Is It Just Me, or ...

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Is it just me, or are other pastors & church leaders getting frustrated with the way our denominational communicates with us, particularly when they ask for (expect?) us to adopt their agenda for what our church needs?

I don't mean to sound ungrateful to all the fine people doing so much for us at 2850 Kalamazoo (and elsewhere). I really do appreciate what they do, their dedication and their heart for the church. So, thank you for all you do for us!

The other day I got a packet of stuff from denominational headquarters. Before even opening it, I let out a sigh and the thought that crossed my mind was "What do they want from me now?" But I opened it anyway (honestly, I don't always). Good, an updated Church Order (Will we ever write one that doesn't need constant revision? Oh, wait, that would be another forum topic.). A bit of advertising from Faith Alive (expected, and easily ignored), an invitation to a conference almost 2000 miles away (in Grand Rapids, of course — typical), and a new DVD on racism, with a cover letter (sigh).

Now, I know that SCORR takes its share of hits from those who don't see the need (I do). And I've had this reaction to other stuff I've gotten like it, so I don't mean to pick on this particular gift. But when I saw the DVD cover, with the gradient fade (brown to white) all caps title: FACING RACISM, my thought was "Really? Do you think we need this? Have you already concluded that there is there something wrong with us?" I hate racism. I hate even the hints of it. I'm genuinely glad we're setting goals to include more people of non-european descent on our boards. And I wish we did a better job in our classis of including our Korean pastors and elders in our leadership, our discussions and our classical ministries. But when I saw this, I felt resentful. I wished I didn't, but I did.

I wasn't sure why, and so I've let it simmer a few days.

What I finally realized I was dealing with is a feeling of being treated paternalistically: the feeling that those folks, far away, who have probably never even visited this part of the country, let alone my church, presumed to know better than we do here about what's important to us, what needs to be on my and my church's agenda, and the best way for us to deal with it. When I realized that feeling, I also realized that I feel that a lot toward official denominational communication and denominational 'gifts.' The talk in my head often goes something like this "They don't know me, aren't asking me what I think I need, see the CRC world as if it's all just like it is in western Michigan, and yet they presume to know just what I should do and how I should do it. I don't think so." (I know, I'm still in need of more sanctification.)

I get a lot of 'gifts' like this from the denomination. I usually feel the same way about them: 'gifts with an agenda.' They usually remain unopened. When I make the effort, when I tell myself that maybe this 'gift' will have something useful for me, or for our church, when I look at the material, the sense of disconnect and of paternalism doesn't fade. It increases. [sigh]

I don't like feeling resentful toward a denomination I love. And with all the (intentional) "I statements" above, I take full responsibility for my feelings.

But I'll ask it anyway: Is it just me, or are other pastors & church leaders getting frustrated with the way our denominational communicates with us, particularly when they ask for (expect?) us to adopt their agenda for what our church needs?

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Participant

Bless your heart for being honest and still manage to be gracious as well.  I would have ranted a whole lot more!  Guess I need a lot more sanctification =/ 

Yes, what you share resonates (I'm on the west coast as well)....disconnect...resentment...frustration.    so that's all I'll say before I say things I probably shouldn't...  God's working on me to honor the crc as part of His Bride. and some days I really struggle for various reasons...

fyi, Rich, Dennis Fuqua will be in B'ham for a 4 hour pastors prayer summit on Monday, Oct. 3 from 8-12 if you are interested/available...

http://lowpc.org/summit 

 

 

Community Builder

There is a lot of struggle with this as well in the rural churches in Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota. For many, there is the feeling of being ignored and their views not even being heard. When I receive items from the denomination, I take it as information, pass on to my elders these items and let them decide.

Josh,I don't write on here much, but racisism is more deeply imbedded in people than you think.  You just have to dig a little deeper beneath the friendly exterior people put on.   I initially thought the way you did.  I never imagined racisim was a problem until I once overheard a group of influenctial people at a church function talking about blacks (and they weren't calling them blacks).  I was shocked because I imagined racism a thing of the past and I imagined the people of the church a whole lot more sanctified than they were.  People will make accusations they are being ignored, etc, if the message is one they don't want to hear.

Richard, I fully identify with what you are saying.  On the one hand you feel obligated to read the stuff.   On the other hand, its like the local hardware store advertising flyer... should you read it if you don't feel like it?   If you are busy with other things?   If you don't recall any need for hardware items?  

Participant

When I get a denominational or Calvin College or Seminary invite to some Thursday night guest speaker or some one day conference I always look in the envelope for the plane tickets ... so far I haven't found any ;)  Yes ... a west coaster as well.  I think the mountains make us feel we are in another part of the world. 

So who would it matter to if the CRC denomination disolved right now?  Not to most of the members of the congegation I serve.  There is so much Christian resources out there, lots much better produced that the CRC can afford, CRC mail is just one in the pile I get each week.

Just attended a D6 conference in Texas (google D6) on faith at home and what that means to youth ministry and church ministry as a whole.  There were dozens and dozens of booths with great curriculum for families and youth and childrens ministries and more.  Did not see Faith Alive there and if I have to implement cradle to grave discipleship, the material and plans and processes are all available.  I hope the CRC is checking out what is out there before trying to sell me another set of booklets to teach as we try to implement some of Synod's latest decisions.

Participant

Judging from the posts above it's not just you, and writing from the Canadian maritimes, I understand the feeling of being a long ways away from "HQ."  It affects us on a classical level too, since the majority of our classis is in Ontario.  I really regret that the fall meeting of Classis Eastern Canada cannot be hosted in Fredericton CRC because of financial limitations.  We wanted the privilege of hosting them in the year of our 50th anniversary.    

Yet I think on the whole we're greatly blessed by being part of this denomination.  The gifts we've received in the past as a "home  missions church" when this congregation began 50 years ago have created a strong foundation.  And the gift from Sustaining Pastoral Excellence to allow me to meet regularly with other pastors from the Canadian Maritime CRCs (full disclosure, I'm on the implementation team for SPE) is a really big support.  

I appreciate the fact that the Executive Director of the CRCNA and the Direcctor of Canadian ministries came a year and a half ago and paid our congregation a pastoral visit - sitting in a circle with us, fielding questions, listening to concerns, leading us in devotions, and praying for us and with us - it reminded us that we're not forgotten nor ignored.  Reps from Diaconal Ministries Canada, CRWorld Missions, Back to God Ministries International, Dort College, and Redeemer University College show up regularly.  CRWRC was active in our neighbourhood when flooding occured in our province last December just a 20 minute drive from our church building.

No, not every mailing is tailor-made for our congregation, but overall, I thank God that we're part of the CRC.  It makes it easier to think globally and act locally.

Why did you want to be a church leader?