Why are you Presbyterian?

Hello, Centennial. Next week, Andy Bair and I will attend our denomination’s General Synod. This is where the entirety of our denomination’s ministers (along with a ruling elder from each church) come together to conduct business and address issues together.

Because of the nearness of Synod, I have found myself thinking about Presbyterianism. Why are you Presbyterian? Could you answer that question? Let me tell you why I am.

  • Presbyterianism does not refer to beliefs but to governance. I know of several Presbyterian denominations that vary widely in doctrine, but the governance looks like this: elders at the church level that form a Session, all the elders within a (typically) geographical boundary form a Presbytery, and all the Presbyteries within a denomination form a General Synod (or Assembly). The take home is this: we are not alone. As we continue our work here at Centennial, my prayer is that we will grow more and foster our connection with our larger family.
  • Presbyterianism prevents me from being king. As Presbyterians, we believe the Bible tells us there is a plurality and parity of elders. This means it’s not just me but our elders, too! The parity part means each elder holds the same authority. We (the elders and I) are not above anyone but below all as servant leaders called by Christ. Moreover, y’all choose the elders (including ministers), so there is complete ownership from the congregational level. Elders are not kings but servants. As we continue our work here at Centennial, my prayer is that we will grow in our ownership of our church body—from the youngest member to the longest ordained elder. 
  • Presbyterianism gives accountability.  If any one person is straying from biblical practices, there is accountability from the plurality of elders around us. If the Session (all the elders of the church) is straying from biblical practices, y’all as members aren’t stuck. We are accountable to the rest of our local Presbytery (remember, the geographical grouping of churches in our denomination). By God’s providence, we are granted protection through the greater body of Christ. As we continue our work here at Centennial, my prayer is that we will continue and grow in protecting the truths of God’s Word.

These are just a few reasons for why I am Presbyterian. It would take many more pages to list the rest, but I hope this was helpful. Feel free to reach out to me if you’d like resources on the history of Presbyterianism, the biblical convictions Presbyterians hold for this type of governance or anything else! I love our denomination, and I love our church. It’s nice to be able to think through why we do the things we do. May we always seek God’s glory in our endeavors!