What is a Classis?

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What exactly is a classis? I’ve been working for Classis Toronto and have been a member of the Classis Renewal Ministry Team for many years and I’m still not sure. A good definition should explain what a classis does and why it exists.

The CRC Church Order gives us some guidelines about what a classis is and what types of issues and concerns it should address. It’s not always so simple in actual practice. At a recent committee meeting a pastor relatively new to the denomination commented on a discussion about, “What is a classis?” He said, “We were in the midst of this conversation five years ago, when I first came to this Classis. Why are we still talking about this?”

Why do we keep having this conversation? Can’t we just figure out what classis is and get on with it? Why do we still talk about classis renewal? We went through renewal five or ten years ago, been there, done that – let’s move on to the next thing. But maybe “classis” is one of those things in which we will always need to be growing and changing. What do you think? What is a classis? What could classis be?
 

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Classis- the word itself is a literal "classic" handed down from the ancients. However archaic the word, it is part of our unique "church speak" setting us apart in a way that is really not all bad in a world where conformity is a guise for "unity or sameness"- think McDonalds, or Tim Hortons.

I rather like this word's flamboyant heritage- "sails whipping and snapping in the wind as a vessel jostles over waves and dives through deep swells, traveling from port to port bringing supplies to isolated outposts where people eagerly await a visit with the supplies brought from exotic places and communication that is enlightening."

A romantic allusion to the purpose of a Classis today- perhaps; but when you put Classis in the context of churches often more than a day's drive from each other West of the Mississippi and due East of the Sierra Nevada's- it makes sense.

Those scattered churches, for sure their leaders, are isolated and the twice or more a year Classis meeting is eagerly sought out for the collegiality and spiritual uplift that is brought. Delivered with each Classis "renewal" there is spiritual gain, thoughtful discussions, prayer and praise, and yes...nourishment from verbal sparring as Classis closes.

Often today, Classis preparation begins with a collective sigh by those who anticipate the "short straw" requiring a mandatory trip to a faraway place; but it ends with each delegate experiencing a transformation that is really hard to describe, and once returned to their church- changed. This is no illusion, it really happens.

So does that mean all Classis meetings are uplifting and edifying- hardly so...we could only wish.

However we need to keep working at making Classis a viable exercise that truly draws the delegates and their churches closer together, reinvigorating their ministries and extending the vision provided by the Word of God to each community they touch.

Is a Classis an unfinished work with room for more "renewal"...by all means.  Still a need for asking "What is Classis"...you bet!

Thanks for the synopsis Dutchoven. That was informative. Ken

Thanks dutchoven!  How are you working at "making Classis a viable exercise that truly draws the delegates and their churches closer together, reinvigorating their ministries and extending the vision provided by the Word of God..."?

I'd love to hear more stories about what classes are doing in this direction.