Online PCA Presbytery Maps

I’ve compiled a map with all the geographic boundaries of the different presbyteries of the PCA. While I have seen, and heard of maps of the presbyteries, I do not know of any map that existed online. So I decided to create one, based off the information available on the PCA Administrative Committee’s website. At the bottom you will find the links to all the source files. Some of you might have a few questions?

Why do this?
I began this project by simply putting up the information for my presbytery, but I soon began filling out the northeast, and once i can to a certain point, I thought that I should just make one for the whole denomination.

How much time did this take you?
My wife might just reply by saying “too much time!”. It took me probably around 15 hours to complete, most of that was spent while my wife was sleeping.

What can this be used for?

  • I hope Churches and Presbyteries will use these maps to for the purpose of planning church plants, and other cooperative projects. (This is the primary reason I started this project.)
  • Ministers and Members could use it to learn more about the PCA.

Since most of the boundaries are marked at county lines, its very difficult to understand the size and shape of a presbytery without knowing alot more local geography than most people. Even in my state (Pennsylvania) I did not understand how all the presbyteries connected. I hope this project allows people in the PCA to learn a bit more about the shape and movement of the PCA.
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Jolly Jumper

Why Our Church Uses Military Imagery?

For many people the use if military terminology within Christianity is paradoxical.
Recently I was speaking to a member of City Reformed who stated, that when his girl friend visited the church she was bothered by some of our songs which spoke of Christians as soldiers. Was her concern a fair one? To answer this question I want to look at three ideas: First, the origin of military imagery in the church; Second, the significance of using military imagery to speak about Christianity; and finally, how military imagery can be helpful.
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Contextualization and Ancestor Worship

Dr. Ed Stetzer put a great little video up on his blog and I wanted to share it as well. In this video Robert Young discusses the challenges of contextualization in the context of ancestor worship.

It’s funny that he points out that his Christian family has chosen to clean the graves and instead of offering  incense simply pray at the grave site, but notice that people misunderstood what they were doing.

Does this mean that we shouldn’t do anything until we know how people will respond to what we are doing?

Church Planting in the PCA by the Numbers

I’ve been thinking about the church planting figures in the PCA, on the one hand I am encouraged that the PCA plants on average 53 new churches per year. It has been noted that this means that we are planting one new church per week.

On the down side this means that by the numbers we are not even adding one new church per presbytery (76) per year .

This figure also means that we only have one church plant for every 26 existing churches.

Are PCA churches so devoid of leaders and finances that it takes 26 of us to start a new work? The real shame is that there are many churches and presbyteries that are very active in planting which means that there must people other churches and presbyteries that are doing almost nothing.

Some statistics on the Presbyterian Church in America can be found here.

Total Church on Apologetics

Modern Christianity has developed a rational apologetic. We engage modern society with rational proofs of God’s existence. We provide scientific data to defend divine creation. We have developed logical responses to the questions raised by suffering. All of these presuppose that modern people find Christian faith intellectually weak. But the problem is no an intellectual problem. The problem is hearts that refuse to live underGod’s reign. We reject God. Its a relational problem. And if it is a relational problem, it requires a relational apologetic.

Total Church

Big Box Bookstores are Really Tiny

Ever since we were dating Joanna and I have loved to crab a cup of coffee and hangout at Barnes and Noble. She normally finds whatever book she is reading at the current time, while I peruse the magazine section.

Our last trip I thought to myself “this place is so limited.” Sure there were thousands of magazine, and probably over 10,000 books in the store, and yet they were so limited. Think about it, there are millions of books published every year, on hundreds of thousands of topics. There are even more magazine-quality articles written each month. You typical big box bookstore, just can’t keep up.

For instance, when I pick up a book in the store, all I have to go on is the back spine and maybe one of the store’s staff. The publisher wants the book to be sold, so the back spine isn’t going to give me a fair review, and of course staff people want me to buy a book, not necessarily the book that would be best for my topic. Additionally, because most of the sections in local bookstores are alphabetical by author, it is much harder to find other authors on the topic.

Alternatively, when I buy a book online, I can read reviews from countless sites, I can see additional books by the author, and I can looks for similar books from different authors.

B&N needs to make their stores enjoyable, social spaces where people can access the internet, and learn about books. They need to become more like coffee shops, and social spaces, where people gather around topics. The ironic thing is that in Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Libraries have done a wonderful job of becoming these social spaces where discussions can be held, but as nonprofits they are bleeding money.

Carl Truemen on the Glamour of the New Calvinist

Carl Truemen has written an interesting article over at the Reformation21 blog. While I don’t like all the things he says in his article I think that he makes some important points about what people expect when they go to church

“I worry that a movement built on megachurches, megaconferences, and megaleaders, does the church a disservice in one very important way that is often missed amid all the pizzazz and excitement: it creates the idea that church life is always going to be big, loud, and exhilarating and thus gives church members and ministerial candidates unrealistic expectations of the normal Christian life. In the real world, many, perhaps most, of us worship and work in churches of 100 people or less; life is not loud and exciting; big things do not happen every Sunday; budgets are incredibly tight and barely provide enough for a pastor’s modest salary; each Lord’s Day we go through the same routines of worship services, of hearing the gospel proclaimed, of taking the Lord’s Supper, of teaching Sunday School; perhaps several times a year we do leaflet drops in the neighbourhood with very few results; at Christmas time we carol sing in the high street and hand out invitations to church and maybe two or three people actually come along as a result; but no matter — we keep going, giving, and praying as we can; we try to be faithful in the little entrusted to us. It’s boring, it’s routine, and it’s the same, year in, year out.

Therefore, in a world where excitement, celebrity, and cultural power are the ideal, it is tempting amidst the circumstances of ordinary church life to forget that this, the routine of the ordinary, the boring, the plodding, is actually the norm for church life and has been so throughout most places for most of the history of the church; that mega-whatevers are the exception, not the rule; and that the church has survived throughout the ages not just – or even primarily – because of the high profile firework displays of the great and the good, but because of the day to day faithfulness of the mundane, anonymous, non-descript people who constitute most of the church, and who do the grunt work and the tedious jobs that need to be done. History does not generally record their names; but the likelihood is that you worship in a church which owes everything, humanly speaking, to such people.”

The entire post can be found here.

5 Reasons I Should Get Up Earlier

1. Sunlight never looks so good as when it’s landing on the world at the beginning of a new day.

2. Seeing my son sleep is amazingly calming.

3. If Gus does wake up Joanna can still sleep in.

4. It gives me time to get settled, and read and/or pray.

5. I don’t feel guilty spending an hour reading websites and blogs, when its at 6:30am.