Comment Stream

Michele Gyselinck December 10, 2019

 Yikes! That's awful. Doctors can be real jerks sometimes, not to say something worse.  It goes to remind us that they are sinners too.  In fact, my mom, age 92, who worked with doctors as a social workers often says that they are business people in white coats because many of them go into medicine for the money, and compassion for patients is mostly an afterthought.

Michele Gyselinck December 10, 2019

Just to point out a fact, Marc Lépine had only one sister. Both of them died before their mother who is still alive. His sister whose name I don't know died of a drug overdose some years after him.

Sandra Griffith December 10, 2019

So many of our churches in my area must not have proper training then.  I went to so many churches and they all played louder than the congregation.  I am convinced that they do this so that everyone outside will know there is a party going on in the church and want to come in and enjoy it.  This is totally "tongue in cheek" but nothing else explains it.  A "tent revival" came to our city.  There were about twenty people in attendance and the leaders also had to have the sound system up at a high level.  I politely inquired why and was politely ignored.  Sigh...

Harold Struyk December 10, 2019

I wish that I could have the same result that you talk about in this article. I am thankful for the medication and psychiatrist that stabilize me. But, I have had the opposite experience that you are thankful for. I struggle with the inability to have more grace and empathy for others in God's family. I am actually experiencing less as I age. And, that bothers me deeply.  Harold Struyk. 

Joel Hogan December 10, 2019

I was recently in the hospital for spinal surgery and had several visits by chaplain Carol Petter.  Her gentle presence, her inquiries about how I was doing and especially her prayers were very encouraging.

Laura Meyering December 10, 2019

Yes, my sister was in hospice care a few years back and the chaplain came in while I was there.  He chatted a bit then asked if we wanted to pray.  We said yes and he said we could pray with our eyes open looking at each other.  He said that was "ok" :)  The pray had so much more meaning and a terrific memory from our final days together.  Afterward, he asked my sister, "what do you want most?" and she said "Joy".  From that time on our family had a very clear path.  We worked the best we could to surround Dorothy with joy.  Music from Josh Groban, playing games, and one of the signs that we created said; The Joy of the Lord is my Strength.  Dorothy wanted joy for us then and now as we miss her.  I'm so thankful for the chaplain that facilitated this memory.

Staci Devries December 10, 2019

"Wondering questions remind leaders and kids alike that we do not and cannot know everything." 

Amen! May we not be scared to wonder, doubt, wrestle, and grow in faith.  

Kelly Sibthorpe December 10, 2019

Thanks for the article and opinion expressed regarding worship. The human voice is the ultimate created "instrument". The other created beings, angels continually use voice to praise their creator as evidenced by scripture. Songs and hymns and spiritual songs obviously are sung by human voice as the chosen and primary musical instrument of choice of scripture. Whenever the corporate human voice during worship is drowned out by supplementary instrumentation, loss occurs as you have so well described. I have read your post several times trying to understand what is going wrong in your corporate worship setting that is creating the loss of connection in worship you're experiencing. It sounds to me like volume and musician insensitivity. Permit me, as a worship drummer to comment. During corporate worship, any instrumental play is meant to enhance and support congregational worship, unless you are attending a concert, where the gathered people have the intention of listening to music being played. It sounds to me like your worship team and your sound technicians are not trained well enough in the art of worship. 

There is nothing wrong with modern instrumentation like electric guitars and drums and amplification. When played and managed by skillful people who are well trained, worship can be enhanced and guided by modern worship leaders and bands. Like any aspect of public worship, the leader and musicians need to be trained to understand why they are up front in the first place, i.e., to lead God's people into a meaningful worship experience where the human voice is encouraged to be used to God's glory and the people's edification. This same problem you describe occurred when the pipe organ was introduced into 1000's of churches in Europe and North America in the late 19th century. Pipe organists enamored with their new amplified sound, often played them too loud, drowning out the worshippers who had just left the tuning fork and piano behind for this audaciously decibel-enhanced instrument. The worship wars that occurred over the introduction of the pipe organ were devastating to many congregations at the time with churches being divided over the issue of the the "devils's instrument" drowning out the worshipper's voices!

