Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The PCA and Urban America

The PCA considers itself to be a churchplanting movement and denomiation. Yet the PCA's history is one that some might label "southern presbyterian" (and southern presbyterianism is a "dirty word" to urbanites since it embodies, espouses and promotes a culture that is foreign to much of this country's urban centers). With the ever increasing urbanization of America (and the world for that matter), how can the PCA continue to plant relavant churches in this country's urban centers?

Harvey Conn and Manuel Ortiz are the churchplanting "gurus" in Reformed-Evangelical circles in the United States. They believe that churchplanting in particular and ministry in general must begin with the indigenous leaders already available within the boundaries of the targeted cities. Conversely, the PCA is (and has been) notorious for raising up leaders steeped in southern-presbyterianism and supplanting them in the urban centers around the country (especially in the north). For Conn and Ortiz this is where the problem begins. Conn and Ortiz make their point extremely clear when they write:

It has been our experience, as well as that of others
with experience in urban ministry and leadership
training, that the kind of leaders necessary for the
task of urban mission already live in the targeted
urban community. To exclude the community as a
resource for selecting and developing leadership is to
exhibit superior and paternalistic attitudes. It
demonstrates lack of respect for the people we hope to
serve. We are long overdue in developing mission
strategies that reflect the fact that leadership for
the present and future of the ministry are already in
the community and that such indigenous leadership is
necessary for healthy and long-term witness. It is
inappropriate, inept and unnecessary to recruit from
outside and impose in a community the leaders we deem
requisite to carry the mission forward, as if there
were no potential leaders in that particular urban
community (Urban Ministry, p. 412-413).

Could it be that Conn and Ortiz are just simply reflecting on, or beginning with, the Pastoral Epistles (especially Titus 1:5)? Why don't we?

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