(The PCA needs to) provide safe places to talk about new ideas to advance the PCA’s faithfulness to biblical belief... (The PCA needs) more seats at the table; especially younger generation, women, ethnic leaders, global church representatives... e.g. advisory voice on committees, (S)essions, Boards, speaking at gatherings, consulted by presbyteries; employed in non-ordained ministries.
-Strategic Plan for the PCA
(Tim) I've been sent a number of links to discussions of the Strategic Plan for the PCA and I think it's time we do what is necessary to provide for the work of the Stated Clerk and the Office of the General Assembly in a way that relieves them of the indignity of begging for our support. The men and women who serve in these areas are essential to our well-being as a denomination and, in my experience, carry out their duties faithfully and with real wisdom. If it requires a change in the amount or method of payment to attend General Assembly to fund these works faithfully, let's do it.
However, there's no need for all the philosophical and sociological and political and metaphysical and ontological accretions and gnashing of teeth being tacked on as riders to the bill. Fund the OGA well and stop at that. All the rest of what's known as the Strategic Plan is simply jeopardizing this one thing we should all agree is necessary...
With almost perfect consistency, denominations decay in the fear of God and obedience to His Word, and it's the denomination's national structures--their church planting organization, in-house magazine, in-house Christian education publishing arm, in-house college, and in-house seminary that lead that decay. Take the Christian Reformed Church, for instance: anyone who watched its demise through the eighties and nineties had their attention riveted on tthe denomination's magazine, The Banner, and their college and seminary, Calvin College and Calvin Seminary.
Rather than pour a little less than half a million dollars into our denominational magazine each year, let's have the faith to cut byFaith loose and let it stand on its own. If it serves a legitimate need, its subscribers will pay for it. But what I've seen of its editorial direction has convinced me it's superfluous. (See David's post, "I should pay to be browbeaten?") Let's take a similar approach with Covenant College and Covenant Seminary. If they're serving a legitimate need, they'll have students who will support them. Meanwhile, there's no reason to give them a leg up on their excellent competitors.
Covenant Seminary is no better at training shepherds for our congregations than Reformed Jackson, Reformed Evangelical in Toledo, Greenville, ClearNote Bloomington, Westminster Philly, or New Geneva Colorado Springs.
With fast food joints, car manufacturers, cemeteries, cell phones, colleges, and seminaries, competition is good. Let's discipline Covenant College and Covenant Seminary to compete on a level playing field and may the best man win. If Hillsdale or Grove City or King's or Geneva or New St. Andrews are more trusted by parents, so be it. There are no perks to having in-house educational institutions sufficient to justify the conflict inevitably approaching. There's a moral to the story of the nasty battles being waged in our sister denomination, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, over Erskine College and Seminary right now.
Follow the trajectory: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oberlin, Wheaton, Calvin, Erskine, Covenant... We'd do well to let the free market carry out the discipline. Otherwise, put your ear to the ground and you'll hear the hoof-beats of General Assembly battles over boards of trustees approaching.
Similarly with our in-house Christian education and church planting organizations. We have lots of publishers across the country and world, many of whom are quite sympathetic or committed to the Reformed faith. Plus, publishing has changed. Any church or presbytery can easily publish their own curriculum now, at an entirely affordable rate, offering their work to every other church and presbytery of the PCA with the click of a trackpad. Again, let competition do the work of disciplining heterodoxy and namby-pambiness.
Churches and presbyteries know their men and locations best. Let's return church planting to presbyteries and churches where accountability is most knowledgeable and present and effective.
Here's a really strategic plan: let's see to the permanent and generous funding of the work of our Stated Clerk and Office of General Assembly, and at the same time, take concrete steps to pare back the rest of our denominational apparatus.
As for all the verbiage about "safe places" to talk, empowering women, and the top-down promotion of diversity, are we really so obtuse as to think these are the things that pave the rainbow trail to better numbers? Can anyone in their right mind think adopting this agenda lifted straight from the editorial pages of the New York Times is the meaning of ecclesia semper reformanda today?
No, but rather, let every pastor and elder and Titus 2 woman renew our obedience to this clear duty: "These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you" (Titus 2:15).
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