“What will the new timetable be if these changes are adopted?” This was one of the questions raised by Classis Northcentral Iowa as it discussed ministry shares at its fall meeting.
Ministry shares is a covenant program of the Christian Reformed Church in North America that enables every CRC congregation and member to contribute toward, take part in, and benefit from shared ministry. The program has existed since 1862 and has been used to fund global mission, chaplaincy, Sunday school curriculum development, and more.
During its June meeting, Synod 2019 voted to accept in principle some sweeping changes to how the program of ministry shares will run. One proposal is that synods will no longer set a per-member donation amount for ministry shares. Instead, each congregation will be asked to prayerfully consider how much it wants to pledge toward shared denominational ministry. Program budgets will be set based on these faith promises.
“The new proposed system puts the local church at the start of the annual budget process. This is much more in alignment with our church polity,” said John Bolt, chief financial officer of the CRCNA. Synod 2019 asked congregations and classes to discuss these changes over the next year so that Synod 2020 can make a final decision on whether or not to implement them. To assist in this task, several denominational employees have made a commitment to attend the fall meetings of CRCNA classes (regional groupings of churches) and help with ministry shares conversations.
They are sharing newly available resources for explaining ministry shares to congregations. They are also walking through the proposed changes and answering some frequently asked questions.
Bolt answered Classis Northcentral Iowa’s question this way: “In July of each year, the denominational offices will send guidance out to all congregations to help them have a conversation about their pledge amounts. The churches would need to determine their pledged amount and bring that to their fall classis meeting. Each Classis would then report back to the denomination by Jan. 31. This would start in the fall of 2020.”
To learn more about ministry shares, to watch a new video, or to find answers to frequently asked questions, please visit crcna.org/ministryshares.