Tested and Approved

Hello GRC!

Do you have a nightmare that recurs every now and then, and follows the same theme, even if some details are different?  Mine is related to my job/ministry:  I show up somewhere – sometimes at GRC, sometimes another church, sometimes a random place – and I’m expected to preach, but I have no idea until people are looking at me, expectantly!  The moment of panic usually leaves me mumbling in my sleep until Cedar elbows me or I wake up in a cold sweat.  Maybe your recurring nightmare involves a presentation in a boardroom, or losing your kid at a crowded mall, or whether you gave the right dose through the IV.  Or maybe it’s the “classic” realization that you’re wearing no clothes, in front of a crowd! 

For some pastoral candidates, the cold sweat comes from the examination process that qualifies him for ordination.  Tuesday morning in Newark, I led a commission to examine a man in the five areas of Bible, Theology, Church History, Sacraments and Book of Church Order. Those are the areas prescribed by our denomination – the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) – for ordination candidates.  He had previously not done well, so the pressure was greater.  I do NOT miss having to take exams or write long papers (although I DO have something to prepare and deliver most weeks, with an inflexible deadline of Sunday 8:30am!). 

The PCA expects its pastors to be able to minister from a foundation of Bible knowledge and theological fidelity.  After all, the word “theology” simply means “study of God.”  A focus on doctrine can get a bad rap, but if our understanding of Who God is and How He has acted in human history are both flawed, whatever good intentions we may have are built on a shaky foundation!  (By the way, godly character is also a key factor in approving a candidate).  Oh and if you’re wondering, our commission passed him that morning, and I have no doubt that his blood pressure immediately dropped into the official ‘chill’ range. 

Some of you long-timers may remember Juan Vasquez.  He was an active member of GRC for years, especially in the young adults ministry, before he moved to St. Louis to attend Covenant Theological Seminary.  Juan graduated last year, got married in the summer, and moved to Birmingham to take a position as the Director of Mobilization at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church.  Juan just passed his written and oral exams, and on May 10th he’ll attend his Presbytery meeting and be examined one final time in front of 50-60 PCA pastors and elders from the area – nightmare triggers, anyone?   Lord willing, his ordination service will be held on June 19 and I will have the honor of preaching that service down in Birmingham.  Pray for Juan, as you remember him!

One last thought to share with you:  as an attendee or member of GRC, you’re connected to many other Christians not just within our congregation, but throughout North Jersey (i.e. the West Hudson Presbytery)… and not just within our region, but throughout North America.  That connection provides accountability for your pastors and elders;  it makes possible fruitful Gospel- ministry collaboration with sister churches (e.g. our recent Missions Conference and our goal to plant churches here in NJ);  and it gives us wider awareness of how God is moving in many different places among different kinds of people!   If you’d like more information about the behind-the-scenes activities of our denomination, grab one of your pastors or elders and inquire away.  And if you’re battling insomnia, plan on tuning into the livestream of the PCA’s annual meeting, called General Assembly (June 21-24)!

Grace to you,


Peter Wang serves as the Senior Pastor at GRC.