Engaging Our Current Moment as an Alliance for Mission & Renewal

By David Cassidy
Spanish River Church
June 7, 2023

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.

John 12:32

The Alliance for Mission & Renewal (AMR or the Alliance) is dedicated to:

  • assisting and encouraging churches, ministries, and leaders in the work of preserving and preaching the ancient, unchanging Gospel of Jesus Christ in the current culture;
  • equipping God’s people for mission in daily life;
  • and seeking the good health and unity of the Church in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and our towns, communities, and cities.

At the intersection of truth, vision, and ethics, movements can be born that offer the opportunity for sustained and sacrificial commitments that create lasting institutions which embody and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ with compelling grace and truth. Given our current cultural moment, it is time for us to consider again how we do this for the sake of the Church and the Gospel.

Broadly considered, Western culture is significantly shifting from a society with many shared core beliefs to a more radicalized one marked by deep fragmentation and tribalization. This emerging cultural reality is characterized by continuous tremors in several areas resulting in one seismic shift. Consider the cultural changes in:

  • anthropology, including sexuality, gender, personhood, family, and marriage;
  • epistemology, including the notion of whether transcendent knowledge and truth are possible at all;
  • geography, in which particular groups and individuals that align with one another move to either urban or rural environments to preserve their values and resist those who do not share them;
  • community, in which a more diverse people speak into the broader societal story, and we honor their unique contributions and receive their gifts instead of rejecting or demonizing them; and
  • communication, in which we access and disseminate information at unprecedentedly high speeds, but our trust in the veracity of the information is shallow, and the use of the information to promote harm rather than harmony is widespread. Information — or at times, disinformation — has often been weaponized and used as propaganda to intimidate, silence, and censure others.

This emerging transformation impacts every level of and all sub-communities in our society. Those who serve in medicine, news media, educational institutions, religious bodies, government agencies, and commerce encounter a deep and divisive cynicism that has undermined public trust and continues to erode the foundations of public peace.

The Church will navigate the impacts, but there are obstacles. Some of those obstacles are generated from within the Church. For example, we believe that the Church of Jesus Christ should graciously step into this societal confusion with the hope of the Gospel and serve as an instrument of peace. Yet, with sadness, we note that the current Church is wracked with painful revelations of sexual misconduct and abuse that undermine the credibility of its claims. So internal obstacles (both individual and systemic) slow our progress. While it’s urgently needed, change may take years to embrace.

In recent years, numerous studies have noted the steep decline in public worship attendance, the shrinking number of young people who identify as Church members (even when they continue to describe themselves as Christians), and more and more people who are deconstructing their faith and commitments, some turning from the Christianity altogether.

The PCA Is Not Immune

The PCA exists within the context of this cultural shift and has struggled to navigate these unsettling times of realignment. Consider:

  • We have frequently found ourselves divided more by the issues in our culture and what is regarded as a faithful and healthy response to these matters than by the Westminster Confession of Faith.
  • Our communication is sometimes marked by the same intemperance and callousness that we find in any censorious tweet or vlog from a secular standpoint.
  • We have struggled to agree on adequate and precise language to describe matters regarding human sexuality.
  • We struggle to understand how best to address and secure the further flourishing of women serving in Christ’s Church.
  • Promoting justice, healing, and truth is always deeply important, and yet we also have witnessed abuses of power and wrongdoing within churches and among pastors.
  • We all remain profoundly and prayerfully concerned about the possibility of theological declension as we minister in our culture and its changing nature, and we must continue to emphasize the challenging call to clarity and charity.
  • We eagerly seek ways to not only preserve the Faith for the rising generations in our churches but also to proclaim the Gospel boldly and lovingly in a society that views Christianity as not merely irrelevant but potentially dangerous and harmful.

In the face of these realities, we still maintain hope. Christ has promised to build his Church and has sent the Holy Spirit to guide, preserve, and empower her for the mission she’s been given. The Gospel remains the power of God that saves, and this efficacy is not diminished by our weaknesses and struggles. Church history is filled with seasons of far greater sorrows and challenges, and at every step, our faithful Savior has led his Church to fruitful and faithful paths. We believe he will continue to do so as we humble ourselves, turn from sin, and seek his face.

Though we don’t have all the answers, the AMR is working on a way ahead for a peaceful and yet disruptive witness in our fragmenting society, ready to partner with and learn from other Christians who are also working on the needed paths for the Church to be faithfully present and effective in its mission. The Alliance believes that a crucial component in this work of renewal is a recovery of and fresh declaration of the original intent of the founders of the PCA.

The mission of the PCA has been described in these terms:

  • Faithful to the Scriptures,
  • True to the Reformed faith, and
  • Obedient to the Great Commission.

This remains the summary of our shared purpose. How do we fulfill this commitment in the aftermath of a cultural earthquake unsettling all around us and among us?

While the Alliance is deeply committed to the original mission of the PCA, its members are equally convinced that a business-as-usual approach will not be an adequate response to the current crisis, and the time has come for us to fashion new structures that more adequately serve the established mission.

To that end, The Alliance for Mission and Renewal works for the unity, faithfulness, and flourishing of the PCA. We want to see a denomination characterized by:

  • Firmly standing on the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Scriptures;
  • Boldly proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to all people in all places;
  • Faithfully holding in good faith to our confessional standards;
  • Humbly recognizing how our doxological diversity is critical to our mission and leadership;
  • Earnestly welcoming, valuing, and co-laboring with our sisters in Christ as they serve the Savior;
  • Joyfully embracing our universal connection with Jesus’ Church to maintain the unity of the Spirit with all who proclaim the Gospel;
  • Gratefully deploying the treasures of our Reformed theological tradition in the service of the Church; and
  • Purposefully focusing on making new disciples so we maintain and proclaim a visible and viable witness to the Gospel.

Each of these characteristics keeps with the original vision of the PCA and is critical to its future fruitfulness. The Alliance rejoices in the treasures of our Reformed tradition, and it seeks to discover a path with more cooperation and a unified and effective Gospel witness in our society. Please pray for us and for God to be glorified through the growing fruitfulness of the Gospel in our work.

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