Overtures Deal With Mission Churches: Who has proper authority?

The North Texas Presbytery recently submitted two overtures to the 41st General Assembly that would protect against giving inappropriate power to individual “mission churches” (church plants) and “evangelists” (church planters), clarifying that individual presbyteries retain ultimate authority over such people and entities.

“The procedure for establishing a mission church has always been vague,” said teaching elder (TE) David Frierson, stated clerk of the Northwest Texas Presbytery. “[These revisions] better clarify what a mission church is, how it operates, and how it is closed, if it needs to be.”

Historically, a mission church has been established with the oversight of a specific presbytery. However, because of the confusion mentioned above, unofficial groups seeking to join the PCA have risen up without the oversight of a presbytery.

“At this point, almost anybody can say we want to be a PCA church,” says TE David Clelland. “Who says that a mission church is a mission church? The presbytery should. The current language does not say that. … The revision is simply to have a presbytery identify groups that want to be known as a bona fide church plant of the PCA.”

Similarly, a second proposed amendment to the BCO clarifies and limits the authority of an evangelist sent to plant a church in a remote part of the country. The current language does not provide what the proposers view as necessary safeguards against giving undue authority to an individual.

These revisions, if approved, would amend the Book of Church Order 5-1, 5-2, 5-9, and 8-6.

“We think these are things that are helpful and necessary to the process of church planting,” said Clelland.

To read these overtures, please click here.

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