Comment Stream

Rev. G.Ben Bowater IV July 20, 2017

Just last week, we held our Community Wide VBS at the local public elementary school. It was Group's "Maker Fun Factory" and to pull it off, RedArrow again partnered with other churches in town including Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, & Roman Catholic. Out of over 200 kids who attended throughout the week, when parents registered their kids, more than 50% said they have no Church family. As the week ended, Crew Leaders and other volunteers confirmed that many of their students were hearing the Gospel of Jesus and other Bible stories for the very first time. While I agree that investing in those new relationships is absolutely essential, we should NEVER underestimate how the Lord can use outreach events like these to plant the seeds of Faith. 

Doug Vande Griend July 20, 2017

There are good things said in this article.  At the same time, I couldn't agree more with Eric's comments as to a couple of things said in this article.

Today's culture seems to demand that we must "be the best," that whatever we take on be "incredibly exciting," that we must have "great impact on many."

None of that is bad, but insisting on them is.  I love churches that are faithful, regardless of whether they have a "unique vision," or whether they have embarked on "uncharted waters."

The Gospel story is pretty old.  Preaching it may require churches to address the particularities of their own congregants and communities, but the revolution has already happened.  Churches don't have create a new one.  The old one, preached and lived well, is pretty exciting actually, and pretty satisfying.

Perhaps hyperbole sells, I don't know.  But it can also disappoint.  If we demand from elders that create a new vision, they just might.  Or, they might just become discouraged for doing the mere stuff that needs to be done, that apparently has no value.

Anita Brinkman July 20, 2017

This event has been prayed over a lot! I'm excited to see how God will work in response.

Eric Kas July 19, 2017

Thanks posting Monica! I appreciate your nuanced thought. 

Personally, I do not like to be in an enclosed space (like an office without a window) with anyone, men or women. Fortunately, most office spaces have windows in doors and are often places where others may walk by, which give it public visibility. Moreover, I cannot recall the last time I ate alone at a restaurant. Normally there are people around, this is not “eating alone” - it is eating in public, with a private conversation. There are many ways to work without gender discrimination in our communities, while maintaining healthy boundaries.

Kristen VanderBerg July 19, 2017

Thanks Craig.  This is helpful feedback.  The unfortunate thing is that videos are expensive and time consuming to produce. If most churches aren't going to use them, or if a handful of churches are only going to show them once, it is hard for ministries to justify spending funds and time to make them.

With that said, I've been part of a few conversations recently about trying to create "less polished" videos that could still serve our needs, but at at lower cost.  Stay tuned.  

In the meantime, is there anything that you would like to see in print in the Together Doing More section of The Banner? Sounds like some good news stories from the denomination would be appreciated if we can cut through the clutter and get people to read them.

Monica Brands July 19, 2017

Thanks, Henry. Your comments point to how important it is for churches to have a clear policy in place for handling allegations of harassment or abuse, to avoid conclusions being drawn based only on secondhand information instead of a thorough and careful process for assessing each situation. Bonnie Nicholas and Safe Church are always available to help churches both in creating a policy and helping churches take any allegations through a rigorous and careful process before any definitive conclusions or further steps are taken. 

Roland Vanderburg July 19, 2017

Excellent!  Rain catchment of all types is critical in this age of climate change.  It happens too rarely.  Blessings on the work of World Renew!

Hendrik "Henry" de Vries July 19, 2017

Great article discussing a necessary issue. But what about the power of gossip and innuendo that leads to the maligning of a person's reputation? I've seen a few cases of this where a pastor lost their reputation, position and even calling. This applies to any person in positions of authority sometimes for as little as an off-handed comment. The sensitivity to offenses, whether real or perceived, leads to muzzling and inability to communicate. 

The Billy Graham rule was set up to avoid any possible maligning when their team realized how prominent Billy could become and thereby a target for malice.

Carmen Huttenga July 18, 2017

As the administrative assistant at our church I would not want to be paid for my substitute's hours and then have to pay them. I am paying taxes on that and that is being counted as my income. Granted, I work 26 hours per week. Some of the people that cover for me volunteer their time (projection, church website) others get paid (bulletin). The person who fills in for the bulletin for me is also on staff so it gets added to her check. While it may be extra work, it would be the proper way to handle such a situation.

Steven Garrett July 17, 2017

Love it, i do!  I have attended CRC churches in Seattle the past few years, and have recently moved into an assisted living house - with aprox. 59 neighbors.  There is a church nearby, in fact right across the parking-lot - in the building next door. I am sa d to report, tho', that this church is sold-out to the poisonous word of faith gospel; ANOTHER GOSPEL that st Paul cautioned the church about in the opening paragraphs of Galatians.  

As a believer of some 30+ years, i'd much prefer starting a small-group fellowship - over directing my neighbors to a false fellowship; the end result only being having them devoured by the wolves next door! Heavens no, i won't have it; not on my watch!   

