Intown Church was planted about 15 years ago as a gospel-centered church "in the city for the city." The founding pastor was a member of the Presbyterian Church in America and thus the church was affiliated with that denomination.
But, most members and attendees from those early days didn't see their fundamental loyalty to a denomination but to a local mission.
As Intown's third pastor, that's how I've thought about our church's ministry as well.
Denominational affiliation is an important aspect of a church's identity but we should never feel so beholden to our denomination that we would allow it to take precedent over local ministry concerns. So, the elders and I have been willing to ask from time to time whether or not our affiliation with the PCA continues to be the best context for us to most effectively reach the city of Portland with the gospel.
After extended conversation with the members and regulars of Intown we determined that it is time for Intown to make a move to a different denominational context. Over the next few weeks, we'll be communicating on this blog some of what lead us to this decision and what it means for us now.
First of all, perhaps most importantly, Intown will continue to be Intown. Very little will change in the day to day operations, or operating theology. In making this move we are not changing to become something else, but believe we are affiliating with a denomination that allows us to be who we already are.
Because Christians are so accustomed to defining themselves by their denominational affiliation and all that comes along with that designation, when a church to moves to another denomination it feels like a radical change. We believe it is not.
Denominations aren’t in the Bible, but are an unfortunate accommodation to human sin. While re-affiliating isn’t something to be done lightly, it’s not representative of a change of fundamental theology or mission.
At the same time, Intown has been a PCA church from it’s founding, and because we believe that the PCA continues to be committed to the mission of Jesus, we don’t have any interest in disparaging either the continued ministry of the denomination or of anyone who feels a sense of loyalty to the PCA.
Accordingly, Intown is moving TO something rather than AWAY.
While we've felt hindered in local ministry by our affiliation with the PCA, we don’t want to spend any more time than is absolutely necessary itemizing the negative components that we feel are a part of the PCA’s culture.
Instead, we want to lay out a positive vision for Intown doing ministry in a denominational context that allows us to creatively-engage our decidedly non-Christian neighbors.
So, in the coming weeks I will lay out some of the principles that have led us to move away from our original denomination and into a new one.