With respect, Danielle, the comment policy isn't a comment policy (since there is no commenting) but an apology for the decision not to have commenting.
It does point out that other CRC agency sites also don't offer commenting, but none of them recently told Synodical delegates, repeatedly, that the point of their sites was to have conversation, as OSJ. repeatedly claimed to Synod about Do Justice. And of course that was my point. Don't tell the decision makers that this blog is a conversation when its not.
And true, you post some of the Do Justice articles to the Network (which is then a conversation one step removed), but only some, and by my observational metrics, the picking and choosing of which to post, to meet your metrics, is strategic indeed. One could even conclude the point of the selection pattern is to avoid conversation.
Thank you for sharing those thoughts, Jack.
Hi Doug, we've had this conversation before. Here's our comment policy, in case you haven't seen it. Our goal is to post one Do Justice piece per week on the Network. I've just reviewed our metrics from this quarter and we met that goal.
As the author of "Keeping Your Eye on Your CVI" I'd like to make another try at speaking into the CVI.
As I read the helpful and thoughtful comments made about the article I heard folk saying "numbers should not be the measure of ministry." To that I say a hearty "amen." Numbers cannot capture the full story of an authentic missional move. I was reminded of that during a recent visit to several Northern New Jersey churches who's Yearbook numbers do not reflect the vibrancy of their after school programs, half-way houses, investment in local neighborhoods, discipleship programs, youth projects, dynamic Gospel preaching and the like. I was humbled by what I discovered.
So numbers cannot be a measure of ministry but they are often a helpful reflection on aspects of ministry that need our attention in the same way that high cholesterol numbers are a call to action even if a person feels entirely healthy.
Take for example one of the CVI numbers; namely, persons coming into the life of the congregation through evangelism. If evangelism is defined as persons who were disconnected from faith and faith family who are now connected to faith and faith family and if that number is a small handful over an entire decade then those numbers may indicate the need for a congregation to focus on a more intentional discipleship pathway. In other words, the congregation may be good at building bridges from the church into the community but not so good at building bridges from the community into the church. Evangelism numbers can identify this concern and lead to practical solutions to an important ministry opportunity.
Numbers, rightly understood, are a friend to ministry leadership. They provide the opportunity to increase urgency, focus resources and develop a renewed vision of becoming intentional missional congregations that make more and better disciples.
I'm reading "Mentor For Life: Finding Purpose through Intentional Discipleship" by Narasha Sistrunk Robinson and plan to return to "Teaching the Faith, Informing the Faithful: A Biblical Vision For Education In The Church" by Gary A. Parrett and S. Steve Kang. Interspersed will be some light mystery novels on my e-reader.
Thank you, Danielle, for providing some helpful background and perspective on the Synod discussion about articles on Do Justice. Thanks too for encouraging us to listen, dialog with, and learn from a diversity of Christian voices from backgrounds and with experiences that differ from our own. I learned many years ago during my studies at Reformed Bible College (now Kuyper College) that all truth is God's truth no matter the source. Therefore, I can learn from, be blessed by, and grow closer in my relationship with God by listening to and getting to know people from cultures, backgrounds, experiences, nationalities, and even religions that differ from mine. That being said, I am deeply grateful for the good and very important work done by the Centre for Public Dialogue and OSJ!
Thank you for sharing your wisdom and heart in this post, Danielle!
My concern about the articles published on Do Justice, aside from the content of some of those articles, is that at Synod, they and the Do Justice site, were/was repeatedly described as a conversation while in fact OSJ has quite deliberately decided to not allow commenting. That's simply not a conversation. Indeed, I wonder how many Synodical delegates just assumed commenting was allowed on Do Justice, that is, that it really is a conversation facility.
I do realize that some Do Justice articles are posted here, on the Network, where they can actually be part of a conversation. But those instances are very few, and if I'm not mistaken, none of the Do Justice articles that were included in the Minntonka overture were reposted in th Network. And even if they were, the audience of the conversation would necessarily be a different one.
Which is why I think Do Justice articles should be open to online commenters. Just like Banner articles are.
Hi Amy - for now it's just for Canadian churches, We're still in the test phase, working in one specific classis, but looking forward to a Canada wide launch in the fall. But yes, we're also looking at incorporating US churches and hoping to test it with a few churches in the next little while and see what kind of issues they may encounter.
Glad I'm going - now I'm even more excited!
Jeanne Kallemeyn - CRCNA Pastor Church Resources
So this is a Canada-only app? Are there plans for a U.S. version?
Thank you for the advice. How does this look, as a potential charge regarding confidentiality (wanting the congregation to be informed of the circumstances that would require confidentiality to be broken):
Elders and deacons, I charge you to keep in confidence the sensitive matters which congregants may share with you, only sharing with other leaders when needed to better care for those involved, and only reporting in circumstances involving evidence of a minor being neglected or abused, or of someone posing an immediate threat to themselves or to someone else.
Or are you more looking for how to monitor use of the site, features, etc.?
