Comment Stream

Natalie Knowles April 19, 2019

My contact information is

[email protected]

717-856-7733

Natalie Knowles April 19, 2019

My contact information is

[email protected]

717-856-7733

Natalie Knowles April 19, 2019

I am very sorry to heat that you were unable to use this material. I would be very interested in taking it off your hands.

Linda Grace April 19, 2019

This is just wonderful and strongly resonates with what increasingly echoes in my heart:

Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9

Chad Werkhoven April 18, 2019

In the 90's we had separated our Council into three groups: Shepherding Elders, Administrative Elders & Deacons, and Service Deacons.  This resulted in a council of over 25 men, which was way too big of a group.  Each component needed to have a liaison to the other groups and to various committees, yet the right hand never knew what the left hand was doing, and morale was suffering.

Last year we reduced our council to simply elders and deacons, and reduced each group to 5 men.  They have longer terms which helps facilitate better relationships, especially between the elders and their district families.  Because we don't have as many seats to fill, we can find guys who truly have a passion to serve in this way.

We also set up a board of trustees consisting of 4 people.  This group handles all of the business functions of the church and is appointed by and reports to the Council.  We are a complementarian church, so this group also gives the opportunity for women to serve in leadership.  Having this group allows the elders and deacons to just concentrate on their core responsibilities of shepherding the congregation and serving them diaconally. 

These changes have made a tremendous improvement in our operation, and in the morale and effectiveness of our leadership teams.

Here's a link to our flow chart:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1jzmtBWB68vYfSavjB_-nIbDn0mpffkws/view?u...

Linda Grace April 17, 2019

What a vital ministry you are involved in. I’m not directly involved with Safe Church either (my husband is) but I find it comforting to know the CRC is actively working on the issue of Abuse with such excellence, and thought if you didn’t know about it, it would encourage you to know that as well

Michele Gyselinck April 17, 2019

  As someone who became a Christian in the CRC at the age of 17,and who later made profession of faith in this denomination I find that those who advocate we throw out terms like Classis because they're too difficult for outsiders to grasp are underestimating our intelligence.  Like this debate about replacing Merry Christmas with Happy Holidays supposedly because it offends immigrants is hooey. Most of the time, it isn't immigrants who want this but unbelievers whose ancestors have been here for generations, and who grew up in the church but later gave up the faith.  They're the ones who want to throw everything associated with  Christianity out the window, not immigrants who'd rather we use our own holiday terms because they feel more free to use theirs then.

Sometimes I have a feeling that some people in the CRC are embarrassed about the cultural origins of the denomination and project that onto outsiders.  If you have a problem with your cultural origins, that is your problem not ours.

Michele Gyselinck April 17, 2019

 No, I'm not involved in tha ministry although I do read  stories once in awhile and If I run across something that's relevant elsewhere I'll bring it to the attention of the administrators.  I'm a Regional Advocate for Disability Concerns, and I think that if you're sensitive to the needs of people with disabilities you can be sensitive to the needs of people who have been abused.  It's not that big.of a stretch of the imagination, but I find that getting actively involved in Safe church would require more energy than I can spare.

Thank you so much for sharing this Gary! We completely agree change can be hard and uncertain at times but usually necessary and ultimately for the better of everyone! Blessings as you continue on this journey.

Pat Den Boer April 16, 2019

I'm on the 4th in a series of 5 books "The Chronicles of the Kings" by Lynn Austin. They're excellent historical fiction based on Old Testament kings.

James Dekker April 16, 2019

Goodness, what an astonishing confession with the remarkable double focus--confession and resolution to active reconciliation. Thank you so much, Syd and noble daughter, for finding and posting this piece. I am reminded--and I often need that reminder--that there are fine people and conscious, self-aware children of God who make a living in professional sports. Might this be reprinted in The Banner? That would give it a bit more play to a readership rarely witnesses to this kind of testimony to justice and ethics. 

