Discussion Topic

This summer Synod will be discussing the “Diakonia Remixed” report, which seeks to “allow for an expanded role for deacons and a revitalized, more robust diaconate ....”.  Though the participation of deacons in major assemblies is just one aspect of the report, I am interested in hearing from...

May 2, 2013 0 4 comments
Blog

After the Prayer Summit, I've been thinking a lot about discernment and the Spirit's leading in our assemblies.  How's our decision making in the light of renewed commitment to prayer?

April 29, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

We've all got stories (testimonies?) of times when we experienced a special leading of the Holy Spirit.  We are often hesitant to tell these stories. Could it be that these days are days for telling each other our stories?

April 1, 2013 1 3 comments
Blog

Is classis Church? The Word is not preached there.  Well, maybe it is. The Sacraments are not served there.  Well, maybe sometimes. Discipline is not carried out there.  Hmmm…. Maybe it is after all.

March 26, 2013 0 2 comments
Blog

For what is classis responsible?   The Church Order can help us - but only to a point.

March 25, 2013 0 2 comments
Blog

To our surprise and delight, renewal at the classis level is becoming more and more part of the denominational dialog on structure, leadership, and culture.  We are recognizing the strategic importance of the classis for so many dimensions of our life together.  Change at classis is inevitable, and invites our best proactive interventions. 

March 18, 2013 0 0 comments
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Conversations about change in the structure, culture, and leadership of the CRC are more and more beginning to recognize the strategic position and importance of classis.  This marks a change in how we are thinking about the denomination's future.  It's where change and church connect!  Classis renewal is coming of age!

March 4, 2013 0 2 comments
Blog

This is a time of significant questioning in the CRC – why are we shrinking so fast?  What should we do?  What structures do we need?  What kind of leadership?   What vision?   Are there resources for a sustainable and robust future?  Are we at risk of paralysis of polarization?  We need to do some heavy discernment together. 

February 26, 2013 0 3 comments
Blog

The power of classis - the strategic intersection between congregations and denomination. If you’ve been reading the CLASSIS network, you’ve already heard the invitation to consider the vital importance of classis renewal. So why wouldn’t it be one of the places we’d expect the Holy Spirit to be at work reforming the CRC? A few extra minutes designed to catch the breeze wouldn’t be amiss, right?

February 19, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

Recently I was encouraged to read Growing the Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit, a book I probably would not have picked up on my own. The title set off my warning bells. Exactly why that is, I’m not even sure I know myself. Somehow I feared gimmickry or formula or an unspiritual pragmatism. But I read it, and I want to recommend it...

February 7, 2013 0 1 comments
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Classes serve an important role when it comes to issues like credentialing leaders, matters of discipline, and general matters of church polity. Yet, at a denominational level I find that there is something missing when it comes to working effectively together as a ministry system.

January 29, 2013 0 1 comments
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In the plethora of meetings, schedules, and busyness, and our anxiety about decline - are we together taking the time to pause, to tune in, to pray, to really listen, and to discern together the path of obedience?

January 21, 2013 0 0 comments
Q&A

There was a time when the idea of a "regional ministry" was picking up steam. "We could do more together than we could independantly". Several of our area classes were forming "Classis Ministry Committees" (CMC) and exploring ambitious goals that led to hiring part time staff to facilitate these...

December 4, 2012 0 3 comments
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Neo Liberal Conservatism. What I mean to say with that made-up bit of jargon is that we need to get WAY past our current categories, or we won’t be able to think creatively about the Church today -- not our church, and not anybody’s church.

December 4, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

When I ran across this story, I just KNEW I had to share it with Network readers! It’s great. Is it about classis? Maybe not so much. (But think what might have happened if the whole classis had passionately supported this leader!)

November 6, 2012 0 0 comments
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How does your classis create the space for relational, gospel community for it leaders? 

September 27, 2012 0 0 comments
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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.

August 28, 2012 0 1 comments
Blog

The Church Order wants to avoid the dangers associated with people who stay in their leadership role too long. I applaud that. Organizations get into ruts, things go stale, power-hungry people hold onto power, we are led by the willing instead of the capable, innovation becomes rare, vision dims, and who knows what else could befall us when we keep leaders in place too long. 

August 14, 2012 0 0 comments
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If we are going to transform the classis into a force for congregational renewal, we’re going to have to rethink some things. 

