Saturday, June 7, 2008

Five Rules of GAFCON Ministry

Having yesterday outlined the principles of Aspirational Church Growth, it is now time to present The Five Rules of GAFCON Ministry:

1. Be Certain, not Consistent.

Whatever you choose to believe, BELIEVE IT! If you decide to criticize homosexuality never let the fact that you’re camper than a Boy-Scout jamboree (and all your “advisors” look like members of the Village People) curb your homophobia. If you decide to attack your opponent’s financial improprieties, don’t let any messy details concerning your own discretionary fund stop you from slamming others as immoral thieves.

2. Ignore Facts - argue the Big Picture.

Your opponents will try and argue with facts –always respond by referring to the Big Picture. Remember that the broader and more sweeping a generalization is the harder it is to counter. If you’re ever accused of discriminating against an individual, or of causing them distress, always respond by insisting “this has nothing to do with one person - it’s about the Church’s survival”. If presented with your own history of encouraging homophobia and violence, reply by demanding critics address "the real issue of respect for the Bible".

3. You determine the Experts.

It’s irrelevant that your opponent is someone with a lifetime of experience in biblical scholarship, or of ministry under the most difficult of circumstances, while your man is a shameless self-promoter who used to sell patent medicines in a country where the leading industries are civil war and spam emails – the real expert is whoever you want them to be. Qualifications mean nothing, and your critics know nothing. You choose who the authorities are, and there's never any need to justify your choices.

4. Talk about the Bible, not what’s in the Bible.

Not only is the Bible is full of complicated and conflicting statements, but some of the ideas it contains (such as “Love your enemies”) are positively dangerous. The good news is that it’s quite easy to be a “Biblical Christian” without ever once referring to what the Bible actually says. Instead of engaging with the text, simply insert adjectives like “Biblical” and “Scriptural” into everything you say. Dismiss counter-arguments as “contrary to the Word” without ever attempting to show why.

5. Always insist that you are the wronged party.

Even though countless innocent men and women have been rejected, ridiculed, bashed and even killed as a result of bigotry likr yours, always insist that you are the one being harmed and discriminated against. Find that your opponents are refusing to let you keep property which you always knew belonged to them? Complain as loudly as possible of the “persecution you are enduring for the sake of the Gospel”. Never give a moment’s thought to the harm you’re causing by leaving: responsibility for the Anglican schism rests firmly with those who aren’t leaving: blame them for the division at every opportunity.

Follow these rules in everything you do, and you too can have a successful GAFCON ministry. Pay careful attention, because men have become Bishops this way, and over the next year you can be sure purple shirts will be handed out like frequent-flyers points. Come to think of it, more than a few of those have also been earned recently, and GAFCON is the surest way nondescript clergy have of gaining more.

I’m Father Christian and I teach the Bible.


clumber said...

Father Christian,

I have spent a lifetime (Well 15 minutes, but it's felt like a lifetime) studying the writings of Father Mass Progeny, and based on my exhaustive research, I would like to propose a pair of rules which you have not included.

First, you must upon occasion use a Greek or Hebrew phrase and indicate that the average person would not understand the context in which the word was used by the writer or the society of the day.

Second, you must use at least 3 quotes from the Bible in any argument. Make them obscure and that will insure that the gentlereader hits the "next article" button on their RSS reader, bypassing whatever else you say.

I would add that at random moments you can also throw in that the person you are arguing against has fallen into the trap of Pelagianism (or any other suitable movement that the average reader doesn't remember very well).

Also, I trust you are not implying that the purple T-shirts that +airedale, +rowan, and +i have recently received have been anything but breaths of fresh air in the Episcopos. Surely you will admit that we would be better off if the first rule of the order was "borrowed" from the physician's rule, "First, do no harm", which I can assure you, the canine bishops will follow, well, religiously.

The Rev. Dr. Christian Troll said...

My esteemed Bishop Clumber:

Yours is a BARKCON enthronement, whereas I asure you I am strictly referring to GAFCON appointments, which unlike your own orders are not so much fresh air as hot air.

15 minutes??!! That's not only a lifetime, but postively life-threatening. Not even Hostilium could pay for that long without suffering harm. My dear fellow - you really must be more careful when conducting such experiments.

Lastly, thank you for the 2 additional points. I think I shall include them in a future list of "Rules for Expository Teaching" - giving you full credit of course.

clumber said...

Dear Father Christian,

Whilst out patrolling the bishop's palace grounds here in Pittsburgh to insure that no retirement homes are built near the Dishop's Doghouse, I happened to encounter 2 more thoughts to help the struggling newcomer. I speak these things after my 2 (or is it 3) month tenure as Canine Bishop of Pittsburgh.

The first rule is that you should, if at all possible, utilize a foreign language in your blog entries or sermons, even if you received a "barely adequate" on your Greek studies in seminary. I personally favor the use of Pig Latin, because if said quickly enough, the listener will not realize what they have just heard is a bunch of rubbish, and we can all move on to something more pleasant, such as coffee and Danish in the lounge. You can also boldly claim that the original texts from the caves of Qumron are what you are quoting and no one will be the wiser. You do not need to identify the language itself, but the mere utterance of phrases such as "ethay uetray orshippersway illway orshipway ethay Atherfay inway iritspay andway uthtray" will create a momentary separation between the people and the clergy, the illiterate from the overly educated, the people from the clergy. Such separation is vital.

Secondly, you have omitted a discussion about the role that technology can play in the life of a new priest. It is important that you show that you are post-modern, or at the very least, a member of the intelligencia, Hanging an iPhone, Blackberry or suitable PDA is preferable, but in a pinch a garage door opener is sufficient. You must check the device periodically to see if "you have any messages". This will create a suitable diversion to get away from Mrs. Jones as she labors on with her story of her knee pains which you have heard before. It is important that you choose a device which has a rather narrow field of view, since when the inevitable request for prayer comes your way, you can write anything you wish on your PDA without the requester being able to see that her prayer for her ailing Aunt Mary has magically transformed itself into "bread, cheese, coffee and eggs" on your side. Such technology has saved me many times already in the last months of service.

I apologize if I have perhaps trampled on topics you were saving for discussion later, but profound truths, even in the religion business, cannot be kept in. I If you feel that I have overstepped, I give you free leash to remove this post and place me in a "long down" position, where I will stare about with pleading eyes and, when released, return to my Bishop's House for a long snooze.

Erika Baker said...

" giving you full credit of course."

Doesn't it befit at GAFCON man to bestow credit while at the same time reducing its value? "It is a commonly known fact, which has recently been reiterated by Bishop Clumber...."

clumber said...

Bravo, Erika! I feel slightly diminished already!

Jim said...

It appears to me that you have missed one item, the no-one-reads- it-verse-reference. One should always have something in Daniel or another suitably obscure and mystical book handy so that it can be tossed into the conversation.

As an example consider, "It is true that some have contended that the Bible forbids theft, however if we read Quibble 3 17 to 22 we will realize that in the case of ....." Alternately refer to paragraph numbers in that great work of fiction, the first section of the Windsor report. As it is all made up anyway, you can make up another line or too. Even the author wont one up to the text, which is made up non-history anyway, so you might as well join the party.

trustee in charge House of Anglo-cats (Be afraid, we are actually in charge!)