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One Christmas as I stood in the kitchen sprinkling silver balls on sugar cookies, seven year old Kailey wandered in and asked, “Mom how come you decorate the whole house for Christmas but you don’t do anything special for Easter? Isn’t Easter just as important as Christmas?”   (HomeGrown...

March 29, 2017 0 0 comments
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Faith Formation Ministries has been working with churches to help strengthen faith storytelling practices. Our Faith Storytelling Toolkit lists dozens of practical ideas for shaping and sharing our faith stories.

March 24, 2017 0 0 comments
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We are considering creating a new position of Pastor of Faith Formation or some related title. I am wondering if anyone has such a person on staff and what their job description entails.

March 23, 2017 0 4 comments
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“Pastor” is a word that I like. I have good associations with it and sometimes it’s helpful to use because it opens the door. But sometimes I have to let it go and find more creative ways to communicate what I do. 

March 22, 2017 2 2 comments
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Faith formation is an elusive term. How do we know if faith is being formed in children, teens, and adults, and does faith look the same for everyone?

March 17, 2017 1 0 comments
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If it’s time for some new profession of faith practices in your congregation, here are four ideas to consider. 

March 14, 2017 0 0 comments
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It takes time to get in the habit of doing daily devotions. At first, the payoff may not seem obvious, but once devotions become a part of your daily life, you will begin to feel their amazing benefits.

March 9, 2017 0 0 comments
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Strengthening our commitment practices, including the practice of profession of faith, calls us to name the idolatries that tempt us and intentionally embody a different way of being.

March 8, 2017 0 0 comments
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Is faith power? Or is it trust? I've struggled to make sense of the verse "If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, tell this mountain to be cast into the sea." Can you help shed any light?

March 7, 2017 1 2 comments
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The Professing Our Faith toolkit offers practical, creative resources for encouraging a culture of commitment in your church, preparing people to profess their faith, planning a welcoming council conversation and more. 

March 1, 2017 0 0 comments
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If you want to focus your heart on the need for the the cross and prepare yourself to experience Easter anew this year, subscribe to Today and let “Focus on the Cross” encourage you in this season of Lent.

February 28, 2017 1 0 comments
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The new short board book, found (yes, all lowercase letters) by Sally Lloyd-Jones, is a great way to introduce kids to Psalm 23. I can see this book as a great bedtime book for a toddler. 

February 27, 2017 1 0 comments
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If you are looking for a new church, don’t make up your mind before you even begin. Be open to being surprised about where God will use you—even if the building or worship style looks way different than you imagined.

February 27, 2017 4 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Lent is just over a week away (March 1 this year) and I'm curious to hear what churches and individuals in the CRC are doing to mark this season. Let's open up the discussion!

February 21, 2017 1 1 comments
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As pastor of spiritual formation at my church, I have a lot of faith formation "tools" in my toolbox. Some are very specific. Some are weirdly shaped. Here are 7 of my favorite and most powerful tools. 

February 21, 2017 1 0 comments
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Do you have a favorite Bible app? Willing to share? I'm looking to purchase a study version that would also supply historically accurate maps, as well as cross-reference information. 

February 16, 2017 0 3 comments
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My parents always saw my sister and I as integral parts of their ministry, knowing that we had valuable contributions to make. And yet they did not force us to get involved; they extended an invitation. 

February 14, 2017 2 0 comments
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The day 5-year-old Axel brought his plastic blue guitar to church, he found a place between the drummer and guitarist, and began to play. No one laughed or made a fuss. Axel knows his gifts are valued. 

February 9, 2017 3 2 comments
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My church has approximately 40 different denominational backgrounds represented. In such a diverse group, the tendency is to go "wide," stripping worship to singing and a message. But what if we opted to go "deep" instead?

February 9, 2017 8 1 comments
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Before our church remodeled, the kids felt comfortable in our building and knew the places where they could hang out and socialize. After the remodel, we realized the need to create kid friendly spaces.

February 9, 2017 2 1 comments
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It makes me cringe sometimes—standing in church pews, planting mustard seeds, telling someone I’ll pray for them. And yet, I’m still religious because sometimes my faith needs the religion.

January 31, 2017 3 0 comments
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It takes a lot of courage to become an ordinary Christian in a culture that celebrates the extraordinary. But as Horton argues in his book Ordinary, God most often works through ordinary things to change us.

January 19, 2017 2 2 comments
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It’s easy to remember the big stuff from the past year—things like weddings, or selling a house, or natural disasters. But how can we remember God's goodness in the seemingly mundane moments of life?

January 17, 2017 1 1 comments
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One question I hear from church leaders is: How can we organize our practices, groups, and curriculum for lifelong faith formation? One simple way to organize faith formation is around the liturgical calendar.

