In the last few years there has been a very large shift from the Coven model to the Congregational model. I think there are many reasons for that, in my humble opinion the two biggest reasons are:
1. There is a lack of adequately trained, experienced or effective Coven leaders. Please note that I'm not saying there is a lack of Coven leaders, I'm saying there is a lack of adequately trained, experienced or effective Coven leaders. For this reason the Congregational model is the most logical and efficient means for a diverse Pagan community to function.
2. People are lazy. They don't want to make a commitment, they just want to show up when they feel like being spiritual and participate in a ritual. Most want to be spoon fed their monthly dose of magic the way they were in mainstream churches. Sorry for the rant, but sadly, its true.
Please note there are LOTS of other reasons! Like the minefield of social dynamics or all the damn Trolls. But to me, these are the top two.
Our Tradition is only six years new, it is completely original and unique. Yet there is an abundance of actual substance. We are not so much interested in the Mystique of the Craft as we are in the substance, effectiveness and benefits.That requires time, effort and a commitment some people are not interested in or willing to make. Not to us, but to themselves. And if they are not willing to make a commitment to themselves, should we be expected to make a commitment to them?
When someone initiates into our Tradition we invest ourselves 100% into the performance of that initiation ceremony. We are rehearsed and well practiced. We don't read from a script, we known our rituals verbatim. We make a gesture of good faith and welcome the person with open arms of love and trust, and then we hand them their first Obrussa. It's "homework," I can probably best describe as Catechism, but not so much the Catholic kind. It's more akin to the Catch-e-cisms of Freemasonry and other esoteric orders.
Here is the a great example I found in "Building Hiram" by Dr. John S. Nagy in 2009. His series should be required reading for Blue Lodge Masons.
I: What is “Catechism?”
R: A word whose first recorded use was in 1502, rooted in French by way of Latin and originating in Late Greek with the following meaning: to teach by word of mouth.
I: What is its use?
R: It is primarily oral instruction.
I: What else?
R: It is a book or manual of basic instruction giving a brief summary of the basic principles of a subject, usually by means of rote, formulaic statement or repetition in question and answer form.
I: What’s more?
R: A close questioning or examination, as of a political figure, student or a person wishing to show their proficiency of a topic or subject.
I: What’s further?
R: A body of work expressing fundamental principles or beliefs, especially when accepted uncritically.
I: How may it be so presented?
R: As a series of searching Inquiries and Responses on any targeted subject of interest.
I: What is its purpose?
R: To share Light with those so interested.
So after a first degree initiation the new initiate is given part one, of thirteen, and is explained in great detail the meaning and purposes the the Obrussa. We explain that they are to work at their own pace, they we will not pressure or pursue the matter any further and to let us know when they are ready to proceed.
And then we wait.
The Obrussa challenges different people in different ways. Some people have difficulty speaking to a group, or in a group. Some people are nervous about an oral examination, from memory. And some people just want to "drive through" instant gratification without any sort of effort. You may be surprised by how many people are not suitable for the work, simply because it requires them to study learn and remember something that there is no app for.
The Obrussa is an obstacle course, either you find a way to navigate through the things you find difficult or, you do not. Either way, you learn something about yourself, and that's just step one.
Thank you Lord & Lady for all those who made it to the other side, Blessed Be.