Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
You can follow Chip on twitter (@chiphardwick) or find him on Facebook (Chip Hardwick).
The calling God has given us is immense: to join the Spirit’s work to transform the world through Christ’s redeeming love. It is daunting, especially when we consider how often churches churches and worshiping communities struggle to introduce new approaches or perspectives. Resources seem scarce compared to the enormity of the challenges facing us.
Over the weekend I traveled to a meeting of the Presbytery of Northern New England to present on the decisions of last summer’s General Assembly concerning same gender marriage and divestment and to preach. At lunch, I had an interesting conversation with a woman (I’ll call her “Jane”) who is concerned about the long-term decline in her church’s membership and Sunday attendance. She obviously loves her church, so it distresses her that her small congregation has 18-20 kids in youth group but only two or three come to worship. Implicit in her comments is the idea that the best measure of a church is how many people come on Sundays.
Earlier this month I visited St. Andrews Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, to lead an officers retreat, preach, and teach Sunday School. On the first night of the retreat, I helped the officers and staff come to grips with the changes in our culture over the last couple of decades. We discussed the postmodern, post-Christendom, post-Christian, post-denominational nature of our current culture, and the challenges and benefits of these changes to the church.
Last week while I was traveling in Asia I had the opportunity to do ministry at Union Church in Hong Kong. One unique opportunity I had while there was to moderate the ordination panel for a recent seminary graduate who is serving at the church. Since he is a member of a non-denominational congregation, Union Church wanted him to experience some kind of ordination exam similar to what Presbyterians undergo.