Resource, Article

Whatever else Easter means, it does not mean people stop dying. The Thessalonians knew what we still know: namely, the stark and stubborn fact of death in our world poses a most difficult challenge to our faith.

April 19, 2017 2 0 comments
Q&A

I am really wrestling with what to do with all my books. I guess I could box and store them, but is there another option?

April 5, 2017 1 4 comments
Discussion Topic

A couple years back Jen Hatmaker wrote an article on how a consumer culture threatens to destroy pastors. She pleads with pastors to stop trying to do it all. Pastors, does this resonate with you?

April 3, 2017 1 4 comments
Q&A

If love is the fulfillment of everything and keeps us from sin—and we are to fear no evil and love our enemies—would we love the devil being our enemy? 

April 2, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

Self-reflection is difficult. It encourages us to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge our limitations. It requires that we ask ourselves personal questions, the answers to which will force us out of comfort zones. 

March 29, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

“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
Discussion Topic

The Financial Shalom Project recently launched and we need your help in spreading the news! What sort of financial information and resources would you like to have us post about on The Network?

March 16, 2017 1 2 comments
Resource, Job Opening

Clinton Christian Reformed Church located in Clinton, Ontario, Canada seeks a highly motivated Pastor of Youth & Congregational Life who has a passion for the ministries of youth & pastoral care. This calling includes occasional preaching and other possible leadership ministries,...

March 15, 2017 0 0 comments
Q&A

I am looking for churches that use a co-pastoring model of leadership. Are you are willing to share your experiences/job description with a church that is considering this model? 

March 9, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

As I read through sermons by the great Reformer Martin Luther, I got stuck on a sermon from Luke 2:41-52. Was I concluding that Luther preached a good sermon but did not preach the text?

March 8, 2017 2 1 comments
Blog

The best preparation for preaching to the unconvinced is to build relationships with the unconvinced. If you don’t know any unchurched people, you won’t preach well to them. 

March 8, 2017 2 2 comments
Blog

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
Q&A

I am looking for some resources and opportunities to do some education in the areas of spiritual health and intellectual growth. What are pastors doing these days?

February 22, 2017 1 5 comments
Blog

To stand in solidarity with refugees and immigrants is not to politicize the church. It is to fulfill the exhortation of Christ in Matthew 25:45, “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do it for me.”

February 13, 2017 4 31 comments
Blog

At an ornate church in London, England, there is a special memorial for the "Unknown Soldier." The memorial has four inscriptions that sounds great on first flush but risk being nothing more than sentimental humanism. 

February 6, 2017 0 2 comments
Discussion Topic

The pension plans for ordained pastors have some really interesting methods of calculating pensions payable. Using country-wide average salaries and excluding clergy housing allowances are but two examples.

February 2, 2017 0 8 comments
Blog

I am challenged by Acts 2:43 but am also encouraged that God is still orchestrating awe-filled moments if we only pay attention with open eyes, open ears, and especially an open heart. 

February 1, 2017 1 2 comments
Blog

You're probably wondering how Inspire 2017 might inspire your local congregation or Classis. Here are a few ideas to get people talking about your mission and how this event might support the local church. 

January 26, 2017 0 0 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
Blog

Curious what the Connections Project teams have learned after just six months of talking to congregations and individuals about ministry resources? Keep reading to find out.  

January 9, 2017 1 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I recently came across an interesting article titled 5 Disruptive Church Trends That Will Rule 2016. Check out the author's predictions and let's discuss what you think he got right or wrong this past year.

January 3, 2017 2 5 comments
Blog

The memories that sustain us and the treasures that last are always framed by relationships. In this season, I will never forget the privilege of coming to the bedside of that young mother who died on Christmas morning. 

December 29, 2016 1 0 comments
Resource, Workshop or Training, Facilitated by Others

You're invited to a one-day learning event at Crossroads CRC in Des Moines, IA, focused on helping local church leaders and pastors find unique yet practical ideas to bring health and growth to their church.

