Thanks for your feedback. Although I posted this to the Pastors page because of the comment a pastor on the Board of Trustees made about how he wished every CRC pastor was able to hear, I'd love to see the information it contains shared with elders, children's ministry coordinators, and anyone else who is tasked with choosing what and how their church will invite kids to live into and live out of God's story. It's important!
Yes! The list to which I linked is a list that's created each year by a Church Educator from the Episcopalian tradition and shared on buildfaith.org but in the toolkit we do plan to point folks to curriculum from other Reformed publishers (for e.g.e Growing in Grace and Gratitude, Feasting on the Word and LOGOS (an intergenerational curriculum) are all available through the PCUSA.) There are also other resources available from other sources which would work in a Reformed context which we'll include in the kit. The goal of the children's ministry toolkit will be similar to our other toolkits----links, ideas, information on resources that churches can shape to fit their particular context.
Thanks for the article!
I agree wholeheartedly that our children and their Faith Formation NEEDS to be an important focus of every Church.
From the context of a Church Plant perspective, I spoke with various people from Faith Alive often over the past 8 years. I shared with them the problem we face is complete Biblical illiteracy of many people of our congregation. With 2/3 of our people coming into our faith community being brand new to church or returning after many years, most of the parents we meet have very little Biblical knowledge to speak of. While the content of Faith Alive materials like Dwell are fantastic, they have been tried in our setting and are 'over the head' of most if not all of our kids. More and more families from the area are not just coming to us with a deficiency of Bible knowledge, they are coming to us with ZERO Biblical understanding...because they didn't even own a Bible!
We serve in a Post-Christian setting where some kids think the story of Adam and Eve is on the same level of authenticity as the story of 'Beauty and the Beast.' When God brings them into our midst, guess which story they know better?
Thank you Karen! I agree with the article and the comments so far!
Two further thoughts...
1. What does it communicate when this is assumed to be information for pastors? How about elders? In my first church I was given almost no say about Sunday School curriculum, thankfully the second church I had did value my input. And, I hope that I'm not alone among pastors in placing a high value on the input of professional educators when it comes to the pedagogy of the curriculum.
2. I hope this is somewhat of an answer to Tim's thoughts. While the CRC curriculum is an improvement on the other, I still wouldn't say it picks up on the better aspects of Reformed theology. It reinforces a sense of assurance of our salvation (justification!), but fails to plant seeds of sanctification. I've found, sadly, that many adults who have grown up in our churches actually begin to feel less assured over time because a) they don't sense themselves becoming more godly and b) the preacher seems to believe we need to hear the message of justification again - maybe that's a sign we didn't understand it before!
In my own young adulthood I went from extreme boredom with my faith to fervent excitement when I began to understand a Reformed (emphasis on Reformed!) view of sanctification - a view that put God in the lead, yet gave me a role in watching His transforming work in my life and even being allowed to participate in exciting ways! And then I discovered many others who were experiencing the same thing and then we got to watch God work in each other and support each other through the ups and downs of all that!
Thanks for the helpful article! In the toolkit that Faith Alive is preparing, I hope we can help direct churches to other Reformed publishing houses. The linked chart of 50 curriculums appears to be heavily drawn from non-Reformed, mainline denominations (Episcopal, ELCA, UCC, UMC, etc.). There are some other great options out there that are deeply Reformed and didn't make the list - such as Great Commission Publications (https://www.gcp.org/) from the PCA/OPC. We've found their Sunday School curriculum to be very solid in our context.
While I agree with much of what the article has to say, I want us to also stop and consider that the young adults who are leaving the faith from our churches also grew up with those same covenantal teachings, albeit with an older version of some of the same curriculum. But they are still leaving. Somehow, we need to discover what it is that we are missing in our teaching, not just what "the others" are missing in their curriculum. Could it be that in our covenant theology that we fail to emphasize our response to God's faithful promises? Do we presume a faithful response acceptance because we have taught the meaning of the words? I don't have the answers, but I am also not hearing those kinds of questions being asked within our denomination.
