What's a Classis for Anyhow?
November 1, 2011
Updated February 27, 2014
2 comments 50 views
We used to know, and then we became sort of unsure, and now a new answer is coming clear!
Change is afoot, there are new opportunities and challenges, and many classes are discovering a new way to BE! Would you believe that some classical meetings generate joy?! Pleasure? A deep sense of satisfaction? Would you believe excitement?
Many of the classes that have discovered new life were assisted on their journey by the Classis Renewal Ministry Team (CRMT). The team’s been around for more than a decade, and it’s helped dozens of classes go through a renewal process, resulting in fresh thinking, purposeful meetings, and new initiatives.
The CRMT is committed to help foster fellowship, prayer, and spiritual growth at the classical level. To what end? So that classes can do a better job of creating and sustaining the health of their member congregations. To what end? Transformed people, neighborhoods, and communities.
This team of six, from congregations and agencies, sits together regularly to pray and work for classical health. They’ve developed planning tools of different types, a set of “benchmarks” for signaling classical health, a very simple assessment, opportunities for meetings among neighboring classical leaders, and a practice of walking with a classis through a process of self discovery, discernment, and renewal.
Of course classical renewal doesn’t happen in a test tube, it’s real life with bumps and sticky spots, and it happens in connection with all kinds of other initiatives, energy sources, and organizational change. It happens when multiple agencies generate a new and synergized focus. It happens when people get re-ignited in their passion for God’s mission in our world.
Vision for mission is perhaps the most powerful asset a congregation can have. Can you imagine how this could be amplified and reinforced if it shaped the life of a classis? How does church planting intersect with classical renewal? Where is leadership development in a classical agenda? Unleashing diaconal potential – the best kept secret in the CRC – the critical mass needs to be embedded in the classis. Classical renewal must intersect with change on many fronts. And the changes themselves need to be embedded in the classical culture. Have we failed to realize what a powerful tool we have in the classical structure?
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I urge you to share with readers the stories of your classical renewal (or your questions about it!). Your neighbors need to hear!
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Classis Yellowstone has a unique place in the geography of the North American continent- it shares this uniqueness with Classes Alberta South, Columbia, and Arizona; they all are located in the heart of LDS or Mormon geography.
Classis Yellowstone has somewhere between 17, either planned or operating, temples of the LDS church within it; the oldest- St. George, Utah (1877), and perhaps one of the newest if ground is broken Southwest Salt Lake Valley (TBA).
It is interesting that the establishment of the CRCNA and LDS Church in Classis Yellowstone's region share a common historical timeline- CRCNA in Montana mid 1890's while the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated in 1893.
One of the founders of the CRCNA communities in Montana was a Reformed minister on loan to the Presbyterian Church- Rev. Andreas Wormser. A. Wormser (as he was called) was no stranger to Mormonism- he visited and studied the Mormon immigrants to the Salt Lake region, particularly their irrigation practices. He then set out to find a location where he could establish a "colony" of Dutch immigrants in much the same way the Mormons established themselves in the Salt Lake Basin. As a result, the Gallatin Valley CRCNA churches had their beginning in the late 1890's, and Manhattan CRC in 1903.
Today the bulk of the LDS membership in the US, or NA (worldwide approx. 14 million) live in the Idaho/Montana/Utah and adjacent areas- made up of the aforementioned Classes (approx. 5000 souls).
Pastor Brian Tebbin is new to Classis Yellowstone (Banner News article- Salt Lake Pastor Talks Ministry to Mormons)working in one of the oldest home mission fields of the CRCNA church- Utah; while new to the ministry and Utah, he seems to have discovered a key to reaching the people of his region, it is not about "rocket science"- it’s "all about grace." We need more witnesses for Christ- the fields are ripening to harvest.
My father who once served as a minister in MT, often talked about his seminary professors and their influence on him- it was apparent that influence was great. Today, Classis Yellowstone has 3 newly ordained pastors- Tebbin, Hofman, DenOudsten. Each one is unique in his talents, and all have sat at the feet of Seminary professors in the likes of DeMoor, Cooper, and Bosma- to mention just a couple.
It is fascinating that one of those professors challenged the CRCNA recently whether it was going into the business of "Church Planting or Undertaking." From what I can gather with these newly minted pastors- they have "a bag of seeds in one hand and a hoe in the other."
Today I am thankful for Brian, Mark, and George- their youthful spiritual leadership and courage; and for that matter all those who labor in that harvest who came before me, that are beside me...and who will come behind me.
Delbert, your comments were very enlightening and encouraging. Also highlighting the vast difference between LDS growth in the millions, and CRC yellowstone in the thousands. We seem so often to be willing to adopt the practices of other cultures that do not lead to growth; perhaps we should adopt some of the practices of the LDS and use them to lead others to the Jesus of the Bible. Wow!! wouldn't that be something?!
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