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Outreach as a Conservative Presbyterian

Discussion in 'Confessional, Covenantal, Creedal - Presbyterian' started by athenken, Feb 23, 2020.

  1. athenken

    athenken Barbary pirates? Or are they?

    +118
    United States
    Presbyterian
    Married
    US-Others
    Recently, our church has seen an exodus of members. One reason is due to the lack of outreach, which is kind of what strict Reformed churches are known for. The idea is that since God calls people to him we should not have to do outreach. However, how do we reconcile that with The Great Commission?

    Personally, I have attended churches of a number of different denominations, from non-denominational, to AoG, to Reformed. I have seen some people actually go through the progression of being called to Christ (alter-call) at a more "seeker-friendly" church to having gone down the path of studying God's word and realizing that those more liberal churches are not necessarily teaching the full council, and ultimately seeking out a more Reformed style church.

    Some disagreements on this issue have led our current pastor to resign and we are suddenly in need of calling a new pastor. Of course part of the search process now will be to find one that is open to outreach. Honestly, I hope we are able to find one in the PCA, though it may be a challenge.

    Has anyone who is attending a conservative Reformed church been successful in implementing some outreach programs that do not, necessarily, conflict with the Confession of the Church?
     
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  2. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member Supporter

    +4,140
    United States
    Christian
    Married
    James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Presbyterian had a great outreach back in his day. It seems they were pretty aggressive at taking the gospel to the street.
     
  3. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

    +8,443
    New Zealand
    Pentecostal
    Married
    Speaking as an elder of the Presbyterian Church of NZ, my view is that the reason why membership is declining and very few new members are joining is that the church is not giving what people need, and so when looking for a church, people will gravitate toward a church where their spiritual and fellowship needs will be met.

    In most cases, spiritually hungry folk feel the need for more than just a formal "hymn sandwich" followed by an academic-based sermon that might educate the mind, but doesn't move the heart.

    I would go to a conference and listen all day to the stimulating, Bible-based, practical teaching coming from the speakers, but at church some sermons are so dull that I can hardly abide 20 minutes.

    So in churches like these, outreach might bring people in, but they won't stay. My church always had visitors, but they would stay a couple of Sundays, but then would never be seen again. So, it is important that along with the outreach, there needs to be something in the church that will not only attract people to it, but to encourage them to stay and become long term members. In my experience, in NZ Presbyterian churches, that is not the case, and there is an unwillingness to change from the formal traditional service which is often dull and uninspiring.

    An example in my church. At one stage there was a rededication service for young people. We had around 20 young people attending. But instead of the service designed for them, the minister conducted the formal Sunday type service which was totally unsuitable for those young folk. Consequently, we never saw those young folk again. So, in my mind, the service was a waste of time if there had been an expectation that those young folk remain in the church and develop into long-term committed members.

    Times have changed from the days when most people attended their parish church as a matter of course on Sundays. Now that we have weekend shopping and sport, and churches are in competition with each other for members, along with out society becoming less "Christian" (in the nominal sense) and more secular in their attitudes, churches that retain their formality that might have worked previously, don't attract younger singles and families any more, and as the oldies die off, those churches are shrinking to nothing.

    In my view, those churches that are Bible-based, Christ-centred, and preach the gospel and the Bible are the ones that will be successful.
     
  4. athenken

    athenken Barbary pirates? Or are they?

    +118
    United States
    Presbyterian
    Married
    US-Others
    Having grown up in church that was more traditional in nature when it came to the worship service, then attended a church that actually had a section of the service that was mostly praise and worship songs before the sermon, then came back to churches that had more traditional services (strictly hymns and psalms peppered through the service) I have come to realize that a worship service that is designed to garner an emotional response rather than one where the emotional response came through an indirect method does a disservice to those who are there. Sure, there are those will come to get that "high" and allow it to carry them through part of the week, but where does it leave them. But if there is sound teaching that truly edifies it becomes the difference between eating a sugary meal rather than some good meat and potatoes that stick to your ribs and actually benefit you in the long run.

    While I appreciate a pastor who can preach dynamically it is better for them to use that as a tool to convey a sermon that is filled with sound teaching, rather than a biblically emphasized motivational speech.

    I, as well as others within our church, feel the worship service is correct the way it is. I will say, however, some of the things that surround it may need some development. I do have some thoughts, and will have to bounce them off our session, but at least our worship service should remain intact.
     
  5. Oscarr

    Oscarr Senior Veteran Supporter

    +8,443
    New Zealand
    Pentecostal
    Married
    I have written an Ebook on how we view our church. I have attached it here for anyone who might appreciate it.
     

    Attached Files:

  6. St_Worm2

    St_Worm2 Simul Justus et Peccator Supporter

    +40,209
    United States
    Calvinist
    Married
    US-Republican
    Hello brother, if by outreach you mean this, making disciples, evangelism, witnessing and apologetics (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15), then I don't believe that there is any reconciling our lack of involvement (with any of those) because of the fact that God chose all of us who are/will be His for adoption from everlasting, is there .. Romans 10:13-17? I'm not completely sure why God decided to involve us in the process, but I don't believe there is any getting around the fact that it is exactly what He did, yes?

    Romans 10
    17 Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

    Where would we all be if Luther, Calvin, Edwards and Spurgeon (just to name a few :)) were not part of the "beautiful feet" crowd?

    Question, is your church's lack of outreach what is truly behind the exodus (in many ways that would be amazing if it is), or do you think it's something else? With my former church, it was the fast-tracking towards liberal theology at the denominational level that caused 3 church splits over the years, and finally, the choice to leave the denomination (PCUSA) altogether by those members who remained (my local church remained pretty conservative over the years however).

    God bless you!

    --David

    Spurgeon - sinners leap unwarned.jpg
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2020
  7. athenken

    athenken Barbary pirates? Or are they?

    +118
    United States
    Presbyterian
    Married
    US-Others
    Unfortunately, due to my work schedule I have not been able to actually be part of the recent important meetings where these issues were discussed, but one thing that has been mentioned to me by my wife, who was able to attend some of them, is the most common complaint our session has received is the lack of outreach. Now, there have been people who have left for other reasons (moving away for work, etc...), but that has been the biggest issue with both people who have left (and may return) and those who are still here.
     
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  8. St_Worm2

    St_Worm2 Simul Justus et Peccator Supporter

    +40,209
    United States
    Calvinist
    Married
    US-Republican
    WOW, well that is actually pretty encouraging :oldthumbsup: as it sounds like many members of your church have a real love for God and a true heart for the Gospel, though I'm sorry that the problem became so profound that they felt that they had to leave because of it.

    --David
     
  9. athenken

    athenken Barbary pirates? Or are they?

    +118
    United States
    Presbyterian
    Married
    US-Others
    Well, having attended some small churches I have noticed that there is also the problem of people not wanting to spearhead the efforts they are complaining that the church is lacking in. Sure some people might be burned out on serving, but if it is truly something they are passionate about they can certainly do some things on their own to bring people into the church that doesn't necessarily require session approval.

    However, I feel there is a missing factor that I may be unaware of, that being the actual attitude of our former pastor. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity to have this kind of conversation with him to truly understand what is take is.
     
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