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I’m glad that in June the CRC and RCA Synods are meeting at the same time in Pella, Iowa, and worshiping together from the same hymnal. I welcome the joint recommendation to both of our synods to acknowledge how much we have in common...
April 24, 2014 0 0 comments
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Soon after his promotion from lecturer to professor of Old Testament studies at our Theological School in 1914, Ralph Janssen was to face growing suspicions of "liberalism."
April 22, 2014 1 0 comments
Discussion Topic

In 2012, Synod adopted a new category, Ecumenical Faith Documents, and placed the Belhar Confession therein. This category is interesting and puzzling.  This category was never defined by Synod 2012 and I believe a definition was put on hold during Synod 2013.  There was an overature presented...

February 21, 2014 0 0 comments
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The Office of Synodical Services is in the process of soliciting nominees for service as ethnic and deacon advisers, as well as young adult representatives to synod.
October 24, 2013 0 0 comments
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The Board of Trustees meets three times per year to implement matters assigned by synod and carry out interim functions on behalf of synod. "BOT Highlights" are published following each meeting and distributed to churches by way of the stated clerk of classis. Here's the latest issue.
October 15, 2013 0 0 comments
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There is much I like about the shepherding model.  I especially like the emphasis on listening.  I just think that the listening should take place sooner.  
October 2, 2013 0 0 comments
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When I think about the things that make me impatient with synod, I confess to the sin of cynicism. (Is cynicism de facto a sin? I’ve come to think so. Christians just don’t get to do gratuitous negativity.) On the other hand, when I’m feeling good about a particular synod, and someone snidely says to me, “Yeah, but what did they actually ACCOMPLISH?” I feel deflated... 
September 30, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I am a bit behind on this topic. However to pressure on folks who already work in mostly difficult circumstances this is a difficult position to support. If we apply it to Back to God Ministries International and Home Missions the traffic on our pulpits asking for money eould increase...

September 8, 2013 0 27 comments
Q&A

Can anyone tell me whether the CRCNA has completed a review or study of the NIV2011?

I have looked in the last few Synod Agendas, but have not found anything.

If such a study exists, could you please direct me to it, or send me a link? 

 

Much apprecaited

Dave...

August 17, 2013 0 4 comments
Discussion Topic

Firstly, it is important to mention that I have no issue whatsoever about the quality of the officers of Synod, this year or in the past.

The selection process has become a popularity contest ... in the best sense of the word. Officers are selected on the first day of synod, and if you...

July 31, 2013 0 9 comments
Blog
To be of assistance to you, our office has gathered the decisions of Synod 2013 that are of special importance for the churches in the attached summary document. Please take time to review these highlights in your upcoming council meeting.
July 30, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog
Synod 2013 has made a believer out of me.  There I said it.In my first post as Synod Blogger, I confessed to y’all that, with the exception of a few critical issues, I have never followed Synod all that closely.  Delegates to the Spring gathering of Classis Hackensack will recall I deferred being a delegate with this martyr’s concession: “I’ll fall on my sword next year.” 
July 9, 2013 0 0 comments
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This summer, synod encouraged all Christian Reformed churches to adopt a church policy on disability and to appoint at least one person in the congregation to serve as a church disability advocate. Has your church taken both of these steps?
July 1, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

For those who followed Synod 2013 (a lot or a little, delegate or observer); how would you describe Synod 2013 in six words or phrases?

You can just give your six or feel free to unpack why you picked that word or phrase.

I'll start; Synod 2013 was...
 
A Slow Start - It...

June 25, 2013 0 1 comments
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We are also concerned about the churches to which we belong and which we miss dearly. We have been worshiping with that church in mind. We have prayed for her, for you. We have debated and decided on her behalf. We have prayed and worked for her welfare.
June 25, 2013 0 2 comments
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The 450th Anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism is this year. What does one get for a Catechism?
June 24, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

The Associated Press on June 15, 2013 noted: "The conversation is no longer solely about how to save the planet by cutting carbon emissions. It's becoming more about how to save ourselves from the warming planet's wild weather." Even Al Gore now is saying that the need to cope with rising seas...

June 18, 2013 0 17 comments
Blog
At Synod last week the Diakonia Remixed Report was discussed. Ultimately what was discussed on the Synod floor was different than what had been submitted by the task force. Here's what happened...
June 16, 2013 0 1 comments
Blog
What is an “Ecumenical Faith Declaration”? What does it mean that we have accepted the Belhar Confession in this category?  Did we just leave Synod 2012 sorely confused, not sure what just happened but guessing that it probably wasn’t good? 
June 11, 2013 0 4 comments
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The prophet Micah says, “To love mercy, to do justice and to walk humbly with our God.” The CRCNA says...
June 11, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

The schedule for Synod 2013 tells us that the Diakonia Remixed report will be discussed on Wednesday evening.  Synod will be discussing, among other things, the role of deacons in the broader assemblies of the church.  This is one live webcast I'm going to pop the popcorn for, because it will...

