Thursday, August 17, 2006

From the Presbyterian Global Fellowship -- why I came

I'm putting classic church on hold for a few days to talk about why I chose to come be a part of the Presbyterian Global Fellowship gathering in Atlanta.

It's no secret that the Presbyterian Church USA is in deep crisis -- radically different worldviews contribute to rampant confusion and battling for language about God. Meanwhile, we get sucked into a dysfuncational spirit of combativeness over issues that don't reflect where we want our priorities to be.

Most evangelicals don't want to argue about sex. We want to tell people about Jesus who has sent the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with love, joy, and peace. We want to lend our hands to meeting practical needs of hurting people. We want to share with one another how to communicate our love of Christ to our neighbors, our children, and the watching world. And that's why I'm here.

I've been intrigued by the assumptions that I've heard from people leading up to this gathering:

"Oh that's a large church thing....." Somehow, people get the idea that this Gathering is sponsored by tall steeple churches to meet their needs. I'm from a little 150 member church -- and there are dozens of similar churches who are here seeking a constructive way forward. No way this is simply a large church thing.

"They're a schismatic movement...." The invitation has been explicit that we're not leaving the PCUSA, but we're trying to faithfully move forward. I'm thinking of this as something like a Missionary Order -- or a covenant group -- we want a greater degree of accountability and connection with one another.

"They'll drain resources from the denomination...." That's just the problem -- congregational resources don't belong to the denomination. They belong to congregations. It's not theirs. The denomination exists to serve the local mission of the local congregations -- it exists to bring congregations together to forward like minded mission. Congregations are neither branch offices nor franchise holders -- they are the lifeblood of the denomination. The denomination should celebrate that like minded presbyterians are banding together to do something positive.

"They're planning a takeover of the denomination....." Of course as individuals we'll advocate for stances that we think will be faithful, but the global fellowship folks are not gathering to advocate for stances. We have certain core assumptions, but our conversation seems to be centering on mission and being missional.

As this this conference develops, I'll try to keep you informed.

Soli Deo Gloria