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New Horizons

Explaining Worldwide Outreach

Danny E. Olinger

The goals, plans, and budgets of these "program" committees are brought together through the Committee on Coordination and presented in a unified fashion to the General Assembly. After the General Assembly does its work of review, correction, and finally approval, the Worldwide Outreach program is commended to OP churches and members, and also to OP friends, for their prayer and financial support. Having received the General Assembly-approved budget for Worldwide Outreach, your local OP church gives accordingly to fund the work of the program committees.

This is how Worldwide Outreach works. From beginning to end, it manifests Presbyterianism. There is connectedness and accountability at every level. The three program committees depend upon the benevolence, prayers, and service of the churches. The churches send delegates to the presbyteries, from which commissioners are sent to the General Assembly. The General Assembly evaluates each program committee, elects its members, and commends a level of fiscal support for Worldwide Outreach to the churches. Each level of the church—congregation, presbytery, and General Assembly—is represented and indispensable to the healthy functioning of Worldwide Outreach.

This model is not only biblical, but also contrary to the modern impulse. In a day and age when individuals and groups think only about their own promotion and well-being, Worldwide Outreach promotes helping others within the church. One sign of spiritual health in the church is the willingness to serve others. Congregations should not think solely of their own saving accounts, but how to help others in the church— both regionally (the presbytery) and nationally (the General Assembly). Presbyteries should consider how to help not only the congregations that are within their geographical bounds, but also the church as a whole. The General Assembly should not be obsessed with bottom-line budget numbers, but should consider how it can serve congregations and presbyteries.

The spirit of the time calls for independence, but, being joined by faith to our one Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we are called to interdependence. Paul repeatedly emphasizes this truth in such places as 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many."

Worldwide Outreach reflects a commitment to the belief that Christ is the head of the body, which is his church, and that the body does not consist of one member, but of many. This oneness is reflected doctrinally in the fact that we share one confessional standard (the Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms) and one book of church order (containing the Form of Government, the Book of Discipline, and the Directory for the Public Worship of God). This oneness is reflected practically in our support of Worldwide Outreach and through prayer and service.

In this issue of New Horizons, expanded coverage is given to the work of the three program committees of Worldwide Outreach, so that you might pray for the work of the church and consider how you might give and serve, brother helping brother in the unity of the covenant.

Mr. Olinger is general secretary of the Committee on Christian Education of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and editor of New Horizons. Reprinted from New Horizons, April 2005.

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