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Structure Talk Dominates CRC Board Meetings


Discussion about the Christian Reformed Church’s administrative structure and culture received a lot of attention last week when the Board of Trustees and the boards of other CRC agencies convened in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Before those meetings, the Task Force Reviewing Structure and Culture convened listening sessions for denominational employees in Grand Rapids, allowing task force members to hear the concerns of those working in that culture. Similar sessions were scheduled for the CRC’s offices in Burlington, Ontario, and Palos Heights, Ill.

Anthony Diekema: “The structure is flexible enough.”

Gayla R. Postma

Synod 2011 (the church’s annual leadership meeting) instructed executive director Rev. Joel Boot to convene the task force following last spring’s resignations of the denomination’s two top executives.

On Thursday evening, Anthony Diekema, retired president of Calvin College and now a consultant, spoke about the structure at a dinner attended by senior directors and board members of all the agencies.

Diekema noted that when he spoke at a similar event 11 years ago, he called the CRC’s denominational structure the most bizarre he’d ever seen, citing concerns about redundancy, confused authority, competition, and a spirit of independence among the agencies.

While those concerns have not disappeared, Diekema said the situation was greatly improved. “My fear is that structure may once again get the attention of the denomination,” he said.

He proposed a moratorium on discussions of structure, urging instead an intensive analysis of the culture. “Culture and people trump structure every time, either positively or negatively,” he said.

“Structure for too long has been a decoy,” he said. “It’s time to go after the ducks—kingdom culture and servant leadership. . . . The structure is flexible enough.”

The CRC’s Board of Trustees also set aside four hours for a discussion of structure, including presentations by Rev. Peter Borgdorff, James Jones, Andrew Ryskamp, and Rev. William Veenstra.

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