While I agree that pastors should have access to offering information for pastoral reasons there are plenty of elder and deacons who will not agree, especially at churches who "don't have a giving problem."
If you are looking for reasons beyond those listed in this article and the comments, a good resource on this topic is, Not Your Parents Offering Plate, by J. Clif Christopher. His follow-up book, Whose Offering Plate Is It?, is also good, but I would recommend reading the first one, first. The second offers further clarification and feedback received following the first book.
I should try to get my church to compost. I would take the material myself. I'm always greedy for more organic material for my garden. I compost at home, but my family doesn't generate much on our own. Only one 20 gallon garbage can per year.
Ya, Dan I'm not missing what the intent of the CRC Communications comment is, just finding it odd and slightly inappropriate. Notice that the "community guidelines" specifically say that comments should have "clear authorship—that means using your real name". I can understand "CRC Communications" posting anonymously regarding various administrative details or judgments, but why use that cover when expressing opinions? Seems to fly in the face of the community guideline avoiding anonymity. Again, notice: An individual ("I") thought it was good to point to a differing perspective in order to somehow balance against yours. It seems to me that the admins have no business doing that as anonymous admins, but have every right to do that as individuals under their own names. Not my site and not my rules, but it seems fair for admins to hold themselves to the same standard as they hold others.
Jeremy and Dan, thanks for your comments. I couldn't agree more that "mass shooters are not in a healthy frame of mind." However, society has given us a particular understanding of "mental illness" today that results in only 25 percent of mass shooters having a diagnosable mental illness. So tying mass shootings to "mental illness" does not help the larger purpose of preventing mass shootings. In addition, using such language needlessly and cruelly implies that people with mental illnesses may well be violent, which in nearly all cases is not true.
Yes, I've read as well that the population of homeless people increased when the institutions closed in the '70's. I'm drawing on old memories here, but as I recall, all the funding that went to those institutions was supposed to go to assist people living in those institutions to get the supports they needed for life in communities. Instead, federal, state, and local governments spent the money elsewhere, and many in institutions ended up on the streets. The president's suggestion about resurrecting mental institutions in this context does not have a ring of compassionate care for homeless people who are struggling with a serious mental illness but implies that if we just lock up enough people (in this case, people with mental illnesses) we'll reduce the incidence of mass shootings. Again, considering that only 25 percent of mass shooters have been diagnosed as having a mental illness, that reasoning does not hold water.
I think what "CRC Communications" is saying is that they (the staff there) agree with professor Scott Hoezee's defense of the CRC's Statement on Mass Shootings.
I read through Scott's defense, and I'm afraid his piece is inadequate in addressing the concerns I raised in my own Response to the Statement.
Why did the Statement contain demonstrably false information? Why focus on only one aspect of mass murder? Why is the solution to publicly "call out" white supremacists? I don't know anyone who is defending them! But I do know that Christ calls us to love them (not join the mob in trying to shame them into changing their hearts and minds...which won't work by the way, and will only cause them to dig in further).
I am still not sure who the intended AUDIENCE is for the CRC's Statement, and what the authors hoped to convince the audience of (i.e. the PURPOSE). Was the audience President Trump? CRC members? Other people in leadership positions within the church?
Jeremy Oosterhouse makes a very good point. A lack of an official, clinical diagnosis does not necessarily mean all is well.
Mark, are you saying that people who commit mass murder are mentally stable? I would say the very fact that a person is willing to randomly maim and murder other human beings, as many as possible, indicates that the person is very troubled spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, correct?
Mark - while your statistics about the co-ocurrence of mental illness and mass shootings is true, it ignores the fact that the other underlying characteristics - obsession, narcissism, domestic abuse, etc. - are hallmarks of personality disorders and other decreased mental functioning. They may not have classic mental illness - bipolar, depression, schizophrenia - but mass shooters are not in a healthy frame of mind. Personality disorders are notoriously difficult to diagnose and treat, but that does not mean that the president is incorrect. Virtually all mass shooters have some type of mental state for which medical or counseling treatment would be beneficial. Reading the literature closely is important. One must note how people write about mental illness vs. mental conditions. The former is exclusive to bipolar, schizophrenia, depression, while the latter includes anxiety disorders and personality disorders.
