I don’t know what Davis will say, but I see nothing in these promotional materials that would suggest that there will be any kind of comparison of victimization. Rather, he talks specifically about people with disabilities enriching a community. It’s much more likely that this emphasis on disability as an aspect of human diversity arose, at least in part, out of the disability pride movement. (A Internet search for “disability pride” will identify many articles, parades, special days, etc.)
Exploring the idea of disability as an aspect of human diversity a bit more, one can place all people on bell curves based on various aspects of human functioning. If you have a bell curve of physical abilities, a few people on one end have extraordinary physical abilities (some of whom are discussed in the pages of Sports Illustrated, for example) and on the other end are people who have no independent movement at all. Similarly, one can plot all people along a bell curve for intellectual functioning with a few of the most brilliant human beings on one end and a few on the other end that have almost no intellectual function at all. With each bell curve, the largest group of “average” people are in the middle.
Somewhere along that curve, one can draw a line and say that people to the right of the line are not disabled, and people to the left of the line live with a disability. Doing so can be useful, say, for identifying which children are eligible for additional educational services and which adults are eligible for receiving payments from the government because they are not able to find paying work. Still, drawing that line is somewhat arbitrary, and “disability” is a word we apply to people on one end of the bell curve, but all people on that curve are humans who happen to differ in that particular ability.
We are hosting a Halloween Fun Night on Halloween. Our church members create and host games for the kids in the church lobby. There are about 15 games for the kids ranging from tossing a ring onto a pumpkin to walking a plank to a treasure chest to a version of whack-a-mole. The kids love it. We have coffee and goodies for the parents. Everyone dresses up they way they want, but we discourage the more macabre elements of Halloween. We used to do a Trunk and Treat in the parking lot, but this is Vancouver and more often than not it rains. We stopped it one year because we couldn't pull it together, and we heard back from the community that they were disappointed that we didn't have it. So for that past two years we have had the Fun Night inside and it's worked well. We have flyers for our kids club and invitations to our church. We see it as a way to provide a safe, dry, fun service to our community.
What a beautiful example of how one generation can call to the next. Thanks so much for sharing it, Staci!
I'm not quite sure what to think of this suggestion. On the one hand, "disabled" is certainly an aspect of diversity. On the other, I really hate our obsession with the idea of diversity, not because diversity is a reality to be hated but because the idea of it has become little more than a societal joustling for the title of "who is the biggest victim," with diversity being reduced to a narrow subset of what is really is.
In fact, I would argue, diversity is an aspect of being an individual human being. In that sense, every one is a "minority," having an number of special needs and victimizations.
Sure, someone can seem to be "on top of society," but if you get to know him or her, you will inevitably find that much (most) of that is a facade. For example, I have found that in the real world (the part I live in anyway), generally, blue collar people with less money, smaller houses, and older cars, are significantly happier with their lives than their white collar counterparts with higher incomes, bigger houses, and newer cars. Hmm.
And I've found that often, "special needs" people -- kids and adults -- seem to just be happier, in general, than those who have no -- at least officially classified -- special needs (as if there is anyone who doesn't have their own unofficially classified unique/special needs). Hmm.
We're so glad it's helpful, Fran! You can share the link to this article with folks, and if they'd like paper copies of the Ten Ways tool you can order them from FaithAliveResources.org.
Thank you for bringing these broken links to our attention! Here is the updated link for the Ulungu video and discussion guide:
We are unable to locate the second video referenced, but will post an update if we are able to find it.
I found the link to the World Renew-Classic Quinte Connection but couldn't find the second video recommended in the blog. It contrasts an earlier medical effort, which did not see the resources within the community with a more recent one that did and does.
I'm a new pastoral elder and new to your website. This article has been helpful. Will share at our next meeting.
As a missionary, fundraising has been a wonderful way to connect to churches. For us, it thankfully has not been too challenging. But we are also not with RGM and have not needed to raise as much as RGM missionaries have to raise.