July 31, 2012 0 4 comments
Blog

Strong effective congregational leadership is not necessarily the best predictor of strong effective classis leadership. Great teachers don’t always make great principals.

July 16, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

For whatever reason we are in a cultural spot where the greater witness seems to need to be embodied in a local church and the Christian voice needs speak from a local church. What does this mean for your classis?

July 9, 2012 0 0 comments
Blog

I had an English prof who threatened the class with sarcastic feedback on the essays we wrote for him.  He said, “If I ever write the word ‘bland’ in the margin of your paper, you’ll know you’ve just received the worst comment that I could give you.”  I guess he meant that any writing that was lively , no matter how poor, was better than writing that was boring and colorless.   Sort of like being luke-warm and spat out.

July 2, 2012 1 0 comments
Blog

Research on thousands of members in hundreds of churches suggests that a little over half of the membership is satisfied overall with what’s happening in their church. Which organization is best positioned to help clergy and church boards develop into healthy transformational congregations? Classis.

June 20, 2012 0 6 comments
Blog

Would you agree that denominational leaders are sending a confused message to the church regarding the need for change? Could you imagine that not only are we experiencing a decline in numbers, but that church members are experiencing such poor quality of community life that it's difficult to invite new people in?

June 12, 2012 0 7 comments
Blog

Synod is like an 8 day classis meeting, with harder beds and worse food, but the real trial will be having to both learn to love our enemies while God forces us to decide his will while He shuts up. Seems unspiritual and unwise, maybe...

June 5, 2012 0 0 comments

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Thanks for your post Karl.. always good to hear your thoughts...  looking forward to what God is going to do with us through His Spirit =)

Ha... I think I've heard somewhere the following concept labeled the "Spock syndrome"  = )...

BOQ  ...our rigorous rational organizational scientific ways of being together in congregations and in meetings, in projects and in institutions. EOQ

Thanks, Del,

Yes I agree there is a new wind blowing, and more and more classes are hoisting their sails to catch it (him).  You are right that it is so easy to be consumed with the routines, and in fact I've been struck by how many classes have actually gone through a renewal process only to slide back within a few years into the routines - if no one pays attention.  Prayer is an important way to "hoist our sails", and it's the way we can listen together to the leading of the Spirit.   That's an exciting opportunity for the Church.

Yes!  It was good to be able to talk in person.   Amazing how this Zimmer book fell totally out of my recall!   And I can't readily find it in my library either!!   Gotta dig deeper.

Well put Karl. It reminds me of a quote I heard Allan Hirsch say recently: "The key to the health and extension of the local church is discipleship." I think something similar could be said about Classis. "The key to the health and effectiveness of a classis is the discipleship of delegates." I need to keep reminding myself that it is not about me and even "it is not about my church."

posted in: Christlike Classis

Thanks Karl; I will poll my audience!

posted in: Christlike Classis

Hey Karl... it was a delight to meet and share lunch with you at the prayer/Holy Spirit conference in Holland a few weeks ago...

this was the Leadership and Listening book I was referring to... hopefully now that rings a bell again =)

 

 

Karl- this is a critical question, one that I keep asking myself as a Stated Clerk...who but is a servant of this creation.

Perhaps the one thing I see that a Classis is responsible is to be an "enabler" of the churches and people of "its fold."

Unfortunately many times, and I'm sure we are not unique, we get bogged down with the things we must accomplish or feel need to be accomplished as middle management- appointments, financial challenges, procedural rules and the like.  The fact we only meet a couple times and most often 50% of those in attendance see the faces for the first time- which often brings a different dynamic.  Then there are the 50% who have guarded expectancies of those in attendance b/c of agendas and the like.

However, recently I have seen a change- perhaps that is a result of a new spirit fostered by attempting to find a commonality among the attendees, prayer has that affect you know- breaks down barriers and the like.

I do think that if Classis does not seek to enable churches and congregations it will cease to be an effective tool, and become a wedge that is only used for leverage by those who seek a means to make our denomination "walk lockstep" without a sense of creativity or direction unique to each Classis.  If that is the case- Classis will not be an "enabler," but simply a "conduit."

John Z, I'm just browsing through some older posts and found this comment of yours that contains the phrase, "enhance and facilitate, rather than to restrict and regulate".  If a classis could do MORE of the former, and LESS of the latter, it seems to me the balance would be much healthier.   And I do see that in classes where intentional renewal has taken place.  Thanks for the helpful words of summary!