June 10, 2013 0 8 comments
Blog
It is all well and good to say that we want to keep the main thing the main thing.  Problem is, we can’t decide on the main thing.
June 10, 2013 0 4 comments
Blog
Two overtures are coming to Synod next week regarding the current pension system of the denomination.
June 6, 2013 0 8 comments
Blog
I have this sense that among young leaders there is a growing attitude rejecting traditional forms of church governance. A lot of us have a hard time with the idea that the decisions made by this binational gathering will have any helpful impact on the day to day work of the Kingdom of God. At the same time, some of these young leaders have started a hashtag #crcgroundswell looking for stories of God’s Holy Spirit at work in our churches...
June 6, 2013 0 3 comments
Blog
The Faith Formation Study Committee has been working steadily for the past four years. What could have been a contentious issue (adapting the practice of profession of faith and allowing “age and ability appropriate faith in Jesus Christ” to be the marker of admittance to The Lord’s Supper) has been utilized as an opportunity for church congregations, ministry leaders and councils to reflect again on the gracious nature of faith.
June 4, 2013 0 0 comments

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Hey Graham.....yes, see the document attached to this article above.

We (YALT) also disseminate LOTS of content through our three online streams that I would encourage you to follow:

 

http://www.crcna.org/yalt

http://www.facebook.com/weareyalt

http://www.twitter.com/weareyalt

 

You're also free to contact us at ya@crcna.org.

Shaun Doyle has written an interesting article on how christian evolutionists are sometimes simply erring brothers, rather than raging heretics or Christ deniers.  The article is found on creation.com.   Some others disagree with him, but he makes the point well, especially in his responses to some outside commenters.   Following is one quote:  "Shaun Doyle responds   http://creation.com/genesis-gospel

Please also see Common ground with old-earth creationists?, which provides a counterbalancing perspective to the one offered in this article. I agree that the secular view of origins is the opposite of what the Bible says, but this does not mean that everyone who believes it has rejected the gospel. Please also see the related articles section, which expands on the issues briefly discussed in this article.

Let me also add that I empathize with you. I came from a non-Christian home, and the major stumbling block stopping me from becoming a Christian was Genesis 1–11. Basically, I thought that the Bible was so obviously wrong on basic history that anything else it had to say was utterly irrelevant. So, God made me a biblical creationist before He made me a Christian because that's the way it had to be for me. As such, I have always been perplexed at why Christians would bother trying to marry the Bible with deep time; it seems so obviously fruitless to me that it would be a waste of time. Nevertheless, I can see that many genuine Christians do just that."

 

posted in: Genesis - Again!

Hi Harry, Thanks for this contribution.  Christian Reformed World Missions recently revised its protocol for dealing with estate gifts.  As long as our "ready reserve" is funded, additional estate income is split between our Johanna Veenstra Missionary Support Fund and our New Initiative Fund.  The first fund is designed to assist those missionaries who have difficulty reaching their new (and higher) missionary support goals.  A few years ago we sent a young woman as a missionary who had become a Christian as an adult so she had no Christian family and was only really known in one congregation.  This makes it pretty difficult to raise support.  She is the kind of person who could benefit from this fund.  The New Initiative Fund will enable us to seize opportunities that come up after our long planning process is under way, but which are compelling.  This year we are doing a conference on Muslim ministry for CRC and RCA practitioners and leaders.  If we develop balances in these funds we will need further refinement of our protocols for their use.

Thank you Wendy for a good review of funding models for missions. I started with highlighting the difficulty of asking missionaries to fund raise and applying that model to other CRCNA agencies. I want to be careful to exclude World Renew as they are not tied to ministry shares. To some extent this agency is reactive and gets support based on specific disasters or other  situations that people can readily identify with. Also their government support for programs is significant because of the doubling or tripling of gifts received. My suggestion is to take World Renew out of this discussion. 

But they do have one very interesting principle and that is their  "Joseph Program". Simplistically every dollar they get from estates is spent over a seven year period. If you look at the estate receipts for all the CRCNA agencies you will note the BTGMI has the highest level if income from this source.  They put 100% of these gifts into current year operatings. My position is that they, and all the other agencies, should copy the WR policy.  If readers of this blog want to find out what the trends in estate giving is over the next 15 - 20 years, just ask the Barnabas Foundation in the USA or Christian Stewardship Services in CND. 

