For the last two decades, downtown Philadelphia has experienced a renaissance. Individuals from numerous ethnicities are putting down roots near the church by seeking advanced degrees, establishing careers, and in some cases starting families. Real estate prices, high ranking public elementaries, and new skyscrapers serve as constant reminders of change.
With all of this said, most of these people are hostile to the exclusive claims of biblical Christianity. They mostly worship science, sex, and financial security. Their instinct is to reject authority while believing humans are good. They are typically busy, occasionally wealthy, and almost always lonely. As this new wave pushes its way into the neighborhoods surrounding the church, families and individuals who traditionally called downtown Philadelphia home are being displaced. As they leave, more and more once faithful churches are becoming condos and concert halls.
This is a complex moment in Philadelphia’s history. Thoughtful followers of Jesus Christ will neither celebrate nor mourn this narrative. Instead there are three options for Tenth to pursue. First, we can slowly reject the exclusive claims of Christ to appear more relevant to the masses. Second, we can hold fast to the Word of God and retreat from the mission until this secular age loses momentum. Third, we can avoid these temptations toward relevance or retreat and instead recommit ourselves to the Reformed catholic worship of the Triune God.
If we choose this third path, we will strive to offer Word-centered, gospel-shaped and sacramentally rich worship to God. As we continue in this Way, we will behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ through the gospel. Through this humble posture, we will not create our own vision, but we will more and more receive God’s vision for his people to be a light in the darkness. Through this humble posture we will retrieve the resources of the Early Church and the Reformation. These deep mines of wisdom and truth will give us clarity and conviction as we seek to be a family of believers who love God and are sent out to love our neighbors made in his image.
Clearly, our strategy is not theological innovation but rather to follow the Spirit’s leading as the Lord Jesus calls us to follow him. There are four areas we are praying for the Spirit’s concrete guidance – worship, mercy, discipleship, and outreach. Since these categories represent the primary compass points of the covenant people in the Scriptures, we pray they will guide Tenth’s steps as well.
As we venture in this direction, we ask God to lead us to the good works he wants us to walk in over the next several years. As these plans become clear, we will allocate resources of all kinds toward these goals. Throughout, we plead with God to accomplish his work through us, and enable us to let our light shine in Philadelphia so that people will see our good works and praise our Father in heaven.
© 2020 Tenth Presbyterian Church.
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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By Liam Goligher. © 2020 Tenth Presbyterian Church. Website: tenth.org