Reflecting on Synod

Synod 2008 has adjourned. Reports have been read, action taken or deferred, friendships formed, impressions made. And now delegates, guests, and staff have returned to their homes and churches. What was said and done will be left to the scribes and historians.

It was a good synod.

Allow me to take a few moments of your time to share what I experienced.

Much of what I’m called to do at synod is to listen. It was fascinating to hear reports from delegates and observers. The thoughts and responses were all over the map. Yet one common theme came out in nearly every conversation. That was thanksgiving—thanksgiving for the kingdom of God, for the church of Jesus Christ worldwide, for the Christian Reformed Church, and yes, even for synod itself. Hearing that sense of gratitude for what God is doing in and through the church encouraged and refreshed me.

I say that because I continue to believe what I wrote here a year ago: synod is a mirror. Men and women who gather from every corner of North America as delegates, advisers, and observers reflect the diversity of ethnicity, gender, theology, and practice of the whole Christian Reformed Church.

We might not always like what we see reflected, but it is, I believe, an honest image, a realistic one. As I looked across the sea of nearly 200 faces, I was struck by changes. A church once led by graying Dutch men in suits is now led by colorfully dressed younger men and women of varied ethnicities who have been delegated by their churches and classes to set the direction and tone of the church.

I realize that such a picture of leadership is not comfortable for all of us. Yet what I saw in the faces and heard in the voices of synod is what we are. We are, or at least are becoming, the body of Christ described in John’s revelation vision (Rev. 7:9). For that I am grateful, extremely grateful.

I also noticed a passion for worship and prayer. Synod 2008 was not just a business meeting but a time for prayer and worship. We heard messages delivered from the depths of Scripture and the hearts of preachers. Listeners were fed, uplifted, and challenged by the Word of God.

I also saw struggles. Synod 2008 was not without its challenges. But even in the moments of greatest stress, I saw hope, I saw grace, and I saw Christ. It is only because the church cares so deeply about reaching a lost world with the good news, and about holding tenaciously to the truth of Scripture, that we struggle. Apathetic people don’t wrestle. Dispassionate churchgoers don’t make fiery speeches. They just walk away.

It is because we care so deeply that we struggle so fiercely. The Christian Reformed Church cares deeply about what it believes and how it lives out those beliefs in relationships and action. For this too I am grateful.

I began by saying this was a good synod. Allow me to revise that. Synod 2008 was an excellent synod. Not because everything that was said and done was excellent, but because what I saw in the mirror was a church continuing to discern and apply the will of God in grace and love—reaching out to transform lives and communities worldwide.

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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