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So what can we do about the violence in our neighborhoods? How do we avoid either minimizing it with easy answers or throwing up our hands because it overwhelms us?

May 12, 2017 0 0 comments
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If your church is looking to meet a need in the community and your campus includes ample green space, consider setting aside space for a garden where families can scatter or bury the cremated remains of their loved ones.

May 1, 2017 2 4 comments
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In an age bombarded by social media sound bytes, the pain and sorrow of the world are front and center. But knowing what we know, the question still remains: What is my responsibility to the world? 

April 13, 2017 1 0 comments
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I've seen people struggle to make adjustments to living and ministering in Florida. I've seen ministries not connect to their local community because they aren't willing to get a little sand in their shoes.

March 1, 2017 2 0 comments
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Do you have photos of your church living out its mission as a family of believers? Share them with your wider Christian Reformed Church family! 

January 12, 2017 0 0 comments
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No longer can we simply ask, “What can we do to get people to come to our church?” We must also consider, “How can we go into the world to encounter those in need of the gospel?”

January 1, 2017 3 1 comments
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Sometimes small congregations assume that any significant community ministry effort is beyond their reach. Read how a smaller church can make a big impact in their community.

January 1, 2017 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

What would a "church" look like, if it did not own a building? If the church is people, then why do we assume that a church should own its own building?

December 21, 2016 1 5 comments
Discussion Topic

What does Christmas and community look like at your church? I’d love to hear how your church is spreading the love of Jesus in special ways this time of year.

November 22, 2016 2 6 comments
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If you are American and haven’t yet voted, I hope you do. I also hope you take heart and remember that there is no leader, no official, and no person who can come between you and Christ. 

November 8, 2016 3 0 comments
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At this fork, I find myself praying prayers like these: “Lord, the news cycle has helped me to see the great pit of fear that lives inside me. I feel paralyzed and confused. Pierce my fear with the power of your Spirit...”

October 12, 2016 6 5 comments
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As the US election date draws nearer—a date being closely watched on both sides of our border—my prayer is that the Christian voice will increasingly become shaped by tenderness and tears. 

October 7, 2016 3 1 comments
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Kevin DeRaaf, pastor of Faith CRC in Burlington, ON, tells the story of how his church moved their ministry beyond church walls. How about you? Do you have a story about your church engaging with its community?

September 21, 2016 0 0 comments
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We are challenged to discern God's activity by asking: Who in the community is working on behalf of the infants so they won’t die? Who is standing up for the worker? Who is working on behalf of the old? 

September 19, 2016 1 1 comments
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As a church planter with a passion for changing neighbours from strangers to friends, here are a few ways you can start being active in YOUR neighbourhood.

September 13, 2016 2 2 comments
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Within the first six months of living here we heard the stories told as if they had happened last week. It seems like everyone had a story. Everyone knew someone who didn’t come home. 

September 7, 2016 1 2 comments
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Even if the political talking points are shifting, the path of discipleship has not changed for CRC members. Cchurches on both sides of the border continue to reach out in welcome and support to refugee families. 

August 24, 2016 1 2 comments
Blog

When people around us begin to struggle with faith, what's our response? Are we standing on the pier shouting, “Read your Bible" or are we willing to dive in for the difficult, slow work of helping someone sort through their faith?

August 9, 2016 1 2 comments
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I’ve got to think that the hours spent with those two guys last night, engaging God in what they are most passionate about, on their turf, may have a more lasting impact than years of Sunday services. 

June 23, 2016 1 0 comments
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Just after the trial ended last Friday, a reporter commented with surprise on Sharlene’s “gratitude in light of all that she had been through.” But I'm not surprised. As Christians, we know the story is not over.  

June 21, 2016 2 0 comments
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Interested in practicing advocacy and learning to steward your voice more effectively? You can learn the basics of advocacy on any issue through this new Biblical Advocacy 101 resource. 

June 9, 2016 2 0 comments
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It is easy for a local congregations and classes to see campus ministry as a stand-alone ministry. As such, it is often viewed not as a partner, but a project. How can we change this perception?

