Comment Stream

Staci Devries October 18, 2017

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. 

Diane Ritzema October 18, 2017

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!

Mike Terrell October 18, 2017

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.

Sharon Smith October 17, 2017

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

Sharon Smith October 17, 2017

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!

Sharon Smith

David Den Haan October 17, 2017

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

Linda Grace October 17, 2017

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

Craig Van Hill October 17, 2017

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.

Staci Devries October 17, 2017

I second this! 

Staci Devries October 17, 2017

Thank you for sharing this beautiful story! You've encouraged me to be bold in looking for opportunities to share Jesus. 

Danielle Steenwyk-Rowaan October 17, 2017

I so appreciate how your ministry walks the talk on accessibility! Thanks for modeling it for the rest of us learners. 

Josh Larsen October 17, 2017

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)

Resonate Global Mission October 16, 2017

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.

Harry Boessenkool October 16, 2017

"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.

Doug Vande Griend October 16, 2017

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.

Resonate Global Mission October 16, 2017


This is something that Synod upheld 3 years ago, you can see that here:

Synod Upholds Missionary Support-Raising Policy

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.

Harry Boessenkool October 13, 2017

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".

Bonnie Nicholas October 11, 2017

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.

Eric Van Dyken October 11, 2017


I appreciate your approach.

Eric Van Dyken October 11, 2017

"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. 

Bonnie Nicholas October 11, 2017

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. 

Mavis Moon October 11, 2017

I also like the "Salt of the Earth" calendar that Joyce refers to ( 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.

JoyceGB . October 11, 2017

This one isn't printable but I've used it in the past and appreciated it:

Ken Van Dellen October 11, 2017

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.


Doug Vande Griend October 11, 2017

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.

Mark Stephenson October 11, 2017

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." 

Mark Stephenson October 11, 2017

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."

Michele Gyselinck October 10, 2017

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.

Jeanne Kallemeyn October 10, 2017

Georgetown CRC in Hudsonville MI has had a co-pastor arrangement for many years.

Mark Stephenson October 10, 2017

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. 

Doug Vande Griend October 10, 2017

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.

Doug Vande Griend October 10, 2017

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).

Staci Devries October 10, 2017

Thanks for this, Mark. I have been anxious after the last shooting and unsure how to proceed but these words helped. May we all refocus on God's call to love our neighbor. 

Bonnie Nicholas October 9, 2017

Yes, it's good to check directly with your insurance company, I wouldn't want to attempt to speak for them. Safe Church has resources on our website, which may be helpful in training staff and volunteers.

Bill Vis October 6, 2017

 As the current pastor at this church I agree with everything in this article. It is worth noting that the first two are entirely the councils responsibility. The stable s I agree with everything in this article. It is worth noting that the first two are entirely the councils responsibility.  Establishing clear direction on the nature of an acceptable candidate and appointing a truly representative committee are vital. Regarding the fourth item,  each search committee should work with the system to be able to filter through applications and profiles in a way that honors the council's direction. 

Keith Doornbos October 6, 2017

Thanks Ben for your insightful and helpful comments.

Rev. G.Ben Bowater IV October 6, 2017

Thanks for the article!

I think these type of distinctions are very helpful. I just shared this with our Elders as we just dealt with the unpleasant but necessary realities of Church Discipline.

Over 9 years ago, we set out to plant a new/restarted Church uniquely designed to make room for people who had been outside or returning to the Christian faith. At the time, we believed that in an established church setting, it’s often an unwritten policy that a person must not only fully believe and understand the truths of the Christian faith, but must visibly be on the road to becoming Christ-like in their daily life. Only then could that person fully belong in a Church community.

Knowing that paradigm for ministry creates a toxic environment for anyone ‘new’ to enter into a Church community, we turned that process on its head and created a place where anyone can ‘belong’ to our Church, without first believing. We trusted that in the Lord’s timing, people would become more and more like our Savior. The Lord blessed our efforts and we can all think of several individuals who ‘only at RedArrow’ could they feel a deep sense of belonging in a faith community.

However, the unintended consequence of this effort is that we have an extremely diverse congregation that bring a wide variety of belief systems and Biblical understandings. This is all well and good until the time comes to put people in positions of influence. It is in those settings that Biblical ignorance and spiritual immaturity really begins to surface. 

It's now clear to the Elders that there was a small group of people in our Church that wrongly believed Christian fellowship should look more like a 'social club' or a 'service league' and less like a transformative force for good in a broken world. When we pointed out the 'high bar' of expectations were those given by God Himself, several walked away from the Church preferring to be conformed to the patterns of this world. If nothing else, we have learned to be more intentional about highlighting the reason God calls His people to righteous and holy living; out of gratitude for what Christ has done for us.

Doug Vande Griend October 5, 2017

The answer to your question is to directly ask your insurance company, and to get an answer in writing.

