Board of Trustees to Review CRC Structure

The Board of Trustees of the Christian Reformed Church has decided to assemble a short-term taskforce to review the structure and culture of the denomination’s ministries and leadership.

The action comes in a response to a recent organizational assessment done by an outside consultant, and in the wake of resignations of both the executive director and the director of denominational ministries.

Consultant Peter Meerveld found that while there is a strong commitment to the CRC’s ministries and a desire for a unified vision, there are fundamental unanswered questions regarding the authority, relationship, and representation of agencies and ministries within the organization.

“The ‘top down’ governance of synod and the BOT and the ‘bottom up’ authority of agencies contribute to unclear roles and responsibilities,” Meerveld wrote in his report, noting that the executive director’s role as it responds to those challenges is unique.

Meerveld also observed that while the structure and influence of the ministry agency boards provide for greater oversight, those factors contribute to

  • a challenge to the role and authority of administrative leadership
  • complex decision making and approval systems that are reducing productivity (and)
  • tensions among the executive director’s advisory team, the agencies, and the BOT.

Meerveld said the relationship of [the executive director] with agencies and specialized ministries has been delegated to the director of denominational ministries—contributing to issues regarding access, conflict management, and communication. That delegation was the result of a 2008 structure change.

The board’s review of structure and culture is intended to evaluate possible adjustments to the denomination’s current structure, not to consider a wholesale remodel of the structure. While one board member asked whether such a review should be mandated and driven by synod, the consensus of the board was that the intent of the taskforce should be “to look at improving what we have,” rather than attempting a larger structure review.

The board plans to have the taskforce’s membership and mandate defined prior to Synod 2011, which convenes June 10.

About the Author

Gayla Postma is news editor for The Banner.

See comments (6)


I am very grateful that something is being done "to review the structure and culture of the denomination's ministries and leadership." However, I am concerned, as apparently one board member also is, that this review should have been "mandated and driven by synod" rather than the BOT. Perhaps "a larger structure review" should have been undertaken rather than simply "to look at improving what we have."

I do hope that the revamp of the organisational structure of the CRCNA will, with due can and dilligence, not through out the baby with the bathwater.

The CRCNA, as an institution is a prime example of what a church should be. The structure has been carefully maintained for the last 100 years+ since its foundation.

Ofcourse, no church is perfect, until we will meet with the Creator the church. In the meantime I wish that the taskforce will be careful in looking at improving what the CRCCNA has.

I wonder if it is possible to get a copy of Mr. Meerveld's report...

The Board of Trustees has been apointed by Synod and whatever they decide, always needs aproval by Synod, I trust.For instance the appointment of Rev.Joel Boot as interim CEO needs approval by Synod 2011. Correct? I also wonder whether all those proposals should not come by request of Synod which has spelled out the mandate of the BOT.

The first urgent order of business of the BOT should be to get synod and the board singing from the same hymnbook re the direction of the CRC denomination and its overall management of agencies. Secondly, hire asap a younger proven management and spiritual leader (not necessarily a minister) who can lead the agencies and our entire denomination to greater heights of spiritual breakthroughs and experiences,and creating churches that people want to go to, not leave. Third, with the new leader in place then do a structure review to minimize bureaucracy, maximize ministry, and build a management team where all denominational ministries are working together toward the same goals.

Rather than a management re-tweaking of organizational structure, perhaps it's time to reconsider the Vision 21 governance outcomes.

Has the shift "from traditional Reformed ecclesiology, [i.e.] instead of government by delegates from local assemblies and a line of accountability to the classes and through them to the local consistories, [to one of a] the new board structure result[ing] in government by a smaller synodically-confirmed board... accountable through the BOT to the synod" been beneficial to local congregations and the denominational ministries as a whole?

The answer might be no. The decision to appropriate the power of the local congregation into the administrative headquarters and BOT, including the reduction/regionalization of ministry board appointments, may have contributed to the alienation of the connection/affection of the local congregations for the ministries of the denomination.

Perhaps it's time to put the local congregation back into the centre of a governance re-structuring rather than proceeding with another tweaking of the management structure.