Probably the largest collection of Christian radio programs and podcasts can be found on Crosswalk.com, though they will tend to be the mainstream sorts of programs you'd hear on Christian radio. Another resource might be iDisciple. But neither of those would likely have much for independent or start-up podcasts.
I second Doug's "amen". Teaching children truisms and trite morality lessons will not equip them to grab hold of the promises sealed to them in baptism, nor will it teach them to understand/handle scripture correctly. Children are often so much more ready and able to understand and internalize deep and meaningful truths than they are given credit for. If we expect little from our children, we will get exactly what we expect. The great commission starts at home and in the church and blossoms outward from there. Karen, thank you for posting this.
Sorry about that. It should have ended by saying "how it translates into all the language BTGMI uses". I stopped because I translated "resonate" in to those languages and it was interesting the words that came up. Of course I am not familiar with the Chinese, Arabic etc. that use other lettering forms.
This is provided by the CRCNA. But if the RCA would like to offer something similar to their churches, we'd certainly be open to exploring it.
Is this assistance program also available for RCA churches?
Just came across another new podcast suggestion while reading this post on The Twelve. The podcast, called Rewrite Radio, is produced by the Calvin Center for Faith and Writing’s Creative Director Jon Brown and hosted by the CCFW’s managing director Lisa Ann Cockrel. Per the description, the podcast showcases sessions from past Festivals, along with new conversations to frame the sessions’ content.
I love the special care you've given to the details, like carnations for every woman and fair trade chocolate. Thanks for sharing, Lynnsey!
I highly recommend "On Being" with Krista Tippett. I believe she herself is a Christian, and definitely brought up Christian, but she discusses faith and life with people of other faiths, too. Incredibly insightful, throught-provoking, and for me life-changing: https://onbeing.org/
Our church has given out carnations (to every woman, not just mothers). We have the children hand them out at the door as people leave. For the past couple of years we have handed out Fair Trade mini chocolates to everyone as they leave. We acknowledge mothers in the congregational prayer being mindful of all kinds of mothers. For Father's Day we have done chocolate, baking, etc.
Thanks for sharing your experience Ruth Ann. With the number of churches searching for part time worship leadership this may be something for them to consider working with another local congregation on. Some churches have shared pastors, some share youth leaders, it would take some imagination and coordination but your experience suggests it might also be possible to have shared worship leaders.
Also as a side note Alex, you mentioned when in one's life does this take place. Truth be told, we may not be aware of or know when this takes place. For example, there is a good chance (and many theologians believe this) that the Holy Spirit could be given in the womb as in the case of the baby in the womb of Elizabeth when she was greeted by Mary who was pregnant with Jesus at the time. (see Luke 1:39 and on) In such a case the baby who would have been regenerate by the Holy Spirit would rightfully respond in faith when he would grow to understand and first hear the gospel (as faith comes by hearing of the Word.) For others, this may take place later in life as an adult who never grew up trusting in Jesus, and upon hearing the Word of God, they respond in faith because at some point prior to that (we don't know when/could happen immediately prior) such a person's heart had been changed from a dead heart of stone to a heart of flesh, made alive by the power of God to see, hear and respond in faith. Does that make sense?
Good questions to be asking! I grew up in a different tradition and was taught a few things that I later found were very much less than biblical. Regardless of the label "Reformed" or not (which is also a nuanced term depending on who you speak to) our goal should be to define according to the standard of God's Word.
Biblically understood, one receives the Holy Spirit by an act of God's grace and not as a response to our faith. The tradition I grew up in sadly reversed this order and made it seem as though the new birth (being born again) takes place once you repent and believe. However, biblically understood (read John 3 for example which talks about the new birth) we are dead in our trespasses and sins and are not capable of such things and need to be made alive to the things of God and thus are given the Holy Spirit as a gracious gift of God's choosing according to nothing more than His good pleasure. What takes place as a result of the new birth are also gifts: repentance and faith.