Further, the discussion about the necessity of mental institutions must consider the needs of the chronically homeless, for which mental illness co-occurrence is significant. In fact, the increase in the number of mentally ill homeless on the street coincides with the closure of mental institutions in the 1980's. You and I agree that the institutions that were closed were rife with abuse. But that does not negate the need for institutional treatment and support for so many people who currently do not receive it. If community-based, voluntary care has not been effective, then perhaps it is important to consider again mandatory, institutional-based care.
Hi Ken. I always sense in your comments the evidence of a kind and loving heart. May God bless you also, brother.
Thanks Eric, That was one of my motives and why I don’t get into the discussion other than to point out my view as Dan is entitled to under Christian criteria. Hope you are doing well my friend! God bless you
I think it is very important for pastors AND elders to know how much the congregants are giving because it also may indicate a spiritual problem or that someone is unhappy with things in the church and doesn't wish to support it any more financially. In the Bible it says that where our hearts are, there will our treasure be. Church leaders need to find out why nongivers are holding back and address those reasons personally with the reluctant giver.
Hi Ken, a couple of things to note:
First, I think we are "getting along". Differences of opinion are not to be feared, and expressing differences openly is healthy for relationships. Having differences does not mean that we are not existing together in grace and peace.
Second, it is important to note that Dan is seeking to promote unity and "getting along" by exhorting the denomination as an institution not to foment discord and disharmony through political posturing. In other words, I think you and Dan are on the same page, even though you view some public events differently!
Interesting that the communications team provides an unsolicited link to an alternative viewpoint. Do you do this often in the comment threads? Is Dan's opinion somehow beyond the pale that it must be balanced with an alternative viewpoint? Also interesting that the comment is made by "CRC Communications", yet the comment switches to the first person singular ("I"). Wouldn't it be better for persons within the "communications" apparatus with opinions to own them and post alternative viewpoints as a known individual like the rest of us?
For an additional perspective on this statement, I encourage you to check out Scott Hoezee's reflection in the Reformed Journal.
Recently, our congregation went through some challenges that the Council addressed over several months. Until then, I as a member of Council, had not seen or known about those roles. (My background is in another denomination.) As our Council navigated the challenges, suddenly the church visitors and regional pastor appeared at Council meetings. In my mind, this raises the question of how active these roles are in non-crisis situations. We, as congregations, need to be hearing about our strengths and weaknesses on a continuing basis from external sources.
I am interested in learning to what extent the classis structure exists on paper, as opposed to how it really works (or doesn't) as an active relationship between congregation and classis. The reality of the decades-long shrinkage (in members and congregations) of the CRC suggests that something may not be working as effectively as possible in addressing congregational vitality well before the question of survival or crisis resolution is paramount.
I welcome other perspectives on this issue. Thank you for raising it.
Hi Dan, I agree with the statement the church made! You are entitled to your views and will not comment on them. I wish we could all get along but we are divided because of sin! I hope you have a good day!thx
I’m not as sold on President Trump’s policies and the neutrality of his rhetoric as Dan is, but I agree with Dan in principle. I didn’t vote for Trump, and I generally find him distasteful or worse. I do think that his policies, on balance, are more aligned with good governance than the platform of those who oppose him.
I do think there is a danger in seeming wholehearted approval of Trump’s rhetoric around immigration. I don’t think we have license to call him racist, as that speaks to the motivations of his heart. I do believe that a reasonable person can very easily judge that his rhetoric and appeals are often not appeals to righteousness and are indeed tailored at times to stroke a certain crowd that does not share biblical values.
