The Secret Society

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Is your classis a secret society? Are only a few "in the know" while others are shut out? Is that the way classis looks to you? 

Secret Society?
A lay member of one of my classical committees half jokingly calls classis "the secret society." He calls it this because he complains that councils and congregations don’t know what is happening at classis because the pastors and the elder delegates don’t report or talk about it. 

The stated clerk of my classis currently is the best stated clerk I have seen in terms of diligence in trying to communicate. He sends out weekly emails to pastors and leaders in the classis. He maintains the classical website that regularly provides news on what classis is doing. I fear, however, that he will burn out because he quickly realized that much of what he sends out is not read and even less is digested or responded to. If you realize no one is listening you will soon stop talking. 
 
Investing in Classis
Why is classis so disconnected? Why is classis so ignored? Most would answer, I think, that few see the value in what classis spends a lot of time and energy on. Read the comments to my post on why pastors hate classis. 
 
The point here is not so much to try to make classis important, visible or valuable for its own sake. Classis exists to serve a mission, not for its own glory. If you read some of the comments on my Drama Queen post you will likewise hear some voices that have little confidence in the competence of classis as they’ve experienced it. 
 
Every time our classical leadership group surveys local congregations on awareness of classis the same responses come forward. “When we were without a pastor or when there was a crisis or conflict that we as a council couldn’t handle classis came in and helped us. We couldn’t have grown through that crisis without the help of classis.” A lot of that in our classis was helped because our classis had a full time Classical Interim Pastor (CIP) who could give special attention to the crisis and give excellent leadership to help a church through its pastoral transition. Our CIP became classis with skin on it. 
 
I’ve heard more than one person tell me that “dollar for dollar classical renewal was the best investment the denomination every made in terms of increasing the amount of local ministry as well as the effectiveness of ministry.” I agree with that assessment. 
 
What to Expect When a Classis is Functioning Well
  • When a classis is functioning well, local churches will flourish. When inevitable crises hit the local congregation, or local pastors, there will be help and support to get through the hard times.
  • When classis is functioning well local congregations partner together to do projects that bless the community in ways they could not do on their own.
  • When classis is functioning well new churches and ministries are started and lay leaders will catch both a vision and an excitement for the broader body of Christ seeking the lost and healing the sick in a larger region than just their locality. When classis is functioning well niches that are too specific for the local congregations to gain traction in receive the attention and support they need.
  • When classis is functioning well pastors can find community and new leaders are trained and find a place to serve.
  • When classis is functioning well it cannot be a secret society because it is the place where the broader body of Christ comes together. 
Is your classis a secret society? Do you feel shut out? If it is I would encourage you to penetrate that secret society. Start by attending classis meetings, they are all open to the public. Find a way to get onto a classical committee. You will probably find that there are always openings to serve. Get your friends involved. Make some noise. Be persistent. If you can find some allies you may find that classis is more open to influence that you assumed and that a small time investment can impact the broader church in surprising ways. 
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Our classical prayer coordinator produces a half page bulletin insert to be published the Sunday before classis.  Each edition highlights the ministy of one congregation and notes items of interest at the upcoming meeting.  The stated clerk is going to begin distributing a summary of highlights of the decisions of each classis meeting to distribute to all the churches.  It's hard to know the best balance.  Weekly communications may be ignored because of their regularity.  The problem with publishing to a classical web site is someone has to go there to find the information.  Pushing out six communications a year for publication in church bulletins may be accepted and used by more churches.