Reasoning Together, a new website designed to support and unify PCA elders, will launch Jan. 29. The site will be moderated and edited by the Rev. Larry Hoop, a PCA teaching elder for the past 28 years. According to Hoop, Reasoning Together will equip PCA elders to shepherd and rule more wisely. It will provide forums for respectful conversation about topics under dispute within the denomination and, Hoop believes, strengthen unity within the PCA.

ByFaith spoke with Hoop about some of the new site’s particulars.

Why does the PCA need a site specifically for elders? 

Elders in the PCA — teaching or ruling — hold the highest office in the denomination. We expect a lot of them. We expect them to understand our theology, our form of government, and our disciplinary procedures. We expect them to provide spiritual care, to make wise decisions about mission and ministry, and provide oversight for worship and teaching. We expect elders to be involved in the life of their presbytery and perhaps to serve on a committee or as an officer. We expect them to be aware of the issues facing the PCA so they can participate in the deliberations at General Assembly. Frankly, it can be overwhelming. We hope God will use this site to help our elders in their calling

What content will Reasoning Together provide that’s not available now? 

We plan to provide news about the ministry initiatives of our churches and presbyteries, about new ministries and proposals coming from General Assembly (GA) committees and agencies, about things that are happening around the world and around the church that we believe will be of interest to elders.

We’ll also feature articles that highlight “best practices” in ministry. We’ll offer posts that examine the culture in which our elders minister, and the findings of research into that culture. Of course all those things are currently provided in byFaith, but our posts will be particularly designed for elders, which we believe will free byFaith to focus on its primary audience, PCA congregation members.

One feature we are planning for Reasoning Together will be particularly distinctive. We plan to host “conversations” about a variety of topics, particularly those that are under dispute in the PCA. We will post an article advocating a particular point of view, or two articles representing divergent viewpoints, and “open the floor” for discussion. While we will normally propose some questions to suggest a direction for the discussion, we will welcome any comments that are thoughtful and respectful to opposing viewpoints.

We hope Reasoning Together will promote constructive dialogue within the PCA — the kind of “civil conversation” our Strategic Plan envisioned. This is the primary reason for our name.

One other important feature of Reasoning Together will be our “prayer” tab. We are going to encourage churches, presbyteries, committees, and agencies to submit their ministry prayer concerns so that we can more effectively pray for each other. Notice that word “ministry” — this will not be the place to request prayer for individual needs but rather for ministry. If the family that prays together stays together, how much more the denomination?

How will the PCA be better because of this site? 

Beyond the obvious benefit of supporting our elders in their ministry, we hope this site will enhance the unity of the PCA. The PCA has been unusual among Presbyterian denominations, in that while we disagree among ourselves on some issues where we hold strong opinions, we have held together for more than 40 years. We believe this unity has been fostered by a historical and constitutional commitment to “responsible freedom” — it is responsible in that it has boundaries (the Confession of Faith and Catechisms), yet allows substantial freedom of faith and practice within those boundaries.

In all honesty, this has not been an easy balance to maintain, and our unity is fragile. Yet it is very important, for it has allowed us to marshal resources for ministry far out of proportion to our size. We hope, especially through our “conversations” and editorial commentaries, to promote this unity.

To visit Reasoning Together, please click here.

About the author, Richard Doster

Richard Doster is the editor of byFaith. He is also the author of two novels, Safe at Home (March 2008) and Crossing the Lines (June 2009), both published by David C. Cook Publishers.