I like Boer's idea of spheres of leadership and the church as the body in which all parts are servant leaders without a hierarchical structure. Hope I have opportunity to read it and continue learning about leadership. Thank you.
Talbot Street Church changed their name from the First Christian Reformed Church in London 4 to 5 years ago. I voted for the change for several reasons. There is no "Second CRC" by that name in London. Our public do not have any association with the words Christian Reformed. Ones that I have asked focus on"reformed" and think we have an association with reforming prisons or people in jail. Some stumble on the idea of a church being "Reformed". They cannot relate to it in any way. Finally, Talbot Street Church tells a "story". This is where we are located and our mission is to serve the downtown area by Talbot Street Church.
Hope that explains it from my perspective....Herb Bax
PS We were relatively new to London and had no history to the church which perhaps made it easier.
Alan Hirsch argues that the term "missional" should be understood to refer to alignment with the missio Dei that is bigger than just the church. He likes to say that we should think in terms of the mission having a church rather than the church having a mission. In that sense, adding "missional" to "church" implies that the church recognizes and aligns itself with something bigger than itself, rather than simply assuming "missions" is a vehicle to grow itself or extend its reach into the world. This perception can accept that God might use (in addition to the church) individual Christians in their workplace, para-church groups doing relief efforts, or even talking donkeys (ala Balaam) to advance his kingdom. He loves and nurtures and sends His church into the world, but His kingdom is bigger than the church and the church must constantly align itself with whatever God is up to.
Maybe this is a paradigm shift like Galileo convincing the world that though the earth is very special, it is not the center of solar system. The sun (or, in this case, the Son) is.
Hi Kathy - no, we don't list ages. I don't think everyone would be happy about that. :-)
Thanks for your excellent post, Elaine. As Director of Communications and Marketing for the CRCNA, I'm curious about why discussions about a church's identity led to a decision to get rid of the denominational identification? This question isn't a judgment. I think a lot of churches have reached the same conclusion. They feel that getting rid of the "Christian Reformed" part of their name somehow makes them more appealing. I'm just curious what the term "Christian Reformed" seems to communicate to the public that makes us want to avoid it? Why has it become so appealing to appear non-denominational?
Thank you for the response and it sounds like the names for the birthday listings are solicitated...each member needs to give his or her approval to be included. Do you list the ages as well?
Lots of information! Professional content writing is not everybody’s cup of coffee. I think people should understand this and try to hone their skills. They should also look forward to using new vocab and get an escape from clichéd marketing phrases.
I am praying that God will give you the help that you need.
In my healing journey I have been helped by friends, family, nurses, doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and pastors.
God has used a combination of listening prayer, talk therapy, deliverance ministry, food, books, music and some meds.
Ask Him for the help you need.
Blessings to you.
Hi Kathy - our church has a prayer calendar in which each day (Mon - Fri) we list a person/family that members of our congregation can pray for. On the other side of this calendar, we print a second calendar with names of those who are celebrating a birthday and the specific date. Not everyone submits their names for the birthday calendar, but many do.
Our church regularly publishes the names of those members of our congregation over a specific age who are celebrating their birthdays. One of our members receives that list through our church software and looks after the postings in our newsletter. On occasion, there is a special announcement for a member, for example, someone who is celebrating their 100th birthday.
Hi Dirk, I too pray that God will give you grace, strength, and peace, and that he will send people into your life who can help you move toward healing and increasing levels of mental health. Like you, I firmly believe that the Deceiver and his hosts are active in this world, and that they can wreak havoc in our world and in individual's lives. There are times that people need the kind of deliverance you write about. I also firmly believe that mental illnesses have a variety of causes including brain chemistry imbalances, prior trauma, stress and trial in life, and more. God uses many instruments to help people move toward recovery including professional counselors, social workers, and medical doctors including psychiatrists, as well as medication, support groups, hospital psychiatric units, spiritual direction and the encouragement and support of people who love and care for the person dealing with mental illness. Although some people have had to hide their mental illness from fellow church members, others have found their church to be a supportive and encouraging community that helps them move toward healing. I pray that God will help you find the help you are looking for, and that God will give you hope and healing.
