As much as I appreciate the work that is being done to renew or re-vitalize the United Church of Canada through programs and conversations such as Emerging Spirit, "Called to be the Church," Worship Matters, and smaller events on leadership, spiritual practices, systems change, etc., etc. (and I DO appreciate them - been there; done that; bought the shelf-full of books) - nonetheless, all these efforts, in my humble opinion, are lacking a crucial element of analysis.
They do not attempt to describe broader social-economic-political-environmental changes and their impacts on being / doing church.
To date, most of these efforts at renewal examine the church only from our internal experience.
Attendance is down? We need a new minister! We need a projector! We need a band!
We don't ask:
Attendance is down? Is this just our congregation? How are other congregations faring? Other volunteer organizations? Are there differences between older-urban, newer-suburban, and rural? Differences over the decades? Differences between organizational strategies (e.g., having many smaller, local, congregations versus having larger, destination, mega-churches)?
It is important to ask these questions with due care and consideration because often our anxiety causes us to leap to false conclusions:
We are failing, but that evangelical church down the street is growing. It must be because they are biblical and we're not. Let's get a biblical minister. Let's start an Alpha course. Let's start singing praise songs.