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Today, we continue our series introducing the staff of Faith Formation Ministries. Now it's time to get to know Communications Strategist, Paola.

March 1, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Workshop or Training

How do you disciple a new believer? 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. 

February 23, 2016 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Telling faith stories is a powerful way to share what God is doing in our community, our churches, and our homes. Has your church developed any unique storytelling traditions or practices that other churches could adapt? 

February 23, 2016 1 0 comments
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In our series introducing you to the staff of Faith Formation Ministries, I would like you to meet Karen De Boer, Creative Resource Developer, from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. 

February 22, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar provides guidelines to help congregations minister to high school students preparing for graduation and offer helpful tips on how to care for students once they are in college or at a university.

February 16, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

Growing up in a Christian Reformed Church, I can’t say that I was very aware of the season of Lent. 

February 8, 2016 1 0 comments
Blog

Despite ongoing rejection from the people—and Jeremiah’s own personal feelings of desperation—he continued to obey God. How can we learn to practice this kind of trust in our lives? 

January 25, 2016 4 1 comments
Blog

Derek Atkins has been a part of Faith Formation since it began as a pilot project in 2013. Read about how his own faith journey shapes the work he does today. 

January 12, 2016 3 0 comments
Blog

Today I'd like to introduce you to Mike Johnson, Regional Catalyzer for Classis Central Plains and the western United States. Mike likes to help people and churches move past challenges! 

January 5, 2016 1 3 comments
Discussion Topic

Recently I’ve noticed a trend in which people are choosing a theme word, or couple of words, to focus on throughout the year. Is this something you have done or would consider doing?

January 4, 2016 3 14 comments
Blog

I tried to go about my business but phrases from their conversation made me think, “Ah, these are ministry people.” I wondered, are these guys listening to the students they hope to impact?

December 21, 2015 0 0 comments
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Meaningful contact between older adults and young people in North America has become increasingly uncommon. Church seems to be the final frontier that cultivates such natural interaction. 

December 14, 2015 1 0 comments
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There are times where I'm just not red hot like these other great people of faith. I've learned it's okay to be beige in my spirituality. We're all wired different, with unique spiritual gifts.  

December 8, 2015 1 2 comments
Q&A

It's Ministry Question Monday and we're excited to share with you the FIRST featured ministry question! Now that we have the question, let's start the discussion. 

December 7, 2015 1 2 comments
Blog

We aren't invited to enforce our 'rightness' on others. We are invited to submit. To humble ourselves. When we become experts at that, the Kingdom advances.

December 4, 2015 3 3 comments
Blog

As leaders or parents, we have an incredible opportunity when it comes to discipleship in the times when pop culture mends (or blends) its way into our lives and the lives of our children and teens.

November 25, 2015 1 0 comments
Blog

Last week I encountered three different people. Three people with their own stories and their own complicated relationships with the Church. How can the CRC be a community to these people?

November 23, 2015 3 4 comments
Resource, Story or Testimony

Here are two great resources that will help you interact with the Christmas story — one in a way that is festive and fun — the other in a way that is more quiet. 

November 19, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Devotional

ReFrame Media has designed a special (free!) Advent devotional series, Waiting In Expectation, to help you see God's story in your life.

November 18, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

Youth ministry programs and intergenerational faith formation together build sturdy discipleship. This webinar examines the many ways that a congregation blesses its teens.

November 17, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Activity or Game

Whether you are with new friends or familiar faces this Thanksgiving, we pray these cards will help you and your guests deepen your thankfulness to God and love for one another. 

November 16, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

Faith isn't always taught. Often times, faith is absorbed. It is formed at the kitchen table when the family talks to one another. It is formed in how a father treats the child.

November 16, 2015 1 0 comments
Blog

Youth and young adults have to begin to see that they are NOT the church of the future, they are the church of NOW. They need ownership in the ministries they will be asked to lead.

November 16, 2015 1 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Words have power. Just because they come to us electronically doesn't lessen their power. What would happen if we had to take responsibility for the damage we cause with our words?

November 11, 2015 1 2 comments
Blog

Check out these two amazing resources for re-aligning you and your family's comings and goings to the rhythms of God's grace this Advent season and beyond. 

November 10, 2015 0 1 comments

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John Eldridge has offered some good insights into this this in Wild at Heart.

