Aug 31, 2011

It's Not that the PC(USA) is Deathly Ill...It's that Denominationalism is Deathly Ill

There's been a lot of talk amongst PC(USA) folk about the denomination being "deathly ill."

  • Some bristle against this description as they point out how God is actively at work in their context,
  • Some confirm and agree with this description as they point out how the last time PC(USA) experienced a growth year was in the early 1960's.
What do I think about all this?

I don't think that PC(USA) is deathly ill. I think all denominationalism is deathly ill. It's not quite dead yet. But denominational distinctions and the way we have been relating to one another denominationally is dying.

The church of my children and grand-children will relate with one another quite differently than we have been in our denominational context.

Aug 26, 2011

Remember, Recall, Reclaim

The following is the text of the Vision talk I gave at the Fellowship of Presbyterian Gathering this morning. Several people have asked me for the text so I will post it as a blog.
Vision Talk at Fellowship Gathering Minneapolis

Two older couples were traveling to a nice restaurant together.  The two guys were in the front seat and the ladies were in the back seat. The fellow driving said, “You know Ralph, you really need to check out the restaurant my wife and I went to the other day. They have the most terrific steaks and their lobster is out of this world! It’s just fabulous.”

Ralph asks, “Oh, really. What’s the name of it?

 “Uh…uh…what’s that red flower that has green leaves and thorns?

“You mean a rose?”

“Yeah. That’s it! Rose? What’s the name of that restaurant we go to?”

I share with you the above story because somewhere along the way, too many churches have forgotten why we exist.

While it may be funny when some old guy forgets the name of his wife or the name of his favorite restaurant, but when the church forgets why she exists, it’s not so funny anymore. When the church forgets her purpose, it’s a travesty. 

Because what is at stake is no longer just a funny story, but the eternal destinies of the people of this generation.

Aug 23, 2011

Vacation Adventures of the Kim Family - Part 2

Hanging out at Starbucks in Leavenworth
Home sweet home!

There really is no place like home.

We just returned from the second part of our vacation.

After spending a few days on the Oregon Coast, we spent a day in Leavenworth, WA (a lovely Bavarian town nestled in the Cascade Mountains).

Town of Leavenworth, WA
After spending the day in Leavenworth, we made our way up to Vancouver, Canada. This was the first time our kids have been out of the country, and this was our first time back to Vancouver since our honeymoon 17 years ago. We were all excited to experience Canada.

Leavenworth was a lovely spot, but we would have preferred being up there in the winter with the mountains covered in snow.

We spent the next few days in Vancouver, Canada.

Vancouver has changed greatly since the last time Helen and I visited. Here are some impressions from our time in Vancouver.

  • The city is gorgeous and the downtown area is stunning. There are few others cities that are as beautiful as Vancouver.
  • The city in incredibly diverse. It was not uncommon to hear at least four to five different languages being spoken all at once. 
  • Vancouver doesn't need a China Town. The entire city is China Town!
  • The traffic was crazy. The city has grown faster than the infrastructure can keep up. 

Aug 19, 2011

Vacation Adventures of the Kim Family - Part 1

The Kim's have been on vacation.

Thus far, it has been the best family vacation of all time!!!

We have spent the last several days at Rockaway Beach, OR in the Central Coast of Oregon. It is sooooooo beautiful there. We have spent long days at the beach flying a kite, playing in the sand, watching the waves, seeing the sun set. It has been so relaxing.

Rockaway Beach is a sleepy little town between Cannon Beach and Tillamook, Oregon.

We loved it here because there's nothing here except for a few shops and lots and lots of beaches.

We hung out mostly at a beach that's called Twin Rocks. With the exception of a dozen or so other residents and vacationers, we had the entire expanse of the beach to ourselves. It was so peaceful.

The only thing that took a little adjustment was that even though it was mid August, we had to wear our jackets and sweatshirts because it was in the mid 60's most of the time. But the sun was out and the beaches were amazingly beautiful and the winds made it perfect for flying a kite.

Aug 10, 2011

How About Strategic Praying and Discerning Instead of Strategic Planning?

We Presbyterian types like to plan things. We like plans. We like to know where we are headed. We like to shape our own future.

That's what Presbyterians do.

For the most part, this used to work for a good part of recent history. Five year, ten year strategic plans were the smart things to do. How else could we expect to get some place without planning?

This used to work for a good chunk of time.

But it doesn't any more. The world has changed. The assumptions and rules by which we could fairly accurately predict the future no longer work in this rapidly changing world.

Aug 5, 2011

When Does Diversity Become So Diverse it Becomes Departure?

Polity, by its very nature, can only reflect and mirror a church's theology.

Therefore, if a church's theology or confessions are confused, that church's polity will reflect that confusion. 

One of the main problems with the homosexual ordination debate in the life of the PC(USA) has been that we have been trying to fix a theological ambiguity (i.e. understanding of ordination and sexuality), through polity measures.

Until the PC(USA) can confess clearly her understanding of what she believes about ordination, human sexuality, biblical interpretation, Christology, etc., our polity will continue to reflect both the ambiguity and confusion of our theology.

Aug 3, 2011

That's My Final Answer...

There was a time when news like this (Anderson Cleared for Ordination) used to pain me, bother me, disturb me.

There was a time when I didn't understand how a church that professes to love and honor Jesus and his teaching could approve of something that the Bible so clearly calls sin.

Sadly, when I come across news like this now, it no longer surprises me. It no longer hurts me.

The day when I used to believe that the denomination represents me, speaks for me are long gone. Decisions like this (More Light Presbyterians - "Today We are Through with Judging and Open to Love") of the PC(USA) clearly demonstrate that either I am totally out of touch with the national church, or that the national church has so departed from historical orthodox faith that it no longer even resembles the church I once loved.

Aug 2, 2011

Role of Councils - new Form of Government

As many of you know, the new Form of Government is now in effect for the life of the PC(USA). One of the changes in the nFoG is that governing bodies are now called councils.

What is the difference between the governing bodies and councils?

Simply put, governing bodies decide where as councils discern. While the difference may seem subtle, the implications are huge.

The lens through which sessions, presbyteries, synods, and General Assemblies primarily saw themselves is as governing bodies. That is, bodies that are elected to decide things about the life of the church. While the decision making process is certainly necessary, that is not the only nor the main reason why God sets elders (both ruling and teaching elders) apart for the work of the church.

In primarily looking at ourselves as governing bodies, we have lost the element of listening and discerning the direction of the Holy Spirit.