While the word is not found in the bible, historically theologians have called this "regeneration," another term for being born again, or made alive by God's Spirit.
Hope that helps. Not sure if the second question can be narrowed down to one primary role that the Holy Spirit does within the role of the Triune God. He leads us in all truth, empowers for gospel ministry, glorifies the Son and proceeds from the Father and the Son and countless other things.
I just heard that Shauna Niequist launched a podcast. I haven't listened to the first episode but the description looks good:
Best-selling author and speaker Shauna Niequist hosts this interview-style podcast featuring personal conversations with leading writers, thinkers and leaders about life, relationships, purpose, family and faith.
Always interesting to see how folks in the HO culture of the CRC "presume" synod will approve something it has not yet seen. If that is true for other routine stuff why is it even on the Synod agenda? This is not a complaint but a complement.. I wish the folks who operate these ministries just get on with it and report like above. Synod would simply ratify the decisions of the Executive Director. It would help focus synod on the the strategic issues facing the CRCNA.
That's a great question! I was at a conference for Christian leaders and heard that podcasts continue to gain in popularity. (Wonderful news for those of us who are getting tired of 'screens', right?)
I posed your question to my Faith Formation Ministries team members and they recommended two sites---one is actually hosted by team member Sam Gutierrez from his Granite Spring Church. It's called Curious Church and you can find out more about it here. The other is called Groundwork, Biblical Foundations for Life and it's one of the excellent resources provided by the folks at ReFrame Media. (If you're not familiar with their site, it's worth a look as they have all kinds of encouraging resources on a variety of topics.)
If I hear of any more recommendations I'll post them here for you.
Do we receive the HS at baptism or our second birth (as in profession of faith and our acceptance of Jesus)?
Alex, that's a great question and one that I'm glad you're getting the opportunity to wrestle with. Maybe the first thing that we should look at is defining our terms. What do you mean when you use the phrase "receive the Holy Spirit"? There is, shall we say, a lot of freight in that truck. It's a phrase that not only appears in Scripture but has taken on nuances of meaning from various theological traditions...pentecostalism, etc., as well as specific meanings in more liturgical traditions. So to unload the truck a bit, what's the particular understanding of that phrase that you're wrestling with?
In terms of the primary purpose of the Holy Spirit, that's another important discussion. I guess off the bat I've been helped by Max Ander's illustration of the spotlights that ring the Washington Monument. The spotlights do not draw attention to themselves but to the monument. In the same way the Spirit is "the shy member of the Trinity", tending to draw attention not to himself but to the work and the person of Christ. Christ says that "he will take what is mine and make it known to you".
thx Chuck, I am in Bozeman, MT now. Doing an interim pastoral job. Bozeman area is where I grew up. The ranch I grew up on is now run by my youngest brother. Nice to be back. I also have another brother in the area.
I left my books on the shelves in my office at Trinity CRC St. L. they are vacant now....I will donate them when I get back.
I saw that your dad finished his earthly pilgrimage. Great man. May your mother be guided by the Spirit of Christ as a widow.
Until then, gil
That's a wonderful way to use the post, Dave. Thanks for sharing!
Looks like the last part of your comment did not come through. Please let me know if I can help.
What a perfect article. Thank you for it. I've forwarded it as my own thank-you letter to parents in our church (who, wonderfully, behave just like the parents described).
BTGMI spent a lot of time getting to the name REFRAME. By using the word Global in the new name it will soon morf into "Global" or better yet "World" anyway. The latter would prevent major redesign of yet another name in the CRCNA lingo. CRCNA already has World Renew and that name was thought about long and hard. My suggestion would have been to keep it simple.
It's like modern art. If it takes 100 words to explain a painting, the vast majority of people (those the Mission is trying to reach) will never get it. Name branding is all about recognition not words.