Ken Van Dellen October 4, 2017

If churches and Christian schools are interested in finding speakers for conferences such as this, I would invite them to contact the American Scientific Affiliation (ASA), an organization of Christians in science ( Many members of the CRCNA, some of whom are faculty members at CRCNA-affiliated colleges, are members of the ASA. Within the ASA are the Affiliation of Christian Biologists and the Affiliation of Christian Geologists, and many of the CRC members and college faculty members referred to are members of these groups. These Christian scientists are all actively involved in science-related careers or are retired from them, and it should be possible to find well-qualified individuals from these sources who would be willing and able to discuss the topic of creation from a Reformed perspective as speakers or as members of a panel. Contact the ASA at the above website for further information.

posted in : Creation Conference
Marian Lensink October 3, 2017

Hi Kate, 

I'm not sure if you're asking about having partners within or outside the group.  Sometimes we can invite women who can't come to the group (perhaps because they're working or otherwise unavailable), to be partners with people in the group, or to pray for the group as the group is meeting. 

However, I suspect you are asking about pairing up, or partnering within the group.  Here are some suggestions:

1.  Invite women to pair up, in the group, share one prayer request with each other, and pray .  (Women will often share more freely with one other person, rather than aloud in the group.)

2.  Suggest that women can pray silently or aloud - God hears all of our prayers. 

3.   Suggest that they  pray in response to a statement or question such as "What are you thankful for this week?" or "Who can I pray for that you are concerned about?"  or "What do you want to ask God for this week?"

4.  Give everyone a blank recipe card and ask them to write down their name and a prayer request.  Then trade with a partner, and pray for each other during the week. 

5.  Or....Each woman brings a mug, and places the above card with name and prayer request in the mug.  Trade with a partner, and you are reminded to pray for your partner whenever you have a cup of tea/coffee at home.  Alternatively, these mugs can be exchanged secretly, so that no one knows who is praying for them - like a secret sister.  Pray for your one person throughout the season, and reveal your prayer partner at the end of the year.

6.  This year, we made prayer journals, and are encouraging women to bring the journals each week, and record the things that we are praying for.  Each woman can also pray throughout the week for the needs expressed.  (send me a note if you want more info...

I'd love to hear ideas from others as well! 


JoyceGB . October 3, 2017

Historically the funeral has not been a "church/ecclesiastical" event.  The Church Order was changed in 2010 to soften that approach but as a result to my knowledge the CRC has never had an official liturgy for funerals which is why you don't find any on the Liturgical Forms page.  Of course, synod could change that by requesting that some be provided.  Currently one of the best resources out there is the book "In Life and in Death" which is available through Faith Alive
Don't forget to check out the "Death and Dying" section of Lift Up Your Hearts, which includes "A Litany for the Sick and Dying" #461

For some additional reflections and a sample liturgy see:



posted in : Funeral Liturgy?
Kevin Soodsma October 3, 2017

The CRCNA holds funerals as such: Funerals and memorial services within the body of Christ should reflect the confidence of our faith and should be conducted accordingly. Such times provide opportunities to minister love, provide comfort, give instruction, and offer hope to the bereaved. (art. 70 of the Church Order)

But the Worship institute has a few examples/ideas of what a funeral/memorial service might look like:

Here is the search for funerals:

posted in : Funeral Liturgy?
Staci Devries October 2, 2017

Thanks for this post, Monica, and for linking to some helpful resources. 

Christopher Hunt September 28, 2017

Doug, thank you for your thoughts. I agree that as painful as it is, a spouse dying is most likely less destructive than the marriage coming apart by divorce. I'd further add that my experience affirms your second point. My wife's demand came a shock to me, but she had made her mind long before telling me. Even as I held out hope the marriage could be saved, she never wavered once from her resolve to bring it to an end. Still, just as you say, I encourage those I meet in divorce situations that it ain't over till it's over, and even then, it might not be over. God brought me to a place of acceptance when he showed me unequivocally that it was over. Thank you again for your thoughts.

Doug Vande Griend September 28, 2017

Thanks for the article, Christopher.  You are correct I think about how destructive divorce is.  Having practiced law in this area for many years, I had concluded that, generally, a spouse dying was almost always less destructive than divorce.

Were I to add a thought, it would be this.  Often, perhaps almost always, the "divorce" happens long before the legal documents are signed and filed.  But even then, that does not mean there is no hope for a couple that is "in the process."   And so thanks too for the work you are doing.

Bryan Haley September 27, 2017

Great question, Andrew!

We certainly are bombarded with messages these days, right? Even in email, we get bombarded with junk from all over the place. If you choose to utilize email as part of your follow-up process, it certainly can be done well. Breaking through the noise can be the difficult part, but it can be done. I normally recommend making follow-up emails personable and focused on the guest.

Colin Vander Ploeg September 26, 2017

Over 18 documentary is also being shown in Smithville Christian Highschool, (6488 Townline Road, Smithville Ontario) on  Friday Oct 20 , doors open at 6:30pm, 7pm screening followed by panel discussion and Q&A (cost: by donation).  All welcome.

David Apple September 26, 2017

Training diaconal servants since 1991

Andrew Sherwood September 26, 2017

Do you find positive response from sending follow up emails? In a culture where every store, restaurant, doctors office, school, etc. is asking for it and then sends regular emails it seems as though emails are becoming a less effective way to engage with people who are new or unfamiliar with church.