Comment Stream

Lyn Kool September 22, 2020

 I always look forward to the new posts.  Thank you, Staci.

Nate Rauh-Bieri September 22, 2020

A relevant book indeed. Thanks for the summary and recommendation, Larry.

Nate Rauh-Bieri September 22, 2020

Thank you for sharing these aspects of your family's story and sources of your faith.

posted in : Unhistorical Acts
Scott DeVries September 22, 2020

Great article!

One point of clarification though, the full council includes the minister(s). Maybe a better historian than me can weigh in on this, but I believe for hundreds of years the supervision of every council member, including the minister(s), was done through mutual censor. That means the pastor wouldn't get singled out for evaluation, but every member of the council was up for evaluation simultaneously. Though I've never experienced mutual censor it intrigues me as perhaps a better approach to the parity of offices. Singling the pastor out for evaluation is a double-edged sword. On one hand it can make being a pastor feel very isolating and thankless. On the other hand, it plays into the misguided notion that the pastor is a bigger deal - as if it should take a whole group to check and balance the one person. 

Tim Spykstra September 22, 2020

Thanks so much for your openness.  As a pastor and a child of an alcoholic I have watched God use AA in transforming ways in many lives. Each step comes right from the Word and when worked by God's grace freedom will take place. May God bless you on your journey!!!

(Elders)
Staci Devries September 21, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Andrew Ryskamp September 19, 2020

Very helpful article. I encourage churches to do a regular membership survey that includes feedback on a number of things like how we as a congregation are living into vision/mission, facilitating training around stages of faith, community engagement, etc., and then also how the pastor's role is experienced in the mix. An annual survey provides helpful baselines and a place to express ownership in helpful ways.

Staci Devries September 17, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries September 17, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries September 17, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries September 17, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Barbara Fichtenberg September 16, 2020

It seems to me that a service of lament over the sin of racism would be a starting point in bringing about true repentance and healing in our communities and society at large.The Church must lead the way! If we don't do it, who will? This topic was not addressed in the article yet it is "the elephant in the room." 

Jonathan Owens September 16, 2020

Wow. Thank you, Reggie. What a powerful witness of how far we've come and a lens of how far we have yet to go. Thank you for sharing this and offering, through your mother's story, the hope we have that's truth is testified to through the Unhistoric lives around us. 

posted in : Unhistorical Acts
Jesse Edgington September 16, 2020

Thanks for the honest and open conversation on this topic. Another slightly different angle to AA that I have heard some really positive things about is Celebrate Recovery. I walk with a group of brothers that attend CR meetings and they say it has changed their life and Christian walk. Either way, I appreciate the thoughts shared and agree we need to be compassionate, listening and walking in love. https://www.celebraterecovery.ca

(Elders)
Staci Devries September 16, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Lubbert van der Laan September 16, 2020

Rather than addressing the question of "membership" directly with a scriptural reference, I would like to suggest that there is a problem with the "Safe Church Policy" if a principal requirement is "membership in the church." What constitutes membership?

1. baptized;

2. completed profession of faith, but under 18;

3. active professing member, over 18;

4. inactive professing member; or

5. lapsed member.

Is a baptized child a member in the sense of being an "active professing member," i.e. one who has made profession of faith; has full voting rights at congregational meetings; can stand for office, etc. Do members in #2. & 3.- #5. meet the former criteria, even if they are membership categories. One might still want #2. - #3. to participate in the life of the church where the Safe Church Policy applies.

Secondly, can you think of a situation where someone might be worshipping with you for a short or longer period from another denomination who holds their membership where enfolding them into the membership of the Body of Christ on an interim basis only makes sense.

A Safe Church Policy should non-discriminatory in applying to members and non-members alike. 

I hope this take on the issue is of some assistance.

PS Maybe there's a deeper story behind the stance on membership. Personally, I know of someone who did not transfer their membership from their previous church due hurts arising in the former church and saw membership as problematic but wanted to be part of a worshipping community. 

Wendy Hammond September 16, 2020

This is a three week series on creation care and Bangladesh: http://justice.crcna.org/sites/default/files/82074%20Climate%20Conversat...

Michele Gyselinck September 15, 2020

 Last year while I was attending the Conference in Windsor, I bought the book Prophetic Lament by Soong-Chan Rah, and the Scripture text that speaks to me the most is Lamentations 3:19-33.  Feel free to read the whole thing, but I had to stop somewhere.  I DID NOT choose this text. It grabbed me and never let go.

Michele Gyselinck September 15, 2020

  Here in Montreal, the maximum limit for indoor gatherings is 250 people.  Since our congregation is nowhere near that when we're all there, which is rare since we have housebound people, there is no need for people to register to attend anymore.  However, we are still not allowed to sing during services, and we have to observe protocols during the service.  Other than that I'm not aware of anyone refusing to wear a mask to get in or out of church.  We are encouraged to keep our masks on during the service, but once we're in our seats we're allowed to take them off as long as we put them back on to get out of church at the end of the service.  

