Thanks for this insightful post. :-)
We should not use foreign words for God in the English Language. In writing in Arabic and the word for God is Allah no problem. Most ethnics in Canada changed from their mother tongue to English in their religious observances. We don't use "Deo" for God in the English language either.
So what was the point of using Allah in this article?
What other discussion guide to you have? You mentioned film discussion guides. Do you have any film discussion guides available?
I always love requesting and singing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. My younger self probably would request The Trees of the Field.
This is great, Ruth! Can't wait to hear how it goes in your Together group this fall!
This article clearly articulates what it is like attempting to live "in Christ." I am pleased at finding the material, and wish to share it with my people.
Thank you for your help!
Very encouraging Drew! Thanks for sharing this.
Good thoughts Paul! Much appreciated. I would echo that we are all "born that way" to correctly use the commonly misused phrase. Not merely born, but even conceived in sin as a human being with a fallen, sinful nature. I also whole heartedly agree that the only hope for true change is the gospel. This has been a very present application to our sermon series in Galatians. This past Lord's Day we were on Gal 3:15-29 concerning both the Promise and the Law. The reality is that while the Law does have its purposes (see the Institutes) it can never change the heart! The same would apply to any form of reconciliation. Mandela's work of reconciliation will never become a reality. Peace cannot be accomplished by law nor by any other man-made (centered/initiated) focus, action or emotion. It will never change the heart. Only the gospel of Christ can change our very nature. Our weapon is the gospel! While others want to subdue, silene or defeat their enemies, we long to see our enemies become brothers and sisters. This can never be acheived by any other means. We are all one "in Christ," only.
Honestly, it was hard to choose just one part because it was all "Inspiring"! The things that immediately came to mind are these: ~ Even though Liz Curtis Higgs was not listed as one of the original speakers, she was a gift from God for me. Listening to her speak was exactly what I needed to be refreshed. Her personal story, the Gospel story and her delivery brought tears to my eyes and hysterical laughter! Thank you, Liz! ~ The breakout session on "Praying Like Jesus" was meaningful because of the emphasis on memorizing and praying the Psalms. Kevin Adams' sharing of stories and encouraging group participation made it interesting and memorable. It created a desire in me to follow through with some of the suggestions. ~ The music, worship and singing were like a little glimpse of heaven as we sang songs in different languages and tempos. It was evidence and a reminder that we believers are part of the larger, global body of Christ!
I will say more. I am planning a video on this. I think it's important. In the mean time Pastor T I think sheds light on what I want to say in this important conversation with Coates. https://youtu.be/Gton4je7T_Y
Thank you for your comment. I think you are right that there is a lack of lament as there should be. Many white evangelical Christians struggle with what exactly is racism and how to confess it let alone lament it. I myself am still learning.
I am not sure where you land with this line of reasoning. What will you do with do not lie, steal, commit adultery. Should the church be silent on these sins as well. Please say more
Thank you, I agree that the sin can be ambagious. I especially wonder about racial reconciliation, who reconciles with who. Being that we are a confessional community, might integrating remorse and lament over the historic racialization of people be helpful in making us more welcoming to people who have not felt welcome in our midst.
Thanks for that explanation Bill. I suspected that might/could be the answer to what many readers would have as brow furrowing questions. You explanation makes sense and doesn't conflate Christianity with Islam. :-)
What a timely and helpful post by Chris Pedersen. It clearly describes how complex the act of listening is. The four-direction model is helpful in demonstrating this. I find that this issue is especially pertinent in making room in the church for people with mental health challenges. Not only might there be no room at the table for them, there may be no "table".
As one who spent his career as a social worker listening to others, I am conscious of how imperfectly I listened; it is still a challenge. Several factors get in the way. Here are four reasons / excuses:
1. Time - I don't have (or take) the time. How can I be a better steward of my time to include listening?
2. Fear - I don't know how I would respond to something I don't understand. Actually listening doesn't require solving anything - it requires only my presence. Many husbands find this out the hard way.
3. Skill - I don't know how to listen. Our churches can do something about that. how about Listening 101 as an Adult Discipleship class?
4. Apathy - I am not sure I care enough to listen; I have my own issues to deal with. Closely allied with fear.
The challenge of listening is much more than an individual one, it is institutional as well. Churches are noisy places - we sing, pray, drink coffee and chat, and do service. but our churches by-and-large do not structure themselves to allow listening to flourish. Small groups may help to make this happen but not uniformly.
