Deck Chairs?

A key theme throughout the Agenda for Synod 2013 is the necessity to restructure the denomination.  We see it in

  • The Board of Trustees budget
  • Agencies, Institutions and Specialized ministries requesting extra funding.
  • A Diversity in Leadership Planning Group that wants what is done with regard to hiring at 2850 Kalamazoo Ave in Grand Rapids Michigan to make a discernible difference in the multi-cultural acceptance and ability of local congregations throughout the US and Canada, speaking of which...
  • Overtures with regard to a reconfigured relationship between US and Canadian churches within the denomination
  • And, most notably, in the Task Force Reviewing Structure and Culture.

Add to this a recent disappointment with regard to a candidate for the new Executive Director that leaves us with more of the same.  Well, more of the same AND some really good questions about what an Executive Director does and whether we truly need someone functioning in this role on our behalf. 

I’ll admit I feel anxious putting this out there but only because I’m going to be blamed for saying in public what any number of people have wondered about it private.  Is all this talk about revamping the culture and structure of the CRCNA – well, is it anything more than feng sui with deck chairs in the North Atlantic? Should we maybe be a little more worried about that fact that we are so big we are not going to be able to change direction quickly.  And also that there might be an iceberg up there waiting for us?  Is the question of downsizing the denominational structure itself on the table?

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I'm a church planter.  Starting from scratch-without a team.  I joined the CRC three years ago.  I have a broad and varied Christian background experiencially, but the one common thread throughout my 38 years as a Christian, to which I find myself increasingly committed to, is "reformed theology."  The structure of the denomination or even the local church is not that imporatant to me as long as the church is: <li>theologically sound, historically connected, missionally engaged, clear and Biblical in its preaching and teaching about the Gospel, unafraid of defining and enforcing discipline and, characterized by love. </li>

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The article is a bit vague so I am eager to see the specifics that people start listing in their comments. <p></p>

By the way, Meg,  I'm glad you took the risk and posted this.  As members of the family, maybe it's time to call a "family discussion."

Kinda of funny you used the Titanic analogy. Looking at the Structure and Culture report, they cite handful of values: congregation-based (hey, you in the pew!), need to work within ecclesiastical structures (this is a church!), utilize a team approach (all together now), be nimble (turn! turn!), operate as a network (row! row!), apply a multidisciplinary approach (save the doctor, the scientist, and an artist first), and minimize institutional overhead (abandon ship!!!).

In all seriousness, I hear them working on the very concerns you mention at the end. The real question is execution, and that won't happen until someone takes the helm. 

Community Builder

Meg, I agree that 2013 will be an inward looking Synod. Many years ago there was a concern expressed about Boardism. In reality not much has changed. The CRCNA at a corporate level has 4  key ministries and a host of smaller ones.The large ones have their own Boards and Managment and it would take a pretty strong leader at the Excutive Director level to take those folks on. Three of the large ministries have an "International/World" component to them. Overlap and duplication  must be taking place. A few years ago we had over 20 people from the CRCNA meeting in Haiti. The travel budgets of the all the agencies must be in the hundreds of thousands.

The issue that the church must deal with is that who is driving all this international activity? The Boards of the large agencies are generally self perpetuating and with Board Member threee year terms, the staff of these agencies tend to carry the day in the meetings. Once an Agency gets approval of its Board for a project what is the BOT going to say?  And then Synod?

The number of immigrants and refugees (not to mention illegals) entering North America must  be around 3 million per year. If Canada does 250,000 a year and the US is ten times bigger, it probably allows in 2.5 million. Maybe the CRCNA should abandon all foreign mission work and focus on North America as the name implies. An exception would of course me made for World Renew.

Bob de Moor had an interesting idea for the selection of a leader for the CRCNA in the Banner. I am personally surprised that the CRCNA has not done a better job of "grooming" leadership within its own organization(s).

More food for thought.

Participant

so the question to me is... to what extent do we need a "restructure"... is it a simpler remodel (which is never simple or convenient) or a more comprehensive rebuild (a lot of work, and stepping on some sacred toes, etc.)?  from what I read in the agenda from the task force (the 5 smooth stones example and 5 streams proposal), I don't think they've even hit a remodel level yet (except maybe with the Canadian/binational issues)...  so do i dare say, what I read still seemed a lot like re-arranging the furniture?   as Mike pointed out, the execution of it will be the telling indicator, so in most ways it's too early to tell...