And our church still puts a service online for people who are not necessarily members but who watch it on YouTube.

In Québec the majority of the population is compliant with the order in council that requires people to wear masks while riding public transit or while inside public spaces, but we do have our share of yahoos who won't listen to public health explanations of why we should do so, people who prefer to believe conspiracy theorists rather than reason, and some of them have made death threats against Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) or other government officials.

Diaconal Ministries Canada September 15, 2020

A beautiful example of being creative during Covid. A helpful reminder for churches to not only focus on what we don't have and what we can't do but on what we DO have and what can CAN (and get to) do! Thank you for sharing Pastor Mike! 

John Vandonk September 15, 2020

Never mind your albeit fine poem...

Post picture of truck!

John

Coffee Break Ministries September 15, 2020

Hi, the Discover Your Bible series has several four lesson studies. How about Discover Jonah? you can check out all of the studies in English, Spanish, and Korean at www.discoveryourbible.org - click shop. The DYB series was developed by Coffee Break with 50 plus years of experience in helping people discover the Bible together. We continue to hear the need for a study on Revelation. We are in the research phase!

Staci Devries September 15, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries September 15, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Sandy Swartzentruber September 15, 2020

Thanks, Larry! Yes, sabbath can be a struggle, even though it's a great gift! It's our hope that the Faith Practices Project resources will be helpful as people enter into an exploration of how they might come to love and celebrate sabbath more fully. And thank you for your June Network post! I just ran across it and will add it to our sabbath resources--good stuff to ponder there.

Chris Schoon September 14, 2020

Thanks for engaging with us on Sabbath, Larry. Sandy Swartzentruber wrote this particular post reflecting on how Sabbath is a gift of grace that counters the temptations toward knowing everything that comes with the hyperconnectivity of our current North American culture. So, it's really Sandy who deserves the thanks for this post. 

More broadly though, let me say that Faith Formation Ministries is really enjoying the conversations that are springing out of this focus on faith practices, like Sabbath. What you have outlined here resonates with a fair number of the conversations our team has been having. I really like how you are naming this invitation to love Sabbathing. Growing up, we talked about Sabbath more as a duty or obligation - and certainly not as affection or love for the Sabbath. That Heidelberg Catechism answer you quote has also been one that has caught my attention in recent years. Sabbath is a way of life, rather than a day. 

Larry Doornbos September 14, 2020

Chris, Thanks for these thoughts. One of the struggle we have is loving the Sabbath, for many it was a burden when growing up and now it is often an afterthought. Your words reminded me of some things I looked at in a Sabbatical that led me to think about the Sabbath as being one of the things we need to love. I grabbed these ideas:

We Love the Sabbath

We recognize in the Sabbath God’s gift for rest and being reshaped as a people who live for his glory. 

The Sabbath has always been God’s counterpoint to the world’s striving. 

The Sabbath has always been God’s counterpoint to those who seek glory for themselves. 

The Sabbath has always been a way to de-center ourselves and center on God. 

The Sabbath has always been God’s call “to rest from our evil ways and to let the Lord work in us through his Spirit”  (Cf. Heidelberg Catechism Lord’s Day 38).

Larry Doornbos September 14, 2020

Thanks Resonate and PCR for this new resource, an important one in all times, but especially in this ministry moment

Staci Devries September 11, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries September 11, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries September 11, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Justin Carruthers September 10, 2020

The search team meets in a week so if you are interested, please get your application in by or before September 15th. Thank you!

 

Staci Devries September 10, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Wendy Hammond September 9, 2020

So glad these conversations are happening!

You had asked for creator stories.

One excellent example from within the CRC was discovered by Jodi Koeman, World Renew Church with Community Coordinator, when she was connecting with churches to find best practices around diaconal responses to COVID.

From Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA. “Our communities are both very active on a communal level and an individual level. Part of our initial heart was not to centralize everything within the ‘church’, but rather to engage with organizations that already exist and are doing great work. Part of the motivation for this is our understanding that many people in our cities do not trust the ‘church’ and therefore, want nothing to do with their message. Rebuilding that trust means that we go and serve, trusting that as our light shines, they will see our work and glorify our Father in heaven. As a result of this mindset, our people are already serving all over the place,” said senior pastor Matt Atkins.

Just a note about the “experimentation” language - we need to be careful in how we view and approach those who are from different backgrounds. In Death and Resurrection of an Urban Church, Rev. Mike Mather says, ““The church, and me in particular, has done a lot of work where we have treated the people around us as if, at worst, they are a different species and, at best, as if they are people to be pitied and helped by us.”

 

World Renew-US and Diaconal Ministries Canada are available to help churches with diaconal and community transformation.