Being supported by God's people, by churches, is such a blessing. We are so grateful for their interest in our lives, for their faithful prayers for us, and for their generous financial support. It is amazing. And it is exciting knowing that they feel part of our ministry overseas. We are not forcing them to give. It is their privilege to give as a way for God to use them. Without this fundraising component, as was mentioned, they might not feel so connected. And we also might feel much less connected. It's hard to know because we have never done it any other way.
On the other hand, almost all of my missionary friends who are in one way or another connected to the CRC, or are with RGM, struggle a lot with the fundraising. It is a constant prayer item and a constant stress. Given how much stress there already is being a missionary and living in a new culture, this added stress is especially not nice. Even when they are meeting their fundraising requirements it can still be a constant stress and worry, wondering if they will lose one of their monthly supporters, wondering if they are thanking their supporting churches enough, etc.
It is interesting that Bernard noted that we just pay people who work as pastors or in the denominational offices. On the other hand, if they raised support, would anyone give? We could argue that their positions are just as important as those of missionaries. But why the difference? Not as exciting to partner with those people’s ministries? Just tradition? For myself, I don’t have any problem actually with missionaries raising support and those people being paid. I love the relationship we have with churches. But it does seem very unwise and unfair to put such a huge burden (100%) on missionaries who are already taking up other burdens, and no fundraising burden at all for others. I guess I would personally love the denomination to go back to funding missionaries like 50% of their need through ministry shares, and just encourage people to give more generously. Maybe the people in the denominational offices could also raise like 30% of their salary.
Part of the financial problem must be also that churches are not giving to ministry shares as much as they used to in the past. In addition to that, a lot of churches and individuals in North America today do not necessarily want to give money to church planters or missionaries. Evangelism has become something offensive. It’s easier to support let’s say, World Renew, the organization I am with, as they feed the hungry and help people to develop their communities. It’s harder for many people to support people who are going out and telling people that they are sinful, in danger of God’s judgment, and need to repent in order to be saved.
Also, I think there is one thing could help a lot, which has been noted in other articles and posts. It won’t solve all the problems but will go a long way. If our church culture changes, and churches start to support less missionaries and organizations, but instead support one or two missionaries with a huge financial amount, this will decrease the burden on missionaries, make their home services less stressful, and the relationships between missionaries and churches closer. We only have about 11 supporting churches, and it’s hard enough to keep up on the news from all of them. But some missionaries have double or triple that amount. The more churches you have supporting you, and the more missionaries a church supports, the more superficial the relationships.
I appreciate this conversation and the care indicated in not wanting to overburden the missionary. Reading your response is evidence again of the care for missionaries in this denomination. This ongoing conversation is a good one to ensure that we are doing the right thing. It is a fairly standard practice among mission agencies for missionaries to have to fund-raise their wages, which I believe should be looked at critically. What other employment exists that has to justify their work and pay with such scrutiny? However, this is the way it has always been done to some degree, so I invite you to dream with me of other ways to keep our missionaries sufficiently supported.
What I allude to in my story is the heavier burden of going on the mission field without sufficient support. Having to approach churches and maintain relationships ensures a level of engagement and investment in the people doing the mission work that can easily get forgotten or dismissed when it is not present in need and/or urgency… “out of sight, out of mind”. Churches want to invest in people and get to know them – to have this support come from personal conviction and connection is what keeps it alive and real.
In some ways, the real issue here is the perception of what the fundraising represents. I think it does not represent the deficiency of the missionary, but rather the opportunity for church involvement. Churches and individuals have the opportunity to invest at least 90% (but hopefully 100%) in the work being done around the globe of furthering the hope we find in Jesus!
There are MANY conflicts in our church right now over this very issue. On the mission field and in past churches, we have come to know several people who have been seriously abused by the occult on Halloween. It's an important holiday on the satanic calendar. Each year, Halloween seems to get bigger and bigger as it's hold on our people grows stronger and stronger. I continue to be criticized because I've asked people in influence to abstain from participating in things like haunted houses and then putting the pictures on Facebook for the world to see. The occult is growing in strength in our town, and yet people continue to think it's cute to dress up like witches. When people ask our position, we give them a helpful book to read called, "Mommy, Why Don't We Celebrate Halloween?" by Linda Winwood. At the end of the day, I still land on what the Apostle John said, “This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5–7). Christians are called to walk in the Light and bring Life to the world, and not embrace death and darkness.
