More on the Presbyterian Establishment

I just finished watching the Modcast, the webcast which Bruce Reyes-Chow did today in conversation with Beau Weston about the “Rebuilding the Presbyterian Establishment” paper.  (See previous posts here and here.)   I was grateful that Bruce and Beau took the time to discuss this, and excited to see the voices of so many friends in the forum.  I’m thankful that Beau wrote the paper and see where he’s coming from, but still think the paper is incomplete.  If the church is called to give itself for the sake of mission, it needs people with missionary mindsets leading the denomination.  Tall-steeple pastors may have the organizational strengths necessary to run the bureaucracy of our denomination, but the missing piece in the paper is the missional vision. 

At the Presbyterian Global Fellowship conference in Long Beach last August, Charles Wiley commented to me that PGF is the only example in recent history of tall-steeple pastors taking leadership in the PC(USA).  He’s right.  But they’re tall-steeple pastors who are starting to think more like missionaries.  Functionally, a leader should not just maintain structures or enable processes to run smoothly.  A leader should be able to cast vision, and in the case of any church, that vision has to be about making disciples.  In our context, that means the “tall-steeple” style pastors whom the paper suggests should lead the denomination need to be capable of thinking beyond maintenance towards growing the Kingdom of God.  Add that to the paper and then I think some of its ideas have serious potential.

Again, thanks Bruce and Beau for putting that together!

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5 comments
  1. Great response Chris! Good to see you at the Modcast. It was my first and although I hated the fact that it skipped a bunch, I was able to follow pretty well. I am with you and probably would go even further in saying that Weston seems to be saying “Maintenance” is the purpose of the church which means his entire premise fundamentally flawed. I do like his ideas about smaller presbyteries and state synods that meet only when they need to but only so far as they serve the Missio Dei. What we need is a paper that takes the Missio Dei as the starting point and works forward. And no I did not just volunteer!

    However, I might be up for establishing a wiki online that several of us who are missionally minded might be able to contribute to with the goal being an alternative response to Weston…what do you think? I am not web-savvy enough to know how to set one up but would love to be a part of something like that…

  2. Chris Brown said:

    Thanks Doug. I think you’re right, and your post on the purpose of the church articulated this well. As for establishing a wiki, I don’t have the skills to do that. It would be great to have a place for constructive conversation about it though . . .

  3. Thanks all for taking this up. I think a wiki with a little focus would be a GREAT idea. Unless we are giving up on ANY national structure, what DOES a helpful national body look like in a new “Presbyterianness”? Is it time for the conversation to land somewhere at least for a bit?

  4. Chris Brown said:

    Yeah, the conversation should definitely land somewhere where it can be focused on constructive commentary. If you want to set up a wiki, go for it, but we should also think about what medium is most effective for this. A wiki will attract primarily the same crowd that comments on Presbymergent and who participated in the webcast. Is there another format that would be more accessible for less tech-savy but equally missionally-minded Presbyterians?

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