Two things occurred that are signs summer is almost here. I received my “Agenda for Synod” and the newspaper reported that Phoenix had its first one hundred degree day. (I live at an elevation of 3,000 feet so my thermometer did not register the degrees that high.)
But knowing summer is here caused me to reflect on my past experiences at Synod and the interest each church I served had in that event. It varied. The first church I served as Pastor was located in a rural area of Illinois. I never heard much debate about issues that Synod had to decide by the council or the congregation. In later years they became concerned about “Women and Office” and when the decision was made broke ties with the denomination.
The second church I served was located in New Jersey (my home state) and it was very much interested in the issues the denomination. The issue of “Women in Office” had evolved as the “hottest” issue. I always appreciated the church being able to discuss the issue in a civil manner during the Adult Sunday School classes with some being for women in office and others against it. The Council had also sent a variety of differing Overtures to Synod concerning a variety of issues during my tenure serving the church.
The third church I served was a “church plant” sponsored by Home Missions. It grew into a church that consisted of a membership well over 85% non CRC members. Even though I had each member read the small pamphlet, “Belonging” for the membership class, the church did not seem interested or involved in issues of either Classis or Synod. ( I find fault with myself for that attitude.)
All of this made me reflect on how both Classis and Synod are formed. I believe I am correct in saying that at no time at Classis Illiana, Classis Hackensack or Classis Arizona did an elder “chair” the Classis Meeting. With the exception of one Synod that I am familiar with, no elder has ever “chaired” Synod. Even though the Church Order gives the elders in local churches a great amount of authority as to the administration and various functions of the church, the delegated bodies seem to not do the same. I strongly suspect that we have many talented elders who, without a doubt, are more capable than many pastors in conducting the business of Synod. They have chaired many organizations in their communities that most pastors have never experienced. Yet elders are seldom visible on the executive committees of our Synods. I believe that should not be the case.
I would challenge elders to take a more active role beyond their local churches in the affairs of both Classis and Synod. I believe that it should be mandated that fifty percent of the executive committee of Synod (annually) should consist of non-clergy. Elders unite! What do you think? Am I wrong? Are elders active enough in Classis and Synod?