Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Validated Ministry?

I know a Teaching Elder who pastors a worshiping community of 50. This community has an outreach which connects with another 100. Some of these participate in the community's worship, education, or service each week. The community routinely witnesses to the world and shares the Gospel with an intensity which is the envy of the Presbytery's Evangelism Committee. Or would be the envy if the Evangelism Committee recognized their existence.

But this worshiping community is not recognized by their presbytery. Their Teaching Elder is not recognized as a Pastor by the Presbytery. In fact, she has to fill out forms so that the Presbytery can VALIDATE her ministrations for the next year. The Presbytery annually reviews the administration of the worshiping communities they call "local congregations", while they ignore the active, faithful, worshiping community on campus.

This current generation of college students is much more interested in koinonia and experiencing the grandeur and Grace of God than in denominational posturing. This generation is more interested in doing than joining, so traditional notions of church membership don't seem appealing.

Is it too much to hope that the Presbyteries will see that they have some responsibility as well as investment in students within the bounds of the Presbytery as adult members who no longer worship with their congregations of origin?

The recent idea of the denomination starting "1001 new worshiping communities in the next ten years" is a start, because it recognizes that "church" (white clapboard, steeple, and well-scrubbed Waltons) is not reflective of this century, and "worshiping communities" are really what the denomination wants to encourage and grow.

So how about encouraging the formation of new and the supporting of existing worshiping communities on our campuses?