Two things real people have said to me:
Why Your Pastor Hates Classis
We have good reasons to have attitude about classis. At the same time there are good reasons classis takes the shape it does.
“I work at my church for free. I get paid to go to classis twice a year.”
“Pastors are kingdom builders, they build their own kingdoms.”
The first quotation was from a friend of mine who is a pastor. The second from another friend who said this to me when he first learned that I was a pastor. He works in state politics and knows a thing or two about men who build their own kingdoms.
Pastors, like the rest of us, like to get their own way. In many churches pastors do often get their way and when they stop getting their way with sufficient frequency they often feel called to a new place where they will get their way again. This is not unique to pastors of course. Church members similarly “feel called” to other places when the going gets tough or their influence wanes.
Why do pastors have a love/hate relationship with classis? At classis, pastors often don’t get their way. They are in the mix with other pastors and leaders who are used to getting their way and the politicking and wrangling can get serious.
There is a trend to making classis meetings nicer. A nicer classis meeting usually has the wrinkles in the agenda worked out, there are few votes and even fewer dissenting votes. There are fewer angry speeches and words of protest. Classis meetings are more of a celebration where everyone can go home feeling good about the church. Back room deals are nice, if you’re in the back room.
I very much understand the desire to make classis less of a painful ordeal. I have had the experience of sitting through what seem to be overly long meetings listening to perfunctory points, someone's gripe or critique of something that seems unimportant, and losing close votes through procedural manipulation. If you really like these things why not just go to Synod every year?! :) I understand the revulsion to the ugly classis meeting.
I would like to assert that the occasional ugly classis meeting may in fact be good for the church. Pastors are fallen, broken, self-centered people (just like everyone else) and shouldn’t always get their way, even when they’re right. Sometimes the happy, celebration classis means that people don’t care about the nuts and bolts of the hard work of ministry in a region or the working through legitimate differences in perception or theology. The cross of Jesus Christ had to be an ugly place for the work of the cross to complete its task.
If your pastor hates classis it may speak to his or her sanity. Life is full of things we need to do but don’t often like. Don’t delegate too much to small committees. Don’t streamline and beautify too much so that as broad a group of people as possible are invested and have a say in how your region does the business of ministry. Life is hard, classis should be too sometimes.