Alex Krikke April 16, 2019

Hey, lots of response to a benign subject such as changing a name.

Here is my thought. I have had the privilege of attending a few Classis meetings. What strikes me is that in every one, mission reps, youth ministry reps, safe church reps , chaplains etc. all report on how it is going,or what they have done, or the status of their area of expertise. To me that means accountability. Why not use a name such as “Regional Accountability Sessions”, or “Regional Accounting Meeting” (RAS, or RAM). Wouldn’t it help to explain what we do, and why we meet? Not only that, but it also shows that we as churches do hold each other accountable, we do not operate totally autonomous.

Gary Brouwers April 16, 2019

Last year, we moved away from a lots system, where we found twice as many nominees as were needed, and we identified individuals who were gifted and willing to serve as elders and deacons and asked the congregation to approve them all, individually, by ballot.  We also shifted all administrative business away from the council to and administrative committee and reduced the council agenda to two items, the growth of faith of the individuals of our church, and the development of a 4-step vision for our church as a whole. Everything on the council agenda needed to clearly relate to these two items, and nothing more. We also reduced the number of council meetings to 6 per year, meeting every other month, so that we wouldn't burn out our leaders. We have rediscovered an energy and passion for ministry as we made these changes, though we are still in a season of uncertainty as we adapt. 

Daniel Brown April 16, 2019

1. By the time you change bylaws, articles of incorporations, letterheads, website addresses, church order, and a whole host of other little things that will need to be done the financial and time considerations for individual church budgets, staff and volunteers will be significant.

2. Explanining Classis (and Synod) to someone who doesn't know takes literally 3 seconds. Jargon isn't a barrier and for many access to a new lexicon is a joyful opportunity to learn and explore - not to mention a boon for those of us who tackle crossword puzzles.

3. Watering down the terms removes the weight and significance of the event. A decision of the "regional gathering" lacks the impact of a "decision of Classis". While some may bristle at notions of structure and accountability, there is tremendous value in having those institutional distinctions.

4. There is no gospel necessity here and no real pragmatic value. Changing the name isn't going to jump start renewal of what is a semi-transitory, functional, meat and potatoes structure. This will neither change the function of Classis meetings nor the desire for people to want to serve.

End it already. I'd say there are bigger fish to fry but this isn't even a fish.

Eric Kas April 16, 2019

Mint.com is a great resource for tracking all of your financial accounts, from checkings, savings, credit cards, HSAs, 401ks, and IRAs. Having everything in one place and categorizing helps give some great perspective on exactly how much creeping your lifestyle is causing. It can be great data after tracking it for years - and it automatically creates some visual graphs for you. Seeing this, in my opinion, is a must for creating a sustainable budget. 

Staci Devries April 16, 2019

I am so excited about this resource and can't wait to share widely! 

Doug Vande Griend April 16, 2019

Great article.  The only thing I'd add is that the US Federal government has this problem too, in spades, as do a number of US States.  The problem is pretty much the same even if the consequences of the latter are and will be more communal.

Danielle Steenwyk-Rowaan April 15, 2019

I was so moved by this article from Kyle Korver. Thanks for sharing it here. What struck me most was his teachability--that softness of heart and willingness to change. What if Christians were known for our willingness to confess and repent (ie. turn from) sins of racism? As Calvinists, our creativity in twisting God's good intentions and looking out for ourselves first should come as no surprise to us. 

Linda Grace April 12, 2019

Thank you. Everything you say makes a lot of sense actually... I do like these conversations for just such a reason: makes me see things from a different perspective. 

Doug Vande Griend April 12, 2019

Sure, Classis and Synod and Consistory and Council and Elder and Deacons -- and that's not even touching doctrine describing words -- are all strange words for some people who come to the CRC from outside of it.  My church has quite a few "outsiders" in it, although none that I know of who care much one way or another about the need to assimilate a bit of a new vocabulary.

