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A Letter from the Associate Pastor of Pittsburgh Presbytery

Ground Zero
July 22, 2010

Whenever I attend a General Assembly, amid all the talk of hot button issues, I try to stand back and ask, “What do I see God doing here that will build the Kingdom and strengthen the ministry of churches?”  The ministry of local churches is the ground zero of ministry.  It is through congregations set in various communities through which the Good News about Jesus Christ is shared.  I want to share a few hopeful things I observed, that gave indication of the Spirit’s movement through the church.

I attended a luncheon, sponsored by the Evangelism Ministry Unit.  The speakers told about how we Presbyterians need to engage the culture in new ways in order to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Pastors and sessions were encouraged to spend time discussing scriptures that point to believers “being sent into neighborhood and communities.”   Congregations were encouraged to rethink how their people are engaging the shifting culture.  I was given a copy of a new discernment process developed by the Evangelism Ministry Unit that can help churches begin to reach out to people who have yet to know the joy of a relationship with our Lord, and who have not yet experienced the care and love a Christian community can offer.

Another resource was shared with me that will not be available until October called “New Beginnings.”  This is a resource for Presbyteries to use in partnership with churches that find themselves dropping below a critical level.  It is really an ”intervention” strategy of sorts to help elders and pastors, with the help of a trained outside “coach or mentor,” begin a process to “start anew,” or should I say, begin to reinvent their ministries that are effective for today’s challenges and meet the current needs of the surrounding community.

Lastly, I attended another luncheon focused on how churches are partnering with each other to faithfully and effectively carry out God’s mission in their communities.  Many unique stories were shared by pastors and elders of how a partnership breathed new life into their church and ministry.  It made me think of the partnerships already in existence in Pittsburgh Presbytery, but of the many more opportunities that can be taken advantage of if we attune our  ears to God’s will.  Can your church find renewed energy through a partnership with another church?  It is a two-way learning experience.  Energy flows both ways.

We hear a lot that comes out of GA that makes the headlines, but there are other events and happenings that do occur that will grow the Kingdom among us.


The Rev. Dr. Douglas E. Portz, Associate Pastor of Pittsburgh Presbytery

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