Is President Trump alone in this? Certainly not, and that is where I take particular umbrage with the CRC’s approach to making selective pronouncements. When will we be hearing from the CRC on the recent lies of two major democratic candidates for President in which they proclaimed that a black man was murdered by a police officer? Will this false witness intended to stir racial animosity and strife be “called out” by our supposedly apolitical denominational leaders? Their track record says no. And frankly the CRC has a track record of participating in the same despicable lies in order to be viewed as socially progressive. The CRC has promoted the lie of “hands up, don’t shoot”. The CRC has said that this man was killed simply because of his skin color. The CRC is a purveyor of lies that stoke racial animosity and endanger the lives of law enforcement officers every day. The CRC has offices that use worldly philosophies to divide brothers and sisters in Christ into competing groups every day.
And the leaders of the denomination have the audacity to lecture on racial strife?
These are wonderful ideas, Lesli. Thanks for sharing!
Ken, thank you for sharing. I think there are many of us finding our world is getting smaller and smaller.
I am looking for ways to stay in touch with my church family and how to worship corporately.
How have you managed to do this?
Thanks for putting this spreadsheet together! I'm curious if there is an updated version (2019) available? Thanks in advance for any help. +Derek
This isn't about over playing them (although I do think you have a point in having sound systems too loud). It's about using the equipment you have properly. I love to hear the congregation sing acapella - we do it all the time. It's about leadership and knowing what to do.
What if we did not use sound systems to run our services? The one with the mike controls the service. Our worship leaders no longer lead. Because of sound systems, they run the worship. I really believe that the loudness in church is discouraging community. Our kids come in and hear a great worship band, but the band continues as they walk out, and there is no dialogue between the kids. They all walk out looking rather lost. What if we had church services where the imperfect voices of God's people was the most important? What if we had a church service where clapping and "hallelujahs" were not drowned out? I think we are using our sound systems like they used the bells in the old days. The loud sounds from the church sanctuaries is to let the outside know that a party is happening inside and they should come in. Otherwise I do not know why they have such loud services that we cannot even bring our babies into. Sound systems are very important in group settings, but are we over playing them?
I attended. If you have the opportunity to send a team to this, please do. It is well worth the investment. I was the only one who could attend from our church. He does these bootcamps all over the country, so just check it out on his website as to where & when.
Good thoughts Dan! Here is another blatant false narrative perpetrated by the Statement's authors, "White supremacist acts of terror have been committed in the United States from its earliest days, at the hands of those most often radicalized on the margins or in secret." No, actually the acts of terror were not perpetrated by those marginalized, they were perpetrated by the southern Democrats from the very beginning. Hardly a marginalized group. Slavery, KKK, Jim Crow laws, lynching, desegregation, Bull Connor, Orval Faubus, George Wallace, LBJ, and on and on. All Democrat policies. All Democrats. The authors conveniently ignore history.
Karen, I want to read this post again and again because there is so much that resonates with me. I think you hit the nail on the head with the need for less programs and more "weaving of faith-forming conversations in our daily family rhythms." This is huge. And sometimes the "how" is the hardest part. For this reason, your tangible ideas, including repeatable faith practices, ideas for community engagement, and more, are so, so great.
Thank you so much!
Bret, I used to make journals for the kids graduating out of Children in Worship to help them engage with the service (since they were then joining "big" church). I created the layout, but I think you can also find some free options online. I think each page had a place for them to write the date, topic, passage, thoughts or questions they had and then left space for them to draw if they wanted to. At my church kids graduated from Children in Worship after 2nd grade so they were a little older. You may want to focus more on space for the child to draw if they are just leaving kindergarten.
