The question has been raised as to what will be different, what are the consequences for First Presbyterian Church if we join the Fellowship of Presbyterians? Here is the fallout as I see it.
If we take this seriously, including the questions asked of us as a congregation below, we are no longer allowed to come and finish our God responsibility on Sunday morning. It won’t be enough to come and sit and the pew and pay attention. It won’t be enough to preach the sermon and consider the people fed and ministered to. It won’t be enough to serve on the session or teach a Sunday school class.
If we ask these questions of ourselves and not just the church, we will not be able to sit still. This does not mean that everyone will have to go to Joplin, New Orleans, or Reynosa. It does mean that each one seeks God’s place for him/her in the vision and ministry of FPC. It does mean that the session cannot just vote on the color of the carpet or approve a new AC unit or support a missionary or a mission trip. It means the session as a whole must develop a vision for FPC and guide that vision in its formation, activation, and implementation. It means the session must be intimately involved in the recruitment, equipping, training, and encouragement of the saints of God here in FPC. It is a vision that will not stop or end, for the kingdom of God does not stop or end.
We commit ourselves not just to the six tenets of the covenant. We also commit ourselves to transparent accountability with the questions below. I think it is the way the Scripture calls us to encourage one another. This will not be achieved by rules and punishments for failure. It will be achieved by leadership in effort and grace in weakness.
1. How has the Holy Spirit been evident in your congregation in the past year; through conversions, growth in the fruit of the Spirit, or other transformational experiences that make disciples of Jesus Christ?
2. How has your congregation extended itself beyond its bounds through the establishment of new communities of worship and discipleship, expanding the Kingdom of God?
3. In what ways is your congregation seeking the welfare of the community to which you have been called; devoting itself to the poor, seeking justice, and living out the whole of the Great Commission?
4. How are you encouraging people to allow God’s Word to shape their priorities and actions, and to nurture constant learning and the life of the mind?
5. How are you helping children and others new to the Christian faith to discover Jesus and grow in their understanding and love of God’s Word?
6. Describe the moral expression in your congregation – are you more like the world or more like participants in the values of the Kingdom of God?
7. How is your congregation intentionally unleashing the ministries of women, men, and people of different ethnic groups who are experiencing God’s call?
8. How is the idea of ministry as the joy and calling of every disciple evident in your congregation? How are you equipping people to represent Jesus more effectively in their respective professions?
9. Illustrate the commitment of your congregation to global evangelism and discipleship, including examples of where you are engaging and with whom you are partnering.
10. How does your congregation understand commitment to the larger church through our connectional relationships within the Body of Christ?