Jul 21, 2008

Post-Denominational Denominations...Part 3

We finally put away everything from the vacation and put the suitcases back in the attic.

Let me make my final installment of what I envision for a post-denominational denomination.

First, what we know and understand of denominations has to go out the window. Theologically and in terms of Biblical understanding, I have as much in common with those advocating for gay ordination as I have with those who are Jews and Hindus. We just read and understand our relationship to the Bible in an entirely different way.

At the same time, I have much in common with those who advocate for gay ordination. And I don't mean that we're both human, breathing, living, etc. There are some real and faith practices and praxis we hold in common that distinguishes us from the Baptists, non-denominationalists, congregationalists, etc.

Our common praxis of shared leadership and authority. That is unique to Presbyterians.

Our commitment to women leadership.

Our understanding of elders - teaching and ruling - in the life of the church.

Whether I like it or not, I am presbyterian. I am not a baptist. I am not a congregationalist. I am presbyterian.

And in a post-denominational world, I believe we can have a denomination that is committed to our reformed and presbyterian praxis of our understanding of church, while still allowing for a great divergence of theological commitments.

And I believe this is possible through non-geographic presbyteries.

Presbyteries by its very nature are to be relational. Our presbyteries have become too big. I have been a part of Grace Presbytery for about 13 years and there are still many clergy I do not know. There are over 180 churches in our presbytery. There are thousands upon thousands of elders I do not know personally. And because we do not know one another, the only thing that we can go back to is our rules.

Mutual discipline and accountability can only happen through Godly relationships, not through rule keeping.

Our current Book of Order states that it takes 12 congregations to form a presbytery. Those congregations who affirm gay ordination should be free to form their presbytery based on that commitment.

Those who oppose that stance can form a presbytery based on their commitment to scriptural authority. It just takes 12 congregations.

The practice and praxis of Presbyterians can continue within these non-geographic presbyteries.

We have arbitrarily put congregations in these regional presbyteries.

We can intentionally allow those congregations who cannot in good conscience be a part of a presbytery that supports gay ordination to form their own presbytery.

The primary role of the presbytery would be for mutual accountability - ordination standards, receiving of transferring ministers and elders, etc.

And secondly, the presbyteries purpose is to empower congregations to do their ministries more effectively.

And thirdly, each presbyteries can determine on their own what the other roles of their presbyteries may be. And that would be it.

We do not need these gigantic organizations. Is our current structure helping the local churches to do ministry more effectively now? Is our current organizational giants helping to enlarge the kingdom of God?

We have not had a positive growth year since the 1960s. It is crazy and absurd to keep doing church the same way while at the same time hoping to grow. It's nonsense.

We have to find better ways of doing church.

And I think non-geographic presbyteries is a step in that direction.

1 comment:

Discipleship said...

So, if our current Book of Order permits this within the definition what is needed to create a presbytery of the type you suggest? What level of the church would need to approve it, or could some churches just get together a proposed presbytery and ask the current presbyteries to transfer churches to the new one?