Fine, but you should also seek the help of a psychiatrist. There is no guarantee that prayers alone will make the mental illness go away. To be sure, God CAN work miracles, but He doesn't cure all cases of mental illness. He NEVER took mine away. So don't put ALL your eggs in the same basket and seek treatment. God may have other ideas about your illness.
Eager to hear suggestions.
Larry I think you have given a good and agreeable reply in terms of the meaning of these words. But without your explanation, these words are often misunderstood.
The problem is that in many ways, capitalism is rather ruthless. If you don't pay your loans, your property may be sold. If you lose money at what you do, you may sell your business at a loss. Larger entities usually buy up and absorb smaller ones, because they have the equity to do so. A successful new business may end up putting other older businesses out of business.
Yet, that does not mean that capitalists are necessarily ruthless at heart. I understand there is a group of billionaires challenged to donate half or more of their income... is Warren Buffet or Bill Gates included in this?
Materialism as a philosophical concept is certainly anti-Christian. But most people do not understand it as a philosophical ideal, but simply as a part of reality, of common sense. God created material, and he created us to live in the material world. Material and goods are not evil, and even wealth has purpose. It is very difficult for poor people to emply others or provide others with income.
Anyway, thanks for your clarification.
Praying here too!
Larry: Just as to your #1, abstract concepts ("ruthless capitalism") don't violate commandments, even if people do. "Capitalism" literally and merely refers to the idea that if one does not consume all that one earns but saves some to invest, that "capital" will generally increase future return, proportionate to the amount invested and not consumed. (Many poor people have used that methodology to become not poor -- I did, having literally nothing when entering my adult life).
OK sure, there are all kinds of other imprecise definitions of "capitalism," but those definitions are just political rants or epithets being thrown about. A "free market economy," a phrased that many would syntactically equate with "capitalism," ruthless or otherwise, and one I would prefer to use instead of word "capitalism," means that the government declines to use the power of the sword to force its citizens to "not be selfish." I think I ought not be selfish, that being selfish violates God's law, but yet I don't think government should restrain me (or others) if I (or others) choose to be selfish, by pointing a gun (or sword) at my head, even if government should restrain me from entering the home of another and taking his money.
This is the difficulty of preaching about broadly labeled political ideas. It can be done, but ...
I just lifted you up in prayer after reading this.
I'll try to answer your questions in the order they appear in your post.
1. Ruthless capitalism is capitalism that violates the 8th commandment as defined by Lord's day 42 of the H.C.
2. Materialism is the kind of materialism that precludes people from heaven because their first love is money rather than Jesus.
3. Irresponsible socialism is a socialism that ignores loving your neighbor as yourself, "working faithfully so that I may share with those in need." Q&A 111 0f H.C. It also violates the sixth commandment as described by the H.C Lord's Day 40.
4. I think that the pulpit should never bully except through the power of the preached word. It may make me uncomfortable but then I need to ask is it my defiance of the Word or my obedience to God's word at bottom of this.
5. Amen to Christlikeness.
I've found it helpful to think of missional as an aspect of one of the attributes of the church spoken of in the Nicene Creed--one, holy, catholic and *apostolic* church, an apostle being a sent one. The attribute of apostolicity doesn't only mean that we hold to the apostolic teaching but that there is a sent-ness to the church itself, missional simply being the current term. Historically discussions of apostolicity seem to have revolved more around questions of authority and the missional aspect of it has often been overlooked.
Yes, you are overlooking the ones I am referring to. They are the endorsement through the Office of Social Justice and the drumbeat in the Banner of a one sided approach to Global Warming, Fossil Fuels, Open borders, Sanctuary Cities, etc. Recently, Rex Tillotsen, our new Secretary of State made the observation that the best way to lift a country out of poverty is a reliable flow of electricity and the best way to get that is through the use of fossil fuels. But you will not find that perspective in the Banner or in the Office of Social Justice.