Ken, I had the opportunity to see Classis ANE at work, and I was delighted.  Good learning has taken place and good changes made, AND the changes seem to be lasting.  There are other classes that have really "renewed" as well, but plenty more need some new inspiration and experimentation!  If I can help your classis on the road to renewal, let me know!

In my former Classis (Atlantic Northeast), classical renewal had a major impact on how we "did classis". I would love to see at least some of those changes made in my current classis. We have a good classis (Wisconsin), but we could make it even better through Classical Renewal. Experience has been a good teacher.
Ken

Thanks for your thoughts & encouragement, Karl.  Let me add a couple additional and very helpful readings on communal discernment: Discerning God's WIll Together: a Spiritual Practice for the Church IMorris & Olsen, Alban Inst] & Transforming Church Boards into Communities of Spiritual Leaders [Chuck Olsen, Alban Inst].  I have not practiced communal discernment processes at the classis level, but we have built it into the fabric of our congregational annual ministry planning.  I/we are still learning.  It is such a paradigm shift, but I am convinced a necessary one and one worth the effort.  Starting with more modest practices may be the way to whet the appetite.

I am looking forward to hearing more about the discernment processes. May the Lord help us to listen and to discern what he is saying. May our hearts bow before him in humble expectation. Great article and looking forward to reading both books.

Would love to be kept in this conversation. Will be looking for those books mentioned. 

Blessings,
GW

Andy, good words on a critical topic, lively classes. Thanks, man! As a ministry staff guy in an urban church ministry (Oakdale Park, Grand Rapids, MI), I am having to push with our lead pastor, Pastor Emmett Harrison, to get women and men in Oakdale leadership to be delegated to classis meetings (Grand Rapids East), value the experience for congregational impact, and pitch in on classis work. Your post adds fuel.

Here's hope, Brother: two friends, a deacon and an elder having had recent positive experiences attending Classis East said, "This is good! I'm signing up to repeat attending for a year." (Our classis encourages repeat delegates to avoid perpetual novices at classis.) My own testimony: many of Classis East's meetings are real uppers for persons in the everyday grind of ministry. Keys I see at East: 1) gifted, experienced cl. leaders, in the saddle for at least a year, and classis committees who do their work well, in advance, 2) creative agenda/schedule  -- a mix of usual business, discussing/approving cl. min. team proposals and interacting with panels of ministry leaders (like church planters, chaplains), Inspiring!, 3) hard stuff -- head-ache inducing overtures, 4) discipline in cl's mission: Be a community of congregations to encourage, equip, challenge each other to be vibrant, missional, 5) regular evaluation of how we are doing after Cl East renewed and reorganized two years ago (see Classis GR East website for recent eval. format), 6) sturdy spiritual reflection and ample praying, 7) good food and coffee, 8) the meeting schedule is primed and timed so beginning, middle and end are quality and we quit on time. Classis heaven? Nope -- Cl. East is still challenged to be with and consistently help the mission of local churches; it's hard to be one and many at the same time. But headed there.

Like you, Andy, I was a classis renewal drum beater for decades at CRHM -- with you, Thea L., Elizabeth G-K, Frank E, Dave S, Lori W, Duane VdB, George VdW, and Al Hoks et al. Now I'm seeing classis renewal from the results end and I'm very high on it. Please encourage your Classis Renewal mates. Keep truckin'!

John Rozeboom, Oakdale Park Church administrative pastor, johnrozeboom@oakdaleparkchurch.org

 

One of the things one needs to grapple when hiring staff is - does the Classis have the Personnel infrastructure in place to ensure it is able to address HR, Payroll, Benefits, WCB, etc. issues. It is difficult to say the least in a body like a classis where committee members rollover every 3 years and the duties of treasurer are part-time and may not extend to areas identified above. Employment legislation, etc. is a more complex issue today.

It is easier to provide grant monies to an incorporated ministry entity.

Recently, I have become aware of Mars Hill and Mark Driscoll.  What I found interesting was:  1.  They have grown as a church from about 60 members to over 5,000 members (and 15,000 weekly attendance) in about 16 years.   2.  They focus much of their effort as a primary ministry, towards abused women and single mothers.  (His "Real Marriage" course and book is an example.)   3.  His wife assists in prayers and advice in the Real Marriage sermon series.  4.  Their target audience is people between the ages of 17-34.   5.  They have about 100,000 downloads of sermons and seminars every week.  6.  They are intentionally "complementarian" in church   and family . 

