Are your Meetingâ€™s numbers dwindling? Do you worry that there wonâ€™t be a â€œnextâ€ generation to pass Quakerism on to?
You arenâ€™t alone. As Iâ€™ve traveled the country visiting different kinds of Quaker Meetings, Iâ€™ve noticed that many Quaker Meetings are holding a similar, underlying anxiety: whatâ€™s next?
Of course there are Meetings that donâ€™t fit this categorization, but if you are one of those Friends who holds a concern for the future of the Religious Society of Friends, read on.
Step 1: Ask Ourselves, â€œWhat Are We Trying to Save?â€
As someone who gets most excited about Quakerism when I think about the Early Friends, I believe that the litmus test for whether we have life is the fire and Spirit that motivated the emergence of the Quaker movement.
Not our finances. Not numbers or attendance.
So what are we trying to save? Is it our Meetinghouses? Our institutions? Our annual gatherings? Our Quaker employment?
Or are we concerned about God’s vision for the world and the Quaker contribution to making it real?
Step 2: Hone Our Quaker Superpowers
There are reasons that we know the names of specific Quakers in history; itâ€™s not just hero worship.
Early Friends understood that the Spirit manifests powerfully in individual gifts, and the usefulness of a structure is the extent to which it helps individuals to cultivate, ground, and set free their personal ministries.
I just love the image of Elias Hicks coming to town and everyone in town â€“ not just the Quakers â€“ gathering to hear this powerful minister preach. Whatever that looks like today, I know it can happen again.
Step 3: Get the Circulatory System Running Again.
As Iâ€™ve been talking with Friends about the concept of ministry, one analogy has struck me: ministers are our circulatory system. When a Friend who is on fire with the power of the Spirit comes to our Meeting, we are given oxygen. We are given life.
What does a body look like without a circulatory system?
â€¦but it doesnâ€™t have to be that way. Quakers have a historically strong practice of identifying, training, and releasing ministers. We know how to get the circulatory system running again. And itâ€™s not too late to bring it back.
Step 4: Support the Friends Who Are Already Working On This.
I have been blessed to help support the birth of the Releasing Ministry Alliance, which aims to get the blood flowing again in the Religious Society of Friends. This project is literally a dream come true for me.
I hope you’ll take a moment to wach this video:
As Lola says in the video above, this resource is past due. You can’t imagine how much I wish it was around when I was seeking support for my last project. It is high time that Friends found a way to use the internet to explore new kinds of life in our ministries.
Over the past several years, I have seen Viv and Lola approaching the hard work of launching this resource with tireless dedication and faithfulness. I trust them to do it right.
I hope that you’ll join me in supporting them to get this essential project off the ground.