A Better Way to Select the Officers of Synod?

  355 views

Firstly, it is important to mention that I have no issue whatsoever about the quality of the officers of Synod, this year or in the past.

The selection process has become a popularity contest ... in the best sense of the word. Officers are selected on the first day of synod, and if you don't know many of the pastors and elders who will be coming to the meeting of synod, it becomes a tough process. Only those who are known, or those who have a long history of attending synod meetings, are chosen.

What has struck me over the years is that, during the course of the week-long debate and discussion, the 'cream' does rise to the top. Delegates are exposed to articulate and wise presentations by elders and pastors, some of whom may very well do an excellent job as a clerk or chair of synod.

I would like, as one of the final acts of synod, that next year's officers are selected from among this year's delegates. It is a way to acknowledge giftedness among the delegates, especially among the elder delegates. But it also provides next year's synod with four officers who have a bit of an historical context of decisions that were made last year. The officers of synod will have served as delegates — perhaps even officers — in the previous year.

Since the officers are selected almost a year in advance, it gives them the opportunity to become more thoroughly familiar with the Agenda of Synod.

Posted in:

The Network hosts user-submitted content.
Posts don't necessarily imply CRCNA endorsement, but must comply with our community guidelines.

Let's Discuss…

We love your comments! Thanks for your help upholding the Community Guidelines to make this an encouraging and respectful community for everyone.
Community Builder

Being able to do this assumes two things: 1) The officers' respective classes will delegate them to Synod the next year and 2) requires that they still be in office the next year. #2 can be easily addressed by only selecting those whose term of office continues for at least another year. One way to accommodate #1 without binding a classis to delegate a specific person the following year would be to create four at-large positions to Synod for the officers to fill. Doing that would require a Church Order change. This could be considered to be within the scope of the mandate of the new Task Force to Study the Offices of Elder and Deacon to consider. Other ideas?

A better way for electing officers of synod sounds great, and your suggestion, Keith, sounds like a good one. Another way to address Terry's #1 hurdle is to have second and third alternates in case the classis does not want to send the same person twice. If all alternates are missing then voting could be done as a last resort.
When it comes to voting in general at synod, it would be nice to know more about the people themselves. Instead of just lisitng the positions they have held and giving resume-style information, it would be more helpful to know things like what they value about the CRC, what do they believe their gifts are, what are the indications God is leading them to this position, etc.

 

As a one-time officer of Synod, I'd suggest..."If it ain't broke, don't waste good minds fixing it."

 

 

Community Builder

With all due respect, George, the system is 'broke'. As a well-known pastor, even a recently-retired one, you would stand a very good chance of being elected as one of the officers of synod if you were to be so delegated next year.

Synod just a few months ago passionately spoke about the need to have deacons attending and being intimately involved in synod. Under our present 'system', the notion of having a minister, an elder and a deacon as officers of synod is remote at best.

The system is 'broke' as long as the leadership of the denomination's broadest assembly remains firmly in the hands of ministers. There needs to be a way to identify, acknowledge, and recognize the gifts among lay leadership as officers of synod. I, for one, don't consider that discussion a waste of 'good minds'.

OK, Keith, let's see what this small mind might suggest.

1. Have Classes nominate those from their midsts that have demnstrated their ability to give leadership, make decisions, and understand procedure. Most years there are more nominations than needed. With the nominations, give some qualifications, endorsements and recommendations/testimonials.

2. If the above leads to only 3 or so for each position, that's sufficient. Popularity and being well-known, unless it's a matter of noteriaty, is not all bad. Persons, including pastors, deacons and elders, become known for generally good reasons indicating some ability that may  apply to the office.

3. Somewhat tongue in cheek, but give a "Synod Procedure" test to all. Officers should be aware of the material coming in front, but almost more imporantly, the procedures that are possible ways of dealing with the unusual. (I believe Wm K. demonstrated this ability well on several occasions requiring judicious calls to restrain action at times etc. ) Possibly a qualification could be a chairman of an advisory committee or reporter of the same for respective officers.

4. Elminate the host church's pastor from elimination (Sorry Reginald/Reggie) He or she may not be the best qualitied, but due to their initial exposure, always make for a good runoff. ( I did enjoy R's sense of humor too though.)

5. Synocial experience of at least a few ought to be a basic. How do we get elders more eager to come?  Disqualify pastors who now  come as elders. This distorts the balance of clergy and elders/deacons. Pastors should come as pastors, and  commissioned pastors as pastors if they have the theological training, not necessarily those CP's based on their staff position as Worship Pastor or Outreach Pastor.

6. Appreciate an appropriate self awareness that some just don't serve best in those capacities. Some humbly suggest they'll serve in any capacity but shouldn't consider it at all. I delighted in my first classis experience when a colleague was supposed to take a turn by squence suggested to chair and declined, saying, " I don't even chair council or family meetings, why would I try to chair this unruly bunch." Applause and "Amens" affirmed his self-denial and honest awareness.

7. Trust that God's church will not fall apart at one Synod becaue an officer didn't quite meet all the requirements. He's not alone on the podium. In fact, there always the George Vinks among the delegation who'll entertain the others with their regular, required, but often unapprciated, "Point of Order, Mr. President." Anyhow, here you have some thoughts from a smaller than others' mind.

Keith, I don't see this working. The eventual result is that the same people are in leadership over and over. Someone could be president of synod 5+ times in a row under your suggestion. This would not be good. For the sake of continuity, we would sacrifice diversity. I would much rather see new, less experienced folks, who brought a variety of new perspectives.

Community Builder

 

We can theoretically re-elect the same president or officers year after year under our present system, as long as classes send them as delegates. A scan through Acts of Synod will point out that we've had a few presidents who served at least two consecutive years. Synodical rules would need to be put in place to limit the number of consecutive times a person can serve as president.

There is, I admit, a potential problem in trying too hard to 'control' the make-up of the officers of Synod. We are doing that currently when it comes to the kinds of advisors we delegate to synod: ethnic advisors, youth advisors. I hope that we never see the day coming when delegates are encouraged to choose an ethnic minority lay person to serve as an officer.

Let me stress that we need qualified officers to facilitate the work of synod. Historically, those qualified officers come from the pool of ministers... and they have done an excellent job.  We simply need to find a way to identify qualified lay leadership. There are undoubtedly elder delegates whose day job involves managing large staffs, or multinational corporations, or providing leadership training within the corporate world, but who at the same time have a passion for Church Order, Synodical Rules, and a passion for the church.

I initially raised this question because Synod decided to study how deacons can become more intimately involved in the work of synod. That question could be extended to the one-half of delegates who are elders.

Unless Synod delegates are very much unlike the members of First Everett CRC, it is a problem to get people to agree to be synodical officers.  

Participant

I support George Vink's statements entirely. As a delegate to Synod 2013 and a few others, I think the current process works well. Pray for the right people to be elected and pray for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide the vote, as well as every decision. It is God's church, and I believe we can trust him t o lead and guide us in the work of Synod.