Taking Transformed & Transforming to the Far West

Date Posted: 
Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Far West Region staff has been asking what they can do to effectively align classes and congregations with the new RCA strategic goal, Transformed & Transforming.

“With Transformed & Transforming there is an appropriate shift to greater personal spirituality that wasn’t as prominent in Our Call,” says regional executive Bruce Bugbee. “Transformed & Transforming is more about ‘being’ as we are ‘doing.’

“With no less emphasis on church multiplication and missional engagement, we need to be more intentional about leading and strengthening churches and classes to live out their primary calling to be making disciples who make disciples.” Classes (pronounced class-ease, and the plural of classis) are groups of churches in the RCA, joined by either common geography or common affinity (ministry focus, racial-ethnic makeup, etc.). Each classis supervises the ministers and churches within its bounds.

Simplifying the message

Karl Overbeek, regional leader for healthy classes, says, “We have worked vigorously to understand the RCA’s Transformed & Transforming, and how we in the Far West can best embrace and align with it. We’ve tried to simplify the message in order to help carry it to classes. We believe our three-fold emphasis on life transformation, missional engagement, and emerging leaders captures the essence of Transformed & Transforming while serving the vision, mission, and values of our synod.”

Regional staff recognizes that Transformed & Transforming connects with ministries and concepts that have already taken root in the Far West, so they want to build on and communicate Transformed & Transforming using language and concepts that are already familiar. They plan to do this by focusing on how the new RCA strategic goals tie in with and support ministry that classes and local congregations are already doing.

For instance, they want to highlight the many parallels between Transformed & Transforming initiatives and the 10 missional markers of Congregational Vitality Pathways (developed by the Evangelical Covenant Church), a ministry framework that is already familiar to classes and many churches in the Far West Region.

In order to help accomplish this, “we have placed CVP’s 10 missional markers within our Transformed & Transforming priorities,” says Overbeek.

A new focus on life transformation

Previously, the Far West Region embraced five priorities in its mission to all six of its classes:

  1. Right people, right places
  2. Healthy classes
  3. Missional classes
  4. Empowering culture
  5. Convene and catalyze

“None of the five priorities specifically targets the inward journey for life transformation by evangelizing and discipling,” says Bugbee. “The region left that to the local churches.”

Bugbee says the region’s five priorities will continue, but they will be embedded in Transformed & Transforming’s priorities of life transformation, emerging leaders, and missional engagement.

Mike Hayes, regional leader for missional classes, affirms the region’s alignment with Transformed & Transforming. He says working on that alignment has “led to an important discovery. We do not have a champion for life transformation.”

“Presently our strength is in the areas of missional engagement and emerging leaders,” Overbeek acknowledges. “This led us, with regional president Glenn Spyksma, to identify the need of a champion for life transformation.”

“We have asked Kevin Harney, author of Organic Outreach, to be that champion for the region,” says Spyksma. “This will complement what we are currently doing and developing with emerging leaders and missional engagement. We look forward to this new season of ministry together.”

What’s under way and being expanded

Bugbee says the missional engagement priority is encompassed in what Overbeek and Hayes are already focusing on as they promote healthy and missional classes. “We want missional engagement to be part of what every church does, locally and globally,” he says. “I think every church can be a partner in getting healthier and planting churches in some capacity.”

With regard to the emerging leaders priority, Bugbee says the region understands this priority to include “not just young leaders, but also second-career leaders, women, and people of color. If all nations—including all those represented in our local communities—are to be reached, the region and classes need to be creating leadership development paths for more diverse leaders in our congregations, classes, and region.”

Bugbee is convinced that spiritually healthy leadership is necessary in order to have healthy, missional congregations. He says one way to nurture healthy leaders under Transformed & Transforming would be to bring in people and denominational resources that can help current leaders and emerging leaders identify and pursue common goals.

Looking ahead

“There is a learning curve for both the RCA and Far West to work practically and move forward together,” says Bugbee. “It’s challenging. We need to help people navigate their alignment to the RCA, region, classis, and congregation.” He plans to work with the executive teams of each classis to achieve this alignment.

“As the region develops strategies around Transformed & Transforming’s three priorities, it is our hope each classis would identify a person and team around each priority in order to enhance communication and synergy. And I would also hope that each church would identify a champion and/or team in each of these strategic areas.”

Bugbee acknowledges that there are lots of details to work out. “Introducing a way to navigate Transformed & Transforming is a work in progress.” 

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