Finding Balance in Classis

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I've been wondering lately, does a classis primarily exist for the ministries it does corporately or for the individual congregations represented in that classis? I know it’s a combination of those two aspects but what’s the proper balance? Is it right that congregations ask the question about classis: “What’s in it for us?” and then base their participation on the answer? Or should congregations be participating, not for what they can get out of classis, but for what they can contribute?

The stories told in response to my blog, “Relevant or Irrelevant?” focused on the sharing and support congregations bring to the classis meetings, not the ministries the classis does corporately. Both stories mentioned the leadership development that takes place at the classis level. Granted, these are just stories from two out of our forty-seven classes, but do they represent the general feeling of how classes can be most relevant?

If classes are most relevant when they address the needs and provide resources for the local congregation, then where should classis be spending its time, energy and resources?

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In my experience with Classis meetings, 1/2 time is spent listening to reports of organizations. Those may be of benefit to anyone who do not have opportunity read about these organizations. The rest of the time is spent discussing overtures asking Synod to decide something or other.  If there are new ministers, lots of time is spent interviewing them, and listening to reviews and encouraging them.  Time is also taken voting for Synod representatives and openings in various committees of Classis. Very little time is spent in sharing resources, or actively listening to individual congregations. From time to time this has been attempted, but how to do that effectively is difficult especially if there is little preparation before Classis to discuss certain topics. A few minutes is spent in listening to visit reports, but no time is afforded to discuss issues raised with the churches. Perhaps the best network is provided by justr talking with each other.

Classis meetings are for ministers and one elder or deacon. Much of the work in churches are done by others. The representatives may not know enough about certain projects to effectively share resources or lead a discussion.

Other venues are better geared to support churches. For instance, days of encouragement are helpful where various experts in various topics lead discussions. Smaller churches can attend and hear and discuss many aspects which otherwise they do not have access to due to expensive and sometimes dangerous driving. 

August Guillaume

I think that you, aguilla1, are saying that Classis should primarily be concerned with the minsitries that are done together  and the sharing and learning from each other happens informally at the meetings and at other venues.

What do others think?  What makes a classis relevant to its congregations?