Working as a campus pastor I encounter young men in various phases of formation. Many are eager to serve Christ and simply need to be trusted, challenged and mentored to do so. Our churches and schools do a wonderful work in instructing boys in the faith. I usually encounter them when they begin to question what they have learned. That's OK... after a period of discipleship, I take great joy when I witness a young man seize what it means to be seized of Christ.

Often, the key is not in the instructing but the listening to a young man's struggles or simply their zeal, then with gentle guidance, trusting that young man with a ministry task and watching the Spirit work in and through that young powerhouse!

Timothy was a teen when entrusted by Paul with sacred Kingdom work! Look what a great job Timothy did in following the Master! Guidance needed? Of course! ... Older men, do not be afraid to relinquish power, trusting that God has also called the younger man to follow in your footsteps. You know who he is,,,watch him go! Let him be the "apple" of God's eye. Empower him Take delight in him.

It is so difficult to separate cultural gender roles and expectations from what our Lord expects of us as men and women of God. That's where looking at the life of Jesus seems so valuable to me. He is true man (and God); we become more human, the people that God created us to be, when we become more Christlike, more like Jesus.

In Safe Church Ministry, we talk a lot about power, use and misuse of this gift that God has given each of us in different measures. We see Jesus, who had all power, not grasping it for his own benefit, but laying it down, dying on a cross for those he loves. Real men look like that. Giving themselves in love to others. We see Jesus sharing power, empowering all of us with his Holy Spirit. Real men share power, empowering others to be all they can be. Others feel loved and flourish in the company of a man of faith. 

Jesus also was not afraid to show his emotions, anger, weeping, joy, etc. A couple years ago now, safe church ministry hosted a lecture, presented by the Men's Resource Center related to the book "Mascupathy". A main premise in the book is that when boys are denied the opportunity to express their emotions, those emotions come out in other ways, often in violence against others. We are causing harm when we tell boys to "man up" and "don't cry". Perhaps it's not an accident that mass shootings have almost always been committed by men, or that men are far more likely to die violently than women. Real men are in touch with their feelings and can freely express them, the way Jesus did. Godly men don't let pent up emotions erupt in violence. 

Jesus was not afraid to honor others in counter-cultural ways and in so doing he spoke truth to power. He lifted up a child as the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, he honored lepers, prostitutes, and tax gatherers by spending time with them. He called out pharisees for their hypocrisy. Jesus was no respecter of persons; he valued each and every one. Real men honor others, regardless of their status. 

That's enough for now.

Bill...thank you for your response. One of the reasons behind this blog post is trying to define what a man of God is. As stated in the post, there are many different views that are out there about being a man of God. Yet with these mixed messages, we leave the faith formation of men in the cold. The emphasis in this post then is how can we help men grow in the faith outside of "I'll know it when I see it"? Leaving it just to "I'll know it when it I see it" does not give direction to help men grow in the faith. The purpose of this blog post is to begin helping giving direction in faith formation in men. 

Identifying "men of God" Is something simiar to what a Supreme Court justice said about identfiyng pornography, "I can't define it but I know it when I see it." For example, Gandhi, MLK . . . . 

Greetings Jeff:

   May I be a bit presumptuous and give a stab at the questions you ask?

 a. To be passionate about something actually requires propositional knowledge. That is to say the more in-depth knowledge that I have of the ways, likes, attitudes, of my wife, the more I can be passionate about her. That is to say my heart can be warmed by what I know of her in an intimate way. In a similar way, the more we know of Christ--and this is not just individually, but also corporately, the more passionate we can be about Him. This is what I would define as heart-knowledge.

b. A cultural trend. Well, I think that the critical thinking apparatus has been dumbed down without teaching in logic, rhetoric, critical analysis, but more on "well how do you feel about that?" That later question is everywhere these days. But I think this is where myticism can walk right in the door, and to my mind it is not only Pentacostalism---since some of the sharpest and most analytical minds I know are Pentacostals--but also the effects of a therapeutic Gospel which responds to "how can we make these people feel good?" rather than a Gospel which asks "how can we help these people to think rightly and feel accordingly."

 

Shalom.

 

 

 

John,

 

This is a good and healthy discussion to have. Two questions come to mind right away:

1. How would you define "heart-knowledge"?

2. To what extent is this anti-intellectualism part of a broader cultural trend?  Is it really an infiltration from Pentecostalism or is it just a reflection of where the culture is heading?  

Greetings John:

     I think you have latched on to something.  Where do you think ideas such as Lectio Divina recently popularized by those involved in Youth ministiries, spiritual directors who help to get in touch with inner feelings, and the widespread popularity of Richard Foster's the Celebration of Discipline come from?

