Saturday, April 28, 2007

Purpose Driven Presbyterians – Report 2

The churches at the Purpose Driven conference are fairly representative of the PCUSA in general. It causes my heart to skip a beat when I hear the “ages” of the people at the churches—OLD! It sounds just like the church I serve. “Age enhanced” was one person’s way of describing their church members. The PCUSA is in an “age” crisis, whether it wants to admit it or not. Failure to act will have catastrophic results in the next ten to fifteen years.

Some are holding out hope that as the baby boomers hit retirement they will return to the church. I have yet to see a serious study that gives any kind of hope that this will happen. I see the boomers looking for better ways to “play” and enjoy their retirement. If I had $25,000 I would run out and purchase stock in Harley Davidson. More aging boomers are going out and buying a hog. Why would a boomer return to a church that appears to be irrelevant and plays music that they dislike?

The Purpose Driven model is not a quick fix to any of the challenges facing our churches. No one thing will cure the many things that trouble the PCUSA. Any course of action will take prayer, time and patience.

Thursday my dad had his heart “zapped.” Dad has many health problem—many of them interrelated. The doctors would not work on those many problem areas until his heart rate could be “fixed.” A gentleman from his church volunteered to hook his jumper cables up to his car and give dad a good shock (I volunteered as well). Both of our offers were declined! The procedure was successful. Before long the doctors will begin to work on the other health difficulties dad has.

It would be great if the Purpose Driven model was a way to “zap” the denomination back to health.

The Purpose Driven model is a long-term approach to ministry that will have a profound impact on congregations. The strength of the Purpose Driven model is discipleship. Sadly, most long-time Presbyterians do not have a well rounded faith. The discipleship component under girds every facet of the Purpose Driven model. Churches become “high expectation” churches. People rise, or fall, to the level of the church’s expectations on them. With the Purpose Drive model a congregation does not have to “re-invent” the discipleship wheel.

It is sad that the Purpose Driven Presbyterians Network flies under the denomination’s radar. Many congregations could experience revitalization by adopting a Purpose Driven mindset. It is not an easy road to walk—it takes a lot of pray, hard work, conversations, tears, faith, patience and commitment.

While I do believe that the Purpose Driven model can transform congregations, I do not think that it will have a significant impact on the PCUSA. There is too much inertia in the PCUSA. Too many people and churches are vested in the status quo. Any denominational revitalization effort will require significant change. Our leadership in Louisville will not lead that change—they don’t have the vision, gifts or talents to lead in that area. The people in Louisville are very skilled at maintenance ministry and that is what they will do—maintain the status quo until the PCUSA shrinks to irrelevancy.

More on the Purpose Driven model in my next post.


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