It would seem best when regional ministries are not established simply to have or fill a position, but rather to meet an obvious need or to meet a specific achievable goal.   A tendency is possible to continue with certain regional staff even when the need is not there, and then to ignore other needs because financial and human resources are already allocated or exhausted.   Regional ministries are probably most effective when they meet a criteria of flexibility and need, and avoid meeting a "formula" or avoid the criteria of traditional expectation.  

Frank ,

In Classis Pacific Northwest we do in fact have a part-time(1/2)  regional missionary who is tasked with furthering the goals and objectives of tne Mission Multiplication Team (MMT).    This task is now heavily  weighted towards supporting church  plants but as of lately we are in conversations about how can the MMT better support the established churches, especially those who are struggling.    With the current trends of giving and less denominational loyalty, we are feeling that we need to find resources as close to the local church as possible.  The classis seems like the logical nexus to locate these needed resournces. 

Greg

I often feel that labels do more harm than good: They are limiting, create stereotypes, and cannot account for nuances or differences that individuals may have from the label that has been put on them. The only label I'm comfortable trying to apply to myself is "biblical." ~Stan

KW raises an interesting topic. Wrong headline - resources are not scarce but people willing to part with them are! When is the last time a church bulletin has had a report from a Classis meeting on it? Each church sends two people, do they ever report to the congregation? There are 52 Sunday bulletins put out in most churches. Classis meetings I believe are twice a year.  Could churches make room on the bulletin for "Classis News" at least once a month? Who would do this and who would edit?   Maybe pastors who are the communicators and often attend the meetings might take this on. Most churches will have someone talented in writing to do it as well.

At last count CRCNA congregations are growing in number (but churches are getting smaller in number). That implies that Classis' are getting more people to attend its meeting with fewer people to report back to!

Measuring congregational "passions" may not be as simple as KW makes it out to be. If you measure passion based on donations, many congregations, hands down, have WR (CRWRC).  Many others have climate change high on their agenda (based on the time spent on it).

Some countries in Europe are looking at doing away with provincial legislatures (our Classis?). In this country (Canada) many communities are being "eaten up" by big cities.  That implies centralization for efficiency and cost savings. Does this have application in the CRCNA? What role does technology play for the CRCNA? Participation at Synod via online was very encouraging and lots of room for greater involvement.

The CRCNA has three agencies that have the word "International" or "World" in it. How much does the CRCNA pay for Agency Directors and other employees resident in North America to fly to the farthest corners of the world? How many use Skype or Teleconferencing instead? (This of course gets Ministry shares brought into the discussion.)

Last year the folks in CRCNA HO tried to inform congregations on Ministry Shares, via what I call the "Frisbee" program. Great idea but not great execution.

KW has good questions. Who is going to volunteer to base a congregational meeting around his questions and then share the results?

Yes.   Right.   Really competent facilitation should mean that the congregation does its own work.  

As I read Crabtree in this chapter, I got to thinking that he is envisoning a more elaborate support structure at the classis level than we are used to.  But I think the leadership strengths he is identifying are useful for discussion by classis leaders in any case.

Thanks Karl for your answer about who these regional people might be.  I would just refine your point number 4 a bit, that it is not a regional leader who will necessarily define success, but that the congregation ought to do that, either at congregational level, or minimum at the council level, perhaps with facilitation by a classis person.    Half of the success of "success" is ownership by the local congregation, and they need to create their definition of success in their own context. 

John, I've been pretty vague about that, intentionally I guess.   When I use that phrase I mean people who are in positions of official or informal influence at classis, members of the Classis Interim (or Executive) Committee, people who have formal positions such as clerk, and people who are in paid positions at the classis level, which may include stipends, honoraria, or paid positions, volunteers...  in short any and all folks in positions of leadership and influence at the classis level.

Karl, perhaps I missed it, but did you ever define or identify who these regional leaders are?  or these regional leadership positions? 

John, what's your take on the book?   Or maybe it's not on your summer reading list!

You'd have to ask the Healthy Church office healthychurch@crcna.org

Could it be put online?

the actual survey is not available online - it is described on that page though.