I don't much care about the words used although changing the words (including CRC agencies) tends to make some who know a bit about the broader denomination feel a bit like, well, "it must have changed, why otherwise would they change all the labels?"  I personally tend to keep up with "things denominational," but most people in my church don't, and frankly, I like it that most of the people in my church focus on local things.  There's only so much time in a day and so many days in a week, and everyone is busy.  I'd rather see them focus on local things.

All of which would cause me to perhaps be on the side of leaving the names alone.  Doing otherwise gives a sense to some (many?) who focus on local matters to seem even more separated from their denomination.

Speaking of which, should we also change the word "denomination"?  :-)  And while we are doing it, "Christian REFORMED Church" (many from the outside first think we are something like a "reform school").  :-)   Please don't take that as a suggestion -- I think that, all things considered, we do well to choose stability and maintaining a sense of history.

Linda Grace April 11, 2019

I think you nailed it with the sense of exclusion for all those terms... It implies that the business of the church or 'spirituality' is not for the everyday person. That is a grave mistake. The common people heard Jesus gladly, as I remember (Mark 12:37). Ok, yes they also cried crucify Him but who started that chant...

Staci Devries April 11, 2019

I remember being a college freshmen getting a care package from my church. Hand-written notes, cookies, and other little things. It made me feel remembered and loved. So simple but meant a lot. 

Also, Well-Watered Women is a great ministry and community that encourages women to get in the Word (they do a great job of being relevant to the challenges women today face). I just got an email from them mentioning a devotional called Dear College Girl.

Per the description, "you’ll find letters written by women who have walked through college and want to encourage you with wisdom and truth from Scripture as you head into these exciting years." This would make a beautiful gift! 

 

Linda Grace April 11, 2019

Water down salvation? Oh, no, God forbid, not from my perspective. I became a Christian at age 27 (38 years ago!) from generations of secular humanists and I am very clear that sin and hell are real. Hell might be a bit more remote (I believe it exists) but sin is present and crystal clear. Rest assured that the newcomers I know, never want to water down the beauty of the Gift of Salvation, the Gospel of good news. It saved us from ourselves here on earth, let alone the promise of eternity with Him in a place without sin and death, Heaven. 

David Lundberg April 11, 2019

A very thought-provoking article, worthy of response. I agree with most of what is written, and can point to many instances in my time as a lay leader, when I (and the churches I attended) looked in the wrong direction in defining success. It is not that secular, or business-based, definitions are inappropriate, but that they are used as a substitute for Biblically-rooted definitions of "success"  Such definitions (faithfulness; "die to self"; suffering servants; "take up your cross", etc.) do not translate well in our society and even in our churches (or perhaps especially in our churches.)  We expect good results without the effort.

We laypersons need to be very careful in how we define success for our pastors. For a 300-member congregation, there can be 300 such definitions based upon different theories or personal experiences. As a result, it is so tempting to scapegoat the pastor, or a lay leader as "the problem." It is also so easy to feel incompetent or a failure when we compare our selves to other congregations. Such comparisons are a trap.

I wonder what we (the church) would look like if we undertook the task (perhaps the struggle) to define success in ministry from a Biblical perspective? My guess is that we might not like what we find and we would lapse back to doing what provides the illusions of success or stays within our respective comfort zones. Or, it would such a struggle free us from such illusions and propel us toward toward true discipleship and faithfulness, and the attendant discomforts and blessings. 

Thank you for you article!

    

 

 

    

Linda Grace April 11, 2019

From my perspective, growing up atheist, those words were part of the general vocabulary, I was at least familiar with them even if I didn’t exactly know who was part of a diocese. I had really never heard of Classis. I suspect it is because the CRC is considerably smaller than the other denominations. I’d never heard of the CRC either until I walked into a CRC church some 15 years ago. Obviously I liked it! Still here. 

Keith Knight April 11, 2019

As I continue to read this thread, and take part in discussions now and then, I am struck by the fact that we are making every effort to make our church language palatable for those who may be new to the church or to the faith.

