Important News: We Have a Denominational Home in the PCA!

We are happy to announce that on October 22nd, 2016, the Piedmont Triad Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America accepted our petition requesting adoption as a member church. This partnership will formally begin in the coming weeks at a special worship service during which our elders will be installed by elders from the presbytery. [Update: This service will take place on Dec. 4th, 2016, at our normal worship time and location.] 

Finding a denominational home comes as an answer to years of prayer, and so we rejoice in God's grace and faithfulness to bring us together with other churches of like faith and practice. Now we will pray that our membership in the PCA will be a blessing to our city, region, and the world as we partner to plant churches, to train and develop future pastors, and to bless those around us in word and deed.

Important News: Denominational Direction

Last night at our members meeting, after years of searching for the right body of churches with which we should connect and partner, our church body formally decided to pursue membership in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). In due time, our elders will be sending an official petition for adoption to the Piedmont Triad Presbytery for consideration. In the meantime, our leaders are undergoing examination by the presbytery. The final decision regarding Trinity Church’s acceptance will be in the hands of the presbytery, but we have made a decision as a body that it is our desire to move in this direction.

Exploring where we belong has taken several years, but the elders believe this is the right direction to pursue for a number of reasons:

  1. The PCA best embodies our doctrine, governance, mission, and culture.
  2. Adoption into the PCA connects us to the catholic tradition. In other words, standing alone as an independent church prevents us from formally embodying the universal nature of Christ’s Church and from ministering within the confessional boundaries of the Christians who have lived and read Scripture before us. By joining the PCA, we will join a larger communion of Christians across time and geography that embraces the great confessions of the Church and the Reformed tradition.
  3. Adoption into the PCA enables us to partner with other churches of like mind and faith to plant churches locally and globally.
  4. Adoption into the PCA brings us into close partnership with other local churches in Winston-Salem to reach our city.
  5. Adoption into the PCA brings accountability to our church in regards to both our doctrine and our leadership. Ordination standards for teaching elders that exist outside of our local church help promote healthy pastors who are qualified beyond the opinion of their own supporters. Additionally, church courts help conflicts within the local church to move toward peace and reconciliation rather than factions and division.

Please pray for our church and for the presbytery to have wisdom to know if it is good for the kingdom to complete this partnership.

Incorporating the New City Catechism into Sunday Worship

I am sure you noticed something different in our order of worship on Sunday morning. That isn't something you will see very often at Trinity since we maintain a simple and consistent (but hopefully robust, biblical, and historical) liturgry. But this past Sunday, we did make an addition that will continue on from here on out.

This past Sunday we incorporated a catechism question from the New City Catechism into the creedal confession portion of our service. So after we recited the Apostles' Creed together, the congregation was asked, "What is our only hope in life and death?" To which we responded, "That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ." Next Sunday, we will be asked the second question of the catechism, and we will continue this pattern for a total of 52 weeks until we complete it. (Hint: We will then start again at question 1)

Now since this is a new practice, it needs some explanation. As pastors, we don't want to confuse anyone or give the impression that this was a rash decision. We certainly are open to your questions or concerns about this practice. But first, listen to some of the reasons we decided to start this practice now.

First, this practice will further train us as a congregation in sound doctrine, morality, and devotion. The questions we will be asked and then answer each Sunday are rich theologically, drawing on the historic catechisms of the Christian faith, but aimed at our current historical and cultural context. Each moment and place faces its own temptations and trials, and so while the historic catechisms are rich, some of the content and certainly the language is not best suited for today. The New City Catechism was written as a collaborative project by many of the Reformed Evangelical leaders we learn from at Trinity Church.

Second, this practice introduces our church to yet another resource to teach the Christian faith to our children. The call to make disciples of all nations begins at home. We each have a responsibility to God and to our children to saturate our childrens' imaginations with the Christian story of creation, fall, and redemption and with the doctrines that flow from that story. We hope that by using this catechism in our service, parents in our church will begin using this tool with their children over the dinner table, at bedtime, or in the car. The New City Catechism application for the ipad and online website provide scripture references, video explanations, commentary, and learning tools to make the tool more effective.

Third, this practice will also provide further doctrinal context to the preaching of the word each week. One of the reasons we recite the creed and answer a catechism question each week is to provide a confessional background to our preaching. While Scripture alone is normative (it is the final authority and standard), creeds, confessions, and catechism outline what we as Christians have understood the Scriptures to teach. So they guard us against novel and unorthodox interpretations.

Fourth, this practice is beginning now because September is the start of new school year, and this always marks an unofficial yet very real "new" season in the life of every church in our context. Everyone's schedule starts getting more consistent, and new people who have just moved into town start settling into a church. So by beginning the catechism in September, we hope that those who may be with us for the next year will have a chance to go through the entire catechism.

There are many other biblical, historical, and pedagogical reasons we could give for why we are beginning this practice, but we hope that these three give you something to hold on to until you can talk more in depth with one of the elders. We are excited to begin using this catechism together as a church, and we hope you will begin exploring the New City Catechism online.