This is the last fiscal year (ending June 30, 2021) that the Christian Reformed Church will fund its ministries using the old ministry share system.
For fiscal year 2022, the budget will be based and funded on the amount of giving pledged by churches and their classes (regions of churches). (See “Synod 2019 Upends Ministry Share System.”) The new method is called Reimagining Ministry Shares.
That means that later this year, each church council will be asked to prayerfully consider how much its congregation can and will give for their ministry shares. This fall, each classis will evaluate the collective commitments and report to the denominational offices how much it will pledge by Feb. 1, 2021.
The denominational agencies and educational institutions will then, for the first time, develop budgets based on that pledged amount. Until now they have established budgets first and then asked for the money to meet them.
The denomination has used the ministry share process since the mid-19th century, collecting what were then called assessments. It worked well for decades, many times affirmed as the most efficient way to collect the money for denominational ministries without the expense of fundraisers. However, in recent years, the amount actually remitted by the churches has steadily dropped, regardless of what amount was asked for. In 2016, only 58% of what was requested was actually received.
Synod 2019 approved the Ministry Shares Reimagined process in principle, recommending that Synod 2020 implement it. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Synod 2020 was canceled and the Council of Delegates had a special meeting to deal with part of the agenda, including implementing the change to ministry shares.
One church in southern Ontario sent a communication requesting that implementation be held off for a year, stating that it is too weighty a matter to be decided independently of synod.
Several Canadian delegates also wanted implementation delayed until Synod 2021. Ralph Wigboldus, Classis Huron, noted that changes in the governance structure has left a number of things in flux, and COVID-19 has caused so much disruption, many churches are on hold.
Aaltje van Grootheest, a Canadian delegate at-large, agreed. “We’re too early trying to do this. We need the year coming up to get everything organized.”
Canadian ministries director Darren Roorda noted that several classes in Canada received the materials regarding the changes too late for their fall meetings and many spring meetings were canceled due to COVID-19.
Most delegates were not convinced to delay implementation, saying the concept had already been approved by Synod 2019 in principle.
The Council voted 28-15 to move ahead with implementation. Wigboldus, van Grootheest, and Mark Vande Zande, Classis Heartland, registered negative votes.