OPEN THREAD: Brainstorming On Practical Ways For Those Staying In TEC To Differentiate
In my analysis article this morning, I stated:
“The loonier the acts of the current leadership of the national structures of The Episcopal Church, the more strongly, clearly, and openly must local members of The Episcopal Church distinguish themselves from that current leadership and those national structures.
In effect, each parish, organization, committee, commission, camp and conference center, para-church organization, and whatever else you’re attempting to salvage, must say “we are not that over there . . . we are this over here.”
The consequences of not doing so are very stark.
If whatever entity you are attempting to salvage does not differentiate itself, the people engaged in that entity that make it what it is will steadily leave that entity and you will ultimately be unable to salvage the treasure.
If there is anything that seems to befuddle traditional Episcopalians it seems to be this principle of differentiation. Every three years I hear laments from rectors and bishops and other leaders about the fact that the General Convention Tsunami washes away more traditional leaders. And organizations can only lose chunks of 50 and more leaders at a time before the departures start to show, not merely in the pews but also in the level of volunteerism and the quality of lay leadership.
If you are only strengthening, and not differentiating—if you are only “focusing on mission and ministry” while ignoring the fact that your organization is not sufficiently distinguished from the national church brand—you will lose it, because you will lose the people who are making the entity what it is, in particular, the people who are informed, principled, and well-discipled.
Lay leaders need to be able to look to a flag—something they can gather and rally round in the smoke and fog and confusion of the blasts from the national church—or they will understandably and rightly “lose their way” and wander away. They will ask “what exactly are we fighting for in this place, since the trumpet blasts from TEC are so loud and overpowering?” It is simply a fact of life.
If I were going to name one thing that drives traditional Episcopalians away from their local cherished parishes it is that failure to differentiate. If the local entity is “the same as” the national entity in the eyes of the observing populace, then why would traditional Episcopalians wish to stay in the local entity either? Further, the national brand garners a greater amount of attention, media credibility, and volume due to its status as the national entity. If you are not vocally and strategically competing with the national brand with the message of your counter-brand from the inside, that national brand will overpower your own smaller voice; people will come to think that the national voice is the voice of the organization, rather than simply one of several antithetical voices.
The second reason why people within TEC fail to differentiate seems to me to be because of a lack of imagination. “How do we know when we’ve differentiated?” “And how exactly do we differentiate?” ... The lack of ideas for differentiation puzzles me. For it only takes three or four repeatedly well-publicized actions on the style side, and on the substance side, and you’ll be well on your way towards differentiation.”
I’d love to hear from readers on how those staying within TEC might differentiate their parishes, diocese, or other entities from the national actions of TEC. Creativity is welcome!
One of my ideas, mentioned in the earlier article, is for those who believe the Gospel to hold their own Convention—of course, calling it something else, like a “synod.” They could enact their own resolutions, vote on various matters involving the synod’s participants, issue statements, worship together, and more.
There’s no reason why the buffoonish heresies and callow childishness of General Convention should stand for the segment within TEC who believes the Gospel—the fact that we haven’t developed an alternative national meeting by now is frankly ridiculous.
All it would take is for a diocese or two or three or four to come up with a good date for the meeting—make it a four day affair or something similarly reasonable—and agree to issue a “call to Synod” or a “call to Convocation.”
But how would representatives be chosen?
This is where it gets even funner. Those dioceses whose formal bodies have issued formal re-assertions of the Gospel in response to TEC’s 2012 General Convention denunciations of the Gospel would get to select delegates to the Synod. Those parishes outside of faithful dioceses but whose formal bodies [ie, vestries] have done the same would get to select delegates.
Individual laity in moderate or revisionist parishes would get to attend as “visitors” and once arrived get to select from among their ranks their own voting delegates.
Other ideas for differentiation:
—traditional dioceses should be partnering with other faithful parishes and laity in dioceses whose leadership does not believe the Gospel and developing evangelism, apologetics, and discipleship events in tandem, preferably within the boundaries of the non-traditional dioceses, so that as many individuals as can be exposed to these events may attend easily
—traditional parishes should be publicly partnering with churches in other ecclesial entities whose leaders believe the Gospel
Who has other ideas? Place those in the comments below.
[Please note that it’s been two weeks since the close of General Convention. We’ve been around the bend once again on a couple of other threads with certain people who are unable to follow our long-standing and clearly stated commenting standards and proceeded to screw up yet another thread with their obsessions and anger. The Instant Bannings Protocol has now been joyfully re-instated, as a result.]
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