When you feel the need to preach against "ruthless capitalism" just how is that defined? Have you, like many of us and our children, watched a business in which you invested your life and your life savings go into bankruptcy because you were not ruthless enough? Just drive through the thousands of shuttered stores in strip malls across the country and try to imagine the heartbreak behind those covered windows. Or is ruthless capitalism just another name for success? Was King David a ruthless capitalist? How about Abraham?
And what is this "materialism" of which you speak? Materialism employs people to make the material. Money always goes somewhere. What may look to you as squandering, may be an intentional and loving way to provide employment to others. Perhaps you remember the 1986 Tax Act. In it, a tax of 10% was levied on all luxury yachts. In this misguided assault on materialism, Chris Craft in Holland, Michigan went out of business and threw a lot of highly skilled Christian workers out of work.
And "irresponsible socialism" needs a whole lot of explanation. To me the Office of Social Justice is irresponsible socialism.
I resent the use of the pulpit as a bullying position because members of the congregation may have a completely different motivation or set of facts than the pastor may suspect, but they have no opportunity to respond. I resent the use of my ministry shares to advocate for or against social policies closely aligned with one political party. To be sure, there will always be differences between a "tough love" vs "gushing love" approach to helping. But from the pulpit, I want to hear the part about "love" rather than one kind or another. Then I can find those who are committed to working to help as I am convinced Christ would have me work.
In short, I want a church that equips me to be Christlike, not a church that assumes it has the answers, especially when those answers are divisive, or in my mind often wrong.
Thanks for asking.
Number wise the crcna would certainly be better off if she had not debated women in office for 25 years. The result was a kind of compromise that said both ways of interpretation of God's word were appropriate. However the compromise did not work. We ended up with the URC with nearly 20,000 give or take leaving the CRC. It would have been hard not to talk about it since each year we elect new elders and deacons.
If I hear you correctly you imply that there were other divisive positions the CRCNA has taken. May I ask what they were: capital punishment, abortion, marriage and divorce, peace and war,maybe I'm overlooking theone(s) you are thinking about. Help me out here, Ed.
Color me as one of those confused.
If "being missional ... is simply what the church is," as this article says, it is no wonder the word has always perplexed me. I'm disinclined to add modifiers to words when the modifier means what the word intended to be modified means. When others do that, I have this itch to discover the additional meaning the modifier brings to the word being modified, but it would seem that in this case there is none?
And blessings to you as well Shannon. I have no doubt as to the orientation of your heart, even where we might disagree. To me, that tension is in a way an essential characteristic of the church. I'm glad we are both in CRC.
And if ever you want that public, "honest conversation about racism," you know where to find me. :-)
I understand that the list of 2017 candidates will be available in early March. Just keep checking the link on the Candidacy website where they will be posted.
I really appreciate these suggestions. Might a corollary to "refusing to compete" be to "partner or cooperate with other churches when appropriate" (which probably wouldn't apply to the grocery store)?
Thank-you Staci, I'll check it out.
This is the 2016 list. I realize the 2017 list might not be ready yet, but I hope it will be uploaded and shared soon so that churches looking for seminary candidates will also be given contact information for those graduating this May.
Doug, Disability Concerns bought 50 hard copies of an expanded version of this book as soon as it came out, and they are sitting in my office. We send a thank you gift to all CRCs that take an offering for DC, and this will be next in line for the churches in the US. I've lobbied a couple Canadian friends to create a Canadian version of the booklet, but that hasn't happened yet. The Putting Faith to Work model is excellent, and its principles are applicable across North America though the stats and resources are US-centric.
Thanks for the link to the booklet, Mark. I think its content is excellent.
I don't think it would hurt at all to send a copy, in paper form and perhaps also by email, to the clerk of every local CRC council, and the clerk of every CRC classis.
If all CRC members transformed 90% of their angst about government related politics, and the CRCNA 100% of its, into efforts toward serving directly in their own local areas, whether the disabled or others, much, much more would get done with infinitely more satisfaction.