December 20, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

We sometimes separate praise and lament—which are really just outcries of our joys and sorrows—as if they don’t belong together. But I've found that the relationship is more complicated than that. 

November 30, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Conference or Event

Once per year, the Meeter Center at Calvin College offers a four-week Van Halsema fellowship to pastors of the Reformed tradition. This year's deadline is January 1, 2017.

November 28, 2016 1 0 comments

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Jeff so did I. What year and in what?

Blessings.

Gordon is where I got a DMin but they have a lot of offerings. I would check out their Shoemaker Center or talk with Steve Macchia who works at the Pierce Center for Disciple Building.

Jeff thanks for the suggestion. What did you participate in? Any brown bag offerings? Have you interacted much with the Ockenga Institute? Thanks.

Bruce

Thank you so much for this comment, Bob. Your insights and references help give a much more accurate and complete picture (and show the trouble with picking and choosing statistics to share). One thing I did appreciate about Hatmaker's article was how she used the lens of a consumer culture to highlight the need for pastors and churches to be equippers, so that each and every person can become a disciple.

I helped distribute a retired pastor's library who is from our church. Credo was OK but didn't take much. I found the best price & distribution at the local seminary's used book store. (Multnomah Seminary in Portland). They were glad to receive all the older volumes as well as more recent ones; they had a ready market of fresh seminary students.

What I find fascinating is the fact that only 21% of pastors feel as though their employer has unrealistic expectations of them. And the posted information does not consider how many of that 21% deal with the unrealistic expectations with healthy boundaries. The fact is that according to the March 2011 American Psychology Association's survey, 40% of the general workforce feel that their employer has unrealistic expectations of them. So if 79% of the churches have realistic expectations, where does the negative stuff come from? Certainly not the employer.

As I read through the original article I find that it is exceptionally positive and hopeful for people in ministry. It is a great career with exceptionally positive working relationships, support networks and job satisfaction ratings.

Ed Stetzer's article on the misuse of statistics is helpful to blow away the myth that ministry is the worst calling in the world that leads to terrible marriages, resentful children and burned out pastors. see: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2015/october/that-stat-that-s...

It would be refreshing to hear conversations that focus on helpful facts like the fact that 93% of Protestant pastors strongly agreed with the statement "I feel privileged to be a pastor" and an additional 4% who agreed with that statement (Lifeway Research). Try to find that satisfaction rate in any other career. 

Hi, Gil. Remember teaching in Moscow together. Good times.

I offered everything I had to Gary Vander Scaaf at Credo Books: https://www.facebook.com/Credo-Books-Books-for-Believers-Since-1983-1505...

He gave a fair price for what he could use (not as much as I'd like, but fair) and in my case hauled the rest away to donate or recycle. Not sure how that would work in St. Louis. Maybe you can send digital pictures of your library and get a quote on what he can use, and ship them via media mail.

P.S. I'm not quite retired yet. Got a year to go. Bit I did this when i was moving from Michigan to Alaska four years ago. Too much weight to ship that far. Besides, almost everything is available digitally today. 

I'm with Chuck, I love books. I've been blessed to have inherited a few small collections from former pastors. I would suggest finding a young minister who would be blessed by having such resources available.

Hi, Pastor Gil--

No good advice here, except to say that I wish I were closer to St. Louis--I'd drop in and buy some from you!

I'm as much of a bibliophile (or book hoarder!) as my dad was. Not sure what I am going to do if I ever need to downsize. Shalom, and best wishes on your retirement.

One of your former catechism students,

Chuck Adams

Thanks for the thoughtful comment, John. 

When Hatmaker gave statistics on pastors' job satisfaction (or lack thereof), I saw it as a way to highlight the pressure on pastors, not the fact that pastors have problems (as we all do). I saw it as a challenge to narrow the role of pastors so that they can EQUIP disciples instead of bearing the responsibility for the spiritual development of each member of the congregation (which is the Holy Spirit's work anyway). 

I really appreciate your point on God working through our weakness. I completely agree and am reminded of this every single day (thanks be to God!). 

