The work of Re-Forming Ministry: focus on the church
We live in a time of uncertainty for the church. The church’s place in our culture is shifting. Our cherished view of ourselves standing in a central place in country and culture has largely run aground.
The church is being challenged in a world which often seems inoculated to the church and its message. The message of the gospel needs to be spoken and embodied in new ways — tuned to cultural resistances and able to speak through them.
The church also struggles within, seeking ways forward.
Without significant clarity about who and whose we are, about what that means for how we walk together the way of Jesus Christ, we are unable to overcome the attraction of passing ecclesial fads and the siren call of faith in techniques and procedures. We will only be able to achieve such clarity as we think the faith together in and for this time and place.
Re-Forming Ministry groups and their members are engaged in discussion of just such matters, seeking insight from Scripture, from the tradition (and particularly the Reformed tradition), from brothers and sisters around the world and across the denomination.
The following links take you to work that will share elements of the conversation that has begun in the Re-Forming Ministry program. We invite you to read these materials and to engage them.
Seeds for an ongoing conversation
Occasional Paper Series
Re-Forming Ministry publishes a series of Occasional Papers that emerge from the work of the program. This series is one of three series of occasional papers published by the Office of Theology and Worship. None of these occasional papers is a Presbyterian policy statement, but rather an encouragement for reflection and conversation. Read occasional papers.
Papers and Presentations
Various Re-Forming Ministry groups have produced a variety of papers, essays and reflections during their time together. This work is offered as a means to engage others in the continuing conversation and reflection of Re-Forming Ministry. Find related papers and presentations.
Envisioning the nature of the church
We do have understandings of the nature of the church — we wouldn’t be doing all the things we do without some understanding of what the church is and what it is called to be. And yet often those understandings are implicit and unexamined. New insight can lead to new understanding of who, whose and where we are.
Assessing the challenges
While we all know that the church and our denomination face significant challenges, we are not always clear about the specific shape of those challenges. Working toward strong diagnosis will help us in our efforts to respond well to the challenges we face.
The Presbyterian way
Presbyterianism is a specific way of being the church. It survives and carries us forward because it has great strengths to match its weaknesses. To probe the Presbyterian way is to weigh the tools we have closest at hand for fashioning a faithful shared life in this moment. Sometimes we are simply failing to live what is best in the Presbyterian way, and need to be called back. Sometimes we need to recover tools our heritage offers which we had ignored or lost. Sometimes we need new tools, or new forms of old tools.