We don't really have much power at all to overhaul the government, especially at the federal level, in whatever direction. And we'll forever disagree about what that overhaul should be. But our power as a church of Jesus Christ to directly impact the lives of many immediately around us, each in our own communities, is great indeed. And as to that, I really don't see any disagreement at all.
Joe, Thanks for inviting conversation around this topic. We are currently in a new church development process here in Detroit which is asking those questions and experimenting with answers. We are building relationships among three different "house church" communities across the city. Once a month, we borrow space in a building from another church in order to gather with the combined groups. We don't have intentions on worshipping as a large group every week, because each neighborhood/house church already has their own rhythms of meeting weekly in their own community. We do not desire to own a building of our own for both financial and mission-minded reasons.
The benefits of not having a building are multiple: not having the costs associated with it, not having people get in the mindset that the building is central to the ministry, interacting with our church and community in spaces that are not owned by us, having to be creative rather than getting into routines based on a consistent meeting space, we don't fall into a consumeristic mentality of providing goods and services to the church.
The challenges are: The need for good communication is critical because of a lack of a consistent meeting space for people to depend upon. It can also be challenging to be nomadic in setting up for a gathering (even once a month). People with needs also seek us out in our homes rather than a building, which can be a challenge to have need coming to our doorstep rather than an "organization" like a church building provides.
If we were to settle on a consistent space for our monthly gathering (or if we decided a more frequent pattern of gathering with the larger group was better) we would try to find a space to utilize that was already a neighborhood asset in order to partner with other community-serving agencies.
Those are some initial thoughts to keep the conversation going.
Please be a bit careful when you list those things you feel you must preach about, Larry. You see, 81.5% of evangelical Christians who voted, voted for a president who advocates controlling the border, enthusiastic capitalism, a degree of materialism and individual responsibility. And he was supported by a great number of evangelical pastors. Apparently you have a better insight into what scripture teaches, or you are a lot smarter than them, or you have a different bible.
Sure, you can preach on some of these topics, but I can just as easily walk out of your church never to return. Sure, you can ostracize another third of the denomination, but then do not cry when the denominational offices are starving and on the road to extinction. You have reduced your potential market to a very small percent of the population that needs the love of our Lord. You only have a message that resonates with guilt ridden liberals. You have made salvation contingent upon political views. That is the problem when you bully the institutional church, either a local congregation or the denomination, into taking a stand on social issues.
If, instead you focus your preaching on salvation through the blood of our Lord, individual Christians are allowed the freedom to respond to social issues as an expression of their love for our Lord rather than as a duty to the institutional church. I am convinced that this individual expression offers a far richer blessing.
Respectfully Larry, I think you are failing to distinguish between biblical admonitions to people and biblical admonitions to governments. I am obliged to be a good neighbor even to those who have committed crimes like theft or drug dealing or even rape or murder. Notwithstanding my obligation to those, government's obligation to those same persons is different. Government is obliged to curb those evils, which may often mean prosecuting and incarcerating those people.
Your and my roles are often quite different than government's role. We may be required to turn the other cheek, but government couldn't do what God would have government do if its policy is turn-the-other-cheek based.
I'm not saying I know that the current administration's policy on this immigration time-out is good policy, but I am saying its duties, responsibilities and obligations are not correctly understood by applying the lesson of the parable of the Good Samaritan. Again, this doesn't mean the administration's policy is good policy, but, as I have suggested, neither you nor I nor the institutional church (nor even the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals frankly), are privy to the information required to in order to determine the wisdom of the administration on this policy. Congress gave this power, and the right to have the information, to the executive branch. Some in Congress have the right to the information, and to oversight, but you don't, I don't, and the institutional church doesn't.
Beyond that, there are plenty of neighbors that we can be good Samaritans too. There is no lack there I don't think.
I want to thank everyone who has expressed themselves on this topic, especially Matthew for starting it.
