Who Will Lead Our Denomination?

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It seems, according to the latest posting on The Banner's website, that we're having a difficult time finding a new executive director to head of the Christian Reformed Church in North America corporation. It seems as though the latest nominee withdrew before the Board of Trustees interview and subsequent presentation to synod.

I immediately recall an incident some 30 years ago — perhaps longer — when the denomination owned a Cessna plane, piloted by missionary pilot Ray Browneye. On one of its trips into the Hamilton ON airport, laden with a number of denominational heads, the plane was trying to land in fog and ended up caught in a tree near the runway. All of the passengers climbed down that tree to safety. The plane, incidentaly, was never replaced. Folks wondered out loud somewhat morbidly what would have happened to the denomination if all of those CRC ministry directors had parished. Church ministries would have carried on under new leadership.

So, what will happen to the denomination if we don't find a new executive director? We could, of course, continue to reappoint Boot and Borgdorff ad infinitum. It seems to me that no pastor or theologian has the necessary passion to serve as the denomination's senior bureaucrat. That should come as good news. Pastors are trained and presumably called to serve as pastors within local congregations. They are privileged to spend several hours a week with their collective noses in scripture, eager to proclaim the Word to the Sunday flock.

Doesn't it seem strange to you that we are looking for an executive director for a multimillion-dollar Christian corporation, and we are ignoring the Christian corporate sector? In my day job as executive director of the Canadian Christian Business Federation, I regularly meet highly talented CEOs of multi-million dollar companies who have a strong sense of stewardship and ministry. I meet men and women who daily dedicate their businesses or industries to God, and who use their incredible business skills to run a company.

There may be one or two among them who would be willing to put aside their entrepreneurial spirit by serving as the CRCNA's executive director, accountable to a board of trustees and answerable to about 250,000 parishioners. Okay. Perhaps not.

It does seem peculiar that we consistently look to men and women with an MDiv to lead our denominational corporation, rather than similarly qualified MBAs with both a strong sense of fiscal management and a Kuyperian perspective.

We perpetuate this mistaken notion that only pastors, elders, and deacons are involved in ministry. Tell that to the 3,500 Christian business leaders with whom I connect each month across Canada. Tell that to the tens of thousands of CRC parishioners across North America who are involved in business or the professions each day.

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Community Builder

I respectfully diaagree.  I think I have had enough CEO leadership for sure here in the US.  Supposedly some of our brightest and best CEO's manage to build the "Great Recession" here and I am not impresed with their leadership.  I am impresed with their salaries, retirement packages, and conventions.  I know you are speaking of CEO's with a strong Christian, Kuyperian and stewardship perspective.

Still I would like to follow the Catholic Church in their selection of a Pope. They chose a theologian with scholary books and articles to his credit and someone with a strong ethical sense that could help them deal with their issues.

I would go for a professor of religion, philosophy, theology at one of our Christian Colleges or seminaries.  Just look at the religion faculty at Calvin right now.  There you find a man who wrote Desiring the Kingdom:Worship, Worldview and cultural formation and cultural liturgies Vol 1, or the Prof who wrote: Christian Virtues for Everyday Life,Etc.  Many of these people have PH.D,s and demonstrate an understanding of the modern mind, church challenges, and opportunities.

The CRCNA needs leadership with excellence in theology.

Not saying who should be selected as director, but I think the significant leadership should come from synod (the elders), not from a CEO, not from a pope, not from a director.   This would have implications for who might be selected as exec director, since he would operate as one who effects the decisions and purposes of Synod.   As Larry suggested CEOs built the recession, which is true, yet politicians,  theologians, and church politicians also can sometimes be mistaken, and cause huge problems.   Capabilities and experience relevant to the requirements of the task do not ensure perfect success, yet they are beneficial for getting the job done. 

Community Builder

Keith K. raises an interesting topic. Larry is quick to respond for the status quo. But maybe we should look more deeply into what is the role of all those executives in the CRCNA. The Executive Director is not the only one who is required to have an M.Div.  The Directors of the 4 major ministries all have M.Divs. In that sense we have a Catholic model. If you want leadership from Synod, having an experienced non ordained executive (one who can execute .... get things done!) it might not be such a bad idea. I question the capacity of Synod to provide that leadership as that assembly tends to be deliberative and too large to provide actual day to day leadership that is required for a "multi-million dollar Christian corporation".

Community Builder

The April 27, 2013 issue of the Economist has an interesting article that might be of interest to those at synod involved in the discussion on affirmative action. Highly recommended.