BTW: For those of you trying to figure out my own political party or leanings, you won't be able to. I have worked for Republicans on Capitol Hill and I have voted for Democrats in my life. Most important, I gave up politics when I entered the Ministry of the Word and Sacrament, a vow of political celibacy if you will, and a personal avowal never to focus on such things as a career path again. It has always been my firm belief that healthy churches must be "a-political", and that, as the Bible says, "The nations are as a drop in the bucket" compared to the unending power and glory of God (Isaiah).
But here's my thought for the week...
E.J. Dionne (a Progressive columnist I must add), recently wrote an op-ed piece for the Gazette in which he outlined the strategy that the Republicans must take if they are ever to win major election again. The strategy, interestingly enough is known as the "Colorado Strategy" (E.J. is from Washington, writing about Colorado). The "Colorado Strategy" is the the strategy that purportedly the Democrats used to help to win Colorado as a state in the electoral college. The strategy goes like this; "It's a view that a political party's long term future depends on moderate, younger and suburban voters, especially women, combined with a growing Latino electorate." That's it.
Now, here's my big thought. E.J.'s "Colorado Strategy" is not simply a wise strategy of action for a political party, it is also a wise strategy of action for a church or congregation that wants to have a lasting impact on the face of Christianity. It is, simply put, a mission statement for a church that wants to remain viable. A healthy evangelical church must focus on;
Moderate People: Most of the world, statisticians will tell us, are actually moderate. Moderate right or moderate left, but most people are in the middle. Historically, Evangelicalism has done very well with very conservative people, but not done as well with people who are basically in the middle. Now, I want to be clear about what I am not saying. I am not saying that the evangelical church should give up any of it's orthodox views about any number of issues (same sex, incarnation of Christ, a culture of life, etc...). However, what I am saying is the the church needs to make as it's mission focus people who are less politically right leaning than we have historically done.
Younger People: This goes without saying. The church needs to get younger. However, a healthy church doesn't just want to attract younger people to sit in the "pews" but, rather, also to participate in active service at all levels of church leadership. The church needs younger people preaching (as in people in their 20's and 30's), it needs younger people greeting, ushering, teaching, endearing, deaconing...etc.
Suburban People: Suburban neighborhoods have actually become the new enclave of huge "non-denominational" churches. Willow Creek, Saddle Back, Mariners, and many other huge churches are basically suburban neighborhoods. What I think is often missing from evangelical pushes and reaches into suburban neighborhoods, however, is that there is often a huge lack of "earthiness" (for lack of a better term), with suburban churches. There is often a lack of a dirty, gritty, down to earth, grimy, realistic, salty theology, and faith. This is where downtown churches (like First Pres Colorado Springs) can, I think market and utilize it's natural downtown "earthiness" to meet the needs of those living in brand new suburban neighborhoods.
Women: This is the aspect of Reformed Theology that I am most proud of. Women have always been a central voice, presence, and witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Women have the ability and authority to be in leadership at all levels of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA, and ECO) movement. This obviously must continue to be a mainstay.
Latino People: Again, this last election's Latino population are what most political scientists suggest was the single most important factor in swaying the election. California, alone has a Latino population that is now over 50% of the general base. This natural melting pot dynamic of Latino people moving to the country is something that the evangelical movement simply cannot take for granted very much longer. All churches who want to remain viable heading into the next millennia, need to take Latino (my friend Israel Gonzales sort of bristles at this term Latino, and prefers Hispanic) people seriously!
That's all. Now, I'm going to San Diego for Thanksgiving, where I will hopefully not have to think about politics again, at least for another four years....
All For Now,