Sympathy for New Song-Salt Lake

While working (for several months) on the story of the controversy regarding PCA church planting in the West, we experienced many different emotions: indignation, frustration, disgust, even bemusement at times. But after having spoken (on several occasions) with the pastoral assistant at the PCA mission work in downtown Salt Lake City, one of the strongest emotions we feel is that of sympathy.

Through no apparent fault of their own, the young Christians at New Song-Salt Lake have found themselves caught up in a maelstrom which threatens the stability of the flock. A possible outcome is that this controversy could disillusion these brothers and sisters who have participated in this experiment in Utah.

We are aware that some folks will be angry at the alleged insensitivity by those who have let the church know what has been going on in the West under denominational auspices. But any anger or indignation should not be directed at those who have pointed out the irregularities and problems with MNA's church planting strategies.

The difficulties in which New Song-Salt Lake now finds itself have arisen largely because of misguided thinking by denominational personnel. If it were not for a naïve attempt to wed conservative Presbyterianism with what has been dubbed Generation X ministry, New Song-Salt Lake would not be at the center of the storm.

We believe that there is much potential for church renewal to come through "busters", who have an uncanny way of asking tough, embarrassing questions and offering profound insights. Gen X-ers could very well effectively challenge the encrustations of what has been regarded as "traditional" churchianity.

The twenty-somethings perceive that there is much in the church today that cannot measure up to Scripture. The "traditional" church, in order to avoid being overly-challenged and in order to keep a comfort level, accepts the notion in vogue-that all cultural styles are valid. By way of contrast, the radical approach to worship is not to embrace all cultural styles as valid. The Biblical solution is for the church, as much as possible, to transcend cultural considerations, not buy into them.

So while the new generation has been asking good questions, the bureaucrats have not been giving good answers. And it is their failure to implement our (radical) Presbyterian faith that has led to the debacle in Salt Lake City.

Let us make sure that those who have been in charge of denominational home missions are made to assume responsibility for the mess they have helped to create. But let us also affirm and embrace the little ones at New Song-Salt Lake, vowing to show them a more spiritual way of worship, and assuring them of our support, sympathy and love.