The article does not state how the word translates into the other major languages supported by the CRCNA via BTGMI. And it is only a matter of time before BTGMI gets swallowed up into this new agency.
The article does not state how the
Thanks Jan! That is lovely that you shared music together with the choirs, great idea! And good to know that others have done the two-church thing with success. Blessings!
Love this, Michele!
In our congregation ALL the ladies get a flower on Mother's Day, usually a carnation, whether they actually had kids or not. The leadership figures that women who didn't marry and have kids shouldn't be penalized. I don't remember what we decided to do for Fathers's Day.
Ruth Ann, it's a comfort to read your article. I did the two-church thing as choir director/worship designer for ten years and resonate with all the challenges and delights you listed. Since one of my charges was CRC and the other RCA, there were interesting differences there, but the most helpful thing we did was combining the two choirs semi-regularly and singing in each other's worship services. Many were the times choir members expressed the wish to put aside all the denominational challenges that separated the two groups years ago and "do church" together all the time. I was personally blessed by having two pastors and two worshipping communities. I look back on those years with pleasure.
Please pray for me.
My name is ericka
Please pray so that our awesome God grant me the wishes of my hearth.
please pray for me so that in a miracleless way total victory over powerfull enemies that am confronting please grant me by your mercy total victory over them. Oh God I need you to touch the hearth of Isabel de S. Carlos Salazar and all his workers, Lizbeth S, Luis Salazar and his new girlfriend. kathya every one in Luis office, kevin, stefanny, kathy, amparo, tia emilce and all her family, the new son of Carlos,Rafael Salazar Sanchez, Brenda her father and all her cousings please dear Powerfull and wonderfull God put their, minds , and will in my favor for ever .
Please pray for me that God and specially give Rafael Salazar S the will and the desire to mary me and that he love me more than any one else not more than you God, more than any one else that is around us.
Please God give me supernatural wisdom to manege this so i wont lose these blessings and a miraclees blessing that no one take away from me these blessings that i am asking for. Please dear Lord grant to me victory over my enemies for ever .
Also pray for me so that my 3 dauthers be in my avor and be obedient and good.
Please dear lord i need great wisdom intelligence and perspicacia, please dear father help me have mercy on me. and for all the petitions of my hearth. Thank you God i praise you in advance for granting me and giving me all of this thank you God, I praise your name oh Lord and father thank you.
And I need a miracle in my finances. And for my friend Flory for God to give her Victory in her mariage.
And my friend that has sintoms of Leucemia for total healing.
Thanks, Reg. I think there is potential for churches to find meaningful ways to honor these relationships, but perhaps it is not necessary on these days. It's been shown that church attendance is up on mother's day and father's day, so there is an opportunity to show hospitality.
Perhaps it's time to evaluate where your church's gifts and passions and interests are in the area of missions. Finding a focus can spark new interest and help ensure that your dollars are being used effectively. One resource to help you do that is Catalyst Services http://catalystservices.org/. Several World Renew and World Missions staff have been trained as missions coaches if you would like to go that route. Feel free to email me if you would like to learn more.
There are a couple posts on the network that gets at some of these ideas:
We have some people on staff here at World Missions who may also be able to lend some advice. I will try to reach out to them to see if they have anything else to offer.
We also celebrate all women on Mother's Day and pray intentionally about difficulties women may struggle with. We always include prayers for those who have never been mothers, those who are unable to conceive, and those who are mother figures. We don't do flowers--too many of our people have allergies to fresh flowers. We have given a token gift to all women such as a pen or bookmark--something anyone might be able to use.
Neither of these holidays have anything to do with Christianity. They were created by secular society to increase material consumption. The church is supposed to change society, not the other way around. So why celebrate it?
Mission Emphasis, Faith Promise, the "List"
Thanks for sharing, Mark. I remember my church doing this years ago as well and I always thought it was a neat tradition.
