In my brief time as guide for the Classis network I’ve encouraged its readers to give voice to the frustration and angst I often hear about Classis in the CRC. A comment that’s been repeated both on and off line seems to reflect the perception that Classis is often resistant to influence and leadership. I very much imagine that observation to be true.
I was told that the synod and the classis don’t really exist. These are not organizations that exist over time; they were not intended to become pieces of bureaucracy. They only exist when they are in session. They are decision making bodies that are convened to do specific business, and then they go out of existence until the next one happens.
Is your classis merely perfunctory? Is it dying like the village goat tied to the post? Are a few pastor/roosters using classis to play pecking order games? Is classis about some old men talking about "glory days" long gone? Tell your favorite classis horror story (no names please) or what you did to fix it.
The denominational structure is a drama queen that too often distracts Synod from where its focus should be. Let's trying thinking outside the box. What if we got Synod out of the agency management business? Could shifting resources from the denominational to the classical level better serve the church by reinvesting in local ministry? Would local ministry flourish if your classical budget were two to three times its current size?
Classis is sometimes viewed as a sort of forgotten middle child, but it is really a foundational structure the value of which I don't think we have fully explored. When denomination is "too big", and one classis is "too small", can inter-classical partnerships fit "just right"?
Why do I want to blog about classis? I believe that the continued development of classis will be key for the vitalization of the CRCNA. I think classis is the least supported, most neglected, level of our three tiered system of church structure. I think investment in classis as a tool offers some of the greatest potential
Over the past six months I've had the opportunity to blog, write articles, and find resources for this online Network about classis. It has been a wonderful way of processing the work that I have been a part of. I've enjoyed getting other's opinions, stories and thoughts about the subject. I've been encouraged and challenged
I have been reading The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations that Matter. I was introduced to this book and this method of planning earlier this year. As I watched Synod last month, it struck me how different this method of planning and discussing an issue really is. I can't help wondering if there is a place for this
Until spring of 2010 Classis Hamilton had been following a 1950’s model of church governance which was heavy on administration and maintenance leaving churches feeling isolated from each other. Through the re-visioning process Classis Hamilton wanted new values of ministry, mission, and community to emerge with less administration, less maintenance, and less isolation between churches.
At most classis meetings, CRC agencies and other ministries and organizations that are affiliated with the classis report in. Classis meetings are often seen as a good way of getting their information out to the churches. But is this type of reporting really the best way to get the information out?
No more "exceptional gift" entry for Ministers of the Word (Article 7) by Classis. In 2010 Synod discouraged affinity classes. In 2011 Synod didn't like ratifying confessional changes at Classis. It's not difficult to see within these debates the tension between uniformity and diversity, between trust and control.
Reformed polity locates authority in three different assemblies: the local council, the synod and the classis. It is my assertion that the classis is the least valued, the most neglected, the most poorly resourced and the least utilized level of the three.
We need denominations and yet they are flawed human creations. Bullard does not think that we can exist as churches without the denomination around us because “without them and without the ways they allow us to be people of faith together, we have no access to a God any larger than the God of our self.”
The local church's need for classes and the denomination is a bit like a believing family's need for a congregation. A believing family should not just be content with worshiping and studying together, they need a church to attend, a gathering of other believers where they can worship, study, learn and hold each other accountable together. The same is true for churches.
Many of our churches are becoming more diverse so we think this will naturally flow to having a more diverse leadership in our churches and then more diversity in our classes and denomination. But it isn't happening naturally. It seems like if we are to become more diverse... we will need to become more
This examination is the last step in a long process of being declared a candidate. I wonder if it is a bit redundant. Before the classical exam the candidate has been through four years of theological education, been examined and approved by the faculty of the seminary, been examined and approved by the Synodical Candidacy Committee and been approved at Synod.
Is it right that congregations ask the question about classis: “What’s in it for us?” and then base their participation on the answer? Or should congregations be participating, not for what they can get out of classis, but for what they can contribute?
There are a number of people who think that classes have become irrelevant to our congregations. And perhaps overall, there is a waning interest. But I also know that there are many who are working hard at helping classis do things differently in order that they become more relevant and address the needs of leaders and churches.