I took a trip through a time machine last week, all the way back to Calvin’s Geneva.
Okay, not really. Actually it was a Delta flight to Tucson. I got to lead a retreat for the pastors’ study group of the Presbytery de Cristo.
Over twenty of them meet every month to study theology together.
I put that little sentence as its own paragraph because it is actually pretty radical.
They are part of the PC(USA), just like I am. We are a denomination that has fallen into the very bad habit of trying to resolve all our problems by politics. We pass laws for ourselves. We try offenders. And in recent years we have been rent asunder.
In Presbytery de Cristo, they tell me they tend to vote on issues along the familiar dividing lines.
And yet, in Presbytery de Cristo, amid all the conflicts and divisions of the denomination, they tell me they lost only one congregation.
I strongly suspect that this group of pastors who study theology together have been a key part of that.
In the group all points of the spectrum are represented. And within the group the bonds of Christian fellowship and friendship have grown strong.
They understand each other. They care for each other. It appears that despite many differences they trust each other as partners in shared ministry.
Back in Calvin’s Geneva, the ministers got together every week for what they called the “Congregation.”
They studied Scripture. They studied theology. One would present. All would debate, and explore and learn.
As a result they grew a shared foundation for their work of ministry.
A shared theological foundation.
Can any of you who are Presbyterians imagine our work growing from a shared theology rather than merely a shared polity?
The ministers of Geneva developed a shared, deep-rooted fellowship by growing in the faith together. Shared growing faith through shared theological work was the basis for their accountability.
Their growing faith and mutual accountability became the foundation for reforming the life of the church.
They were not isolated or independent. They came together to learn and grow.
Can you imagine life in your presbytery or district with all those in ministry growing and learning together?
Can you imagine what you might do to bring that about?
It’s not too late.
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