Jesus parable applied to a man who was left behind by robbers. His parable could also have included a robber waiting in ambush to attack anyone who might choose to help. His parable could have included or been about a robber pretending to be hurt and robbed so that he could attack unwary helpers. But his parable wasn't about that. It is important not to conflate or blur the distinctions.
It seems you are arguing and preaching to the converted, those who want to help refugees who truly need it. But you are ignoring all the other real issues and thus your preaching will simply allienate those who are concerned about protection of the innocent.
All that I meant by referring to the parable of the good Samaritan is that Just as the priest and Levite must have had "good" reasons not to give practical help to the one robbed so it seems we are finding " good reasons" why a temporary ban on certain refugees is acceptable. But Jesus did not see it that way. He asked which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell among robbers? The expert in the law said "the one who had mercy on him" Jesus told him "Go and do likewise"
Perhaps I'm wrong. You might be a good samaritan every day of your life but why can you not be a good samaritan toward Syrian refugees right now. Is there ever a time someone in trouble is not our neighbor?
I'm not following Larry. How is it that someone has said or otherwise suggested "we cannot be good samaritans in our world"? I see that being done all the time by Christians. I practice it quite regularly. I advocate it.
I think the priest and the levite in the parable of the good Samaritan would have been comfortably at home in your world of logic. Too bad that we cannot be good samaritans in our world.
Today I heard something about the USA supreme court redefining marriage. And in the process, innocent Christians are being persecuted, fined and prosecuted for exercising their religious freedom. Are the democrats doing anything to reverse that? To protect these issues of conscience? Are they speaking out against it? Are they promoting judges who take a more reasonable view of the US constitution?
If not, are Democrats still a viable option for Christians? Shouldn't they support politicians who at least honor God with their lips, rather than deny his claims to His very face?
And compare their stand on abortion, the murder, desecreation and genocide of innocent preborn human beings. Does not this also call into question any support by Christians of a Democrat party that promotes and funds institutions such as PLanned Parenthood, whose main business and funding stream is for abortion?
No, I DON'T think we should wait and see. That would be wasting precious time. We KNOW Trump's character and his values, and he's NOT going to change. Why would he? All his life he's been led to believe he could get away with his behavior. Even the fact that he was elected would confirm him in the belief that he was right to believe he could get away with his behavior. So it would be foolish to wait and see at this time. No new data are going to come in about the Trump Administration. Americans with disabilities and their advocates need to put pressure on that government to respect the laws put in place by previous administrations to protect those who are vulnerable. It's too bad he was elected, but since he's there until some people decide to impeach him, American citizens need to deal with him.
Thanks for your response, Doug. It is good to read some of your story. While we draw different conclusions, like you, I also read Hillbilly Elegy, and I really appreciated Vance's perspective. I think we both seek to give God all the glory in what we do and say. Blessings on you as you seek to do that, Brother.
Andrew MacLeod, Andrew...I was a friend to Angus and Peg MacLeod. I met Farquar while we were at Mac's house in Evergreen Park Il. In fact their father was also there. Where does Andrew fit into this ancestry? Just curious !....Dean Koldenhoven
Doug, You wrote, "I think there is much more promise for increased employment of the disabled in the private sector, profit and non-profit." I agree. And from where I sit, it looks to me like churches are uniquely situated to assist people with disabilities to get employed. A couple basics to get a job are skills and a network. Churches can provide opportunities for people with disabilities to gain both soft and hard skills by encouraging them to be involved in various aspects of ministry, and providing mentoring and guidance along the way. And churches are a network of people who are employees, supervisors, and business owners who can assist fellow members with disabilities make the connections they need to get work. But this kind of thinking requires a shift that's starting to happen, but still is a long ways in coming: a shift from seeing first what people with disabilities can't do, to see and celebrate and encourage what they can do. This booklet produced in 2014, The Call and Opportunity for Faith Communities to Transform the Lives of People with Disabilities and their Communities, provides helpful guidance for faith communities. If every faith community helped one unemployed person with a disability get a job, that would be another 300,000 people in the workforce, who would have less dependence on government benefits, and possibly a greater sense of self esteem and a better sense of how to fulfill their calling while here on earth.
