In our Classis, and I am sure this is not a unique problem, it is becoming rather difficult to get "sitting" Elders to volunteer as a delegate to Synod; and the problem is getting down right pesky!
It seems every time we come around to soliciting Elders for the upcoming Synod, it is like "pulling teeth," the excuses are myriad — and often rather legitimate and honorable. In the light of the later, why not allow any individual who has been ordained as an Elder but is not serving a current term of office to represent the Classis at Synod? Perhaps this option already exists, but is not utilized.
After reviewing Church Order Article 45 in our three most current "knowledge sources:" Church Order and its Supplements - 2010, Manual of Christian Reformed Church Government - 2008 Revision; And Christian Reformed Church Order Commentary -2010, I only find the sentence in the commentary portion of the Manual- "Elders delegates to synod should be in active service as an elder in their home church at the time of the synod convenes." Perhaps I am missing something, but the phrase "...should be..." seems to be an operating point here. Does that phrase perhaps allow some "open thought" on representation, or interpretation of Church Order.
I seem to recollect, Elder delegate representation of this nature has been discussed and perhaps ruled on by Synod in the past. However, should we as a denomination recognize this as a recurring problem and come to the assistance of Classis with a smaller resource pool of eligible candidates and allow a more open participation for Elder delegates.
Delegates to Synod must represent Classis, thus the individual churches of that Classis- that is, and should be a given; part of our "reformed heritage" of church government. However, are we not eliminating a group of good delegates in smaller Classis who perhaps could represent that Classis and its churches admirably and competently.
Yes, there is room for abuse here, but that can be addressed — abuse of office can be found at any turn. However, opening up our delegate selection to all ordained Elders- currently serving or not, could be a step in the direction of solving a problem of too few lay nominees for Synod- especially in smaller Classes.