Retooling

March 30, 2012

Louisville

Landon Whitsitt, Vice Moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), posted an interesting question on Facebook recently: “Where do you get your news about religion and/or religious events?”

Now I realize that a survey of Landon’s Facebook friends would probably not pass scientific muster with those who conduct surveys for a living. Nonetheless, I think the thirty-two friends who responded provide interesting feedback: Most referenced social media sites like Facebook, only two cited The Presbyterian Outlook, and another two referenced the Presbyterian News Service (PNS).

I’m taking a leap here, but my sense is that Landon’s friends skew more toward the under-40s. And, taking a further leap, I think a survey of over-40s would show a greater propensity toward reading sources like the Outlook and PNS.

What does this mean? “The times, they are a’changing,” to use a phrase that will resonate with those of us 50 and over.

It’s not just the means of communication that are changing. Denominational structures that we’ve erected over the past fifty years are fading away. The question is: What, if anything, will replace those structures? What will mid councils look like? What about the General Assembly itself?

The issue that faces us as a church right now is to somehow get all those who love those structures to be in sync with all those who have no patience at all with those structures, who view them as ineffectual and irrelevant. Can all the “GA junkies” out there accept changes in the way we do an assembly? Can those who love the Roberts Rules way of doing presbytery accept a different style? And, just as important, can those who disdain these structures understand that some sort of structure is helpful and, in fact, needed?

This is one of the greatest challenges before this summer’s General Assembly. My hope, and prayer, is that the assembly can find common ground and ways in which we can retool our structures, so that we can effectively proclaim the gospel into the 21st century.

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