Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Dr. Art "One of the Smart Guys" Jaggard's Final Installment

This represents the third and final installment of the Epistle of Art. "His Barking Dog" is honored to be able to reprint the ruminations of Dr. Jaggard, a very sharp and wise observer of life in the ABC. You can reach him at the following address:

When my part of this exercise began, I promised to make a case for emphasizing small autonomous groups of churches and Christians in biblical sacrificial mission.

We have been speaking of ABC as if it is a closed system. A closed system is immune to the effects of the world around them. A system that is affected by outside influences is called an open system. The larger a system is, the more it can seem like a closed system. But ABC simply is not that large. A hugely larger system of western culture plays a tremendous role in our direction. We are very much open. Which is how we get the influence of sexuality based groups setting our agenda.

I do not have space to unpack it here, but Western Civilization is transforming, and it is doing it fast. So ABC is going to be impacted in ways that we cannot easily foresee.

However just knowing that much gives us some important clues on how we can build the Kingdom.

In times of stress, small adaptable groups can thrive. In times of stability, large powerful groups thrive. We are moving from large and powerful to small and adaptable. If ever there was a time for Associations, now is it.

One of the reasons why I predict that the Regional Exec table will thrive is because Regions of 35 to 400, can function far more successfully in a changing culture than the dinosaurs of denomination can. The Brontosaurus was huge and magnificent. Those furry little adaptable mammals hardly amounted to anything. But the Brontosaurus is dead. I am not suggesting that we kill anything. But we need to transform our way of thinking from large groups of people coming, to small groups of people going.

Among other things this will change the way we fund our family. Right now the preferred model is to give it all to the top in UM and let it trickle down. Our future depends on finding ways to give much closer to the center of mission, the local church. Fund the mission there and let the excess percolate up. In terms of the Kingdom it will be much more successful. It just won't grow any giant organizations, so if that is important to you, stick with UM.

So do we measure ourselves by how many we can get to come? Or by how many go out to live sacrificial lives of mission. I recommend that we go in the Name of the Lord. That is the true meaning of American Baptist. Right now we have the idea that the true meaning of American Baptist is that we have a relationship to Valley Forge. All of us, beaconchurches and Valley Forge, need to change our mental model. Our problem isn't Valley Forge, and VF's problem isn't PSW, CCN and beacon. Our problem is in being faithful sacrifices on a personal level.

In the Name of the Lord,
Art Jaggard

["His Barking Dog" proudly quotes those smarter than himself but is still not connected to any official position or person in the PSW]

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