While churches have to be careful to amass pools of capital, the Joseph principle, given some of the aging trends in society and especially in churches, should cause us to consider such an approach. 

 

Greetings all:

A lot of good comments going on.

     I have heard said that some organizations suffer from too little administration and the staff suffer from burnout and the 'clients' in the field waste huge amounts of time trying to get answers from untrained and unavailable staff. Meanwhile the organization can boast how little it spends on adminisration. On the other hand, there are organizations which hire all kinds of administrative staff and they create make-work projects to justify their jobs. The 'clients' in the field get burned out, not because they do not get answers, but because they have to produce answers for all kinds of people.  I have seen both sides of the coin. 

  Yet, it would be interesting to crunch some statistics with organizations to see what the administrative staff to 'clients' on the field actually is, where it has been, and where it is going. If the trajectory is to more and more admin staff, and less and less 'clients' one has to wonder if a problem is developing.

  As long as the admin staff does not need to have the entrepreneurial mindset of the 'clients' who now have to raise more and more of their support, essentially you will have an organization who is riding on the backs of the 'clients'.

  Any thoughts

Shalom

 

Hi Bill,

I'll give a quick response which others might want to add to.  Budgets, not just salaries, are set through a very careful process.  The salary is set by a formula used by all denominational gencies.  No one can decide for him/herself what their salary ought to be.  World Missions provides the needed expertise to assist in the fundraising effort.  The taxable portion is determined by what the IRS deems as salary.  Sometimes missionaries also pay certain taxes in the country of service as well. All World Missions accounts are overseen by a CRCNA finance office person who is designated as CRWM finance manager.  She in turn is audited by an outisde firm and there is potential for an IRS audit as well.  The IRS makes it relatively easy to become a tax exempt organization and if you did, you could put your wife on the payroll, but that doesn't seem to have anything to do with the question of how CRWM funds and oversees its missionaries.

Missionaries in a number of our other categories have raised 90% for years.  Only the career category had a lower threshold.  However, you must remember that most of the missionary support funding is given by CRC churches and individuals who trust their denominational agency to serve them by providing proper oversight to the work.  We are blessed with strong relationships off trust which we will work hard to maintain.  I am confident that the concerns you raise will not derail the purpose of the mission: to gather and build the Church of Jesus Christ and advance His Kingdom.

I don't mean to "whine" about ministry shares, but many suppose that, as in the past, they carry the bulk of our budget.  They remain very important, but without new sources of revenue, we can grow our ministry.  That is just factual information.

Thanks for the conversation Bill

Commenters on this topic may be interested in viewing the latest global missions post, "Funding Global Missions." I talk about the changing support models and link to a more in-depth article by Catalyst Services. http://network.crcna.org/content/global-mission/funding-global-missions

Bill, I share a number of concerns with you. Some of it is certainly my ignorance so please bear with me.

How are the salaries set? If I am a skilled fund raiser and raise, say $500,000. Is World Missions liable for $50,000? Can I hire a fund raising firm with the needed expertise? What part of the $500,000 is taxable? In which country? Who audits the expenditure of the $500,000? Who handles the withholding? Can I apply for tax exempt status as a stand alone entity? Can I put my wife on the payroll?

It seems to me that at 10%, there is insufficient leverage to,"call the tune." At some point, the individual is no longer a CRC missionary, but rather a free lancer. In addition, the potential for fraud is quite apparent. And, if we exert control over employment conditions, does the CRC have liability?

And please stop whining about diminishing ministry shares. We stood by and watched a third of our denomination (mostly the conservative, reliable givers) walk away over the women in office controversy. Now, we are doing the same thing with the hyper environmentalists. If we cannot find ways to embrace those that think a bit differently, then we must be prepared to cut all denominational programs in half, again and again. Those decisions have consequences.

I am not cynical, but my orientation is sales/business. From that perspective, we sometimes do some really dumb things.

In the "90's" I was a church planter in FL and a significant portion of our revenue came from CRC supporters who were not members of our churh. They may have been the "Piper" however they knew that the local church leadership had to make the decisions...that was our verbal understanding and that is how it worked out.

Supporters of missions, or anyone else have NO EXPECTION of having a "say" in what the missionary does and no missionary would accept support from someone who gave with "string attached". As was said to me frequently, "I was not caed to plant a church, however God HAS given me the gift to make money which can be used to extend the boundaries of the Kingdom."

I have always accepted the dictum, "The one who pays the piper names the tune." If a person raises 100% of his business expenses . . . .

Hi Keith,

While the CRC has not had a required support raising expectation in the past, missionaries have always had a role in gathering the financial support needed for the work to be accomplished.  At our Michigan 125th anniversary celebration one of our former directors commented that when he began mission service in 1957, a single congregation provided 100% of his support.  Currently, the largest church-missionary relationship is about 10%.  CRWM's Ministry Share income, which made it possible to not have a required support level, this year has about half the purchasing power it did in 1990.  