May 19, 2016 0 0 comments
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EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT

TARGET START DATE: Immediately

TIME COMMITMENT: 20 hours distributed throughout the week with flexible arrangement

DURATION: Permanent

SALARY: Commensurate with qualifications and competitive with the NFP sector...

April 13, 2016 0 0 comments
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Here's a PowerPoint presentation about the changes in church order made by Synod 2015. It explores how these changes can enhance the role of deacons at all levels of the church - local, regional, and beyond.

March 23, 2016 0 0 comments
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Think about the importance of the impression your church is making. What kind of image are people in your community crafting of who you are? What’s your reputation or vibe?

March 21, 2016 0 0 comments

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Thanks, Jeff.

Thanks, Sam:

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.

Thanks for that response. I bounced the idea of a group in Wisconsin last night and they, too, confirmed the need and embraced the idea.

Fantastic idea for those churches that have some suitable land.  People are turning more towards scattering and natural burial.  I'm not sure how many congregations are ready to have these discussions though.  I'm interested to see what others think.

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.

posted in: Organic Church

Thank you Ken.  You definitely offer a lot of "food" for thought.  My assumption would be not to meet in people's homes, but in a facility owned by someone in the community with whom we can build a ministry partnership.  

My biggest concern is that the building can be seen as a "safe" place for the congregation, but viewed as a "members only" club by folks in the community.  If we are to be seen as missional, and connected to the community, I think we offer some level of vulnerability by being willing to meet in another's "space".  

In my humble opinion, "church" is not primarily about a worship gathering or a Bible study, but rather the people serving the community, being Christ's hands, feet, ears, heart, and at times His voice.   In order for that to happen we need to be intentional about engaging our community.

posted in: Organic Church

I like the idea of "House Church".  As a missionary with CRWM for 20 years in Mexico, this is where we often began: Sometimes in the back yard under a tree for shade: but there were certain disadvantages:  If you hold it consistently at the same place, what do you do when they need to leave for whatever reason for a few weeks or a month: sure, you tell everyone that normally attends where the next service will be: but not everyone has the space for a growing house church: sure, develop leaders and  hold multiple services in more homes as needed: that's the goal: eventually home groups will either want to join a larger group of worshippers where there are more options available for children's ministries, or for youth ministries or for the worship experience with larger groups, good music, liturgical experiences like baptisms and Christmas programs etc.  Home worship and small group experience is a great way to get started or to reach the unbelieving neighbor.  But sooner or later the group itself will be asking, "where can we meet where there is more space to accommodate our growing need for "Sunday School rooms", for a vacation Bible School program, for ceremonies like weddings, baptisms, and funerals?"  The host may eventually realize that their home is no longer their home: it becomes everyone else's space: people will assume that the bedroom can be used for a class, or that refreshments for the kids can be taken from the fridge: and you have no control over perceptions of how well a host welcomes or resents the intrusion of everyone taking over their space.  We have had people say to us, "we want to attend your worship service but we won't go into that home: her husband or her unbelieving family that lives with the host have said inappropriate things or behaved rudely towards me or my children."  Some just don't like the idea of continually entering in someone else's private space as if it was a public space: because there is always the possibility "that my turn will come soon and I don't know if I want people in my home." Some are too embarrassed to let everyone see how they live. 

When you have to "rent" for the moment, or share the worship space with another congregation in order to make more use of the same facilities, there is always tension over use or abuse of materials shared, space shared, sound equipment or musical instruments shared, etc.  or if you have to move in, set up, take down and clean up after every event, yes things break down or wear out quicker, including the people you count on to help do the work.  I've been there too. 

So there are benefits to pooling resources and owning property for the purpose of public worship and providing the options large congregations can provide when it comes to ministry.  I didn't even point out the limitations for handicapped or those in wheel chairs and those who need walkers in order to be mobile:  House churches are less likely to be "handicapped accessible" unless they have someone with those needs living there. What a blessing to have a church facility that is accessible to be able to host "friendship" or other events that are a delight for all to attend: for events like baptisms, funerals, weddings, Christmas and Easter programs, etc.

Pastor Ken Vanderploeg

posted in: Organic Church

Thank you for your comments, Larry and for sharing the anecdotal story.   

However, my question goes a little deeper than simply the logistics of hosting a weekly worship gathering.  I asked if there are those who have "intentionally" chosen not to have a building.  The intention is to focus ministry energy in the community in a more expeditionary manner.   The intention is to purposely find a kingdom partner in the community with whom the church can serve in exchange for meeting space when it is needed.   The service would be to incorporate the people from the community organization into the worship gathering.   For example, here in ABQ we have a number of special needs folks who worship with us each week.  I wonder if we chose to focus our ministry and even worship gatherings to serve that population's needs; meeting in their space.   Then also using their facility for space to develop disciples within the serving congregation as well as the population served.

The intention is to be wholly "organic"; a living body integrated fully into our community.   

I am not sure this model of ministry will work everywhere, and I am not even certain this is the model that everyone should follow.   I only wonder what it might look like for those who have been called to intentionally partner in this manner with their local community?  

Thanks again, and I invite any further comments you may have.

p.s. I am almost certain that this model will require the "pastor" to find bivocational employment. 

posted in: Organic Church

I have always been drawn to the "house church" of the NT.  The idea you present, a church without a building, is attractive and resembles that idea.

However, there are practical concerns that make it less attractive.  My brother belonged to such a church.  Over some years they met in various places, until they finally bought a place of their own.  Why?  Well, he was in charge of sound setup.  He and the other sound people, and the computer people, came to where "church" was meeting 1-1/2 hours before worship to set up and then test everything.  Every Sunday.  After worship they tore everything down and carted the equipment to store in a trailer.  Stuff broke.  Too much wear and tear.   After time, the people on the setup team "burnt out" and quit.

This is one anecdote of personal experience.  I guess if one has a large enough church to rotate people, burnout might not be a problem.  But a church that large has it's own problems.  Another possibility is to have simple worship without these additions.  But most churches (and guests?) seem to want technology. 

Is this a case of a great idea that doesn't work well in practice?

Rev. Larry Lobdell Jr

posted in: Organic Church

Rod, thank you for sharing this counter-cultural approach! What an incredible gift it must be for everyone in your church to be given time to spend time with family, friends and most of all God. I think the candlelight service is also a powerful tradition and it is something I personally look forward to each year. 

The Village declares December to be 'Fallow Month' and it is when we close down all meetings and gatherings except for Sunday worship services which we also scale back. We invite people to use the time to spend with family and friends and most of all with God. It is a rich and restful time for all and rejuvenates us for the new year. We have a small candlelight service where we read Scripture and sing carols the Sunday before Christmas. It is a wonderful tradition. 

Thanks Ken,

There's some pretty good stuff in there.

Tom, thanks for sharing! What a creative and generous church. I love that your church allows the nearby public school to use church space for free and also that you have noticed a shift in housing and have responded to that specific need. But perhaps my favorite thing you shared is that you have a disco ball in the sanctuary that 'helps blow the lid off in praise of our incarnate King.' LOVE that image!

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.

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. 

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. 

 

Thank you, Syd!
  Fear - the pit of fear that lives inside of me.  It casts out love, or tries to.  And fuels my racial junk.  You help express how deeply rooted my race junk is.  and how important is the repentance that's on the way to love and joy and peace.

"I'm sure glad we have a God who is greater than either of these..."

Amen, Helen! Thanks for your insightful comment. 

This is a year when the churches are being tested. Those in authority over us or those planning to be have not acted much like we would prefer. The language and accusations have brought us down low. Those running for the highest office of the land have been exposed as being sinners just as we are. However, comments made by the viewers would seem to be made by those who don't sin. I keep thinking of David who had an affair with Bathsheba. To cover his misdeeds, he put Uriah in the front lines of the battle after two other attempts failed. Yet David was a man of God. If it's Trumpland that one wants to criticize or Clinton Foundation and its implications, I'm sure glad we have a God who is greater than either of these. Whatever happens, He will bring it to pass. If it is to punish us for our rebelliousness or bring us back to Him through a lifestyle we haven't experienced for many decades, His wisdom is far greater than ours. I will do my civic duty and vote for the one I feel is more god-fearing and will lead in an honest and integral manner.

