In the past, PCA leaders were skilled at protecting their own turf. That’s no longer OK, says a document that agency and committee leaders have drafted and agreed to.
The document, titled “Principles of Coordinator Unity,” lays out a commitment to Christian fellowship, love, and transparency that will inform the way the coordinators and presidents interact with each other moving forward.
According to Stephen Estock, coordinator for PCA Discipleship Ministries (CDM), the various groups historically operated as silos. “We would just let it go and mind our business,” he explains. But in the Christian community, he says, that’s not an option. “We have to use our system of government to support, challenge, and protect each other.”
With Gary Campbell, president of PCA Retirement & Benefits (RBI), Estock drafted a list of pledges that the committee and agency heads agreed to in November. Among those were commitments to pray for and communicate regularly with each other, to prioritize attendance at their biannual coordinator meetings, and to keep short accounts with one another.
“As coordinators, we want to grow spiritually,” Estock said. “Which means we must more deeply understand Christ and the gospel. As we grow closer in Him, we will grow closer to each other. And as we grow closer, we will challenge one another and hold each other accountable.”
Principles of Coordinator Unity
- To Christian fellowship, love, and transparency
- To pray for each other and communicate regularly
- To challenge one another and hold each other accountable
- To create better cooperation and less competition among the committees and agencies
Campbell says that selfishness, territorialism, and suspicion have gotten in the way in the past. “I know myself. I am broken in every way. And all of the pastors and leaders in the denomination suffer just like I do,” he says. “Because of that, communication and relationships are always a challenge.”
Campbell goes on, “Corporations face the same spiritual challenges, but they have a board of directors, and people are incented to work together and agree. Many books have been written about how to have a highly functioning team. All of those books have been written because we face the same issues. If left to ourselves, we will drive each other away and damage the organization.”
A commitment to these new principles hopefully will create better cooperation and less competition between the committees and agencies.
“[The hope is] that we would celebrate what each other is doing, instead of being suspicious,” says Estock.
Another reason for drafting the document now is to pass along a trajectory of unity for future leaders. Many of the agencies and committees — including PCA Foundation, Reformed University Fellowship, and RBI — are bringing on new leaders in the next few years. Estock, Campbell, and others hope that the search committees for these roles will use these principles to identify candidates who will be committed to unity.
Already, Estock and Campbell are witnessing greater collaboration. For instance, CDM is working with Mission to the World to train women in international women’s ministry. Similarly, instead of duplicating their efforts, the two groups jointly published a collection of essays on the philosophy of missions. Campbell says that such collaboration not only improves relationships but also increases effectiveness and leads to better decisions.
Campbell sees and feels a sense of unity that he hasn’t seen in years. “That’s a great thing,” he says. “Things that might have taken a year to get done now take three or six months.”
The principles will be attached to the Cooperative Ministries Committee’s report to the General Assembly.