As I continue to reflect on President Bechtel's address, a few things have arisen for me. Here's what I agree with:
- Worship must be central.
- We need to talk about baptism, and pay attention to the rise in adult baptism, the question of dedication, the interaction of missional engagement with infant baptism, the future of the denomination if we pay more attention to infant baptism than to new believers and their baptisms, etc.
- Evaluation and accountability to ministry preparation is highly important
Many of these issues have become issues because of the expansive work of many within the church. Many dedications are happening (as well as adult baptisms) in areas where the lost are being found by our Lord. The question of worship is raised because we have become more missional and externally focused. Some of the issues with commissioned pastors has arisen because churches and classes are finding more creative ways to raise up, release, and empower leaders who are - many of them - already involved in ministry and seeing a harvest. (Granted in some areas the CP process has not been taken as seriously as it needs to be.) My greatest issue here is that the President's address seemed to be a direct hit on portions of our denomination that are seeking a high missional and evangelical engagement with the surrounding culture and are responding to them in ways that are both creative and expansive. Is it really our hope to pull back on areas in which we are growing and expanding? Or are we seeking to find ways to respond to God's Spirit that continue to be faithful and fruitfu? If the latter, then let's pay attention and review these things with an eye to growth, expansion, and ongoing missional engagement that is at the same time faithful, biblical, kingdom oriented, and reformed.
Lastly, with all the talk on unity, the President's address felt divisive to me with particular shots taken toward California. Did I misread that?
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