As we 'water down' our language, is there a subsequent desire to water down the Gospel? Will the time come when we find the terms 'sin' or 'hell' or 'damnation' offensive to the pew-sitter? I certainly hope not. And I hope that we continue to speak of justification, sanctification, propitiation and the notion that, unless we believe that Christ died for our sins, we're going to hell.

It's one thing to be stuck on our structural language as long as we don't attempt to rewrite the creeds and doctrines to make it more palatable.

 

I've made the ecumenical rounds, serving as director of communication for the CRCNA, The Presbyterian Church in Canada and The Anglican (Episcopal) Church of Canada.  Talk about structural language, try figuring out what a primate, a diocese, a presbytery or the eucharist is.

David Lundberg April 11, 2019

I have not heard of this overture, but I am pleased that is has been submitted. I would suggest the the following be considered:  "cluster"; "district"; and "huddle.

This is part of a larger issue regarding words used historically in the CRC.  Others include "contracta: and "consistory". As one who is relatively new to the CRC, all of the words tend to connote a sense of mystery and exclusion regarding the organization of the CRC. Such words are not very invitational to people who may be considering the CRC or one of its congregations. Such perceptual barriers need to be eliminated if the CRC is to slow the decades-long slide in membership.  This is only one of the issues that pertain to this trend.  

Jason Ellis April 11, 2019

New believers have to learn words like "propitiation", explaining our polity is just another part of discipleship. I didn't grow up CRC, the first time my pastor talked about "going to Classis" I thought he was talking about vocational training. Still, I see no reason to get rid of a perfectly useful traditional word. Too many are too eager to throw out the Reformed baby with the Dutch bathwater, pulling us either in a broad evangelical or mainline direction. Being a little unique here and there isn't necessarily a bad thing. 

 

Amber Ebels April 11, 2019

I recently read Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing by Andy Crouch. A beautifully written book on how all can find abundant life in the unlikely mixture of strength and weakness -- just as we see in Jesus' life on earth.

Lubbert van der Laan April 10, 2019

Assigning a new name to classis raises a number of questions:

a. Do the terms diocese or presbytery present the same problems as classis within their respective denominations, or is this simply a matter of church members losing touch with ecclesiastical language in a post modern secular society?

b. Freighting in another term, even if it were diocese or presbytery, or some other term raises questions whether the new word adequately captures what the term classis encompasses in Christian Reformed church polity, i.e. governance. Each ecclesiastical body operates on different governance principles. 

c. In changing the name does the CRCNA move closer to a top down versus a bottom up governance model? (see Church Order, Article 27-a. Each assembly exercises, in keeping with its own character and domain, the ecclesiastical authority entrusted to the church by Christ; the authority of councils being original, that of major assemblies being delegated.)

 

Eric Kas April 10, 2019

I like Regional Assembly. I'm tired of explaining to my colleagues from outside the CRC that a Classis is a group of local churches - sometimes I even say, its latin for ships sailing together. A neat metaphor, however, I am a fan of names of things to be descriptive of what they actually are. We are not ships anymore (were we ever?)... and after doing a bit more research it seems its origin is more of that found in roman military than anything else... is it inherently imperialistic? I don't know. But, we are established now in this land, and becoming more and more diverse, our minority churches are the fastest growing ones. Perhaps we can be a more hospitable Bi-National Assembly. :) 

Erin Knight April 10, 2019

Hey Ken! Great post! As a communicator and former church administrator, this is something I'm pretty passionate about. When I came on staff in my former church, I assume the church had wanted to seem approachable and friendly when they first set-up our emails, so they used our first names in our email addresses: [email protected]. On the surface that seems great... but from a visitor's or non-member's point of view, they likely thought, "Who is this Erin? What does she do? What do I contact her for?" While [email protected] might seem cold and distant and impersonal, it's super practical and you don't need to change it with every staffing change! When it comes to emails, keep it simple and clear for the win!

