I recently read an article written by Susan Delacourt that spoke well to how I see the healthiest parts of our current leadership working in the church locally and denominationally. It was an opinion piece evaluating the style of Canada’s newly-elected Prime Minister.
You may or may not like Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party platform or his stance on particular issues, but there is something in the posture of his leadership that bears a resemblance to the leadership in the Christian Reformed Church and the Ministry Plan that is being developed for the CRC.
Delacourt writes, “Trudeau needs help from people and institutions outside his government to make good on his campaign pledges—help from premiers, from other countries and, perhaps most importantly, from Canadian citizens themselves.”
The article goes on to say, “The responsibility for making things work in government belongs to citizens as well as politicians. In this version of government, citizens aren’t merely passive ‘taxpayers’—they’re participants.” Delacourt concludes with comments about how this approach is “daring” and “could go slower,” and she admits that “much could go wrong.” But she remains convinced that this new approach is the right way to go. It is reminiscent of John F. Kennedy’s “Ask not what your country can do for you . . .” style of leadership.
In a way, this reminds me of what I see in the CRC. Our leadership is taking the time to listen, to learn, and to allow the voices of the local church to speak loudly so that we might walk a journey together and accomplish great things with and for God. It’s a risky and slower approach. It might be easier to have a half-dozen denominational people “command” the next ministry thing into existence—but that doesn’t work, ultimately.
I know that many people throughout the CRC expect things to move faster, but that’s not biblical leadership. The command approach might work corporately on occasion. But it does not fit with the oft-forgotten Reformed tenet of “priesthood of all believers” and certainly does not fit Jesus’ style either. Imagine if Jesus had come to earth and done all he needed to do in three months instead of 33 years! Jesus himself slowed things down and invited others into the journey.
So, fellow priests, let me propose a few things for your consideration. First, think about finding time and occasions to develop an understanding of how we might grow together in the areas of justice available to us locally and nationally. For example, participating in the Blanket Exercise will allow you and your church to set the tone for reconciliation in your community.
Second, get proactive in your local church. Whether by connection to your council, participating in a ministry, or actively praying for your community and its leaders . . . get involved! As a priest—as well as prophet and king—you are meant to be at the center of the action.
Third, let me encourage you to attend the National Gathering in Canada, to be held in May 2016, where we will unite our voices as CRC people and determine the ministry priorities in a uniquely Canadian context. (Our American members will have an opportunity to participate in three regional gatherings with similar goals.)
All in all, this is a time when we are praying, planning, and participating together. We need your help. This is a daring process and goes a tad slower, but it seems right, doesn’t it?