Imagine if all pastors had their lives entirely together.  Would this be success.  Saying that if pastors have problems that this is a failure rate, points to the essence of the problem.  Because if all pastors were pathetic, and had nothing but problems, but yet the church was growing and people were worshipping God in greater and new ways, then it would not be failure.  God works through our weaknesses, through our trials and tribulations, which increase patience, perseverance, hope.   As scripture says.  

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?

Larry, thanks for this. We finally have done that. Christian Reformed and Reformed Church in America Disability Concerns, working with CRC Pastor Church Resources, chaplains, and pastors have produced a Guide for a Clergy Leave of Absence for Mental Health Reasons as well as supporting materials to present the guide to groups. Church leaders often have a good idea how to respond if pastor has a serious physical illness or accident, but they are much less sure what to do if pastor has a serious mental health crisis. We hope and pray that this guide will help churches and pastors navigate these difficult waters with grace. 

I think the listening piece is key. Thank you so much for sharing this. 

Hi Stan,

Thanks for your question. The Financial Shalom Project seeks to holistically respond to the financial challenges facing our pastoral leaders.  A significant portion of the project is devoted to support our pastors by providing grants for a variety of financial needs. Additionally, when we surveyed our CRC pastors last year, we found that many of them desired further training and resources for personal and church financial management. We are responding to that expressed need by offering personal financial management training,  online resources, consultation with financial professionals, and church stewardship training.  

We hope that by having a multi-faceted approach--where immediate financial relief is paired with ongoing financial skills--pastors will experience a renewed sense of financial shalom. 

Kris, this is spot on.  The six points you listed are key for sure. Why we think de-churched or people far from God should act like Christians when they come to church is beyond me.  It makes no sense.  Thanks again for posting.

I am wondering about this million dollar grant. Is it assumed pastors need more resources or training to handle their own unique financial challenges? What a lot of money to devote to this when there are a lot of people struggling to be able to afford the whole seminary experience (like my son, for one).

And therein we have the crux of the problem... is it the preacher or the sermon that receives the critique?   What about the poor preacher who delivers a good sermon?  The unbelieving preacher who is still true to the text?  The drunkard who preaches true?   Or, the loving pastor who can barely put two words together coherently?   The juxtapositions and contradictions of life.   "He who is not against us is for us."  To give God the glory, rather than the preacher.....

Unless you see the real statements of the Defined Contribution plan you can never know if its better than what you have in teh CRCNA plan. The variations in a DC plan are enormous and folks can contribute more or less tha what the CRCNA put into your DB plan. It is almost impossible to compare.  DBs are based on the assumption that the employer will always pay the "Defined Benefit".  As you know from the city of Detroit and some other places this is not always the case.

The question I had is the salary that this DB plan is based on. In Canada they subtract the housing allowance which can be up to 1/3 of a Pastor's income. To not include that allowance in the salary calculation will greatly reduce the pension. ON the other side it would greatly increase the cost of the DB plan.

 

In the US, DB plans in Detroit and in some places in California have had to severely reduce benefits. This risk in DB plan is not always properly understood.

I heard a piece on the radio recently that members of Defined Benefit plans should consider options of opting out of these plans. I wonder if Pastors in our churches could do that and the church would stop paying the ministry shares for that Pastor. Those funds would then be provided to the Pastor to create his own plan. The church could even double that. That process would lead to elimination of the DB plan in the CRC and weaken it significantly. Jerry Hoytema's comment should be a warning sign that our Minister's Pension Plan needs a serious review.

Bruce,

 

I've benefited from what Gordon-Conwell has offered--they have several programs, and it looks like it would not be too far from where you serve.

This is a great resource! I'm sharing in a Facebook group our ministry launched for mental health ministry leaders.

Eager to hear suggestions.

Larry I think you have given a good and agreeable reply in terms of the meaning of these words.  But without your explanation, these words are often misunderstood.  

