Saturday, May 29, 2010

PCA Strategic Plan Post 13a

Follow-up given a question from Andrew. Do I think the funding plan is ideal? No. But it does seem that some alternative to the current system must be put into place, or something must be done to make the current system workable. Charging TEs $400 registration fee in order to attend GA is outrageous, but it is done in order to cover the budget shortfall of the Admin Committee. I am a member of both the Society of Biblical Literature and the Evangelical Theological Society. Neither of their annual national conventions charges a registration fee that is anywhere close to what the PCA GA charges. Both of those annual meetings are larger than the PCA GA, and much more difficult from an administrative perspective, since both have hundreds of sessions meeting concurrently.

So how do we fund the Admin Committee of the PCA? Andrew proposes that the AC be funded by the other committees and agencies of the PCA. That's a possibility. But those other committees also have trouble getting their necessary funding.

I think the fundamental problem is the ethos of the PCA. It is a congregational assemblage posing as a presbyterian church. Thus, the individual churches feel no responsibility to fund the higher courts of the church (either presbytery or GA). In my presbytery, for example, there are a significant number of churches that give nothing at all to the work of the presbytery (and I'm sure they give nothing at all to the work of the GA), yet their TEs and REs have a right to vote along with everyone else, often for things that work to their own advantage.

Two changes have to occur in the PCA (maybe more, but I can think of two key things right now). The first is, that TEs, REs, sessions and congregations need to begin thinking of themselves as part of a connectional body, not as Lone Rangers. Unfortunately, many TEs are not well-trained in the biblical case for presbyterianism; they come out of congregational or parachurch backgrounds; and so they do not teach their sessions and congregations to think of the church in a presbyterian manner.

The second change that has to take place is the development of a culture of accountability and humility in the PCA bureaucracy. I am not saying that on an individual level the people who work for the PCA administration are not humble. I am saying that many in the PCA perceive the administration as having a "we know what to do, you don't, so listen to us" attitude, as well as acting in a way that seems to be accountable only to the really large churches in the denomination, with little or no consideration for the smaller churches. Such a perceptions leads to mistrust of the administration, and an administration that is not trusted will not be funded by a voluntary funding base.

These changes cannot take place overnight, but we can begin working on them immediately. But we must commit to working on them. That is the reason I support Overture 24. If adopted, and put into practice, it will accomplish not only adequate funding for the PCA AC, but for a lot more.

1 comment:

K. Hugh Acton said...

With all due respect Dr. Shaw, the PCA is not a union of congregationalists. The higher courts gain their jus dinivus from the principle of appeal. Our connection above the presbytery level is such as is needful to maintain peace and purity. There is no principle or example of coordinated ministry above the presbytery level. Antioch appealed to the Jerusalem council to handle a doctrinal controversy, it did not coordinate with J'salem in her missionary endeavors. It does not affect the point whether the churches in question were simply congregations or classical presbyteries. Coordinated ministry is nice but not necessary to make one truly Presbyterian.