Colin Vander Ploeg April 10, 2019

Along with James D. I wonder how prevalent this reluctance is?

When I compare the ministry practices of my first pastoral mentor (now deceased) as he shared them with me, over against what ministry is like for me today, I think there is more to this perceived reluctance to visit than simply pastoral unwillingness. 

There is also a growing reluctance to be visited in congregations.  My old mentor talked about the days when the list of households going to be visited by the pastor (and by elders for that matter) was printed each week in the bulletin.  So people made sure they were home and ready to receive the pastor.  That's a far cry from today, where pastors are regularly being rescheduled or receive replies of "will have to get back to you".  Seniors generally are available to visit, though even that age group is changing and far more mobile than in the past.  But church households with families ... wow are people ever busy compared to when I grew up.  

We did a congregational survey a number of years ago to get some input from people about pastor (and elder) visits.  There was a marked indication that the younger the respondent the more likely they appreciated meeting the pastor and getting to know him a bit but felt no need to have regular visits happening.  They just wanted to know who to call in an crisis or with church questions.  In fact, it is not uncommon today, that when attempting to visit a family, one has to indicate that "nothing's wrong, just want to get to know you better."  

I had a recently retired pastor once come to me to "instruct me" in how to do visiting (I believe he felt I was not doing enough of them).  I listened to his approach ... and was a bit appalled that he truly believed that knocking on a door and leaving a calling card if no one answered as well as  not staying longer than 15 min to half hour, constituted pastoral care.  Apparently he used to report all such activities as "his visits."  Not the old industry standard I hope.

I also echo James D's comments that there is a growing administrative and leadership development area of ministry that is calling on pastors to lead and do things they are often not trained or well-equipped to do.  Just read church vacancy ads these days.  And if I think of the church era I grew up in, previously pastors only stayed in place for about 4-5 years at a time and then moved on to a new congregation.  In my experience it seems that 4-5 years is about the time that the reality of what is really going on in households is coming out to the pastor.  The hard stuff starts piling up and the pastor moves on. 

And I am pretty sure many pastors, when moving on to the next church, no longer wrote one or both new sermons each Sunday but used the "barrel" and so freed up more time to visit.  When one stays longer in one church, the barrel gets used up or needs to be spread over a longer time.  And the need to stay fresh and renewed in preaching becomes a part of the journey.  And what congregations expect now from a preacher is plagued more and more with the comparisons with popular preachers online and nearby megachurches.   Cranking out "three points and a poem" (as we used to characterize it) just doesn't cut it anymore.  

Also doing actual pastoral counseling (not simply check in/social visits ) increases exponentially with the length of stay in a congregation.  This work cannot simply be measured in hours put in or number of households visited but also in the emotional toll this takes when pastors are wading around in difficult situations when they are only generalists not specialists in these situations.  

I think if someone is concerned that their pastor is reluctant to visit, grace-filled, supportive conversation needs to happen to find out what is actually going on.  Yes pastors can be introverts for whom visiting requires much more effort and energy than for a natural extrovert.  That doesn't mean an introvert pastor can say, "visiting is not my strength so I avoid it" but it does mean that such a pastor may need more encouragement and support to do visitation ministry well.  Extroverts head out the door to visit with gusto.  Introverts with intrepidation.  This does not equal " I don't care to know the people."  Pastors are not all things to all congregations but have strengths and weaknesses and need to be ministering with the elders and the congregation.  

Whenever I come across a member who says something like, "I don't get any visits from my elder" I follow up with "would you like to have that?" and "have you called them up and invited them over?"  Yet I do find most households are welcoming to a pastor visit.  It is less expected as generations come and go and is even experienced as something novel especially for newcomers to the faith. 

