What Do PC(USA) Folks Mean When We Say, PC(USA) is a “Connectional” Church?

Screenshot 2015-04-13 at 11.14.13 AMOne of the words that gets used a lot in PC(USA) circles is “connectionism.”

  • Unlike other denominations, the PC(USA) is a “connectional” denomination.
  • We do things in this way because we value being a “connectional” church.
  • We don’t do things like that because we value being a “connectional” church.
  • One of our strengths as a denomination is that we are a “connectional” church.

When I hear phrases like that, I can’t help but wonder, “What do we mean by that? What does it mean to be a connectional church?”

If, by connectional, we mean things like:

  • That we are a church united by our commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of the church
  • That we are a church that values discerning God’s call together
  • That we are a church that covenants to work and abide with one another as we pursue the mission of Jesus Christ
  • That we are a church that agrees to disagree

If that’s what we mean by being “connectional”, how is this a particularly PC(USA) thing? This can apply to our relationship with any Christ affirming church or denomination.

What it is about the way that PC(USA) does “connectional” church that is unique and different for the PC(USA)? How is the way PC(USA) folks and congregations are connected that is different than how PC(USA) folks and congregations are connected to other Christians and other denominations?

The reason why I am phrasing the question this way is because I think this is the way “connectional” often gets used in PC(USA) circles.

What is it in the PC(USA) that binds us, that connects us, that makes us connected together?

I don’t think it’s the confessions – while we place high value on the confessions, when’s the last time we have disciplined one another over confessional matters?While we do not name or define the essential elements of the reformed faith (i.e. the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, the virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, no other pathways to God apart from Jesus Christ), when we know of colleagues who cannot affirm Jesus, not only as Lord, but as a real person who lived, died, and rose again from the dead and they hold ordained office in the life of the PC(USA), or how can we say that confessions are the glue that binds us in the PC(USA)?

If not the confessions, then what is “connecting” us? What is PC(USA) connectionalism?

It’s polity. It’s the way we have chosen to govern and be governed.

We ought to name that. There is no shame in claiming that.

We can debate if this is a valid reason to be connected, but we need not hide nor be embarrassed to claim that our particular polity is what we mean by being a connectional church that is unique to PC(USA).

There are many reasons why the PC(USA) and denominations like her find herself in such a quandary today is because there are some who are choosing to say, “We no longer want to be governed in this way anymore.”

Our polity assumes continuity. Our polity assumes that those who at one time agreed to govern and be governed in a particular way would continue to do so. That’s been the case for generations. It was never even a question that Presbyterians would function in a “Presbyterian” way.

Recently, we’ve seen more congregations and people who are choosing, or sensing that they cannot in good conscience continue to govern and be governed in the way of the past.

Neither our polity nor our ecclesiology has clear answers for how to handle our recent situations where congregations and brothers and sisters, who at one time agreed to our polity, are choosing not to be governed by that polity anymore.

And that is one of the reasons why I think we find ourselves in such a denominational flux.

What is the connectionalism we PC(USA) folks are talking about when we say that we are a connectional church? We are referring to our polity – how we agree to govern and be governed.

Let’s name that.

My First Week with a Chromebook

My laptop of choice is the MacBook Pro. I have been using MacBooks for close to ten years now. These are fantastic machines.

Then, what’s with the Chromebook?

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 3.41.59 PMThe main reason I wanted to try out a Chromebook is because I wanted to get something cheap, something that my kids can play and work on, and something I can toss in my motorcycle bag that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting banged up.

When Chromebooks first came out several years ago, I bought one and returned it the next day because it was such a poorly made machine. I have heard that Chromebooks have gotten better so I decided to take one for a spin.

I ordered a Toshiba CB35 13.3 inch Chromebook from Amazon for a little over $200 and been using it for about a week. Here are my impressions from my first week with a Chromebook.

Confession. I still mainly use my MacBook. In fact, this blog entry is being typed on my MacBook. I’ve been only working with the Chromebook at home.


  • Cheap – It was only $224 from Amazon. If it gets stolen or banged up, I won’t feel too bad about it.
  • It weighs only 3 pounds. And I don’t have to carry around the battery charger.
  • The battery life is crazy. Toshiba says I should be able to get over 9 hours of battery life. I haven’t tested it out to see if it would last that long, but between myself and the kids, we’ve used it for over 5 hours and it still had about half its charge left.
  • It’s super easy to set up. If you have a gmail or google account, basically, all you have to do is turn it on and input your email address and password and you’re ready to go.
  • It starts up like an iPad. As soon as you open the laptop and type in your password, it’s good to go. There is no start up delay. It just works.
  • Chrome takes care of updating, virus protection, and you don’t have to install Office to work because it’s set up to work with Googledocs platform


  • It’s cheap. The screen is laughable compared to the MacBook Pro. The keyboard is okay but it too feels cheap.
  • Everything has to be on Googledocs or on the Google platform. I find Office to be a better platform to work with than Google.
  • I can access my work cloud (Soonr) but working on it is clunky.
  • It has to be connected to the internet. I haven’t been in a place where I haven’t had access to wifi so I don’t know what it’s like to work off line. I can create a wifi hotspot with my phone so I don’t think this is a make or break issue.

I bought the Chromebook as a secondary laptop and something that my kids can work on. For that use, I think the Chromebook is perfect. Would I replace my MacBook Pro with a Chromebook? No way.

You can get a Chromebook with a better screen, more internal memory, faster processor…you know, a Chromebook that works like a MacBook. But by the time you pay for a Chromebook to do what a MacBook Pro does, you’re paying MacBook Pro prices. And for that price, why would anyone get a Chromebook?

But for $200 and as a secondary machine, and something that the kids can play and work with, it’s absolutely perfect. In fact, it’s so perfect as a secondary laptop that I ended up buying one for the kids and one for me!

Next Sermon Series at LCOP “Tough Topics – Questions Everyone is Asking”

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 11.49.20 AMSo excited about the next sermon series we are starting at the Little Church on the Prairie this coming Sunday April 12. The sermon series is called, “Tough Topics – Questions Everyone’s Asking”. In this series, we are going to tackle some questions we know everyone is asking but the church typically doesn’t answer or deal with directly.

Each Sunday at 12:15, there will be a Q & A time for folks to ask questions and for interaction with a panel to discuss the material presented at the morning services.

Here are the topics we will be covering:

April 12 – “Can We Trust the Bible?” The Bible was a book written thousands of years ago. What does it have to do with me today? Aren’t there lots of errors or mistakes in the Bible? And if so, how can anyone stake their entire life and eternity in something like that?

April 19 – “Is Jesus Really the Only Way?” How can Christians claim to have the only truth? What about all the other religions? Are Christians really saying that there is no truth and value in the other religions?

April 26 – “Sex” Yes, we’re going there. If God meant for sex to be only between husband and wife, then why did God make us desire sex so much?

May 3 – “Homosexuality” If God made people the way they are, then what’s wrong with homosexuality?

May 10 – It’s Mother’s Day. There will be no “Tough Topics” sermon on Mother’s Day. There will be an awesome sermon about how awesome moms are on Mother’s Day.

May 17 – “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?” How are we to understand that God is good when tragedies like the brutal murders of college students in Kenya, the deaths of all those people who died on the airplane crash in Germany, and the murder of Christians on a regular basis fill our news on a weekly basis?

May 24 – It’s Memorial Day Weekend. We will not be having a “Tough Topics” sermon on this weekend.

May 31 – “Can a Person be a Christian and Doubt God?”

This will be a fantastic sermon series. We look forward to seeing you all there. Remember to invite your friends!