January 16, 2017 2 4 comments
Q&A

I am a faithful member of a local church, but I love listening to sermons online throughout the week. What are some of the churches you listen to online, get fed from? 

January 10, 2017 0 3 comments

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The sample job description for Pastor/Director of Faith Formation can be found here. Thanks!

Been wrestling with exactly this over the last few months.  Have taken to calling myself "spiritual coach."  No title, per se.  But that's just fine.

posted in: So, What Do YOU Do?

I can totally relate to this as a pastor/missionary. I am curious though - what titles are you using now as an alternate to pastor in order to open doors to communication - do you have any favorites? Thanks!

posted in: So, What Do YOU Do?

Besides these 2 wonderful denominational employees who can help you....Community CRC in Kitchener, Ontario might be good to call.

Thanks, Jeanne! Any chance you'd be willing to share the job description on the site? I'm guessing others would also be interested! 

Hello,

I have  such a job description I would be happy to share with you.  You can email me at jkallemeyn@crcna.org.  Thanks, Jeanne Kallemeyn, Staff Ministry Specialist, Pastor Church Resources.

I am curious how this works itself out in the sacraments and especially regarding children? Are children baptized as infants? What about those who have different beliefs in adult baptism? And are children allowed to take communion? Do they need to be baptized? etc. Thanks!

Hi Gillian, 

Did you want to add more in the comments? Let me know if I can help. 

Thanks!

Staci

posted in: Faith as Power?

k

posted in: Faith as Power?

Thank-you Staci, I'll check it out.

 

posted in: Study Bible Apps?

Andrew MacLeod, Andrew...I was a friend to Angus and Peg MacLeod. I met Farquar while we were at Mac's house in Evergreen Park Il. In fact their father was also there. Where does Andrew fit into this ancestry? Just curious !....Dean Koldenhoven

deankoldenhoven@yahoo.com

posted in: Study Bible Apps?

I've heard really good things about the Read Scripture app

posted in: Study Bible Apps?

In previous years I have given up various things (i.e. pop) for Lent but this year I am planning to finish reading through the Gospels (I'm currently in the middle of Luke). Lately I have been struck by how often Jesus talks about the importance of having faith. I'm going to be looking for specific ways this season to 'increase' my faith, maybe through bold giving or by listening more closely to the Spirit's leading. To do this, I'm hoping to be still more often (less media, tv, distractions).

Love these specific examples of how simple it can be to include all ages. Thanks Karen!

What a wonderful (and fun!) example of being an inclusive family of God. Thanks for sharing, Laura.

This post on Belonging leads directly to another toolkit from Faith Formation Ministries:  Building Blocks of Faith! Belonging is one of the Building Blocks and one of our needs for faith to grow.  Connections like this and the interweaving of faith topics are energizing.  Thanks, Karen!

I am encouraged by these verses! Thanks for sharing. 

Sharing a meal, in our homes or churches, can be another one of those 'ordinary means of grace' that seem small but can have real meaningful effects. There's something about sitting around a table together that is nurturing not only in physical ways but spiritually as well.

I couldn't agree more, and this misconstruction about what is important has also become far too much a perspective of the CRCNA at the denominational level.  

Thank you so much! I look forward to listening later today!

Hi Gillian,

I have three resources that I use for sermons during the week.

The first is the teaching of Alistair Begg at: www.truthforlife.org

The second I try not to miss is Charles Price at; www.livingtruth.ca

The third is when I need a boost is Robbie Symons at: http://www.harvestoakville.ca/teaching/sermon-archives/latest-sermon/

Hope this helps and I'd be interested to know how you find any of these helpful.

Blessings.

 

Just a little correction!  Pentecost does not last 50 days... it is one day (the third great feast - along with Christmas and Easter) that kicks off the season called "Ordinary Time"  - Sam Gutierrez.   Sorry about that.  :)

thanks for your comment.  I appreciate it.  :)

posted in: Spiritual Math

Thank you for responding to my article and sharing some of your story.

posted in: Spiritual Math

that's true.  Thank you!

 

posted in: Spiritual Math

You're welcome Hans.  Thank you for your good words.  :)

Thank you Staci - I was honored and blessed by your comment.  

 

Thank you Neil.  :)

Diane,

thanks for the creative example!  I love it!  

Liturgical season "theme" song!  - Smart!

Along with some of the things you've described, we also had a theme song for Advent that was sung each week during Advent in different places in the worship service. The church could choose a theme song for each season - perhaps that goes with the scripture passage that is memorized, or a theme for the season. As we participated in the season of waiting (advent), we used the refrain, "Take O Take Me As I Am" (#741 in Lift Up Your Hearts), and also did motions. The children enjoyed learning the motions with the adults in worship.  Since the church was also going through a renewal process, we also added a 2nd 'verse' and sang, "Take O take us as we are..." 

