Comment Stream

Staci Devries June 6, 2017

The best book I've read recently is When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. An emotional and powerful read by a neurosurgeon who is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. He writes honestly about what happens to your faith and life plans when the unthinkable happens. He made me think about what makes life worth living and the impact we leave on those around us. 

A couple books that I want to read include Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and A Woman's Place: A Christian Vision for Your Calling in the Office, the Home, and the World by Katelyn Beaty. 

Sara Hogan June 5, 2017

I'd love to hear more about the research conducted with / on your target audiences. This name misses the mark for me entirely and I'm hoping that's because maybe I'm outside your intended audience (although that's discouraging in a whole different way). This article mentions the extensive research conducted on the activities of the organizations, but please share more about the testing of this chosen name outside your internal teams - it will help to remove our (my) subjective biases toward personal preference to resist change ;-) Obviously, the name can always be *different* - what gives you confidence that this one is *right*? I watched the video and it feels very insider-y. I guess I was hoping for a name that would relate to my neighbors - across the street and the ocean - in a very real, tangible way of anticipating God's work through us to restore shalom. Resonate feels too much like noise and not enough like action to accurately reflect the work of the organization in my opinion.   

Staci Devries June 4, 2017

Thank you for sharing these links, Frank!

Doug Vande Griend June 2, 2017

I understand and applaud CRC pastors preaching about the subject of creation care (cultural mandate, creation, etc).  I don't understand or applaud CRC pastors preaching about climate change (or at least taking political or scientific positions about it), anymore than I would understand or applaud CRC pastors preaching about fourth generation nuclear power plants.  Both climate change and nuclear power plants are matters about which pastors (and the CRCNA) are woefully uninformed.  Beyond that, there is no clear or even ambiguous biblical mandate about climate change or nuclear power plants.  

Congregants can and should of course think about climate change and nuclear power plants because they believe they should be involved in creation care, but they will form various conclusions about both subjects, all of which may align with scripture, even though the pastors -- or CRCNA -- may declare in a particular direction on the subjects.

Marian Lensink June 2, 2017

Thanks Keith, that's helpful!

Keith Doornbos June 1, 2017

Thanks Marian for your insights and your question.  

Yes, you are exactly right that sharing faith is all about relationships. Relationships are God's tilled field for the Gospel.  The Church Renewal Lab emphasizes this reality as we teach the importance of nurturing a "personal parish" where everyone invests in intentional relationships with those God places in our path.  

 

The three-step plan suggested in this article seeks to provide simple training so followers of Jesus are able to give answer to the hope that is within them.  Recently I put this into practice with a young person God put in my path.  Our first meeting was not faith connected but during subsequent gatherings I began to introduce "God-words" into our conversation so he understood that I was a person of faith.  During an extended coffee time a couple months later I asked if I could share my testimony with him and when he tragically lost a couple friends in a drowning accident I was able to share the hope of the Gospel.  

Moving from God-words, to testimony to sharing the Gospel has been an important part of my own faith sharing journey.

Doug Vande Griend June 1, 2017

I've read all of the 4 parts in this series, as well as numerous other explanations of "missional" and "m issional church" and I'm still at a loss to understand exactly what it means.  My conclusion is that it is not so different than the word "smurf" was to those little blue cartoon characters.  Indeed, by the end of a "Smurfs" episode, you had a sense for what the word "smurf" meant, but only a sense, and vague at that, but they kept saying it and so perhaps you felt obliged to have a sense for what it meant.  And so you did.

Thank you for that encouragement, Karen! I'll pass that along to the others who worked on the resource as well. Appreciate it. 

Karen Deboer May 31, 2017

This is a wonderful resource, Danielle. Thank you for including such great ideas for talking with children about how they can welcome and love the refugees in their community. 