   I would say these are a pendulum swing towards mysticism that is likely a reaction against hyper-intellectualism. But the pendulum has swung way too far, in my opinion. Without a critical thought, supposedly thinking, reading, analyzing Christian Reformed folk ditch their critical thinking and testing of the spirits capacity and jump on to what is clearly Roman Catholic/Quaker/Buddhist mysticism.

   It would appear that we continue to need "theology on fire." Nothing more and nothing less, or as even the motto of Calvin Seminary states, reflecting John Calvin "My heart I offer to you Lord: Promptly and Sincerely."

Shalom

 

Thanks, Laura, for using your gifts for ministry in another important way!  You continue to be aware of God's calling in your life and serve Him where He calls.  May God continue to bless you as you bless the CRC!

Thank you, Jill, for serving in our Faith Formation Ministries! Blessings to you and your work! ~Stanley

Amen! Thank you for just tellin' it like it is. You'd think Christians would get this better than non-Christians because we believe in a God who created and then rested. But instead, it seems like our love for the Lord and ministry makes us work even harder!

Appreciated Henry.

Nonetheless, if a 16+/- old person is a person awarded "eligible voting" rights in a society, i.e. church they are still entitled to serve on the board/council regardless of whether the council asks or not. If their name were to be put forward, to cut it off the nomination list based on their age would be an infringement of their legal rights under the Constitution & Bylaws.

Moreover, they may be required as an "eligible voting" member to vote on financial, legal matters, etc. put before the membership, i.e. the congregation when they still under guardianship raising questions about whether their vote is legally binding.

 

Thanks, Lubbert, for the caution.  I do respectfully want to offer my opinion that there is a huge difference between being eligible for service as council/board members and actually being nominated to serve in that capacity.  I have huge doubts about a council actually asking a 16-year-old to serve.  I think ecclesiastical law needs to follow civil law, as the newly adopted version of Article 27 of the Church Order says, but there are also ways in which ecclesiastical law is our supreme guide.  Typically, civil law stays out of ecclesiastical matters and only guides us in financial matters so that we comply with regulations pertaining to charitable organizations.

 

 

Great blog, Josh! Thanks for sharing your thoughts (and the great suggestion at the end) on this important topic.

Henry's observation "So that leaves it to the Church Order and local council to decide ecclesiastically rather than the more legal route of Articles of Incorporation.  Typically provinces and states allow congregations to decide this matter in its own way without dictating any particular voting age" is more than a little problematic.

Members who have "voting rights" would also be able serve as council/board members who can enter into legal contracts, hire employees, etc. which individuals under the age of majority, i.e. under guardianship cannot do. 

As such, civil law overrides ecclesiastical law. Or to put it another way, ecclesiastical law needs to follow civil law. In the same way Church Order, Article 27 requires council members to comply with the law, e.g. "Although full consideration shall be given to the judgment expressed by the congregation, the authority for making and carrying out final decisions remains with the council as the governing body of the church, except in those matters stipulated otherwise in the articles of incorporation or by law."

Regarding the matter of Articles of Incorporation (Constitution) versus Bylaws, the province of British Columbia has recently brought into force a new Societies Act which will require all NGO's, e.g. churches to revise their Constitution & Bylaws. Most matters that were formerly included in the Constitution will be required to move into the Bylaws.  

 

Bill,

I have run into many congregations that have only filed Articles of Incorporation and not Bylaws.  In fact, quite a number of them have never even adopted Bylaws for themselves, let alone file them along with the Articles.  So if there are none on record in the church office or in the possession of the clerk, don't be surprised.

 

Henry,
Thanks for the detailed history and explanation.  

I do have a copy of the Articles of Incorporation filed in 1957 (no mention of what constitutes membership) but I do not have any Bylaws, and the state of California only has Articles of Incorporation.  My next step is to see if any of our members know where there might be a copy of the Bylaws.