The problem is that in many ways, capitalism is rather ruthless.  If you don't pay your loans, your property may be sold.  If you lose money at what you do, you may sell your business at a loss.  Larger entities usually buy up and absorb smaller ones, because they have the equity to do so.  A successful new business may end up putting other older businesses out of business.  

Yet, that does not mean that capitalists are necessarily ruthless at heart.  I understand there is a group of billionaires challenged to donate half or more of their income... is Warren Buffet or Bill Gates included in this?  

Materialism as a philosophical concept is certainly anti-Christian.  But most people do not understand it as a philosophical ideal, but simply as a part of reality, of common sense.  God created material, and he created us to live in the material world.  Material and goods are not evil, and even wealth has purpose.  It is very difficult for poor people to emply others or provide others with income.  

 

Anyway, thanks for your clarification.  

Larry: Just as to your #1, abstract concepts ("ruthless capitalism") don't violate commandments, even if people do.  "Capitalism" literally and merely refers to the idea that if one does not consume all that one earns but saves some to invest, that "capital" will generally increase future return, proportionate to the amount invested and not consumed.  (Many poor people have used that methodology to become not poor -- I did, having literally nothing when entering my adult life).

OK sure, there are all kinds of other imprecise definitions of "capitalism," but those definitions are just political rants or epithets being thrown about.   A "free market economy," a phrased that many would syntactically equate with "capitalism," ruthless or otherwise, and one I would prefer to use instead of word "capitalism," means that the government declines to use the power of the sword to force its citizens to "not be selfish."  I think I ought not be selfish, that being selfish violates God's law, but yet I don't think government should restrain me (or others) if I (or others) choose to be selfish, by pointing a gun (or sword) at my head, even if government should restrain me from entering the home of another and taking his money.

This is the difficulty of preaching about broadly labeled political ideas.  It can be done, but ...
 

Dear Ed,

I'll try to answer your questions in the order they appear in your post.

1.  Ruthless capitalism is capitalism that violates the 8th commandment as defined by Lord's day 42 of the H.C.

2.  Materialism is the kind of materialism that precludes people from heaven because their first love is money rather than Jesus.

3. Irresponsible socialism is a socialism that ignores loving your neighbor as yourself, "working faithfully so that I may share with those in need." Q&A 111 0f H.C.  It also violates the sixth commandment as described by the H.C Lord's Day 40.

4.  I think that the pulpit should never bully except through the power of the preached word.  It may make me uncomfortable but then I need to ask is it my defiance of the Word or my obedience to God's word at bottom of this.

5.  Amen to Christlikeness.

Larry

 

Thanks, Larry

Yes, you are overlooking the ones I am referring to. They are the endorsement through the Office of Social Justice and the drumbeat in the Banner of a one sided approach to Global Warming, Fossil Fuels, Open borders, Sanctuary Cities, etc. Recently, Rex Tillotsen, our new Secretary of State made the observation that the best way to lift a country out of poverty is a reliable flow of electricity and the best way to get that is through the use of fossil fuels. But you will not find that perspective in the Banner or in the Office of Social Justice.

When you feel the need to preach against "ruthless capitalism" just how is that defined? Have you, like many of us and our children, watched a business in which you invested your life and your life savings go into bankruptcy because you were not ruthless enough? Just drive through the thousands of shuttered stores in strip malls across the country and try to imagine the heartbreak behind those covered windows. Or is ruthless capitalism just another name for success? Was King David a ruthless capitalist? How about Abraham?

And what is this "materialism" of which you speak? Materialism employs people to make the material. Money always goes somewhere. What may look to you as squandering, may be an intentional and loving way to provide employment to others. Perhaps you remember the 1986 Tax Act. In it, a tax of 10% was levied on all luxury yachts. In this misguided assault on materialism, Chris Craft in Holland, Michigan went out of business and threw a lot of highly skilled Christian workers out of work. 

And "irresponsible socialism" needs a whole lot of explanation. To me the Office of Social Justice is irresponsible socialism.

