Has there ever been a CRC moment like this?
Just a little more than a year ago, a Banner editorial opined
at length about the structural problems of the denomination, pointing out:
“We need to find creative new ways of getting back to what has worked very well for more than 500 years: a Presbyterian/Reformed way of doing church that keeps us all praying, planning, and participating. That can only happen if we, as churches, make it happen. It will require our best minds and some solid study on all our parts—even though it will force us to wade yet again through all that dull-as-dust structural stuff. And we believe the time is now, before another person takes up residence in an executive director’s office that is heavily overloaded.” Banner, April 8, 2011.
In his blog last week, provocatively titled “Our Confessional Crisis
”, Paul Vander Klay sets forth three specific and fresh ideas for a healthy dialog on our confessions. Here’s just a taste :
“One of the lessons I think we may have learned from the Belhar push was that we need to learn how to do process confessions together again…. What if we as classes and a denomination devoted three years, one for each confession, to teach, examine, explore them together. The Faith Formation committee I think helped show us that if something is important we need to devote some time and resources to it, and I think three years for confessions and perhaps an additional year for the 3 creeds would do us some good. In these 3 years we would encourage local pastors and churches to preach them, teach them in Sunday School and educational classis meetings, use them in liturgy, etc. In that year classes could hold forums, discussions, and debates on matters that arise from them.”
Both of these writers are calling us to something that seems to me absolutely essential for our denominational and congregational health – a charitable, vibrant, unpressured, focused and intentional dialog. We need to talk! Talk as never before, talk as family, bound together across our differences by His blood and Spirit and love. We need to relearn to speak the truth in love, to engage each other with patience, with good listening, with thoughtful discernment, with humor, with deep commitment to unity, with richly textured trust, with prayer-saturated reading, writing, meeting, listening, honing, exploration and discernment. And without one single uncharitable phrase or snide aside. Without any attempts to “score” or to win. Without rancor or suspicion.
What if we got a new vision for our calling as a denomination? What if our sense of our theological heritage was renewed and began to infuse our communal and organizational life? What if our renewal as a denomination were rooted deeply in a community dialog of congregations and classes? What if joy and generosity marked our decision making and our programs? What if our discernments about structure grew naturally out of our theology and our sense of calling and our discernment of radical obedience? What if we became a radically Christian. Reformed. Church.
What if this time of interim leadership and structural review turned out to be the moment of creativity and fluidity and transformation God’s been waiting for?