General Synod - Day 2 - General-Secretary report

A conversation with Wes, our General Secretary.

Actually it's a selection from his report tonight with a few [responses of mine] thrown in...

Where are we going as the RCA? Commitment to follow Jesus can change everything. When the church gets settled and seeks to preserve the status quo, vitality is lost and life is boring.

Our confessions are dated.
[WRONG - we just won't listen to them.]

Election often produces closed communities that don't evangelize.
[This is an unnecessary distortion of good doctrine].

But positively, relationships are revelatory.
[what does THAT mean? In a secondary sense, yes, we can learn things from others about God's will, but never over the revelation of Scripture].

We must be reformed and missional. This is the vision; we need the strategy of Our Call (10-year plan for growth: 2003-2013). Pastor networks are the best denominational development of Wes' 12 years as general secretary. Congregational revival begins with ministerial revival. Are our structures impeding our mission?
[Does this include presbyterian polity? Already we are moving to table discussions as more missional and cooperative than Robert's Rules of Order (too debate/decide/argue oriented). I don't like this direction.]

Rejecting racism isn't a politically correct agenda, but faithfulness to Jesus' Lordship.
[Why can't he see that declaring homosexual behavior sinful, with Scripture, also is faithful to Jesus' Lordship?]

Congregations are focusing on local mission to the detriment of global connectedness and mission.
[Amen to that.]

There is a new reformed presence in Myanmar (Burma) after they visited our website and then our seminaries. Global links are fragile, due to many options for mission dollars. RCA congregations give twice as much to non-RCA missions as to RCA missions.
[This is likely due to a suspicion that the liberal leadership is producing an equally liberal social gospel mission identity. Whether it is or not I'm not very qualified to say. Not in some cases, like Words of Hope.]

Congregations get easily wrapped up in themselves: their vision is bigger and better parking, better choir or better church dinners.
[Again, Amen to this! He who seeks to save his life/congregation/denomination will lose it.]

We are not about the institutional survival of the RCA. We are about meeting needs outside our walls.
[Then why did the homosexual dialogue facilitator say that the goal is to keep us together? This doesn't jive.]

God has given each of us unique gifts and skills, but also purposes in our hearts that line up with His mission. Line up your skills and purpose with God's mission.

Neal Plantinga (Calvin Seminary president): God's mission is about affections of the heart more than ideas of the head.
[This is dangerous ground: putting feelings above truth.]

Well, that's my conversation. More tomorrow.


  1. What about the new preocupation with the Belhar Confession?

    Also, you have to wonder how closely the GS has read our confessions. Even a quick read of the opeing of Dort and all throughout the Belgic Confession will prove this statement very naieve: "Our three confessions, as rich as they are, barely contain a missional comma."

  2. Spot on analysis, Steve. It is interesting to see how Our Call has "evolved" - Wes blows with the wind. "Missional" the buzzword of the emerging church movement is just the latest in a long string of tried and failed approaches.

  3. This sounds like classic Wes with his push away from Presbyterial polity to some sort of top down structure that minimizes the individual congregation as being misfocused. I like your responses.

    While that may be the case with some congregations, it certainly is not the case with all of them.

    The utter lack of comment about homosexuality while constantly banging the drum on racism seems to me to be an attempt to distract people from the issue that more and more seems to be the watershed dividing line that will split the denomination.

  4. At least Wes is consistent in his anti-intellectualism and anti-doctrinalism. He's been writing and speaking this nonsense since before being appointed GS.

    Glad you're there Steve. Glad I am not (for my mental health's sake alone).

  5. Rogue, yes he mentioned the Belhar, quite forcefully advocating for it.

    Man of one book, missional is a huge buzzword here, and they're using it to advocate RCA missions over non-RCA ones. But the word has little content.

    Riley, yes he doesn't seem keen on our polity. He did mention "amoral and self-centered sexuality" as a problem in our culture, along with materialism and greed, but nothing on homosexuality itself.

    Scribe, I wouldn't say it's all nonsense. There is good mixed with the bad. But if you're not a "weeder" so much, I can see how it's frustrating.

    Wes had a great story at the beginning about being locked out of his hotel room most of Thursday evening. They had to break in through the window to get his door open!

    Also, he wants to move General Synod to January from June, and make it into a seminar-type event, training RCA officers and members in revitalization and multiplication, while also doing synod business.

  6. (continued) the whole Our Call report wasn't so much an update on the process, as a documentary of how great NCD and Our Call are. They seem to want to expand that time. I don't like this. It has delegates being trained by staff, essentially, when staff is the servant of the church delegates, not their trainers.

    Please pray for me today, as I go in to the worship and theology advisory committee...

  7. I have been praying for you and for all GS delegates. May God bless you all.

    About NCD and Our Call, I am often troubled by hearing only sucess stories. Sharing only positive stories is propoganda. Sharing both positive and negative stories is much more fully sharing in community--bearing one another's burdens (cf. Gal 2:6).