I appreciated the article regarding inviting a representative of Safe Church to Classis meetings. I am the coordinator for Safe Church for Classis East Grand Rapids. Classis East has been very enfolding of Safe Church within that body. I am grateful for their support and the importance that Safe Church has within this body of believers. If only more Classes would become involved with Safe Church and make it an important ministry we could begin to see a reduction of abuse within our Christian community. Thank you for this fine article and reminding people of the role of Safe Church within our denomination. Judy Jongsma
I offer a copy of our music and liturgy committee mandate, which may help, as follows:
5.5. Music and Liturgy Committee
November 1, 2006
To implement the goals and decisions pertaining to music and liturgy as
established by Council for worship by the congregation, and to make
recommendations to Council with respect to such worship.
i. The committee shall normally consist of ten members, the Ministry Elder, the
Senior Pastor, the Music Director, the Contemporary Music Coordinator, all
ex officio, and six members at large.
ii. A term of office of the six members at large will normally be three years;
members may be appointed for a second term. At least one member of the
committee will retire annually.
iii. The Chair shall be appointed by Council Executive.
iv. The committee will select a Secretary.
i. With the ministry staff, co-ordinate and enhance the liturgical practices of the
congregation through, among others, study and reflection on the function of
liturgy, evaluation of liturgical practices and worship services, and the
selection or creation of appropriate liturgy.
ii. To enhance the meaningful integration of music into our liturgy, the Music
Director and Contemporary Music Coordinator will attend all meetings in
a. Evaluate with the committee how well music and liturgy are integrated in
each worship service, whether the needs of the congregation are being
met, and whether the members of the congregation are satisfied that the
music and liturgy enhance their worship of God.
b. Bring forward proposals for special events or services.
c. Prepare a schedule for musical involvement and participation in the
worship services on a tri-annual basis for the Committee, which shall be
forwarded to Council Executive.
The Contemporary Music Coordinator will assist the Music Director in
developing and preparing the schedule of musical involvement and
iii. To ensure that worship is enhanced through the effective use of sound and
visual aids, the Chair of the Audio-Visual (Sub) Committee will report to the
Committee as requested to:
a. Review procedures and develop policies as needed.
b. Ensure that enough qualified volunteers are available to operate the
c. Forward recommendations for technical upgrading or repair as needed.
d. Present budget requests for operating supplies, equipment acquisitions or
upgrading, and team training needs for inclusion in the annual budget.
e. Report on Audio-Visual Committee and other volunteer meetings held for
mutual encouragement and training.
iv. To co-ordinate the involvement of participants in the liturgy by seeking
people in various age groups, encouraging participation, and assisting ministry
staff in identifying and equipping members to use their gifts.
v. To keep current with musical and liturgical developments and trends and to
evaluate new forms and practices on a continuing basis.
vi. To ensure that the congregation is informed and, where appropriate, educated
with respect to the music and liturgy of West End Christian Reformed Church.
Meetings shall be held on a monthly basis or at the call of the Chair, or whenever
at least three members request that a meeting be called.
Copies of the minutes of committee meetings shall be distributed to all members
of Council Executive after each meeting, and to the Church’s Administrator for
filing. Any further distribution of minutes will be done at Council Executive’s
request, via the Church’s Administrator.
We recently downsized. While I am not a pastor, we were able to donate some to our church library, and others to a thrift store our church members operate. Our children were given first choice, but books are not so much in vogue for them. We love books, but have gone ourselves to e-books better for travel, and space taken.
Intriguing idea, especially the memorial garden. Some time ago I visited the colonial era Christ Church (Episcopal) in Philadelphia where my cousin is a member, and enjoyed the beauty, heritage, and remembrance of their memorial garden space. Their classic parish-cemetary had been relocated from the church grounds to another location centuries ago, but to keep the history and heritage alive, created the memorial space in its place, for members past and contemporary. I appreciate the issues you bring up about land use and cremation as an option.