The new Bishop of Ballarat has told his diocesan synod that Anglicans need to be prepared to move in “new, surprising and probably deeply uncomfortable directions” if they are to fulfil their mandate from Christ to make disciples of all people.
Bishop Garry Weatherill told his synod on 3 December, only four weeks after his enthronement, that he had no new blueprint for the life of the diocese but that it was clear that it could not keep doing what it always had done.
He said one of the insights from systems theory that had a powerful resonance with the contemporary Church community was the deceptively simple aphorism:
“If you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting.”
“This is a profoundly disturbing truth for us all to hear,” Bishop Weatherill said.
“And yet so often our solution is to work harder at doing the same things with less money and fewer people who are burnt out ever more quickly… In the face of major changes in culture and society, it is easy to blame the gatekeepers of the congregations, or the priests, or the bishop, or the National Church for the problems we face, and we bunker down and go on doing what we have always done.”
Bishop Weatherill said a lot of energy at the congregational level went into providing the stipend and housing for priests.
“The structure of our Church is a gift to us from the Apostolic Age,” he said. “... But we are not meant to be people with priests, we are called and empowered to be a priestly people. Our priests are not meant to be the primary providers of ministry, they are supposed to equip all the priestly people of God to minister as ambassadors for Christ at home, at work, at the bowling club, on the Landcare group, and at Church. So the first signpost is that we should learn better: How to be a priestly people, and not just communities supporting a priest.” Keep reading.
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