Charles Denison's book The Artist's Way of Preaching is an easy read about preaching, but it is also a brilliant summary about the effectiveness of the Church in a postmodern culture. It is the most important book that I have ever read about the problem of preaching and teaching the evangelical message today.Here is his summary of the postmodern situation, "The culture has shifted. Where once we stood secure on tradition, on education, on training, and on faith itself, a trapdoor seems to have opened. We hang suspended over open air. The culture changed. What do we do now? Is there a safety balloon down there...today rationalism is losing its grip. Ours is a culture that feels betrayed by science and abandoned by logic. Reason cannot answer the deepest questions of life and existence. So where do we look for answers, for hope Our religious institutions have become associated with the analytical scientific world view. Indeed, they are in danger of becoming its defenders...we were trained in linear, analytical thought. We were taught that our faith could be understood through propositions, statements, creeds and theologies. We sat through our lectures; we took our notes. We went to church and got three points of explanation of a text. Now what do we do?"
Here is a critical issue for Episcopalians? We have a deep communication crisis! If there is any denomination that has bought into the modern linear, left brain analytical way of knowing an worshiping God it is us.We describe ourselves as the thinking person's church. However, we are really the defenders of a left brain faith of propositions, traditions, bishops and clergy reading boring sermons.
Recently, I heard about a group of bishops with a vision for the future. They are concerned about the inability to staff there small rural parishes with ordained priest. The solution is amazing. They argue that seminary training is too expensive and too long for the development of clergy for their rural parishes. So, the answer is to raise a large sum of money, build a conference center and use it as an education center for the preparation of clergy and other needed skilsl for evangelism.
This type of solution might have something going for it if they had designed a formation model totally unlike seminary education, but they have not. What is the definition of insanity? It is doing the same thing expecting different results. The answer to the postmodern crisis is a brick and mortar one. Build a mini seminary with the outdated left brain theology and prepare left brain clergy.