It is an important component of ministry but may not be of the same priority or status as it has been in the past.  One pastor said to me, "I would rather use my time to disciple a newcomer to the faith, than to do tea with a mature believer simply because they like that."  There is some truth to that, though I don't think the two are mutually  exclusive.  Familiarity with members is the foundation for pastoral care in situations of need.  Ticking off numbers of visits is not the only way to do that, nor are many visits necessarily an indication of effective pastoral ministry.  

The Lord lead us in His ways. 

Colin.

Keith Knight April 10, 2019

If one is determined to streamline our organizational language, then using General Assembly instead of Synod and Regional Assembly instead of Classis may make sense. So you'd have Regional Assembly Wisconsin (RAW), for example, or Regional Assembly Toronto (RAT). Or you'd preferably put the emphasis on the location, such as Grand Rapids North Regional Assembly or Holland Regional Assembly.

Colin Vander Ploeg April 10, 2019

Thanks John for the question.  I am thinking there was more to the story 50 years ago than a snowmobile ride on a Sunday followed by an excommunication.   If that was all there is to it, then yes, an apology is in order. 

That being said, listening to the hurts of those involved would be a good step towards some reconciliation.  Leaving the past alone because it is in the past has been a major roadblock in all kinds of situations for the church (first nations justice, abuse situations, church splits, etc).   We are called as believers to be peacemakers.   

In my own ministry experiences, I find that whenever we elders attempted to call someone back from waywardness as gently and lovingly as possible, there was usually a period where the person in question was defensive, and resistant and accused (usually by way of grapevine) the leadership of being harsh.  In these times I have also listened as other family members and friends come to me very upset with the elders for how they are allegedly treating their relative/friend, even as they most often have inaccurate information and do not know the whole picture. 

In such situations elders & pastors are often in difficult places working to guard confidentiality, to ministry the truth in love (keeping both those in play), and to minister to others affected who demand to be on the inside of all that is being said but who cannot be.  People will disagree with decisions made by Councils but we all need to be gracious enough to realize that we usually do not have the whole picture.  Councils need to err on the side of grace as much as possible but not to the point of actually endorsing what is sinful and therefore harmful to a person. 

We also have appeal routes to use in the CRC that should be communicated and facilitated/supported with those who feel they are wronged.  I have conducted funerals of persons who have breaches in the family rooted in the interaction between them and their former churches.  Most often I find it has to do with suffering through a divorce and the difficulties of how church communities have historically dealt with this. 

It is all very sad to see such unresolved conflicts enduring for so long.  Perhaps skill in restorative justice practices and peacemaking are more crucial to church leadership than precision in following the steps of a Church Order?  After all, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation that saves us all.

Colin.

(Elders)
Colin Vander Ploeg April 10, 2019

I think this could be looked at an example of ministering in the vernacular (a Reformed principle?) 

We too add "regional church body" to any printed mention of Classis in our communications.  Whatever word or phrase we come up with needs to work as an adjective as well as a noun (e.g. Classical Appointment). 

Being part of a town clergy fellowship with 10 different denominations represented, it is interesting to hear how much we all use our own denomination lingo with the assumption that others know what we mean, even at a clergy level.  In learning from fellow clergy about church polity structures we concluded that we all have complicated and historical structures whose names in themselves don't actually communicate their function in todays post-Christian society.  In other words, it is insider language for sure.  I'm good with "local church" "regional church" "bi-national church".  Then add whatever thing or event you are talking about (meeting, leadership, decision, etc) At least that might actually say what we mean. 

I think this discussion is an extension of what many churches have already worked through locally.  The word "Council" still communicates in our context as we have town councils here.  Other churches have "board of elders" and such.  People sort of get that it means, those leading etc.  We don't use the word "consistory" any more either.  We use, "the elders" "the deacons" "the council."    I don't think any of this is a matter of dumbing down or treating people like children etc.  I also think that our sports monikers communicate exactly what they are: NBA is National Basketball Association.  It says what it is.  It is National; it is the game of Basketball; and it is an Association.  Same for Major League Baseball,  National Hockey League.  Classis and Synod say nothing of what it is except to those who memorize that detail.  We have more important faith content for people to master than archaic lingo.  In an information overload society, let's keep it clear.

