Congregations are communities of dissatisfaction. 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. So says J. Russell Crabtree in The Fly in the Ointment.
Why is the “middle judicatory” or classis so key in developing healthy transformational churches? “They understand the local environment. They have a grasp of the particular polity. Travel to local congregations is not burdensome. They can do on-site training, mentoring, and facilitation without it costing an arm and a leg and a gold filling.” (p. 17)
BUT… and it’s a big one… things are not so healthy at the regional level either. Yes, we have denominational issues that frustrate us. Yes, we have congregational issues that vex us. Yes, we have some problematic attitudes and behaviors in meetings. Yes, our structures and systems are broken and sin-riddled. But those are not the real issue for the classis, says Crabtree.
So, what’s up with the classis? All too often, what blocks the potential help and healing these bodies might offer to local churches, is an aversion to well-known and fundamental principles of organizational health. “What is required is a deep, systemic change in the bodies that are called to support congregations for their mission in the world: transformational regional associations.” (p. 21)
Now, that sets the table for the following chapters, and it MIGHT set your teeth on edge. “Oh boy, we’re going to rediscover how to bring corporate and business folderol into the church. AS IF…”
But hold on just one minute. The very next chapter suggests how the doctrine of the Trinity can be an antidote to “Specialism”, which Crabtree defines as the attitude that we are so unique we have little to learn from other types of organizations. Might there actually be some stuff we could import into how our classes function, which could “transform” us? Stay tuned. Keep listening a little longer. I’d like you to explore this book with me just a bit further.
And if you have a story to share about classis renewal, Please! Share it here. Thanks.