Here is a great piece by fellow blogger Gary Gilbertson. I give it to you in its entirety.
Fewer and fewer of us are present on Easter Day to respond, "The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia." The Episcopal Church continues its five decade decline with an almost 3% loss in the last reporting year. We celebrate the Resurrection with joy while viewing with sadness that our traditional approaches to ministry, worship, Sunday school, evangelism, and mission are no longer effective. Skilled gurus tell us how to turn churches around (Barna), enable the emerging church (Kimball/Moyhaug), or tough it out (Nixon). Perhaps a fresh approach from the top down would be in order:
WHAT IF there was a bishop or two who declared a moratorium on his/her professional travel outside the diocese for one year. That's right. No House of Bishops gatherings, no national committees, no workshops, and no commissions -- you get the idea. Stay home except for personal trips on their own days and dollars. And just imagine those bishops committing 2/3rds of their work time to actual labor in congregations. They would lead a Christian "formation" event or teach a course for the Parish. They would conduct leadership training for the Vestry and evaluate the vocational/professional skills of the ordained with an eye to guiding clergy change if needed. They might do "hospice" work so that a parish could die with dignity. And,
WHAT IF a bishop or two revoked their assessment formula that mandates "giving" by congregations to the diocese and instead championed a voluntary tithe as a guideline. We all know, even if some won't admit it, that the primary work of a judicatory is growing and maintaining healthy local congregations. More resources at the local level and dioceses streamlining their efforts to be about their principle work could only be a good thing. And,
WHAT IF a bishop or two committed to a minimum average Sunday attendance (ASA) of 20,000 before a diocese could have an Episcopal election. According to the data, there are nine national churches within the Anglican Communion which have one million or more adherents and the average size of a diocese in these nine is 121,000. Nigeria averages 225,000 members per diocese and Australia averages 170,000; we are at the bottom of the list with 19,000 members while the two above us are 48,000 and 83,000. It is easy to see that we are top heavy with bishops and dioceses and this can only drain resources from local congregations and mission fields.
God compromised with Abraham that if only 10 righteous people could be found, Sodom would be spared. God WHAT IF a bishop or two could be found who would do these three things; would you spare our Episcopal Church? Maybe then more of us can respond, "The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia."