Comment Stream

Mark Stephenson December 13, 2016

Michele, thanks for your comment. I do not live with a disability yet, though I assume I will someday. Our daughter taught my wife and me about living joyfully with disability, and in fact God used her to lead both my wife and me to the callings we have today. I serve the CRC as Director of Disability Concerns after 17 years as a pastor in parish ministry, and my wife once taught German and now teaches special education. I would have opted out of our daughter living with disability, but she has had a profound impact on many people because of and through her disability. 

Michele Gyselinck December 13, 2016

 No, no one would ask for a disability.  The most you can hope for is to come to terms with it.  If I'd had to opportunity to chose, I would have opted out of schizophrenia but in so doing I would have missed what I learned from having it, and I might still harbor prejudice towards those who suffer from mental illnesses, whereas now I strive to help them and their families with information and resources.

Jack Couperus December 13, 2016

 Wonderful!  and hurrah for Mr. Merton, but the leadership of the CRC fails to see Christ in LGBT people and so do many people in the pew, particularly in pews south of the Canada U.S. border. The last Synod drove the nail in the coffin.  I appreciate Mr. Brouwer for posting this.   I hasten to add, sexual orientation is not the only kind of person in whom Christians fail to see the Christ.    

Christ's sumary of all  laws and prophecies into the  one word of LOVE  is a stumbling block for many  Christians.  As long as churches are obsessed with their "Absolute Truth'  and unattainable purity, they will continue to remove the splinters from the neighbour's eyes but because they have a beam in their own eyes they cannot see Christ or see LOVE!   May the Holy Spirit do her work and change hearts and lives and teach them to LOVE!

Sidney Greidanus December 13, 2016

As I began research on a book on preaching Christ from Psalms, my proofreaders suggested I follow the Psalms selected for the Christian Year by the Common Lectionary, Year A.  Although the Lectionary selected these Psalms in response to the Old Testament lessons, the selected Psalms themselves make for wonderful, enlightening series of sermons for Advent, Lent, and the whole Christian year.  I learned a lot from the research and writing.  If you wish to do something different from other years, I suggest you consider a series on Psalms.

Bill Vis December 13, 2016

This year I am going through the "I am" statements in John.

Tom Bomhof December 13, 2016

Every other year a nearby public school uses our sanctuary for their Christmas concert.  Their  gym doesn't work so well for them and they prefer a stage.  It's fun to see our neighbours and their children in our building having a fun time.  We offer the space free of charge as a way to be a good neighbour at a festive time.

Our deacons also provide Christmas hampers for another local public school.  Our neighbourhood is changing and there are more people living in basement suites.  Some of them have financial burdens and we are able to help them have a blessed Christmas.  This year one of our small groups that meets in the neighbourhood near the school will assemble and deliver the hampers to the school as a service project.

The four Advent evening services consist of a family oriented film night (with popcorn), a Taize service (a quiet break from busyness), a children's service (singing, story and craft) and a service of lessons and carols (ending in candle lighting).

Every year we wonder whether to sing "Ere Zij God" in the Christmas service.  Should we stay true to our Dutch immigrant background or should we move on?  We asked our 20-something youth elder what to do and as a result we're singing it again this year. We sing songs in Swahili and Latin so why not Dutch once a year?  Apparently it's more beloved than the Christmas remake of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."  

On Christmas dau we also light the disco ball that's in our sanctuary.  We bought it for a space-themed VBS one year and have kept it up.  It helps us blow the lid off in praise of our incarnate King.

Caryn Tilstra December 12, 2016


We are currently using Kid Connection from Faith Alive.  We looked at Dwell but didn't feel it fit our kids. Kid Connection is older, but I love the 4 year scope and sequence. I'm trying to add bits and pieces to it (multimedia, additional large group activities, and special Sundays) so that we've got the best of both worlds. 


Im curious what ages does your program run? I find that gets a bit tricky; I like your have one story so each family can go home and discuss one lesson, not 5, but it also has to be approachable for each age. I do know a couple churches in our area (1 CRC, 2 others) that are using material from Orange and love it. I personally like knowing FaithAlive's stuff comes from a Reformed perspective rather than examining other material, but that might be something from you to look at! 

Karen DeBoer December 12, 2016

Hi Aleasha,

My name is Karen DeBoer and I work for Faith Formation Ministries as a Creative Resource Developer. Prior to that I worked as part of the editorial team for the Dwell curriculum. Our Faith Formation Ministries team is in the process of considering ways to add to Dwell and it sounds like you may be the person to speak with for some ideas! I'd love to learn more about your experience with it. (We've also been using it at my church for the past several years.) 

I'm also familiar with many of the other curricula available and would be happy to speak with you about others that may work in your setting. Feel free to email me at

Finally, here are a few tools that you and your education committee may find helpful in your search for curriculum. The first is a Ten Question Tool for Choosing a Children's Curriculum which breaks the process down into ten great questions. You can read more about it here and you can view a video about it here. You may also want to check out the Recommended Resources page on the Faith Formation Ministries site for some other ideas. 

Tim Postuma December 9, 2016

What a great story. Thanks, Staci. I'm reminded of how, more Sundays than not, my parents would invite someone over for coffee/lunch after church (especially new visitors). We met a lot of interesting people and, to us kids, it certainly modeled the value of hospitality. Plus I can't tell you how many times I've crossed paths with someone who made the connection and said 'hey, I was at your house once!'

Let's keep this thread going....who's next with an 'act of kindness' memory that left an impression?

Mark Stephenson December 9, 2016

This link should bring you right to Prof. Gibson's article. 

Rodney Veldhuizen December 9, 2016

Mark,  Thanks for your kind words.  It is my prayer that this is a first step toward some honest dialog on this subject between more than just you and I.  You see I am nearing the end of my career and doing my best to maintain my balance.  My concern is for those who have many years to come and as you cite Gibson's article, which I need to find by the way, the idealized pastor is part our collective history and is not likely to change to quickly, unless we as active clergy find ways to support and encourage that kind of self-differentiation which is not generally rewarded. 

I would also like to offer my help to be part of the solution rather than someone complaining.  I have some theories and ideas I am pondering and hoping to put into practice in the near future.  Once again thanks for the willingness to at least raise the issue.

Mark Stephenson December 9, 2016

Rodney, thanks for your comment. Your suggestion that pastors have periodic mental health checkups is intriguing and strikes me as wise. However, you are suggesting something much bigger and even more anxiety-producing than a guide for what congregations and pastors can do once the pastor is dealing with an acute mental illness. In Danjuma Gibson's insightful article, "Trauma: Suffering in Silence" in the Fall 2016 Calvin Seminary Forum, he argues that congregations have a need for their pastor always to be emotionally and spiritually strong, which would get in the way both of pastors getting treatment and of looking for signs of mental illness among pastors before symptoms become acute. Gibson writes,

Th­e congregation’s need for their idealized pastor to “be well” will in many cases compromise the pastor’s actual ability to recover from trauma or loss. ­The reality of their pastor falling victim to a trauma and possibly displaying human weakness and spiritual ambivalence may be too disruptive to the collective psyche of the church.

I would guess that unless a pastor has good self-differentiation, he or she will succumb to that need of the congregation and do his/her very best to pretend everything is fine. I hope that this clergy guide, and especially the accompanying materials, will help move the dial just a little for church leaders to acknowledge that pastors, along with everyone else, have struggles, and the whole system is healthier when we acknowledge that and even take preventative steps (as you suggest) to prevent challenges from becoming train wrecks. 

Rodney Veldhuizen December 9, 2016

I would second Larry's commendation, it is time we recognize that something is wrong and take steps to address it.  However, like many other things I encounter in both the RCA/CRC and churches in general, we are incredibly slow to recognize a problem.  Over 10 years ago I was tasked with investigating malfeasance by a fellow pastor.  During that investigation I had several conversations with police detectives, and at one point I was asked how often clergy are expected to have a psychological evaluation.  I had to admit, that once we are are ordained that kind of check up is no longer called for.  The detective told me every time he was promoted, a psychological evaluation was required.  Given that one in four clergy suffer from mental illness, maybe it is time we took a look at getting ahead of the problem rather than providing resources at the end.  I also wonder that since 1 in 4 clergy will admit to some sexual indiscretion with someone other than their spouse, if there is a connection? 

My perspective is that of a long term, "old guy" clergy and a licensed therapist.  I hope, that this is just the beginning of the process of looking at clergy health.  A few years ago we decided that most of us were overweight and a physical fitness regimen was encouraged, maybe it is time we looked at mental health the same way, and looked closely at what is negatively impacting a group of men and women who in previous generations would have been some of the healthiest people in the population.

Diane Ritzema December 9, 2016

I have read and recommend "True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters to God" by Bob Kauflin. You can also buy a study guide to go with the book.  We haven't used this with our Worship Committee, but it is on my radar to study it together in the future. 

Stanley + Monica Groothof December 9, 2016

Thank you for this wonderful gift, Jeff! I've done a series before on the words from the cross. I really like the Jericho road idea!

I think my favorite Lent-Easter series I've preached was when I connected the life of Joseph in Genesis with Jesus' passion, death, and resurrection. I was surprised at the parallels and echoes between the two stories. You're welcome to see what I did on my blog:


Ron Hosmar December 7, 2016

Thanks Karen. 

I plan on being at that Conference.  Sounds very interesting. 

Nicole Ensing December 7, 2016

Our Worship Planning Team worked through Nancy Beach's book An Hour on Sunday. We discussed one chapter per month and even brought ideas to our devotional/discussion time at worship team rehearsals. 

Karen DeBoer December 7, 2016

Thanks for sharing the story of what an intergenerational culture looks like at your church, Ron. What a wonderful example of how we can learn from others in different places on their faith journey.

To those readers who are interested in learning more about the kind of intergenerational faith formation Ron is describing--consider attending the Intergenerate Conference next June in Nashville. The Faith Formation Ministries team will be there and we'd love to connect with you!


Monica Brands December 6, 2016

Thanks, Michelle ,  Yes, that's an equally important fact for people to know -- that leaving is the highest period of risk. It takes a lot of courage and support to leave an abusive relationship. 

Michele Gyselinck December 6, 2016

  I just read about a physician in Toronto whose body was found in a suitcase last Friday after she had been reported missing by her mother.  Her husband has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder.  Apparently the couple was going through difficulty, and the wife had filed for divorce.  And friends of the victim say she was in an abusive relationship.  I have heard it said by no less than Dr.Phil McGraw that women who are in abusive relationships are never in greater danger than when they are planning to leave, and what I have read elsewhere confirms that, but apart from the delusion of the honeymoon stage, it can be difficult for the victim to get out without the patner knowing since abusive husbands are often very controlling people who will check their spouse's cellphone for unusual phone numbers or anything that might suggest things to be suspicious of.  Heck, I even read of one case in Scientific American Mind some years ago in which the wife had to ask the neighbors if she could throw stuff out in their trash cans because her husband looked through their garbage for stuff to start a fight about. 

Bonnie Nicholas December 6, 2016

Safe Church has resources about domestic abuse on our website, including a webinar that was produced in partnership with Safe Haven Ministries. We have these resources available, knowing that this issue is so prevalent among us, even though it remains dangerously hidden. 

Henry DeMoor December 6, 2016

According to the Church Order's Article 4 it is the council that shall proceed to ordain/install elders and deacons.  The council will typically do this in a worship service and will often ask the senior pastor to lead -- at least in that segment of worship, even if another preaches.  But there is no rule that this has to be so.  Council is at liberty to ask another ordained minister to lead in that segment or in the entire service.  There should be good reasons for that, of course, and councils should obviously not do this without the senior pastor's full consent.

Carolyn De Neut December 6, 2016

Very powerful article, Monica. Thank you! 


John Kooiman December 6, 2016

At our church, Calvary CRC we actually have 9 volunteer youth leaders of various ages ( 22-55)who

involve the seniors of our church 4 to 5 times a year. What a blessing to have the opportunity

to mix and learn about faith from each other.We need youth leaders who are not necessarily

trained professionals but need leaders who have a passion for building Faith across generations.

Kevin Soodsma December 6, 2016

Have you tried the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship online resources?  This isn't a book, but if you would like to study a particular topic that your worship committee would like to explore further, they may have some articles, etc.

Also, Greg Scheer has some books on worship "how-to" etc.  

Joyce Borger December 5, 2016


Have you taken a look at Reformed Worship's website? (  There are about 30 years of worship resources available for free! If you put "Christmas" in the search box you will come up with quite the list. 

If you are looking for something particular email and we will see what we can do to help. 

Angela Elliott December 5, 2016

I would recommend Marlea Gilbert "The Work of The People: What We Do in Worship and Why".  It explains the structure of worship in a clear way. I found it really broadened my understanding of the components of a worship service and renewed my vision for worship. It is easy to read with discussion questions at the end of each chapter as well as ideas for use by a worship committee or team.

Joyce Borger December 5, 2016


I haven't read "For the Beauty"  have heard good things. I think it would be a great choice especially if you want to focus on the role of the arts in worship. 

Is there a particular theme/topic you are hoping to cover? 

Some other possibilities to consider (a beginning list):  

Diversity/Multiethnic worship: The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World, Sandra Maria Van Opstal

Pastoral Role of Worship Leaders: The Worship Pastor: A Call to Ministry for Worship Leaders and Teams, Zac M. Hicks 

Basics on Worship Theology and Practice: Essential Worship: A Handbook for Leaders, Greg Scheer

Worship that is inclusive of all abilities: Accessible Gospel, Inclusive Worship, Betty Grit and Barb Newman

Worship as Formation/Transformative: You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit  or Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation both by James Smith and What's Love Got to Do With It?: How the Heart of God Shapes Worship, Sam Hamstra

General worship theology and practice (includes study questions): Wise Church: Exploring Faith and Worship with Christians Around the World, Emily Brink and Paul Detterman

Worship and Difficult Times: Stilling the Storm: Worship and Congregational Leadership During Difficult Times, Kathleen Smith

I commend your worship committee for taking time to deepen their understanding and practice through a book study.  There are so many great books on worship that have been written in the last decade that there is something out there for any context.  I am sure others can add to this beginning list. 

Diane Dykgraaf December 5, 2016

Hi Andrew,

Kudos for wanting to learn more about worship with your team. I'm not familiar with that book, but a few I can think of are: The Worship Architect, by Constance Cherry - I've just studied this book recently for a class and found it very helpful in thinking about planning worship. We've (Worship Ministries) been hosting Peer Learning Groups for worship leaders (planners, worship committees, etc.) the last few years. The books that groups are currently using are: The Next Worship, by Sandra Van Opstal - a great book to help you think about multicultural worship in your context. Also, The Accessible Gospel - a book that looks at making the worship accessible to all people, including those with abilities and disabilities. Last year worship groups studied the book, Stilling the Storm, by Kathy Smith - this book is great for a church that is going through transition and/or difficult times. 

If you'd like more information on the peer learning groups that we are supporting, email me at

Angela Elliott December 5, 2016

Thank you Syd for not only talking about the "theory" of hospitality but giving concrete examples of what it can look like. Often I think we use words without really understanding what we are meaning.

Staci Devries December 5, 2016

Hi Tim! Just wanted to give you a heads up that part 4 was just posted here

Diane Dykgraaf December 5, 2016

A few blessings and benedictions:

May God go before you to lead you;
May God go behind you to guard you;
May God go beneath you to support you;
May God go beside you to befriend you.
Do not be afraid. Let the blessing of God come upon you today.
Do note be afraid.

(this first one from Lift Up Your Hearts #946, more found #937, #936, #934, #935, #950, #954, )

The new one below from a service of prayer for the church in Syria (Dec. 2016, This Liturgy has been written by Adeeb Awad, Sabine Dressler, Hadi Ghantous, Najla Kassab, Hartmut Smoor

Sending and Blessings

Liturgist: See, how very good and pleasant it is when kindred stay together in unity.

Congregation: It is like the precious oil on the head that nurtures us and grands us high regard.         

Liturgist: How very good it is to care for each other now and in the time to come.

Congregation: By this we become a blessing to each other by this we become a blessing to the world.

Liturgist: Now leave, protected by God, and go where God will use as instruments of peace. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May God make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Congregation: Amen

Staci Devries December 5, 2016

Thanks, Kevin! Looks like The Worship Sourcebook can be picked up here and that there's also a lengthy sample available to preview the book. 

