Sunday, March 30, 2008

Refresher on Stewardship and Such

In the year of my birth the population of the United States was 180,671,158. The membership of the Episcopal Church was 3,444,000. In 2006 (the last year we have current figures for) the population of the United States was 296,410,404. The membership of the Episcopal Church was 2,205,376.

I know most Episcopalian loyalists are going, "Ok, we lost 1,200,000 people in 45 years." That is where you are wrong. The population of the US grew by 64% in that time. The membership of the Episcopal Church ought to be 5,650,000. We lost 3,444,000 members. We lost 3/5's of our numbers. Where did they go? In a church that says everyone is special, everyone is important, everyone has a place, why are they not missed?

One would think that confronted with a catastrophic loss of members, the Episcopal Church would be desperate to recruit to reach out to evangelize and also to retain the members it already has. One would be wrong. The Episcopal Church is desperate to retain the property to which it has any form of legal claim, but that is all.

Here is a challenge: Tell me how much money the national church spent last year on actual, real live evangelism. Not on having conferences to talk about evangelism, but actually going around and talking to non-Christians about becoming Christian. Now compare that money to the amounts spent on property retention. If we had anything worth knowing, doing or hearing, we would be telling folks about it. We don't, so we aren't.

What are the priorities of the Episcopal Church?

To make my question personal, if you stopped going to your church, would anyone notice? Sometimes preachers ask that question to motivate you to make a difference. I'm asking it because it's likely that you wouldn't be.

What, again, are our priorities?

Please don't believe the platitudes, official line. Look for yourself where the money is being spent, really spent, not just nominally spent, and then tell me what the church's priorities are.

1 comment:

Allen Lewis said...

Wow, Matthew!
I had never thought about the numbers in that way before.

This post is a devastating critiqué of the Episcopal Church. I think you have characterized what is going on quite well, although you left out the obvious desire of ECUSA leadership to promote a social gospel which parallels the latest "justice" movements of the political left.

No wonder TEC is shedding members! I go to church to worship God and to be fed spiritual food and drink not hear political pep talks about the latest social craze.