Notes from General Assembly

As always, GA was a great time to get away, hear some good speakers, catch up on what’s going on across our denomination, and be a part of a bigger picture of the church and her mission. During the workshops, I heard from Dennis Haack (Ransom fellowship, www.ransomfellowship.org) and Steve Garber (direct of the Washington Institute, www.washingtoninst.org). These men are experts in understanding the culture and communicating the gospel within its framework. They talked about how to get to root beliefs by participating in the music and/or movies with which a person particularly resonates. It appears the future of ministry effectiveness will be on the relational level. Not that it hasn’t been that way in the past but we are losing the grand stories and values that people in a culture generally share and hold in common. When there were stories and values in common, we were already connected with people because we lived within their cultural worldview (at least to a large degree). Increasingly today, people are defining their own. We’re losing the overlap and consequently needing to do more work to get into a person’s shoes and understand where they’re coming from.

They also talked about the need to bridge the secular and sacred divide, the same thing that we’ve been talking about for some time, and showing how our faith plays a role in our work and other areas of life. While this concept wasn’t new, they did offer some great practical application ideas that I look forward to working out.

I saw this theme as well coming through in some of our own EPC churches as they gave reports on how they have taken steps to be a part of the community by offering up their buildings and facilities in creative ways.

The only momentary worry I had related to a vote on whether or not to adopt the permanent Theology committee’s paper on the inerrancy of Scripture. The standing committee voted not to adopt it which initially brought fear throughout much of the GA that there was a group within us that did not hold to the inerrancy of Scripture. I learned through our discussion that we are wholeheartedly as a denomination behind the doctrine of inerrancy. The reason for not adopting the presented paper is to allow it to be beefed up to better explain what we mean by inerrancy. While the paper defined inerrancy properly, it did not explain the ramifications of inerrancy with regard to Scripture’s sufficiency (no need for additional revelation to communicate God’s plan of salvation), perspicuity (ability to be understood), authority, and trustworthiness. I thought the decision to refer it back to the committee so that these aspects could be addressed was a good idea.

Please lift up our denomination as we welcome new churches into our fellowship, engage in redeeming the culture as we apply the gospel, and stand for truth in an increasingly pluralist society.