Michele Gyselinck December 4, 2016

  There is an assumption in this post that I want to address because I find it pernicious.  It is the assumption that people develop severe mental illnesses because of a traumatic childhood, and while that can and does happen occasionally, it is NOT a sine qua non requirement to trigger the onset of the illness.  Actually, the current hypothesis is that a genetic mutation occurs at conception setting in motion a series of factors that will cause the illness to develop either in the teenage years or young adulthood.  My father was abusive verbally while I was growing up, but my schizophrenia did not start then.  I only began to experience auditory hallucinations while living on my own after a summer of working night shift at a mail sorting plant.  It was the odd hours that screwed me up and made me vulnerable to something that was already in my system.  

I think this assumption is related to the mistaken notion that psychosis leads to a Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde phenomenon and that psychotic people will stab you in the back if they get the opportunity to do so.  That is not the case.  There is a possibility that someone with psychosis might do that, but in reality the break occurs between reality and the patient's perception of it through hallucinations which can affect all five senses, or delusional thinking or a combination.  It is not rare for someone with schizophrenia to have both hallucinations AND delusions.  In my case, those delusions often took the form of religious delirium causing me to think I should engage in risky behavior.  For example, I would fast for days on end, which is a BAD idea when one is taking anti-psychotics, or any medication actually.  Or I would think that because someone felt they had to stop taking sleeping pills I should stop taking my anti-psychotic medications.  And that led to an even riskier notion that moved my mom to call my doctor because she could not talk sense into me.  At the time I felt that I should go off my disability income and depend solely on God's providence, and my voices were literally screaming in my head that I should do so.  This or other variants is what psychosis is about.  So people who fear that their mentally ill relative might pull cheap tricks on them should probably look elsewhere to find a deliberate intent to betray them.

posted in : My Silent Enemy
Kevin Soodsma December 2, 2016

Do you have the worship sourcebook?  There are some in there.

Graham Seel December 1, 2016

I've looked for benedictions before too, and found them pretty scattered. Here are a few links:

    New Testament benedictions

    A few nice ones from Faith and Worship 

    A few Irish ones (especially the last two)

Hope this helps a bit, but also hope you'll post a consolidated list as others respond :-) 


Joseph Hamilton December 1, 2016

I'll vouche for John's helpfulness and the congregations appreciation of his service :). Puplit or Pups he's dependable :)

posted in : Short Term Relief
Staci Devries December 1, 2016

Currently in a season where dear friends are grappling with death (and we all are grieving), I sincerely appreciate this article. Especially love this reminder: "With the exception of faith, hope and love, spiritual subtraction is about looking this one hard truth square in the face – everything is passing away. It’s about practicing death and learning how to let go in many small ways, so that when we’re facing the “big” letting go of our physical death, we’ll be ready." 

Thanks, Sam. 

posted in : Spiritual Math
Barun Senapati December 1, 2016

Dear friend,

Greetings you in Jesus name. We are so grateful to God for the opportunity He has given us to work for the evangelization of India.  We are ambassadors of the Gospel in a land where thousands of villages are totally unreached.  The people in these villages have never heard the Gospel – not even one time.  India has one of the largest unevangelized populations in the entire world.  We are doing our best to reach these people because we believe in the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.  Jesus said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel…” Over the years, God has been rewarding our labor.  Thousands of Hindus, Muslims and animists have embraced Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord!


In spreading the Gospel, we are not only evangelizing but also tending to the material needs of the poor.  We operate Orphanage, Child Development centers, Church Planting Ministries, Evangelism, School, Tailoring for the tribal women; Relief, Medical care & we also strive to meet the material needs of the thousands of poverty stricken people that we minister to in the states of India.


We humbly request your prayers for this mission work in India.  The field is ready for a great harvest of souls. The field is wide open for the harvest if we can send the missionaries.  Odisha India is a land with thousands of ethno-linguistic groups, not to mention an assortment of world religions such as Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam, Zoroastrianism and animism.  In India, we have 14 official languages and 1,400 minor languages, not to mention thousands and thousands of varying dialects.  The task is great, but our God is greater still!  We are expecting a great harvest of souls, even as we work to spread the Gospel in this very needy land.  With your partnership, we can make a difference! Please pray, Visit and help as possible for the mission work in Odisha India.




In His Mission


Rev Barun Senapati.


Bethany trust

Post Box 17. At-PO- Kesinga

Dist Kalahandi Orissa India. Pin No- 766012.


Cell-0091-94373-62390- 08456018175

Michele Gyselinck November 30, 2016

 This woman is fortunate in that she received excellent care both in and out of prison, which in the States is exceptional.  And she acknowledges that.  I'm glad for her.  And this man whom she quotes is right.  In his case it may not have been a mental illness, but in the author's case and mine it was.  And it is true that the aftermath of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder is the "new normal."  I studied to become a professional writer, but because of my illness I can only use my skills in non-paying environments.  It isn't necessarily the potential employer's fault either.  I was offered freelance positions in the past and had to turn them down after consideration because anxiety paralyzed me.  Freelance work is extremely stressful work when you're frail mentally.  The kind of job I would need is a 9-5 position in a closed office, and at my age it's unlikely to happen.

posted in : My Silent Enemy
Bonnie Nicholas November 30, 2016

It's only when the seed falls to the ground and dies that there there can be growth and harvest.

posted in : Spiritual Math
Tim Leferink November 30, 2016

I would love to see the remainder of this series. I've reposted the first 3 parts on our church's FB page and received some positive feedback. But I have not seen any more parts. If they're available please post!

Thank you

Kristen Rietkerk November 30, 2016

Love this framing of faith formation! Wondering if we would consider the practice of the classic spiritual disciplines to be ways to "subtract" in our lives. Certainly fasting, silence and solitude nicely fit in that framework. I wonder how often we consider our liturgy as opportunities to present both addition and subtraction on a weekly basis.  

posted in : Spiritual Math
Staci Devries November 30, 2016

Geri, thank you so much for giving us a glimpse into Christmas and community at Immanuel CRC in Ripon. What a wide array of events and giving opportunities that all reveal a heart and passion for spreading the love of Jesus. I too pray for new neighbors to be enfolded and welcome. Thanks again for sharing. 

Geri Witt November 30, 2016

Immanuel CRC in Ripon has a long history of opening her doors to the community during the weeks leading up to Christmas, as well as multiple options for members to reach out and give to those in need during the Christmas season and cold winter months. 

The Ripon Oratorio Society presents the music and message of Handel's Messiah on the first Sunday of December. This year is the 71st year! It hasn't always been hosted here at the church, but for many years now it has been. We also open our social hall and provide a warm lite-luncheon after the performance for the 70-90 voice choir and all the attending congregation. This luncheon is hosted by us and another sister church, Almond Valley CRC. 

Another community event is hosted by Voices for the King, a men's choir made up of men from nine different area churches and directed by Barb Viss.  This is the 7th year they are giving a free Christmas concert. The offering received goes to one of the local organizations, such as Stockton Gospel Center or Bethany Christian services, or Modesto Pregnancy Center. 

As a church, we encourage members to give to those in need. We offer Angel Tree (60 area children whose parent is in prison receive a fun gift and a useful clothing gift). We collect hats, mittens, scarves and jackets for men and women ministered to by Seafarers International ministry in Palm Beach, Florida. We collect food for the local Interfaith Ministries Food Bank. 

For the past 9 or 10 years we have opened our doors, providing a home for Family Promise the week leading up to Christmas, as well as three or four other times during the year. We provide breakfast and a warm family meal at dinner time, as well as many volunteers who spend time with the families displaced by homelessness. We also have a "Christmas party" and give small gifts to each of the guests. 

The Friendship Club which meets at Immanuel goes on a hayride, singing Christmas carols and goes to a local senior living complex, spending time with people there, telling the story of Christmas and enjoying some sweet holiday treats. 

Christmas is a great time to introduce a neighbor friend to your church! Prayers for a community within the church to welcome and enfold new attending neighbors. For all gifts and abilities to be welcome and enfolded in the congregation, reaching the community, one person at a time. 