Historically, churches in the Reformed tradition including ours have always held the position that approval for and making a profession of faith gave persons the right to "adult membership" and therefore also to vote at congregational meetings.  We call them "confessing members" (Article 59-b, CO) who have "the right to vote" (Article 59-c).  Synod currently leaves it up to the local congregations to determine "the appropriate age at which a confessing member shall receive such privileges and responsibilities" (Supplement, Article 59-c).  If no age is mentioned in any congregational decisions or by-laws, the age of 18 doesn't apply.  A person could make a profession at age 16, for example.
The only reason why for a time the CRCNA had a provision in the Church Order that actually mentioned the age of 18 was due to synodical decisions on children at the Lord's Supper.  For a time, synod decided that our members could make an "early profession of faith" and be admitted to the Lord's table -- the typical age was somewhere between 9 and 12.  They would then meet with council again, somewhere around their 18th birthday, be interviewed regarding their understanding of privileges and responsibilities of confessing membership, and be granted the right to vote.  Sometimes this was done in the council room, sometimes it was celebrated in public worship and those who had shared communion with us could then be officially welcomed before the congregation and its Lord.  Synod later decided that "all baptized members who come with age- and ability-appropriate faith in Jesus Christ are welcome to the Lord's Supper ..." (Article 59-a).  It then went on to say that "baptized members shall be encouraged to make a public profession of faith ..." (Article 59-b).  What that means in practice is that the age for making profession was once again moved to "somewhere around 18" without any definitiveness about that number, just like it had been the case for centuries.  So now, in my congregation, children are prepared for participation in the Lord's Supper in their children's worship centers -- at the time where they no longer leave half-way through the service, usually at age 7 or thereabouts -- and thereafter take communion with us.  Then, at around the time of high school graduation, the church prepares them and encourages them to make public profession of faith (which they now haven't done at a younger age).
So with regard to the right to vote at congregational meetings, we're right back where we started centuries ago. [☺]   Though now they can have communion based only upon their baptism and some initial instruction.
The only caveat to all this is that churches not only need to follow the Church Order but they also adopt their own Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.  Synod has a model for that (Supplement, Article 32-d), but what is legally operative is what the individual congregation has adopted and filed(hopefully it follows synod's model).  It is possible that a given congregation might spell out an age where a person is granted the right to vote.  It is not likely, but it is possible, and that should be investigated.  The congregation could always change that again, but one must go by what's on file currently in the province or state in which the church is located.  The model Articles say in Article VII only that a congregational vote is obtained "at a meeting of the members present and entitled to vote."  So that leaves it to the Church Order and local council to decide ecclesiastically rather than the more legal route of Articles of Incorporation.  Typically provinces and states allow congregations to decide this matter in its own way without dictating any particular voting age.  That is, of course, unlike the voting age in the political sense.
 

Thank you Pastor Tamminga. Now posted on my Facebook!

 

posted in: Never Quite Sure

Though one would want to solicit input from all members in the congregation, the question of voting vs professing membership probably boils down to what the church Constitution & Bylaws define as who has voting rights which is guided by civil law. Church Order, Articles 4-c and 37 perhaps also give some guidance inasmuch as they refer to "adult" and "entitled."

Sounds great Pete. Would you be willing to share your document? It would be fun to see a few membership class samples! 

Sounds great Pete. Would you be willing to share your document? It would be fun to see a few membership class samples! 

Something I designed years ago has served me well even with adaptations in different churches.   A four-week (4 hour) class entitled "Believing to Belonging"   Week #1 -" Believing"  Basic on faith.  Verses from Ephesians and Romans.  I also teach "the Bridge" and have them place themselves someplace around the great Chasm.  Week #2 - "Believing part B"   This week I go over Reformed thought and doctrines. I review the Creeds and Confessions.  Week #3 "Belonging part A -   What does it mean to belong to a denomination and what is the CRC?    Week #4 - "Belonging part B"   - I talk about our specific church... its dreams, vision, and ministries.  Practical stuff.      Each week we keep it highly relational and tell some stories and most participants ask a lot of questions.  NO lecture.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for your great ideas and experience!

 

Allow me to share our experience on the mission field in Mexico where we work with the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico. We constantly offer a new members class called "Inicios" or "Beginnings" at our 11 a.m. Sunday School hour. The class runs for four months so we offer it three times per year. 

 

The course starts with the big questions: What does it mean to be a Christian? Who is God? What is our problem? Who is Jesus? What does Jesus do? How to receive salvation? We teach on justification, sanctification, adoption. From there we move to some sessions on the denomination and some Reformed history. From there we move to our local church: our values, how to grow in grace, areas to serve, our ministries, meaning of sacraments, importance of covenant, etc. And we end with the membership questions to asked at one's public profession of faith.