I resent the use of the pulpit as a bullying position because members of the congregation may have a completely different motivation or set of facts than the pastor may suspect, but they have no opportunity to respond. I resent the use of my ministry shares to advocate for or against social policies closely aligned with one political party. To be sure, there will always be differences between a "tough love" vs "gushing love" approach to helping. But from the pulpit, I want to hear the part about "love" rather than one kind or another. Then I can find those who are committed to working to help as I am convinced Christ would have me work.

In short, I want a church that equips me to be Christlike, not a church that assumes it has the answers, especially when those answers are divisive, or in my mind often wrong.

Thanks for asking.

 

 

Number wise the crcna would certainly be better off if she had not debated women in office for 25 years.  The result was a kind of compromise that said both ways of interpretation of God's word were appropriate. However the compromise did not work.  We ended up with the URC with nearly 20,000 give or take leaving the CRC.  It would have been hard not to talk about it since each year we elect new elders and deacons.

If I hear you correctly you imply that there were other divisive positions the CRCNA has taken.  May I ask what they were: capital punishment, abortion, marriage and divorce, peace and war,maybe I'm overlooking theone(s) you are thinking about.  Help me out here, Ed.

Thanks

 

 

 

Please be a bit careful when you list those things you feel you must preach about, Larry. You see, 81.5% of evangelical Christians who voted, voted for a president who advocates controlling the border, enthusiastic capitalism, a degree of materialism and individual responsibility. And he was supported by a great number of evangelical pastors. Apparently you have a better insight into what scripture teaches, or you are a lot smarter than them, or you have a different bible.

Sure, you can preach on some of these topics, but I can just as easily walk out of your church never to return. Sure, you can ostracize another third of the denomination, but then do not cry when the denominational offices are starving and on the road to extinction. You have reduced your potential market to a very small percent of the population that needs the love of our Lord. You only have a message that resonates with guilt ridden liberals. You have made salvation contingent upon political views. That is the problem when you bully the institutional church, either a local congregation or the denomination, into taking a stand on social issues.

If, instead you focus your preaching on salvation through the blood of our Lord, individual Christians are allowed the freedom to respond to social issues as an expression of their love for our Lord rather than as a duty to the institutional church. I am convinced that this individual expression offers a far richer blessing.

Respectfully Larry, I think you are failing to distinguish between biblical admonitions to people and biblical admonitions to governments.  I am obliged to be a good neighbor even to those who have committed crimes like theft or drug dealing or even rape or murder.  Notwithstanding my obligation to those, government's obligation to those same persons is different.  Government  is obliged to curb those evils, which may often mean prosecuting and incarcerating those people.  

Your and my roles are often quite different than government's role.  We may be required to turn the other cheek, but government couldn't do what God would have government do if its policy is turn-the-other-cheek based.

I'm not saying I know that the current administration's policy on this immigration time-out is good policy, but I am saying its duties, responsibilities and obligations are not correctly understood by applying the lesson of the parable of the Good Samaritan.  Again, this doesn't mean the administration's policy is good policy, but, as I have suggested, neither you nor I nor the institutional church (nor even the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals frankly), are privy to the information required to in order to determine the wisdom of the administration on this policy.  Congress gave this power, and the right to have the information, to the executive branch.  Some in Congress have the right to the information, and to oversight, but you don't, I don't, and the institutional church doesn't.

Beyond that, there are plenty of neighbors that we can be good Samaritans too.  There is no lack there I don't think.

I want to thank everyone who has expressed themselves on this topic, especially Matthew for starting it.

Larry

Jesus parable applied to a man who was left behind by robbers.  His parable could also have included a robber waiting in ambush to attack anyone who might choose to help.  His parable could have included or been about a robber pretending to be hurt and robbed so that he could attack unwary helpers.  But his parable wasn't about that.  It is important not to conflate or blur the distinctions.  

It seems you are arguing and preaching to the converted, those who want to help refugees who truly need it.  But you are ignoring all the other real issues and thus your preaching will simply allienate those who are concerned about protection of the innocent.

