When it comes to conversations about church, most of us imagine sitting around a table and engaging face-to-face. Maybe it’s in a church basement, conference center, coffee shop, or a local bar. But lately Presbyterians have been gathering for a weekly conversation around their phones or computers, using Twitter and a common hashtag.
Who could be more vulnerable than a young girl in first-century Palestine, unmarried, and told that she is soon to be the mother of the Son of God? Who could feel more helpless than a young man who discovers that his soon-to-be wife has been made pregnant through the Holy Spirit?
Reconciliation is at the heart of Christian faith. It is arguably the most radical and transforming work done by God and practiced in our own lives. In 2 Corinthians 5:19 the apostle Paul teaches us that through Christ, God was “reconciling the world to himself” and calls us to a ministry of reconciliation with each other. But what does reconciliation mean? Does it mean we forgive and forget? Or convince others that we are right?
St. John’s Presbyterian Church in San Francisco wanted to grow. So it hired the Rev. Theresa Cho as an associate pastor with the idea that her presence would help attract young Chinese families who were settling in the neighborhood. After three years, however, growth hadn’t happened in the way some people expected.
As an adviser for the Unglued Church, a program in Pittsburgh Presbytery for help with church change, I encounter a lot of churches at the end of their rope. It’s a time in a church’s life when it’s important to emphasize the importance of thinking beyond survival, and how the congregation might imagine leaving a legacy for God’s ministry and mission.