From the beginning, the PCA has had things that have made it special; and I have had hopes that our denomination would set the tone for others to follow: It has been my positive experience to see the PCA grow from its small roots in mainly the southeastern part of the country to a church that has spread all over North America… The PCA has not only had unity of commitment to the Sovereign Lord, His Word, and His church, reflected by a common confessional commitment, but it has had diversity within that framework.
In Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin says, “Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it’s not all mixed up.” It has also been said this way, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Both statements express great truth. Unfortunately, the church has a great reputation for not planning. Instead we live on activity and hope it is accomplishing something. Remember the last seven words of a church? “We’ve always done it that way before!”
The 36th General Assembly, after many hours of committee and floor debate, answered Overture 9 in the negative, declining to establish a study committee. This action was taken in spite of a minority report that attempted to persuade the assembly to answer in the affirmative. As the coordinator of Christian Education and Publications, under whose oversight the Women in the Church is positioned in the PCA, a number of people have asked my opinion on the issue.
In liberation theology, God is seen as the God of the oppressed – and therefore against the oppressors and their false god. Jesus is found in the movement for liberation and freedom. Jesus came as a liberator, and he identifies with those mobilized for liberation.
In this particular article, I want to focus your attention on the theme expressed in the title above; the church as a believing community learning to live in communion. As our Westminster Confession of Faith says in 26-1, “All saints that are united to Jesus Christ their head by his Spirit, and by faith, have fellowship with him in his graces, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces.”
I am being asked more and more what the term “missional church” means. Does it mean what we have generally thought regarding missionaries leaving and going to other parts of the world to evangelize and church plant? Often those questions have been asked in relation to discussion on the negative and narrowing impact of much of the modern church growth philosophy, especially as it relates to the church and the kingdom.
The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is the second largest Presbyterian denomination in the USA and relatively young as far as denominations go, begun in 1973. Overall, Presbyterians are a small minority of Christians in America. We need to realize, however, that we are part of something bigger than we usually think.
It becomes more and more obvious that people are deficient in understanding the church and the kingdom; hence, they have not embraced nor understood them as clearly as God would have. As a result, from a human standpoint, the church is taking a licking. People, lacking a biblical view of both, are saying things that should not be said about either. There is apparent confusion about how the local church fits into the universal church and then how the universal church, including the local, relates to and is part of the kingdom.
The great football coach, Weeb Eubank, had a tradition at the beginning of every season. He would take all the new and seasoned players, sit them down, and then begin his lecture. He would take a football, stick it in their faces, and say to them, “Gentlemen, this is a football! Get to know it all over again.” He would go on to explain that unless they remembered the basics of the game of football, they could not win.
The same is true of the church. Unless we keep going back to the basics of who we are and what we believe, we will not continue to grow in the truth, for the truth starts with the basics.
Understanding the different generations is a part of understanding our world. You cannot read a book like Soul Searching (Christian Smith) or After the Baby Boomers (Wuthnow) and conclude that we can ignore what they are saying. Wuthnow explains what is happening as we experience in America an estimated six million less churchgoers today than in the past