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Generous Orthodoxy

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Blogging live from the Generous Orthodoxy Conference (literally live… I’m sitting in the sanctuary of the church in the middle of a plenary session)The conference has been really good, maybe the best two day conference I’ve ever attended.  I guess part of what I like is that people here are thinking in entirely different paradigms than I’m used to.  The traditional world of Presbyterianism is a wonderful world, but its not much when it comes to new ideas, let alone brand new paradigms in how to do church.

A couple thoughts
1) Why is the Session in the Presbyterian Church the chief administrative body while we deploy “mission” to the “Mission Committee”.  Shouldn’t the Session be the chief “missional decision making body” in the church?  Also, why do we have such a small view of “Mission”.  Mission is the holistic task of the Christian church: We are called to participate in the mission of God in the world.  Mission starts with discernment of where is God working in the world followed by a plan toward effective holistic participation in that mission.  So what is the mission of the church?  It can’t be put into a one line universal mission of all churches.  There are a number of concepts that need to factored in (Great Commission, Greatest Commandment, etc.) but it needs to be discerned individually within the given framework of a church.  For example, the mission of a suburban church in the North Hills of Pittsburgh will be different than a urban church in downtown, which will be different than a rural church in Butler County.   But regardless, in the Presbyterian system the session ends up making administrative decisions which could easily be delegated to an administrative affairs committee, thus freeing the session to talk about the church’s mission (which will change not only every time a pastor changes but in fact month to month).
2) Where is Pittsburgh Seminary in the midst of this?  I am listening to a presentation from three seminaries (George Fox, Mars Hill, and Biblical) and these seminaries are on the forefront of addressing the issues that are being discussed here.
3) I’ve had the chance over the last day and a half to spend a fair amount of time with Dr. John Franke of Biblical Seminary and (although I fear he might read this) I’ve been really impressed.  I started reading his book last week so I’d have a better grasp of his thinking and while there are parts I am still wondering about (because as the publisher put it he uses a Post-conservative Evangelical approach which entails new language, especially about language itself) I’ve been impressed.  He builds a great deal on the work of Karl Barth (which is always a good thing).

Anyway, I need to get back to paying attention and not blogging in the middle of a seminar.          

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