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Diocese of Northern California Bishop’s Conference Canon Neal Michell April 2012 Theological Reflection: God’s People in Exile – Jeremiah 29:1-14.

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Presentation on theme: "Diocese of Northern California Bishop’s Conference Canon Neal Michell April 2012 Theological Reflection: God’s People in Exile – Jeremiah 29:1-14."— Presentation transcript:

1 Diocese of Northern California Bishop’s Conference Canon Neal Michell April 2012 Theological Reflection: God’s People in Exile – Jeremiah 29:1-14

2 What is Unusual about this picture? Question: What year is it in your church?

3 First, the bad news...

4 Is this your church?

5 Age Structure of the USA and TEC: 2010

6 Episcopal Domestic Membership: 1991 – 2010

7 Episcopal Domestic Average Sunday Worship Attendance: 1991 – 2010

8 Did you know... The median age of Episcopalians is 57; fewer and fewer young people identify with TEC. Average age of Non-retired Priests: 56. Half of all Episcopalians will die in the next 18 years. Average age of Priests at Ordination: 46

9 Episcopal Diocese of Northern California

10 TEC

11 The American culture and the Episcopal Church have changed. The “old rules” don’t apply anymore. This changed environment calls for a different perspective of being the Church.

12 The Challenge: Our WORLD is Changing A New Image for the Church: GOD’S PEOPLE IN EXILE Implications for the Church The Big Picture

13 Our Surrounding Culture has Changed

14 MODERN CHRISTENDOM DENOMINATIONAL POST-

15 Postmodernism is the chaotic reaction to and rejection of Modernism. Modernity: belief that progress was unending optimism that man can solve all the world’s ills placed faith in ‘experts’ confidence in structures and institutions

16 Postmodernism: ‘there’s no such thing as progress’ push all limits no such thing as objective truth skepticism toward institutional authority personal experience over rational thought Blurring of lines between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture Virtual reality—things look real, but they aren’t The Postmodern Trinity--Down with:  Reason  Progress  Hierarchy

17 Under Post–Christendom, Church no longer has “home field advantage” in culture Under Christendom: Sunday “Blue Laws” Prayer in Schools Church services held in US Capitol Under Post-Christendom (1964): Church is not a safe place Spirituality without Christianity Institutionally Suspect Clergy are Suspect People not formed by Bible stories

18 A Working Definition – Denominations lose their distinctiveness In Denominational Heyday: 1950 – only 6% of Church members had been in a previous denomination Children followed their parents in Church “The Protestant Hour” Post-Denominational Era: The Ecumenical Movement has succeeded Rise of Independent Churches Children don’t necessarily follow parents I’m an Episco-bapti- presbyteri-catho- metho-costal... this year

19 Apostolic Age – Mission occurred at the door of the Church Christendom – Mission took place Overseas New Apostolic Age – mission takes place at the door of the Church

20 Society is both secular and pluralistic Church is no longer a natural gathering place for people Question: What are the “Natural Gathering Places today???

21 The culture and society supported the values of the Church. The Church was a natural gathering place. Clergy were treated with respect and honor. “Respectable people” went to church.

22 The culture and society are hostile to the Church. The Church is a place that people avoid. Clergy are treated with distrust and ridicule. Fewer and fewer people identify with the Church.

23 The New Reality In years past, you could manage a church poorly and it could still grow. Now, you can manage a church really well and it will still decline.

24 IN OTHER WORDS... The NEW NORMAL is DECLINE. If we continue to live as a church as we have always lived, we will continue to

25 Under Christendom, we as a Church functioned pretty well. We knew the ground rules, and we played by them. In a post-Christendom world, we have shown that we: Don’t know the ground rules We don’t know how to play by them, and We are stuck in a world that doesn’t make sense to us.

26 Our world is playing Chess... AND WE ARE PLAYING CHECKERS

27 The People of God in Exile... — Jeremiah 29:1-14

28 1 These are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders of the exiles. It said... 4 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

29 1 I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!” –Psalm 122

30 1 By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. – Psalm 133

31 “Resident Aliens” – Hauerwas and Willimon Clement of Rome to the Corinthians: “The church of God, living in exile in Rome, to the church of God, exiled in Corinth.” (AD 75-80)

32 Seek the Welfare of the City We seek to bless people as we engage in life where we are. We form our people to be the Church instead of merely going to church. Church as a noun to church as a verb. The Church as being a blessing among people rather than simply a building on a corner.

33 Seek the Welfare of the City May we seek the welfare of the city where God has sent us into exile, and let us pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare we will find our welfare. – Jeremiah 29:7


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