Is God In It?

As far as I can tell, there is only one orthodox Anglican parish in the entire Columbus, OH, metropolitan area of sufficient size to qualify as self-supporting (i.e. generating revenue adequate to provide full-time salaries for clergy and other personnel, purchase and maintain one or more buildings and surrounding property, and underwrite a program of worship and other activities for its membership.) This is St. Andrew’s in Lewis Center, OH, a growing suburban community located north of Columbus in southern Delaware County. St. Andrew’s began in 2008 when the majority of the membership of St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Westerville, OH, voted to sever their ties with the Southern Ohio Diocese of the Episcopal Church and realign with what would become the Diocese of the Great Lakes in the Anglican Church in North America. The congregation purchased a building and several surrounding acres in Lewis Center from a church of another denomination which wanted to relocate farther north. St. Andrew’s Anglican Church came into existence when the group which had left St. Matthew’s, along with their clergy, occupied their new property in June 2008.

On the one hand it seems unconscionable to me that an urban area the size of Columbus should have only one self-supporting orthodox Anglican parish  (although I am sure there are Episcopal churches which would challenge that appraisal).  On the other hand, church growth and the advancement of the Gospel of the Kingdom are, in the final analysis, products of the sovereign will of God.  Too many “projects” are undertaken because they seem like a good idea at the time, but they are not part of God’s plan, and they eventually close down when their human organizers run out of time, money, or energy.  I once heard someone say (and I fully concur), “I don’t want to undertake a project and ask God to bless it; I want to find out what God is doing, or wants to do, and join it.”

As an evangelical Christian, I want to see the church grow through the baptism of its children and the conversion of those who have not yet believed.  And I believe that one of the most efficient means to that end is to plant new churches.  New churches grow much faster than established parishes, and their conversion-to-transfer ratio is generally far higher.  New churches are the most economical method to achieve significant growth for the Kingdom of God.  I would be happy to be involved in such an effort in Grandview Heights, and I think I bring a gift-set to the endeavor which would contribute to the likelihood of its success.  But I will not force something to happen when I am not convinced that God is in it.  I do not want my legacy as an Anglican priest to be “failed church planter.”

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Is God In It?

  1. Eric,
    I have been catching up on reading your blog. It is very well written, and I will be reading more in the future.
    First, regarding the quote, I have always attributed it to Henry Blackaby. At least the “Find out what God is doing and joint it.” portion, but he may not have been the originator. (BTW… I fully concur as well)
    Second, I wonder if you could provide clarification on your comment that you “want to see the church grow through the baptism of its children”… just trying to make sure I am clear on your intended meaning.

    Love ya,

    Heath

    • Heath:
      Thanks for reading my blog and for your comment. Regarding baptism, when I became an Anglican, I underwent a “paradigm shift” in relation to the sacraments. I no longer understand baptism as merely the means by which believers give public witness to their faith. As a sacrament, baptism is “an outward, visible sign of an inward, spiritual grace.” Specifically, baptism is the New Covenant equivalent of circumcision (a view which the vast majority of the Christian church has held in common for 2000 years). Baptism is the doorway to the faith community for children of believing parents even as circumcision was the sign of the covenant and the doorway to the covenant community for Israelites under the Old Covenant. Israelite males did not automatically inherit the full standing and blessing of the covenant community through circumcision. That required their active participation in the terms of the covenant. Likewise, baptism does not “redeem” children, but it acknowledges their place in the New Covenant community, the church. Later, when they are old enough to consider the claims of Christ, they can exercise their faith personally, and that act of belief is then publicly acknowledged in the sacrament of Confirmation.

      Again, thanks for your note. Grace and peace.

      Eric

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s