 

The course neither guarantees membership nor obligates anyone. If, at the end of the course, people would like to make their public profession of faith and be baptized (if not baptized before), then they fill out a membership sheet, meet with the elders and then set a date. We have almost all new folks go through the same course: new believers and those from other churches, although the needs are different. Also covenant youth raised in the church take the course prior to their profession of faith.

Rev. Ben Meyer

Seymour CRC (Grand Rapids, MI)

Missionary to Guadalajara, Mexico with CRWM

Staci,

Thanks for the article on summer (self-created) busy stress. It fit me to a T also. Good thing Bible study starts up soon!   It has been a jam-packed summer -  swimming, a Whitecaps game, showers/weddings, sisters' outings, Girls Night Out, picnics and more. You're right about trying to pack it all in! Here's to a more restful fall with time for Bible study.  

Thanks again!

 

 

 

Thanks, Sam, this is a great topic and one that I hope people will comment on. When I revised our membership process a little while ago there was a dearth of materials about the topic. I found one very good book, called Membership Matters, I think, but not a whole lot else. 

My "working" process (always open to change) is based on CS Lewis' image of the Christian faith as a great house with many hallways and rooms. The first session is about belonging to Christ and is a presentation of the gospel. The second is about the biblical nature of the church and what it means biblically to be a member of a church. The third session is about the "hallway" of Reformed theology, history and practice and the last is about the "room" that is our own church. I also sometime show a video about infant baptism if this is a topic of discussion. I would love to hear what others do.

I'm a little surprised that our denomination doesn't have a simple "welcome to the CRC" type of video that could be shown to prospective members, at least not one that I've found. This wouldn't have to be a big DVD production, just a simple Internet video. I think it would fill a real gap.

 

 

Hi Joe, 

The best resource I can think of is one that was designed to be a two part workshop that a church would offer on the Lord's Supper. The reason it comes to mind for your situation is because the first workshop is all about baptism and the second workshop connects baptism to the Lord's Supper. It was designed to be something that families would attend together and which would be led by a pastor or elder or other congregational leader. It's called Taste and See and is sold in a downloadable format. Click here to read a sample.   It does require some gathering of supplies but what I love about it is that it's very hands-on and interactive. 

Another idea you might want to check out is Children at the Table which is a resource Tom Bomhof from Fleetwood CRC created as a way to teach children about the Lord's Supper. It's also a 2 part workshop and the first session touches on baptism. It's great too!

Finally, here's a link to "We Baptized Vivian!" an article which contains some ideas from other churches on ways to make baptism a special celebration. 

Hope that helps! 

Completely agree, Bonnie. It's so easy to do. Thanks for sharing!

 

A good reminder not to neglect those things that truly feed your soul and lead to peace

What if we viewed more events in the Christian life as commissioning services? What if, rather than scrapping the idea of commissioning people altogether, we emphasized in other events how we are being sent. We could incorporate acknowledging, blessing, and celebrating into baptism, profession of faith, graduation and regular celebrations of communion. 

Perhaps we don't stop commissioning elders and missionaries, pastors and mission teams but rather acknowledge the significance of these moments of sending. Significant parts of a significant life. 

 

Getting a package is such a tangible way to feel loved! I think it's really cool that churches are finding such unique ways to stay connected to college kids. I'm also going to check out SoulFeed; sounds like a really neat idea. 

Thanks for sharing!

One of the old time hymns of David has a line about going to the Temple to fulfill our vows. To me, it is a very important concept of faith formation. I get a good "gut feeling" when in a church even when the sanctuary is empty.

For me, theology is a kind of grounding.  When I think about the Heidelberg Catechism, it draws Scriptural truths together to show what the Ten Commandments, the Apostle's Creed and the Lord's Prayer mean for our everyday lives.  It keeps us focused on what church is about so that we don't just glide along with whatever culture throws at us.  

Theology is literally the study of God.  In many North American churches, the emphasis is on the individual and how he can find success and answers to prayer.  How can we worship One that we do not know?  How can we be a community of faith that builds each other up?  The answers come in our understanding of God and subsequently our understanding of who we are in relation to Him.

