It is both interesting and telling that there isn't a category to talk about the denominational structure, given the fact that this occupied a considerable amount of time at the last meeting of Synod and it certainly occupies a lot of the BOT's time.
That seems to send a strong message that denominational structure is the sole responsibility of the BOT and, ultimately, Synod. While it is indeed BOT's responsibility to present a report to a future Synod, I would hope that pew-sitting CRC members have an opportunity to provide input into the process. If ever there was a need for a denominational 'town hall meeting', this seems to be it: What should the CRCNA look like? How do we talk about accountability? Why does the CRCNA need to emulate Corporate America when it creates a structure for a binational church? And is the binational church still a valid notion, given differences in culture and stewardship.
The CRCNA seems to thrive on structure: the more boards and committees we have, the more 'efficient' we pretend to be. We do all we can to preserve and refine and tweak the structure, and many of our bureaucrats devote considerable time battling issues around accountability and authority.
The church is all about mission and ministry and it seems to me that structure often gets in the way of doing ministry. We have it all backwards. We need a minimalist structure to support and encourage and facilitate the mission of the church.
The CRCNA is, I believe, the only binational denomination in North America. That served us well for a generation or two as a fledgling Canadian presence was established. Now we have strong offices with strong leadership in both Burlington ON and Grand Rapids MI denominational offices. There are ministries that are unique to Canada -- a strong focus on social justice and a vibrant ministry among the aboriginal community. There are ministries that are unique to the United States -- a strong ministry among native Americans, a strong focus on race relations, military chaplaincies.
Theologically, our perspectives are different: American piety and Canadian Kuyperianism. When it comes to stewardship and giving, the CRWRC in Canada, for instance, receives most of its support from CRC members. In the US, most of the CRWRC support comes from corporations.
Government regulations, especially, have become tightened so that funds raised within Canada need to be accounted for within Canada. Canadian government regulations resulted in a significant change in the denominational pension plan ... further underscoring the fact that we are two nations and that there is an increasing demand to separate out Ministry Share between those two nations.
Part of this denominational discussion on structure, therefore, needs to consider today's reality. The time has come to look at creating two separate, sister denominations ... with structures and ministries that reflect their uniqueness.
More importantly, it is time that Americans and Canadians became engaged in this signficiant discussion. The Board of Trustees and Synod need to hear from us.