Every time the larger church gathers at General Assembly, it celebrates a variety of the good things happening within our denomination. As we are a church headed by our Lord Jesus Christ, the one who has over death and offered us grace, that really isn’t hard to do. However, we are also in a seismic shift in the way our larger culture reacts to Christianity, a shift that has undercut the importance of Christianity in our public dialogue. Therefore, when we gather, we also wring our hands at the loss of influence of the PC(USA) and the loss of members and especially the loss of young people.
But Jesus is still head of our church and Jesus is still alive within the denomination and within our churches. As part of the Theological Issues and Church Growth committee while at the General Assembly, I heard the report of the 1001 New Worshiping Communities initiative our denomination started several years ago. Perhaps my favorite of the new initiatives is one called Serious Juju, a church in rural Montana that created a skate park and started doing ministry with the kids who had been considered juvenile delinquents before. It not only changed the lives of these kids who many came from abusive homes, it also changed the lives of prosecutors who worshiped in the church.
You can see the video here if you want a glimpse of what God is doing in our new communities of faith: