The “Diakonia Remixed” report offers a large vision for deacons, one that could potentially reshape the ministry of the entire church. However, changes usually bring unanticipated consequences. For this reason I offer my reflections on the experience of one classis and I would like to hear from others.
To our surprise and delight, renewal at the classis level is becoming more and more part of the denominational dialog on structure, leadership, and culture. We are recognizing the strategic importance of the classis for so many dimensions of our life together. Change at classis is inevitable, and invites our best proactive interventions.
Conversations about change in the structure, culture, and leadership of the CRC are more and more beginning to recognize the strategic position and importance of classis. This marks a change in how we are thinking about the denomination's future. It's where change and church connect! Classis renewal is coming of age!
This is a time of significant questioning in the CRC – why are we shrinking so fast? What should we do? What structures do we need? What kind of leadership? What vision? Are there resources for a sustainable and robust future? Are we at risk of paralysis of polarization? We need to do some heavy discernment together.
The power of classis - the strategic intersection between congregations and denomination. If you’ve been reading the CLASSIS network, you’ve already heard the invitation to consider the vital importance of classis renewal. So why wouldn’t it be one of the places we’d expect the Holy Spirit to be at work reforming the CRC? A few extra minutes designed to catch the breeze wouldn’t be amiss, right?
Recently I was encouraged to read Growing the Church in the Power of the Holy Spirit, a book I probably would not have picked up on my own. The title set off my warning bells. Exactly why that is, I’m not even sure I know myself. Somehow I feared gimmickry or formula or an unspiritual pragmatism. But I read it, and I want to recommend it...
Classes serve an important role when it comes to issues like credentialing leaders, matters of discipline, and general matters of church polity. Yet, at a denominational level I find that there is something missing when it comes to working effectively together as a ministry system.
When I ran across this story, I just KNEW I had to share it with Network readers! It’s great. Is it about classis? Maybe not so much. (But think what might have happened if the whole classis had passionately supported this leader!)
How does your classis create the space for relational, gospel community for it leaders?
Maybe it’s a little risky to talk so crassly about money, but unless we get real about how we use the resources God gives us, we’ll waste money, increase frustration, and continue to fade as a denomination.
The Church Order wants to avoid the dangers associated with people who stay in their leadership role too long. I applaud that. Organizations get into ruts, things go stale, power-hungry people hold onto power, we are led by the willing instead of the capable, innovation becomes rare, vision dims, and who knows what else could befall us when we keep leaders in place too long.
Strong effective congregational leadership is not necessarily the best predictor of strong effective classis leadership. Great teachers don’t always make great principals.
For whatever reason we are in a cultural spot where the greater witness seems to need to be embodied in a local church and the Christian voice needs speak from a local church. What does this mean for your classis?
I had an English prof who threatened the class with sarcastic feedback on the essays we wrote for him. He said, “If I ever write the word ‘bland’ in the margin of your paper, you’ll know you’ve just received the worst comment that I could give you.” I guess he meant that any writing that was lively , no matter how poor, was better than writing that was boring and colorless. Sort of like being luke-warm and spat out.
Research on thousands of members in hundreds of churches suggests that a little over half of the membership is satisfied overall with what’s happening in their church. Which organization is best positioned to help clergy and church boards develop into healthy transformational congregations? Classis.
Would you agree that denominational leaders are sending a confused message to the church regarding the need for change? Could you imagine that not only are we experiencing a decline in numbers, but that church members are experiencing such poor quality of community life that it's difficult to invite new people in?