This year we are going to do something with our youth group that my whole high school used to do on Halloween: Trick-or-Can. We'll meet at the church and have a few parent drivers. We will go to a few different neighborhoods and the kids will go in pairs asking for donations of non-perishable foods instead of candy (though I'm sure there will be a bit of that as well). We will then meet up at the church for some hot chocolate and share our experiences. I'm hoping to make this an annual event.
Yes - individuals and churches may direct their giving to Domestic or International Ministry. Generally speaking, "where most needed" is always the most beneficial to the organization so ministry staff may allocate funds as necessary. However, It is important for Resonate Global Mission to offer options that include Domestic and/or International choices to align with a church and/or donor's preference. If you would like to specify, we simply ask that you include "General", "Domestic", or "International" on the memo line.
If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact our Canadian office and speak directly with Trish DeJong @ 905.336.2920 ext. 4230.
Thank you for your support.
You are free to disagree with the decisions of Synod and you raise all of the same points that were discussed 4 years ago. For further information, I would direct you to the 2014 Acts of Synod starting at Page 456 and the final decision on page 551.
The redoubtable Mr. Boesenkool does not need my support for his spot on analysis but here it is anyway.
I have heard from a missionary that I have supported of the heavy burden the 90% rule imposes. It delayed their entry to the mission field by over a year and continued to drain from their "in-the-field" effectiveness. This despite's the "alternative facts" euphemisms put out. Consider this thought experiment: how well would denominational headquarters run if every position had to operate under the 90% rule? It would allow for many more open positions, wouldn't it, to serve many more needs?
We do a Harvest Carnival on the Saturday evening before Halloween. It's inside the fellowship hall with all sorts of games, face painting, cake walks, and other kid oriented stuff. Costumes allowed but not required. We draw a lot from both our congregation and community. Its known in the neighborhood because we've done it for a lot of years.
We also have food -- hot dogs and such -- for kids and parents. I'll be working the kitchen again for my umpteenth year. :-)
I can relate to their embarrassment. When I read an article in which the son of Liberty University's founder said that Trump was their dream president, I decided I would not refer to myself as an evangelical Christian anymore because people like him were giving the word a bad name. I am not the only one to feel this way either.
A bit off topic but I just came across a Think Christian post (Martin Luther at the Movies) that lists four movies on Martin Luther that are available for home viewing. Could be interesting for individuals, small groups, etc.
Yes we are! We're celebrating all month using the 5 Solas series by Carol Hochhalter in the June 2017 Reformed Worship. We are using the Reformation Hymn by Chris Anderson and Bob Kauflin as our theme song, and we also have visual arts of the 5 Solas. It has been wonderful to delve deeper into these basic foundational truths this month! To God be the glory!
I am a 42 year old father of three and I can fully understand how these teens feel. Many of their comments mirror my own thoughts and concerns. I have been bewildered and dismayed by some of the words, actions, and inaction of many in Christian leadership. However, I am heartened by your story of young people who are struggling. It is encouraging that they are concerned about current events and that they recognize the disconnect between their beliefs and the actions of leaders. These young people are demonstrating discernment and that is a beautiful thing. We need to encourage young people to live out their beliefs, as the Spirit leads them, and not fall in the trap of following the crowd. Even if that crowd is being led by persons with great authority.
Linda Grace, I am so glad you want to attend! Here's the link to the national conference. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page to find the regional venues. I hope you can find one that's close to you. Blessings! Sharon Smith http://www.missioalliance.org/sheleads/
Linda Grace, I so hope you can attend one! Here is a link to the national website. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the different regional venues. I hope one will work for you! http://www.missioalliance.org/sheleads/
Here at Fairway CRC in Jenison, Michigan, we will hold a "Trunk or Treat" event on the Saturday prior to Halloween. On October 28 we'll have a couple dozen cars/pickup trucks lined up for kids-- complete with funny or interesting displays and, of course, candy. There will also be games to play, a tractor ride around the campus, and food for everyone inside the building. We will try to do a better job this year of collecting contact information from our guests so that we can contact them later with events and ministries of the church. Last year we had about a thousand people come to the event, and it was a way for us to say to the community that we want relationships with people beyond our church's membership.