Karen Deboer May 31, 2017

Hi Eric,

Thank you for your comment. What a blessing that your 3 grandkids are so eager to go to their church on Sunday. As a parent that’s a dream I also share for my grandkids one day! The Orange curriculum which I described in the post and which they use at Yellowbox Church has always been very intentional about reaching out to families and providing resources to churches to help them to do that. Although the CRC has always talked about the “three legged stool” of faith formation---church, school, home--I don’t know that we’ve always done the best job we can encouraging and equipping families to form faith at home. We kind of left that leg of the stool up families to figure out. It’s something that Faith Formation Ministries is working to change (and a big part of our going to the BOT to ask for funding.) We need to do a better job supporting family faith formation. And we can certainly learn from Orange in that regard. So thanks for making that important connection.

Several years ago I sat down with an enthusiastic Children’s Ministry Director at an Ontario church. They had been using 252 Basics for several years and were planning a renovation that would add space to their building so they could fully implement the program. Beyond their baptism Sunday, the kids at that church don’t  enter the main sanctuary or worship with their families again until they are in Grade 6. They are dropped off before the main worship service begins and picked up afterwards. The Director told me that  families love it because they can enjoy worship without their kids and because their kids are learning to make wise choices; the leaders love it because the prep is minimal; and she loves it because “you don’t even have to be a Christian to teach it” so it’s easy to get volunteers.  

Here’s the thing. Children are not bait to get parents to church. Children grow in faith as they are participating in worship with all generations in addition to time spent with their peers in an age appropriate learning environment. Children learn about wise choices at school; at church we have an opportunity to grow in them a deep and wide faith, a three-dimensional faith which Robert Keeley defines as “a faith that is rooted deep inside so that even when our head doubts or our heart falters, our faith remains strong. This faith goes beyond platitudes and catchphrases. It’s a faith that realizes that God is faithful even when our questions go unanswered.” (Helping Our Children Grow in Faith, p. 14)

Your point about the what and the how being intertwined is an important one. We need to teach in creative ways that capture the hearts, mind and spirit of the kids we’re leading and learning alongside. We need to build loving, faith nurturing relationships with the kids in our programs. We need to encourage and equip their families. But---if we want to nurture in children a three-dimensional faith, we can’t introduce them to a one-dimensional God of wise choices. We need to invite them into God’s story and help them find their place in it. And we need to teach from a curriculum that does that.

 

Paul VanderKlay May 30, 2017

I'm just trying to follow the thread here. Yellowbox Church uses Orange, the negative example from the article. https://communitychristian.org/resources/kidscityparentresources/ 

So the point of this comment contradicts the posted article's point. 

I'm just trying to understand. pvk

Marian Lensink May 30, 2017

Thanks for this article.  I wonder if you could share a story of how this has played out?  It would be so helpful to read an example of how this has been put into practice. 

I have seen that one of the pieces of sharing a faith story is the need to develop relationships with people who are far from God.  As we develop relationships, we begin to see the places where someone might be open to something of the Gospel story.  In my experience, I've had opportunity to share really only once I've developed a relationship.  The sharing typically takes on a unique shape, depending on the story of the person I'm connecting with.  Also, the story is told over time, through the rhythms of life - rhythms of eating together and simply doing life together.  We need to know the basics of sharing a faith story, certainly.  However, the relational piece of ministry I believe is equally important.  Many of us struggle to get beyond our church community.  We need to rub shoulders with people so that they will "ask you to give the reason for the hope that you have".  

I hope you will share a story, to give a context for faith sharing. 

Thanks!

Katie Barron May 30, 2017

Perhaps, if your church has a disability advocate, he/she could help the visually impaired person set up a library card and borrow the desired titles.  Many libraries have extensive audio collections now and would probably facilitate something on an individual basis.   Several online sites have classics available for no charge as well as Amazon which has constantly changing audio book selections that are free.  I also believe the Society for the Blind or similar organizations might help you set up if you need to have the materials physically available at your church.  