I would be interested in hearing from people whose churches have structured themselves to help make listening easier. We all have stories to tell, but is anyone willing to listen?
Volunteers in Service, Grand Rapids, MI
I very much agree that we indeed learn racism and that it is lamentably often intentionally taught and modeled. It is important to address it at that level.
My main pushback on the quote is that it isn't merely taught. I believe it is developmentally ingrained in us even before birth by the mere fact of human formation. In other words via our confessions we are sinful from birth. Even in utero we are a petri dish for sin. It is also as many note spiritually created by the demonic. If this is the case then education, or activism, or anti-racism programs themselves will never be sufficient to banish it from each of our hearts. We are natural born racists. This points to a deeper redemption necessary for the anticipated purity of our communal presence before the throne.
You're correct that we must all begin with ourselves. But we must also lead others, both in the church and in society. I'm very glad many find Obama's tweet helpful, and to be much more than just "nice sentiment." The original quote from Nelson Mandela was based on the harsh reality that many learn from a young age (sadly, often from parents and perhaps also their church contexts) to hate people of other races rather than to love them. Obama is pointing to Mandela's very hard work of forgiveness and reconciliation, personally and nationally.
Doug, thank you for your thought provoking response. I appreciate your observation that many people in the CRC understand that the word Allah has a different meaning than the word God. I want to help make people aware that the word Allah had been used by Arabic-speaking Christians for centuries before Muhammad was even born. And it is being used by millions of Christians all around the world today. It is not my intention to make any comparison to the use of the word in Islam, or to equate Christianity with Islam.
As a missionary in Nigeria working in the Hausa language, I worshiped, preached, and taught about Allah for many years. I hope that we can accept our Arabic-speaking Christian brothers and sisters' use of Allah when speaking of God just as readily as Christians speaking about God in any other language.
Josh - Yours may not be the turnaround story you mentioned, but in many ways it is a more important story to tell. And it certainly takes more courage to write! To be faithful, we must remove the stigma associated with closing a church. If not, we'll have churches hanging on past when they should, and that prevents us from responding to how God is calling us next. Thank you for sharing this. Your honesty and wisdom in this reflection is the kind of leadership we need from pastors, and from all of us. Judging from the pageviews and the comments here, your words have struck a chord and have already had a significant impact.
As a follow up, I wanted to point out that this post was written before the horrific events in Charlottesville, VA that happened on the weekend of August 12.
Well, in this case we have a humble and highly competent Lead Pastor who helped shape the position description.
I was able to find a conversation on The Network about putting together a package to call a pastor (including a Letter of Call) here. It looks like the Letter of Call is now available in Word format for easy editing.
Jeanne, would you recommend any other resources? If so, would you be willing to share on The Network in case others have the same question as Yong Choi?
It looks like both the US and Canada "Letter of Call" samples are now available in a Word format here.
Bill. You need to do some explaining, or perhaps more than that. Your statement literally and precisely says that you worship Allah, and the words you further chose associate that with the CRC missions agency (Resonate).
The word "Allah" has an understood meaning within the CRC community that is quite different than the word "God." And it (the word "Allah") is generally understood to refer to the deity as worshipped by those who adhere to the religion we call "Islam."
So please explain? Or are you actually intending to equate Christianity with Islam?
The really tough part of this job description will be finding a senior pastor who can tolerate the associate preaching 20-25 times a year.
Well said Paul! Well said.
Hello, Yong Choi,
I'd be happy to learn more about your request and have a conversation with you regarding this need. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Besides the fresh spiritual insights from the main speakers(gathering)and the breakout sessions , the venue was a good choice and an experience in itself; the Communion at the end of Inspire sealed our love, unity and commitment to move on with God in the CRC. Inspire 2017 is one of the best things in the life of the CRC. It was a rekindling experience indeed. Thanks. Rev. Bulus A. Gani, CRC- Nigeria.
This is great! Thanks, Faith Formation.