I do not see this survey on your link, Wendy. 

wondering if you are familiar with the Healthy Church Survey that is offered? I was recently trained in coaching the process and I think it is a great way to help churches have open, honest discussions about their hopes and dreams and come up with concrete ways to move forward together. http://www2.crcna.org/pages/healthy_church.cfm

Or rather Karl. Karl has been writing at least half the posts lately. Thanks Karl for the great posts! :) pvk

I think that one way that classical renewal can take place is through ensuring that the home missions committee of the classis is healthy and that it includes as part of its mandate the support and revitalization of established churches in the classis. One way we are exploring this is by creating a Natural Church Development "scholarship" that churches can make use of...in time we hope it will give us an objective baseline to focus renewal efforts.

I ordered the book. It sounds interesting. But already I wonder how much church member dissatisfaction is associated with a sense of powerlessness vs other groups or leaders in the church. Is it possible that we are really talking about the relative health of our congregations? My own tentative vision of a healthy church leaves room for a great deal more diversity  of perspective than is common in many of our churches. A lot more opportunity for open communication, appreciation for the holy mosaic of God's people with all their many different experiences and ideas. Are there ways to measure church health? Are there ways to help people feel more empowered without undermining community allegiance to our Lord? Could a classis help make that happen, or would the involvement of classis merely shift the power from one segment of the community to another? Yes, I will be back after I read the Fly book. This could turn into a great discussion! Thanks for starting it!

How many of the dissatisfied persons attend their church to get something from thr congregation and how many to give something? How many are church hoppers?  

Paul, couldn't agree more that the "transformational regional associations" are a necessary part of revitalized congretations.  Having just returned from Toronto, a huge frustration is that classical renewal did not seem to be on the radar of this year's synod.  There was lots of talk about the health of CRC agencies, but very little about the role of the classes in our denominational life.   Looking forward to your comments regarding a "Trinitarian" model for classes.

From my perspective, I don't see so much dissatisfaction within local CRC congregations about their congregations, nor so much (although perhaps more) about their Classes.  But I do see a lot of disatisfaction within local CRC congregations as to their denomination.  And it takes two forms: (1) apathy about what the denomination is or is doing; out of sight and out of mind; (2) a bit of horror and disbelief about what the denomination is in fact doing, especially when the denomination seems to be incessantly pushing the envelope on its own standards and decides to increasingly become a political actor.

Between 1 and 2, I'm not sure which is worse.  My experience is with local churches on the northwest/west coast and in the midwest (Iowa/Minnesota), but not Michigan or other areas.  I claim much less understanding about Michigan churches, although I do get this sense: the closer individuals or local churches are to Grand Rapids, the more the individual or church seems to think that the denomination is required to a relfection of sorts of them, and the more the denomination seems to regard their opinion as to what the denomination should be.

Between the denomination and classis, it is obvious that the denomination gets the most in terms of ministry shares.  And while money isn't everything, it's a lot.  Certainly, I think the denominational structure believes that.  So if more attention would be focused on middle management (classis), wouldn't it have to be the case that this change of focus would be reflected in revenue flow?

If one had to say what denominational agency was the most popular with local churches, I would think it would be CRWRC (now World Renew).  But the funny thing about that is this: in a very real way, CRWRC is not so much a denominational agency.  It receives no ministry shares and it is its own corporation.  Sometimes, I find when people first learn that CRWRC receives no ministry shares, they wonder out loud where all those ministry shares dollars go.

I hope those who will be involved in studying the restructure of the denomination will consider whether too many minds at the denominational, whether consciously or not, consider it the point of the local churches to serve the denomination, instead of the other way around.  From everything I can see, I think too many denominational minds do think that way, and would argue in defense of the proposition (well if you want do big things, well if you want to impact Congress on the question of climate change, well if you want to persuade the federal government to give more money to the poor, etc). 

I think there is much more "connect" between local congregations and their respectiv classes than between local congregations and the denomination.  Indeed, I think the disconnect between local congregations and the denomination is getting dangerously acute.  I can't count the number of times, to illustrate, I've heard the the following:  "I don't even want to read the Banner anymore -- I have no idea where they are coming from sometimes." 