We also handed out Bibles to those entering 1st Grade/graduating from Kindergarten as that seemed to correspond to when they were really focusing on reading in school. I used The Adventure Bible, but there's a whole list of options on the Bibles and Bible Storybooks page of the Family Faith Formation Toolkit. There are also some suggestions about how to celebrate various milestones in that tool kit. You can find those here: Milestones. I used the suggestion of having someone pick a verse to include in each child's Bible (from Celebrating the Milestones of Faith). Each parent sent me a verse they picked for their child, that I would include in the front of the Bible. I also read that verse aloud when I gave out the Bible. It was a really nice way to make the experience more personal for the kids.
I could have agreed with about 90% of the statement had they not chosen to go into a political direction and pull some of Trump's quotes out of context in the manner that his partisan critics do. I could have even lived with a criticism of Trump in the next paragraph had it simply read "Though the U.S. President's statement denouncing racism is much needed, we would encourage him and others to consider the ways that their rhetoric has undoubtedly contributed to the present situation".
As to the immigration issue in general, while I believe we should have empathy for poor people coming to this country, even illegally, to better their lives, it would be nice if the CRCNA leadership were not so tone deaf to the poor Americans who tend to be the biggest "hawks" on immigration issues. Most of the CRC staff come out of an upper middle class private school environment (i.e. Calvin and Hope) and simply do not relate to the people who perceive undocumented immigrants as a threat. As a result, we have a situation where they appear to be "punching down" at people poorer and less educated than themselves. This is a terrible Gospel witness.
I do have many concerns about the current President as well as the "court evangelicals" who seem to excuse everything he does. It would be nice, though, if our denomination staff showed signs of being a bit more diverse politically, not beholden to groups like Sojourners who are often "court evangelicals" to the other side of the political spectrum.
Finishing a series (10 weeks) in the Canons of Dort Sunday morning. Preaching through the Gospel of John in the evening service (up to chapter 6 so far).
This week we are starting a 2 part series called "Predicting the Future: No Crystal Ball Required" using Proverbs 6.
Then we will be doing a series on Spiritual Gifts called "From Recipient to Participant: How to Do Church"
Whenever we consider complicity or culpability in a situation - we must ask, "who has the power?" Who has the power in any given situation? Who is being oppressed or used by that power, and to what ends? Who benefits? Labeling another victim a "madame" puts blame in the wrong place, and can take responsibility away from the one who owns the harm done - in this case the men who continued to abuse women.
That said, we don't know the relationship between these men who abused and the women who aided their efforts - we don't know what the women's motives were, financial dependence, threats, coercion, a romantic relationship, their own feelings of powerlessness or inadequacy, their inability to stand up to the one with power. It takes a very strong woman to fight the current and stand up for other women who are being harmed; there are often significant costs involved.
One of my favorite lines from the movie Spotlight came in the words of reporter Mitchell: “If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.” In that story, beyond being amazed at the sheer numbers of people abused, it was amazing how many were involved in the cover up! So many people are complicit by their silence and turning the other way. In many ways, we, as a society, and as a church, are also complicit in the abuse that we allow to continue among us.
Thanks, Colin. Obviously, most folks are careful about sharing household income but an anonymous survey would give people the freedom to choose a range of income which is helpful information too. There's another piece here too that I haven't touched on which is financial literacy. Providing resources around growing budgeting and saving skills is another part of good leadership.
Sermon Series on "Preaching Christ from the Psalms" (source Sidney Greidanus)
I haven't seen a brown bin at church, but I do know that my church does recycling. Usually the bin is kept inside next to the side door of the building, so if there was a brown bin it would probably be there too. Maybe the pastor does. I'll forward the question to Council. I do at home.
My name is Tom VanWingerden (Executive Director of Friendship Ministries).
If you'd like any further information about our Together curriculum, I'd be more than happy to talk about this wonderful new tool.
Feel free to give me a call 888-866-8966 or drop me an email [email protected].
We (Ann Arbor CRC) will finish up our summer series on Colossians this coming Sunday. After an interim week, we'll begin our fall series walking through Exodus.