My name is Rachel Kapteyn and I work as the Children's coordinator at our church. Our church is busy with many things and we are finding our volunteers are busy and maxed out. I'm sure you heard this a lot. Recently I've looked into introducing one of your "Recommended Resources" curriculums called "Buck Denver asks...What's in the Bible?" to ease prep time for volunteers. Can you let me know your thoughts about this program? Rachel
Here's an easy and shortened link to copy and share the 2016 Form for the Ordination of Elders and Deacons: bit.ly/ElderDeaconOrdination2016 (the link to to the form in the job descriptions brings you to the 1982 Form)
Hi Doug, Thank you for writing this. I can't help but wonder what tasks on prayer that you would put the church membership ? Those not staff, or leadership ?
Thanks for pointing that out to us! I have uploaded a new bulletin insert that has two inserts side by side on an 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Let us know if that is more printer friendly.
Is it possible that it is not prejudice that motivates certain churches to not consider a female candidate but rather faithfulness and integrity to the Word of God and his clearly defined qualifications? This has nothing to do with judgement of value and worth but of roles within the economy of God. Perhaps those churches who have not chosen to consider a female candidate have been pre-judged... and yet, according to what appeal/standard/authority? Our preference, feeling or societal shift? Or God's unshifting Word?
The best thing to do here is for Ben to read the Agenda of Synod 2015, the report on deacons and elders. It has an explanation for all things being proposed and is a much more trustworthy source than the memory of a 71-year-old geyser.
Unfortunately, neither of these formats is printer friendly, at least not for me. The image is blurry when brought to size for a half page 8 1/2 x 11. The PDF prints centered on the page. Suggestions?
Ben Oliveira sends his best. He misses you and your wife, Ina. He has a question, in 74 d, is the reasoning for the wording because there is a concern that elders and deacons would be circumvented? Or, is there another explanation?
We are currently working on a document that has information from the profile and pictures. We will post it on our website as soon as it is finished.
Joshua, thank you for sharing this part of your life. My experience was a "near death" situation. I did not do the last service but I probably would be the last full time pastor unless the Lord does a miracle. At some point, the journey felt like being led to the cross to be crucified. Though surrounded by some who cared for me, it felt very lonely. I found comfort in the word of the Lord to the people of Israel "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10). May you be comforted too.
Thank you! We are using your book as a resource, in fact, it is a regular resource in our church.
You mention the church profile. Where can it be found?
Thanks for posting this, Henry. Appreciate that others on the site who search Article 73 will now be able to find this helpful information!
Good article. I especially appreciated the fact that mental illness was mentioned as an important factor in suicide attempts, particularly when it is under-treated or untreated altogether. Having had suicidal thoughts myself when my illness was not diagnosed, let alone treated, I think it is very important that this issue be addressed by the church with compassion BOTH for those who are contemplating it and those who live with survivor guilt, "Why didn't I see the signs?" Neither would benefit from a condemning attitude.
During our addition we added lines to represent water to a cement block wall that would be covered with brick. Everyone added their fingerprint to remember that we are baptized people. Our youth also traced their handprint and wrote a favorite Bible verse on the floor before the carpet was laid.
James, your description of churches being guilty of prejudice against women as they simply aim to please and obey God in faithfulness to His Word (as recognized by the denomination) is uncharitable.
This is a good reminder, Jul, and I'm pleased it was posted in The Network too. I realize this is not your topic, but it would also be helpful for churches to remember that women pastors and candidates in the CRC continue be endure prejudice. I could name any number of women who have waited for calls or not received them b/c there is still a sizeable number of churches that refuse to consider them for their own theological reasons. Yet I can also point to several instances in which churches have overcome that prejudice and even allowing a woman to preach have experienced blessings that surprised them b/c of the different and refreshing perspective and style from male counterparts.
I was just asked to tell someone when Art. 73 was amended.
You are making a statement of fact, but I do not see where you want to go with it. Can you clarify?
In addition to our current pornography resources, Safe Church recognizes that pornography fuels a HUGE sex industry that enslaves people and destroys lives. It's the theme for Abuse Awareness Sunday 2017 (always the fourth Sunday in September). A flyer (bulletin insert) entitled 'The Sex Industry and the Church' can be ordered free of charge to help increase awareness in CRC congregations, which hopefully will lead us to take action.
Article 73 (and many others) were amended in 2015. You can find the Acts of Synod under Synod Resources from the CRCNA website. Acts 2015, pages 663-668. The amendments were proposed by a Study Committee working on the offices of elder and deacon.