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"Nor does unity result from agreement about a narrow set of beliefs."

Actually, it does.  Let's put aside for a moment the loaded word "narrow", or perhaps exchange it with the word "specific."  Does unity result from agreement about a specific set of beliefs?  How about the Apostles Creed?  The Heidelberg Catechism or our other confessions? Or, to another degree, our church order? 

I respect the work that you all do and appreciate the loving spirit behind these words, but this statement coming from ministry leadership of a *confessional church* is a little troubling.




Keep up the good work.  If there has been turnover in youth group leadership lately they may be testing you as to your response.  In that case it may not be as much about a new style of teaching to get to the kids who seem to know it all as it is about hanging in there with them, and in a sense, suffering with them in that way.  

But yes, there are bad nights sometimes.  I knew plenty when I did youth ministry.  Ask me about the World's Largest Bowl of Cheese Popcorn sometime. (Or don't, please don't.)

If there is a real disruption going on in the group, that can frustrate not only you but the kids who are there to learn or contribute.  I found a helpful book in dealing with these situations with respect is Les Christie's When Church Kids Go Bad: How to Love and Work with Rude, Obnoxious and Apathetic Students.  


The subtext to this entire discussion is that there are competing interpretations being presented here regarding the relationship of the major assemblies to the minor assemblies. Neland's position may be based on a specific understanding of this relationship, which is up for debate.

 The Goderich situation in 1980 (appealed in 1982) may apply to this situation.  When Classis intervened in a situation they were accused of lording it over the local church and acting in a hierarchical fashion, and Synod determined that the accusation came from a misunderstanding of church order and authority.  Their grounds included the following:

1. Classis did not exceed its authority when it engaged itself with the situation at Goderich CRC.  Christ gave authority to the church as a whole and thereby entrusted authority to the occasions of its exercise in Classis and synod as gatherings of the churches to maintain the unity of the congregations in both doctrine and discipline.

2. The gathering of the churches and their representatives in Jerusalem set a pattern of authoritative decision; which pattern is followed in principle in the deliberations and decisions of the major assemblies.

3. To contend that Classis Huron had no proper jurisdiction over the Goderich consistory proceeds on a mistaken conception of the relation of the minor assembly to the major assembly. The same authority, constituting the same standards and the same goals, is applied by the several assemblies. Classis Huron adhered to the correct use of the authority delegated to them by Christ.


Perhaps most pertinent is Synod's conclusion following the appeal in 1982, that  "The Synod of 1980 declared that it is indeed proper according to Reformed Church polity for either Classis or Synod to intervene in the affairs of a local congregation, if the welfare of that congregation is at stake. "


I've found this article by Ryan Faber to be helpful in laying out the differing perspectives concerning the relationship between major and minor assemblies. Classic Reformed polity would seem to be much clearer on the right or duty of oversight of major assemblies, while the more recent Doleantie perspective tries to limit this authority.  Both perspectives appear in various Synodical decisions throughout the years, but don't think that there's any consensus that the Doleantie perspective is the settled perspective of the CRC, and it certainly shouldn't be presented as the only perspective.


One helpful quote from the article:

"These answers indicate that in historic Reformed polity minor assemblies are indeed subject to major assemblies; minor assemblies must submit themselves to the decisions of the major assemblies. Where the decisions of the assemblies differ, the decision of the major assembly takes precedence. Thus, a minor assembly must rescind or revise its decision to align with that of the major assembly. Major assemblies possess supervisory power over minor assemblies. Particularly with regard to misconduct, major assemblies have power. A major assembly may discipline, even depose, members of a minor assembly – a principle rejected by the Doleantie’s congregationalist ecclesiology."

These are the three questions that we are currently using for mutual censure:


1. In your opinion, are the office-bearers of our church carrying out their duties to the best of their abilities?

2. In your opinion, are the various programs and ministries of our church being maintained faithfully, and is the church fulfilling the Great Commission through them?

3. Do you have any ideas about how our church ministies or church leadership can be encouraged or developed?

These are put in the agenda which is sent out a few days in advance, and we go around the room at the end of a meeting prior to communion (6x a year) asking each officebearer to answer the questions.  As John notes, it can be a great time not only for correction but also for encouragement.


This issue is in its own way a referendum on the 1975 synodical statement and the categories that it laid out. Though that statement noted that Synod's pronouncements are equally authoritative, though differing in use and function, the term "pastoral advice" seems to have taken on a different meaning as the years have gone on. (Similarly, unfortunately, to how many people interpret our own "pastoral advice"--as something they can take or leave.)

My question is, were these categories meant to be mutually exclusive? Simply because something was originally stated as pastoral advice, can't it occupy more than one category?  And doesn't a Synod have the authority to declare that something that we already hold as authoritative and biding in one category, may function as well in another category? And isn't that essentially what will happen if the study report is adopted by Synod?

I recently heard "O Lord My Rock and My Redeemer" by Sovereign Grace Worship and have been listening to it on repeat.

Try looking up Aha! Process information from Ruby Payne.   "A Framework for Understanding Poverty" and others.


Good questions. The first one I think of is 3. I don't charge a set fee, but leave it up to the individual situation. Sometimes I receive some sort of payment, sometimes a gift from the family, sometimes a card.

William Heyns, writing in 1910 about the concerns and limitations of diaconal conferences, said this "without a doubt, the ideal solution is the delegation of deacons to the major assemblies with the power to deal with all matters brought before them that concern the ministry of mercy."

Synod 2010 is only a week away, and one of the issues that they will take up is the overture mentioned earlier. I wonder what the result will be.

In 1982, Prof. De Moor wrote in his "The Office of Deacon at the Crossroads", that "the proportion of representation (to major assemblies) soon proves to be an issue that uncovers one's deepest convictions concerning ecclesiastical office." He also wrote "somewhere along the way this denomination must do what Calvin couldn't--grant it's dedicated diaconate an appropriate place in all assemblies of office--bearers that rule and equip the body in Christ's name. It certainly must not reverse whatever has already grown in that direction. *This* is the lesson of history."

I'm excited about the opportunity before this Synod to reflect on the truth of these words.

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