By Robin G. Jordan
I recently examined the Anglican 1000 map of church plants and I could not help but take note of where the ACNA has been launching new churches. The ACNA appears to be focusing upon areas where the Episcopal Church would have been successful if it had not damaged its public image with the population segment in these areas with which it historically had a good track record—affluent educated upper middle class married couples living in new housing. This population segment is one of the traditional constituencies of the Episcopal Church.
I compared the map showing where the ACNA church plants are concentrated with a map showing the poverty rates of the commonwealths and states in the USA. There were no ACNA church plants in the State of Mississippi, which has the highest poverty rate in the United States.
Based upon the map of ACNA church plants, the ACNA does not appear to be heeding Ed Stetzer’s advice and reaching out to unreached segments of the unchurched population. Rather the ACNA appears to be ignoring his caution against concentrating its church planting efforts upon traditional constituencies. Money appears to be the determining factor in the ACNA’s choice of where it plants new churches—that and a population segment with which the ACNA can expect to enjoy a high likelihood of success without changing the way the former Episcopalians comprising the ACNA “do church.”
Some may argue that considering the state of the economy it makes sense for the ACNA to go where the money is. However, our Lord said nothing about taking the gospel to only those segments of the population that can afford to pay a pastor’s compensation package and support a conventional church ministry. Rather he said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation”—make known the good news to everybody!
In the Commonwealth of Kentucky I noted that the ACNA church plants are concentrated around Louisville and Lexington, two of the largest cities in the commonwealth. Louisville and Lexington are also where the most Episcopal churches are concentrated in the commonwealth. The Jackson Purchase, the westernmost part of Kentucky in which I reside, had a sizeable concentration of Episcopal churches back in the 1980s. The number of churches has shrunk to five. Four of the five churches are missions. One of the four missions has only monthly services. The region has three small Continuing Anglican congregations. Only one of these congregations has a priest.
Whether the ACNA can be a viable alternative to the Episcopal Church, planting churches in the areas from which the Episcopal Church is withdrawing and reaching population segments with which the Episcopal Church has enjoyed little or no success, remains to be seen. It does not appear to be moving in that direction.
There are large areas of the United States and Canada and large segments of their populations that are not likely to be the focus of ACNA church planting efforts, belying the claim that the formation of the ACNA has made evangelism once more an Anglican priority in North America. Rather than reaffirming and returning to the New Testament gospel, the classical Anglican formularies and historic Anglicanism, the ACNA appears to be heading in another direction with the Catholic Revivalist element in the ACNA in the driver’s seat. There continues to be a need in North America for a Biblically faithful orthodox Anglican province that is proud of its Anglican heritage and supports the classic Anglican position and which is committed to reaching all people groups in North America and beyond with the gospel.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The Anglican Church in North America: Going Where the Money Is
Posted by Robin G. Jordan at 7:21 AM