Behind the claim that the major structural shift (re-ordering of the church) is being proposed to assist the church function in its essence as mission is, in fact, a matter of power.
This isn’t simply a shift of power from the periphery to the center, although it is that. Something more fundamental, and more dangerous, is going on. Philosophers use the notion of “totalizing.” That is to bring everything under the umbrella of a ruling idea executed through those who have power over those on the outside.
Here’s how it might work in the church. The ruling idea is that of mission conceived in a particular way. As it’s stated in “Our Call” it is that the RCA will focus its efforts and resources on starting new congregations and revitalizing existing congregations. Not a bad idea, as ideas go. But this one “call” rules out all others who don’t line up.
On the ground, this means that the small church, the church that isn’t “revitalizing” or that isn’t busy starting a new congregation is judged as “not healthy.” And ministers, elders and deacons who don’t or can’t go along are judged as “out of the loop,” unhealthy, old-fashioned, etc. A church must either produce or be judged ready for the scrap heap.
This is dangerous, unethical, and it betrays theological integrity. It’s why some read the MSTF report as violent. Because this says to the little person: you count only as you fit the narrative imperative of the “one thing” that the church is to be about.
I can think of few things that violate the Reformation confession of justification than this. This sort of totalizing was, in fact, what our Reformation forbears set up their resistance against. Dare I say that this is the status confessionis in which the Belgic and the Heidelberg emerged?