Angela Elliott May 30, 2017

Hi, at Nelson Avenue Community Church (CRC) in Burnaby, BC we have a Safe Church protocol that requires all those who work with children, youth and lead adults to have filled out an application with 2 references, attend an interview, have a criminal record check and attend Safe Church training and yearly refreshers. This is for all people including the parents of the children in the ministries. Our denominational Safe Church Ministry would be able to help you with that. 

(VBS)
Eric Kas May 30, 2017

Hello Linda,

Great question! Decreasing the risks involved in a public display of aggression and violence is important for everyone in your church community. The office of Safe Church Ministry is primarily a resource for responding to the occurrence of abuse & prevention of abuse - so security and risk of public violence is not necessarily in our area of expertise. We however want to point you towards some excellent resources for security training. One of those resources is from Brotherhood Mutual, a leader in insurance coverage for churches. They have a free download called Big Book Checklist (click here for the download) that offers several risk management checklists for ministries. If you look at page 51 there is a page titled "Violence in the Church." As you look through this checklist there may be several things that you could integrate into your policy for training your elders and deacons - specifically a regular training that a percentage of the church's leadership could go through so that your community is prepared for a variety of scenarios that could possibly come up.

I hope this helps!

Blessings,

Eric Kas - Safe Church Associate

Bonnie Nicholas May 30, 2017

Thanks for this thoughtful reply! I agree that leaders set the tone, and their willingness to be vulnerable and open seems to be a key ingredient. I appreciate this verse, 1 Peter 4:8, "Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins". I think genuine love and care for someone will show through, even when we make mistakes, or don't say exactly the right thing. Listening is often far more important than speaking. Rather than "fixing" we need to be present, reflecting the love of Jesus. Thanks again for your comment.

Staci Devries May 30, 2017

Thank you for sharing this helpful article! Any chance these links may be housed on a different site now? A few readers have been looking for the "Ministry Interview Form" but it looks like it may have moved. 

Eric Van Dyken May 26, 2017

MJill H,

 

I found this comment helpful.  Thanks.

Jim Halstead May 25, 2017

Go and Tell is an easy and practical way to equip you to become a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19). This three hour interactive seminar will provide you with the tools to “be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” (Philemon 6) Go and Tell is free online at www.fortwaynecrc.com

MJill H May 25, 2017

What does our congregation do to create safe spaces for people to share the hard stories?

Well our leadership does not really do anything. Individual pastors, including our current interim pastor, have sat and listened to some of us who ask them to listen/help/pray with us.
It not a practice of our leadership to encourage us to share the hard stuff.  Generally our leaders do not admit their own struggles, at least not publicly. There were 2 elders years ago who tried to be supportive. One came back a few times and gave me a good book to read. The other started a small group for those who struggle. One of these men moved away. The other left our denomination.
Some did begin a support group for people with depression which lasted a year or so. It was a good try.
One of the issues with it was that people with depression and their families were in the same group. Separate groups at least some for the time would have been better. So would trained leadership. But it was a good try.
There are individuals in our congregation who reach out to those who struggle with abuse issues and untold stories. I am thankful for some long term friends who have listened and loved me and stuck with me. I too, reach out to others and we are mutually caring and supportive.
If our leaders never admit they struggle about anything then why would anyone confide in them. If everyone has to look nice on Sundays and seem to have it all together then there is no place for messy lives. If we are not a safe place to admit we struggle with spending too much money, or playing computer games, or getting angry or being lazy or frustration with our children, or even that we are physically ill or in debt,  then how can we ever admit to addictions or mental illness of being a survivor of sexual abuse?

If we have not really understood how much God loves us and longs for deeper relationship with us,
if we have not learned how to accept our own struggles,

 if we have not learned it is ok to make mistakes,

if we have not learned how to ask and accept help from those who would understand,

 if we have not learned to do the work of prayer and repentance and learning a new way to be with God’s help; then how can we support others?

In general, many people care –but they don’t know how to help. It is scary for them, they want to just say the right thing and fix us. We all need to be taught how to care for ourselves and others.