While I definitely understand and deeply appreciate your concern for our missionaries, something has to change if we are going to have a growing ministry.  There are several ways that this burden can be lightened for those missionaries.  One is to ask missionaries how their support level is, so they don't have to bring up the topic, and get others to join you in responding to the need.  As you mention some people have a hard time with this part of the missionary task.  The new Veenstra Missionary Support Fund is there to assist people who lack the kind of connections that enable the building of a strong support network.  And, of course, Ministry Share will continue to cover the full cost of children's education, children's travel, outfitting allowances and several other categories so that these are not counted in the goal calculation. 

Most younger missionaries expect that support raising is going to be part of the missionary task.  After all, that is how the overwhelming majority of missionaries gain 100% of all the cost categories plus a significant administrative charge.  CRWM and the CRC are well equipped to lighten the burden through the means already mentioned, and have a growinng ministry into the future.

The notion of having missionaries -- or anybody involved in Christian ministry -- raise the majority of their support is apalling. It is valid to have folks seek prayer support and even a bit of personal support from friends, local church or family. That is tied in to an affirmation of the sense of 'calling' to the ministry.

That's the point: being called. Firstly, we're ALL called to the ministry, and for some that ministry is the pulpit; for others it is business or carpentry or teaching or collecting garbage.

 

Why is it that when a seminary graduate is called to the ministry, he/she is given at least a modest salary and a house or housing allowance. When a seminary graduate is called to serve as missionary ... and has the gifts of teaching, leadership, cultural awareness, we suddenly expect that person to have the gift of fundraising.

Fundraising is a specific talent. Some are very good at it; many cringe at the thought of having to ask for money.

World Missions has a highly qualified staff in the denominational office: men and women gifted to serve in administration, leadership development, communication, etc. Hire an employee who feels called to raise funds. That allows those who feel called to serve on a mission field to use their God-given gifts in preaching, teaching,leadership, etc.

If there is a World Missions missionary who regularly delights in asking for an increasing percentage of fnancial support every year, peraps he/she is called to that task. My hunch is that most overseas staff cringe at the thought of having to raise tens of thousands of dollars. They may even be paralysed by the notion and it may severely impact the effectiveness of their ministry.

I have had the privilege of working in the denominational offices of a few mainline denominations where those missionary staff were expected to raise a good portion of their own support. The CRC was always held up as an ideal model: If you feel called, the Church sends you. No strings attached.

Well, today, missionaries must feel the burden of that financial chain around their necks.

The CRC has always avoided that archaic notion of having to raise your own support for ministry. We don't do it for pastors, college professors, worship directors. Why do we pick on mission staff, domestic or overseas? Are they not worthy of denominational support? Why do they need to 'affirm their sense of calling' by raising their own support? Try that with our next crop of Calvin Seminary graduates: If you can raise $50,000 then we'll consider you for our pulpit. Nonsense!

If you feel called to serve as a missionary, the Church needs to send a strong message of encouragement: Go! No strings attached.

 

A recent comment posted in this discussion forum was removed because of racially offensive content.

Here is the comment that was posted (as a reply to another comment) on Wed, 09/11/2013 at 8:03pm EST.

"the reason why the CRC was "successful" in the past is very simple, and it has more to do with anthropology and sociology than with faith and religion: racial solidarity"

I have am not Dutch,  have no ties with the CRC, and never heard of the CRC until I was over 50 years old and moved 10 blocks from [my church]. I knew exactly what I was getting myself into 20 years ago when i joined the CRC, an ethnic local church dominated by maybe 4  or 5 families.  Still very glad that I did.

I suspect that if the CRC had remained an ethnic Dutch church then the CRC would be much smaller but debt free. OK, at least in much better financial shape.  I think it was opening the doors to outsiders, particularly ethnic minorities that caused the financial problems -  that and the CRC doesn't seem very good at investing large sums of money. 

These types of comments are not acceptable on The Network and fall far short of our desire for conversations on The Network to be polite, courteous and Christ-like.

We would like to see some good come from this incident. Over in our Racial Reconciliation forum, a new topic has been posted that invites discussion of this incident. To participate in this learning opportunity this comment has generated visit this discussion topic in the Racial Reconciliation and Anti-Racism discussion forum.

