From October to December 2022, the Restructuring Team conducted ten Zoom meetings with classis and regional synod leaders, as shared in our Fall 2022 update. The purpose of these meetings was to share information on the team’s work thus far and to gather feedback. We are pleased to share that there was a high level of interest and participation from leaders in nearly all RCA classes and regional synods.
The next phase of our feedback-gathering is taking the form of a number of in-person roundtable gatherings across the U.S. and Canada from January through April. These gatherings have begun, and are open to anyone in the denomination who is interested in attending, especially young people with a heart for the RCA’s future. No RSVP is necessary. The Restructuring Team desires discussion with as many interested people as possible. We desire transparency and open dialogue across the denomination.
The earliest meetings have already taken place, and a restructuring team member at one reported it almost felt celebratory, gathering in relationship with those choosing or interested in remaining in the RCA. Concerns were openly shared, but not mired in a negative spirit. The group was positive, with a desire to find ways to work together for a better future.
The Restructuring Team, through our discernment process, has sensed God calling the RCA to re-examine and refresh our individual and denominational commitment and faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, while maintaining alignment with our Reformed theology, including our creeds and confessions, and honoring our history and traditions while reshaping our structures for effective ministry in the 21st century. We are discerning that God is reminding the RCA to return to basic biblical principles of discipleship in preparation for the expanding ways God is wanting to impact the world through us.
The central outcome that we believe God is calling the RCA to produce is “making disciples who grow disciples.” We recognize that this central statement still needs more definition, yet we know that God is calling us to focus on transformation through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, that leads to deepening our love of God, others, and our world. This will form the foundation on which our proposed future denominational structure will be built.
The purpose of the Zoom meetings and in-person roundtable gatherings is to open up dialogue with as many in the RCA as possible (we especially hope to hear the voices of many young people and future church leaders) and be transparent about the work we have done as a team thus far. Our goal in these meetings is to introduce the central outcome we have discerned, engage in dialogue, and gather feedback, which we will consider as we continue to refine the outcomes.
As we move into the roundtable events we wanted to share a summary of the themes in the feedback we received from classis and regional synod leaders during the October–December Zoom meetings. Overall, the discussions at these meetings felt positive, with a sense of curiosity, a desire to express concerns openly and a willingness to contribute to the future of the RCA.
This is a summary of the feedback we received in those Zoom calls, in response to key questions:
How do the outcomes give you hope?
Discipleship | Community | Practicality and Clarity | Inclusivity and Diversity | Faithfulness to Tradition
Overall, the general sentiment is positive and hopeful about the practical direction and focus of the outcomes, and the potential for the denomination to return to its core mission of making disciples and building Christ-centered relationships, including covenantal ties within the denomination. A focus on inclusivity and diversity, including commitment to a multiethnic and multicultural future, was mentioned. Also, participants were encouraged by the acknowledgement and commitment to maintaining Reformed distinctives and remaining faithful to the denomination’s spiritual heritage.
What about the outcomes gives you pause?
Communication and Transparency | Representation and Diversity | Focus On Individual Discipleship | Structure and Organization | Trust and Relationship Building
Overall, the participants desire more clarity—and transparency—in the denomination’s decision-making processes. There is a recognition of the challenges faced by the denomination, as well as a desire to address these challenges in a way that is faithful to the denomination’s mission and responsive to the needs of its diverse membership. Some comments express skepticism about the emphasis on individual discipleship, and the potential for this focus to be too narrow or overly concerned with numeric church growth. It was also mentioned the importance of representing and addressing the needs of different cultural and regional groups within the denomination. A number of comments address the role of structure in facilitating the denomination’s mission, including questions about how to restructure the denomination in a way that is effective and responsive to the needs of different congregations. There were several comments that emphasize the importance of trust and relationship-building in facilitating cooperation and collaboration within the denomination.
What structures are needed to accomplish these outcomes?
Mentoring and Support Networks | Training Resources | Multi-Ethnic Future Resources | Spiritual Direction and Formation | Denomination Celebration Gatherings | Simplified Assessment System
Overall, the feedback indicates the need for emotional support, encouragement, and listening, as well as a focus on prayer, biblical studies, and bringing life change to communities. There is also a desire for structures that are flexible and able to adapt to growth and change.
What are you willing to contribute to this vision?
Commitment to Discipleship Focus | Willingness for Reconciliation | Trust the Process | Staying Grounded in Scripture | Offer Time, Talent, and Treasure | Continued Prayer | Strive for Healthy Leadership, Relationships, and RCA
Overall, the feedback shows a willingness and commitment to engage the RCA’s restructuring season with hope, patience, trust and flexibility.
We are thankful for all the classis and regional leaders who participated in the Zoom meetings and contributed their feedback. We also look forward to the feedback we will receive from those participating in the in-person roundtable meetings. All feedback is valued and will help contribute to the refinement of the discerned outcomes and denominational restructuring process.
We covet your prayers and support. We invite you to remain engaged in the process as we all seek God’s will for the RCA and the structure that will support it. You are also invited to communicate with the team as you are prayerfully led to do so. We are thankful for the communications we have received thus far. If you wish to communicate with the restructuring team, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
May God bless you,
The RCA Restructuring Team