After I returned from the August meeting of the Fellowship of Presbyterians, I wrote this post on why the formation of a new reformed body could be a good thing (I also wrote one on why it could be a bad thing: http://bit.ly/wr3zvp).
I offer my thoughts on the subject once more, this time in light of the creation of the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO).
One of the most controversial proposals emerging from the Fellowship of Presbyterians is the formation of a new reformed body–a fresh missional, evangelical, and presbyterian denomination.
In general I think that this new reformed body could be a very good thing for American presbyterianism. Here’s why (in no particular order):
- It is committed to missional theology as a part of its DNA. Missional theology isn’t a fad, it is a rediscovery of the New Testament’s dominant expression of being church. The future demands a return to a missional model of church in order to effectively engage our post-Christian culture.
- It is committed to giving women space to exercise their ministerial gifts. This new reformed body will be the only presbyterian and evangelical denomination that fully endorses and supports our sisters in giving expression to their pastoral and ministerial gifts. Don’t lose sight of that fact. Egalitarians in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church co-exist with complimentarians, which has meant that opportunities for women in ordained office have been significantly limited. This new presbyterian denomination create new opportunities for evangelical women to serve the Lord in His church.
- It is committed to creating space for entrepreneurial young leaders. Young pastors need opportunities to use their gifts and they also need older pastors who are willing to take a risk with them. Not only that, young pastors need mentors who will help them deepen their pastoral ministry and gain the experience necessary to be a wise under shepherd.
- It is committed to the primacy of the congregation. The congregation is the building block of the church and the church is never healthier than its individual, local expressions. Congregations need not only investment and support, they need a healthy challenge to live into faithful, effective ministry in their context.
- It is committed to the essentials of the reformed faith. This probably ought to have been first because it is the foundation that gives the rest of the points meaning. It is also the ingredient that has been missing in the PCUSA for a long time. The phrase “essentials of the reformed faith” has become vacuous. It has no meaning, and that ought not to be the case. Ultimately it is cruelty to hide or obscure a church’s belief. And it is wicked to have no belief. It’s time for some consensus to emerge around this phrase so that instead of being a platitude it can be a center around which churches unite in Biblically-faithful mission.