Saturday, April 22, 2006

Stated Clerks Top 10 List for GA

Before each General Assembly meeting the Stated Clerk puts out his list of the top ten issues that are coming before the Assembly. Here is his list:

  1. Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church
  2. Justice and Peace in the Middle East
  3. Building Bridges in the Presbyterian Family
  4. Significant Anniversaries for Women in Ministry
  5. Financial and Organizational Concerns
  6. Confirmation of a New Executive Director of the General Assembly Council
  7. Economic Justice Concerns
  8. Constitutional Revision
  9. Agency and Permanent Committee Reviews
  10. G-6.0106b

These are not listed in any order of importance. The Stated Clerk sees these as the most pressing issues for this General Assembly.

In the coming days we will look a little deeper at his list and then I will put forth my list of the top 10 issues for General Assembly.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

No post on April 19 due to packing for our move.

Church Planting vs. Redevelopment

A former GA staff person told me that very few (if any) congregations in the PCUSA made it through a successful redevelopment. He also said that few of the denominations new church developments were successful and growing. I know that those are his opinions and may or may not be supported with raw data (he worked in the new church development area of GA). Here are some of my thoughts…

Working on our presbytery’s redevelopment team was very frustrating. The churches I met with wanted to grow. They wanted to have a positive impact on their neighborhood and the world. Yet, there was nothing that they were willing to change. It takes a system wide change for redevelopment to succeed. I know of one church that has had the assistance of another church in terms of people, preaching and $$$. Another church experienced growth when a new pastor came and some people followed him from his prior church. However, most churches just do not redevelop.

The most successful method for starting a new church is for an existing church to start a “daughter church” or satellite campus. This method has worked in non-denominational churches and in other denominations. Why not in our denomination?

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

A Denomination or a Political Institution?

I am becoming more and more convinced that our local churches function as a “church” and that the PCUSA functions (and is) a “political institution.” The PCUSA pays lip service to leading people to Christ but writes pages and pages of position papers on divestment from companies selling their products to Israel, lobbies congress for bills and policies that are contrary to official denominational policy, and jumps in bed with the latest feminist theology even when it is pagan to its core. The PCUSA is political to its core.

What would happen if the PCUSA was to ban all financial expenditures on “politics” for ten years and put all of that money into congregational development and evangelism? Let’s see… fire all political staff and disband all GA committees and work groups except for congregational development and evangelism. Give the $$$ to local congregations to advertise. Give the $$$ to congregations to update and improve their facilities. Give the $$$ to help fund evangelism efforts. Give the $$$ to plant new churches in areas of population growth. Give the $$$ to train churches in how to do podcasts. Give the $$$ to help churches to train worship teams.

Our church use to be one of the largest givers to presbytery, synod and denominational causes (based on per member) in our presbytery. The problem was that we gave so much that we couldn’t afford to buy educational materials for our church or to do any local programming our outreach. Two years ago we SLASHED our giving to those causes and God started blessing our church. Imagine that!! We began to listen to what God wanted rather than blindly give to denominational causes. Blessing. Blessing! Blessing!!

What would happen if the PCUSA was to follow suit?

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Post Easter Let-Down or “Am I Elijah?”

Elijah had a powerful encounter with God on Mt. Carmel. God demonstrated his supreme authority and power—no god is before him. A small threat from Jezebel sent him running. Was he afraid? Was he overwhelmed? What was up?

Today I fell a little like Elijah. It is the let down that I can experience after a mountain-top experience with God. Am I the only one that experiences it?

Here is sit… a new Purpose Driven class is starting on Sunday (I’m teaching it and not as prepared as I should be; a new, post-Easter sermon series starts this weekend; two people in the church have cancer; I am attending a funeral an hour-and-a-half away this afternoon… the grind goes on. I know, ministry isn’t a “grind.” But on a day like today…

Praise God for Easter

Praise God for the resurrection of Jesus. The grave could not hold him!

Our Easter services went very well. Our first Easter service was Saturday night. I know, the traditionalist out there will dislike the concept of having an Easter service on Saturday. We have people who attend our Saturday night service that work on Sundays. They need an Easter service just like everyone else! Saturday night set the tone for Sunday—both went better than I could have planned or dreamed. Many told me how God touched them during the services.

He is risen! He is risen, indeed!