Frequently Asked Questions
What does Friendship Church offer that would cause someone to choose it as a place of worship and fellowship? Two answers come to mind:
First, we have nothing to recommend ourselves to you. Friendship is a very small congregation, composed of weak people who would not be on the world’s list of preferred persons with whom to associate. But we don’t think that should discourage anyone from joining us, because Paul said, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (1 Corinthians 1:28).
Second, Friendship PCA is a continuing voice for what has been called “Old School” Presbyterianism. Today some people add “Truly Reformed.” For many, these labels are not attractive, so we add “And we’re happy about it.”
Imagine: Old School, Truly Reformed, Happy People!
Why does the pastor talk about the Bible rather than the pressing issues of the day?
Whenever I hear this good question, I think of an illustration a friend of mine has used. She said if we stood on a river bank and discovered pollution, would it not be foolish to spend our time straining out the pollution that floated by rather than going upstream to find the source of pollution?
At Friendship, we do try to address the pressing issues of our culture today, but we believe they must be addressed by going “upstream” to the source of the problem. This is why we start with the Bible. It deals with the “upstream” problem. It says we are created in the image of God, but we are fallen into sin which distorts that image. Only the cross and resurrection of Christ can redeem that distorted image and truly address our problems.
Why does the pastor stand behind a pulpit?
The pulpit is not there just to hold the speaker’s notes. The pulpit is to remind us how the Holy Spirit works. The New Testament says that the Spirit of God communicates to us through the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). The pulpit is there to indicate the centrality of that Word, and the pastor stands behind it to remind us that we are not listening just to a man’s opinions. And because the Spirit also communicates through the sacraments (1 Corinthians 10:1-4), we have the communion table up front, too.
Why does the pastor wear a coat and tie in this day of casual dress?
We certainly do not think it is necessary for people to dress up for a church service. But, having said that, clothing has always had both symbolic and practical use in both the Bible and our culture. In one parable of Jesus a man was expelled from a wedding feast for not dressing appropriately (Matthew 22:12). Surely Jesus was making the point that a person called by grace to attend God’s great feast of salvation should seek to conform his behavior to the dignity of that celebration.
Jesus used appropriate apparel to illustrate the response of appropriate behavior. In fact, the Bible uses fine clothing to symbolize both the forgiveness of sins (Zachariah 3:4) and the righteous deeds of God’s people (Revelation 19:8). We “put on” the new self in Christ (Colossians 3:10), and we will “put on” the immortality of the resurrection at the return of Christ
(1 Corinthians 15:53).
If there are no occasions at all when we would dress up, we would be desensitizing ourselves and others to the meaning of the New Testament illustrations. You could say the pastor dresses in a suit to remind us that Spiritually we are dressed up in Christ.
Why doesn’t this church play the kind of music I like?
We would certainly want to know what kind of music you like. We all have personal preferences, but all of us should remember we are participating in a worship service. That should automatically put the primary emphasis on what pleases God, not us.
The New Testament has us singing psalms, hymns and Spiritual songs, which are consistent with his Word (Colossians 3:16). No indication is given about melodies, so we really are flexible as long as we can uphold the basic Biblical theme of creation, fall, and redemption. That gives us a balance between tunes of sober reflection (we are a fallen, sinful people) and tunes of joyful celebration (we are also a redeemed people in Christ). With that in mind, we hope that members of the congregation and visitors alike will hear something that pleases them too.
Why don’t you project the words on a screen the way other churches do?
We might consider using a screen if we could project the music as well as the words. Singing melody is a good thing but being able to sing the various parts in a song (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass) adds richness and beauty. We believe God should receive our best expressions, not just our minimal ones.
Why does this church use only a piano?
We would use any musical instrument which does not drown out the singing of the people. When the New Testament tells us to use psalms, hymns, and Spiritual songs, it is for the purpose of speaking to one another and encouraging one another (Ephesians 5:19). Therefore, we want the words to be heard, since the New Testament regards hymns as sermons set to music.
Why do you sit on benches and not in chairs?
Somewhere along the line benches (pews) came to be associated with churches. Maybe they were cheaper and also allowed people to squeeze together to make room if necessary. But because we already have them at Friendship, we may assign them a teaching value, too. The isolation of chairs could symbolize American “Rugged Individualism” and communicate “Stay Out of My Space.” Benches are more representative of community, and church is about the community of the Body of Christ, in which sometimes we are forced to “squeeze together.”
Why is there an American flag and a Christian flag in the worship area?
Having flags in the worship area is something we inherited, but lest you think it means we have equal allegiance to America and Christ, the previous pastor of Friendship explained that the positioning of flags denotes prominence. Protocol says that the American flag should be to the right of the speaker, to indicate first place. That pastor arranged for the American flag to be on the left, to indicate not God and country but God over country.
Why are all those plaques on the pews and sometimes even on doors?
I’m sure if you asked folks at Friendship Church today about the names on those memorial plaques, hardly any would know who they represent. I’ve been the interim pastor at Friendship for over three years, so I certainly don’t know who those people were. But I look at it this way: Do you know who your great, great grandparents were? You may not know, but you are here today because of them.
The little plaques around the church building are to remind us that the church of Jesus Christ did not start with us. The church did not leap into existence in the 21st century. The plaques remind us that we are here today, and worshiping in this particular place, because of the faithfulness of those who have gone before us.
Why call it Friendship Presbyterian Church?
Friendship with God. Jesus told his disciples, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (John 15:12-15 ESV).
Friendship with Man. Jesus gives Christians incredibly high standing as his friends, but also an impossibly high calling--to love others as he has loved us! Only God's blessing and his empowering Spirit can make such obedience possible. Our challenge today, individually and corporately, is learning how to flesh out his command to love. Your input and energy could be great assets to us all.