All that I meant by referring to the parable of the good Samaritan is that Just as the priest and Levite must have had "good" reasons not to give practical help to the one robbed so it seems we are finding " good reasons" why a temporary ban on certain refugees is acceptable.  But Jesus did not see it that way.  He asked which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell among robbers?  The expert in the law said "the one who had mercy on him"  Jesus told him "Go and do likewise"

Perhaps I'm wrong.  You might be a good samaritan every day of your life but why can you not be a good samaritan toward Syrian refugees right now.  Is there ever a time someone in trouble is not our neighbor?

I'm not following Larry.  How is it that someone has said or otherwise suggested "we cannot be good samaritans in our world"?  I see that being done all the time by Christians.  I practice it quite regularly.  I advocate it.

I think the priest and the levite in the parable of the good Samaritan would have been comfortably at home in your world of logic. Too bad that we cannot be good samaritans in our world.

You are taking some logic leaps there Larry but I assume you know that.  In case you don't, I can't imagine how exactly you can make the case that any kind of ban on Syrian refugees by a sovereign nation for a finite period of time for whatever reason is unbiblical.  Too much nuanced knowledge is required, and there are too many variables that potentially come into play, in my view at least, to be able to responsibly declare the scripture will always be violated when such a ban is implemented by a particular sovereign nation.

And I can't follow you when you say you must preach about all the things you list, BUT on the other hand, I think you certainly can preach on topics than involve greedy capitalism, irresponsible socialism, materialism, etc.  It might take some degree of in-depth knowledge about the subject matters to have the sermon come off as "credible" and not a cheap political pitch, but sure, these subjects are, or their component parts at least are, the object of scriptural admonitions.

Doug,

You have greatly relieved my mind.  I thought you and the others did not want me or others to preach or teach that a ban on Syrian Refugees was unbiblical.  Now I understand you as saying the institutional church may preach against all things that are contrary to scripture such as banning refugees, immigrants, racism, sexism, ruthless capitalism, irresponsible socialism, materialism etc.  So we agree ministers in the CRCNA must preach the Word of God on all these matters and let the chips fall where they may. 

Larry

 

But Larry, the CRCNA already opposes "slavery, apartheid, racism and sexism."  No one opposes that institutional "speaking out" because such speaking out is ecclesiastical (CO Art. 28), just as is speaking about about homosexuality or the human obligation to be a steward of creation.

But it would seem you want the CRCNA to be a political lobbyist as well, as if there is no distinction between pronouncing, as an ecclesiastical matter, that racism is sinful and lobbying congress to pass certain legislation that, say, deals with nuances of voter registration requirements.  There is a difference and even the IRS knows the difference.

To plumb the specifics of your posture on this, would you also want the CRCNA to train paramilitary forces just in case a Hitler-like despot takes over, so that the CRCNA can not only oppose this "Hitler" in words but also with deed?  If not, why not?  

Or to ask another way, just what are your jurisdictional limits, if any, for the CRCNA?  What should Church Order Article 28 allow the CRC assemblies to take up beyond "ecclesiastical matters" (the present church order imposed jurisdictional boundary)?

 

It sounds to me like Doug, John, and others would approve, like the church in Germany once did when they refused to speak up against Hitler, of such ethical issues as slavery, apartheid, racism, sexism.  I do not buy it. Do you really mean the institutional church has no obligation to officially speak out against such evils?

Your easy distinction between individual Christians and the church as institute is tidy but it denies the church of being salt and light in the real world of evil.  If fellow Christians cannot accept speaking out against such evils I suggest they should take it up with God.

I appreciate the reference to "financial issues for long term pastors who have lived in church supplied houses." Not so long ago I received a notice from the CRC Minister's Fund (which pays a certain sum of money towards the funeral costs of pastors who have contributed to this fund), if we please could pay our assessment as soon as possible since some of the widows were unable to pay the funeral costs.

Churches with parsonages reaped the rewards of higher housing prices and many of the pastors upon retirement ended up in an apartment since housing was out of reach, particularly in many cities in Canada. 

Just how much should the Church [in this case the CRC] get involved with anything or everything?

