Global Missions and The Belhar, Genesis, Homosexuality, and Women in Office

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I’ve noticed a disturbing trend online and in the church in general; it’s the controversial issues that get all the attention. I know this isn’t new. I grew up in the 90s, and even though I was in grade school I remember hearing about our church potentially leaving the denomination over the women in office issue. At the time I was taking an advanced English class at Kalamazoo College. Looking back I wonder what my Jewish professor thought about an eighth-grader choosing to do her final paper on the women in office debate in the Christian Reformed Church! (I really wish I had kept that paper).

Sometimes I wonder if young adults leaving the church has more to do with being sick of hearing people bickering than anything to do with the worship style or lack of “authenticity.” Or maybe authenticity is code for not making the main thing, the main thing. We’ve all been around couples who constantly pick at each other, and we make excuses for leaving the room when it starts up.

Take The Network and the online Banner; the majority of the comments are about Genesis, creation care, or social issues. I don’t mean to imply that these issues are unimportant; rather, that perhaps we are giving them more attention than they deserve.

When I was being trained as a sixteen:fifteen missions coach, I remember thinking that the section on the biblical importance of missions was too long. The church’s mission is the Great Commission and the Great Commandment; duh! Upon further reflection, I think it’s a good reminder.

What if, instead of expending so much energy on debating social issues, we spent a bit more energy on building relationships in our community to reach those who do not know Christ?

What if, instead of trying so hard to prove that we are right on this or that issue, we tried hard to understand the context of our global brothers and sisters in Christ as they try to reach their communities, and support them as we are able?

There was an overture this past year that asked Synod to “Mandate Denominational Agencies and the Board of Trustees to Develop Concrete Strategies to Carry Out the Great Commission.”

I wonder, how many of our churches have a strategy of their own? Yes, it’s important to come together as a denomination for ministry, but it is the local church that has the resources and people power to truly reach the people in their neighborhoods and around the world.

What is YOUR church doing to carry out the great commission?

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Participant

Interesting and wise words! Far too often I've thought the same thoughts Wendy. What holds my spirit together is personal rembrance of the Great Commission. Often, too often, I just 'go' on my own to witness the Gospel a habit I learned from my evangelist grandmother Jansia Eiland Harper. Witness is missional wherever a Christian sits, stands, walks, talks and travels. Online witness can be used to show God's Love and Grace (without the point-counterpoint arguments :) ).

Community Builder

The Lord has blessed us with many salvations at Community CRC (Fort Wayne IN) in the past several years. Community CRC mission statment is "to equip the body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission and the Great Commandment one disciple at a time." I have just written an Evangelism Training Seminar called Go and Tell-an easy and practical way to equip you to become a fisher of men based on the Heidelberg Catechism. This tool has equipped many in our church to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. Philemon 7 says, "I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ Jesus."  Please contact Pastor Jim Halstead at Community CRC if you would like to know more about this evangelism seminar. www.fortwaynecrc.com

Participant

This is a great post, Wendy. On one hand, I couldn't agree more. However, on the other hand, I really think that these issues have an effect on our work in the Great Commission. Whether that's really what all the debate about is questionable, but the concerns are still there.

As we try to live out the Great Commission, both locally and globally, as institution and organism, what message do we bring to people who experience economic, cultural and spiritual crises or oppression? What power of the good news do we really propose to aid people in their distress? What kind of a savior do we wish to introduce them to?

There are aspects of the Belhar that could be taken to mean that all poor/disadvantaged/oppressed people are really God's chosen (elected) people. Is that really the good news we're bringing to our communities and the world - or is the gospel someting more, or even completey different? As we try to teach people all that Jesus has commanded - with the context he commanded - are we now willing to say that homosexuality is no longer a broken aspect of fallen humanity that requires the blood of Christ for atonement? - Some are willing to change the good news of the atonement in just that way. And, how do we come to a conclusion over these issues when one paragraph of NT scripture may be deeply important for us to obey today, while the next paragraph can be said to have its meaning diluted - not because of the work of Christ, but because of the passage of time or the relative progress of western culture?

These issues that seem to take up a lot of ink (or bytes) are definitely important for the Great Commission we are called to - especially in our contemporary context. I only hope that the glory of Christ and the power of his Gospel the level we're choosing to work out these issues on. If it's out of a lesser desire, and to a lesser glory, then we really can't blame people for choosing to leave the argument for clearer air.

Community Builder

Community CRC will host the Go and Tell seminar on Saturday, September 7, (9:00am-Noon). Go and Tell is an easy and practical way to equip you to become a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19) based on the Heidelberg Catechism. This three hour seminar will provide you with the tools to “be active in sharing your faith” (Philemon 6) with others.
Community CRC (3434 Lahmeyer Road, Fort Wayne IN 46815). COntatc Community CRC for more info at [email protected] or www.fortwaynecrc.com

Community Builder

I am wondering if Jim Halstead would be willing to do a webinar so more people can benefit from his Go and Tell seminar. With the current process it would need to be voted on.

Community Builder

Hi Greg-Yes I would be willing to do a webinar to share the Go and Tell Evangelism Seminar (Go and Tell is an easy and practical way to equip you to become a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19) based on the Heidelberg Catechism. This three hour seminar will provide you with the tools to “be active in sharing your faith” (Philemon 6) with others.)  I am praying that the Lord of Harvest will raise up more workers from the CRC to go into the harvest field (Matthew 9:37-38).

Participant

A webinar would be a constructive way to focus the missional work we want and are called to do. Thanks

Community Builder

Community CRC Announcement: We are excited to announce that the Go and Tell evangelism seminar by Pastor Jim Halstead is now available for free at www.fortwaynecrc.com Go and Tell is an easy and practical way to equip you to become a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19) based on the Heidelberg Catechism. This seminar will provide you with the tools to “be active in sharing your faith” (Philemon 6) with others. The Go and Tell free resources (video, booklet, testimonials, etc…) have helped many to become equipped to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. For example, Karen thanked us after she took the Go and Tell seminar online, she wrote:

“Dear Pastor Jim, I want to thank you for sharing your website with me. I have listened to all sessions and have taken helpful notes! I have also fully investigated your website. You are certainly right when you told me you have the gift of evangelism. You have put together one of the most comprehensive, loving effective ways of evangelizing I have ever listened to. So many of the sources you have quoted from are wonderful but the way you brought them all together is a gift from God! My Bible study I attend has around 200 women and I cannot wait to take it to my leadership. Lastly, thank you for emphasizing not pushing a person into praying a prayer. I did the study of Follow Me this summer and I know that this can lead to false conversion. The F.I.R.E and L.A.W., the bridge and the Christian Wheel were very helpful. I am thankful for how you taught us to let the person pray their own prayer of repentance! I love letting the Holy Spirit do His work rather than me trying to mess up His work. Thank you and God Bless you. I look forward to putting into practice what I learned!”

To access the Go and Tell seminar online, go to www.fortwaynecrc.com and click on the Go and Tell tab. You will be able to access the Go and Tell videos, resources and testimonials. We pray that the Lord of the Harvest will use this material to raise up workers for the harvest field (Matthew 9:35-38).

Delighting in God,

Pastor Jim Halstead

www.fortwaynecrc.com

Church: 260-493-2398