What about the challenge the Clinton campaign lays before the church?

 

Thanks for leading with transparency and humility like this, Syd! Really appreciate it. 

 

Beautifully said, Syd, and worthy of reflection and action!  Thanks for these words of wisdom and challenge.

Jeanne Kallemeyn

"This is not a city of holy separation but of righteous social engagement in God’s mission of peace and justice...Submission to God’s activity through partnership will open up space to experience the gospel. " Wise words--thank you! I attended the Christian Community Development Association's conference in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, and Isaiah's vision was very much at the center of that event's call to do justice as well. 

Thanks, Mary, for this fresh reminder of the pain and loss from this devastating day.  I am touched by your telling of your experience.  It is another way to honor the lives lost and losses that we live with.  I think of God weeping still, too.  Where else do we go with our tears and find a place to trust for tomorrow?  Karl

Thanks for this, Rick.  

It always amazes me that people think it's so difficult to simply connect with the neighbours.  I think it has a lot to do with the fact that people think once you do you have to know all the ways to lead someone to Christ -- the bridge image or 4 spiritual laws or something. But we only think that way if we are viewing these neighbours as projects.  This is so backwards.

If we follow Christ's method, our engagement with just loving our neighbours and getting to know them and enjoy them as friends may just lead them to ask questions about what makes us tick, why we follow Jesus.... and, "hey, you're not like other Christians I know, judgmental and moralistic.  How come?"  

This is a great start for people.  

Thanks Rick.

Hi Rick, 

Thanks for taking the time to share these 5 easy ways to engage our neighbours and our hood. A good challenge and reminder for me. 

Thank you for writing this Mary. I was at a government sponsored conference in Detroit that day and there were people there who had loved ones in the Pentagon - probably some in NYC too. I often wonder how many of them found their loved ones alive and how many didn't. You can tell the people there that they are in my prayers, even in my tears, today.

I agree with Doug. I don't think it is appropriate to discuss a complicated issue such as this in such a simple article.

This article characterizes the US as "debat[ing] to shut[] down its refugee resettlement completely," but the Canadians as "being applauded for its increase in hospitality, welcoming 29,817 Syrian refugees this year alone." But according to the Pew Research Center (see at: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/08/16/nearly-half-of-refugees-...) the US "... has received 28,957 Muslim refugees so far in fiscal year 2016, or nearly half (46%) of the more than 63,000 refugees who have entered the country since the fiscal year began Oct. 1, 2015...," which doesn't count those "27,556 Christian refugees" allowed in "so far this fiscal year."

In other words, the US is not being a refugee grinch and Canada is not, by comparison, being a refugee Santa Claus.

I would agree with the author that Christians ought to play a role in welcoming refugees that are admitted to their country.  At the same time, I believe the political discussion (or debate) about middle east refugees -- including by Christians -- ought to be far more constructive and nuanced than simply 'let's see how many refugees our country can take in.'

While I don't at all take Trump's stated position on immigration (although I'm not actually sure what that is from day to day), I do tend to see the the middle east refugee question to be remarkably complicated and would favor, politically speaking, providing much more assistance to Jordan and possibly other middle east countries as they provide refugee camps that would keep Syrians near their own home country, for example.  It seems to me that the permanent resettlement of refugees in foreign countries should be a disfavored solution, even for the sake of the refugees, many/most of which don't want to leave their home country.

We do well to separate questions of personal action given the political decisions already made, from the question of the political policies we advocate for.  Too often, we don't do that, assuming the two questions are only one.

Thanks for writing this! There is so much wisdom in your advice to come along side people who are facing circumstances that can shake even the strongest faith to the core. Love this question: "Are our friendships, our churches, our Christian communities, safe spaces for people to ask the hard questions without being thrown easy answers, or worse, being ridiculed and dismissed?"

Unfortunate that English doesn't differentiate between Faith, a collection of dogma and faith, "belief" in anything."