One of the main road-blocks to great worship is proper musical training. Good musicians, who are trained properly to play dynamically, meaning to understand the intent and purpose of a song, enhance the worship experience. Using their musical training to create the emotion intended from the musical score using volume and pitch control creates the atmosphere and feeling needed for worshippers to properly engage their voices (the emotion you described in the worship setting where you felt connected to those around you). As a drummer and percussionist, I enjoyed this type of training in an orchestral big band setting. As percussionists, we were trained to be the rhythm section of the band, keeping time and enhancing the sound of the brass players (the equivalent of the human voice in a big band). I never seek to overshadow worshippers by playing the drums too loud. You may be referring to some drummers today who were trained to play loud rock and metal styles, who unfortunately bring this training to worship and are unable to play dynamically. It's really not the drums that hurt but the drummer behind the actually benign instrument.

Most worship teams are not "professionals" as you have referred to them but fellow worshippers and church members offering their musical gifts on Sunday mornings. If they are overshadowing the human voice then further musical training in worship play is needed to sensitize them to what they are trying to accomplish, just as a pastor needs training in order to preach well week after week.

Drums and guitars are here to stay. Perhaps you can challenge your council to help provide the framework for the funding necessary for your worship team to learn to play more sensitively in order to allow the human voice to shine and be the pre-eminent instrument in your services. As a worship drummer, myself and my band mates listen for the voices as we play and delight as we hear them in concert praising God! its wise to invest in your musicians, so they receive the proper training they need to play worship band properly. Expecting a "garage band" musician or untrained or inexperienced youth guitar player or drummer or an untrained sound technician to pull off meaningful worship is a demand too high. Complaining about loss of quality in the worship experience is an unfair criticism for those who find themselves in front of 100's of people on Sunday morning if they were not required to train properly for the job in front of them. Much time in practice and money for training is required to achieve the desired corporate worship result you describe. Covenants and standards for those expected to produce the quality of music that worship demands should be put in place to insure that everyone, including the worship band feels connected in the worship experience.

Staci Devries December 10, 2019

Trudy, I think you hit the nail on the head with this post. We naturally seek out places where we belong. Places we feel safe, seen, and loved. When this is what our church home feels like, it's huge. Thank you for writing this! 

Ron Kool December 10, 2019

Great post Staci! I bought copies of Rachel's book "How Much Is a Little Girl Worth?" for all my granddaughters for Christmas this year. It's a great children's book!

Jill Benson December 9, 2019

Thanks for this great idea! We already have several ways we track the days in Advent, so I made envelopes just for the weekends during Advent. The Saturday envelopes have a fun activity we have scheduled for that day and the Sunday ones have a little description of that week's candle that we read as we light our Advent wreath at dinner. They look beautiful on the wall, were easy to make, and my kids love checking them each weekend to see what we have planned!

posted in : DIY Advent Calendar
Diane Dykgraaf December 9, 2019

O Holy Night

O Come O Come Emmanuel

Silent Night

CRC Communications December 6, 2019

Hi Harry.  This is Kristen VanderBerg responding from the CRC Communications account.  Thank you for your excitement about this piece. We like it as well. Thank you also for your critical feedback.  There is, in fact, financial data about the congregational services.  You can find it on page 22. I hear what you are saying, though, about the need to break this down even further and maybe also show employee rates and more information from denominational services.  I'll take note of that as we think about how to do the 2020 report.  As for your questions regarding the pledge process, should Synod 2020 endorse the idea of reimagining how ministry shares are collected, the plan is to send information to every congregation each July. This would include some information about their previous giving (at least 1 year and maybe the last 5) as well as some suggestions for how they could consider coming up with their pledge amount (e.g. as a percentage of their total budget, as a per member amount, or as a % increase from their previous gift). Since this will all be new, I suspect that we'll continue to hone and refine this annual communication as we learn what information is helpful to churches as they do this work.  Thanks again for your feedback. 

Staci Devries December 5, 2019

Thanks so much, Ruth! I'm so, so glad you added several songs to the Christmas Playlist. I am discovering some great new songs thanks to this wonderful community :)  

Staci Devries December 5, 2019

"Winter Snow" by Audrey Assad touches my heart each time I hear it. 

Laura Meyering December 5, 2019

I heard "Mary Did you Know" by Scotty McCreery this morning on my way in to work.  So beautiful.

Staci Devries December 5, 2019

Thanks for sharing this opening! 

Kelly Sibthorpe December 5, 2019

Thanks for sharing your journey in growing awareness.

God has graciously poured out healing love upon you.

