We are a Presbyterian Church. That may seem strange in Joplin, where there are so many churches and almost none are Presbyterian. In fact, something like ninety percent of the people in our church had never stepped foot inside a Presbyterian Church before coming to ours. So the unfamiliarity is real.
Being Presbyterian doesn’t show up in the everyday life of our members, few of our people even care about our “label.” But being Presbyterian does give us a 500 year old anchor that keeps us grounded and guides us forward. Though we don’t promote our distinctives, we like being Presbyterian and here’s why…
A Presbyterian Church
Our church tradition was born in 16th century Switzerland with people like John Calvin. Their church reforms flowered into the Reformed Church in The Netherlands and the Presbyterian Church in Scotland. It made its way to America via the Puritans and shares common roots with Baptists, Christian Church, and several others. In the US, the Presbyterian Church has split several times as churches have responded to secularism in different ways.
A PCA Church
Our church is a member of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). It is an evangelical denomination that is a good fit for us. We are not Liberal, but we are also not Fundamentalists. We take God's Word seriously, but we apply it with grace. The denomination has been around for about forty years and is often known for biblical preaching and church planting.
An Elder Led Church
Presbyterians get their name from the form of government we practice. Our church members elect elders and those elders shepherd and govern the church. That means we fall between the Congregationalists that vote on anything and Episcopal Bishops that decide everything. A particular commitment at Christ the King is that our elders are shepherds more than administrators. Praying for the church is one of the primary things we do at our monthly elder meetings.
A Connected Church
Our church is part of a larger church body as well. Christ the King is not an autonomous unit functioning on its own, we are connected with (and accountable to) many other PCA churches. Basically, we have a local, regional, and national government; each level composed of the elders of the church and each playing a part in forming our identity.
A Confessional Church
Our church officers affirm a Confession of Faith that dates back to the 1600’s, which contains our perspective on God, life, and Scripture. In an age where all of us are being tossed to and fro, the slow and steady commitments of a confessional church become more and more important. Our church members do not have to agree with our confession but, because our leaders do, you always know what you are going to get.
A Reformed Church
Our particular understanding of Scripture falls within what is called Reformed Theology. We believe that God has initiated salvation from start to finish. Some call this Calvinism, but that tends to highlight only one aspect of our tradition. More broadly, we believe the work of Jesus Christ is the sole ground of our salvation and we remain in union with Christ despite our failings or our doubts. We believe Christ reigns over the church and remains our strong Advocate with the Father. We believe that Christ is the center-point of world history. We believe that everything from the Old Testament, to the nations of the world, to the animals roaming the field belong to him and glorify him. In short, Reformed Theology is a theology of praise. Sometimes it takes years of coming to our church to see just how remarkable this worldview is.