I hardly know how to come at this topic, and I don't want to sound mushy. I'm wired to appreciate lots of procedure, order, predictability, and all that...
But — when I think of "renewal" in the arena of ecclesiastical assemblies, especially classis, I find myself thinking about a different way of doing business. Efficiency and strong decision making, planning and evaluation, these are great strengths in our tradition. Yes, and when I think of renewal I begin to wonder if our great strength might have become an imbalance. Have we gone overboard in our skillful building of strong organizations, overusing structure and logic and formal procedures?
What if we designed classis to be shaped by spiritual discernment? Yes, we pray, and yes, we do devotions, and yes we look to the Holy Spirit, but sometimes I feel I'm way over on the edge of valuing efficiency to the extreme, and the Spirit's leading is pretty faint and far away.
What if we thought of ourselves more organically and a little less organizationally? What if we made silence quite common, and the communal nature of the event was brought to the fore ... What if the skills we expected in a leader included the skills of leading a meeting to maximize spiritual discernment, while giving less importance to Robert's Rules?
What if storytelling became a legitimate way to participate in a meeting? What if discerning God's will together took priority over asking God to bless our plan?
Yes, I know, I'm out there. I don't feel so clear about my own ideas on this. But I know that I'm not so comfortable with what I've grown used to, either!
I found a book that really rang my bells on how meetings might look different, and what classical meetings might look like in a renewed classis or council; it's called Leadership and Listening by Don Zimmer. I recommend it.