PITTSBURGH, July 3 — The Committee on Church Growth at the 220th General Assembly dove into work this morning as they considered, discussed, and approved one of the most promoted movements in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
“What if…?” Eric Hoey, director of evangelism and church growth, and Philip Lotspeich, coordinator for church growth, challenged the committee. What if the PC(USA) were to go back to its roots in church planting? What if the church took on new forms to impact a changing culture?
Drawing from Luke 10, Hoey and Lotspeich reminded the committee that Jesus’ teaching on a plentiful harvest with few laborers. They spoke of their sense of call to pray for such mission in contextual surroundings focusing on initiatives that makes sense to the culture. “What is exciting about this movement is that we feel like it’s going to be very diverse,” said Lotspeich, noting that it has potential to build a tapestry of diverse worshipping communities.
The idea of igniting 1001 new worshipping communities is founded on the goals of seeking to make and form new disciples of Jesus Christ, intentionally developing leadership within local communities, and developing sustainability in leadership and finances. It is this final point that differentiates ministries of existing congregations and the development of a new worshipping community. These new communities are intended to become self-sustainable in their leadership and financial structures.
Committee discussion questioned whether this was a viable goal or a metaphorical idea. Addressing the committee, deputy executive director Roger Dermody said, “Is it a real number or a Biblical number? To which I say ‘yes.'” He noted that the denomination is hoping and trusting that God will use the 1001 motion to ignite a movement that flourishes and captivates the entire denomination.
The committee added wording to call for accountability and collaboration between sessions, mid-councils, and denominational staff. Specifically, it added a directive that the denominational team report to the 2014 General Assembly progress made and offer appropriate recommendations. One committee members remarked that the purpose of this initiative is “missional” and will help “to get us outside of ourselves.”