Billing itself as “The Crossroads of America,” Indianapolis is the home of racers and Pacers and, come June 30, Presbyterians, as we gather at the Big Tent event.
Eric Hoey, director of Evangelism and Church Growth for the PC(USA)’s General Assembly Mission Council, was part of the first Big Tent in 2009. Energized by his experiences in Atlanta, he is happy to be back this year.
Part of Hoey’s preparation — and inspiration — for Indianapolis is coming from Missional Renaissance by Reggie McNeal.
“It paints a picture of where our denomination could be, and some shifts needed to get there,” he said.
Hoey suggests the PC(USA) needs to shift from: “1. Internal to external in terms of ministry focus; 2. From program development to people development in terms of core activity; and 3. From church-based to kingdom-based in terms of leadership agenda.”
He doesn’t see these shifts as a new trend in missional church studies but as a good basic summary of the movements needed to become a missional church.
“Presbyterian churches need to become missional churches as we move into the church’s future,” he said. “We must get beyond ourselves, our issues and our programs and partner with God to accomplish God’s mission around us.
“As Christ transforms us by grace and we intentionally abide in Christ, we recognize that there is a story within us to tell (evangelism) and a ministry beyond ourselves where God is already at work (being missional),” he said.
Asked to peer into his crystal ball and view the PC(USA) from the perspective of the year 2016, Eric Hoey is enthusiastic.
“I hope to see new faith communities crop up all over the US. I hope to see small churches truly transformed with a deep faith in Christ and a missional drive that becomes the hands, feet, and words of Christ in their own community. I want to see communities changed for the better as we reach out in love with compassion, justice, and the testimony to a transformed life in Christ. I hope to see an increase of the number of adult baptisms on our denominational statistics. I hope to see Presbyterians renewed in their faith in Christ and growing in discipleship.”
When not writing for the Presbyterian News Service, Jim Nedelka, an elder in the PC(USA), works for a major broadcast network in New York.