So my suggestion is that anyone who gets to lead needs to truly seek God about how to lead. One thing they will learn is how to be humble and honest and repentant and transparent without shame, about their own life and then learn to do that with others.
For the rest of us who are not permitted to lead, we do the same.
For the survivors and those with untold stories we do the same as above  and we keep  loving and praying and listening as we are walking/screaming/suffering/crying out and receiving the joy of our own healing journey with those we have who do care.

Sandy Swartzentruber May 25, 2017

Great article! Also want to invite readers to check out the Faith Storytelling toolkit from Faith Formation Ministries . . . it offers dozens of practical, doable ways to shape and share testimonies and faith stories. You'll find it at crcna.org/FaithFormation/toolkits.

Staci Devries May 25, 2017

Thanks for sharing this opening, Peter!

Doug Vande Griend May 24, 2017

Great post, Syd.  As to your question, "how to encourage" such a perspective/attitude, a think a key is to persuade that having a contrary perspective or appreciation is absolutely, unqualifiedly OK, even good.  That's only a key of course, but without it, folks tend to see themselves as compelled to act as if they think/feel the same (that they like rap when they don't, or that they believe food stamps shouldn't be increased when they don't think that), or choose the route of being divisive.  

If we lie about our honest differences to keep community, we ultimately will not keep community.  Nor will we learn, as Mr. Wellstone has, how to "deal with" those differences and how to discern priorities of importance.

Mark Stephenson May 24, 2017

Michele, yes, getting help is so important. It's a huge step, and I would guess for many people it feels like failure. Of course, as you well know, getting help is a step back toward health. I hope that our society, and people in churches especially, will start to view getting help for a mental illness as the same wise decision as getting help for heart trouble or knee pain or vision problems. 

posted in : Clergy Mental Health
Michele Gyselinck May 23, 2017

 Guilt is a bad motivation to do things.  I know.  as someone in recovery from schizophrenia, depression was my main negative symptom and guilt the main one of that.  Before I was treated for this illness I felt guilty for breathing, let alone failing to do stuff.  It nearly drove me to suicide, and even after I'd decided not to throw myself into a river I still had suicidal thoughts.  GET HELP.   It's the only way.

posted in : Clergy Mental Health
Mark Stephenson May 23, 2017

Gary, yes, not just triangles within our families, but within the communities of our churches. In answer to your question, I hope and pray that this will be the case, not only for pastors but for everyone else in the church too. 

posted in : Clergy Mental Health
June Van Farowe May 23, 2017

The story of Pastor Ye is very special........ He should make a book about his life!   I know 2 Vietnamese families in Holland Mi.  They are very devout Catholics.  I suppose Ye is a common name.

 

(SEAPI)
Virginia Lettinga May 23, 2017

This was a good question -- asked several years ago.  I'm wondering if any of the participants in this original discussion could tell us what happened.  How did things work out?  Advice for others considering join youth groups with other churches?

 

Gary Brouwers May 23, 2017

I agree, thank you, Mark, for raising the subject and giving another nudge to the discussion. Response to mental health crisis is vital, as well as mental health maintenance and prevention of crisis. A quote from Ed Friedman's "Generation to Generation" has stuck with me, that "Stress is less the result of some quantitative notion such as 'overwork' and more the effect of our position in the triangle of our families." I know I've found this helpful when I begin to feel the burdens of ministry, that maybe those burdens are not necessary. Could we create a denominational context where it's normal for pastors to consult with mental health care providers, where pastors continue to explore our own areas of risk? 

 

posted in : Clergy Mental Health
Peter Nyenhuis May 23, 2017

Easy Process to post. Thanks.

Ron Mak May 21, 2017

After hearing the new name I resisted posting a comment because I wanted to wait to see if my initial reaction would last.  After all, I'm sure that much time, thought and prayer went into the process that resulted in the suggested name.  But after two weeks I find the name still fails to resonate with me.  Perhaps it's because I like jazz and appreciate dischords.  Or perhaps it is my limited experience of church always being messy.  We don't always get along but get along anyway because we recognize that our mission is more important than our relatively petty squabbles.  Resonating sounds like something to dream of but I don't think will ever be achieved on this side of life.  

