What are the factors that can really help a classis experience positive change? I’ll be the first to say I’m no expert, but I’d like to put forth a few thoughts for discussion.
OK, I know you’re going to ask, “Yes, but what IS a healthy classis?” What are its “essential” characteristics? Can we try a few tentative thoughts here? I’m going to base my thoughts loosely on DeMoor’s Church Order Commentary – loosely I repeat.
Classis is healthy when congregations and their leaders are being encouraged and nurtured in prayer, discipleship, and mission by the deliberations, decisions, and programs of the classis. In this statement I assume that underlying characteristics are faithfulness to the Word, a prayerful atmosphere, a culture of safe and honest dialog, clear and well-executed decisions, to suggest a few.
How do you get there?
Note that this is a different question than the “benchmarks” developed by the Classis Renewal Ministry Team. Benchmarks intend to answer the question: What are the marks of a classis that’s on the renewal journey? But the question I’ve been wondering about lately is this: What are the factors that contribute to getting a classis onto the renewal journey? How to get started?
I’ve been listening and observing. I’ve developed a list (and checked it more than twice). This blog will reveal only the first thing on the list. In coming blogs I’ll talk about other factors in helping classis get on the road to renewal. My list won’t be complete, not final, not even maybe all correct in the steps it identifies, but a start to gather what I think we might be learning from places where it’s happening.
Number 1 - Prayer - Not only does the meeting itself need to become a place of prayer, but there needs to be a group of people faithfully supporting the change agents in prayer. Stress and tension will be inevitable. Everyone needs to be assured that we are here for each other, and that fellowship is based on the reality that God is here for us; we are being renewed and we are safe. So, who besides you is praying regularly for fresh wind to blow through your classis?
What else do you think should be on the list? What do you expect to see? What have you seen in your years of attending classis that you think was a factor in moving toward a renewal process?