Tuesday, April 25, 2006

More Dr. Art "Carnac" Jaggard Predictions on the Shape of the ABCUSA to Come

Yesterday, "His Barking Dog" published the prognostications of seasoned church consultant/author Dr. Art Jaggard with his permission. Today it is my privilege to continue posting some of his predictions about the shape of the ABC in the years to come. Some have objected to the exercise on principle, believing that projections are unreliable at best and sinful at worst.

Here is Dr. Jaggard's rationale for engaging in this kind of thinking:

Prediction is possible only in the very short run and on occasion in the long run. For instance, I can tell you by looking at the weather map that in about 20 minutes it is going to rain. But ask me what the weather will be like in two weeks. No one has a clue. On the other hand, much farther down the road in about 6 or 8 months I predict it will snow.

These are two very different kinds of predictions. The first is based on systems already set in motion that have a causal effect on what happens next. Because we understand the causal effect, (I drop an egg [I cause it to fall {I cause a mess on the floor}]) we can predict what happens in the very short run.

The second prediction is based on wave theory. Weather comes in waves. Hot in the summer, cold in the winter. When we understand the waves we can make predictions based on recurring events. I predict that next year Sunday attendance at your church will be less the Sunday after Easter than it was on Easter. It's that sort of thing.

What we are missing is the middle ground. I predict I'll have lunch at the corner restaurant today. I predict that eventually I will die. What happens in between is a lot less certain. Unless of course God tells us (which is not what is taking place in my 'predictions' about ABC).

In the book Mustard Seed and McWorld, Tom Sine warns us that everyone in the secular world is trying to 'read the tea leaves' to prepare for 'what happens next'. Only in the religious world do people think that is unnecessary. By developing scenarios and building a plan the secular world prepares itself for what is coming and is able on occasion to ride the wave of change instead of being swamped by it.

Well folks, as far as ABC is concerned, surfs up.

Now, for today's posting, Dr. Jaggard moves to consider other aspects of the ABC of the future . . .

Yesterday I wrote about what happens to the formal system. And really from the point of view of about 2000 churches the news is pretty good. They will reset at a more streamlined organization and have a pretty happy time, at least for the next several years.

But the family is made up of around 6000 churches. What happens to the other 4000? Good news again!

HappyKine wrote:

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.

And HappyKine is on to something.

About half of those 4000 churches are peripheral to the family now. Many are dually aligned, some are ABC in name only (having effectively left, but never bothering to trouble the denomination with their departure), and some churches are so marginal that the 8 or 10 people in them do not participate much anyway.

But that still leaves 2000 vital, growing, moderately healthy churches. They are not just going to disappear. How will they organize?

Some are going to join other denominations. Most are going to recapture the Region that they are now in. Over the next year the Regions will begin to see a sense of cohesion within themselves. PSW is nearing that point now. There are some churches that will stay with Valley Forge. But be sure that the Region is setting its own direction in accordance with the majority of the churches there.

While they will do it differently than PSW, other Regions are experiencing the same resurgence. In mid-America for instance, the leader of the Region is a pastor, not the executive minister. That Region has begun to take steps to bring their organization back together. Some Regions, like Genesee Rochester already have that sense of cohesion. They know what they are about. (And it is not the same as the emerging MidAmerica)

So I observe:

1. Regions with Staff that betray the mission of the churches are going through a difficult time. Those Regions are beginning the process of removing inappropriate leadership and getting leadership that is not disloyal to the mission of the churches.

2. Regions with leadership who (As HappyKine points out) "get it" are developing a sense of autonomy. They are increasingly focused on mission.

3. Though there will be some who leave those Regions, most churches are content to say, "I don't care what someone 2000 miles away does, "This" is who we are. I'm proud of my Region."

4. The Regional Execs who are giving good leadership are beginning to 'feel their power'.

5. The Evangelical mission is gaining strength, not dissipating it.

6. When ego is not involved, there is a terrific coming together that is taking place in the Kingdom of God.

So here are my predictions for the family:

Nov. 2006 the Regional execs that signed the document that gave us the term implosion will begin to set dates for implementing the Leader's table. Roy Medley will not have a place at the table. CCN may if it can gain the leaders trust. It will have to move fast to pull this off. PSW will play a vital role at this table.

By spring of 2007, most Regions will have a sense of unity, one way or another. The minority voices will no longer run the Regions (if they do now). That means that there will still be some churches in some Regions that have more loyalty to Valley Forge, than to the more local and more accountable Region, but their voices will be muted. The internal conflict in the Regions will largely be resolved. Four Regions not currently on board will be admitted to the table. This brings the number of Regions at the table up to 16, representing 60% of the denomination.

November of 2007 Green Lake will sponsor a "Super Table" with Conservative, General, some Cooperating, and a few Southern Baptists.

June 2008 Green Lake will host "Alive in the Lord". Attendance will be 2500 people. John Maxwell and Franklin Graham will be the keynoters, though a host of other presenters will be there as well.

In 2009 during the biennial the Leader's table will announce the mission explosion, sending missionaries from every church (redefining what it means to be church) into lost America and beyond.

In 2010 the New Life goals will be exceeded by the churches represented in the Leader's Table. The Leader's Table will move in much the same direction that CBF did in trying to not create a new denomination. They will briefly discuss calling themselves Beacon Churches and settle on the name Beacon Cornerstone.

In 2010, the leader's table will sponsor a pastors retreat 'Won in the Lord". It will be held in Chicago and will have 1200 in attendance.

By 2040 there will be over 10,000 churches associated with the Leader's Table. They will develop a rigid formal organization and begin to lose sight of their mission as they preserve the gains that God blessed them with in the first four decades of the century.

Art Jaggard

Thank you, Dr. Jaggard, for a VERY insightful and provocative set of predictions based on your analysis of ABC life. We will all be looking to see how closely your words come to the eventual outcomes.

[His Barking Dog howls at the moon, quotes other thinkers, and trys to provide perspective on the ABC. But the bark should never be confused with the authoritative sounds of the official persons in the PSW]

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