I can see the desire to have some kind of descriptor before "global mission " but personally don't think "resonate" works.  Too bad World Renew is already taken.  

Roger Gelwicks May 19, 2017

Thanks Mark, for an interesting article of your faith journey.  As you seem to suggest, your new experience is not so unique, as you had previously thought, but perhaps unique to the CRC experience.  You new found experience seems quite typical of others within Christianity such as the Pentecostal’s personal religious experience.  Of course the Reformed expression of faith has always been somewhat skeptical of such expressions of faith because it is largely dependent on one’s own subjective experience and has no objective evidence that grounds it in reality.  But such an experience as yours seems to be increasingly finding acceptance in the “third wave” movement that is gaining a foothold in our denomination.  Of course the appeal of such an experience as yours is that it contains a personal experience of Christ that so many thought was missing from the CRC experience in the past.  It also contains a personal experience of the Holy Spirit that many CRCers thought was missing in the experience of our church members.  Perhaps, though, they simply did not understand the unique ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Understandably, such a faith experience sets itself apart from a more informed non Christian’s experience, who has a difficult time accepting a religious expression that is solely grounded in subjectivism and feelings rather than objective reality.  As you suggest, you are “living out a different expression of Christianity” than what has typified the Reformed expression of the faith.  Thanks for giving us a small glance into your new found expression of faith, which you refer to as a refinement of faith.

Doug Vande Griend May 19, 2017

To supplement the comment of Bill Via re possible legal rules, I know of no US state where non-profit laws would prohibit this.  And If the church's bylaws do, they are easily changed, by simple action of the council, unless the bylaws themselves required additional (e.g., vote of congregation).  If there is a prohibition in the articles of incorporation (which I frankly have never seen), then congregational action (and a filing with the state) would also likely be required, but again, I've never seen such in a CRC's articles and wouldn't expect to.

Doug Vande Griend May 19, 2017

Whenever the question "may we do this" is asked, it really needs to be accompanied by saying also, "as far as _____________ is concerned."

By my view, there are a number of possible problems with doing this, but none of those possibilities are actually a problem.  For example, it could perhaps be a problem with the IRS (from several angles), but I think it clearly is not.  And it could be a problem with the workers compensation insurer, but I think that unlikely as well.  Etc.

Last but not least on the least is whether this would be OK with the congregation (a political question really), but I expect it would be.  (They could be asked/informed).

So bottom line: I can't imagine how this would be other than permissible, and beyond that, appropriate.

Mark Stephenson May 19, 2017

Kelly, thanks so much for sharing about your own journey. Blessings in your resumption of ministry work!

posted in : Clergy Mental Health
Kelly Sibthorpe May 19, 2017

Clergy mental illness is widespread across the denominational spectrum. My first bout with depression came through a complete awareness of unrealized expectations for  ministry, aka burnout, as a young ordained Pentecostal church planter. Through a prolonged leave of absence, I was able to come to a complete understanding of the cause and finally cures for situational depression (dysthymia). Self-care is of primary importance for long-haul success in ministry. As I result of my mental illness, I lost years of potentially productive pastoral ministry. I am thankful to God and to those who provided the loving care I received for restoration back to health and eventually productive ministry after a 14-year absence due to depression.

The best piece of advice and take-away from that awful dark period was, " why work 55-70 hours per week for 10 years when you can work with health and effectiveness 35-40 hours per week for 40 years.

Self-care is what makes me currently effective in ministry for the long run. Talk to your leadership about the need for self-care. Form a covenant with them to preserve your mental health, so you can run the race with the endurance needed for a full, rewarding career in ministry.

posted in : Clergy Mental Health
Bill Vis May 18, 2017

Henry's article basically gives my answer. Deacon can be clerk of council, though that raises the question of who will be clerk of the consistory (elders). A non-council member may serve as minute taker, and and be asked to take a vow of confidentiality.

