This article is an attempt to share the experience of a relative newcomer moving from the margins to the mainstream—or to be more precise, moving from the balcony to the main stage.
Judicatories come in all shapes and sizes. They also come in many different forms, each with names that come out of a tradition. We know them through such names: diocese, regions, conferences, presbyteries, and districts. How does one reinvent a judicatory shaped by programs and seek to provide resources to transform it into a mission agency?
Many of us may know this to be true but making prayer a greater part of a classis meeting can be daunting. Where do you start? Doug Kamstra, in his “Classical Prayer Leader’s Resources” binder gives a few ways of getting started praying at Classis.
The classis of our past was a good classis if it was a faithful classis. The classis of the present has to be, at the very least, a responsive classis—it has to respond in some way to the changes impacting our corporate church life. What does a responsive classis in the CRC look like today? And what about the future of classis?
In reviewing the history of the CRMT coming out of the task force for the Role of Classis in the 21st Century, the adjectives that come to mind are spontaneous, determined, slow progress, peer learning, learning from each other and leading experts in church change, and from the CRMT representatives who met with classical leaders.
“Many Protestant congregations have become burdened with elaborate, nearly Byzantine organizational structures that have assumed a life of their own but do not effectively further essential ministry or core purpose in this new time... ”
Over the past several years many churches have had check-ups of sorts to look for points of health and places that need work (Natural Church Development surveys, Healthy Churches surveys, WillowCreek Reveal survey, etc.). But when it comes to classes we often just keep going with the way things have always been. We don’t bother to check the health and vitality of this mid-level of church life.
The CRMT is a group of ministry leaders convened by The Network, who believe that classes are healthiest when they function as communities of fellowship, prayer, and spiritual growth; when they create and sustain healthy congregations; and when they facilitate shared ministry ...
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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?
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.
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.