Incedentially, in the old sci fi series Earth Final Conflict, the Taelon ruling body was called a "Synod" (pronounced "sin awed").  Seems the show writers felt that word to be sufficiently strange to the viewers that it sounds like something from outerspace ;)

Thanks all!

Eric Van Dyken April 10, 2019

Hi Sarah,

What a wonderful opportunity you have, but even more so, may God bless you and encourage you because of your soft, compassionate heart and desire to share the joy of your salvation.

I'm no expert in witnessing to Muslims, but I would suggest the following first: pray without ceasing.  Pray for your friend's conversion.  Pray for the words to say.  Pray for the Spirit to be active.  Pray for the impossible.  Pray for continued courage and strength.  Pray for peace of mind in knowing that it is not your responsibility to convert your friend. 

It's not so much that there is more that you can do, but what the Spirit wills to do.  Beginning with this recognition will help to remove anxiety and urgency in your efforts to witness effectively. 

Of course, there are still better and worse ways for you to witness, and you also do well to attempt to be as effective as you can.  I would suggest that a focus on the person and work of Jesus Christ will be most effective in continuing to draw a contrast with Islam and in inviting your friend to know and believe in Jesus as Savior.  Also, stressing the peace, contentment, and assurance that is yours in Christ will go a long way toward contrasting with the endless striving and lack of assurance that is endemic in Islam. 

May God bless, encourage you, strengthen you, and equip you for the task that he has called you to.  And may God use your efforts for his glory and to accomplish the ends that he has ordained. 

Alex Krikke April 10, 2019

In my devotions this morning I came across Luke 22: 25-27 in “The Passion Translation” (TPT) the reading of that passage should help in pastors Bob’s search or longing to seek the fruit of his labour. 

Sarah Wasson April 9, 2019

Hi, I'm a high school student and my older my friend who lives in our house is like a brother, he is a Muslim and he luke warm about his knowledge in Islam, so I do my best to reach out to him daily, but because he is Luke warm about it he answers all my questions with "I'm. It sure because I haven't really studied it". Which makes it impossible to really make a connection, now we do have long conversations about the differences between Christianity and Islam but I feel like I haven't made any progress res. IIt breaks my heart because you would've never thought that he was Muslim unless you did something against his religion. I really need help, I'm not sure what I can do to make progress and truly reach him. Please help. Thank you  

Linda Grace April 9, 2019

Yes absolutely, wow, you’re jumping in the deep end there Michele! Very true though. Are you involved with Safe Church? It’s a wonderful ministry when you start reading the materials they provide, addressing your concerns. 

Michele Gyselinck April 9, 2019

I have no opinion, but I don't see what is the urgency in changing that sort of name just for the sake of changing.  There are more important issues to address than that, and it strikes me as a Major in Minors.  If you're going to reform, why not reform the tendency to pass judgment on victims of abuse, as though they were to blame for what happened to them, for example.  

Alex Krikke April 9, 2019

Here’s my thought. Talking about one’s Success = pride. Pride means we seek a bit of the glory that rightfully belongs only to God.  Been there. I was called to be a police officer. I did not “succeed “in advancing in the ranks, but I know God used me to further His kingdom in various ways right where I was. Sometimes God allows us to see the fruit of my (our) labour but I don’t think we (I) aught to look for the fruit, because then, sinner as I am, I want a piece of the glory. Just like when you successfully plant a lawn, you sit back after it’s done, and you think, ah, great job. Up wells pride in your accomplishment, after all,it is God who makes the grass grow, right?

This is what I think pastors aught to do to be successful: know your congregation, research timely Bible based  messages pertinent to your congregation. Learn to know your congregation by visiting as many of then as you are able, before a congregant find him/herself in crisis. You will e rewarded.

