A couple weeks ago I said Crabtree saw a connection between the Trinity and the renewal of classis. What in the world did he see? In a nutshell, he was seeing the beauty and interdependence of all creation as a reflection of the beauty and community of the Trinity, and seeing the parts fit together and serve each other. He was emphasizing the same point that Paul was making in Col 1:17 – everything coheres beautifully in Christ and therefore all the gifts can be brought to bear anywhere. Church structures can be gifted by learning from other organizations.
Obviously, Crabtree is setting us up for new learning about middle judicatories (classis); in the opening lines of Chapter Four he begins to lay it out:
“The most important and radical tasks in redeveloping regional associations into transformational bodies are recruiting, developing, and retaining the right leadership. The right leadership will be capable of functioning in a way that is suitable for the size of the organization and appropriate to their leadership level within the organization. This chapter makes the case that regional associations are not able to provide what local churches need because they do not understand organizational level dynamics and are functioning with values, skills, and time management that are inappropriate to the regional level.”
Strong effective congregational leadership is not necessarily the best predictor of strong effective classis leadership. Great teachers don’t always make great principals. Great missionaries don’t always make great administrators. Values, skills, and priorities all need to be different. Whether or not Crabtree is right about the different values needed at the level of the classis, he does have a very helpful list of 4 basic values that need to shape the work of a regional leader:
- You must value indirect success; that is, success through others.
- You must value strategic engagement with your member congregations
- You must value the development of a pool of high-quality leaders.
- You must value making the connections between the needs of your member congregations and the needs of the denomination you serve.
Crabtree unpacks these briefly but helpfully, and then in following chapters he discusses the different skills, including management of time. Once past that, the remaining 13 chapters get deeper, more provocative, and more focused on the dynamics of effective church organizations. We’ll see what we have time for. I hope I’ve whetted your appetite for this as a possible discussion for classis leaders! What other resources have you found that have helped you build a healthier classis?