- Jonathan Wilson (Network Community & Content Manager)

I think this conversation at least is helpful to remind churches about the importance of at minimum a once a year check in with the missionaries they support to see if their funding needs are being met. (Presuming we are regularly praying and supporting our missionaries as well).   It's relatively easy to repeat the same budget number year after year -- but a brief connection to talk about funding needs acknowledges the changing funding pattern.  One of our missionaries has been asked to raise an extra $1,000 per month in support after years of always exceeding their pledge numbers.  If we don't ask - we don't know -- and there is a fear/perception that asking for more funding puts them in a bad light so often they don't ask -- let's free our denominational missionaries up for missions and not fundraising - Please check in with your missionaries please before your church drafts its 2014 budget.

Hi Harry,

Yes, I was one of them.  It wasn't that my proposed work didn't fit with the CRWM mandate.  When I was preparing to serve in Eastern Europe in 1996 CRWM didn't have the funding to put such a position in the budget.  I was referred to another agency where I had to raise 115% of my actual costs.  In my case I was able to shift to a career position later, but that is a rare thing.  For 20 years CRWM has had few open positions and many who felt called to missions went with other organizations.  This year, for the first time in my ten years in the office, we have six open positions.  I expect more next year.  Praise God.

Dear Steve,

You mean to tell me that CRWM turned away missionaries who were prepared to raise their own funds?  I do have an example of a missionary who was prepared the raise his own money but was turned down by CRWM because what was propsed did not fit with CRWM mandate. That was probably one of the CRC folks now working for an other organization.

…I am going to name one of the elephants in the CRC living room

the reason why the CRC was "succesfull" in the past is very simple, and it has more to do with anthropology and sociology than with faith and religion: racial solidarity

those who grew up in the bosom of the CRC know very well what I am talking about

The cost of doing all kinds of ministry has gone up.  No matter how wonderful historic methods of raising support for ministry were, or how deeply attached to them we are, we do have to address current realities and challenges.  This is what World Missions is attempting to do.  Interestingly, most of our missionaries have embraced the change as challenging but necessary. 

Bill, you are being synical. Having staff and seeking the lost while retaining the "found" is not an easy thing and has nothing to do with "comfort and entertainment"! Bringing new people into the CRC who have never "tithed" requires much time and training, therefore in order to meet present CRC expectations, others would have to make up the difference. Also young families sending their children to a Christian school face a huge amount to cover church budget and denominational ministry shares. I'm not trying to defend the meeting of budget nor not...I am trying to offer an explaination for the present problem. Blessings!

In other words, we may tithe but 90% of the tithe money is spent on keeping ourselves comfortable and entertained?

I'm not a church historian, however our "quote/ministry share" system goes back to a time when the church had one poorly paid pastor who lived in a parsonage and the membership was pretty much static. Church growth was biological with additional increase coming from CRC membees moving in from another area. Churches were proud that they paid 100% and the denomination was proud that kur missionaries were fully funded.

Today churches have staff, all of whom are paid well and considerable money is spent for local evangelism, youth and education. The local church today simply cannot afford ministry share and also seek to grow in their community and retain their own youth.

Yes, there are exceptions, however when you look at who is paying and who is not typically you will find that ageing churches do better at MS than growing congregations. I believe that this trend will increase and therefore the denomination will have to change with the times.

"I wish that, as a confessionally Reformed church, every congregation gave 101% of their
designated annual amount per member."

I wonder how many congregations give 100% . . . 90%? As I recall, synod has been getting less than 75% of budget, Been awhile since I read then numbers.

 

Dear Friends,

Just a quick response here partly in reply to Edward Gabrielse´s comment from a current CRWM missionary family.

My wife and I have been career missionaries now for just over 10 years in Guadalajara, Mexico. We have been extremely blessed by twenty CRC churches and several hundreds of individual/family supporters/partners (most of whom are also CRC) -- so much so that I suspect that the transition to raising 90% of our support will not be difficult, although it will require effort. 

When that happens, we will be receiving 10% of our support from CRC ministry shares, but the other 90% will not be coming from outside the CRC as Edward suggests.  In fact, my estimate is that, in our case, probably 90% of the other 90% will come from CRC members who will support us through their churches' missionary support programs or by sending their support directing to the CRWM office earmarked for us. We will continue to be 100% CRWM missionaries working under the authority and supervision of both CRWM and our sending church (Seymour CRC, Grand Rapids, MI)!

Most missionaries do not relish raising funds. At the same time I can testify to two things: 1. CRC members and others respond generously and cheerfully when presented with an opportunity to invest in God's Kingdom by giving to CRWM mission efforts.  2. While most CRWM home office staff do not raise funds for their own support in the same way missionaries do, they are extremely helpful in assisting missionaries to raise both their regular support and project suppport.

Personally, I lament thte Ministry Share program is in decline. I wish that, as a confessionally Reformed church, every congregation gave 101% of their designated annual amount per member. At the same time, I believe that CRWM's decision, ratified by Synod, to move to this new funding model is the right way to go.

