Chris de Winter, pastor of Trinity CRC in St. Catharines, offers this reflection as he anticipates attending synod as a delegate for the first time.
I’m 29. I’m Canadian. I’m pastor at Trinity CRC in St. Catharines, Ontario with two whole years of experience under my belt. And I’m a first-time delegate to Synod 2012.
I’m not outspoken at Council or Classis. I didn’t campaign; but neither did I dissuade. I was honoured, yet surprised by my nomination , even more when another pastor delegate withdrew his name because he supported my nomination more than his own. So, here I go, off to Redeemer University College (my alma mater) for a totally new and unexpected experience.
But, you know what? Over the past few weeks, as I have read through the Agenda for Synod, gotten familiar with Synod Website, practiced voting and roll call, I must admit that I’m looking forward to it. More than that--I’m excited. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Church Order guy; I’m not a lover of administration; and I’m definitely not into politicking.
I am part of the next generation of leaders that loves the Reformed tradition: you might even call me “traditional reformed”; I am passionate about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I use words like “propitiation” and “penal substitution.” I follow the Gospel Coalition and love Tim Keller. I believe confessional identity is important. I love the church.
There, I said it: I love the church--organism, institution, militant, triumphant. I love the church of Jesus Christ. Added to that, I love the particular expression of the church that is the CRCNA. For all its follies and foibles, I love this denomination. And that’s why I am excited about going to Synod 2012.
Don’t get me wrong, there are days in ministry that that fill up so much with classical and denominational work that I sometimes think being a little congregationalist wouldn’t be so bad. After all, “What has St. Catharines to do with Grand Rapids?” Yet, there are many more days when I see World Missions becoming our missions, World Relief becoming Trinity’s work, and Home Missions coming to our neighbourhoods. I see people getting juiced about Back to God Ministries International’s new initiatives. I see young boys “living for Jesus” and young “girls everywhere meeting the Saviour.” I see youth serving with unlimited zeal and gusto. In short, I see God at work in the CRCN and I want to be part of that work.
This year at Synod, a number of Agenda items have the potential to be paradigmatic and identity forming. As a result, they come potentially primed to cause dispute and division. I know people on the other side of these issues than where I am. But I also know they love the church as much as I do. So I go forward with anticipation, fear, and trembling. Will I be winsome enough to convict people of what I think is right and best for the church? Will I be gracious enough to allow others’ words to impact me? Will we allow the Holy Spirit to shape new paradigms for the church and, perhaps, to reinvigorate old ones?
At this point, I have more questions than answers; and, I admit, I am a little anxious. But still, I am thankful for the opportunity to be part of this Synod. I eagerly—and prayerfully—anticipate God working in and through each person in attendance.