I have listed the Awake Church as my home body, and am also acquainted with Randy Rowland, and his staff at the Sanctuary Church. I'd be thrilled to have either body provide the leadership to enable me to carry out this mission. 

Thanks, and blessings 2 all; SRG

Eric Van Dyken July 17, 2017

"Articulating vision is the primary work of elders."  No, it is not. 

"Elders consumed with the daily doing of ministry have lost sight of their essential calling."  No, they haven't.

Wendy Hammond July 17, 2017

Great post! For further reading, this post from 2011 has additional ideas: Vacation Bible School as Missions. 

Scott DeVries July 13, 2017

Before seminary I was doing ministry in a non-denominational, organic, young and hip group with zero budget and no ties to a building. I was living the dream that a lot of anti-seminary, anti-denominational, anti-institutional seminarians and pastors think they want. And there were some great things about it - but it wasn't nearly the dream that people like to think. I was so thankful when God called me to attend CTS! I came in with the attitude of wanting to get to know God better and understand His community of children - the Church. I was seeking for a greater filling with Christ, and I found that. The time I spent in seminary were some of the best years of my life, digging deeper into my relationships with God and with His Church everyday. I got to sit at the feet of people, past and present, who have been recognized as deeply knowledgeable, passionate, and wise about God. Yes, there is an academic structure and rigor to it all, but every relationship comes to a point where it takes an organized and intentional effort to grow. When I hear someone talk down about the importance of a seminary education I end up wondering how serious they really are developing their relationship with Jesus.

Angelyn Kuiper July 13, 2017

Hi Terry, Thanks for your interest! The recording is now available at this link:

Craig Van Hill July 13, 2017

This topic has become a big discussion for our congregation.  It seems that most people are unaware of what happens in our denomination and so they have a bad impression, since as we all know, bad news often spreads further than good news.  We have found that people don't tend to read written material whether it be in the bulletin, in their church mailboxes, or in the Banner.  So, we are attempting to find other way to share this information.  In my opinion the greatest impact is face-to-face, which we all know is difficult, at least the further you get away from Grand Rapids.  Next we have found that videos during the church services make an impact over time.  It needs to be in front of them multiple times.  That being said it would be nice to have more information passed on by way of videos.  It has been hard to find them.  Maybe they are being produced but we aren't receiving them.  A few years back a great video was made explaining ministry shares, but it would be nice to have consecutive weeks where specific ministries or agencies are highlighted in the CRCNA.

Eric Kas July 13, 2017

Click here for the link to order your free flyers/bulletin inserts for your church!

Carol Spiering July 12, 2017

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Staci Devries July 12, 2017

This looks fascinating Evelyn. Have you already read it? 

Michael Hogan July 12, 2017

Thank you.

Evelyn Oudyk July 12, 2017


It Didn't Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle.  

by Mark Wolynn

Staci Devries July 12, 2017

Love the description; I am already hooked into Ai-Ming's story. Thanks for sharing, Valerie. 

Staci Devries July 12, 2017

These are great suggestions, Rob. I just added "Not Sure" to my list. 

Staci Devries July 12, 2017

Love the detail in your review! thanks for sharing.

Staci Devries July 12, 2017

Thanks Angela. I just read the description of "Mentor for Life" and am intrigued. I enjoy some light mystery novels, too! 

Staci Devries July 12, 2017

Would love to hear how this is going! 

Staci Devries July 12, 2017

I just recently picked up Heaven by Randy Alcorn, too. It came highly recommended. 

Staci Devries July 12, 2017

Would love to hear how it is, Maria!

Staci Devries July 12, 2017

Thanks, Mavis. Glad you appreciated it too!  

Valerie Walker July 12, 2017

I am in the middle of "Do Not Say We Have Nothing" by Madeleine Thien. This is what the Man Booker Prize site says about "Do Not Say...": 

In Canada in 1991, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman called Ai-Ming, who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. 

Ai-Ming tells Marie the story of her family in Revolutionary China - from the crowded teahouses in the first days of Chairman Mao’s ascent to the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s and the events leading to the Beijing demonstrations of 1989.  It is a story of revolutionary idealism, music, and silence, in which three musicians - the shy and brilliant composer Sparrow, the violin prodigy Zhuli, and the enigmatic pianist Kai - struggle during China’s relentless Cultural Revolution to remain loyal to one another and to the music they have devoted their lives to.  Forced to re-imagine their artistic and private selves, their fates reverberate through the years, with deep and lasting consequences for Ai-Ming – and for Marie.

It's a great book!

Kirk Riddering July 11, 2017

This article is under the social justice category and I am wondering if there is any thoughts on the economic results of some of the  climate legislation that is being promoted, much of it would increase the cost of housing ,transportation and food. There are many in our society living on very tight budgets and could not incur these extra expenses. I would like to see this side of the social justice aspect included  with the stewardship side and how they both could be addressed.. We have to be concerned about the working poor and those on fixed incomes as well.