     It appears that a number of comments, including an allusion in my previous post, touch on the fact that a church, in this case the CRC, needs to prioritize its engagements. I wonder at times, if this is one of its greatest challenges, especially when it holds to the idea of "every square inch" is Christ's. It appears that idea, is then taken to mean, that the CRC should get involved in "every square inch" of engagement on this planet. 

    A while ago Palmer Robertson penned an article entitled "Toward a Reformational View of Total Christian Involvement" in two parts, and  suggested the following:

 Sadly the church today has assumed that all the labors of the Messianic kingdom must be funneled through its assemblies. Sadly the church has taken upon itself a role too great for its resources. Sadly the assembled form of Christ's people has lost faith in the working of Christ outside its own assembly halls. The result of this tragic assumption by the church of all that which rightly belongs to the Messianic kingdom is two-fold: first, the most essential task of the church, which is to concern itself with that particular revelation embodied in Christ and incorporated in Scripture has been neglected; and, secondly, by wrestling from the kingdom members their initiative in every realm of human existence, the church has robbed kingdom members of their proper and effective role among the world today......

Receiving its impetus and direction from the church, working individually and in groups as servants of the Lord Christ, the kingdom of Christ assaults every structure and seeks to bring every thought of man into sub-mission to Christ. Christian political organizations direct their efforts toward bringing the secular state into conformity with God's intention for the state. Christian social group strain their efforts to seek social justice among men. Christian educational organizations demand that every philosophy be brought into submission to the lordship of Christ......

So long as the church assumes to itself all the prerogatives which belong to these various ways of God's working in the world, its central task and calling, its unique mission to the world shall be dissipated.

....more later...enough said, other than he sketches out three positions in part 2 of his paper, and here he echoes what has been expressed in some of the posts above:

.....the liberal expands the church so that it engulfs the kingdom. As a result, the church is forced into involvements too deep for its competence. The church usurps those areas of concern which belong rightly to Christians in their vocations, and at the same time neglects its distinctive responsibility of expounding Scriptural truth to its people. The result is that kingdom members lack the theological depth necessary for accurate and significant action, while the church issues ineffective decrees on subjects beyond its competence.

Hope that helps.

John

 

 

Hi Larry,

I think in order to answer that question meaningfully, several words need to be parsed.  What exactly is involved in "caring" and which of the "refugees" are we referring to?  Caring can involve anything from prayer, taking of offerings for relief organizations, volunteering in refugee camps overseas, individual sponsorship, offering a job, serving in the armed forces attempting to bring peace and stability to war-torn areas, or if you subscribe to the theory of Cataclysmic Anthropomorphic Climate Change, something as mundane as changing a light bulb, installing weather stripping on windows, or forgoing that spring vacation with your family.  As for refugees, which of the millions of refugees worldwide is this mandate for care referring to?  All of them?  If not all of them, which ones, and how do some get excluded?  If "caring" automatically means advocating for the admittance of a certain number of international refugees, my question is "Why do you hate the rest of the refugees so much?"  Which level of care is mandated in Scripture and how do you arrive at that conclusion?  Do you have the expertise and inside knowledge to dictate a certain level of refugee admittance or a certain protocol for refugee screening to the government? 

Without exploring these types of questions, I don't think we can come to solid conclusions.  Barring that exploration, I would encourage you to individually do what your conscience convicts you to do along that continuum of care of all the people God brings into your life (including refugees).  And likewise, as is preached from many pulpits every Sunday, the rest of God's people should also be exhorted to love their neighbor as themselves.  The particulars of what that love looks like begin in the heart and will look different from person to person and situation to situation.  If we begin to dicatate to one another the only acceptable versions of care and love, I fear we will resemble the Pharisees as they laid heavy burdens on the people with their minute parsings of what it meant to live out a particular command.

 

I don't think you are understanding John's comment correctly, Danielle.  Or maybe I'm not, but here's my take on what John suggests (and Ed for that matter), which would be mine as well.