Staci Devries September 9, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Carol Rudie September 8, 2020

Lesli--I am not surprised that you find "distance experiences" actually liberating.  I've discovered that the same is true for me with regard to worship services.  Not only can I take in several worship services easily but I can also worship God much more fully when I can stand, walk, sing, etc. without the confinement of pews etc.  So even though my church is now meeting in-person, I'm using this time to enrich my understanding and experience of different worship styles as well as the reason why I "meet with God" so much better digitally than in person.  Of course, the ability of the liturgists, musicians and preachers to use the strengths of digital media makes a huge difference as well.  In these last months I've gained personal experience with the "do's and don'ts" of such worship experiences.  All in all, I'm not  in a hurry to struggle into the right clothes, choke down a quick breakfast, and sit quietly in a hard pew--just to be "in person,"  Churches who have invested in learning and doing worship the right way for the digital experience are shaping meaningful connections between worshipper and God.  Thanks for being descriptive of your own experience and urging our congregations to become adept at ways to make this style a living part of the "new normal".  , whatever that is.

Larry Doornbos September 8, 2020

Syd, thanks for this thoughtful blog post. I believe, along with you, that we are stepping into a new space of being  creator churches. One of the critical pieces of this is, as you say, being Spirit led. The road before us is to help leaders in the church to learn this new way. Many of our churches (councils, consistories, committees) work in the world where business models predominate and that shapes how we see and understand decision making. Our councils, consistories, and committees need to take a new path into being communities of spiritual leaders. This type of calling is about elders who are people of the book, deacons who lead us in Micah 6:8 (see diaconal remix from 2015), and committees the come together to listen to the voice of their communities, the voice of Bible and the call of the Spirit. 

To truly create the new day that you lay before us, we need to create a new way of leading in our congregations.

Staci Devries September 8, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Staci Devries September 8, 2020

Thank you for sharing this opening! 

Trudy Prins September 5, 2020

It was very tempting, in this time of COVID, to make decisions unilaterally because the process is simpler and we had trouble getting meetings together.  However, messy and time-consuming as collaboration can be, in the long run it encourages participation and thus ownership of decisions by more people.  It is important that we take the time to listen to each other.  Thank you for addressing this concern.

lynn wielenga September 3, 2020

It was a helpful event for disability advocates and I'm glad I could attend virtually...thanks again to the organizers and speakers!!

lynn wielenga September 3, 2020

Even we mature members of Bethel looked forward to Pastor John's online children's sermons each week!

Kevin Soodsma September 2, 2020

Due to space restrictions, I am doing choral quartets.  Selecting 4 individuals to sing choral settings.  

Yes, choirs are still valid.  Look at some of the mega churches.  They have choirs of 200 or more.  I do a hymn festival  with a choir and full orchestra.  We do everything from Chris Tomlin to Vaughan Williams.  Choirs can encourage congregational singing just as effectively as a worship team.  

The Network September 2, 2020

We have closed commenting on this thread because a significant portion of comments were not in keeping with our Community Guidelines.

Lenae Bulthuis September 2, 2020

Great post and thoughts! I am reading Mark Buchanan's book, God Walk-Moving At the Speed of Your Soul. Something about lacing up the tennis shoes that is bigger than calorie burn. It is good for the soul. Thanks for sharing.

posted in : Walk This Way
Keith Knight September 1, 2020

You raise a profound question and it even stretches beyond The Offering to a larger question about what worship will look like post-COVID? And will we ever experience a post-COVID or will we always have COVID with us ... like the flu or other viruses?

 

Those churches that had online giving or pre-authorized giving before COVID hit are probably still managing to pay their bills. Those church members have grown accustomed to giving to the church outside of the weekly worship service.

It is undoubtedly more difficult for churches that passed the offering plate on Sundays and that was the sole source of church revenue.

My hunch is that mission giving has moved from the offering plate to direct donations to the ministry agency. While non-profit funding is down considerably during COVID, my hunch is that mission agencies with their broad database of church members and supporters may be doing okay.

I have also noticed that online giving has spread to a wider family of kingdom causes. Local church loyalty is giving way to a broader Kingdom approach. Sunday worship during COVID has become "Sunday worships" -- often watching two, three or more worship services on a Sunday, either live or on YouTube. I live in Ontario but I regularly 'worship' with our kids in Florida and in Seattle on Sunday mornings.  While there is a temptation to donate to them when the offering call comes around, I've resisted the tempation ... mainly because U.S. churches can't issue Canadian tax receipts.

I guess I haven't really answered your question. Churches regularly encourage their online audiences to still donate online or to send a cheque in the mail. From a parishioner's perspective, The Offering still happens but the recipients vary ... depending on whim.

 

Keith Knight September 1, 2020

Do churches still have choirs?  I thought that worship teams -- designed to lead the congregation in worship -- replaced the need for choirs.  One can't beat congregational singing in a worship service.

So, choirs during COVID are redundant and non-existent. Let's permanently put choirs and "special music" to rest.

Instead, have worship teams teach and lead meaningful psalms, hymns and contemporary songs.

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