Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)
Huldra Forsvant (Theodor Kittelsen)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mummy, What's A Presbyterian?

Can somebody define for me (in a nutshell) what the Presbyterian church is about?

I've only ever been in Anglican or Baptist churches, and just want to have a better idea of what the Presy church is about, and how they differ from those.

We are going to be checking out a few churches in the area, and well, I want to know what I'm working with!


Izaac said...

I'll kick it off...

A presbyter is an elder. Which is kind of a helpful way into understanding the church. There is a great emphasis on not just the 'paid minister' taking responsibility for the congregation, but it is the group of elders. I think the paid minister becomes the 'teaching elder'.

I'll leave others to fill you in on the specific theology as well as the strengths and weaknesses of governance through committee, and the Scottish heritage, and other historical incidences.

Another thing worth noting, is the relative strength of the Presbyterian church across Australia, compared to Anglican churches which find strength in pockets. In many ways the Presbyterian church is the church of the country.

Ben McLaughlin said...

Thanks Izaac. Sounds a little bit like this 'team church' kind of model that sometimes gets tossed around?

With what you said about it's relative strength, how does that play out publicly? You see Peter Jensen quite publicly having a voice in mainstream media for instance.. is there a presbyterian equivalent that I don't know about?

Izaac said...

There is a Presbyterian kind of equivalent, but because the denomination is smaller and more geographically diverse you here less about him (I'm fudging the fact I have no idea who it is). But you occasionally hear funny stories like in Sydney people dismiss MTS as "An Anglican thing", in Melbourne it's "A Presbyterian thing". So lots of good guys doing good things across the land.

In terms of team church, my personal conviction is that the best churches work no matter what the denomination. Most Anglican rectors worth their salt try and develop a Pressie style team. Most Pressie churches worth their salt give one person latitude to set the vision (usually the paid minister) and encourage and support him in that initiative.

I wrote an article on this early on in my blogging days:

Izaac said...


Laetitia :-) said...

I get the impression that they similar to conservative Anglicans in most theology (the important salvational things) but they don't allow women to preach to a mixed congregation. This is one reason why I'm not one.

A large chunk of them teamed up with the Methodists back about 100 years ago and called themselves the Uniting Church. Many couldn't be having with that! (sorry, Terry Pratchett reference) and so now there's the Presbyterians, Methodists, Wesleyan Methodists and Unitings.

Simone and Andrew can give you a good run-down since they are members.

Nathan said...

It's pretty much the One True Church TM.

Hallmarks are reformed theology, the Westminster Confession of Faith, being strongly influenced by tradition, and a new generation of really awesome people.

Presybterians don't have the same power structure as Anglicans so there really isn't anybody who proactively goes to the media, and it seems to be a little discouraged by the system. There is a moderator (nationally), and each state also have moderators - but they change every year and basically spend their time visiting churches in their designated area.

Anonymous said...

This is a bit dry, but answers most questions.
Congregations vary around the place, particularly in metropolitan areas where they have more opportunity to cater to specialist groups, or express themselves in particular ways, because some other congregations nearby provide variety of practice.
They'll all be gospel affirming and biblical.
Drop by, and have a talk with the local leadership to see where they're at.