Reg Cole November 30, 2016

In Greg Ogden's manual, "Discipleship Essentials", the opening lesson starts with, "Discipling is an intentional relationship in which we walk alongside with other disciples in order to encourage, equip and challenge one another in love to grow toward maturity in Christ. this includes equipping the disciple to teach others as well."

One has to take the time to build a relationship with a neighbour, colleague or friend before inviting them to join you on a journey to meet Christ. I don't know if it is apathy on the part of CRC people, but they do not seem overly concerned with the "lost". One  way to build relationships is to invite them to your home for a meal. Again, CRC people like to socialize with CRC people, who they are comfortable with. 

I was blessed to be part of a discipleship group, with a pastor who had previously led 2 other groups on a one year journey. The result was that everyone who took discipleship became a leader in the church, either in council or a ministry. When I tried to engage others in a discipleship group, I was turned down. CRC people don't like to have to share about themselves. I did disciple one inmate in a prison and we completed 22 of the 24 lessons before he got transferred. None of the 15 - 20 people in our church, who took the discipleship course, have discipled anyone else. Perhaps we need to check out what the Baptists are doing. In my area they are planting churches with great success, based on prayer and requiring new members to tithe.

I have a men's group that meets once a week for Bible study and accountability. Most of us are volunteers with Kairos Prison Ministry, which holds weekends in federal prisons and then returns weekly or monthly to meet with weekend participants and their friends. We sing, pray and then meet in small groups to share accountability questions. These meetings are very powerful in growing men's faith. We also encourage them to attend the numerous Bible studies that are available in these institutions.

We have tried to start discipleship classes with released residents, but they are resistant to committing to the 24 weeks required.


posted in : Make Disciples
Lubbert van der Laan November 29, 2016

I hear, more and more, the "narrative of fear" as an explanation for people not stepping up to a challenge, and/or not helping out and have come to wonder whether this is really a misnomer for something else. There is a "meta-narrative that runs deeper in our post modern world, i.e. "disengagement" from institutions and community life that has been evolving over the last 20-30 years that is likely at odds with the vision of communal life set out in scripture. 

Are there really that many fearful/inadequate people out there? It is troubling in today's society and churches to find that many people consider themselves inadequate in engaging in social institutions, etc. when they operate quite "competently" in the work and family world, skills that can be carried over to the former. Yet, having seen the results of a recent Building Blocks of Faith Formation survey, only confirms the inadequacy explanation for not engaging. Think we need to dig deeper.

Question: Is "fear" a mask "cover-up" for something else?

Question: Why is it that in today's church, rather than volunteer, the preference is to hire/pay someone else to do the task?


Jim Halstead November 28, 2016

How do you disciple a new believer? We tend to make disciples the way we were discipled but for so many of us that meant coming to sit at church and not learning how to make disciples who make disciples. Jesus recognized that the people He encountered were at different stages of growth and development, and He worked to challenge each of them to the next level. 

Who then should attend the 4 Chair Discipling Seminar?  Anyone who you want to see challenged to be a disciple who makes disciples!  During the 4 Chair Discipling Seminar, we will answer the following questions: 

• What is a disciple?

• Who is the model for being a disciple?

• What is a disciple's mission?

• What is a disciple's motivation?

• What is the process of becoming a disciple who makes disciples?

• Where am I in the disciple-making process?  What are my next steps?

In 4 Chair Discipling, you’ll get a clear and simple picture of how to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and to do the same thing. Included in the 4 Chair Discipling Seminar:

• A fresh look at Jesus as our model for being a disciple who makes disciples

• An overview of the 4 Chair Discipling process, highlighting Jesus' 4 challenges

• A simple understanding of what we need to know and do to grow to be like Jesus in our character and priorities

• A simple understanding of what we need to know and do to become fishers of men

• A simple understanding of the barriers that keep us from moving to the next chair and how we experience breakthrough

May the Lord bless every CRC church and every believer with the joy of making disciples who make disciples who make disciples…

If you would want more information about the 4 Chair Discipling seminar Contact Sonlife Ministries ( or Pastor Jim Halstead is a certified Sonlife 4 Chair Trainer (Community CRC, Fort Wayne, IN)

posted in : Make Disciples
Sam Huizenga November 28, 2016

Thanks for sharing the story of Eloise. Beautiful little girl!  

posted in : Eloise's Story