A House Well Built

Have you ever built a house? Most people buy existing homes, but some get the opportunity to build one from the ground up. It can be quite a process.

The process begins with determining the location: where will we build this house? The next step is the design: what will it look like and how will it meet the needs of those who live there? At this point, most folks hire an architect and, soon thereafter, a contractor. The contractor hires subcontractors to do specific parts of the work.

These subcontractors hire the workers who actually build the walls and install the plumbing, electrical systems, heating, and air-conditioning. Others plaster the walls, paint the house, and so forth. Each person brings his or her skills and ideas to the process. In the end, after much work and many inspections along the way by both contractor and homeowner, the house is completed.

But only when the homeowner takes possession and moves in does the house become a home rather than a construction site. It is not the home of the architect, the contractor, or the tradespeople who built it; it belongs to the owner.

In reflecting on this past synod, I was reminded how much of our annual meeting is like a homeowner building a house. Synod adopted a number of major reports this year. Those included reports on caring for abuse victims, ministering to undocumented workers, revisiting the Church Order, supporting faith formation, and revising our Form of Subscription. Some of the reports are already completed, while a couple are still under construction.

A few years ago synod faced a problem regarding abuse: how can we most fairly and sensitively minister to people who have been abused by leaders in the church? Synod had some ideas but needed a contractor—a task force—to actually carry out the work. But the task force could not do it all, so they contacted many experts. They met with social workers, lawyers, advocates for abuse victims, and, most important, they heard from victims of abuse themselves.

The process took significant time and much energy—thousands of hours and thousands of tears. Like the tradespeople who build the house, some who contributed to the report put in hundreds of hours and others just a few, but all added toward crafting it.

Some contributed ideas that formed the major framework for the report; others provided that perfect example needed to complete the story. This report and the others represent the work of many people who contributed to the whole.

I share this with you because, at the end of the day, these reports no longer belong to the authors and contributors, but to the church. That is as it should be. However, it’s important to remember the individuals who did the work.

We need to express our thanks to the task forces and committee members who served so faithfully and so well. We need to thank all who contributed the wisdom and experience that formed the content of the reports. We need to gratefully acknowledge all who faithfully and passionately engaged in producing excellent direction for the future of the church.

So to all those who contributed to the issues addressed by Synod 2010, on behalf of the Christian Reformed Church, please accept our grateful appreciation for a house well built.

To God be the glory.

About the Author

Jerry Dykstra served as the executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America from 2006-2011.
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