Classis: Diagnosing and Prescribing


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 is difficult to invite new people in?

Do you think church leaders are sending clear calls for help from their regional bodies? (and not getting it??!)

Can you imagine church leaders dissatisfied with classis? 

Could you list six urgent things that regional bodies such as classes need to do to become useful to churches?

Ok, those are provocative questions, and they are based on the diagnosis and prescriptions of one J. Russell Crabtree, as he surveys the ecclesiastical scene in NA. There just aren’t that many books out there that focus specifically on middle judicatories, like classis! But this one does - The Fly in the Ointment: Why Denominations Aren't Helping Their Congregations and How They Can.  Don’t expect to agree with everything Crabtree says, but this book is worth looking into as a possible discussion guide for classis leadership.

Crabtree’s starting point is the conviction that regional bodies (like the classis) exist for the churches, and ought to be the kind of system that supports the emergence of vital congregations. He believes this should involve a total realignment that includes culture, structure, leadership, resource allocation, and communication. His plea is that regional leaders not dismiss the strategic implications of this book by using polity as a foil. There is enough flexibility and adequate provision for change to allow for the changes that are needed.

The book explores the changes Crabtree thinks are needed. In this space I’ll explore some of the ideas in this book in coming weeks. If you are familiar with this book or others like it, please share the resources! If your classis has experienced healthy change, tell the story here!  

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Community Builder

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. 

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 time we hope it will give us an objective baseline to focus renewal efforts.

Community Builder

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.

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

Community Builder

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

Could it be put online?

Community Builder

You'd have to ask the Healthy Church office [email protected]