|Dan Alger, ACNA Church Planting Canon|
As noted before, Always Forward is dedicated to planting ACNA churches; as with the rest of ACNA, the emphasis has been on Evangelical rather than Anglo-Catholic churches. As such, Anglo-Catholics reading their past advice have often needed to make as much adaptation or modification as they would for Methodist, Baptist or even non-denominational church planting advice.
However, of the first four sessions posted, the recommendations in the opening session by Canon Dan Alger were ones applicable to any Anglican church planter without modification. Because it’s such a clear statement, I thought I'd summarize [with my own observations] here in this blog; however, I recommend the audio to any Anglican church planter.
The point of his talk was that Anglican church planters sometime forget the Anglican part of their church planting goals. [Although he didn’t mention it, this ties directly to what we in California are calling “Anglican distinctives” — aspect of the Anglican expression of Christianity that make an Anglican church different from other churches.]
Alger listed 7 distinctives:
- Ecclesiology drives Missiology. Churches are not created as a tool for mission. Our ecclesiology is anchored to tradition: those before us should have a say, as with the “Great cloud of witnesses” [Hebrews 12:1].† We are defined include Episcopal oversight, two sacraments [not counting five minor sacraments], the 39 Articles.
- Understanding the prayer book definition of what we believe. A fixed liturgy is both constraining and empowering.
- Submission [obedience] to authority. While church planters have an element of “rebels, pirates and prophets,” this is sometimes accompanied by the sins of pride and ambition. Some entrepreneurial church planters like the lack of accountability of leading a new independent church, but of course every [priest] has a bishop.
- Pursue personal and corporate holiness. Most church planting conferences talk about strategy, methods, mechanics, budgeting. [Instead, the planter must make holiness — both his own and that of his flock — the top priority.] “We don’t need more large unholy churches”; the emphasis on growth often leads to covering up sin to achieve growth
- Worship centric. Worship is something we do with others, not a tool to get people in the door.
- Word and sacrament. Preach the faith to the lost, have standards for those who are to be baptized and share communion with us, and long for them to join our family at the Lord’s table.
- A planter is not alone, not a rogue. Hopefully we will have missional church planting dioceses, where church planting happens because — not in spite of — the diocese. But there will always be frictions; neighboring rectors may complain because you planted to close to their church [something probably all of us have seen] .
Two of his concluding money quotes:
Anglicanism is more than a style of worship. When you are planting a church, you are not planting a worship service: you are planting a church.
We are not cool and trendy, because that’s not who we are. We are actually really ancient and old, and there's a truth that goes way beyond any of this fluffy stuff that exists right now in our culture.
I certainly want to commend Cn Alger both for his experience, but so clearly communicating it for the benefit of other Anglican church planters. I recommend the podcast to anyone planting or considering planting an Anglo-Catholic church.
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.