I don't know -- maybe the dominant perspective is different the closer one gets to GR.  I do think GR has its own culture and thus perspective.  And it would stand to reason that if the denomination focuses only, or even more, on its own local/regional culture, it could find itself at odds with the rest of the country.  I know many Canadians feel estranged from the denomination.  It may not be a Canadian/US division, but a GR area division from everything not GR area.  I'm not sure, but that seems like at least a plausible theory.  It's reflected with the facts on the ground that I see at least.

Whatever the case, I think I would be all for classes playing a greater role in the lives of local churches.  But mind you, one of the first issues that will have to be on the table if that happens, may have to be revenue.  The consequence of that wouldn't be underestimated by the denominational powers that now be.

Great post Karl, thanks. 

I (obviously) agree that Classis could be the ideal level to work a church revitilization movement. It's a wonderful tool. We just really haven't really committed to it nor really explored how it can be used. 

yep... ran into all of those!!  plus some...  makes one wonder why the enemy might be working so hard at keeping this gift of the Spirit from flourishing... I believe because it has incredible potential for the Kingdom, once we intentionally start operating in this gift in step with the Spirit...  I'm working on a study of the "logos" and "rhema" word of God connected to the gift of prophecy... 

 

Ever since the very first "synod" (Acts 15) there have been challenges between rival parties. Circumcision or not. Arians vs. Athanasians. For vs. against____"fill in the blank." And so on...

What I notice is Luke's description of how Paul and Barnabas appointed elders in Asia as they were heading back to Antioch (Acts 14:23). They "committed them [the elders] to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust." (NIV)

Just as Paul and Barnabas entrusted those elders to God, so the believers in Antioch sent them to Jerusalem. Without trust, we have nothing. But that trust in not in our own abilities, or knowledge, or politcal skill. That trust is in the Lord.

"Prophesy" as popularly imagined presents many barriers, both cultural and religious in our context. 

1. Antagonism from moderns and some postmoderns

2. Skepticism from people who have experienced the charlatan factor.

3. Skepticism from people who have been burned by "God told me..." 

4. Cessationists in the church even if they hold to pre-modern ideas of revelation

that being said, North America is a skeptical island in a sea of people open to it from all over the world. 

Church offices get created after a sea change. 

At the same time you can't help but believe what you believe so don't be discouraged. :) pvk

whew... glad that helped..

Those are good questions that we would need to work through.

I'm not looking for a "table" that's all women, I'm looking for a "table" that includes women along with men, and no it doesn't matter whether the "insight" is received by male or female, but recognizing that women do receive prophetic insight, and when these insights are not included, pieces of the "puzzle" will be missing..  I'm suggesting a prophetic table... one where believers (male and female) that are open to the leading and prompting of the Spirit through "listening" prayer, one where there will be a time of quiet reflection together, one where there will be a time of sharing what God is putting on their heart for whatever purpose is at hand, and one where there is testing/sharpening of the "insight" shared.  I have my own experiences with this with family and personal situations, but they are very limited in an expanded group setting for a variety of reasons.  I will share that what the Holy Spirit reveals through these times of "listening" is powerful and profound.   I believe when we "practice" this at a group level, there will be profound insight given on behalf of the church.  It often takes a group to operate in the prophetic per I Cor 14:29-33 (please compare NIV and NKJV on v33).  When we operate individually, it's often not complete, because we are just given one piece.  God's heart is for us to work together, that we need each other to get the bigger picture. 

the prophetic insights are not canon, as the revealed insight will not be universal, but instead for a specific time, place, group... with specific guidance for a specific situation.   If you ever have the chance to pick up any of Loren Cunningham's (YWAM founder) books, I would encourage anyone to read these.   He shares many testimonies of "listening" prayer for guidance with YWAM.   and times where they messed up... we will make mistakes (or hopefully we can learn from his =)...

Do we need to add the office of "prophet"?   Somewhere we (reformed) say that all believers are "prophets, priests and kings"..  however, at this point, I'm just trying to get the prophetic gifting to be intentionally incorporated into our structure.  to raise awareness that this gifting is significantly lacking in our denomination, and now how to move forward intentionally incorporating "listening" to the Holy Spirit in how we "run" the church. 

Again, if something is not clear, let me know, because as PVK said, we have not done a lot of work in this area...

Thanks Paul...

