Wednesday, August 22, 2007

PGF--Conclusion and Reflections

Saturday, the Houston Chronicle's Saturday Religion Section had notices from several Presbyterian churches about guest preachers who were speakers at the PGF conference. Michael Frost, the founding director of the Centre for Evangelism and Global Mission at Mowling Theological College in Sydney Australia was the guest speaker at my church on Sunday.

Last year when the PGF had its first conference, many people wondered what this group was really all about. Its leadership is predominately from the evangelical, conservative wing of the PCUSA so there was speculation that, like the New Wineskins proved to be, it was a "stalking horse" of sorts for the formation of a splinter group or denomination. In the context of church politics after the GA of 2006, that concern was understandable.

What then is the PGF all about? Michael Frost stated it explicitly in his sermon on Sunday:
Just as God reveals Himself through Jesus as the sent and serving God, His Son and Spirit sends us into the lives and needs of others. We need to abandon the church attitude of "come to us and see Jesus" for going into the world to represent Jesus and to invite others to be disciples. The issue is about the stance we adopt to the world around us.

The purpose of the PGF seems to be like that of the plowman, who dangles the goad in front of the ox so that it will keep dragging the plow through the earth. (Not my metaphor, I'm borrowing it from Michael Frost.) PGF is trying to encourage and empower individuals and congregations to represent Jesus in the world and invite others to be disciples.

The evidence of the last few decades should be enough to convince anyone that churches that take the "come and see" stance are not likely to be around a few decades from now. We need to find, in the words of Paul, "a yet more excellent way." That's what I think the Presbyterian Global Fellowship is trying to be about. Checkout their website here and the PGF blog The Outbox, here and see what you think.

Friends, I've been as guilty as anyone for spending more time, energy, thought and prayer on the PresbyPolity wars than on the Great Commission. Isn't it high time that we change our priorities and lay down our verbal swords and legally-drafted shields for a while?


robert austell said...

This is indeed a good definition of being the "missional church."

However, as I responded to Michael Frost previously on the PGF site, Jesus' "sent-ness" is not the only revelation or reality in scripture. God is worthy of our worship, adoration, praise, obedience, and service. Worship and mission are integrally related. Jesus, sent into the world, nonetheless had regular times to retreat, be alone, pray, and worship.

The missional church movement IS a needed response to country-club church and narcissistic Christianity. But, as needed as that pendulum swing is, my prayer is that it not swing us away from a biblical and vital worship relationship with God.

In Christ,

Robert Austell
Charlotte, NC

I linked your post here:

Gannet Girl said...

Yes, it's time.

But as long as there are those who refuse to engage in mission or the worship relationship with God referenced above with, or honor the leadership of, others with whom they have fundamental disagreements, because they see those areas of disagreement as going to the very foundation of our mututal faith, how are we going to change our priority to the care of Christ for the world?

Presbyterian Gal said...

"Isn't it high time that we change our priorities and lay down our verbal swords and legally-drafted shields for a while?"

Oh yes, please.

I second Robert's comment about equal time for prayer and worship....about other things than polity.

Final point...What a miracle and blessing it would be if local churches started sending members out to the most "politically incorrect", unpopular, sometimes dangerous neighborhoods in our cities and towns and invited people living there to church. Even offer rides. Better yet, send a bus down to bring people in. And have a pot luck supper after.

We need pot luck supper revivals.

Recovering Baptist said...

You mean be like Jesus and sit and eat with the sinners? That'll sure get the "only fellowship with people like me" (sadducees) crowd mad. On second thoughts, it might allow them to meet the people they fear and they might like them!

Amen to the idea we concentrate on the Great Commission.