Rev. Ben and Amy Meyer

CRWM Guadalajara, Mexico

bmeyer@crcna.org

P.S.  Please send your checks in support of our church planting and leadership development efforts in Mexico in partnership with the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico and Multiplication Network Ministries to CRWM, 1700 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI  49508 (Note on memo line that gift is for Ben and Amy Meyer Acct. #: 802198)!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a thought.

If our missionaries only receive 10% of their support from the CRC, are they CRC missionaries? If 40% of the remaining support comes from well meaning Lutherans and the other 50% from socially concerned Episcopalians or Catholics, are they really our missionaries? Do we have any supervisory authority over their work or their theology? And if not, what is the point of CRWM? Local churches can just as easily send contributions directly to the missionaries and eliminate the overhead of a central office.

Many CRWM mission leaders did raise support for our overseas assignments.  Some served with agencies where 100% support raising was necessary.  However, CRC folk seem pretty reluctant to support office staff.  Most who had support networks overseas saw them shrivel once based in North America.  This is true even for people who spend substantial time overseas.  It seems that people want to support direct ministry.  Of course, many office staff are raising funds for ministry.  It just isn't in the name of the office staff person.

Bev brings up the example of YWAM where EVERYONE raises their own support...even those in leadership. Wonder what our Headquarters personnel would say to that?

1992 was a different world.  From the end of WW2 until around 1970 the US and Canada lived in a dream world of an economic bubble. The cost of living in most countries was much lower than here. The bubble has popped and we are regressing to the 1850-1950 or so economic norm.  I don't think "the good old days" will return in this  generation and I no suggestion except to seriously consider it.

As far as I know, every level of YWAM missionaries raise their own support... this is the case with a number of other ministries as well as Steve mentions...  I see it on a local level with young people raising support as they are called as intercessory missionaries and involved with the local prayer center where I'm on the board... now try raising support for that!!

one of the things this enables YWAM to do, is that they help hundreds of families with affordable adoptions, several social workers/attorneys raise their own support and then give their time to the adoption process... and affordable adoptions is a justice issue.

Dear Harry,  Your concern for our missionaries, missions and the Church are deeply appreciated.  I do have to agree that you are a bit behind on this topic.  Actually, Home Missions church planters have had to raise most of the financial support for their church planting for quite some time.  World Missions career missionaries have had a goal to gather the majority of the worldwide average cost of a missionary since 1992.  At that time the Ministry Share system yielded about $5.5 million for CRWM.  Now more than twenty years later the Ministry Share system yields about $5 million.  If CRWM is going to have a growing impact on the world which needs Christ, it must seek new ways of gathering the financial resources needed.

You ask how many young people will commit themselves to mission service given the increased emphasis on developing a network of support.  I believe the answer is many more.  For the past twenty years CRWM has often had to turn aside people who have felt God's call to mission service, because there was not sufficient funding for new positions.  Meanwhile, many CRC people have gone into mission service with other organizations which require 100% support raising, plus an administrative fee of 15% or more.  Denominations which have made this shift in the past have substantially grown their mission force.  The PCA mission agency, serving a similar sized denomination, has a mission force many times our size. 

David,

I serve on the Denominational Translation Review committee and we have not reviewed the 2011 NIV.

Generally, we don't do that unless a classis overtures for a translation to be reviewed and that has not happened (yet) in this case.

Another reality is that the Denominational Translation Review Committee is not really a standing committee, but was more of an ad hoc committee under the supervision of CRC Publications.

My guess is that no one has yet thought about where any new Translation Review work would be housed. Probably in the Denominational Board of Trustees.

Another question is whether the 2011 NIV would need a special review. Since the earlier NIV and the TNIV have both been studied and approved, and the 2011 NIV runs pretty close to the 1984 edition of the NIV, and even closer to the TNIV, it may be just assumed that it's approved.

That would be my opinion, for what it's worth.

Blessings,
Thomas Niehof
Ames, Iowa

I've come across the following review which appears to be fairly comprehensive:

 

“An Evaluation of the 2011 Edition of the New International Version”, by Rodney J. Decker in Themelios vol 36 issue 3 November 2011

http://thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/an_evaluation_of_the_201...

Thanks Jolanda, much appreciated!