David Vandervelde May 18, 2017

Why not share here since you are posting here?

Henry DeMoor May 18, 2017

Pieter,

In my book entitled Christian Reformed Church Order Commentary I answer this question directly on page 196.  Members can access this on the web library of the CRC.

Bill Vis May 18, 2017

While the Church Order may not address this, it is probable that either your congregation's by-laws or state or provincial non-profit by-laws do. It is common to require that the council (or non-profit board) have certain officers who must be members. That said, there is nothing to prevent the treasurer having a bookkeeper who does the actual financial entries or the clerk having a scribe to assist with the minutes.

Clerk Classis Hamilton May 17, 2017

Victoria,

I see no problem with this arrangement. The purpose of the church is to promote prayer and for Christian ministries to meet and serve the neighbourhood would appear to fall within the purpose of promoting the Christian religion.

Clerk Classis Hamilton May 17, 2017

Peter,

Article 35 of the Church Order states that the council shall be "composed of the minister(s), the elders, and the deacons." Other than that I am not aware of synod having addressed this question. There would appear to be nothing against having someone who is not an officebearer be present to take minutes. Care should be taken about confidentiality and when sensitive matters are discussed, council would need to ask the clerk who is not an officebearer to leave the meeting.

Mark Stephenson May 17, 2017

Guilt, what, really? CRC people?!

posted in : Clergy Mental Health
James Dekker May 17, 2017

Thanks very much, Mark. This is one of those issues that church councils need to be aware of at least as much as pastors. Our efforts as pastors to try to be all things to all people is not what St. Paul meant, though we and councils out-guilt ourselves with that mis-interpreted verse selected out of context by adapting it to our idolatrous service to overwork disguised as work ethic. 

posted in : Clergy Mental Health
Staci Devries May 17, 2017

Just got a question from someone wondering if the membership transfer form can also be used for CRC to RCA transfers. Any advice? Thanks!

posted in : Membership Transfer
Michele Gyselinck May 16, 2017

 This week I am celebrating the 40th anniversary of my profession of faith (May 15, 1977).  But for me to reach that point many things happened, the first was God drawing me to Him.  There have been times when I could not pray, either because I could not concentrate or was too upset with him to even want to pray, but others prayed, and eventually I started again.  These days I pray in writing.

Andy DeKorte May 16, 2017

I appreciated the article. I think there is a lot that has been lost and/or taught sporadically.

In his book, The Naked Now, Richard Rohr discusses the lost art of seeing how mystics see. Perhaps his biggest argument is that our problem comes from our tendency to dualistic thinking blinding us to broader reality. He writes that in Christianity, "Faith" largely became believing things to be true or false (faith as intellectual assent) instead of giving people concrete practices so they could themselves know how to open up (faith), hold on (hope), and allow an infilling from another source (love.)

That's what came to mind as I read your post and I would recommend Rohr's book for continued reflection on refining your faith, "seeing" better, and more fully experiencing God in the present. Rohr would recommend any of Thomas Merton's early books, like, The Seven Storey Mountain, New Seeds of Contemplation, or Thoughts in Solitude, for more help along similar themes.

Edward Gabrielse May 16, 2017

It is both the what and the how.

Yellowbox church in Naperville, Il, a thriving new mega church with multiple campuses has such a vital Sunday School curriculum that kids talk to kids at school and convince their parents to let them go to to church. Thousands of families have joined this new contemporary church because of the vibrancy of the programs for kids. I know because my three grandkids can't wait for Sunday.

Harry Boessenkool May 16, 2017

Regards the first item I did some research on the new name.

""" welcome to: Резонансные глобальные миссии

Russian is one language where the word "resonate" is not going to translate.

The word is a verb, and as a verb, it's very wierd to put it in a proper name.

And the word itself completely does not fit the context of the name."""""

I hope others who can read Chinese, Korean and Arabic will also do some research and share it with others.

(Synod)

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