BOQ... The CRC, and most modern churches have done little work on prophesy, the gift or the office. It's a good thing to work on. EOQ   pvk 

that is my frustration, if the gift of prophecy (and possibly the office of prophet) is a key to building and edifying the Church (and I believe it is per I Cor. 14), and we/crc/modern church are so unfamiliar with it, then of course our congregations/denominations/the Church is going to be struggling.    So why aren't we pursuing it more intentionally,with eagerness, instead of trying to use other "fix it" models.

I do plan on continuing study and training in this area, and have studied it to some extent, thanks to the charismatics, even though John McArthur, a cessationist, calls it "chaos"...  that's why testing is so important... I John 4:1; I Thess. 5:19-21.  Yes, it has to line up with scripture, that is the key test, but there often are other "confirmations" that God gives in addition to it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us... (Acts 15:28)

I know there is much confusion on this gifting, and our cessationist tradition has not helped.  The interesting thing to me is that those who like to interpret prophecy as limited to preaching and teaching are often the same ones who say women cannot preach, but if prophecy is preaching, then Acts 2 would allow them to preach.  I'm not saying that's my interpretation of prophecy, but it is an interesting contradiction, we can't say prophecy is preaching and then say women are not to prophesy/preach...  it cannot be both.   So that should tell us we need to get a better understanding of what prophecy is...

btw, congrats on having your thread be the most commented on the network now!!  =)

Thanks, Bev! That does help a lot.

I'm not sure how to answer the idea of informally adressing official bodies. To make a table "official" without "official" participants may be a problem in semantics (brown is the new black, etc.), and may not offer a real solution. Not much of this is nitpicked in scripture, so many ways of solving the problem may be relative to each congregation, giving each classis a unique flavor (although your 'snarkyness' is well recieved and understood). The questions that need answering seem to be, ‘how are prophets identified?' and 'how is prophecy received by congregations and classes?' To answer this problem certainly requires wisdom and a spirit of edification (gifts of the Spirit themselves). 

In our congregation, all sorts of stuff filters up to classis from the council, which is informed by committees (men & women with a council representative), personal visits and written statements from anyone in the congregation. While our council is male (due to scripture), the information we recieve comes from all sources in the congregation on all topics without a preference to male 'prophetic' insight over female 'prophetic' insight. Therefore, there is no "women's table" at our council,  precisely because is the council's responsibility – inherent to their office – to actively consider all of the congregational needs and expressions, as well as relating that voice to classis. LIke I said above, this requires wisdom and a spirit of edification, which may be more powerful in some council members than in others. I am a relatively new pastor in my congregation, but as I have seen the Spirit working here I have personally asked certain women with specific gifts to move forward with programs and consider serviing on committees where their gifts will be used and treasured, as well as encouraging and training the council to creatively use the gifts of the whole congregation.

Hopefully, your council and classis are open to hearing these voices and creatively opening all sorts of avenues to edify the local congregation(s) and promote Christ's gospel in the hearts of those in your community – it is their responsibility! If that is not the case, then I understand the frustration. I have preached from the pulpit, specifically to the men, that it should not come as a shock to them that women made in the image of God should wish to see mercy and justice done in our family – and will become more active in realizing those evidences of the kingdom when the men abandon their calling and responsibility.

Thanks for your loving persistance with this Bev. I'll post a couple of responses:

Of course there is no "office" of prophet like there is of elder, deacon and minister of the word. Doing a study of the history of prophesy and prophets not just in the canon but also in ancient church history might be enlightening for you. I have not undertaking that study but an interesting place to begin might be the didache, an ancient document likely from the second century that gives some insight into some of what was going on in that time. The document is online. Here is a blog post by someone who noted some of the relevant sections about how they determined true from false prophets, and with some means for figuring it out that seem strange to us today. http://jamesbradfordpate.blogspot.com/2009/08/didache-on-prophets.html

The CRC, and most modern churches have done little work on prophesy, the gift or the office. It's a good thing to work on. pvk

Yes, I will further clarify, as I have found the prophetic gifting can cause a lot of misunderstandings, and so clear communications is very important...   I understand that the Holy Spirit will not doing something new that's not in scripture or that breaks with the teaching and actions of Jesus.  That is a primary test of whether a prophecy is from the Spirit or not.   The Spirit will not contradict Scripture and the character of God.

The prophetic gifting is of course not dependent on a woman holding office, just like any other gift is not dependent on that. 

 e Paul VK's original question asked how can complementarian classis encourage women to use their gifts in classis?

