Classis Hamilton has embarked on a process to restructure full classis meetings and develop a better way to share common values and purposes.
Until spring of 2010 Classis Hamilton had been following a 1950’s model of church governance which was heavy on administration and maintenance leaving churches feeling isolated from each other. Through the re-visioning process Classis Hamilton wanted new values of ministry, mission, and community to emerge with less administration, less maintenance, and less isolation between churches. It also desired new purposes of mutual encouragement, mutual accountability, and shared ministries, intended to enhance the work of classis in spreading the gospel in the greater Hamilton region. In the new structure, each classis meeting is designed with a theme consisting of verbal reports from agencies and ministries speaking to that theme. With this structure, Classis Hamilton creates opportunity to enhance ministry effectiveness through churches, members, and ministries within the classis. It was felt the old model did not reflect current ministry trends or needs; thus, a “renovation” needed to occur.
A Classical Leadership Team was formed to assist classis in determining overall vision and provide big picture oversight in this new model. A Classical Ministry Team was created to provide oversight, support, accountability, evaluation and feedback to shared ministries and committees of Classis Hamilton. The existing Classical Interim Committee continues its work providing effective and efficient administrative support and accountability to the churches of the classis. Together the teams and committee work to create an agenda for classis meetings with a theme that better serves the local churches, members and ministries. All the verbal reports by various standing committees, ministries and agencies are encouraged to share the work that they are doing in Classis Hamilton, consequently providing opportunities for mutual engagement.
As an example, in one of Classis Hamilton’s restructured meetings the agenda theme was “Young Adults”. Each of the agencies and ministries that were presenting reports shared with the delegates the ministry and mission opportunities they have with young adults. The meeting was to have both an afternoon session, starting with the usual administrative work of Classis Hamilton facilitated by the Classical Interim Committee and verbal reports facilitated by the newly formed Classical Ministry Team, and an evening session, allowing interested people, unable to attend during the day, to come out and hear from a panel of young adults and participate in discussions. The evening session was well attended as people wanted to hear from the panel of young adults between the ages of 20-30. Each panellist had a story to tell on how they either felt welcomed or alienated by members of the CRC. They shared with blunt honesty their experiences with the CRC and after hearing from the panelists, everyone gathered in small groups to reflect on what was shared.
Churches in the classis have also been gathered into regional clusters to provide an environment of common values and purposes. These regional clusters currently meet during the Classis meeting to hear from each other, share ministry practices, but in the future Classis Hamilton hopes regional clusters can meet between classis meetings through a format that encourages sharing of joys, sins and sorrows, and the sharing of visions for joint ministry. A Ministry Coordinator was hired on a part time basis to facilitate the new changes to Classis.
This new structure of new teams, regional clusters, values, purposes and themed agendas are held together under a new mission statement declaring “Classis Hamilton is to be used by God to renew the greater Hamilton region through a gospel movement of healthy and vibrant churches, ministries and members.” This new model is not perfect and adjustments are still being made, but it is the prayer of Classis Hamilton to partner with God in His renewing work in the greater Hamilton region.