Being mindful of the evil that exists around us is one of our responsibilities as Christ followers.

The Parable of the Weeds as told and interpreted by Jesus Christ is particularly helpful in understanding the presence of evil, even within the doors of the church. We know it is there and it does not come from our loving Father, yet we live with the possibility of evil affecting us until the day of Christ's return. The end of the parable relates to the gathering of the useless chaff to be dealt with along with the harvest of wheat to be blessed in God's forever presence. I think you may have had a little foretaste of God's forever peace to bring healing and relief from your experience of evil.

Be well!


Paul Tjapkes December 5, 2019

O Day of Peace - Josh Garrells

Behold the Lamb of God - Andrew Peterson

Carol - First Call

MJill H December 4, 2019

Thank-you for sharing your story.
It is important that you share this.
When I read another survivors story it affirms my own story.  It sounds strange but your story, as painful as it is, gives me hope, it encourages me.
I too, appreciate "the Wounded Heart".
I am so sorry that you were abused. It was horrible and wrong. I know how long and tedious the healing journey can be.
I rejoice with you that our God is healing you.

MJill H December 4, 2019

I would think the instruments where you worship are turned up way too loud.
We use a variety of instruments in our church and when we sing I do hear my voice, I do feel connected to the people around me and to God.
My husband is a sound tech. The musicians need to trust him that he is moderating the sounds in a good way.
The musicians cannot tell what it sounds like to the congregation because they are in the middle of it all. 
When music is too loud it puts people on edge.
We have been places where we thought that a decibel meter was needed to show how much too loud and ear damaging the sound was.
Thanks for this article.

Susan Meyers December 4, 2019

I so agree with you! Why do we feel that we must have drums, guitars, mics that break the sound barrier? If I cannot hear myself, or more importantly the people praising God around me, it feels as if our voices are inconsequential. My church has, by God's grace, not fallen into the louder-than-tolerable worship. Once in a while we have someone on drums or guitars, but these stay within the accompaniment ranges. Thanks for posting!

Dominic Palacios December 4, 2019

Thanks for your consideration. 

Scott Meekhof December 4, 2019

One of my favorite Christmas albums is A Christmas Cornucopia by Annie Lennox. She is not a Christian, but recorded this collection of old carols because she thinks there might be some universal truth in them. She did a lot of new orchestration and arrangement that give the album a sense of mystery and wonder.


I have included several songs from her album on a list of favorites I made on Spotify - link here.

Jordan Nickell December 4, 2019

Thankfully, we don't have to wonder what God wants. Regarding the audience of worship, it's both God and His people:
Colossians 3:16 says "Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts."

Ephesians 5:18-20 says "be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Cassie Westrate December 4, 2019

I love "Here Comes Heaven" by Elevation Worship. I don't think it's really classified as a Christmas song, but it certainly fits!

Michele Gyselinck December 4, 2019

 I've been taking pills since I was five months old because of congenital hypothyroidism--basically my thyroid gland did not function, so the hormones it would normally secrete had to be replaced by synthetic ones.  Since then I started taking meds for depression, then later for schizophrenia, cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes Type 2, and some to counteract the side effects of other meds.  While I know that God could heal or cure any of our ailments, Jesus did not cure all the sick people when He was on earth.  And please note that healing and curing are not perfect synonyms.  God CAN heal us emotionally even if He doesn't choose to cure us, anymore than He didn't cure Paul of his thorn in the flesh.  And nowhere is it written that He blamed Paul for his lack of faith.  God chooses to let Christians suffer from physical ailments as a consequence of original sin so we know what the rest of the world has to live with.  WE should be thankful that meds exist to help people live out their lives and not always make it an issue of having enough faith.

August Guillaume December 4, 2019

The article explains it well. 

Ruth Ann Schuringa December 4, 2019

He Shall Reign Forevermore (Chris Tomlin) 

A Christmas Hallelujah (Cohen's tune; Cloverton lyrics)

Glory (let there be peace) - Matt Maher

Majesty in the Manger - Greg Sykes

Sing we the Song of Emmanuel - Getty/Matt Papa

Noel - Chris Tomlin & Lauren Daigle

Erin Knight December 4, 2019

Hi Staci! I am pretty cheesy when I do volunteer gifts. I love giving things with a cute 'pun' attached. One year I gave artisan soup packages made from a lovely company out West who hires people with disabilities to do their packing, etc. (Mitchell's Soups) The card said, "I think you are Souper!" Another time I gave teachers at my school a bottle of "Simply Lemonade" or Simply orange juice with a note saying "You're SIMPLY the best!" It's usually the sentiment that means more than the gift, in my humble opinion! Pinterest is great for these cheesy gift ideas :) And a handwritten, personalized note is always appreciated as a volunteer!