Hi Dave, I passed your question along to Paul Faber, an editor at Faith Alive. He edits the Acts of Synod every year so he is up to speed on questions like this. Here's what Paul said:   The CRCNA has not conducted a study specifically on the 2011 NIV, but it may do so in the next year or two or three. It would probably take an overture or a recommendation from the BOT to get a study committee started. Synod did approve use of the TNIV soon after it came out (see Acts of Synod 2006, p. 651), and it approved the 1984 NIV many years ago. The TNIV is no longer in print, and its publisher (Zondervan) has basically replaced it (and the 1984 NIV) with the 2011 NIV. A comparison of the differences between these versions is carefully cataloged at http://www.slowley.com/niv2011_comparison/#books, showing that most of the changes are relatively minor. Hope this helps! 

I support George Vink's statements entirely. As a delegate to Synod 2013 and a few others, I think the current process works well. Pray for the right people to be elected and pray for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide the vote, as well as every decision. It is God's church, and I believe we can trust him t o lead and guide us in the work of Synod.

Unless Synod delegates are very much unlike the members of First Everett CRC, it is a problem to get people to agree to be synodical officers.  

 

We can theoretically re-elect the same president or officers year after year under our present system, as long as classes send them as delegates. A scan through Acts of Synod will point out that we've had a few presidents who served at least two consecutive years. Synodical rules would need to be put in place to limit the number of consecutive times a person can serve as president.

There is, I admit, a potential problem in trying too hard to 'control' the make-up of the officers of Synod. We are doing that currently when it comes to the kinds of advisors we delegate to synod: ethnic advisors, youth advisors. I hope that we never see the day coming when delegates are encouraged to choose an ethnic minority lay person to serve as an officer.

Let me stress that we need qualified officers to facilitate the work of synod. Historically, those qualified officers come from the pool of ministers... and they have done an excellent job.  We simply need to find a way to identify qualified lay leadership. There are undoubtedly elder delegates whose day job involves managing large staffs, or multinational corporations, or providing leadership training within the corporate world, but who at the same time have a passion for Church Order, Synodical Rules, and a passion for the church.

I initially raised this question because Synod decided to study how deacons can become more intimately involved in the work of synod. That question could be extended to the one-half of delegates who are elders.

Keith, I don't see this working. The eventual result is that the same people are in leadership over and over. Someone could be president of synod 5+ times in a row under your suggestion. This would not be good. For the sake of continuity, we would sacrifice diversity. I would much rather see new, less experienced folks, who brought a variety of new perspectives.

OK, Keith, let's see what this small mind might suggest.

1. Have Classes nominate those from their midsts that have demnstrated their ability to give leadership, make decisions, and understand procedure. Most years there are more nominations than needed. With the nominations, give some qualifications, endorsements and recommendations/testimonials.

2. If the above leads to only 3 or so for each position, that's sufficient. Popularity and being well-known, unless it's a matter of noteriaty, is not all bad. Persons, including pastors, deacons and elders, become known for generally good reasons indicating some ability that may  apply to the office.

3. Somewhat tongue in cheek, but give a "Synod Procedure" test to all. Officers should be aware of the material coming in front, but almost more imporantly, the procedures that are possible ways of dealing with the unusual. (I believe Wm K. demonstrated this ability well on several occasions requiring judicious calls to restrain action at times etc. ) Possibly a qualification could be a chairman of an advisory committee or reporter of the same for respective officers.

4. Elminate the host church's pastor from elimination (Sorry Reginald/Reggie) He or she may not be the best qualitied, but due to their initial exposure, always make for a good runoff. ( I did enjoy R's sense of humor too though.)

5. Synocial experience of at least a few ought to be a basic. How do we get elders more eager to come?  Disqualify pastors who now  come as elders. This distorts the balance of clergy and elders/deacons. Pastors should come as pastors, and  commissioned pastors as pastors if they have the theological training, not necessarily those CP's based on their staff position as Worship Pastor or Outreach Pastor.

6. Appreciate an appropriate self awareness that some just don't serve best in those capacities. Some humbly suggest they'll serve in any capacity but shouldn't consider it at all. I delighted in my first classis experience when a colleague was supposed to take a turn by squence suggested to chair and declined, saying, " I don't even chair council or family meetings, why would I try to chair this unruly bunch." Applause and "Amens" affirmed his self-denial and honest awareness.

7. Trust that God's church will not fall apart at one Synod becaue an officer didn't quite meet all the requirements. He's not alone on the podium. In fact, there always the George Vinks among the delegation who'll entertain the others with their regular, required, but often unapprciated, "Point of Order, Mr. President." Anyhow, here you have some thoughts from a smaller than others' mind.

With all due respect, George, the system is 'broke'. As a well-known pastor, even a recently-retired one, you would stand a very good chance of being elected as one of the officers of synod if you were to be so delegated next year.

Synod just a few months ago passionately spoke about the need to have deacons attending and being intimately involved in synod. Under our present 'system', the notion of having a minister, an elder and a deacon as officers of synod is remote at best.

