Why should a congregation send scarce resources to support classis?
It shouldn’t…. UNLESS the classis is providing valuable services to the congregation, or is advancing goals that are important to the congregation.
The classis must offer the congregations an avenue for concretely expressing their values in the world.
Maybe it’s a little risky to talk so crassly about money, but unless we get real about how we use the resources God gives us, we’ll waste money, increase frustration, and continue to fade as a denomination.
So, how do we allocate our money to the congregation, the classis, the denomination? Where our passions are… where we receive something of value in return… where giving makes us part of a community we respect and want to share with…. where it will be used consistently with our core values… where we can express the unique nature of the Church of Jesus Christ. A congregation that sees the classical budget as meeting these criteria will pay ministry share with joy and to the best of its ability.
This is not just about how to shape a better marketing campaign. Here are some highly provocative questions that can help revitalize the classis, and thus its support systems:
- Does the classis offer goods and services that align to what is important to congregations, especially non-cradle members?
- Does the classis offer services that help the congregations become vital, healthy, and effective?
- Have we built broad and deep conviction in a wide range of churches and leaders in the health of the classis?
- Does the classis clearly enact Kingdom values, and does it do so in a way that the local church cannot do alone?
- Can the case be made that the classis is providing unique value and services that can’t be found anywhere else?
Classis needs to equip congregational leaders to make a convincing case for sending precious resources to the classis. Classis needs to be aligned well to the priorities and passions of the congregations. Classis must be able to demonstrate efficient and effective use of resources.
Unless we can have some healthy dialog about these matters, I’m afraid the days of vibrant denominations are probably numbered.
(You’ll find these points and so much more in the book The Fly in the Ointment by J. Russell Crabtree.)