The general rule of thumb is that most engaging articles begin with either some alarming data/statistics or a meaningful quote. Well, no need to break the mold.
What we know or have heard is that church engagement and involvement is on the decline. About 60% of Millennials who grew up in church are now leaving the church, and about 85% of churches are either declining or plateauing; which means that the vibrancy and vitality of churches are, seemingly, dying. The statistics often evoke a sense of despair for the future of the church. Even though the numbers say otherwise, there is hope.
If you grew up in North Carolina, you learned (usually in the fourth grade), that our state motto is the Latin, Esse Quam Videri, which translates in English as “to be rather than to seem.” As we think about the current socio-political-cultural landscape, it seems that the church is answering a call to be new.
That call is coming from individuals, families, and communities knowingly and unknowingly yearning for greater intimacy with one another and with God. The work of building or creating anything long-lasting and sustainable is best accomplished through the collective effort of community. There is something spectacular about the coming together of people with a shared vision to create a new thing. Likewise, the work of establishing New Faith Communities is best accomplished through the work of people who are not only established and grounded in a common theology but who also share the intention of “creating new space for new people to be gathered into communion with Jesus Christ.”
It is this common goal that characterizes the purposeful work of the Anchor Church. As we think about what an Anchor Church is, it is helpful to understand the purpose of an Anchor Church. The verb tense of the word anchor means “to provide with a firm basis or foundation.” To anchor new faith communities means to undergird the vision for new spaces with foundational support by sharing resources. The Anchor Church serves as that steady and established foundational support that extends beyond financial or material resources to the communal work of shaping vision, building community, and reimagining the relevance of church in a local context.
The hope is that as New Faith Communities are established, they will create their ministries in concert (not in competition) with our existing churches. While New Faith Communities create new space for new people, they do so alongside the people that God has gathered together. In this way, Anchor Churches embrace the opportunity to be what is needed in order to shift the narrative of the dying church to one where communities are thriving and people realize the power of friendship and communion.
In the following weekly posts, you will engage with various perspectives from across the Conference about the purposeful work of Anchor Churches and New Faith Communities. May you learn from and find hope for the church becoming what it needs to be through the co-creation of new spaces for new people.