In response to an instruction from Synod 2016, the current synod (the general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church) divided into groups to discuss which denominational ministries should be given priority for future funding.
Colin Watson, denominational director of ministries and administration, began the discussion with reference to Matthew 28:18-20, the Great Commission and its command to “make disciples,” and Acts 1:8, Jesus’ instruction to the church to be his witnesses in the world. He said, “This is what we are collectively about.” What needs to be discussed, he indicated, is how and where these things are done. Watson said that the Holy Spirit will help the church discern what to do.
Each classis (regional groups of churches) delegation was asked to discuss how to allocate denominational funding among the various agencies and ministries, using the results of a survey of the delegates taken earlier. This survey turned out to be remarkably uninformative. For a long list of ministry areas, the delegates were asked whether they considered them important. The delegates appeared to think that they were all almost equally important, making it difficult to establish priority.
Responses to the exercise varied. James Halstead, Classis Kalamazoo, centered on making disciples. We are called, he said, “to make disciples who make disciples.” Edward Visser, Classis Atlantic Northeast, pointed out that funding does not necessarily follow priorities. “Some things,” he said, “are more costly than others.” Just because one ministry receives more money than another does not mean that it is valued more.
The discussion will likely become more focused when dollars are attached to it. If the denomination is to “reduce its institutional footprint,” as Synod 2016 instructed, there will fewer dollars to go around. The discussion about which agencies and ministries receive these dollars will be the subject for next year’s synod. Synod 2017 is meeting at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill., from June 9-15. For continuous coverage, download the Banner app on your mobile device or follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at thebanner.org several times daily. For CRC Communications releases and the webcast, please visit crcna.org. Unless noted otherwise, all photographs are by Karen Huttenga.