Monday, April 24, 2006

Dr. Art Jaggard Makes Predictions About Shape of the Future ABCUSA

The following comments by Dr. Art Jaggard, long time area minister and author of several books, took the form of an informal message board posting this morning. The points are reprinted for the benefit of readers of His Barking Dog with permission by Dr. Jaggard. He has indicated that more predictions will be forthcoming.

I observe several things.

1. Our current formal system is losing energy. UM is down and will continue to be down because the system cannot (not will not) adress the systems failure that drives UM down.

2. The Office of the General Secretary (OGS) will not simply vanish.

3. National Ministries and M&M have resources to sustain themselves at some level without input from the ABC family.

4. The current formal system will be supported by a large portion of the ABC family (I would estimate 2000 churches). (Which of course leaves 2000 churches separating from the current formal system. I think this is consistant with what we see in the UM giving pattern.)

So what happens to the formal system? And what happens to the informal system?

This year, the people who drive the General Board realize the crisis is unavoidable. They will committ to saving the OGS. By November 2006 plans to shelter OGS in National Ministries will be 'talked out'. M&M will consider funding a portion of the expense. This will be billed as streamlining, a more faithful way to do more with less, better stewardship of the family resources in an age of postChristian giving patterns,

By 2007, the biennial will be seen as a rallying point for the streamlined organization. The energy we absorb from CBF (Our biennial and their annual take place at the same place and time) will be used to demonstrate that something good is going on. We will hear that there is a fresh breeze of the Holy Spirit. It will be the largest gathering of Baptists that our folks will have seen in a long time.

And that will scare some of them, as CBF could swallow ABC whole. Those who are committed to preserving the old ABC system, after surrendering so much will be wary of giving it away to CBF. Those who are not scared will dually align.

In 2008 a Pastor's meeting 'Alive in the Lord' will be hosted by National Ministries with add ons from what is left of the Minister's Council, (which has since merged with the Commission on Ministry), and the office of the General Secretary. It will be followed by the one meeting of the ABC Board, which will be a merged board of National Ministries and the General Board. Plans to incorporate the IM board will be discussed if IM is not independent, (and I don't think they will be).

Alive in the Lord will attract 400 people. It will be hailed as proof that the streamlined organization is a success. The spectacular (he really is) Rev. Dr. Peter Gomes will be the keynote speaker. The 2000 churches that are still connected to the 'denomination' will say, "Things have never been better. It is a shame that 4000 churches decided they didn't want to be family, but we are better off in the long run with people who will be faithful."

In 2009 we will share another biennial with CBF. However CBF is gaining energy, not losing it. It operates like a Low pressure system to our High pressure system (Think tropical storms). However a good number of people and churches will be dually aligned and the event will be another 'success'

In 2010 we will celebrate "One in the Lord". Again attendance will be high. The head of National Ministries will have secured his place as the head. He will negotiate a place in the combined CBF, ABC fellowship as Daniel Vestal gets ready to retire. Ultimately however it will be clear that the two organizations cannot survive together. (Never mind that the family might be able to.) So ABC will pull away. The event from 09 will be the last one the two groups plan together.

1 comment:

Bills Blog said...

I am quite surprised at those who think that they can predict the future. I guess that there is some who enjoy armchair quarterbacking. the only thing that I know is what I see. Strong and large healthy churches continue to leave the denomination. The ABCPSW is leaving and it is one of the healthiest regions. I think that each region will do its own thing and eventually the stronger regions who "get it" will do some collaboration. I think that Cornerstone has hope for those who want to move on with their lives and particular those healthy churches who want to get busy doing kingdom work. I think that the over arching issue is for those pastors and churches who can't get past the denominations "hold" on them and their churches. Mentally they struggle about a life beyond being involved in the ABC.