Hope for the PCUSA?

I admit it. Tuesday night was the first Presbytery meeting I've attended since March (and I actually can't remember the details of the March meeting, so I'm not even sure I was at that one either).

For those of you that aren't Presbyterian, Presbytery meetings are a gathering of pastors and elders from (in our region) the 80 or so Presbyterian churches in the Cincinnati area. And to be honest, these meetings are boring!

I've only been a Presbyterian pastor for two and a half years now and I've become less and less enamored with my denomination. Presbytery meetings have contributed to this. I often feel like all we do at Presbytery meetings is act Presbyterian ("decently and in order") and make each other feel good about being Presbyterian ("I got my PCUSA logo pin on! How 'bout you?!").

See, I know why I'm a Christian--because Jesus loves me. I know why I'm a pastor--because I want others to know this love of Jesus. But I don't really know why I'm a Presbyterian. I come from a family of Presbyterians and have always attended Presbyterian churches, but that's only because my dad is also a Presbyterian pastor. So I'm basically a Presbyterian by default.

When I met with the Committee on Preparation for Ministry here in Cincinnati as part of the call-process to Union Presbyterian Church, I was asked what excites me about the PCUSA. And I couldn't answer that question. What excites me is ministry! What excites me is my relationship with Jesus Christ! What excites me is seeing others discover Christ's love for them! But there's really nothing about the PCUSA that excites me.

Which is why the Transformation Team's report at Tuesday's meeting was so encouraging to me! The Transformation Team has been working for the past several years on a proposal for doing church in a new way and what they presented last night was terrific. They proposed a church that is mission-shaped, permission-giving, and outcome-oriented. In other words, a church that is focused on outward ministry, that gives freedom to churches and members to do ministry in new and creative ways with the gifts that God has given them, and that sets goals for growth.

I was also immensely encouraged by Erwin Goedicke's sermon. He talked about (among other points) God being bigger than the PCUSA. And he challenged us to participate in the whole church in Cincinnati--even if the official PCUSA logo isn't anywhere to be found. Amen, Erwin!!

If this is the direction that the PCUSA goes, then I have renewed hope in our denomination!

Russell Smith
and I briefly talked about blogging on this topic together for a while. Check out his post over at The Eagle and Child. I'm curious to see what others of you think about this. And I'm curious to see where this all leads.


Pastor Lance said...

I hope that this exciting development in your presbytery actually takes root. Demand it. Fight for it. Do not settle for going back to the “way things have always been.” I served on my presbytery’s long range planning committee while it developed a similar strategy for the Presbytery of Olympia. After several years and many changes the plan was adopted. Within a few years the presbytery had thrown out most of the changes and went back to doing things the “way they had always been done.” Don’t let that happen in your presbytery!

The work will only be 25% completed when the changes are implemented—and that is the easiest part of the work. It will take a long time for the changes to become a part of the culture of the presbytery. Sailboats have a rudder that is used to change the course the boat is traveling. The rudder is ineffective while the boat is stationary. As the boat gains speed the rudder becomes very effective. DO NOT let up until the presbytery has completed the change in course and those changes have become a part of the fabric of the presbytery’s ethos.

Pastor Lance

Markus Watson said...

Thanks for that advice! I really hope and pray that these things do take hold in our prasbytery.

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