Good thoughts Phillip. Of course knowing how much a person or household gives is still just part of the equation. You would also need to know approximately what their income is, since biblical giving is in proportion to income, not the inherently unjust per member assessment the CRC has for so long been trying to do. I have preached on giving but never on per member or per household amounts, always giving in proportion. Takes a while for churches and their leaders to shift away from the old pattern of thinking. Takes even longer for Classes to approach a tithing model of congregations giving in proportion to their resources, rather than simply number of members.
For the second time, our pastors have chosen to take the themes from our Vacation Bible School and turn them into a summer sermon series. This year's series has been "When Life is 1. unfair, 2. scary, 3. changes, 4. sad, 5. good, God is good! This week we will have a wrap up sermon for the series. It has been amazing!
I'm nearing the end of a series of sermons on Revelation 2-3. The Seven Sermons to the Seven Churches, using notes I have from a seminar in 2008 at Redeemer College let by Dr. Jeff Weima.
So, yes our church composts, mostly because of our reminders and ensuring that the collection bucket gets placed in plain view at church gatherings and potlucks. We keep a bucket at the coffee bar for grounds and tea bags, and another in the kitchen for fruit and vegetable scraps and peels. It's a slow process in changing the habit of simply dumping all trash into one large can. I do think that people are receptive to the idea; it takes time to change the collective thought. If my wife or I are not around, the process is not likely to happen.
I am sorry but I am too sick to finish right now! Thx for your prayers!
This is so great to read. I am a Master Composter (MSU Extension) and I both teach backyard/home composting but I am also coordinating composting at 8 churches in Holland along with a County facility and possibly a school. We are running a Pilot Program with Republic and Cocoa Composting. this is being coordinated through GreenMichigan.org and Macatawa Creation Care
If any churches in Holland are interested please let me know. Either through this network conversation or at [email protected]
Thank you for your comment! I agree totally with your comment! I especially like "Because God has equipped people with different skills and opportunities, leadership can be exercised in many different ways...Leadership and expertise go together but it is when expertise is acknowledged and allowed to be exercised within the context of a community of servants of all kinds that a Christian community can flourish and demonstrate the sprinkling of God's gifts and grace to all people." My experience is sometimes when we don't even see what we have, someone comes alongside to help us use what God has given us for his glory. Yes, in a Christian or non-Christian community, we're called to be servant leaders. Thanks again!
Monroe Community Church (CRCNA) also uses Organicycle (organicycle.org); but that service is specific to Kent County, Michigan. Regardless, though, it's been going great for us! We started a Creation Care Team, and we have a volunteer "recycling coach" positioned at our waste bins each Sunday to gently guide waste into the correct bins. People are catching on really well and are appreciative of someone to remind them where everything goes. I hope you're able to find something that works for your church, Staci!
Yes we compost and recycle. As our garbage pick up is private and doesn't include composting, we have dedicated people who take it home and put it in the city's compost bins. That way, when we do use paper plates, cups and napkins, like at our Kick-Off Party, we can compost them along with the food. Plastic ware goes in the recycle. That way a big event ends up with little garbage.
We also have a recycling station in our church hallway with clearly labeled bins. These too are emptied and recycled by volunteers.
I encouraged you to look into this for your church.
I often wonder whether the term "servant leadership" is applied to too limited a number of "positions". Because God has equipped people with different skills and opportunities, leadership can be exercised in many different ways. Leadership is not limited to pastors, elders, deacons or "educated", that is "schooled" folk, but is attainable to almost all and comes to expression if a variety of ways. Leadership and expertise go together but it is when expertise is acknowledged and allowed to be exercised within the context of a community of servants of all kinds that a Christian community can flourish and demonstrate the sprinkling of God's gifts and grace to all people.
Thank you very much, Corey, for your wise piece here. Much appreciated and helpful for me.
Brian, sorry for the issues. The post has been published. Thanks for sharing!
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