This is such a wonderful idea, Staci. Thanks for sharing it!

Simple and succinct! A good way to live into a rhythm of formation.  And, I think it's a positive when we connect what we do as a local congregation with the global church in observing and practicing the liturgical church year.  

I watch the Calvin Student Service LOFT Sunday nights. They also livestream and archive the Chapels. Go to https://calvin.edu/studentlife/faith-worship/ to find the links. I am so blessed by seeing college students lead worship and by Pastor Mary Hulst's preaching. Even though it's directed to college students, I always learn or am challenged by something.

My wife and i are almost finished reading through Job once again.  Thank you for the clarity you have provided.  As Paul puts it in Philippians 4: "Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!"  It often takes our limited tenacity but the Holy Spirit will provide all that we need and the knowledge that God is sovereign is the abundant Blessing! 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Lou. I have a couple of thoughts in response. First, the OSJ was not recommending these devotionals, I was. Second, Rohr's devotionals, as many of the others, are challenging. I do not agree with everything that all of these writers put out, particularly as a Reformed pastor. This is why I listed the denominational affiliation of the devotional writers. Personally, Rohr's penchant for the mystical compels me as a Reformed Christian, which I why I recommended him.

Thanks, Shannon, for sharing some resources; of the ones I recognize they will be a blessing to those who pursue them.

What did disappoint me was the very top recommendation - Richard Rohr's Center for Action and Contemplation.  Based on just the last week's worth of postings it can easily be demonstrated how far away he is from the faith "once for all delivered to the saints."  The presumption shown by his disdain for historical Christianity is saddening; more pretentious than charitable.  Does he really think he/CAC leads a "New Reformation"?!  The OSJ can do better than that.

PS  If anyone wants an analysis of the last week's "worth" of postings, send me an email:     wagenlma@aol.com

 

For years, my favorite verse has been Proverbs 3, verses 5-6.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.

I have found encouragement in the verses already posted, so I thank all of you for these.

 

Sam, this post is a gift. I am going to save this blog (maybe even print it out) to read when the hard times come (as they will). I love the person Job became as he trusted God in the fields of pain and suffering. Thanks so much. 

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (MSG)

God’s Message:

“Don’t let the wise brag of their wisdom.
    Don’t let heroes brag of their exploits.
Don’t let the rich brag of their riches.
    If you brag, brag of this and this only:
That you understand and know me.
    I’m God, and I act in loyal love.
I do what’s right and set things right and fair,
    and delight in those who do the same things.
These are my trademarks.”
    God’s Decree.

Lamentations 3:19-33New International Version (NIV)

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
    while he is young.

28 Let him sit alone in silence,
    for the Lord has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust—
    there may yet be hope.
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him,
    and let him be filled with disgrace.

31 For no one is cast off
    by the Lord forever.
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
    so great is his unfailing love.
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
    or grief to anyone.

New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

  Hi Staci,

 

One of my all time favorite texts is Lamentations 3 : 19-33.  I like the whole chapter, but since one has to stop somewhere, vs. 33 is as good a place as any.

Thanks, Sam, for a thoughtful and perceptive take on Job.  Our need to "trust in God’s goodness even though all the current evidence was suggesting otherwise" is something that we need to keep hearing -- and keep reminding each other....   Bless you for doing so. 

 

The verses that I am holding on to is : "Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority, and power.  For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he has put everything under his feet. Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may  be all in all." (1 Corinthians 15: 24-28)

In light of God's victory, political victories lose their appeal and importance.

I am privileged to be engaged in God's kingdom and victory by his grace.

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.

I have a hard time picking just one or a few of the verses in this Psalm. I have been drawn to it all through 2016, and looking forward to 2017 it also gives me hope for the future. It is such a reassurance of God being beside us all the way - "an ever present help" -  even when "nations are in uproar." The image of the "river whose streams make glad the city of God" is such a peace-giving image for me. It brings to mind the phrase "there is a balm in Gilead," and reminds me of God's healing power. And, of course, how good it is to "be still and know that [he is] God."

 

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7

One time when I felt I was in over my head the Lord gave me this verse through a devotional on my phone.  It was just the encouragement I needed and will lean on it in the year to come.

 

Psalm 16:8...... I have set the Lord always before me.  Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.... 

 

 

It's the same as last year.-  Romans 8:1-2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. That says it all - to the glory of God.  

You can find a few more at www.edwinwalhout.com; on the book of Revelation, or the Psalms, or a few theological topics.

"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ,                                                and He will reign forever and ever."  (Revelation 11:15)

This verse gives me hope because it reminds me that no matter what we face in this world, Jesus Christ reigns now and forever.  I know that this world, my life, and the lives of those around me are held firmly in His hand.  Therefore I enter 2017 (a year of unknowns) with absolute confidence in Him.

"But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength..." (2 Timothy 4:17)

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