Christianity includes their personal commitment to social justice.

The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.

So for a growing church, don’t be bigoted (our young families want to raise their kids in non bigoted environments), do quality liturgy, and hire a great choir director (who does concerts in the community).

If that’s a broadly winning formula, that’s wonderful. But I do wish that the opportunity to live into one’s Baptismal Covenant via the outreach program was also a major part of the draw. Perhaps others have a more inspiring experience?

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