We decided to do this last year for the first time because people on our long range planning team had grown tired of talking and wanted to lead the church into an event that everyone could get behind. We realize the shortcomings of a "come and see" event like this but also sense that it is a way to say "Welcome" to people outside of our church.
Dave Den Haan, pastor, Fairway CRC
Greetings! I would love to attend a video streaming session but cannot figure out where they are held! I live north of Seattle. Thank you. Linda Grace
I have done this by simply asking the non-professing parent if they support this decision. I also explain that as parents both of them have a role in raising this child. Obviously, this is something that needs to be discussed ahead of time with both parents. If either one has an issue with it then you should talk about it before the baptism. So far every time I have done this it has worked well. I don't have specific wording for this question because I have never written it down but I think that you have the words in your request.
I second this!
Thank you for sharing this beautiful story! You've encouraged me to be bold in looking for opportunities to share Jesus.
I so appreciate how your ministry walks the talk on accessibility! Thanks for modeling it for the rest of us learners.
Hi Doug, We're sorry to hear that Think Christian might not be as useful to your adult Sunday school class moving forward. And we agree that it is good to "think Christianly" about all of culture. However, since refocusing we've had an enthusiastic response from Christians who do engage regularly with popular culture (some even by way of the movie club at their CRC church!). These folks have been excited to find a denomination that does this in faithful, discerning community. So we're looking forward to the opportunity our focus offers us, both to be a place of discipleship when it comes to pop culture, and to bring a Reformed voice into some of the most vibrant cultural conversations taking place today. Hopefully we'll still be of use to your class from time to time! Josh Larsen (TC editor)
Open, meaning the number of positions that we have available. Under previous funding models, we were not able to have as many missionaries on staff. Under the new model, we are able to have more missionaries.
But you are entitled to your opinion, even if it defers from the decisions of Synod. In the end, our goal is to see people involved in God’s mission in whatever way they feel called.
"This support-raising policy has enabled Resonate to have a historic number of open positions". This is an interesting way of putting this. The policy caused an historic number of open (meaning unfilled) positions? The CRCNA now seems to have three different employment standards depending who the person works for. The Resonate "missionary" in x foreign country is on the 90% standard. The BTGMI person in Russia in on the "try and raise money" but pay is guaranteed standard. The Church Planter in North America is on a strict salary standard. The latter may work for/be supervised by Resonate, Classis or a local congregation. But they certainly do not have a 90% rule.
IMHO there is something not quite right with this picture.
I've noticed Think Christian's recent shift to almost exclusively cover only pop media (e.g., popular singers, rappers, movies, videogames, etc), as if pop media equals the world.
I for one have been quite disappointed. Certainly, pop media is part of the world but after this shift, Think Christian gives the impression that pop media is all there is to "think Christianly" about. Indeed, while my adult SS class is called "Think Christian," and while I used to (for the last couple of years") use TC articles as class material, I no longer do, cuz I can't. My SS class members (of a broad range of ages, occupations, etc) just aren't all that interested in an exclusive diet of pop artists, songs, videogames and movies.
This is something that Synod upheld 3 years ago, you can see that here:
This support-raising policy has enabled Resonate to have a historic number of open positions, additionally, churches and individuals have been incredibly generous and a number of our missionaries have exceeded their funding goals and the majority are meeting or very close to meeting their goals.
Church Planters in North America have always had support-raising as part of their ministry and Resonate continues to support their work through grants.
I would encourage you to read a book that we share with our missionaries when they are first appointed, A Spirituality of Fundraising by Henri Nouwen.
To quote Nouwen: "Fundraising is proclaiming what we believe in such a way that we offer other people an opportunity to participate with us in our vision and mission. Fundraising is precisely the opposite of begging. When we seek to raise funds we are not saying, “Please, could you help us out because lately it’s been hard.” Rather, we are declaring, “We have a vision that is amazing and exciting. We are inviting you to invest yourself through the resources that God has given you — your energy, your prayers, and your money"
We at Resonate are excited about what God is doing in this world and want all people to become involved, whether it be by serving themselves or supporting those who are serving.
