Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tag! You're It

I guess this is something started by Bruce Reyes-Chow, who apparently is "emerging" as the next moderator of PCUSA. I think I've got the rules down, but here goes whatever. You who I tagged now answer these questions and tag five others. At least this little exercise got me to do another blog post after some time.

What is your earliest memory of being distinctly Presbyterian?
For me that would be in high school when I became involved in some street ministries led by several Presbyterian churches in Wichita, Kansas. As I talked with some of the church leaders, it dawned on me that these were theological views and outreach emphases that I shared.

On what issue/question should the PC(USA) spend LESS energy and time?
We waste so much time on so many things that this is hard to choose. I would say almost anything that focuses attention and power on Louisville is something we should spend less energy and time on. In fact, if we could scale down Louisville to be nothing much more than a small support office without any programming interests, that would be great. Even things that Louisville claims only they can do, like administrate national and international missions, could be done much better and more creatively through natural networks formed by Presbyterian churches. Yes, liberal churches would probably form liberal networks and evangelical churches evangelical networks, but then cooperation would be a natural outcome of shared interests rather than every group trying to coerce the other into some kind of awkward and forced partnership. Plus, dialog between networks would be voluntary, genuine, and productive.

On what issue/question should the PC(USA) spend MORE energy and time?
We need to be spending much more time on discipling the people in our churches and then sending them forth to do innovative mission outreach. The institutional membership mindset is what is killing us. I find it incredible the various projects and expenditures made by many presbyteries while neglecting the reality of the spiritual apathy in many of our churches. Presbyteries need to lead churches to develop clear and effective discipling approaches, and then allow people in the churches to be daring and creative in doing outreach ministries in their communities. Right now, many presbyteries still act as gatekeepers and obstacle courses to be overcome (or many times even sidestepped) by mission minded Presbyterians.

If you could have the PC(USA) focus on one passage of scripture for a entire year, what would it be? Matthew 11:28-30
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
I, like many, am tired of all the striving in the PCUSA. There are too many of us pushing and carrying our own agendas rather than just resting in God's love and receiving what God has for us in Jesus.

If the PC(USA) were an animal what would it be and why?
Rather than an animal, I have always thought of the PCUSA being more like an old IROC-Z Camaro I once had (prior to marriage and kids). It was a beautiful piece of machinery that had the capability of working like a marvel, except that it always had something wrong with it. Most of the time, the injection system needed tweeking, or the electrical system had a loose connection somewhere, or the computer was acting up. It took a lot of time and work, but when everything was working together, it could cruise at 90 miles an hour with only the slightest effort. We Presbyterians are sort of like this. We spend a lot time working on ourselves, but every now and then we get in sync. In those times we become a marvel of mission that brings great glory to God.

Extra Credit: Jesus shows up at General Assembly this year, what does he say to the Presbyterian Church (USA)?
Jesus tells us to throw away all the overtures, disband the committees, and spend the whole time in prayer, confession, repentance, and seek each other's forgiveness. Then He tells us to sell our Louisville headquarters, many of our church buildings, cash in many of our investments and give them to the poor, and come follow Him.