Thank you Chris for sharing your vision, goals and practices. I find this helpful for what we are doing. We are at an earlier but similar place in restructuring elder/deacon districts. It is our goal also to move to a new place of being church for one another. Community, every member caring for the body, is a model we are intentionally following based on I Corinthians 12 (Church=the BODY of Christ).

Jim Poelman

Redeemer CRC, Sarnia On

Thanks for your contribution to the conversation about mission and community. Good stuff!

Hi Shannon! Thank you so much for sharing this. I completely agree that Halloween, though a secular holiday, is a GREAT opportunity to engage with our neighbors and share the love of Jesus (and have fun =)). Loved the practical ideas. Thanks again! 

The problem of sin and temptation is very complex and the "Christian" solution is simply a logical inference that assumes that Jesus had no mental abilities that humans did not have and access to no knowledge that humans did not have and, I suppose, no special directions from the Holy Spirit that, for example, my Guardian Angel could not give to me. The amazing conclusion might be that Jesus might have known he was a prophet but did not know he was God?

Discerning post. Thank you for sending that email. I am sure it led to considerable discussion at your students' dinner table that evening. 

With my own children already grown and on their own, I nevertheless tried to imagine myself having that conversation around our dinner table. But in my imagination the tension point was not about where to draw the line, but about how to draw the line.

The easy part is to say: "If you feel led by God to go there, go there. If not, don't go there."

The hard part comes after you have decided not to go there, and someone asks: "Why would you not go there?" Again, the easy answer would be: "I did not feel led by God to go there". And it might even be true. Let's assume it is.

But then I imagined the next question: "What's so bad about those people that God would not want you to go there? Are those people beyond redemption? Does God not love those people? Are we too good to be around those people? Is that situation too dangerous for God to protect us?"

And then I imagined the conversation to quickly turn into a cesspool of comparing .. and judging ... and assuming ..... and labeling ......, and diminishing .......... and belittling ............ and disrespecting.............. and generalizing ................ and pretty soon we are all praying: "thank you Lord that you did not make me like so-and-so..." and asking God to "...please, protect us from the likes of so-and-so."

And pretty soon it is us, "the holy ones" vs "them", the evil ones. And if part of our calling is to fight evil, we may as well start by fighting "them", those wicked servants of the devil. 

And one step further down the road, I hear myself urging my kids to vote Conservative, because, surely, we don't want to engage those infidels without adequate weapons to take them out.......

And then I imagined hearing God speaking through my kids, around the table, when they say: "Don't go there, Dad"

Yes, we need to have those conversations around the dinner table.

Creston CRC in Grand Rapids, MI is home to the Carman Street Community Garden, which is in the midst of its fifth season. It's origin was a wonderful ecumenical collaboration with an intention for inclusion. It has been a wonderful means of community building and planting spiritual seeds with our neighbors. It was featured in the Banner back in 2011: http://www.thebanner.org/news/2011/08/community-gardens-promote-inclusio....

We have also helped to start an Urban Farm which offers fresh vegetables in the midst of an urban food desert, and employment and discipleship for local youth: http://newcityneighbors.org/ministries/farm/

Our church plant, The Table Community Church, in Denver, CO, is being birthed out of gardens in the neighborhood. We're not the traditional community garden  model but rather we do the gardening in the community. We maintain 25 different gardens that are all located in our friends' and neighbors' yards. Through the relationships formed with these garden hosts, we encourage them to take greater ownership in the gardening process from bed prep to harvest and delivery of the food. All the food we grow we give away either to local community partners (like food banks) or to individuals in our neighborhood. There's no cost to participate but we do accept donations.

We have a Community Garden at Calvary CRC in Wyoming, Michigan.  It is not large but it is a great connection to our community and has been flourishing for at least ten years.

New Life Church in New Lenox, IL this year put together a gardening team that is taking care of a garden on our property.  The produce for the garden will be given to our food pantry and other local food pantries according to schedule of harvest time and timing of when the food pantries are open to the community.  It has really been a joy to watch this team work together towards making this fresh produce available to the community.  As part of the process some of the food pantry recipients were surveyed to see what types of garden produce they would prefer.  This has been a great learning opportunity then for this team as they are learning about timing crops, caring for them, and even experimenting with new crops that they have not grown.  Some of the members now have even be serving at another local ministry that devotes a plot of land to provide food for individuals and food pantries in exchange for volunteer time on the farm.