Thank you for your passion for missions.
Appreciate this story and the positive outcome. I do wonder though, with the issue of World missionaries having to fund themselves for 90% of their expenses and salary, what your thoughts were about that requirement. You did not mention you are now a foreign (or should we say "World") missionary. Funding themselves is what missionaries outside North America have to do, so I assume in the new Resonate World Missions organization that rule would apply to all who call themselves "missionaries".
Another article in the "Do Justice" blog talks about using a "Gulliver Strategy", which means using multiple and creative tactics to bring down the giant that porn has become in our culture. What steps, however small they seem, can you and your congregation take? I recently returned from Montana, where I participated in presentations by Protect Young Eyes, which were designed and adapted for students of various ages in both Christian and public schools, as well as an evening program for parents. These were small, but very valuable and important actions! Feel free to contact Safe Church Ministry for additional information about these events, or how to plan something similar where you live.
I appreciate your approach.
"I sadly think the CRCNA and the Banner have contributed to the current polarization and divisiveness"
Truth has been spoken, even if it is not heard.
Thanks for the comments! It's also important to note that the Safe Church Ministry office doesn't have the capacity to stay current with laws that apply to churches and that vary from state to state and from province to province. Local resources are needed for good policy development. That's why every classis is encouraged to have a safe church team, which can be an important local resource for our congregations. Insurance companies are also great resources for information. It takes all of us working together to help make our congregations safer for everyone.
This is one I have used. http://images.rca.org/docs/worship/LiturgicalCalendar2017-18.pdf
I also like the "Salt of the Earth" calendar that Joyce refers to (http://christiancalendar.squarespace.com/). It is not something you can download and print, but you can order it and it is a beautiful calendar with art and with information on the litugical seasons and holidays. I think you would like it a lot.
This one isn't printable but I've used it in the past and appreciated it: http://christiancalendar.squarespace.com/
I agree that we should reach out to show kindness to others, although that may be viewed antagonistically by someone who wants to be "left alone". In the case of the Las Vegas shooter it may be too soon to fully analyze him. While he preferred to gamble alone with a machine, he did have a "girlfriend" and may have hired female companionship shortly before his rampage. There is plenty of room for speculation.
This kind of evaluation is outside of my area of expertise, but I think that the current social divisiveness and dehumanizing may be a factor in motivating mass killers. I agree with MLK that we should judge people as individuals. Today, many judge others by their race, gender, political orientation, social status, age, and even which side of the border (U.S., Canada, or Mexico) they are on, and there is a general denigrating (or extolling) of those in one group or another.
All members of an ethnic group are not criminals, or at least untrustworthy. All members of another group are not "a blessing". All members of law enforcement are not racists. Thinking like this leads to dehumanizing others, and think what dehumanizing has done in the case of the unborn. Not long ago abortion was generally considered abhorrent, now many openly defend "woman's right to choose" (to kill her unborn child), which is "only a blob of tissue" (that has fingers and toes and a beating heart), but can be dismembered for body parts, and if I disagree I'm anti-woman and an evil person. The abortion industry is kind of a rampage, too, but the victims are killed one at a time.
Other mass killings have targeted specific groups of people. The Oklahoma City bombing was a protest against government. The 9/11 attack using airplanes was religiously-oriented, as have been attacks by cars, trucks, and guns in Europe, and the Orlando nightclub shootings. These were perpetrated by people who needed to be loved, but may not have been lonely persons. The killers were all people who simply thought other people should be killed. Now we hear of individuals who weren't concerned about the victims in Las Vegas because of their perceived political orientation. (Check Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 106-107 on that. Are they also killers by that definition?)
I sadly think the CRCNA and the Banner have contributed to the current polarization and divisiveness by official pronouncements and reporting. An example of this is the denominational reaction to the disastrous Charlottesville rally and protest of this summer. Instead of saying, "A plague on both your houses", as I did, the excesses of Antifa and other violent counter-protestors who showed up with masks and weapons were ignored. Freedom of speech applies to all, regardless of how despicable their message, but that does not include physical violence or destruction of property by either side. We can't complain only about misbehavior by the bad guys on the other side and ignore misbehavior by bad guys we agree with.
