Most of us have heard, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results." (Attributed to Albert Einstein) The Wharton School of Business offers guidance on how to reorganize for better results – how to streamline an endeavor, get rid of redundant functions, reduce overhead, and merge related roles.
Consider if you will, that we have been in a serious crisis of decline for 50 years. So have we streamlined our organization, eliminated redundant functions, reduced overhead and reversed the decline?
Not on your life! In 1962, when we stopped growing, our church’s total membership was 3.6 million baptized persons distributed through 93 domestic dioceses – simple math gives us an average of 38,700 baptized members per diocese. Now after 50 years of decline – we have added 6 new domestic dioceses for a total of 99. Meanwhile our church has shrunk to1.9 million active baptized members and the average per diocese is only 19,700 persons. Again simple math has 50% fewer people paying for the bishop’s budget. The overhead is greater and the people fewer. Wharton would give our leadership failing marks because they keep using the same old structure with the resulting continued decline.
Actually, 42% of our domestic dioceses are well below the average with less then 15,000 members and 29 dioceses have less then 10,000 members. Some analysts suggest “Communicants in Good Standing” as a more accurate statistic to consider; 48 dioceses have less then 10,000 communicants in good standing and 27 have less then 5,000 – several have less then 2,000 - which in some places would be one parish.
There are seven other sister churches in the Anglican Communion that approximate our size. All of them have fewer dioceses and more people per diocese. They average 21 dioceses each and have 80,000 baptized members per diocese. Unbelievable, we have five times the number of dioceses and 75% fewer members per diocese.
Using our sister Church’s standard of 80,000 members per diocese, we should have only 25 dioceses in our American Episcopal Church. Even using our 1962 numbers as a base, we would have 54 dioceses. Of course, the trouble with reorganizations is that someone always gets displaced, gets fired or gets hurt.
The bishops are the leaders of the church. Is it reasonable to expect 99 diocesan bishops to reorganize so that only 25 or even 54 are left standing? This is not to suggest that most bishops are in anyway nefarious or capricious. Most have accepted the election to leadership to do the right thing. However, nearly 600 good people have held the Episcopal Office during the last 50 years and under their collective leadership the situation only got worse.
If our goal is to increase the Kingdom, it is not happening by using a large part of our resources to maintain a plethora of dioceses, bishops and staffs. And if it is not our goal to increase the Kingdom, we have no need of a plethora of dioceses, bishops and staffs.
Bishops – you have been elected and consecrated to lead. So lead! Lead us away from the decline! Streamline our church, eliminated redundant functions, reduced overhead, merge with other dioceses! We are tired of 50% of the diocesan budget being used to support the bishop and staff. We want growing churches.
If our congregations fail; you, the bishops, have failed. We can not afford to do the “same old thing, over and over again.”