Life Cycle of a Diocese

Raj Gupta

Some time ago, I wrote about the lifecycles of the average church. I have been thinking about applying the same model at the Diocese level, particularly over the course of the Day 2 at synod. In a growth phase, an organisation is driven by ‘Vision.’ As structural considerations take over and drive agendas, very often a decline phase takes hold.

Why have I been thinking about this over Day 2 at synod this year? 

The very nature of synod involves dealing with at times complex internal structural matters. It is a good, right and necessary thing, as we should work out how to organise ourselves. The ultimate end is to bring glory to God, by seeing the name of Jesus proclaimed. But when these kinds of matters draw more energy than vision and mission related matters, one should at least pause and reflect.

At the end of Day 1, a motion to enable our synod to embrace modern technology for synod related communication saw queues form to ask questions. Then today, on Day 2, for example, a new Governance policy for our Diocese organisations provoked passionate debate. 

It is interesting to compare the energy drawn by these kind of internal ‘structural’ issues compared to the energy unleashed on the several items on our agenda relating to evangelism and mission: the ‘2014 Jesus brings’ initiative; the funding of and support of various ministries (that is, the budget); the major review of the Diocesan Mission; and the critical area of Church Planting. 

Some of the background material contained evidence based statistics suggesting that we are facing some pretty significant issues in our future. For example, while more people say they are willing to invite people to church, less are actually doing so; more people being at ease to talk about Jesus is not translating into more doing so. I will focus on some of these in upcoming blogs. 

But back to my synod reflections: while there certainly were mission and vision type items on our agenda, there seemed to be relatively little synodical engagement in such matters. For example, the proposed major revision of our Diocese Mission did not provoke even one question, nor any amendments! 

While it is possible that the motions surrounding these items were so well expressed that there was no need for anything else to be said, my fear is that this may be more indicative of more energy going into structure than vision. The notable exception to this was the matter of the continuation of a levy to fund new land purchases for new churches.

None of this is to minimise the importance of dealing with internal structural matters. They must be dealt with, and synod certainly has such responsibilities. However, my point is slightly different: perhaps synod’s unwitting allocation of engagement and energy toward internal structural matters and away from external vision and mission matters is, at the very least, a worrying inward looking sign. 

Maybe I wrong, even to try to apply Bullard’s life cycle model to our Diocese. Or maybe I am wrong in my analysis of synod’s ‘energy.’ Perhaps the third and final day of synod will bring some clarity.