I'd suggest getting on the "Canada is superior" train isn't constructive. The US Declaration of Independence isn't US law frankly. The Articles of Confederation were adopted after the Declaration, which were scrapped for the US Consitution. To quote the Declaration is rhetorically cute perhaps but that's about it. The rant of "rugged American individualism" smacks more of Canadian snobbery than reality.
The US and Canada are quite different in quite a number of ways, the biggest of which I think is population (which then creates other differences). Compared to the US, the whole of Canada is a single state. Indeed, I believe California bests Canada both in population and economic output. All of which means that in general, Canadians may act more like a rural area than an urban area. And indeed, the greater the population (the more urban), the less people know and interact with each other, and vice versa. Which may explain why so few of these kinds of events (zero?) happen in farm country Iowa.
I'm not enough of an anthropologist to know if individualism is stronger in the US than Canada, but other Canadian friends have told me the same, so I'm inclined to believe you. One Canadian friend suggested that the difference is already highlighted in our founding documents, with the US Declaration of Independence highlighting the individualistic pursuit of rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" and the Canadian Constitution Act of 1867 emphasizing the collective goals of "peace, order, and good goverment."
For example, a CNN article quotes Sue Klebold, mother of a rampage killer, "I wish I had known then what I know now: that it was possible for everything to seem fine with him when it was not, and that behaviors I mistook as normal for a moody teenager were actually subtle signs of psychological deterioration. . . . I taught him how to protect himself from a host of dangers: lightning, snake bites, head injuries, skin cancer, smoking, drinking, sexually transmitted diseases, drug addiction, reckless driving, even carbon monoxide poisoning. It never occurred to me that the gravest danger -- to him and, as it turned out, to so many others -- might come from within. Most of us do not see suicidal thinking as the health threat that it is. We are not trained to identify it in others, to help others appropriately, or to respond in a healthy way if we have these feelings ourselves."
What about the myth of rugged individualism that pervades American culture? You may not be conscious of it, but it motivates a lot of decisions people make. At least from up here, north of the border, Americans seem a lot more individualistic than we Canadians are.
Georgetown CRC in Hudsonville MI has had a co-pastor arrangement for many years.
That's a good point, Doug. Social isolation is bad for one's health, in general, and Junger makes that point eloquently. Your point raises a clarification I should add. When mass shootings happen, folks look for someone to blame. By suggesting that showing love to people who are socially isolated, and that if this were done widely it might reduce the number of rampage killings, I'm not saying that the people around all the mass shooters are to blame for their murderous behavior. For all I know, many of them may have tried reaching out, but had all their efforts rebuffed. Still, Scripture's teaching is that when someone in our own lives rejects us, we need to keep on loving anyway.
Great post Mark. Thanks for not going down a political rabbit hole rant.
Indeed, I think it is clear, at least for those us us who are "older" (and have seen societal changes) that "social bonds" are generally much thinner than they used to be. I perhaps don't think that "America emphasizes individualism" (as if there is a government ad campaign for it), but indeed, the political freedom we have, coupled with our wealth, allows anyone who may be so inclined (by personality disposition or otherwise) to become socially isolated. Today, neighbors not knowing neighbors but "minding their own business" is normal, even if decades ago, not so much.
And this isolation can be deadly, in many ways, this LV shooting being perhaps only one particularly dreadful manifestation of that.
To be clear, I'm not at all suggesting the Safe Church resources wouldn't be good. What I am suggesting is that at least some insurance companies will have specific requirements that become a "condition of coverage," such that they will deny coverage if later a claim is made and they discover that the condition wasn't fulfilled. And these conditions need not be rational. This is contract law. And that's why I suggest getting an answer IN WRITING from the ins co.
I would also add that if you comply with ins co requirements, you can ALSO use Safe Church or other resources/training, that is, first comply with any ins co requirements and then also do what you think is good to do. And Safe Church exists to help with that (figure out what is good to do on top of ins co requirements).