Christy Olsen December 3, 2019

Roger, why do you think I'm suggesting there is "one authentic form of worship"? I never said anything like that in the post. The post is about participation in music, which applies to any worship setting.

Christy Olsen December 3, 2019

Robin, I agree with you that participation and performance are not exclusive. So one can play or sing a song for the congregation without it being a performance, in the entertainment sense. The point in those cases is that the peope in the pews are still very important. The person on stage greatly desires them to listen and engage their hearts in worship, along with the singer. I didn't mean to discredit all non-participatory music in worship.

God calls us to use our voices to worship him aloud. And while I agree it is possible to be worshipful while listening, it's not the same thing as actively worshiping. So I still think we need to give people lots of opportunities to sing in corporate worship. I think leaders need to keep that in the forefront of their minds while planning worship.

Thank you for your thoughtful comment!

Sandra Griffith December 3, 2019

Hello Christy, I think you have found the heart of worship!  If we all sing together, we are participating in worship.  If we listen to worship music, we rest in the worship.  We can rest in the worship where ever we are because we have it all around us.  I can rest in the words and beautiful music as I drive in my car, or as I rest in my living room.  It is at church or small groups that I have the opportunity to present to God my gift of worship.  I am not letting a professional worship for me, I am actively offering  and singing out my praise of the God I serve.  

I also think we have made our worship leaders into performers.  They no longer encourage our voices to be raised in song together because we are forcing them to be better than the worship leaders at other churches.  The sound systems and the instruments drown out the congregation.  That is why we do not participate.  We do not have a voice.  Does God want to hear perfect music in his churches, or does he want to hear the imperfect voices of his people raised in song to him?  I struggle with this so much, and am told so often how wrong I am.  I am told to be an obedient pew-sitter and let the professionals do my praising for me.  Keep preaching this, Christy!

Harry Boessenkool December 3, 2019

This is a wonderful report which gives me a chance to see what the church is doing in the world. 

This report becomes extremely important for our congregations as we transition to a new process for Ministry Shares.

The new process more or less forces churches to start the budgeting process in the summer in order to have something available for the Fall Classis meetings in 2020.

In this report the 2 biggest recipients of MS are 1) Resonate and 2) Congregational Services. The latter include no less than 17 stories in Ministry Report, none of the 17 have any financial information. That will prove to be a barrier to understanding the total scope of Congregational Services. There is no story for Denominational Services yet it is the 4th largest MS recipient. 

The information on World Renew is simply interesting but has nothing to do with MS as this Ministry is self-funding.

The Calvin College MS is the most difficult as the source of those MS are spread disproportionately over all the Classis in the denomination.

Of course I have no idea how the guidelines for the budget will be presented to the congregations. Will each church get a report on what they contributed in, say, the last five years? That information must be available.  To lump 17 ministries under one heading and ask for almost 5 million dollars will be difficult for most congregation to digest without a bit more granular information.

My quick response is that if the Ministry Report contains a story about a ministry it should show the financial info as well.  The Agenda for Synod each year provides excellent information on the number of employees (FTE). Should that not show in the Ministry Report as well?

The CRCNA year book is a treasure trove of member numbers but has very little information on FTE numbers in both churches and respective HO functions. I suspect when churches are going to be asked for pledges the issue of FTE will come up so it might be wise to have these numbers available in the process.

Izaak De Jager December 3, 2019

Let us also ask this important question: what does God want?  Let us look beyond our own wants and needs. 

Theona Cooke December 3, 2019

All is Well (Michael W. Smith)

I Celebrate the Day (Relient K)

How Many Kings (Downhere)

Come and Worship (Bebo Norman)

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day (Casting Crowns)

Carol of the Bells (Barlow Girl)

Staci Devries December 3, 2019

Thank you for this, Sandra. I love the idea coffee gift cards (which can also be used for my guilty pleasure: hot chocolate). Thanks also for mentioning words of encouragement. I know they mean the world, truly, and can help people keep going on those days it's hard, or the days they wonder about the impact. It's huge. 