Streams Of Hope in Kentwood, MI has a community garden.  This ministry is supported by the Kentwood community including (churches, schools and businesses).  Including several CRC churches.  It is a terrific ministry.

http://streamsofhope.org/neighbors/

Hey, I'm CRC but serve the RCA in Modesto CA so we might not meet your qualifications.  We have a community garden year round (about 130 plots).  Nearly all of the gardeners are from the community rather than the church and it becomes their home away from home, spending the whole day or evening out there), many are immigrants from the middle east or eastern Europe.  We charge a minimal fee (30 dollars a year) to ensure that people actually use their plots and which helps cover water and garbage pick up.  (When we had no charge there were a lot of plots left barren).  The garden usually is fully occupied and people grow a lot of things uncommon to the U.S. (even bananas).  It has been featured a number of times in the paper.

Greetings Harry:

   I purposely put the quote from Accad at the beginning of the article as an introduction to his thinking.

As you read through the article, I show that I actually completely disagree with this line of thinking.

  A large problem with the view of other religions is that more often than not it is anthropocentric, or having humans as the starting point.

Might I refer you to a recent book entitled "For Their Rock is Not as Our Rock" by Daniel Strange.

He shows that any and all religions are at once a quest for God due to a God-shaped vacuum, and at the same time a rejection of God due to the fall causing humans to want to be the sovereign masters of their destiny. 

    Thank you for engaging.

Blessings in Christ

Shalom.

"Your view of Islam will affect your attitude to Muslims. Your attitude will, in turn influence your approach to Christian-Muslim interaction, and that approach will affect the ultimate outcome of your presence as a witness among Muslims."

Let's address this to the two main factions:

Your view of Sunni Muslim will affect your attitude to Shia Muslim. Your attitude will, in turn influence your approach to Sunni-Shia interaction and that approach will affect the ultimate outcome of your presence as witness among ourselves.

Would the template of interaction between Catholics and Protestants be something that could work in the Muslim world?

They need to find a solution to the violence among themselves.

thankyou for your clear thinking and writing on this.  

In Canada, Diaconal Ministries Canada carries out this function.

Hi Colin,

You are very several important questions that are part of the whole discussion.  I have bee reminded that Communities First grew out of World Renew and they are by agreement the organization that carries out community development in North America.  I need to learn more about this organization and how local churches can involved with them in community development.

Larry

I have always wondered about this.  I would say "yes".  CFA may do great work (I am in Canada, so is there a Canadian equivalent to this?), but it feels like WR is sending us to someone else to learn and grow in this?  Just thinking out loud here, what if WR worked directly with diaconates somehow to engage congregations in  this work in local clusters of churches (not meaning Classis wide here) that are in the mix of the same local realities of need etc?  What if, along side doing ministry globally "on our behalf" as many say, WR worked right here, in my town or area, with my congregation and leadership, with me, to learn about issues and respond in healthy ways.  Churches are doing that work, but to my knowledge (limited as it is) I don't think WR is involved in those projects?  How would such an approach deepen the connection between WR and (especially) the younger sectors of the congregation who are right now connecting with all kinds of other organizations out there to do this work locally?  Just thinking out loud ... in my ignorance of what happens in churches other than the ones I have been a part of ;)

Thanks for the question!

Colin.

There is an  MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) between the organizations that spells out expectations and deliverables. As it is its own 501c3 organization, it does not report to the Synod of the CRCNA. A number of denominations are represented among its members. Its members are available to coach churches in community development. I believe in your area the coach would be Monika Grasley. 

In terms of advocacy for US welfare issues, most of the coaches have a very local focus, so advocacy is at the grassroots level.

Hope that helps clarify things a bit!

Hi Wendy,

Thanks for responding Wendy.  I know about communities first but I am unsure how far they enter into advocacy for US welfare issues, how they support local churches in its community development, how do they report to World Renew, and do they report to the Synod of CRCNA?

Larry 

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