I would urge some caution, Michelle, in light of some of the CRC's prior statements which may or may not line up with the links you provided.
To my knowledge, the CRC hasn't developed a 'position statement' on gender identity issues. But it has on the issue of homosexuality and even 45 years ago the 1973 report it approved said:
"It is important to understand that homosexuality is not the result of any conscious choice or decision on the part of the person to be homosexual."
And the CRC position statement goes on to say:
"Persons of same-sex attraction should not be denied community acceptance solely because of their sexual orientation and should be wholeheartedly received by the church and given loving support and encouragement. Christian homosexuals, like all Christians, are called to discipleship, holy obedience, and the use of their gifts in the cause of the kingdom. Opportunities to serve within the offices and the life of the congregation should be afforded to them as to heterosexual Christians."
If synod came to that conclusion about homosexuality 45 years ago, I wouldn't be surprised if it comes to the same conclusion about gender identity when that is studied.
We may soon find out, because Synod 2016 has appointed a study committee to "articulate a foundation-laying biblical theology of human sexuality that pays particular attention to biblical conceptions of gender and sexuality." So we can look forward to further clarity from that report.
But it's noteable that synod, in the makeup of the study committee, said it wanted the committee to include a gender dysphoric person. And all committee members are to adhere to the CRC's biblical view of marriage. So, even in forming the committee, it seems that synod doesn't view those two things as incompatible. See: https://thebanner.org/news/2016/06/synod-2016-appoints-a-committee-to-st...
I hope these CRCNA references are helpful.
Why isn't Saudi Arabia and Iran taking muslim refugees from Syria? Why aren't we bringing Christian refugees, who are the most vulnerable?
Thanks for this! Love it.
A Note Regarding Copyright/Permissions References on the Songs and Liturgies chart:
P.D. =public domain (no permission necessary to use these songs)
CCLI#: you can insert your CCLI # to the end of this copyright line and place is on the music/slide to use this song legally. If you don't have a CCLI license you will need to contact the copyright holder directly.
OneLicense: If you have a OneLicense number you can add it and use this song legally. If you don't have this license you will need to contact the copyright holder directly.
I loved your postgame show Paul. :-)
Great article and resources - THANKS for posting this Monica. Anger towards the one that perpetrated the abuse and cause the damage is appropriate; it reflects God's anger at sin and is an important, critical part of the process. With our God, there is hope for much healing for all parties who have been impacted, I've seen that transformational healing, and it motivates me to continue in this work.
Good article Monica. I wholeheartedly agree that anger can be good, even necessary. Its a bit like a sharp knife. Dangerous if not handled properly, but sometimes much preferred to (even required instead of) a dull one.
I also appreciated this author's straight out assertion that abused children aren't irreparably broken. They and others need to know that, be persuaded of it -- cuz its true. Insisting otherwise tends to make the sense of broken-ness extend longer, or even permanently.
Hi Melissa, are you looking for ideas on what website building tools to use?
Is this Church Vitality Index formula a valid measure of a church’s missional health? Consider which of these two churches is responding most faithfully to Jesus’ commission on the Easter Sunday evening in John 20:
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Church A has a 50 year history in a neighborhood which over the past 20 years has transitioned into a largely Spanish-speaking population, most of whom are first generation immigrants. Most members of the congregation have chosen to move to newer neighborhood on the outskirts of the city, where many have joined Church B. But around a fourth of the members have remained committed to Church A—either because they were not financially able to move or/and because they sensed a call to remain a presence and witness in the older neighborhood. Most of these people are past childbearing years, so there are few child baptisms. Language and preferred worship style are barriers to bringing in new residents in the neighborhood, so there are few transfers or converts joining the congregation. Nevertheless, members have actively sought to welcome and become acquainted with new residents. Most of this is done by personal contacts and conversations, but periodically a bi-lingual event—concert, informative discussions, talent shows, games and always with food—is held at the church building to which many in the neighborhood now show up. At some of these events the four Latino congregations in the area are invited to publicize their calendar and make literature available, Recently a fifth church has begun and worships at Church A’s facility on Sunday afternoons. Members have also organized an ESL class, with day care for young children, which meets two mornings a week at the church. When it became evident that undocumented immigrants had become very fearful over changes in government policy, a men’s Bible Study group decided to approach the city council seeking ways to modify or at least clarify things so as to relieve some of this anxiety. The church’s budget includes a sizeable benevolent fund to be available for basic food, utilities, and transportation needs that become evident among neighborhood families.
Meanwhile Church B has grown rapidly, mostly through younger families with children, so child baptisms are monthly happenings. People are joining from a variety of denominational backgrounds, and since many adults do not have a baptismal record they too agree to their being baptized upon joining. The leadership of the church is pre-occupied with planning a building expansion, helping new folks assimilate into the fellowship and hiring staff to plan and organize activities. The vision statement of the church is primarily about attendance projections along with the building space and fund-raising needed to facilitate this growth.
