Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Report to the Presbytery May 24, 2016

 "The Big Church"

I have a children’s sermon which I have used in many of our churches when I lead worship. I call it the “Big Church”. After some introductions, I ask the children to name a country, any country in the world. They will usually say Canada, Mexico or maybe China or Germany. Then I ask, “Do you think there are any churches in that country?” I ask for the name of another country. Do you think there are any churches in that country? The answer is, of course, yes. There are churches in every country of the world. That is what I call the Big Church.

Why is it that our view is so short? Often when we say Church, we only mean our congregation. Of if we are thinking about anything larger, we may be only thinking of the Church in the United States. I heard a sermon recently which was built on the premise that the Church, that is how it was named, the Church is in decline. My friends, nothing could be further from the truth. The Church is on fire with the power of the Holy Spirit. What I call the Global Church or the Universal Church, or what our Book of Confessions calls the Visible Church is growing very quickly in many, probably most, parts of the world, in many different cultures and in many different styles. When we have this idea that the church is in decline, we are only referring to a very small part of the Church, that part in the United States and in Western Europe generally. Did you know that the Presbyterian Churches in both Brazil and Mexico are larger than our PC(USA)? Did you know that the largest missionary movement in the world today does not involve Americans? The largest missionary movement in the world today is South Korean Christians reaching out into China.

We have a special opportunity to open our ears and open our hearts and listen to a word from the Presbyterian Church in Egypt. My friend, Hunter Farrell, the Director of our World Mission program, considers the Reformed Church in Egypt to be our greatest mission success. In the era of the great missionary movement, Presbyterians from our Church in the United States planted the Presbyterian Church in Egypt. Please be attentive to and open your hearts to Rev. Ashraf Beshay.