I've found that it has helped some people when I point out that theology (literally "God-Words") is simply the choices we make when trying to communicate about our God. We are well aware that the reality of God far surpasses our knowledge of Him. We ought to also be aware that our relational knowledge of God often surpasses our own ability to express that knowledge through words, art, or otherwise. So we do our best to make choices that will best reveal what we can of God to the person(s) we're communicating with. Over time Christians have learned some very insightful ways of speaking of very deep things about God. We should respect that while recognizing that sometimes words that mean one thing to me might mean something very different to another person - especially those raised in significantly different cultures or circumstances. Also, God has chosen not to give every person the exact same experience of Him. So, for instance, the irresistible grace of TULIP speaks closely to my experience of God - for someone to deny that simply makes no sense to me, I have experienced it to be true. Moreover, I know that many others have had a similar experience, and that people passionate about it have dug deeply into the Scriptures to see if God has revealed Himself as acting that way (and He has!). 

So, everyone has a theology. They have experiences and beliefs about God that they would talk about in a certain way - that is essentially what theology is. A wise person learns to broaden their own experiences of God by seeking out others as well, and their theology will grow. 

Sometimes I think we need to back down a little from trying to assess between denominations what is "right" language versus "wrong" language, and deal instead with "is this Scripturally appropriate language?" There are other Christian theologies I admit to being Scripturally appropriate even though they don't jive nearly as well with my own experience and may therefore be hard to conceptually reconcile with Reformed theology (which does fit my experience!). 

Upon re-reading the question I would like to add the following:

 

And a man went up to New York from McBain and upon arriving in that great city he entered into a famous 5 star restaurant. It being Tuesday he ordered what he always ordered back in McBain on Tuesday: a hamburger with fries.

A teacher of the law happened to see him ordering the hamburger with fries at the 5 star restaurant, and said unto the man: Do you not know what great delicacies are available here for the asking, prepared by the great masters of culinary art?

And the man replied: If they are anything like the liver and onions they serve at the diner back in McBain, I’ll pass. Besides, it’s Tuesday, and on Tuesday I always eat a hamburger with fries.

 

This is, of course, a familiar predicament to a significant number of Christians who move to different parts of the country at one time in their lives or another. They will not always find a CRC there. When that happens, what are the options?

 

Some elect to drive great distances on Sunday to be able to attend the nearest CRC. While there is a certain comfort in maintaining familiar traditions and upholding teachings that are consistent with things we learned in our family of origin, there is also a price. Undoubtedly, the opportunity to fully engage in the life of the congregation will be greatly hindered by the physical distance from where most of the other church people live. No joining a midweek Bible study. No serving on committees or task forces that require regular physical contact. Hopefully, the CRC pastor appreciates his Reformed heritage, or else you would do a lot of driving for something you could find a lot closer.

 

I am familiar with at least one couple who elected to worship closer to home, and join a different denomination, in fact, one where adult baptism was a requirement for full membership. The husband had been CRC all his life, and an elder many times. He did not take the transition lightly. I remember him telling me that he could relate a bit to Ruth when she told Naomi: “Your people will be my people, and your way of serving God will be my way” (TPV) He saw his re-baptism as a symbolic gesture to respond graciously to the warm welcome he and his wife had received in the new non-CRC church. He eventually served on the elder board in the new church as well, and was able to engage other members in fascinating conversations about theological differences they never would have had otherwise.

 

A key issue is what you value most about your church membership. If you need the regular face time with real live people who share your love for the Lord and can encourage you on your journey with God, you may be able to get past some theological differences, especially if there still is significant agreement on the things that matter. John Calvin himself distinguished between essential and nonessential points of doctrine.

 

If, on the other hand, your faith is particularly nurtured by your study of the finer points of Reformed theology, it may be harder for you to listen to a pastor preach weekly from a non-Reformed perspective. If your Reformed world-and-life view has taught you to see Christ, and Christians, as agents of God transforming culture, you would be less comfortable being told from the pulpit that Christians must separate themselves from culture and live as far away from the temptations of this evil world as possible, as is the view of many Anabaptist congregations.

 

I trust you are aware that these days you can have the best of both worlds. Worship and fellowship with Christians who love Jesus, close to your home. And study God’s word to your hearts content with fellow Reformed believers on the internet. When opportunities arise to compare notes with non-Reformed fellow worshipers at your non-CRC church, you may be able to contribute new insights for their understanding of their faith, even as you may be able to see some things in ways you never saw them before. And God will smile on both of you!

 

Elizabeth Drescher says that "social media is the landscape of communication."

We can grow in faith through social media in the same way that we grow through school, work, and family. 

Thanks for sharing this, Libby! This article about the church allowing kids to use social media was really interesting. I especially liked this line: Today’s youth are online – this is where they form relationships, tell their stories and live a significant portion of their lives, including their faith lives. It's a great idea to meet youth where they already are! 

