Friday, January 12, 2007

Kudos for CHMCE

Not kimchi--CHMCE. But some of us do pronounce it similarly.
It is the home missions committee of the OPC. And they hosted a training course.

I participated in that two day crash course on how to establish an OPC church. It was quite illuminating, instructive, and, dare I say, inspiring? Why inspiring, you ask?

For starters, the structure included bible reading, singing and prayer. More prayer time was integrated in the afternoons for specific ministerial issues. The difficulties and challenges the men face can be quite daunting, yet they persevere.

The inspiration arose from the ethnic make-up. Of the 21 men 8 of them were non-Anglo-saxon. They were primarily Hispanic. Some of them did not even speak English well.

Normally, the color or ethnic background of others is not high on my priority list, but in the current socio-political and ecclesiastical climate it spoke volumes. The men were there to either learn more about the OPC and/or to learn how to establish OPC churches in their communities. Even though some of their churches had little English, they were so committed to the Reformed faith that they sought out a denomination that was likewise committed. It did not matter if we all spoke the same language. What mattered was the Gospel.

That is inspiring.

Naturally, the format was designed to instruct us on establishing OPC churches, following the book, Planting and Orthodox Presbyterian Church. This book is recommended for any church serious about the Reformed faith.

What was illuminating about the class (and the book) was the emphasis upon Presbyterian transparency. What exactly do I mean by that?

1) It means being upfront about the Reformed distinctive of the newly formed group. It means not being embarrassed about Calvinism or Presbyterianism.

2) It means a conscious exercise of church connectionalism. That purposeful realization and participation in the regional and national church dimensions of the OPC. The laymen and the leaders should not hold their collective abilities under a bush but gladly and heartily join with other churches in fellowship.

3) It means, similarly, that any given new church plant should practice "plain vanilla Presbyterianism". Emphasis upon pet peeves or hobby horses, like homeschooling, Klinianism, family-integrating, etc., should not be the defining element of that work. Differences and distinctions can and will be believed, but in the larger Presbyterian scheme the Westminster Confession of Faith should be the official defining document in the church's life.

These were indeed illuminating and even inspiring. They settled my heart and projected a church committee dedicated to a unity large enough for growth of a church, yet narrow enough for faithfulness to the whole Word of God as summarized in the Confessions. This class showed me hearts aflame with a love for the church as a whole and a dedication to the equipping of the ministers for the work of the church. May the home missionaries, indeed, all ministers, take these lessons to heart.


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