First, there are two questions here, perhaps three, and if you don't understand the questions to be two (or three), and not one, you won't understand John's comment or what I think.

Question #1 is this: What should government do in terms of setting laws and policies that allow or disallow refugees from entering the country (US or Canada)?

Question #2 is this: What should we, folks in this country (US or Canada) -- whether as individuals or local churches or even denominations -- do when there are refugees that our government's laws and policies will be entering this country?

Here's the possible Question #3:  What should we, folks in this country (US or Canada) -- whether as individuals or local churches or even denomination -- do when there are refugees but in other countries as opposed to ours? 

So the answer to Question #1: As to the institutional church, it should simply allow the government to do its job.  In terms of those of us who hold the "office of voter," we should exercise that office (hopefully with intelligence and discernment) but certainly, it is not the jurisdiction of the pastor of a local church (or its council, or synod, or the executive director of the denomination) to lobby the federal government in behalf of church members in favor or against one possible government policy or another.

My suggested answer to Question #2: As to individuals and the local and denominational institutional church, we should consider what individual ("love mercy") or communal ("deaconal") responsibility we might have to directly act, working with government but not lobbying it, knowing that refugees may be coming to where we live, and then actually act according to that responsibility (e.g., sponsor refugees -- my church did this in the 1970's/1980's, sponsoring Vietnamese and Loation families).

My suggested answer to Question #3: As to individuals and local and denominational institutional church, we should consider what individual ("love mercy") or communal ("deaconal") responsibility we might have to directly act, knowing that refugees that exist in other countries, and then act according to that responsibility, which might take the form of supporting organizations like World Renew, or possibly by (an individual) deciding to physically going to those other countries to help out.

You may be correct in pointing out, Danielle, that if the government isn't letting refugees in, or so many of them, then we (individuals or local churches, etc) can't enfold those refugees.  But there is lots of other work to do it the world.  We could address other issues needing addressing (and we won't run out of issues needing addresses).  And hey, those of us individuals who hold the office of "voter" can get into the politics of it.  But the key point is that it is not the jurisdiction of the institutional church, local or denominational, whether via pastor, council, synod, or ED, to be the political lobbyist for all of us, even if the institutional church, at whatever level, should act in its deaconal role (which does not include being political lobbyist for all member as to government policy).

Hi John, just to clarify how refugee systems work: it is impossible for individual citizens to sponsor refugees without working with the government. It's not quite as simple as putting the responsibility on individual citizens. As we've seen with the recent mass layoffs at World Relief, government decisions to limit the number of refugees coming into the country directly and immediately affect the ability of churches to welcome refugees. The CRC has a long history of churches welcoming refugees, on both sides of the border, and we can't do that without working with the U.S. and Canadian governments. 

Confusing caring for people with condoning their illegal activities is a non-starter.  We care for people in prison, but do not suggest that the courts were wrong in putting them in prison.  If a nation decides in its interest to delay approval of refugees, or to deny them entrance, or to screen them and put conditions on entry, can a minister legitimately contravene that policy?  Under what conditions?  Is a right for a minister (or any christian) to protest a war, or to protest taxes, or to protest unpaved streets, or to protest global trade?  Is he doing this as a minister, or as an individual private christian with his own opinions on these matters.  

As a minister, he should focus on the gospel unto salvation.  Not put himself into a box of social activism which may end up biting him in the butt when he gets more information in five years.  

Caring for the poor does not mean putting the responsibility on the government, but picking up the task at home with your own hands. 

 

Let me suggest three things that we all must do because we believe that scripture teaches caring for refugees.

1 Recognize that ISIS promised to seed the refugees with hardened terrorists.

2 Put a value on the lives of those who will be blown up when these terrorists strike.

3 Give the President the benefit of the doubt when he asks for a 90 day halt to figure out ways to identify and cull these terrorists before reopening the door to refugees.

This seems to be a responsible and biblical way to balance love for our fellow human beings and their safety with our responsibility to care for the refugees.

What must a minister do when he believes scripture teaches caring for refugees. Period . 

 

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