Okay, so if we build off the assumption of yesterday’s post and say that renewal is going to come from going outside the church and bringing about renewal from the outside-to-inside rather than focusing on the inside in the hopes of pushing it outside then what could be an intentional strategy for doing this?
(1) Place theologically trained clergy in communities not churches (Expanded Detail coming March 1)
Now, I know when we are placed at churches we are placed to serve the communities also. However, what if we just intentionally placed clergy in communities as missionaries to create networks of Christians. (Note: Not to build a church, but to build a community of disciples networked together) They could be named UMC Network: Winona; UMC Network: Nashville; UMC Network: New York, etc. (I am somewhat imagining as a possibility some type of adaptive morphing of the class system set up by John Wesley….maybe house fellowships)
Of course, the question should be raised: How are we going to fund the clergy position if there is no church?
(2) Redefine the responsibilities of clergy (Expanded Detail coming March 2)
Let’s be honest: In the current system the primary time consumer for clergy is: administration (under the umbrella of “Order”…specifically referring to elder orders now). What if we thought of clergy more as missionaries whose primary task is to help make disciples and to connect them, enabling them to take over (administration of sacraments would follow an adaptation of circuit rider method just in local network….)
(3) Rethink how clergy are supported and support themselves (Expanded Detail March 3)
What if we had our clergy graduating debt free (student loans, etc.) and sent them into communities and only provided the following: housing, utilities (cell phone, internet, and water, heat, garbage, etc.—not tv or landlines—), and pension……health insurance will be dealt with in another topic. Clergy would be responsible for finding work to pay for necessities outside this and any luxuries. (yes that means finding jobs and might I suggest possibly choosing jobs that mean interaction with people)
(4) Reorganize how provide health insurance (Expanded Detail coming March 4)
Health insurance is a huge cost to churches/conferences/pastors and is only continuing to rise and will continue on that pattern as long as we continue on in classic models. Shane Claiborne inspired me to rethink how we do health insurance through his book Irresistible Revolution and how he participates in a health insurance co-op. There is some promise, I believe in the model and their intentional network that involves prayer and support is an inspiring model.
(5) Move beyond the “church building” model (Expanded Detail coming March 5)
This is connected to the item #1. The fact is buildings cost money to build and maintain, so what if we used buildings already constructed. The possibilities are endless: homes, stores, etc. (we could even look at recycling buildings that are abandoned and reconstruct and meet there and maybe incorporate housing, etc.) Church buildings could still exist, but I think we are going to have to move past the mentality which says to be a church means to have a building (or be moving towards having a building).
I am still thinking of more and would be interested in others reactions to the above or any suggestions they may have.
My plan is to expand each point in detail next week in daily posts.