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It seems like everyone is talking about change at the denominational level.  OK, maybe not everyone.   But classes have been talking about change - and changing! -- for more than a decade already.  The  conversations about change at the denominational level are beginning to take account of the crucial strategic importance of the classis for stimulating and managing change.   The classis is at the heart of a revitalized denomination.

Quote:  “… organizational realignment framework for a phased convergence of ministry functions within the CRC”.  Source undisclosed. 

I loved this set of words when I came across it!   It made me smile, and it comforted me --  it gave me one nifty sentence to describe the constant state of fluidity that marks the CRC structures these days.   When my brain screams, “What is going ON?!”   I now can sooth myself with this mantra: don’t worry, it’s just the emerging organizational realignment framework for a phased convergence of ministry functions within the CRC.

BUT SERIOUSLY!!!!    It is a time of almost unbelievable (and unbearable) change and uncertainty in the denomination.    New initiatives are popping up all over, and I can only hope that all the conversations and proposals will in fact find convergence.   I know the Holy Spirit is not confused, and I pray we will together discern and follow him.   Nevertheless, there’s a lot of stress in the system, as new shapes begin to emerge and foreshadowings begin to be embodied. 

So here’s the thing – classis is in the middle of the web of change.   Caught in the web?   Well, that might be one way to think about it, but I prefer to think classis might be the spider, nimbly spinning beautiful designs that join tree to windowsill to broom handle to car door.   And create a space for sparkling drops of grace to be caught, to catch the sun, to be noticed and enjoyed.

OK, what I mean is, classis doesn’t exist in some disconnected state.   It’s connected all over the place, and those connections will only increase.  Change will push and pull and buffet the classis, and sometimes will pull loose what had taken great effort and much time to construct.  Classis leadership will need to keep the big picture in mind, and will need extra wisdom and patience to address the complexities and anxieties that will only increase. Words to remember…  Prayer.   Holy Spirit.  Trust.  Discernment.  Obedience. 

Classis is part of a larger system, and classis itself is made up of intersecting systems.  The “renewal of classis” becomes part of a bigger picture of ongoing renewal – leadership change, revisioning, new structures, unpacking and reforming mandates, building clear collaborations in the place of controlling hierarchy.  Some of the outlines are beginning to emerge, and the role of classis is beginning to move into the front of the dialog.  This will only reinforce how complex and inter-related the questions will be. 

One thing that will help us hold steady in the waves of questions is this: classis exists for the sake of the congregations.  Classis can help moderate high octane dialog about change.  Classis can keep the focus on faithfulness and accountability in the midst of change.   Classis can be a place of encouragement, connection, course correction.  Classis can nurture and nourish leaders so they don’t burn out.  Classis can put its arms around congregations that are exhausted, and can minister healing where there is conflict.  Classis CAN do these things, if it’s healthy.   It’s never been more important that classis leadership exert itself for the sake of the health of classis.  The churches need you - urgently.

What do you think? Share below.


In my former Classis (Atlantic Northeast), classical renewal had a major impact on how we "did classis". I would love to see at least some of those changes made in my current classis. We have a good classis (Wisconsin), but we could make it even better through Classical Renewal. Experience has been a good teacher.

Karl Westerhof on March 18, 2013

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Ken, I had the opportunity to see Classis ANE at work, and I was delighted.  Good learning has taken place and good changes made, AND the changes seem to be lasting.  There are other classes that have really "renewed" as well, but plenty more need some new inspiration and experimentation!  If I can help your classis on the road to renewal, let me know!

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