I've heard really good things about the Read Scripture app!
In previous years I have given up various things (i.e. pop) for Lent but this year I am planning to finish reading through the Gospels (I'm currently in the middle of Luke). Lately I have been struck by how often Jesus talks about the importance of having faith. I'm going to be looking for specific ways this season to 'increase' my faith, maybe through bold giving or by listening more closely to the Spirit's leading. To do this, I'm hoping to be still more often (less media, tv, distractions).
While I certainly don't oppose the kind of action that was taken by Obama's EO, Mark, I always wonder about the ratio of "show to go" with federal action. In my neck of the nation's woods, the biggest employers of the disabled (including a neighbor of mine that I've know for his entire life), are private non-profits. My guess is that next to no one in my geographical area is benefited by Obama's EO (or Clinton's before that).
I think there is much more promise for increased employment of the disabled in the private sector, profit and non-profit, perhaps with some tax credit assistance from government, federal, state, and/or local even.
One thing everyone is likely to agree on is that is it better for the disabled to work, at whatever level that might match their abilities, than that they not work. Even if they worked for no compensation, their lives are made better by working. And frankly, I think that sentiment is quite bipartisan, and shared by those who like big or small government.
The Ministerial Information Services page may also be helpful.
Thanks for this information and important discussion, Mark. Please keep challenging us and pointing us to those who are being marginalized.
You are taking some logic leaps there Larry but I assume you know that. In case you don't, I can't imagine how exactly you can make the case that any kind of ban on Syrian refugees by a sovereign nation for a finite period of time for whatever reason is unbiblical. Too much nuanced knowledge is required, and there are too many variables that potentially come into play, in my view at least, to be able to responsibly declare the scripture will always be violated when such a ban is implemented by a particular sovereign nation.
And I can't follow you when you say you must preach about all the things you list, BUT on the other hand, I think you certainly can preach on topics than involve greedy capitalism, irresponsible socialism, materialism, etc. It might take some degree of in-depth knowledge about the subject matters to have the sermon come off as "credible" and not a cheap political pitch, but sure, these subjects are, or their component parts at least are, the object of scriptural admonitions.
One other thought: the federal government influences behaviors not only by where money gets spent but also by setting priorities. My Exhibit A is Executive Order 13548. Although employment (and unemployment) of people with disabilities has (sadly) remained relatively constant ever since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, the emphasis by the Obama Administration on hiring people with disabilities for jobs with the federal government has actually increased the percentage of people with disabilities working for the federal government.
Doug, I agree that Trump is quick to lash out at anyone who makes him look bad in some way. Still, my sense is that there is an undertone to his rhetoric that diminishes anyone whom he deems as "weak." As you write, we'll need to wait and see. We're barely into his presidency yet.
I would like to be for smaller government. Yes, people closest to the ones receiving assistance are more likely to care and provide appropriate solutions, and less likely to allow waste. However, the kind of money that's required to provide supports for people like my daughter and many, many others with disabilities is not going to come out of people's pockets unless local, state, and federal government collects it in taxes. Don't get me wrong. People are generous. My daughter lives in a wonderful place that was fully paid for the day she moved in thanks to generous contributions, but providing day in day out support for her and others in group homes is not going to come solely from charitable contributions. She lives in a home that is a public/private partnership, and I truly wish it were possible for it to be funded fully privately, but I can't imagine it, not only for the place our daughter lives, but also for many other people needing supports for daily living. And that's just one example of group homes. There are people living in their own places who need some assistance. There are people in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. There are people in supported employment. There are people receiving health care through Medicaid. There are disabled vets. There are a lot of kids in special education programs. I believe that one of the ways that Americans show their heart is through providing supports (through our taxes and through charitable contributions) for people with disabilities, but I fear we would not provide this level of support to this many people if we all were simply asked to pitch in with voluntary contributions.