Sunday, June 7, 2009

Trophy Time!

My apologies to staff for my departure. Saturday was a busy day for the Advisory Forum Moderators. Here are my belated thoughts:

Friday evening of synod captures for me the tension I feel with the focus of the denomination. It's the same tension, I think, that I feel with competition. Sticking with our (un)creative thread I've been maintaining, there is a tension I feel between striving to win the swim race and swimming because the strength and health in which it results. Is the only thing valuable about swimming getting the trophy?

Friday evening at synod two rounds of awards/recognitions were given. One was given to those church leaders that have planted churches this year. I must say that I was quite frustrated as the awards went out. I realize that celebrating something is one way to see more of it. It seemed at the time that we were valuing church planting over other activities. However, the following round of recognition went to churches who faithfully gave 10% of their budget or at $40,000 dollars to RCA Mission. I'm happy to say that the church I serve is one of those churches.

These two same threads were present in the report of the General Secretary. The talk of church starts and networks and charts and growth all sounds to me like corporate propoganda. At the same time, I had never heard such a strong call for social activism and justice from the podium at GS (acknowleding I've only been to 3). I had to admit to myself that there is room for both the pursuit of church plants and the pursuit of justice. And I had to wonder why I struggle to celebrate the former as much as the latter. Perhaps it was because of my experience in the Advisory Forum and the indifference to communication.

One thread of the discussion touched on the fact that the monies used for communication should be redirected to church planting because they are running low on funds. Another thread of the conversation suggested that the diverse views in The Church Herald were not helpful to new Christians coming to our church. The first thread seemed to betray what I am concerned about: that the main, if not only, thing many of the people in the room value is church planting and increasing our numbers. It seemed to say that communicating only has value as long as it does not impede our pursuit of growth. In other words, it only matters that we achieve the "trophy" of growth even at the expense of any other values. Perhaps it could be compared to taking steroids in order to win the race. The value of long term health is subject to a greater value to win.

I think communication has great value. I think being confronted with diverse views and wrestling with them has great value. I think that churches that devote themselves to ministry, regardless of growth, have great value.

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