Synod meets this month (June 11-18). Synod is the annual weeklong convention of Christian Reformed leaders from across North America. It directs our shared faith and work as a denomination. Each of the 47 classes (regional clusters of congregations) delegate two elders and two pastors to synod.
Pray for synod. Our delegates face a mountain of work. They must review the labors of our agencies and institutions and tend to dozens of proposals (called “overtures”) and other communications from congregations and classes. This year they also face scads of recommendations from an unusually high number of study committees. So pray for godly wisdom, unity of Spirit, and faith-filled obedience to Jesus. Pray specifically that delegates will enjoy sufficient physical time and “head space” not to get careless as they rush through more than 600 pages of agenda. Better smart decisions with some bases left uncovered than all bases covered badly.
The Banner has introduced some of the key issues (see www.thebanner.org). One issue that needs careful scrutiny relates to the ways CRC folks should support Christian schools. That we support them isn’t at issue—Synod 2003 already reaffirmed the CRC’s longstanding commitment. The question is how we should support them.
According to the study report, less than 60 percent of CRC kids attend Christian schools, with that number still eroding. Reasons vary: affordability, availability, and sustainability in the face of alternative choices such as charter schools and home schooling. And more parents buy the argument that our students should be Christ’s witnesses within the public system. The study committee doesn’t.
The committee report is too long, and it rambles. But it resonates with me. Bottom line, it asserts that Christian schools can stay healthy only if we all give them our sustained,
communal support. They’ll need elbow grease, bucks, and sacrifice from parents, churches, governments, and the schools themselves. For instance:
• Although there may be good reasons to send their kids elsewhere, parents should seriously consider Christian schooling as a primary means of honoring their baptismal vow to raise their child in a faith that’s as large as all of life.
• Churches should intentionally promote Christian schools in Word (preaching) and deed by providing sufficient tuition relief for all parents who need it.
• Christian schools should promote Christian education to all fellow Christians while continuing to maintain a solid Reformed emphasis.
A further challenge I would have loved to see spelled out would be to Christian teachers and administrators: Prove it! Prove that your biblical worldview concretely informs and shapes your curriculum. Don’t just poke at your kids’ souls in a chapel or two. To paraphrase Zechariah, demonstrate daily how in God’s kingdom there’s not a frying pan, a screwdriver, or a calculator that doesn’t have “Holy to the Lord” written all over it (14:20-21).
Especially in this consumerist age we should make our support of Christian schools a lifelong commitment, whether or not we have kids, whether they’re already/still in school, or whether we send them elsewhere. It takes too much heavy lifting for parents to go it alone. If synod spurs us to live out that vision together, then it’s properly taking care of church business—even if more ecclesiastical (“churchy”) matters have to wait.
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- Feature: Tending God’s Creation
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- Book Review: Something’s Not Right