Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Numbers

In my occasional visits to conservative blogs in the Anglican world, I have found comments about the drops in the average Sunday attendance in the Episcopal Church, comments that assert that these are evidence that the "revisionist" position of the Episcopal Church is wrong. popularity become evidence that one was following Christ?

I think the focus on - perhaps obsession with - numbers is an indicate that we are embracing, not the theology of the Cross, but the theology of glory. Success as the world measures it - in market share, in growth in budgets - is not what Jesus was about. Paul put it succinctly in his letter to Christians in the most powerful city in the world:
Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity. (Romans 12:2, Phillips translation)
While it was comments by conservatives that set me to thinking about the numbers game, I am well aware that revisionists like me are as prone to play the game as anyone. We are being called, I believe, to be communities in the diaspora, communities that are no longer the dominant cultural and religious ones in the United States. We are being called to live faithfully, discerning as best we can God's will for us, and not worrying about whether we are winning any popularity contests.

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