The Future of Christian Identity in the Episcopal Church
Recent surveys show that the number of Americans who claim no affiliation with a church body has doubled in the last decade. In addition to the unaffiliated, those who are affiliated with a church body are spending less time in connection with that body. According to philosopher Charles Taylor, we have shifted the way we see the world from an uncontested reality, where truths are absolute, to one that is contested. At the same time, our corporate identity has become individualized. This shift has created a construct where individuals have the opportunity to challenge the traditional view of being, allowing the current shift from deism to atheism. Modern adults are no longer effected by the outside world, but rather, they are buffered and isolated from others, focusing on extreme individualism.
Social science research has shown that individuals experience lasting change through the dynamic power of small group relationships. If small groups are indeed vital to the transformation of individuals, Christian communities must begin to invest in true small group ministries in order to transform individuals. The Episcopal Church has failed to effectively connect and assimilate individuals into established communities, however, that trend can be turned around. Investing in integration programs and employing small group dynamics to achieve meaningful transformation in individuals can help the Episcopal Church stop its slow decline and begin to grow into the future, transforming more lives for Christ.