Interesting question Bill. I'm not sure I get the sales pitch angle you are getting at since we aren't "selling" anything in an effort to make money. 

And yes, the "real" work of forming faith is done by God (see, for example Eph 2:8). However we are called to nurture faith in each other as covenant communities who promise at each person’s baptism to “love, encourage, and support . . . by teaching the gospel of God’s love, by being an example of Christian faith and character, and by giving the strong support of God’s family in fellowship, prayer, and service.” These relational and communal acts of faith formation are part of the discipleship process... things that occur as we look for ways to invest in each other’s lives and live into our identity in Christ together. Our lives are constantly being shaped by God, and part of our responsibility as lifelong disciples is to be looking for ways to be used by the Spirit to help others be “formed, transformed, and conformed to the image of Christ,” as Holly Allen writes. That may be by teaching Sunday School, mentoring a teenager, helping parents nurture faith in their kids, leading an adult bible study, hosting a missional community, serving together, etc. 

So we help leaders in congregations who are charged with helping people of all ages grow in their faith (in all the ways that happens). Does that help? 

 

 

Exactly what does "faith formation" mean? In this century, how is it different from a sales pitch? Isn't it the Holy Spirit that "does" "faith formation?"

Thanks, Derek!

That "new website" mentioned above is live! Check us out over at http://www.crcna.org/FaithFormation

I was in Marketing & Design before seminary, and I’ll a give you credit on the boy band/Church allegory –not on “transparency” but on “authenticity.” 1D makes NKOTB look cheap today because 1D can SING. True, kids today are mostly ‘over’ the hype of ‘80s/‘90s pre-programmed bands, but that doesn’t keep some promoters from still using the tactic to sell music & culture. It’s the genuine rooted musicianship of 1D that sells their music, and that will always connect with people more deeply than the plastic coating some groups (and congregations) adopt.

More important than Facebook posts and hashtags, the Church needs to operate in the joy of our calling as reconciled sinners telling other sinners about our Reconciler. Everything else the Church tries to do to “sell” herself and her Lord to the popular culture is costumes and fancy dancing.

Since the crc has lost a sizeable number of members since 1992, it would seem strange to pat its self on the back for its pride.  The incompleteness of some evangelical theology for evangelicals will not help the crc for the incompleteness of its obedience.  You can't make yourself look better by making someone else look worse.  It is easy to say that one is more scriptural, if you yourself revise an understanding of scripture into incomprehensibility, or into relativity, or into irrelevance.  The eternal issues of whether God chooses us or we choose Him cannot be legitimized by excuses for disobedience, nor will a correct theoretical understanding of the trinity compensate for a lack of faith and trust in the God who redeems and commands. 

I wish the article contained some Biblical references to support the position. We know that God placed us in the world to influence the world and not to become like it (John 17:14-16).  But when we begin to adopt to the system and practice of the world, we have compromised, weakened and perhaps corrupted our influence.  In the language of Jesus, we have lost our saltiness (Matthew 5:13).  The bottomline is: As Christians, our faith and practice should be directed by Scripture alone; otherwise we have deviated from "Sola Scriptura" and fallen prey to the trap of "relevance."        

posted in: Redeeming Halloween

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Mario. And no insult to vet's is intended--thank you for serving our country!

posted in: Redeeming Halloween

Thank you for how you shared your thoughts on this and how you can use this to share the light of Jesus. I know for myself, my wife and i battled over it for years as our children grew. At our previous church and our current church they have provided alternative options for different reasons, the first being safety and for my current church more of an outreach that brings people onto our campus that typically wouldn't come. We provide information about our church and its programs like Cadet's, Gem's and youth programs along with a great evening of trunk or treats, bouncers and food court. (food court-local cub scout fund raiser) We us this to open ourselves to our local community and share the love of Jesus and invite them to an event that will last for eternity. Great post, i did feel a bit insulted as you would lump Veteran's Day with Halloween as i am a US Army Veteran, blessings to you and may you continue to shine the Light in your community for Jesus.

posted in: Redeeming Halloween

I was so relieved to see at the end of the article, the awareness of the coincidence (not) with Reformation Day.  On almost the cusp now of the 500th Anniversary of that historic happening, we should redouble efforts to both educate the next generation and also figure out how we are going to engage our Roman Catholic neighbors constructively.  

 

posted in: Redeeming Halloween

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