Thursday, March 06, 2008

Presbyterians actually using the Book of Confessions!

I have attended Presbyterian churches all of my adult life. The only time our family didn’t attend a Presbyterian church in my early years was when there wasn’t a Presbyterian church in our town (we lived in Eastern Oregon in small towns). Not one of all the Presbyterian churches of which I have been a part have used the Book of Confessions, other than to collect dust—except Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas (at HPPC we recited the Apostle’s Creed even Sunday in every worship service). I started attending Presbytery meetings while in seminary. I can’t remember a single Presbytery meeting that I missed while attending Fuller (San Gabriel Presbytery). While at HPPC I attended every Presbytery meetings (Grace Presbytery). Since my ordination I have been a member of Presbytery de Cristo, Central Washington Presbytery, Alaska Presbytery and the Presbytery of Olympia—a worship service was a part of EVERY one of those Presbytery meetings. I cannot remember a single presbytery meeting where we used the Book of Confessions!

It’s good that Presbyterians not sacrifice their beliefs and traditions to the Purpose-Driven paradigm, says Stan Wood, associate professor of congregational leadership and evangelism at San Francisco Theological Seminary.

-Presbyterians Today, January/February 2008, page 20.

Enter the Purpose Driven Presbyterians Network! With the blessing of Rick Warren and Saddleback, the Purpose Driven paradigm has been modified to reflect Presbyterian and Reformed theology. The Book of Confessions is quoted over and over and over again. All key points are supported by a scripture reference AND one or more quotes from the Book of Confession!

In reading the article in Presbyterians Today it is clear that few if any of the critics of the Purpose Driven Presbyterians Network have actually read their material or attended their conferences. Presbyterian and Reformed theology is present at a meeting of the Network in ways that it is never present at other gatherings of Presbyterians! Reading the article causes me to ask the question, “How often do the critics of the Purpose Driven Presbyterians read from the Book of Confessions?”

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

We need to learn to rejoice with those who rejoice!

Trinity’s resulting growth was in qualitative areas that many Presbyterian churches value, such as ministry volunteers, mission participants and stewardship leaders, as well as small-group involvement. This 800-member church now averages 660 regular worshipers. Some 500 people are involved in small groups, 400 work as ministry volunteers and 200 do hands-on mission.”

-Presbyterians Today, January/February 2008, page 20.

When was the last time you heard a report about a Presbyterian church like the one mentioned above? When we hear about a movement of God’s Spirit like what has happened at Trinity we should stop and offer prayers of rejoicing and praise!

The pastors at Trinity never encourage churches to copy what has happened at Trinity. Over and over again I have heard them tell pastors and church leaders to pray seeking God’s guidance for their church. If God leads their church to use some of the Purpose Driven model, then use it. If God leads in a different direction, go in that direction.

We need to learn to rejoice with those who rejoice!

Pulpit envy is alive and well in the Presbyterian Church. We see a church that is growing and we immediately jump to the conclusion that they have watered down the Gospel. We see that church grown and immediately think that it is due to slick advertising and smooth talking preacher. We criticize their lack of Reformed “worship.” We criticize, Criticize and CRITICIZE!!!

Rejoice! Rejoice! God is doing a great thing through Trinity Presbyterian Church in Satellite Beach, Florida. They have a wonderful ministry going on in the worst part of town. They have a huge impact on the families at the local military base. Trinity is seeing people grow in their faith. Rejoice! Rejoice!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Ignorance Causes Me to Write Again.

A couple of years of regular blogging and working too many days a week had caused me to take a break from regularly posting on this blog. I had come to wonder, “Does the time and effort put into a blog have any effect on the life of the Presbyterian Church?” My Bloglines aggregator shows that many of the blogs I follow are not being posted to as regularly as in the past. To be completely honest with you, I was enjoying the break from posting five days a week. During our January annual congregational meeting I was asked, “Where do you get the inspiration to read the many books that you have read over the past few years?” Preparing for this blog and for preaching (of course) have been the major driving forces behind choosing books to read. After all, there is nothing worse than a boring preacher or a boring blog! I have been fairly content to work on several major projects (especially getting my dahlia garden up and going). Until… I sat down the other day with the January/February 200 edition of Presbyterians Today.

There are deep divisions in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). To ignore those divisions is unhealthy. And yet, that is what happens every day.

You may be wondering, “What was the article in Presbyterians Today that was to blame for FullCourtPresby to rise from hiatus?” The article was about Purpose Driven Presbyterians. You see, Evergreen Presbyterian Church adopted the Purpose Driven model a few years ago. Sue Washburn (the author) mentions “critics” of the Purpose Driven model of ministry. I wish more of these so-called critics would have had their names mentioned. It is easy to “anonymously” criticize something. The criticisms mentioned in the article show how deeply our denomination is divided. Our denomination should be celebrating with the Purpose Driven Presbyterian Churches that are experiencing God’s blessing; instead there is criticism and ignorance.

“Critics say Purpose-Driven graphics and slogans oversimplify the complexity of a life in Christ.” (Presbyterian Today, January/February 2008, page 21)

Evergreen has members and non-members who have been Presbyterians for 40, 50, 60 years. They have served as Elders and Deacons in the various Presbyterian churches they have attended. Many of these folks do not have even the smallest understandings of the teaching of Jesus, the Bible, the faith, etc. They have faithfully shown up for church for decades and then gone home to live their lives. Evergreen’s move to the Purpose Driven model has brought about major changes to how we go about being a church—from how we organize our committees to what is taught in our classes. There is nothing “simple” about the Purpose Driven model. In fact, many of these life-long Presbyterians are wondering why the other churches they have attended didn’t help them to develop a well-rounded faith.

So, in a nutshell, I am back to stay. I hope that this blog will help people to think about God the Father, Jesus the Messiah and the Holy Spirit. I hope that this blog will challenge our (my) comfortable faith—leading to deeper faith in the one who gave his life for us.