Ruth Ann Schuringa December 3, 2019

Thanks for this!  Great playlist.  I make a playlist for our congregation each new "season" (Lent/Easter; Fall series; Advent/Christmas) to help them worship during the week, and be ready for Sunday worship, especially with new songs, and to help young families.  I don't mind sharing my Advent/Christmas playlist if you want! 

Alex Walker December 3, 2019

Hi guys, I am Alex, I am reading a book on Claims Preparation from a good online college. 

Interesting topic. 




Eric Kas December 2, 2019

Thanks so much for this post, Staci! I'm thankful for Rachel's voice and the call for all of us to care enough to listen and believe - especially to those who are in vulnerable positions. It is powerful to connect the stories of those who have been victimized to the birth of Jesus, through a vulnerable girl, Mary, who I'm sure very few believed.

Staci Devries December 2, 2019

What a gift this post is! Thanks for drawing us it to the rich fellowship and joy found in these meetings and lived out in the lives of these Friends! 

Ronald VanAuken November 29, 2019

Obviously an older post to which I am responding some 6 years later. Never the less, my two cents. It is not an esy question to answer. I majored in Greek while in college/university. Despite this, I felt inadequate  when going up against scholars who had devoted their lives to the language, meaning, though not limited to, those who were sufficiently proficient to engaged in translation. Expanding this, the Greek and Hebrew that one learns in seminary will not make one proficient in the language and unless possessed by hubris s/he will still rely on the work of others to understand the text and its context. With that said, one at least hopefully has the basic tools to understand the nature of the language and to be able to communicate its complexity.  Three example. Shalom means much more than peace in the sense of the absence of war or conflict,  the common Hebrew word we translate as "prayer" does not mean prayer ar all, and there are four distinct words we translate as "love." The Hebrew language, lacking vowels, also leads to some very interesting interpretations of the text as the Rabbis would see connections between words that we westerners would miss. At age 74 with some 45 years of ministry behind me, I regret that I did not keep up and expand upon my knowledge of Greek and Hebrew; but perhaps that's just me.

Stanley & Monica Groothof November 29, 2019

Thanks for these reminders... Good timing!

Sandra Griffith November 29, 2019

I really liked the five dollar coffee gift cards. Cards of encouragement were great too.

Theresa Tanin November 26, 2019

It may have been unusual in 1992 but the population of those growing sensitive or developing illnesses due to EMF emitting devices is growing and so is the research trying to explain what kind of damage is happening to our minds, bodies and the environment. Please check out for current science on the subject of wireless technology. You are not alone, I no longer go to church now too. I suffered with severe migraines with nausea and now that I take precautions and hardwired my home they have disappeared with only minor irritations in my head that increase as my exposure to EMF radiation increases. It is one of the most seductive, very useful, controversial and misunderstood hazards of our time. Email me if you need support [email protected], this is a very lonely journey.

Mavis Moon November 26, 2019

"Christianity Today" has a good devotional with daily devotions written by many excellent writers and I've ordered some of those to offer to our congregation. (

Fuller Seminary sent a free program that I am planning to do with whoever will attend in a 4 week series after church. I plan to light an advent wreath in the room and then we will read and pray. Below is information from Fuller about the program. They used readings from the New Living Testament and I wanted to use the NIV so I re-did them myself. If anyone wants that, let me know and I will email it to you.

From Fuller:

This Advent, consider using our free guide and scripture readings to help you and your community engage Advent afresh by simply listening to the Bible together. Gather with your family, an existing group, or start a new group and delight in the mysteries of anticipation and joy. These are simple tools to help you pause, and reflect.

free guide:

scripture readings:

Staci Devries November 25, 2019

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Jay DeBoer November 22, 2019

I love the idea.  Are you sharing the content of the game?

Annalise Kontras November 22, 2019

Job opening for Jubilee Centers International

Scott DeVries November 22, 2019

Yes! I'm excited to read part 2.

In my own ministry I found that there were generationally-related preferences in this area. The older generations seemed to prefer celebrating God's work and felt "beat up" by any challenging sermons. The younger generations expressed feeling like the celebratory sermons were "fake smiles" and preferred something that challenged them to a more active righteousness. Of course there were exceptions on both sides. And of course, both preferences have something wonderful about them.