I was sorry to fire up my news-reader today and come across a post over on Salt which announces that the Salty Vicar is closing up the blogging shop and moving to a new venue. I can certainly understand his need to focus on parish life for a season, but I hope that eventually he’ll come back as a commentator on things ecclesiastical. I’ve very much appreciated his insights.
I was especially taken too with the way he has sketched out the challenges for the Episcopal Church will face in the coming decades. He echos many of my own thoughts about the challenges, though I have some different ideas about possible solutions. (Which I promise to start posting over time.) Here’s the section of his last post that I’m referring to:
“[…]TEC still has institutional problems. It will need to restructure. Dioceses will become centers of best practices, employing consultants (the ‘canons’) who also work part-time in local churches. They will have to become stronger stewards of their resources. As practice, dioceses should ask themselves what would we do if we were not tax-exempt?
Churches will become less able to afford full-time clergy. For this reason, Priests will become bi-vocational, requiring a concomitant change in clerical education. Perhaps churches will become offices for Nurse Practitioner – priests or family lawyer – priests.
The techne of clergy will have to be clarified. In this day, clergy should be competent especially at 1) communication 2) collaboration 3) social entrepreneurship and 4) ‘coaching.’ They should bet excellent writers and storytellers; be able to work with other priests and lay people, discarding the lone-ranger mentality that plagues mainline clergy; think creatively about the community’s needs; and encourage people in their work and daily life. Gone is the psychotherapeutic model of the priesthood. Let it die the death it deserves.
Churches should also be more experimental with their internal architecture; have services in the afternoons and week-days; and open up their musical traditions. It is probably harder to make these changes in mainline churches than in conservative ones”
He’s spot on when he describes the new role of clergy. Our ability to communicate our ideas and to work with others is going to be key to the health and perhaps even the survival of our parishes. I’ve been encouraging priests to take classes in communication and technology in local community colleges. It’s too crucial a skill to dismiss anymore and it has an immediate effect on the vitality of the Body.
Read the rest here: Last Post
Your comments on clergy and technology have stirred a thought I have been mulling over for the past few days: would the dynamics of TEC over the past few years have been different if Frank Griswold had maintained a blog? What would a blog from the Archbishop of Canterbury look like? Is the pastoral letter something whose time has come and gone?
Blogs get a bad name due to a number of bad examples we all know too well. At their best, however, they can offer a new level of transparency into the workings of a parish, a diocese, or even a national church. Think of Tim Brey or Jonathan Schwartz (both of Sun Microsystems) as examples.
Should Frank Griswold be the last Presiding Bishop without a blog?
While I don’t know if the Presiding Bishop Elect is going to end up with her own blog, I do think your point is well taken Paul.
More important though is that, given the revolution in communications, information can no longer be hoarded and doled out to a small group of people as a way of controlling a situation or forcing an outcome. Blogs and email makes news travel around the world instantly – and have forced the church to open its councils up to people who wouldn’t have been able to participate in them 10 or 20 years ago.
I think this is a VERY good thing, but it’s a major shift in the way we do things, and it’s going to take sometime to play itself out. Part of the frustration that folks in the leadership have been feeling with bloggers is that they really don’t know how to respond to them yet, nor have they learned how to participate in the online conversations that they help to start.
Changing that in the next 9 years will be key to our ability to work through the present unpleasantness and get our full focus back onto the mission of the Church.