It’s no big secret that some congregational and classis leaders feel a sense of disconnection with the denominational ministries and agencies. However, in my time serving as a staff person for Classis Renewal, I’ve seen a general effort to bridge that disconnect in an increasingly coordinated way. Today, I’d like to share more about just one of many projects going on.
We’re calling it “Strengthening Ministry Relationships in Canada.” The overall goal is to increase the quality of the two-way relationship between congregations/classes and our denominational ministries. We’re currently focusing our efforts on Classis Quinte, Classis Hamilton, and Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan. In our conversations with the classis leaders about this project, the response has been highly supportive.
First, it has to do with tending to the way the CRCNA approaches a classis:
I recently asked the CRC Pastors’ Facebook Group what they wanted to tell CRCNA staff about our connection to classes. There were many responses, but here is the main nugget: show you care about us. The pastors wanted denominational people to know that when they approach a classis, there should be evidence that they have gotten to know the classis and want to continue to learn from — and with — them.
So here are some initial postures/behaviours that the Strengthening Ministry Relationships project is working on:
- Coming to a classis meeting knowing the current relationship the classis has with the CRCNA. We’re doing this by creating a shared pre-classis information sheet that has data including which denominational people are attending that particular meeting and why, who was there last time, what denominational projects are operating within that classis, etc.
- Listening for ministry possibilities. After each classis meeting, we’re asking denominational staff who were at the meeting to fill out a quick feedback form. Among other things, the form asks if they heard anything that might be worth following-up on, whether it had to do with their own ministry or not. So, say you’re a Faith Formation person but you heard the classis talking about planting a church. Put that in the feedback form and we’ll make sure that someone who represents our calling to Global Mission knows about it.
Second, tending to the way a classis or congregation can approach the CRCNA:
I’ve long believed that the average person in the pew is relatively agency-agnostic. By which I mean: people care a lot more about whether or not they are being supported by the denomination than they do about which specific agency/ministry is supporting them. People who are Christian Reformed tend to look at “the denomination” as one entity, not as a collection of various independent ministries. So while each denominational staff wears a unique ministry hat, there’s got to be ways in which they also share a singular, coordinated identity to serve a local church or classis.
Here are some postures/behaviours that the Strengthening Ministry Relationships project is working on:
- Building a sense of team for all the denominational personnel who serve a given classis. The baseline is knowing one another within the region, what ministries we each serve in, and what projects or support is already happening.
- When a CRCNA person connects with a classis or attends a meeting, that we always do so wearing two hats: we represent their own ministry, but also represent the denomination as a whole. We want someone from, say, Disability Concerns, to make it explicit to the classis that are able to both discuss supporting churches with respect to disability and inclusion, and they are able to facilitate a connection to other people who may serve them better on other topics the classis/congregations are interested in.
More to the Story
There is obviously more to the story than what I’ve briefly sketched out. And there’s a good chance that you have some ideas that might strengthen this project itself. On behalf of the group that’s working on this project, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to make a comment below, or email me ([email protected]) or Darren Roorda, Canadian Ministries Director ([email protected]). We’re just starting to implement these postures intentionally, so we’ll have lots to learn along the way. Stay tuned!