This weekend, Carla and I had the opportunity to visit with some extended family. An older aunt in Carla’s family died and we gathered to remember and celebrate a life. Conversations full of stories were accompanied by pictures. Some stories matched reality as we understood it. Some stories contained information we had never heard or understood that way before. A younger generation met older generations. Traits and interests that were evident in a previous generation have surfaced in the youngest generation (isn’t genetics grand?). Our time together wasn’t long, but it was well spent.
This year, the RCA is being called to similar family conversations around the Vision 2020 process. The conversations that are necessary will ask some of us to reflect on our history as we all talk together about a future. This conversation has been in process for over a year and will likely take us beyond General Synod 2020 because family conversations and decisions take time.
The Vision 2020 Team has created resources to help congregations have these family conversations. As the Zeeland Classis’ Board reviewed these resources, we felt they were missing three items. First, a frame that establishes the context around how the RCA has arrived at this place. Second, how the RCA church order process works and functions to support, but also to slow, a discussion and decision like Vision 2020. Finally, how people in the RCA view the present conversation in differing ways and categories.
The Vision 2020 Team’s documents provide solid summaries of the three options for moving forward. They also provide good feedback and discussion sheets for small groups. To support these conversations, Zeeland Classis created a PowerPoint that introduces the conversation’s context; introduces people to RCA governance and decision making; and, provides a listing (probably not complete, but definitely broader than others we’ve seen) of the various ways people are naming the tension behind and the decision the RCA is facing.
It’s now your turn. As pastors, Elders and leaders, it is time for you to help your congregations engage in the Vision 2020 discussion. Some of you have already set dates for your conversations. Others have started the fall season and are now setting those dates. As you do so, we offer you access to our family conversation dropbox folder in support of your efforts. We’re grateful for the Vision 2020 Team’s work in creating the discussion guides. Our hope is that the PowerPoint we have created will help you provide entrance into and context for those conversations.
Whether those conversations are short or long, it is good for the family to gather and will be time well spent. Blessings.