At various times throughout the year, but especially in February and May, a select group of people gather in various places to attend to very important business.
I’m referring to the faithful board members who provide oversight, on behalf of synod, for the agencies, educational institutions, and other entities of the Christian Reformed Church. Although they work mostly behind the scenes, their contribution to the ministry of the denomination is crucial. Sometimes board members are called “trustees,” and at other times they are called “directors,” but whatever their title, they are an active part of the church at work.
Collectively, board members function in much the same way as officebearers do on a church council. In fact many board members are serving or have served as elders, deacons, and pastors in local churches.
Board members are chosen from all regions of the denomination. The CRC has 12 regions, and most boards are made up of regional representatives. In a few instances the representatives are chosen by a classis, but that model has faded in recent years in favor of smaller boards. (Choosing board members from 12 regions is more manageable than 47 classes each sending one person!)
My point in focusing your attention on our boards and board members is that these people are often unsung heroes. During my years of service on and for denominational boards I have seen many instances when board members were asked to make very difficult decisions and give clear direction to the denomination at large.
Of course boards rely heavily on the competency of agency staff and administrative personnel, but board members are called upon to render a decision when the issues are most important and, at times, when circumstances are the most difficult.
I admire the courage of our board members, past and present, and have been thankful for their wisdom in making decisions and providing direction. I have also experienced their support and encouragement on numerous occasions. I know that I speak for my colleagues in every denominational office when I express a deep sense of gratitude for all who serve the church on denominational boards.
In a legal sense, board members are governors and not representatives of a constituency. In reality, however, they do represent their home base, their faith understanding, and their cultural context. In that sense board members represent each of you who are reading these words. That is appropriate and important because the ministries of the denomination are the ministries of the whole church.
That sense of ownership is not really about owning something but more about being part of something. I marvel most that we, as members of the CRC, can be and are being used to accomplish God’s work in the world. In that sense we, together, are indeed the hands and feet of God and the church at work.
About the Author
Rev. Peter Borgdorff is Executive Director emeritus of the Christian Reformed Church.