Free & Fit NYC - How Can the Church Respond to Change – A Research Study by Tim Cheux

Free & Fit NYC - How Can the Church Respond to Change – A Research Study by Tim Cheux

This Ethics paper is focused on how the Church, both non-denominational and Mainline Churches, can respond to change. Fundamentally, how is the Church training its leaders, through Education and Training, to face the current real-life issues that every ministry leader faces today. During the beginning of this semester, and whilst gathering primary research, the world has entered a global pandemic which now, in the May of 2020, has made it even harder for university and seminarian graduates entering the Ministry field.

As part of building primary research for this assignment the student interviewed four different Church leaders from four different denominations. This included Steve Sayer from the Harrington Park Community Church and the Reformed Church in the USA, Matt Lytakanen Mile Square Church in Hoboken and the Lutheran Missouri Church Synod, Abigail Oriowo from Seek Church (non-denominational Church) in New York City and Dave Haney from the Hoboken Evangelical Free (Non-Denominational) Church. In addition to these interviews further research was completed, as this is a fairly under researched topic. The author interviewed two Church leaders who are involved in front line Missionary work, Church Relationships and Global Parachurch Relations. This included Canon Chuck Robertson from the Episcopal Church and Chief Executive of Fresh Expressions Christ Backert.

In order to establish a clear thesis for this paper, the title, and research has been changing all the time. It was not until final interviews with both Canon Chuck Robertson and Chief Executive and Pastor Chris Backert that the author was able to establish more clearly his desire to research change and in the context of both mainline and non-denominational Churches.

Unfortunately, the first round of interviews was not as diverse as first desired. Despite a representation of two different denominational mainline Churches and two different non-denominational Churches the feedback that was received from the in-class group presentation was that the selected leaders were from either a conservative or evangelical background. This is why it was so exciting to be able to speak with Canon Chuck Robertson from the Episcopal Church and to present and receive the first primary research findings to a more diverse cohort of friends and fellow students at the General Theological Seminary.

In order to explore the dynamics of what change means in the Church the author wanted to begin to construct a literature review of the current climate of change and how the wider Church is currently trying to respond to that change.

Firstly, we review how the Catholic Church is responding to its own crises of sexual immorality that is evident amongst its clergymen and the apparent abuse that lingers in the media as the Church confesses to many of its faults in recent history. Secondly, a study on the decline of the number of students and wider congregational members of the Churches of Christ. The article speaks about decline amongst both its Church members and those seeking to become Christian leaders. The article discusses how the denomination and Educational and Training institutions must respond to the rapid decline amongst its students and shrinking seminaries.

Finally, the last article focuses on the Church of England and former Youth and Young Adults Pastor Ruth Perrin who discusses the ever changing face of Ministry and how she has become a an academic research expert and feels both fulfilled and purposeful in her new line of Ministry work. Let us get stuck into the literature review.

Article Literature Review

In order to be able to develop a clear thesis we must first discuss the current change that is happening across the Church. In order to gain a better understanding of the issue the author wanted to explore different denominations, Churches and situations outside of the Episcopal (Author’s seminary), Methodist (Author’s employer) and Hillsong (Author’s Church) own context.

The Catholic Church has been accused of sexual abuse, pedophilic acts, child abuse and human sexual immorality on multiple levels. In this quotation below we hear from the author who is a former Catholic Clergymen and gives a firsthand account of what he experienced in the context of the claims made in the media and throughout history via law suits, abuse claims and various different accounts in the global Catholic Church.

“The Church’s maleness and misogyny became inseparable from its structure. The conceptual underpinnings of clericalism can be laid out simply: Women were subservient to men. Laypeople were subservient to priests, who were defined as having been made “ontologically” superior by the sacrament of holy orders. Removed by celibacy from competing bonds of family and obligation, priests were slotted into a clerical hierarchy that replicated the medieval feudal order. When I became a priest, I placed my hands between the hands of the bishop ordaining me—a feudal gesture derived from the homage of a vassal to his lord (James Carroll, June 2019).”

Here we hear of the failure of the Catholic Church to identify the flaws within its beau acratic hierarchy and the impossibility for issues, co