Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Faithless Formation

In an earlier post, Faith Formation and the TEc Budget: Making Talismen, I dissed the "Faith Formation" gurus of TEc when I reported and commented on a subject dear to their hearts by posting the following:
The Episcopal church has proposed slashing the "Faith Formation" request in its draft budget that is being circulated prior to the 2012 General Convention. One seminary dean comments,
"Youth, young adult, and formation ministries are slashed about 90%, from about $3 million to $286,000. No more EYE or national Episcopal youth events. No more children and youth ministries, and on and on..."
In a way, this might not be a bad thing as we have seen little good theology come out of the national headquarters of this organization. The declining numbers of Sunday worshippers and the falling numbers of youth in the Episcopal church is a testimony to the failure of previous spending efforts.
It wasn't very long after the publication of that testimony that a dry withered hand passed along more information about the subject.

I get nervous when I find myself in the presence of Deep Pew, that nefarious denizen of the underbelly of the church.

I read his offering, and was left shaking my head at the stupidity of our leaders, and I wondered how to present this to the masses. It is too long and boring to present the full text. Maybe I should do a fisk, or maybe just present the lowlights.  

For those who desire a little more insight into the minds of those in charge of Episcopal church style "Faith Formation," and as an example of the absence of a scripturally guided theology, I challenge you to read the full text of the following:
“Building the Continuum”The Episcopal Church Summit on FaithFormation  Envisioning the Future of Faith Formation in the Episcopal Church (Version 1.0)

This dreadful piece of work contains not a single mention of "Jesus" or of the word "Gospel." There are absolutely no scriptural references to be found there either.

And all along I thought Jesus and God's Word might be key ingredients in "Faith Formation."

You have been warned. Here are some excerpts,
"From October 31-November 2, 2011, leaders from across a variety of ministry settings gathered to envision the future shape of faith formation in the Episcopal Church. Through a scenario planning process the leaders identified significant forces affecting faith formation, determined two critical uncertainties that will shape future directions, and created four scenarios or narratives to capture the possibilities for the future of faith formation. "
"Critical uncertainties" sounds like we are about to embark on a journey into Episcobabble, and  because nobody can be certain what "a scenario planning process" is, there followed a long explanation to,
"...describe scenarios as “narratives of alternative environments in which today’s decisions may be played out. They are not predictions. Nor are they strategies. Instead they are more like hypotheses of different futures specifically designed to highlight the risks and opportunities involved in specific strategic issues...They are designed to stretch our thinking about emerging changes...”

Yep, Episcobabble. I wonder when it will be available at Rosetta Stone?
" Perhaps most importantly, scenarios give us a new, shared language that deepens our conversations about the future and how we can help to shape it."

Ah yes, helping to shape the future. Let us read on to see if these are the people who should be doing the shaping.  
And what about those two "Critical Uncertainties"? 
"After careful study of the significant driving forces, two uncertainties were selected from the longer list of potential uncertainties (see above) that might shape the broader context of Episcopal faith formation over the next decade and longer. The two chosen uncertainties define a set of four scenarios for the future of faith formation in the Episcopal Church that are divergent, challenging, internally consistent, and plausible. Each of the two uncertainties is expressed as an axis that represents a continuum of possibilities ranging between two endpoints.
Uncertainty #1. The Relationship of Technology and Community
Will the continuing evolution of technology enhance human community and connection or will  technology diminish community and connections among people?
Uncertainty #2. Response of the Episcopal Church to Changing Global Realities
Will the Episcopal Church’s response toward emerging global realities, such as increasing cultural diversity, economic uncertainty, and resource availability for all people, lead the Church toward an outward-focused engagement with the world or toward an inner-focused, separation from the world."
The only thing I am certain of at this point is that this scenario process is going nowhere.

I searched and searched for what Faith Formation means to these people and the following two paragraphs sum it up,
 "Faith formation—in a variety of settings—leads the way in forming lifelong disciples and preparing people for engagement in mission in the world."
(Note to the casual reader, "engagement in mission" according to the Pewster's Dictionary of Episcobabble means to march in various "Pride" parades and to support any number of liberal political causes, and "disciple" means someone who agrees with their bishop and is willing to pay for their salary).
 "In a technological world Episcopal faith formation is helping people develop new relational abilities and immersing them in a variety of human communities. It is also helping people rediscover creation and the natural world."
Bingo! They fess up. The truth of the matter is that, in TEc, faith formation is not about the Gospel message of Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, but instead is about the many and varied spiritual blind alleys and wastelands that an uncertain people wander down.

And the emphasis on "helping people develop new relational abilities" is another way of saying, "The Church is all about human relationship."

Maybe that's why they left God out of the conversation.

Cue up the relationship cartoon again.

(A hypothetical conversation between Bishop Waldo and a simple pewsitter)


  1. Funny, Christ takes about five lines in The Great Commission to give the Church its charge for the ages. I suppose, that's never good enough for a committee.


    1. Especially a committee that stacked with folks who have lost sight of the Great Commission.

    2. "...that is stacked..."

      Ah, filled with female pastors, I see.

      < rim tap


  2. Anonymous9:52 AM


    Statistically speaking you may be correct as the clergy of TEc is becoming increasingly female, but I do not know the precise make up of the commission involved.

    Otherwise, your comment has led to some follow up comments that resulted in a call to the censorship committee of NAECB who in their unfathomable and infinite wisdom have decided to try to keep the thread on topic.

    U.P. signing as Anonymous since Blogger is having issues this morning.

  3. A harmless joke, my friend. Better than replying to the earlier "Anon."

    Your's in Christ.