Who We Are
We, the members of the First Presbyterian Church of Monroe, NY, are a congregation of people who both trust and strive to obey Jesus Christ. As such, we are part of the body of Christ that carries on His mission today.
We, the members of First Presbyterian Church of Monroe, as members of the one body of Christ, intend to:
Originally published in May 2005 in Perspectives - An online publication of the Office of the General Assembly, PCUSA, by Jay Hudson, under the title "Dad, Cherry Pie and Toyotas". It can be viewed at:
http://www.pcusa.org/oga/perspectives/may05/dad.htm. Perspectives offers an exploration of issues facing the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its witness in society through reflective and provocative analysis of our life together as a denomination, and the lenses of Scripture, Reformed theology, cultures, and a constitutional and confessional framework.
We in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are called to mission today in a post-modern world. Interest is growing on becoming crystal clear about our faith in Christ, and focusing on our foundational documents and core values as a covenant community before entering this 21st-century world in mission.
In actuality, we may not have time to focus inwardly before responding to the world around us. When we turn inward, the world calls to us saying, “Get over it, get a life, just do it!” Bottom line: we will never think our way into a new way of living. We are much more likely to live our way into a new way of thinking.
The post-modern world does not provide the luxury of gaining clarity first. Several years ago, I was privileged to be the co-convener of a forum of synod executives. At almost every meeting, one of the executives would ask a question about group norms. One among us was always able to pull out a copy of the most recent set of norms to discover whether or not our behavior was within the prescribed standards. At one meeting, when the inevitable question came up and no one could find the norms, it was suggested that we appoint one of our members to observe our behavior throughout the meeting and to write up the norms as we had lived them, rather than writing some more perfect document.
People in the post-modern world do not want to know about an idealized faith. Rather, they want to experience the love, power, and presence of God and to be welcomed into a community of disciples who are on a spiritual journey. It is true that Presbyterians are people of the printed word. We have high regard for Scripture, confessions of faith, and the Book of Order with its discipline and worship. The post-modern world is not looking for more precise definitions of our words. The world is seeking relationship with the incarnate Word.
Many would suggest that the world today is as different from the world of the twentieth century as Oz is from Kansas. In seeking a foundational mission statement for the church in the post-modern world, I question the value of looking backward to the Great Ends of the church (Book of Order, G-1.0200). It is all too easy to choose a statement that worked for our forefathers and foremothers without taking the time to articulate a mission statement in contemporary language for this time and place.
I believe the Great Ends of the church should be viewed as a time-bound statement of mission anchored in the early decades of the twentieth century. It feels like questioning mom, apple pie, and Chevrolet to suggest there might be something wrong with the Great Ends. However, many of us prefer dad, eat cherry pie, and drive Toyotas.
If we must use this dated document as the mission statement for our church, we should at least rewrite the words to be meaningful to the post-modern world. I have taken the liberty to suggest new language in Six Core Values for the church.
|The Great Ends of the Church||Six Core Values for the Church|
|The proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of human kind.||Affirming the power of the gospel to take root in all cultures.|
|The shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God.||Welcoming children into healthy faith communities.|
|The maintenance of divine worship.||Providing opportunities to experience the presence of God and to praise God.|
|The preservation of the truth.||Discovering wisdom in a global context.|
|The promotion of social righteousness.||Working for justice for all people.|
|The exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the World.||Living with integrity in a complex world.|
The six Great Ends were written for a church that lived in a culture where most of its citizens believed the United States was a Christian nation. Today, Christians have been disestablished. Therefore, we must approach the world with humility. My point is not to offer the precise language of a new mission statement. I want to encourage the community of faith to develop a mission statement that grows out of our own experience and is written in language meaningful to the world we seek to serve for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Just do it!