Friday, June 12, 2009

General Assembly 2009-- hopes and expectations

The PCA’s 37th General Assembly is next week. I’ll be attending (which means I won’t be blogging!-- see you soon), and there are a number of things I have hopes and expectations about. I thought I would offer them here.

Expectations and Anticipations:
  • Fellowship-- General Assembly is always a great season of fellowship for me. I see guys I haven’t seen in a while, even years; meet new people and get to know others better. I love this part of G.A., even though (as in introvert) it is exhausting!
  • Worship-- the worship at G.A. is always great. This year, one of my very good friends, Greg Thompson, will be preaching for one of the evening worship services. Greg and I were in college together, and have remained close friends ever since. Greg is a fantastic preacher, and I love his vision for the PCA, so I have great expectations about this.
  • Doulos Resources-- I have been working with a few others to begin a ministry called Doulos Resources, and we will have our first annual Board meeting to incorporate at this General Assembly. I’m excited about the opportunities this ministry offers, and about working together with these men for Kingdom-minded ministry.
  • Seminars-- there are always a number of great seminars offered as a part of G.A., and this year is no different. The discussion between Ligon Duncan and Tim Keller on “deaconing women” should be great. A few others I’m looking forward to are: Paul Tripp on the Already and Not Yet; Ken Sande’s lectures on Peacemaking; and Steve Smallman on the continuum of evangelism and discipleship. Oh yeah-- I’m doing a seminar, too.
  • BCO Amendment-- there is an amendment of the Book of Church Order of the PCA under consideration that would allow Pastors to use variations of the questions for membership, rather than requiring their precise language. I think this is a great step in the right direction, and I don’t believe it weakens any adherence to the standards for membership at all. I hope this vote will pass.
  • Overtures-- there are a bunch of overtures on hand for things like forming new presbyteries, etc. Of course, I hope (and trust) that these will pass. But the overtures I’m most interested in (and so, likely, are most folks) are #5, 10, 13, and 15 which deal with women’s roles in diaconal and other ministry; and #2, 4, 8, 9, and 14, which are all proposed amendments to the BCO that I think are all valuable. I’d really like to see a study committee erected for the women’s roles and diaconal ministry, etc.-- last year’s rejection felt like a procedural matter, not one that had substance. As I said then, many will offer the counter-argument that “we have already decided this issue-- it’s in the BCO”-- but what became clear at last year’s G.A. is that some of the best minds disagree about just how clear the BCO is on the subject, and more work needs to be done to offer pastoral clarification.
  • Ridgehaven-- I think Ridgehaven is probably the best-kept secret of the PCA, and a few things came up at last year’s G.A. that suggested that there might be some trouble for this fine ministry. Since then, the long-time director has stepped down, and I know they have been in debt for over a year. I’m concerned about the future of Ridgehaven as a ministry of the PCA, and I hope that steps will be taken to protect and help that ministry thrive. I’ll be serving on the Committee of Commissioners for Ridgehaven, so I’ll probably get my answers before the assembly actually begins.
  • Brotherhood-- perhaps my greatest hope and prayer is for ever-increasing brotherhood among the commissioners. Every assembly of recent years has included an issue or two of substance, and one over which it is easy to become emotional. I long to see an attitude of love, deference, dignity, and humility embodied by all who participate in G.A.-- starting with myself.
Are you going to General Assembly? If not, you might tune in to check it out-- for the past several years, they have webcasted the whole thing! Check in here or here to find webcasts. Whether you are going, watching webcasts, or none of the above, please join me in praying for this year’s General Assembly.

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