Update on the NJ Missional Structures Conversation

Update on the NJ Missional Structures Conversation

The New Jersey Presbytery “stakeholders” met on Wednesday, February 13 to review the draft document, Invitation to Participate in the New Jersey New Missional Communities, from the Missional Structures Working Group.  All seven presbyteries had representatives present to hear the report and provide feedback.  Following the presentation and Feedback time, the Working Group revised the document and have asked all presbyteries to have a time of discussion and to vote on joining in the New Missional Communities process sometime this spring.

Our Executive Team has made time at our March Presbytery meeting for a presentation and discussion on the Invitation and at the May Presbytery meeting vote on the it.

Excerpt from The Invitation to Participate in the New Jersey Missional Communities.  The entire document will be included in the March Presbytery packet.

Invitation to Participate

“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment,
for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse.
Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins.
If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out
and the wineskins will be ruined.
No, they pour new wine into new wineskins,
and both are preserved.” ~ Matthew 9:16-17 (NIV)


There are special times appointed by God for turning and transformation; for a new thing to spring forth. These times, called kairos moments, are characterized by a stirring of the Spirit that invokes fear, hope, and excitement. We believe that the Church broadly-speaking, and the PC(USA) in particular, is living through one of these moments in regard to our corporate life.

Fresh expressions of faith are springing up all around, even as older expressions are passing away. The Church at every level, from individual congregations to national denominational bodies, is examining anew what it means to be and do church. “As the Church seeks reform and fresh direction, it looks to Jesus Christ who goes ahead of us and calls us to follow him. United with Christ in the power of the Spirit, the Church seeks ‘not [to] be conformed to this world, but [to] be transformed by the renewing of [our] minds, so that [we] may discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect’ (Rom. 12:2)” [F-1.0401].

For decades, our congregations, and thus our presbyteries, have been declining in membership until, like a tiny congregation in a huge old building, most of our time, energy, and resources are spent maintaining outdated and inefficient structures and systems, to the detriment of our mission as the body of Christ in the world.

Through listening sessions in each of New Jersey’s presbyteries, we have heard from you the confirmation that this is indeed the time to radically change the structure and function of our presbyteries; to embrace an understanding of mid-councils as spiritual communities rather than legal and administrative organizations. We now invite you to prayerfully consider entering into the new missional communities we will propose and explain in the following pages.

As we begin this new work and rejoice in the moving of the Spirit, we celebrate a long history and the good and faithful work of our current presbytery structure. The old wineskins have been wonderful containers for the old wine, but the new movement of the Spirit in this kairos moment calls for a new sort of structure. Like wineskins, the new structures we propose are containers, designed not for their own sake, but to hold and preserve their contents. In this instance, the contents are Spirit-filled missional communities that remain responsive to changing contextual realities and the leading of the Spirit.