Ditto for the context in which I currently minister. In rural, Midwestern America, the missional edge is much more with what Barna calls the "prodigals/nomads/exiles" - rather than than the formally "unconverted". It is with the "dechurched" not the "unchurched". To quote a Barna 6-3-13 article:
"Over half of Millennials with a Christian background (59%) have, at some point, dropped out of going to church after having gone regularly, and half have been significantly frustrated by their faith. Additionally, more than 50% of 18-29 year olds with a Christian background say they are less active in church compared to when they were 15."
I just had a conversation with two such individuals a half hour ago who are dealing with a lot of past pain and hurt. When they come back into a church community and find healing and a new start - they don't show up in a CVI - but I would suggest they still reflect a sign of vital kingdom ministry for which we should give thanks.
I just posted my reading/re-reading list for 2017-18.
Once upon a time, the federal government required sponsors for immigrants, who would be responsible for the financial needs of the immigrants. Good system for multiple reasons.
Today, the federal and state government predominantly funds immigrants. Thus, we need, or want, more federal budget dollars.
I would suggest going backward, in both policy and budgeting.
I'm not sure I understand what this would look like. Can you give some examples of what you are talking about? Such as: "preach[ing] co-illumining Bible/creation-based sermons and catechiz[ing] whole lives based on the whole counsel of God? " Could you give a link to someone doing that? Or a transcript? And "tutor[ing] seminarians on God’s word in nursing, computer science and journalism and [teaching] them how to read those ‘creation texts’". I'd like to see it and understand it better.
I agree. We submit the information but it doesn't seem to show up, neither in the printed yearbook nor on the website.
Hi Pete - Yes, you are correct that we are developing a phone app that will have the capacity for online giving. The app is currently in a test phase with churches in Classis Niagara and we are hoping to have it go live across Canada this fall. The app of course is capable of doing way more than provide ways for people to give - it's also an outreach tool and a way for churches to communicate with members so that they get important information (prayers, announcements) right into the palms of their hands. Additionally members will be able to watch worship videos if unable to attend on a given Sunday, if their church makes such recordings. There will be many other features, so stay tuned.
Does anyone know why this information is no longer published in the yearbook? It would only be an extra ten or twenty pages.
We also struggle with a definition, but it is the definition of "member". We have a significant number of people who come to church pretty much every Sunday, and we consider them a member of our church family. But they do not, and do not want, to go through the formal membership process. That seems foreign and unnecessary to them.
I'm not saying we never go through the formal membership process - we do. But it seems wrong to narrow the definition of "member" to that piece of paper when we're talking about people who have been beloved members of our church family for years.
When counting our numbers each year, we struggle over the definition of evangelism. We welcome people into membership in the church who have not been part of a church for many years. They are not transferring from a non-CRC church. Still, we wouldn't say that they were new believers. They were believers, separated from their community. This group doesn't seem to fit either label. It seems that there may be a benefit to creating a fourth indicator.
doctrine of predestination
The Giveness of things, by Marilynne Robinson; Heaven by Randy Alcorn
I've posted the Offer Letters for Non-Ordained Church Staff for anyone who is interested. Thanks!
I fully support, contrary to my denominational bureaucracy, apparently, shifting some authority and responsibility for environmental concerns from the federal government to the states. The proposed budget represents that perspective. It is a misinterpretation -- or perhaps just political partisanship -- to suggest the proposed budget represents lack of concern for what the CRCNA likes to call Creation Care.
I'm so thankful that President Trump had the common sense to pull out the biggest hoax since evolution - Man made climate change and the Paris agreement.
Hi Bill! It looks like the address is on the event page where people are asked to 'rsvp', but good suggestion to add it to this post as well.
Wouldn't it be wise to include the address of Monroe Community Church in this announcement? I know where it is, but we shouldn't assume everyone does, or force them to dig to figure it out.
The Praying for Renewal in the Christian Reformed Church Facebook page recommended "Dirty Glory" by Pete Greig. So I am going to check that one out this summer!
Thanks for sharing this helpful article. The CareLeader newsletters often have useful information for those interested in ministry with others. Safe Church Ministry so-sponsored Trauma Healing training with World Renew last February, and we will co-sponsor another event in Canada in November. Churches can become places of healing when church members are equipped to deal with trauma that people are facing. Often we think we need to be a therapist or a professional, and sometimes that help is needed. Yet tremendously valuable to someone who is hurting is the ministry of presence, just being there with them. And a listening ear, truly listening without judgment, and without trying to "fix" someone, just listening, is a very valuable gift, that most of us are already equipped to give. May our congregations become safer places as we learn to listen to one another.
read this today and thought it helpful
Joel - I have some samples of offer letters which are often used when hiring non-ordained church staff. You are welcome to connect with me at email@example.com and I'll send them your way.
I love this. I sense momentum toward that church reformation in our denomination every day. That said, I also sense we tempted to sit on the fence, in terms of seeking stability and sustainability. These are exciting times if we are brave enough to close our eyes and hold on for the ride.
Thanks for sharing! Blessings in your new role.
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.
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.
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.