The system is 'broke' as long as the leadership of the denomination's broadest assembly remains firmly in the hands of ministers. There needs to be a way to identify, acknowledge, and recognize the gifts among lay leadership as officers of synod. I, for one, don't consider that discussion a waste of 'good minds'.

As a one-time officer of Synod, I'd suggest..."If it ain't broke, don't waste good minds fixing it."

 

 

A better way for electing officers of synod sounds great, and your suggestion, Keith, sounds like a good one. Another way to address Terry's #1 hurdle is to have second and third alternates in case the classis does not want to send the same person twice. If all alternates are missing then voting could be done as a last resort.
When it comes to voting in general at synod, it would be nice to know more about the people themselves. Instead of just lisitng the positions they have held and giving resume-style information, it would be more helpful to know things like what they value about the CRC, what do they believe their gifts are, what are the indications God is leading them to this position, etc.

 

Being able to do this assumes two things: 1) The officers' respective classes will delegate them to Synod the next year and 2) requires that they still be in office the next year. #2 can be easily addressed by only selecting those whose term of office continues for at least another year. One way to accommodate #1 without binding a classis to delegate a specific person the following year would be to create four at-large positions to Synod for the officers to fill. Doing that would require a Church Order change. This could be considered to be within the scope of the mandate of the new Task Force to Study the Offices of Elder and Deacon to consider. Other ideas?

I find it very sad that the one who started this discussion thread is still missing.   I hope he will be found, and pray that he may find hope again.  

posted in: Genesis - Again!

Correction:   in the second paragraph, I meant to say that a moist finger will stick to a bone fossil but not to stones in the same layer as the fossils.  In that way you can distinguish a bone fossil from the stone around it. 

posted in: Genesis - Again!

Yesterday, I was at a pachyrhinosaurus bone bed at Pipestone Creek, in Northern Alberta, about 500 km northwest of Edmonton.  This bone bed is buried quite deep, under about 500 or 600 feet of clay or more, but exposed along the edge of a creek.  It is estimated to be at least the size of two football fields, and I was informed that thirty-two animals  have already been excavated from a small area, about 10 feet by 40 feet.  Interesting that these bones are found just under a shallow layer of shale, about 6 inches to 18 inches in thickness.  This horizontal shale/sandstone layer is found below hundreds of feet of clay, which is similar to the clay found underneath the stone.   Some kind of catastrophic event is concluded to have happened, which involved flooding and drowning.  These pachyrhinosaurus animals were about 6 meters in length from nose to tail, with the head of adult animals being more than a metre in size.  A plaster covered skull fossil weighs about 1200 pounds.  Juvenile and baby pachys were also found in this bone bed.

Interesting thing about bone fossils is that if you have a moist finger, it will stick to the fossil, and will not stick to other bones.  Also, in general, it is thought that herbivore animals have porous centers to the big bones, while carnivores have hollow centers to the big bones, but that might not be absolutely true in every case.  I don't know yet exactly how this is relevant to "Genesis Again", but thought you might find it interesting.

posted in: Genesis - Again!

Strip mining of coal covers much more land globally than Canada's oil, which is a target of convenience, an irrational concentration of effort by enviros:   From the July issue of Scientific American:   "  Other forms Of fossil fuel add more to the world's carbon budget, yet they do not draw as much ire (as oilsands). Perhaps they should. ln 2011 U.S. coal-fired power plants emitted nearly two billion meb·ic tons of greenhouse gases-roughly eight times the amount produced by mining, refining and burning tar sands. Many coal mines around the world create just as visible a scar on the landscape and an even bigger climate change legacy. Yet mines like those in Montana and Wyoming's Powder River Basin are not the targets of highprofile protests such as those facing Keystone XL; protesters do not tic themselves to the tracks to block the kilometers-long trains that carry coal from the basin day after day. The U.S. Geological Survey suggests that basin alone holds 150 billion metric tons of coal that could be recovered with existing technology.  Burning it all would send the world flying beyond any trillionmetric- ton carbon budget. "  (by David Biello) 

"Many of the mainline Protestant churches discussing divestment are struggling, having seen significant declines in attendance over the last two generations." (according to Jeremy's linked article). 

"The (United Church of Christ) denomination places high emphasis on participation in worldwide interfaith and ecumenical efforts.[5][6] The national settings of the UCC have historically favored liberal views on social issues, such as civil rights, gay rights, women's rights and abortion rights." Wikipedia.  This is one of the churches favoring divestment.   It would be a question as to whether the oil industry is more immoral than this church....when it comes to gay rights, sex education and abortion rights.    

We are glad you enjoyed the livestream webcast.  We are happy to provide this to those who cannot be at synod in person.

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