Bishop's Writing / Enews January
Dear People of God,
One of the buzzwords in the church today is “entrepreneur.” The word is particularly used in relation to clergy to describe desirable characteristics in prospective ordinands and parish priests. An entrepreneur is someone who is a self-starter, a go-getter, and, more particularly, someone who is on the lookout for and will seize opportunities for ministry that come their way.
The reason the church is looking for entrepreneurs is that the context for ministry has changed so greatly in the last few decades. A recent report from the Pew Research Center puts it this way: “The Center estimates that in 2020, about 64% of Americans, including children, were Christian. People who are religiously unaffiliated, sometimes called religious “nones,” accounted for 30% of the U.S. population. Adherents of all other religions – including Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists – totaled about 6%.” (9/13/2022)
America is still a nominally Christian country, but the number of folks who claim a particular faith tradition is rapidly declining. The landscape in which we operate is one in which fewer and fewer folks were raised in any Christian tradition or have any experience of what we call church. For such folks, the words, “Come to church with me,” have no meaningful content. All they may know is what they see on television or social media, and much of that is not flattering. They will not be coming to see what’s happening behind our red doors.
So the challenge for the church today is to find ways to meet folks where they are. This is especially challenging for those of us who dearly love what happens inside our churches. And it is what gives rise to the need for entrepreneurs.
Where do people gather in your community? What are they doing there? Are you often in the same place, doing the same thing? Is there an opportunity for ministry there? Is there a way for you, in that setting, to connect with people and speak about your faith?
All across the church, there are entrepreneurial experiments: dinner church, gym church, pub church. Some faith communities are meeting in wine bars or waterfront warehouses. Some communities are doing ministry at the ballpark or the local game store. Some faith communities are experimenting with weekly neighborhood meetings combined with regional, monthly worship services. Some communities are calling people together for projects, for book studies, for meditation and prayer. All of these efforts are attempts to be entrepreneurial – to see what’s happening in their communities and to find a way to connect.
Epiphany is the season in which all of us are invited to carry the light out into the world; to be, in other words, entrepreneurs for the light. Where are the places in your life that need the light? Can you carry it there? Can you connect with the people there? Our call, as the Collect for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany puts it, is to proclaim to all people the Good News of Jesus Christ … so that the whole world may perceive the glory of his marvelous works…” The light is for everyone, not just those who come to our church. May God make us all entrepreneurs for the light.