One of the most common phrases we hear from Presbyterians is that we Presbyterians do things decently and in order. And for the most part that's, how the Book of Order prescribes Presbyterians to live out their faith - decently and in order.
Quick question - as you read the book of Acts and the emerging church in the ancient world, does decently and in order come into your mind? In the midst of a chaotic world, where the Christians were in the minority, and where they consistently found themselves at odds with the world, do you see "decently and in order?"
Maybe that's the problem. We've become too decent, so all that we can do is decent ministry instead of a ministry that's rocking the world. We've become so orderly that we've essentially ruled out the possibility of the Holy Spirit moving the church to respond to real life circumstances with grace and openness.
One of my absolute favorite sections of the Book of Order - believe it or not there are sections there I absolutely love - is chapter 3 of the Book of Order and in particular G-3.0400. It reads, "The church is called to undertake this mission even at the risk of losing its life trusting in God alone as the author and giver of life, and sharing the gospel, and doing those deeds in the world that point beyond themselves to the new reality in Christ."
I love this passage! The church is to undertake the mission of Jesus Christ to bring new Christians into the fold, and to enable every believer to become a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ. And we are to do this above and beyond anything else, even to the point of risking the very existence of our very selves and certainly the institutional church.
But the huge disconnect with the rest of the Book of Order is that the entire thing reeks of "decently and in order!" Where did the radical missional focus go?
It got killed by "decently and in order"!