This is Part 10 of a continuing series analyzing the final report of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Structure and Governance (BRTFSG). All posts in this series are listed here.
Here is Recommendation #7 of the Blue Ribbon Task Force.
Recommendation #7: Establish Five Geographical Regions in the Synod
Create five geographic regions within the Synod. As the districts are themselves reconfigured (Recommendation #4), these regions also may have to be reconfigured. (Final Report, p. 33)
This is one of the recommendations that if passed would have little effect one way or the other and so is somewhat benign. However, when one actually considers what it means, all sorts of annoyances arise which make one wonder why we would want to make this change.
Here is the rational for forming these regions.
The five regions would be created primarily for representational purposes but also to improve communications and coordination of functions among and between themselves and the national Synod. (Final Report, p. 33)
We ask, when was the last time “Synod Inc.” had a substantial impact on your congregation other than providing a worker benefits plan, assisting in the call process or asking you for Ablaze money? The influence of synod is not going to rise by creating more layers of bureaucracy. We need less layers of bureaucracy, not more. My district deployed the district staff about ten years ago in order to get them out of the district office and into the congregations. In that ten years I have not received a single call or visit from the four deployed staff.
The influence of synod will not increase with increased bureaucracy. Synod’s influence has decreased because the Church Growth Movement teaches congregations to be independent of bureaucracy and to downplay the most important thing a synod has – the unifying power of its commitment to the doctrines of Scripture. One third of the synod’s congregations could care less about synod because they have bought into this narcissistic church growth mindset; one third of synod is rudderless and is not sure where to turn (these are the ones who will be most positively impacted by the election of a churchly man like Matt Harrison because he will provide confessional leadership for them); one third of the synod is actually concerned about doctrinal identity and realize that this is what Synod really is and know that no increase in bureaucracy will make people be more devoted to synod.
Another annoying trait of this recommendation is that it confuses “grassroots” with added bureaucracy. Here is further definition from the Task Force.
The task force also believes strongly in strengthening relationships between members and the people of the Synod at the various levels of the church body’s system of structure and governance. Dr. David Roozen (see Page 16) spoke strongly of the importance of stronger relationships within 21st century churches. Vice presidents nominated by the grassroots in each region, and then serving as “connectors” in those regions, would strengthen these important confessional and missional relationships. (Final Report, p. 33)
The Task Force does not understand that “grassroots” is grassroots. You cannot manufacture grassroots support. Adding a layer of bureaucracy does not increase devotion to synod, it removes synod one more step from the grassroots. Creating five new regions does not make for grassroots involvement. Grassroots involvement and interest in an institution grows underground and spreads by itself, not by institutional manipulation.
As we argued last week, we hope the delegates to the convention will recognize the level of control that President Kieschnick and his Task Force wish to have over the Synod and reject it. If synod is to mean anything, it must be grounded in doctrinal unity and commitment. Matt Harrision’s “It’s Time” document is a prescription for addressing the true problem of synod in the 21st century. We need unity in confession, not added layers of bureaucracy.