Dale and Mary Youngs have been at the church since 2007, but he has been a pastor for 25 years, having previously served congregations in Texas. He was trained for the ministry at a Presbyterian seminary and graduated with a Master of Divinity, but as you will see below, he is not the "normal" Presbyterian. Dale is originally from Texas; Mary is from Wisconsin.
Dale's Statement of Faith
“I am a CONSERVATIVE”
Unless by that you mean that I love doctrine more than people, or that there is no heart in my Christianity, or that preserving the status quo is the most important thing in my faith, or that I cannot see that the practice of our faith is always reforming (always changing) so as to be incarnational for our generation.
However if you mean by “conservative” that I honor the traditions of my elders and that I recognize that my faith exists only as it has come to me because I stand on the shoulders of apostles and prophets and teachers throughout the generations, and that all of us alive today are beholden to those who have gone before us, and that failure to recognize those traditions is failure to see how those traditions shape us, and that there are essentials of the faith that do not change with the trends and fads of each new generation, then I am a CONSERVATIVE.
“I am a LIBERAL”
Unless by that you mean that I hold to no absolute authority for the assertions and practice of my faith, or that there is no ultimate Truth.
However, if you mean by “liberal” that Jesus was an advocate for social action, that what we believe should be put into action; if it means that we are to emulate the God who rains down his grace upon the unjust as well as the just; if it means that Jesus came for the least, the last, and the lost, then I am a LIBERAL.
“I am an EVANGELICAL”
Unless by that you mean that I grab people by the shirt collar, confronting them with a “turn or burn” message, accosting them with my unlovely agenda, cramming my faith down their throats, my Bible a weapon, my God a commodity to be sold.
However, if you mean by “evangelical” that I am excited to share the hope that I have, that I take seriously Jesus’ commission to make disciples of all nations, to help create an authentic community of fellow followers, that I am not ashamed of being called one of His, that I really do believe it is Good News, in fact the Best News one can ever hear and know, then I am an EVANGELICAL.
“I am a FUNDAMENTALIST”
Unless by that you mean that I am rigid, close-minded, harsh, unloving, opinionated, “my mind’s made up – don’t confuse me with the facts”, a member of the Flat Earth Society.
However, if you mean by “fundamentalist” that I believe in the fundamentals of the Christian faith – for instance, that I affirm without equivocation everything stated in the Apostles Creed – that Jesus is who He said He is and that the Bible is not some ancient text that has no meaning for our lives today but is instead the inspired Word of God, then I am a FUNDAMENTALIST.
“I am ECUMENICAL”
Unless by that you mean that the lowest common denominator is necessitated in order to reach unity, and all essentials are thereby scrapped, that ecumenicism means “all religions are basically the same” and “we all worship the same god”.
However, if you mean by “ecumenical” that all Christians are organically one in Jesus Christ, that the spirit of denominationalism should be cast down because those in the Body of Christ need each other and our territorialism is antithetical to the Gospel and harms our witness; and that our styles and forms should not separate us, and our theologies – while important – should serve to distinguish us not divide us, then I am ECUMENICAL.
“I am a CHARISMATIC”
Unless by that you mean that because I have some particular gift of the Spirit I am thereby set apart or above other Christians, or that there must be certain visible manifestations in my life or ministry for God’s Presence to be guaranteed.
However, if you mean by “charismatic" that God’s charismata, the “grace gifts” of the Holy Spirit, are given to all those who are in Christ, who gives them according to God’s own good will and purposes, that we each are to use according to our faith, the manifestation of which is given for the common good, then I am a CHARISMATIC.
“I am CATHOLIC”
Unless by that you mean that I am Roman Catholic, a part of the institutional and visible organization whose highest earthly authority is recognized to be the Pope who governs from Rome.
However, if by that you mean “catholic”, small “c”, an adjective, as it is used in the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed, where it is used to refer to the entire body of believers in Jesus Christ, and bespeaks the organic and invisible Church that transcends every race and people and language and culture and nation, then I am CATHOLIC.
“I am a RADICAL”
Unless you mean by that I am rebellious simply for the sake of being rebellious, that I question authority in rude and belligerent ways, or that I believe institutions and traditions are in and of themselves inherently wrong.
However, if by “radical” you mean that I am not afraid to question dead religion or upset the applecart of “but that’s the way we’ve always done it”, or that simply because a system is in power doesn’t mean that it should be in power, and that civil disobedience is sometimes called for in the fight against systemic evil and injustice (which may mean facing the necessary consequences), then I am a RADICAL.
“I am CONFESSIONAL”
Unless by that you mean that I feel the need to go to a priest to confess my sins.
However, if by “confessional” you mean that we agree together that certain statements of faith accurately summarize what we believe about our faith, and that we use “confessional statements” to affirm and teach our beliefs and purpose, creeds that derive their authority from the scriptures, then I am CONFESSIONAL.
“I am a PRESBYTERIAN”
Unless by that you mean that I’m some stuffy traditionalist who wears his piety on his sleeve and is prim and proper and not much fun and thinks that God has already predetermined that a whole bunch of folks are already going to spend eternity in hell before they were even born.
However, if by “Presbyterian” you mean that we are a group of believers who are governed according to the pattern of eldership as modeled in the Bible with Jesus as the Head of the Church, that we are a connectional church (joined to other congregations for ministry and mission), and that we enjoy wrestling with the paradoxes of our faith while trusting in the sovereignty of God in the midst of all that we do not understand, then I am a PRESBYTERIAN.
“I am a CHRISTIAN”
Unless by that you mean one of those unreasonable crusading types whose faith is inextricably wedded to his politics, or one of those brow-beating, Bible-bashing sorts that makes you want to run and hide, or one of those sorts who is so ashamed of his faith that he is unrecognizable as a Christian such that a non-Christian wonders why he bothers.
However, if by “Christian” you mean that I am one whose hour by hour, day to day goal is to be a follower of Jesus, in humble and grateful response for the life He has given me, that I seek to serve him and reflect his love and passionately pursue a greater and deeper relationship with him with energy and enthusiasm that spills over into my relationship with others, and that my deepest desire is to be a pleasing offering to the one who loves me more than I can ever repay, then I am a CHRISTIAN.
(Note – I give acknowledgment to Brian McClaren ("A Generous Orthodoxy") for his discussion of "Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/Calvinist, Anabaptist/Anglican, Methodist, catholic, green, incarnational, depressed - yet hopeful, emergent, unfinished Christian." I used it as my launching pad to write the above statement of faith.)