We should stop trying to meet the world on its own terms and focus on building up fidelity in distinct community… offering those who come to us a new and different way of life. It must be a way of life shaped by the biblical story and practices that keep us firmly rooted on the truths of that story in a world that wants to obscure them and make us forget.” Rod Dreher, The Benedict Option

Last week, I shared how the Church in the West must redefine its relationship with an increasingly secular culture by becoming more biblically faithful than less, more deeply discipled than less, and more disciplined than less.  Like Daniel and his companions, better to be regarded as impossibly intolerant, narrow, recklessly ignorant, and defiant than to be like “the King’s court” (Daniel 1).  Better to be saved from the furnace by standing firm than to bow to the idols of a culture that resembles Babylon more than Jerusalem.  Better to be faithful to God and His word, the Bible, and to trust in him for our future as Daniel and his companions did who were promoted to unprecedented positions of influence and used by God to spread the knowledge of Him far and wide in Babylon (Daniel 2:48-49).  Better to be all of these things than to be a mile wide and an inch deep.

The time for a culture of casual Christianity has passed.  As I wrote several weeks ago in Chaos or Kairoswe are facing a kairos moment. Will we be more courageous and more outspoken in standing for biblical values or less?  Will we not only condemn evil but also actively promote that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy within the social and political structures of our culture (Phil. 4: 8-9)?   Or will we withdraw and hide?  Even more, as John Stott observes, “fallen human beings need more than barricades to stop them becoming as bad as they could be.  They need regeneration, new life through the Gospel.”[1] Will we be more courageous in sharing the transforming love of Jesus Christ who alone can rescue fallen human beings from darkness and hell?  Will we share even if our words and deeds bite and sting as salt sometimes does, or even as light will sometimes blind as well as attract?[2] In this kairos moment, will we, too, repent of everything we have done in word or deed to contribute to a culture of casual Christianity?

These are the questions of the hour, the values and the legacy we have received that shape the commitments of the American Anglican Council in 2021.  What then can you expect from us as we partner together in Christ and Kingdom-focused ministry in the coming year?

We will be passionately focused on revitalizing and growing biblically faithful, mission-focused Anglican Churches in North America by:

  • Supporting local Anglican churches who are Christ-centered communities of Daniels and Pauls willing to be salt and light in their neighborhoods, communities, cities, and regions.
  • Encouraging local Anglican churches who are receiving a new Pentecost of the Holy Spirit, overflowing with divine empowerment to lead others to Christ to bring forth justice to heal and to reconcile neighbors to Christ and each other. (see the new video series, One Big Idea),
  • Reviving and renewing local Anglican churches to become such communities overflowing with the Holy Spirit, healthier, and more mission-focused through the “Vitals” they receive in our AAC REVIVE and RENEW workshops, ongoing coaching of clergy and leadership teams, and targeted consultations.
  • Undergirding healthy Anglican churches to be led by healthy clergy who are participating in our growing number of AAC Clergy Care Groups (now at over 100 clergy in 20+ groups and growing), workshops on how to lead in times of fear and fracture, and seminars on transitions and finishing well.
  • Developing healthy, holy, Christ-like leaders at every level of the Church through a leadership pipeline:  from AAC Fellowships for seminarians, to Anglican Missional Pastor cohorts that help shape and mentor newly ordained clergy, to the continued multiplication of our Clergy Care Groups (online and weekly).
  • Recognizing that we need to focus on developing healthy and faithful lay leaders as well through our AAC Vestry consultations and through our AAC Anglican Legal Society with attorneys and others committed to the biblical, missional, decision-making values that shaped the ACNA.
  • Building a global network of biblically faithful, missional bishops, dioceses, and regional clusters of Anglican churches partnered in mission through our annual Bishops’ Leadership Summits and training of bishops within the ACNA.

We affirm that the local church is the chief agency of mission and the people of God are the principal ministers of Christ’s Great Commission to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:16-20).  We believe church health lies in the way we take up and live the life and mission that Jesus has given us, intensively and together.  True health is measured not by numbers, dollars, or buildings but by Gospel impact on our neighbors and neighborhoods. We are urgent about this focus because we can’t plant enough new churches to replace those that will close if we don’t turn our hearts and congregations to personal evangelism, discipleship, and local mission. 

In case you missed our highlights from 2020 video, we are continuing to build upon these accomplishments with your help in 2020!  If you want to know the values that shape these 2021 priorities, take a look at our core values video.  You’ll see how our 2021 commitments flow out of the values that shape us and our mission, Semper Reformanda (Always reforming the Church).

These are the things we will be doing visibly.  As you know, there is a good deal that we do behind the scenes that is sensitive and challenging.  But with your help and prayers, we pledge that it will be to the glory of God!

[1] Stott, JRW Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (IVP, 1978) at 67.

[2] Ibid. at 64, 66.

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