A Reformed Church in America panel wants members of its denomination to embrace diversity, prepare young people for leadership roles and find healthy and redemptive ways to engage conflict as part of recommendations released Tuesday ahead of a key June gathering.
The group tasked with making the recommendations – the General Synod Council - has been working with local churches and the church leadership since 2010 to find a new focus for the denomination.
Delegates to the meeting of the church's governing body – the General Synod – in June of this year will spend time in advisory committees considering the recommendation before voting on it.
The RCA has 170,000 confessing members in about 1,000 congregations in the United States and Canada.
"My biggest prayer for the discovery process is that people can hear their voices, and that churches will be able to live out the parts of this that they've been called by God to do," said the Rev. Dr. Tom De Vries, the RCA general secretary.
The three areas of focus are: Cultivating Transformation in Christ, Equipping Next Generation Leaders, and Engaging in Mission.
"In cooperation with the Holy Spirit, serving with each other, and working with all the partners God provides, as we move toward a fifth century of mission and ministry, the Reformed Church in America will focus on three interconnected strategic priorities," the GSC said in a statement.
The first area focuses on developing lifelong believers with deeper spirituality and devotion to God. It also recommends openness to change and linking generations closer for discipleship. Lastly it encourages engaging conflict in redemptive and healthy ways.
The second involves preparing the youth and young adults to take leadership roles in all aspects of the church while embracing diversity.
The third area involves having the church adopt a "missional" outlook that moves outwardly, adapting church and ministry work engage its context. It encourages putting faith into action through promoting justice, compassion and reconciliation locally and globally.
The church has been engaged in a "discernment process" to create a new focus since 2010. As part of that process it kicked off "discovery" discussions at local churches last September to talk about what lies ahead. The discussions ended in February.
See the recommendations below:
TRANSFORMED AND TRANSFORMING
Radically Following Christ in Mission Together
In cooperation with the Holy Spirit, serving with each other, and working with all the partners God provides, as we move toward a fifth century of mission and ministry, the Reformed Church in America will focus on three interconnected strategic priorities:
(1) Cultivating Transformation in Christ (Jn 15; 1 Cor 3:6-8;
Rom 12:1-2; 2 Cor 3:18; Matt 22:34-40; Lk 6:40; Acts 2:42-47; 2 Cor
5:17-18; Mt 28:18-20; Eph 4:14-16; Gal 3:28)
• Developing passionate lifelong believers who live and love like Jesus.
• Deepening our spiritual journey in ways that are biblical and Reformed.
• Loving and embracing the diversity of all people.
• Opening ourselves humbly to deep change under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
• Increasing our personal and corporate devotion to God.
• Building intentional intergenerational discipling relationships with youth.
• Engaging conflict in healthy and redemptive ways.
(2) Equipping Next Generation Leaders (Deut 6:4-9; Lk 9:48;
Eph 4:11-12; 2 Tim 2:2)
• Increasing the awareness that God is calling youth and young adults to become leaders.
• Developing youth intentionally for missional, congregational, and pastoral leadership.
• Mobilizing emerging leaders for service in the church and world.
• Preparing leaders of all ages for fruitful ministry in diverse environments.
• Cultivating diverse and healthy leaders so that churches can thrive.
(3) Engaging in Mission (Lk 4:18-19, 10:25-37; Acts 1:8; Mt 28:18-20;
Matt 14:14; Micah 6:8; Mt 13:44; Mt 9:37; Acts 2:42-47; Rev 7:9-12)
• Contextualizing ministry and church in new and expanded ways.
• Prioritizing youth involvement in missional ministry.
• Serving as agents of change through putting our faith in action.
• Promoting justice, compassion, and reconciliation.
• Expanding mission that is both local and global with equal passion and commitment.
• Equipping existing churches to move outward in ministry.
• Embracing our mission to the world and sharing the good news of the gospel with everyone.
• Multiplying missional communities and new churches that put the love of Christ into action.