Is the Agenda for Synod Too Long?
June 13, 2016
Updated December 5, 2017
2 comments 551 views
During today’s morning session, a delegate stood up and voiced his concerns on the length of reports and amount of reading required to prepare for synod. He noted that the Agenda contains more words than Moby Dick. And, were you to add the supplementary materials to the Agenda, the word count becomes greater than the novel War and Peace.
Even the quickest readers have met their match in the Agenda.
The delegate encouraged the writers of reports and study committee members to use brevity and be concise. He wrapped up his remarks by saying, “We not only need more time, but also fewer and better words.”
The delegate’s remarks were met with a round of applause, an indication that perhaps they resonated with the synod assembly. The conversation also carried over to Twitter:
How I will always remember #crcsynod 2016 pic.twitter.com/IoBhAUGqd7
— David Bosscher (@DaveBosscher) June 13, 2016
Did you catch these comments during the morning session? I'd love to hear your thoughts and reactions!
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The sheer size of the overhead of the CRCNA is cause of these lengthy reports. In 2012 the CRCNA had .4 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) for every congregation. With a 1,000 congregations it has at least 400 FTE people producing material to keep busy. It has departments that should not be involved in church work. OSJ, Dialogue with Government, Safe Church, Calvin College and probably others.
Because it has such a large O.H it is easy to refer issues to study committees. With the (new) 30 something super board this issue is only going to get worse. We are no longer a homogeneous church. Congregationalism is creeping in which makes every decision a difficult one.
The church absolutely needs shorter reports. The people involved in these Study Committees and Task Forces are often employees of a Church, Classes, Denominational Ministry, Calvin College, or CRCNA HQ level.
A big part of the time problem is the creeping expansion of what is taken up at the denominational level (including at snod). Why, for example, should synod be taking up a 500 year old series of papal bulls issued by a couple of Roman Catholic popes (Doctrine of Discovery). There were no churches or classes who asked for synod to take that up (rather, it came from a handful of people on the creation care study committee, procedurally anomalous as that may be).
The general "political atmosphere" in our surrounding culture had become a seeming irrisistable temptation to take up, at the highest level (synod), too many things that an institutional church (including the CRC, see Church Order Article 28) just shouldn't be taking up. Even if some of those issues are important, there is a time, place, and one or more othet institutions for taking them up.
Synod will have plenty to take up if it listens to its own rules (again, CO Article 28) and resists the temptation to take up what is outside the institutional church sphere. And it can do a better job if it focuses on that more limited plate full of issues.
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