PGF is a tribe within the PC(USA) family. Why do we need a tribe, or what some people inaccurately assume is another renewal organization? The fact is the denomination is shrinking at an alarming rate. Presbyterian Global Fellowship began to explore the core mission of our church, in other words what binds us together? Unfortunately, governing bodies seem to be the answer for most.
We boldly believe that we can be bound together by a clear vision for how God is calling us to further his kingdom in the world . Missional churches have a mission statement that puts being sent as its only reason for being. And everything a missional church does - worship, spiritual formation, fellowship - is for the purpose of training and equipping its people to go out. To serve the world. To focus on God's ongoing mission of relief and deliverance in the world.
But having a clear and compelling mission isn't enough to bind us together.
I recently taught on Esther and was struck by Mordecai's words to Esther when she is pondering whether or not to approach her. He says, Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish.
We have the same question before us. God's mission will prevail. Relief and deliverance will come for God's people. Just because we are in mainline churches does not mean we will escape the death of our church, anymore than Esther being queen guaranteed her escape from death. No, it is either join God's mission or perish. Period.
If we are going to get on with God's mission of relief and deliverance for his people, then we have to put it at the core of our being. And then we have to define the values that will shape us.And this is where I see the real crux of the matter. Because as Aubrey Malphus says, "You won't do ministry that really matters until you define what matters." (Church Unique by Will Mancini).
We are failing to thrive as a connected congregation because we have different values. PGF has articulated our missional motives, which are the shared convictions that guide where we put our effort and energy. They express our most deeply held ideals.
When people say that being Presbyterian binds us together because of history, doctrine, or polity, they are correct. But if we cannot agree on missional motives - our values - then there is not hope of moving forward together. I do not mean that as pessimistic, dark, or foreboding. It is just a fact of human organization.
Our fellowship shares the following values. We can share being Presbyterian with his history, doctrine, and polity by proclaiming and agreeing on these values. This is our tribe. These are the values that define what is most important to us as a fellowship. So if you want to know why PGF affiliates do what they do, it is because they are shaped by these values:
Demonstrated by a steadfast commitment to Jesus as the living and reigning Lord of all life and the only true hope for the world.
We confess that we have neglected the source of all life and have chased other gods. This idolatry is particularly apparent in our context with regard to issues of wealth, poverty and power.
Demonstrated by a conviction that Christ calls us not primarily for our own benefit but for the sake of others.
We confess that we have become distracted from our primary calling of discipleship and love of neighbor.
Demonstrated by a loyalty to Scripture as God’s unique and authoritative message of salvation and as our guide for daily living.
We confess that we have created standards of convenience instead of remaining true to God’s Word. This moral confusion is evident in our context with regard to the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman as God’s desire for human sexuality.
Demonstrated by our commitment to use relational networks and new technologies to build vital relationships with the global church.
We confess our tendency to trust in our own culture and to confuse it with the gospel. We acknowledge our need for global partners, for their support, admonition and example as we seek to be congregations that display the unity of the Church and “lead lives worthy of the calling with which we have been called.”
Demonstrated by the reality that the local movement of the church is still God’s primary means of justice, mercy and love in the world.
We confess that our churches have become less effective in our local communities and we pray that God will enable us to find strength and courage for Christ’s plan of redemption.
These are the shared values of our tribe. There are many other tribes of Presbyterians with very different values. And people with shared values should gather together. Not for the purpose of trying to convince people that one set of values is superior to another, but to get on with ministry. Shaping values cannot possible be done by vote, overture, bylaw, or policy. No one's deepest convictions come from mandate. Rather, our values come from relationships, both with Jesus and with others (both people who believe in Jesus and those who do not).
The PGF tribe shares these missional motives. And with these shared values, PGF people are laser focused on figuring out what it means for our mainline congregations to focus on God's mission of relief and deliverance for his people, or we will perish.