Change is happening in every nook and cranny of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), from the General Assembly, to presbyteries and synods, to local congregations. We're re-tooling the way we do ministry -- because we're realizing that the styles of doing ministry that worked 50 years ago don't work so well in the 21st century. In Phyllis Tickle's terms, we're having a rummage sale and clearing out our attic.
Change can be both exciting and anxiety-producing. It's exciting to try new ways of being the church. It's invigorating to throw out all that old, shop-worn clutter in the attic. But it's always hard to figure out what's clutter and what's a revered treasure that needs to be saved.
And what happens if the weeding out of the clutter in the attic is done only by one person in the family, without consulting anybody else? Probably something gets saved that shouldn't be; and something else gets thrown out that's valuable and necessary. Everybody is upset. Somebody goes away mad.
One reason why I hate to see those who are involved with the Fellowship start talking about creating a new reformed body is that we can effectively weed out our attic only if everybody -- everyone in the big tent that makes up the PC (USA) -- helps in the weeding process. If only a segment of the church decides what gets thrown out, and what gets retained, then our attic will remain cluttered, our retooling will not work, and we will not be able to effectively proclaim the Gospel. And the Fellowship, it seems to me, will have the same problem -- it too will let go of things it shouldn't, and retain things that should be discarded, because the entire family didn't participate in the weeding out process. We'll end up with two attics, each filled with clutter that shouldn't be there -- clutter that will impede how we do ministry.
We all helped create the clutter in the PC (USA) attic. Let's all help as we clean out that attic and find new ways of being the church in the 21st century.