Tuesday, July 06, 2010
Strategic Plan Wrap-Up #2
Theme 2: Increased Involvement
Goal: Increase involvement by providing more opportunities to utilize greater variety of people and life experiences (especially younger leaders, women, ethnic leaders, and global church representatives) in the discussions concerning PCA ministry direction and development.
What initially strikes me as I reread this after a few days is that virtually all of this could be accomplished in a single stroke. Stop making GA a convention and make it again a deliberative body, a court of the church. As I noted in the last post, only 752 churches (43%) were represented at GA. The unrepresented churches are largely pastored by young men and men from ethnic minorities. Further, fewer than 300 churches actually had ruling elder representatives. The concerns of women in the local churches are generally more ably represented by their ruling elders than by their teaching elders. Further, the broader inclusion of REs will increase the representation of various minority viewpoints, as the REs have not attended the same half-dozen seminaries that virtually all the TEs in the PCA have attended. Thus, the REs are not thinking as part of the herd.
How do you change GA from a convention to a deliberative body? First, stop advertising it as family vacation. Second, locate it at something like Covenant College. Have the men stay in the dorms and eat in the cafeteria. If CC is not large enough, have it someplace larger but with the idea remaining the same: no luxury hotels, no spending large wads of cash at local eateries or at overpriced convention center food courts. Third, without the distractions of vacation and resort, and with no place else to go, men will actually go the the GA meetings. There were at least two votes during this past GA that required a "yes" vote by more than half of those registered in order to pass. The measures did not pass. Why? There were fewer than half of the registered attendants present. Ask your TE, and your RE, if he actually attended the business sessions of the GA. Ask him to explain to you what happened. These men who attend GA but do not attend GA need to be called to account, and they need to repent.
Action 2 in the preceding paragraph will immediately cut the cost of GA by a significant margin. Right now, depending on where GA is, and where you travel from, attending GA costs in the range of $1,500 to $2,000. That is a prohibitive for many small churches. It is also prohibitive for REs who have to take off a week of work in order to attend.
If the Administration Committee (which currently spends about one-quarter of its budget on GA) took these actions, it would say to the REs that it really is worth your time and expense to make your voice heard at GA. With this kind of encouragement, smaller churches will also be encouraged to send their due representatives, even if thay have to take up a special offering to do so.