A phrase we hear during the present political campaign is, “Leading from behind”. I wonder if that applies to our church government structure as well. The local congregation delegates representatives to Classis that in turn delegates representatives to Synod. Synod makes decisions for the denomination. The Church Order concludes with Article 86, “This Church Order, having been adopted by common consent, shall be faithfully observed, and any revision thereof shall be made only by Synod”.
As elders I would challenge you to review the Church Order and do a check list of how well your church is faithfully observing the Church Order. Is discipline being faithfully administered? Do you use only Synod approved hymns and Bible translations? Do you worship twice on Sunday? Do you have sermons that are based on the Heidelberg Catechism?
I know as I reviewed the Church Order recently, neither I or my Council did all of those things in the church or in how we worshipped. In the 1990’s I did my Doctor of Ministry Project entitled, “The Church Order Inclusive or Exclusive”. I surveyed a large sampling of churches and discovered that few if any followed the Church Order without exceptions. Almost every survey came back with a confession that some article of the Church Order was not followed.
I wonder is Synod leading from behind? How serious should we be about the Church Order and “faithfully observing” the Church Order that we by common consent we adopted? How should changes in the Church Order occur? Presently, it seems to me, that churches make changes in how they conduct themselves and then the Church Order makes changes. An example of that observation is churches who welcomed children to the “Lord’s Supper” and some years later Synod made adjustments.
My suggestion would be that as elders, councils, churches we need to either change the Church Order or we need to change how we conduct ourselves as churches in accordance with the Church Order? What do you think?