What's in a Name?

Editorial
| |

In this banner we’ll catch you up on Synod 2005, our denomination’s annual leadership convention. (See “Synod Overview” on p. 12 for more details.) Delegates discussed scads of issues, but here’s one that seriously tickled their funny bones: what should we name our new denominational leaders?

Until now we’ve been running with a “team ministry” model. We’ve had two chiefs: an executive director of ministries and a general secretary. Both are retiring, so it’s a fine time to give the structure a hefty shake to dislodge the two-headed monster (structurally speaking, of course—no offense intended). So synod was asked to approve a “staff ministry” model in which one person would oversee the whole shebang and a second would help that person sort out the administrative stuff. But what to call them?

No one in the planning process liked the title “General Secretary,” for obvious reasons. I mean, nobody wants to be called “secretary” these days unless you work for the White House. Even then you might not like it, but you wouldn’t argue with your boss about it, now would you?

So “General Secretary” would become “General Administrative Assistant,” which is lame. So the folks who plan such things started playing with the other guy’s label, “Executive Director of Ministries.” That has a nicer ring. But when you create a new position you can’t just schlep in the same old term. That would confuse the payroll folks. The new person might end up getting paid what the previous person got. Or maybe he’d end up with two paychecks, which he really doesn’t need because he’s getting paid lots already.

In a stroke of genius, here’s what they did. They took “Executive Director of Ministries” and sliced it in two to grow labels for both the new positions. They got the idea from cells. Cells divide through a process called mitosis, which is asexual reproduction—a good thing because we’re talking church here.

Anyhow, the top post will be designated “Executive Director,” and the administrator will be called “Director of Denominational Ministries.” Cool huh?

Not so fast. One classis (regional group of churches) with some extra time on its hands told synod it couldn’t buy the idea of calling a mere mortal the Executive Director of the church. They pointed out that the church already has an Executive Director (since Easter), and he’s not thinking of retiring anytime soon.

Makes sense to me. Had I been allowed to speak at synod instead of just sitting on the sidelines reporting stuff, I would have placed tongue firmly in cheek and proposed calling our top banana “Pope.” Here’s why:

• We’re watching too many commercials that make us not want to think about the acronym for the position as proposed.

• “Pope” means “father,” and ours really is one.

• In good Reformed fashion we’ve already declared our guy a saint.

• If he were declared pope, Cal Bremer could pick himself a cool new name—maybe something like Pope Peter David I.

So what did synod decide? I’m not about to make it that easy for you! You’ll have to browse through our reports to find out. And if you don’t, I’ll tell our Executive Director on you . . .

Oops.

About the Author

Bob De Moor is a retired Christian Reformed pastor living in Edmonton, Alta.

X