Garry Nyenhuis July 10, 2017

Living Water Community Church is one church, made up of two campuses.  Our campuses are located in Orange City, Iowa and Sheldon, Iowa


posted in : Director of Worship
Doug Vande Griend July 10, 2017

A faithful (federal government) budget would, perhaps first of all, be one that did not spend more than it took in, except for special circumstances perhaps, and those circumstances probably don't now exist.

With respect to Community enCompass, while this article claims it  "relies on the generosity of donors," and "leverages ... government funds," it would seem, unless this article simply gives the wrong impression, the truth is the other way around.

Let's take one of the examples given here, SNAP.  When the latest federal legislation regarding SNAP was enacted, the House version wanted to get rid of "auto qualification" because that method of qualifying was being badly abused, by both individuals and many state government.  The Senate bill did nothing to curb that abuse.  OSJ lobbied in favor of the Senate bill, and the Obama administration went all out to increase the number of SNAP recipients, seemingly by any means possible.

A SNAP reduction and this point may well do nothing more than curb the abuse that wasn't but should have been done in the past, and reduce the SNAP roles to where they should be.

I have yet to see OSJ take on any program abuse, lobby for the curbing of any government social program, or ever express the concern that federal programs might create life crippling dependencies for some, especially when these programs always expand and never contract like a one way ratchet.

A faithful budget "does no harm," whether to future generations who will have to pay back the deficits we accumulate now, or to those who grow dependent on federal largesse that incentivizes in a destructive way.

Am I suggesting government should not provide a "safety net"?  Not at all.  I'm suggesting that the federal budget should be faithful in all respects, that ever and only increasing-in-size-and-scope entitlements can and often are destructive (hurting instead of helping), and that lobbying/advocating ONLY in favor increasing or maintaining government social programs is, on the whole, quite unfaithful.

Bonnie Nicholas July 10, 2017

Yes! Philippians 2 is an important key to what's needed in our congregations (and our own lives and communities). We are supposed to look like Jesus - and so we need much more of this mindset that empowers others, and does not live for self - that's how the transforming power of our Lord gets multiplied in the world bringing him much glory.

posted in : The Kinetic Church
Roger Gelwicks July 6, 2017

You are absolutely right to say that I don’t know you or the relationships that you speak of.  It sounds like you may be a great person, as well as your relationships.  That we don’t know each other is typical of websites like this that encourage blogging.

As I listened to your previous comment, it sounded like you are very enthusiastic and passionate about your faith relationship.  In fact you wondered why others weren’t like you in your enthusiasm.  You incessantly talk about Jesus with your atheist friends, and at every opportunity will point to the divinity of Christ with your Muslim family, even though you obviously know that this is a point of contention between Muslims and Christians.

I guess my response was a knee jerk reaction to what I thought might be normal for a non Christian listening to such enthusiasm about Christ.  After all, even Scripture points out that the cross is foolishness to the non Christian.  In part such foolishness is that non Christians know that Christians think of their Christian faith as exclusive of all other religions.  After all, there is no other name than Jesus by which one can be saved.  The message of Christ, or the gospel, devalues all other religions.  Just read the apostle Paul.  Isn’t that the point of the gospel?  If you are not trusting my Savior, Jesus, then you’re not going to make it to heaven or have acceptance with God. So we try to dissuade non Christians from trusting whatever they may have been trusting in, to that of trusting in Jesus Christ.  So it seems perfectly natural for a non Christian to be offended by an overly enthusiastic gospel spreader.  I think Paul warns us that such an offense is normal.

Thanks, Shannon, for the correction to my misunderstand of you, your friends, and family and my knee jerk reaction to your previous response.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus

Thanks for your comment, Roger, but you don't know me, nor the relationships that I speak of. My friends and family members who are atheists do share ideas that offend me at times, but that does not mean that we can't be friends. They actually strengthen me as a Christian. Their diversity is not a threat or a barrier to our relationship. It is a gift. As Christians, we are called to testify to our faith in our relationships with others, but that does not mean we need to cut ourselves off from those who we disagree with. Do people prejudge me when they hear I am a pastor? Certainly. Will people occasionally be caught off guard or offended by my Jesus-talk? Yes. But does that mean that I must be offensive because of my faith, or unable to live in relationships with others that are loving and honoring of who they are? No.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Roger Gelwicks July 6, 2017

