Crossing the Wake (Or, What I learned from falling the first time I water skied)

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When I first learned to water ski, starting went pretty easily. Standing on the skis was also fairly intuitive. But, crossing from inside the wake to outside the wake, well that took some learning – especially when first starting on two skis. On two skis, it is possible to get trapped with one ski inside and one ski outside the wake if you try to “step” over the wake. That straddling rarely ends well. As a result, some people get up on skis and never ski outside the wake.

As I became more experienced and moved to a slalom ski, it was clear that dealing with boat wake required the direct approach. Cutting on my ski over the wake and into the better water became a single move in a single direction. Even though it was a single move, it required two decisions. First, it required that I decide to be proactive when facing the wake. Second, when I began to follow through on that decision, it required that I do so in a direct manner – no trying to stay on top and gently go over.

So, why am I thinking about skiing? First, because I’m writing by a lake where I first learned to ski reflecting on how blessed I’ve been to have had the opportunity to water ski most of my adult life. Second, I’ve been considering the after action of General Synod 2019. From most of the conversations, it seems that as the RCA makes denominational decisions, Zeeland Classis and its congregations are facing the wake created by those decisions. So, how to deal with the wake?

When the Board of Zeeland Classis met last week, it discussed priorities for this year. One of those priorities was how we (Kayla, the Board and I) can “equip, empower and encourage” congregational leadership to process the options emerging from the RCA 2020 Vision Committee in a healthy way. We don’t believe it’s healthy to ignore the changes that are in front of us. We believe that living into change requires conversation – particularly, conversation that is not driven by demands (if, then thinking), but rather conversation that involves reflection and time (kind of like simmering a good soup). We also realize that to ask pastoral leaders to have these conversations while focusing on their own ministry (weekly worship, calling, outreach, etc.) is not helpful. So, what to do?

First, we feel called to develop a survey – electronic and identified only by your role – through which Zeeland Classis member pastors can give us their perspective on what where they find themselves (and for those serving congregations, where they believe their congregation finds themselves). By seeking this input, we believe the Board and staff will be able to lead more effectively – maybe even by creating some sort of mini General Synod conversation in January. We’re not sure about that yet.

Second, we are working on developing a conversation guide (not sure guide is the best word, but it works) to support pastors as they engage with the Elders (possibly the entire Consistory). Our desire is to help open up discussion and build awareness of each option that has been presented by Vision 2020. It’s our belief that while some people may be following this closely, many have viewed it from a distance without really engaging the process. In an effort to lessen the anxiety created by change, it is necessary to intentionally engage change. The Board and staff feel called to help this happen in Zeeland Classis congregations.

Thanks for listening to this first update. I suspect that I’ll be blogging a bit more regularly about the Vision 2020. It’s an intentional decision we have to make over the next 11 months. It’s decision we have to face together.

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