Futuring the Mainline Church
Today I'll be participating in the Regional Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Michigan. This region is smaller than the one I came from and thus the Assembly will be a much smaller affair. We will, however, be installing two people to serve as Co-Regional Ministers for a two year transitional period. The Disciple footprint in Michigan is small and so regional ministries struggle. Camps do fine, but beyond that we're scattered across the state.
One of the things we'll be looking at is regional restructure to deal with the realities, including the financial realities of the region. What is interesting is that a few years ago there was a conference with an outside coach (a former General Minister of our denomination), and at this conference plans were laid out to guide the regional church. We're being asked to revisit those efforts, which in my mind have been made obsolete by the events on the ground. There are new leaders in the region (myself included), we're still not ready to call a Regional Minister, and we're not sure what to do. My sense of things is that we essentially start fresh, recognizing the new realities. We need to see ourselves as explorers and map-makers, and thus we have to write the maps as we go along (See Roxburgh, Missional Mapmaking). Five year plans simply aren't workable.
My sense is that our situation is not unique, so I'd like to start a conversation about what the church should look like, especially as it exists beyond congregations.