Local Damage from the Carver Model

The Carver Model, or I should say, the misuse of the Carver Model, is causing damage at the local level. The denominational staff is advocating this model to some of our young, idealistic, and inexperienced pastors for the reorganization of their local congregations.

In each case I know of, it has caused significant conflict. The model seems to bring out the worst in everyone and everything when it is applied to RCA church government.

I need to say that I used the Carver Model myself in developing a Board of Directors for a Christian school in Hoboken, NJ. For the right application the Carver Model has positive attributes, though it is far from perfect.

But a local Reformed Church is hardly the right application. What a mess we’re facing in some of our churches. Good grief.

The denominational staff, however, will not have to pick up the pieces. We classis members will have to. What if, what if, what if the leader of our denomination had been a parish pastor, or had some parish experience in the RCA, or had ever been active in classis?

What if the Supreme Court had voted differently in Gore versus Bush.

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2 thoughts on “Local Damage from the Carver Model

  1. I’m very new to the concept of Policy Governance, but I am hard pressed to find anything in the literature even remotely resembling a governance that is ‘decent and in order.’ It sounds more Machiavellian to me, as if it doesn’t matter what we do as long as we accomplish our goals. I don’t see how this is appropriate at ANY level of our government, let alone at the local congregation level.

  2. If Carver’s Policy Governance (the PG is trademarked…) were merely a matter of poliCy, the consequences for a church would be less insidious, and in some non-profit settings even beneficial for lack of an active and involved constitutency. However, the Carver PG model strikes at the heart of poliTy.Policy is about policing; polity is about a higher level of the life of a ‘polis’. It is akin to ‘being polite’ and guides (not governs) ways of acting on the basis of a rather complex set of social rules, etiquette decorum for the sake of reasonable discourse and social intercourse.In a dog-eat-dog world of moral and social bankruptcy the Carver PG model is better than anarchy. Yet as a model for the Kingdom of God it is misapplied. The Church is governed by a Spirit that is of Jesus Christ. As I have argued in an early CI paper, I think that John Calvin has a better understanding of polity and policy according to Jesus Christ than does John Carver. One of these days I hope for a disclaimer on the non-profit section of the Carver PG website about its use for ecclesial governance. I am willing to discuss the adaptation for certain ecclesiastical entities sucha as separate Boards within a denominational structures. Using the John Carver PG model would turn the RCA de facto into a para-church institution.

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