Frequently Asked Questions
What do people of the Chicago Invitation want?
We want conversation, as a family of faith within the family of faith.
We want the Reformed Church in America to be more truly the Church of Jesus Christ.
We want a growing awareness of the gifts inherent in the Reformed way of being the church, and a celebration of those gifts.
We want elders, deacons, and ministers to embrace their roles as office bearers.
We want accountability and transparency in how we govern the church.
What we don’t want is the acquisition of political power driven by resentment, jealousy, uncertainty, or fear.
We don’t want to be an advocacy group for hot-button issues.
We seek none of these things.
Rather, we “seek those things that make for unity, purity, and peace.”
What’s wrong with the ten-year goal, or “Our Call”?
CI fully supports the gospel imperative of evangelization. Christ’s living presence in the power of the Spirit compels us to be witnesses to what God is about, not only in Israel and Palestine of the first century, but today. The ten-year goal in fact inhibits that imperative as it reflects a church turned inward, concerned more about institutional survival than following God’s surprising ways, and obsessed with statistical measures of obedience.
In focusing on institutional survival as measured by statistics, the ten year goal, “Our Call,” and the RCA mission statement betray a telling blind spot. Curiously ignored are the gifts and tasks with which God has uniquely blessed the Church of Jesus Christ, namely, the preaching of the Word and the sharing of the sacraments of Communion and Baptism. Whereas Christians may rightly be said to be those who “in a million ways” do “one thing –following Christ in mission, in a lost and broken world so loved by God,” it really should not be said of the church. For then God’s unique task for the Church is too easily overlooked, lost in a sea of a million things or reduced to only one thing.
Because it is our call, and because the goals we establish are in fact ours, the goal (any goal for that matter) closes down the future. The Word that constitutes the church is not itself a goal nor does it contain discrete goals. It is, rather, a way, (which is what Torah in fact is, how Jesus explicitly described himself, and indeed how the earliest community described itself). New and revitalized congregations are to be desired and we cherish them deeply. They come about, however, as God works in countless ways. Indeed, God leads the church to do thousands of things in a future that will be filled with more surprises than we can imagine.
Don’t you want the church to grow?
Of course. But not at all costs. When we ask the church to adopt methods that pretend that we ourselves grow the church, then the cost is too high. Church growth must happen out of the nature of the church, as established by Christ, who is the one head of the church.
Why the focus on the creeds and confessions? Isn’t this a form of creedalism?
Quite to the contrary. Being informed by the creeds and confessions enables one to reject the imposition of voguish statements that have been used as marching orders.
Precisely as Reformed, we do not insist on a positivistic approach to or slavish adoption of the Standards. We find them to be a source of strength, even in those places where their outlook clearly belongs to another time.
Why do you have these “rejection of errors”? Isn’t this too negative?
It’s a reality that by affirming anything of substance, you are also negating something. Negations greatly help to focus discussions.
Clarity demands that we articulate not only what we affirm, but also what we correspondingly deny. Our current situation in the RCA also demands this. Most confessions, older and newer ones, contain rejections of errors. Even the Declaration of Independence lists at length the things to which it objects.
Why this focus on office?
We believe that one of the gifts of the RCA to the larger church is precisely our understanding of office. This understanding offers a balance between individualism and community, and powers of authority and participation. We also believe that many of our current problems have come about because we have neglected the offices and have denied, or abrogated, their responsibilities by looking elsewhere for models of governance.
Aren’t there more pressing matters for the church to address?
There certainly are many important issues for the church to address. However, some of those problems have arisen precisely because the church has ignored its heritage. The church offers far more than situational ethics or politics.
Furthermore, we are ill prepared to meet the current and any future challenges if we fail to take seriously the nature of the church as Christ himself has raised it up as a first fruit of God’s Kingship.
Who may join the Chicago Invitation?
Contact the website and add your name to the list of signatories of the public statement, if you like!
Who are members of the Chicago Invitation?
The Chicago Invitation does not really have formal members, but rather it has a number of people who have opted to affiliate with the Chicago Invitation by adding their names to the list of signatories. Meetings of the group (typically two or three times a year, in various places) include those signatories who are able to attend. These meetings are open to all, even those who have not signed the Chicago Invitation.
Who are the officers of the Chicago Invitation?
The Moderator is the Rev. Jack Elliott and the Treasurer is the Rev. Bill TeWinkle
I’m interested. How do I find out more?