NAMING THE TENSIONS
Since we cannot exist without leaving an impression on the community around us, we need to be intentional about about the impressions we seek to leave.
Begin by creating a list of five to ten reason why some churches may feel that they are in tension with the denomination of which they are a part. You may not agree with some of their conclusions, but you recognize that they feel these tensions.
Now, looking at the list, describe what are some of the worst consequences for a church if they stayed a part of the denomination and continued to feel these differences.
Then explore what might be some of the positive impressions created for society if they both acknowledged some of the differences but learned to respond in a positive and creative manner but stayed within the same Presbyterian denomination.
From a larger perspective, see if the group can identify some of the Christian beliefs that might encourage a church to continue to live with the tensions but feel faithful in their ministry.
DEVELOPING A STRATEGY
As group, begin to develop a strategy that might honor differences among churches and yet allow them to not split into separate groups.
If your churches were to be known for living the Christian truth both individually and in relation to other churches, what are at least five truths you would hope people would recognize in your churches?
What are five impressions you want your churches to avoid communicating to the society around it?
What are five impressions you want the society to have of Presbyterians and their ways of relating to each other in our community.
SPEAKING TO YOUR OWN CHURCH
If we thought this were a witness worth making, what type of initial proposal might we be able to take back to our sessions and congregations.
How do we build on the work of similar groups of churches who are meeting?
What type of support would you expect from presbytery if you were to engage in such a witness as churches?
What type of spiritual growth would you expect if you were to engage in this form of faith practice?
These are initial thoughts about how we might begin to live out our faith in relationship to other churches. We begin with Presbyterian churches, although because we are part of the one Body of Christ, there is plenty of reason to expand our reach as we continue to consider this possibility.
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