How does a PRESBYTERY relate the faith to their relationship with the congregations in the presbytery? If both the presbytery and the congregations are on a shared spiritual journey and they accept that they are saved by grace and not by works, how do they grow in the context of their own imperfections? Recalling the biblical image of how God continuously worked through an imperfect people and imperfect leaders, what do we learn about how to respond as a congregation.
A SIMPLE EXERCISE
At a gathering of the presbytery, invite participants to take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center. One the left side, make ten statements that would describe the ministry of a perfect presbytery. Go ahead and exaggerate. It’s OK.
On the right side, make ten statements that describe activities of perfect congregations where they all behaved in a perfect manner in their ministry and their relationship to other churches and the presbytery.
Then compose a mutual list on newsprint of at least 10 ways that each would behave if they were perfect.
On the reverse side of the paper, invite people to share five statements describing how God can work through an imperfect presbytery and congregations to demonstrate the effectiveness of God’s grace in the society.
Identify at least ten ways that God’s grace can be made evident in our ministry together as a presbytery.
Share the results of your work and note the most consistent similarities.
Conclude with praying an adaption of psalm 23 in which everyone inserts the presbytery name in the blank spaces:
I will use my presbytery, Salem Presbytery as an example.
Psalm 23 (adapted)
23:1 The LORD is (Salem Presbyter’s) shepherd, (Salem Presbytery) shall not want.
2 He makes (Salem Presbytery) lie down in green pastures; he leads (Salem Presbytery) beside still waters;
3 He restores (Salem Presbytery’s) soul. He leads (Salem Presbytery) in right paths for his name’s sake.
4 Even though (Salem Presbytery) walk(s) through the darkest valley, (Salem Presbytery) fear(s) no evil; for you are with (Salem Presbytery); your rod and your staff– they comfort (Salem Presbytery).
5 You prepare a table before (Salem Presbytery) in the presence of (Salem Presbytery’s) enemies; you anoint (Salem Presbytery’s) head with oil; (Salem Presbytery’s) cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow (Salem Presbytery) all the days of (Salem Presbytery’s) life, and (Salem Presbytery) shall dwell in the house of the LORD (Salem Presbytery’s) whole life long.
May it be so for all our presbyteries.