Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Welcoming the sinner: worshiping communities

My last posting, $1.6M set aside-but is it God's gift or our sin is about Sacramento Presbytery attempting to use money taken from two evangelical churches to finance some of the 1001 worshiping communities the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is working toward. Because of the progressive leadership in my presbytery and progressive outsiders offering friends to fill out applications, there is a strong possibility that the money taken from evangelicals will be used to finance progressive communities.  

It was because of a tweet I read in July during the General Assembly that I begin to understand that the movement to grow new worshiping communities presented a great temptation to those who love all things progressive.

I saw a comment made by Brian Ellison the new executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, an organization which advocates for the ordination of LGBTs and same gender marriage. During the 220 General Assembly, he tweeted, “Am I the only one who sees the opportunity for a link between growing worshiping communities and, oh, welcoming LGBT people?”

But in this posting I want to say a little bit about real worshiping communities. They would not only welcome LGBT people they would welcome all sinners: the greedy, the thief, the murderer, those who sass their parents and those who yell at their children, those who commit adultery and yes those who are attracted to same gender sex. They would welcome them with the truth of God’s holiness, compassion and love.

There can be no lasting communities, small or large, growing in maturity and knowledge, without the pure word of God being proclaimed to the people who come. It doesn't matter what the music and programs are like—it matters that the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is proclaimed.

It matters that the Christians who are a part of the communities know only Christ and him crucified. The cross must be the center. Not as a mere model of self sacrifice, but as God’s ultimate act in the midst of a lost and broken world. Jesus died for our sins, therefore we worship. Jesus rose from the dead therefore we praise God. Christ forgives and transforms our lives therefore we reach out to those in need.

A redeemed people are a gathered people who worship. And because of their redemption, and their worship, the Holy Spirit working through them begins to draw others to Jesus. 


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this Viola. A continuing challenge for the church is to be welcoming of sinners. Churches either veer in the direction of covering up sins (meaning people can't feel safe in sharing their genuine struggles for fear of being judged and rejected) or of affirming sin by redefining it.

John Erthein
DeFuniak Springs, FL

Anonymous said...

Whenever there is money to be allocated, some will make sure that it heads their way. Years back when GA passed a resolution about evangelism, money got found in the budget supposedly to do evangelism.

But what happened is that every other kind of endeavor suddenly got labeled evangelism, as the pigs lined up at the evangelism trough to gorge themselves. The worst example is that the Re-imagining event from about 20 years ago was partially funded through special evangelism funds. Very little real evangelism took place from those funds, but all kind of other things got done because they were called evangelism.

So now the buzz and funding is for "worshipping communities." Notice that it is not "congregations." That would be too passe, too restrictive. When it is "worshipping communities," then just about anything can qualify. And in this era, you can bet that many things that eventually get subsidized as "worshipping communities" will somehow espouse gay liberation causes--or other liberal hobbyhorses, such as what they would term justice or diversity.

Jim Berkley
Roslyn, WA

Viola Larson said...

I'm very bothered by the fact that church is left out of the equation. There is no mention of anything that gives these communities a real biblical foundation, instead the emphasis is on being different.

I will say I looked at some of the communities and they seemed fine, others did not.