When we recognize that you don't have to "hold office" to have the spiritual gift of prophecy, then women should be able to operate in this gift somehow for the edification of the church at a local level, and at a classis level and beyond?... I don't think the Holy Spirit will give women prophetic insight just regarding the kitchen and the children (I'm being a bit snarky here =).  At this point in our structure, there is no official way for women in a complemantarian structure to share the prophetic insight they receive from the Holy Spirit.  There is no table that they are welcome at in this way.   Now, there are of course ways that these insights can be shared, but it is informal and lacking structure and often, very limited.    I submit that we need to set a table, where women are invited and welcome to share and test what is being received from the Holy Spirit through the gift of prophecy in regards to the church, at whatever level, whether they hold office or not.   Again, I see this gifting as an open door for women to be a part of building up the Church, whatever their "official" role in the church might be, whether the congregation/classis is complementarian or open to women in office.

I hope that helps clarify? 

 

 

Bev, I don't believe that anyone is disputing the gifts of the Holy Spirit to both men and women. This is obviously something that has scriptural witness from the New Testament. However, this was true without women holding office in the Church.

If you're making the case that the Holy Spirit is now doing something new, and to listen to him is to do something that breaks with the teaching and actions of Jesus and the apostles, then you are making the case for ruling out scripture as a guide for the church in many areas of life. I don't know if I can go with you down that road.

On the other hand, if that's not the road you're going down, then please explain further.

Aaron V. - For what it's worth, Back to God Ministries are not at 2850 K-zoo in G.Rapids.  They're in Palos Heights, IL.

Wonder if there's a connection between that fact and their relative effectiveness......

Ok, been following this thread since it started, all 90+ comments...  I made one comment early on (April 14), but no one touched it and I'm baffled when it seems like such an obvious answer to me, so I'm very curious why (or so it seems) no one is interested in pursuing the prophetic gifting of the Holy Spirit.

I will state it again, using this phrase from one of Dawn's posts on 4.19.12 at 2:32 whatever time zone that might be..

BOQ...So one piece of advice I have for the CRC is to figure out how to build up the structures that build up people, not the ones that deny them a seat at the table. EOQ. EOQ

So, I mention the prophetic "table" again...  Scripture (I Cor. 14:1-5,12) tells us we are to eagerly desire this gift, which I'm not seeing this in the crc to any extent (yet), and then that this gift is used primarily for strengthening, building up, edifying and encouraging the Church, the Bride of Christ.  Acts 2/Joel 2 clearly states it is for male and female, sons and daughters, all flesh, young and old, I don't think anyone can argue that point.

It seems the prophetic table is an open door for women, but for whatever reason, we/crc are hesitant/resistant to walk through that door. 

As was mentioned, we have bigger problems than women and classis, even though it is a significant and sensitive underlying one.    We desperately need the power of the Holy Spirit, which has been significantly lacking for a variety of reasons in the crc (and it seems other denoms similar to crc).  It will not matter if my voice as a woman is heard, when we are not hearing the Holy Spirit to any significant extent.  The Holy Spirit's one "thought" given to His Church through the gift of prophecy can easily trump a thousand human thoughts. 

Am I saying that we don't have the Holy Spirit?  No, I'm saying we haven't been listening to Him very well.

 

 

 

 

Granted, some operations at 2850 are bearing fruit for the kingdom in major ways. Back to God Ministries comes to mind. The amount of countries they reach with radio programs and websites and text messages has been huge for nations like those in the Middle East and North Africa where being a Christian is taboo and converting to Christianity is lethal. There is good stuff coming out of 2850 also.

Sorry about getting the thread off track.

You're exactly right about "self-perpetuating" and "broad authorization requests." One example: Someone from one office recently replied to a concern about endorsing the "faithful budget initiative" in Washington DC, (which is partisan politics at its worst, essentially advocating for the Democratic Party platform,) by simply stating it is within their synodical mandate to make such an endorsement. Upon reading the mandate, the word "broad" surely comes to mind. Who knows how many CRC Democrats there are in the USA, but here at North Blendon there is maybe one out of 380. Moreover, West Michigan is the most Republican area in the entire state, and NW Iowa is also very "red" on the map. It seems safe to say that this one office doesn't care that huge cross sections of the denomination have a different view about how the government should address poverty, etc.
The connection between 2850 and members grows more thin.

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