Thanks Shannon for your thoughts on witnessing.  You say, “It is difficult for me to understand the mindset that is not compelled by faith to share our faith.”   You are speaking as an ordained minister of the church who has spent years in formal education preparing for ministry.  What other mindset could fellow Christians expect from you?  But for you to say that of others is a bit surprising.  And it is also surprising, the response that you receive from non Christian friends and family such as atheists and Muslims.  If you are as enthusiastic as you claim for Christ (incessant Jesus talk) it is a wonder that you have friends outside of Christian circles (and maybe even within Christian circles).  Put the shoe on the other foot.  If your Muslim family incessantly talked about their submission to Allah how long would you want to listen?  Or if your strongly committed atheist friends incessantly denied God and spoke often of the foolishness of religion including (especially including) Christianity, how would you feel?  I am guessing that you are so excited about your Christian faith that you lack sensitivity to the religious convictions of others.  And by your enthusiasm you diminish the value of their faith and beliefs.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Diane Curry July 6, 2017

Thank you for your response. It is more helpful than you know. I have a feeling I am making this harder than I should. I will definitely do as you suggested.

Thanks again


Carmen Huttenga July 5, 2017

How does this work when the leaders are the council, a group of volunteers that is constantly in rotation, and their vision is constantly changing?

Hector Rodriguez July 5, 2017

En muchas ocasiones hemos estado con mucha gente pero no hemos estado con nosotros/as mismos/as. Descuidando asi nuestra vida espiritual. Gracias al Dios altisimo que su gracia nos alcanza continuamente. Adelante en Cristo. Paz.


posted in : El Cuidado del Alma
Allan Groen July 5, 2017

When you play with a group, you could consider starting by playing only the melody line, and then gradually work from there. The organ is able to provide a sustained note better than any other instrument and can also be used to solo out the melody this way. For the rest, one would need to know what kind of playing you do. Did you take piano lessons? Do you mostly chord, or can you play in a more traditional way? In many communities you could probably find people who will help you get started. What kind of organ does you church have? I am a retired pastor, and very much an amateur musician. I would say that above all you should keep it simple. Simple music can be very beautiful!

Staci Devries July 5, 2017

Check out all posts by Jerod Clark for even more helpful website tips! 

posted in : Website Policy

Amen, Greg. It is difficult for me to understand the mindset that is not compelled by faith to share our faith. I have so many friends who are not Christian, and it would be difficult for me to hide my faith with them. I know it can lead to uncomfortable moments between us, but because we love and trust each other, my atheist friends "put up" with my incessant Jesus talk, my Muslim family know that I will point to the divinity of Christ at every opportunity in conversation. I seriously have no idea how I could muzzle that kind of talk. Is it a problem of timidity we face, or are people so wrapped up in their Christian communities that they are failing to be in deep relationships of mutuality and trust with people who aren't Christians? I wonder some times. 

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Kevin Soodsma July 5, 2017

Message me or skype me.  I use the organ all the time with a worship band.  It's more than a paragraph to post.

Adom Postma July 4, 2017

Hi Diane, 

I'm not an organ player so I don't know for sure, but I would think you might be able to glean some information from some of the instructional videos on YouTube for playing keyboard in worship (it will seem overly simplistic, but when you're playing with a number of other musicians your role in the music decreases, not necessarily in importance, but in the amount of "notes played" as instead of filling the whole spectrum of sound you'll have a particular role). 

If you have specific questions you could ask and I could try to answer out of my limited knowledge. 

Greg Sinclair July 4, 2017

The dilemma I face is that my evangelical friends (mostly Baptists) have more success motivating people towards personal sharing of their faith through an "it all depends on you" Arminian type of theology. Perhaps it is similar theologically to efforts to lead moral lives among LDS followers - who are motivated by a "works theology." My point I guess is that if we are going to have good theology we still need to be working, serving, sharing, even though God doesn't need us - we have the privilege of being on mission for Him. I hope that makes sense and would love to hear others ideas on motivating people towards verbal witness.


posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Greg Sinclair July 4, 2017

Yes I believe in the sovereignty of God in this process and love Luke 10:9 "Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The Kingdom of God has come near to you.'"


posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Harold Winter July 4, 2017

I cannot speak for every CRC pastor, but I've always used the New International Version. For most of my life it was the 1984 NIV, but a few years back I purchased the 2011 NIV. While I consult many other versions, the Bible I use for sermon preparation, visiting, and personal devotions is the 2011 NIV. Hope this helps . . .

Victoria S July 4, 2017

Oops, I'm sorry I missed part of your question.  Former VBS participants should be treated like any other adult volunteer.  Sadly it cannot be assumed that younger children are safe with teens.  I have found it difficult to get many church members to appreciate the risk so it is wise to get the information from Safe Church as the other contributor mentioned.

Victoria S July 4, 2017

I have been in a ministry where we did allow some volunteers limited duties without the full police check - ONLY if they are never left alone with children and are under the direction of fully screened volunteers.  In essence they become more people to keep track of.   For example volunteers helping out in the kitchen who have no direct contact with the children.  It is not my preference.