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.

Why do I say that?

Because the reality is that the churches in America will die if we stay denominationally isolated. We will continue the slow death march into irrelevance.

  • In a world that doesn't know who Jesus is, I don't think that the unchurched people give a rip whether some churches sprinkle, pour, or dunk people in water in baptism. 
  • To the unchurched folks out there, I don't think they care about the nuances of the different liturgical traditions.
  • To most folks out in the unchurched world, what they really know is, "Is this Jesus thing for real? Is there any truth to this Christianity thing? Does it make any difference?"
And until our churches get beyond protecting and preserving our denominational identities and think more about how we can together proclaim and demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ in a way that is compelling and relevant to the unchurched world, we will continue to dwindle and die in isolation. 

The church of my children and grand-children's generation, will have figured out and discerned new ways of relating and cooperating to proclaim the crucified Jesus.

I long for a day when churches will think more about how much impact Jesus can make in our communities if we were to work together by putting God's resources to work for the kingdom of Jesus Christ rather than only thinking about how can we grow "my" church. 

It's not that the PC(USA) is deathly ill, it's that denominations as a whole is dying.


Lee Wyatt said...

Right on, James! And it's not just denominations, IMHO, the whole institutional form and structure of church has we have known it is dying and needs resurrection into more and smaller linear, relational, and responsive communities.

James Kim said...

I agree Lee. It's institutionalism as we have known it that is coming to an end.