Karen Walker April 9, 2019

While I respectfully agree that changing a name does not make new converts, I would like to add that for those churches who have a large number of their members who did NOT grow up in the CRC, a name like Classis DOES need to be explained. They did not grow up watching Classis on TV, like a football league etc. It can be challenging to explain how our denomination works, given that the majority of churches out there function very differently.Thank you!

Linda Grace April 9, 2019

I had not heard of this Overture. Interesting that an Overture is the first part of a Symphony. If I could start from the ground up I would call it a Cluster. 

While I agree with the gentleman above about the confusion created by renaming or ‘rebranding’ I also believe in ever reforming.

More and more, people from diverse background are populating the CRC. I have found that even life-long CRC’ers are intimidated by such an ‘erudite’ word, which seems to suggest they do not belong. I have spent more time trying to explain the name (while unable to explain its choice) seeing as how Latin has been no one's primary language for centuries. The other interesting note is that Synod is a Greek word -is this a dual nod to the Vulgate and the original NT? I’m thinking out loud here. I would be for changing it but have no clue as to the cost repercussions and whether that would be worth it. 

For now, I would just like to point out that it is a forbidding term and not quite as welcoming of the ‘everyday person’ as the governing structure of the CRCNA (which I love) implies. Wisdom does often come from humble sources.  I am grateful everyday that Jesus spoke in the language of everyday people, both Aramaic (I believe) and pictures/parables. Also, I resist the idea that people have to be ‘initiated’ into it as it were, in order to really belong. We are the Body of Christ, which is taken from every tribe and nation. We’re only a  portion of it to be sure, but the invitation to belong to His Body went out to “whomsoever will.” 

 

Keith Knight April 9, 2019

This is an interesting discussion. I wonder if the comments would be different if the theme was "Defining Obedience in Ministry". What does it mean to be obedient to God?

"Success", a very secular term, connotes images of kingdom-building. I have regularly asked groups of pastors, as well as groups of Christian business owners: "Whose kingdom are you building; yours or God's"?

It seems to me that if the pastor preaches to an audience of one -- God -- then he is fulfilling his calling. If it is God who can say 'amen!' to your sermon, then you've preached properly ... even if the congregation determines that your sermon was too harsh, not 'uplifting enough'.

"Obedience" in preaching may not be as comfortable or as popular as a sermon determined to be "Successful". It is, however, imperative within our North American culture.

Keith Knight April 9, 2019

You raise a good point, Ken. The most important element in any church website is the Contact Us section. Unfortunately, many churches get it wrong. They simply provide a form that needs to be filled in and then "submitted" to some unknown office person at the other end.

So much for being a seeker-friendly church. Where possible, the pastor's profile and email address should be included on the website. And if it's a larger church with multiple staff, the key point persons should also be profiled along with their email address.

From a privacy perspective, or to prevent email harvesting, it may be advisable to use something like bob[at]firstchurch.

Back to the main point, each church website needs to have a Contact Us page that is very user-friendly and that includes the church's physical address, phone number and time of worship, in addition to that personal contact info.

 

Keith Knight April 9, 2019

I just don't get it. Why do we consistently insist on a rebranding? We change the names of our mission agencies -- okay, CRWRC was cumbersome.

"Classis" has been our signature designation for the group of churches for more than a century. Every knowledgeable CRC person knows what a classis is.  And yet, The Banner invariably insists on adding an identifier whenever it uses the term (ie Classis is a group of churches within a specific region).

We seem to be under the mistaken notion that there are tens of thousands of new Christians flocking into our churches and picking up The Banner and then becoming absolutely stymied when they stumble across "classis".

Can you imagine any sports league -- NFL, CFL, NHL, NBA -- changing their terminology so that fans can better understand the game? No. Fans learn the lingo.

 

Similarly, we should refrain from treating pew-sitting CRC folk like children. They/we KNOW the language. We know what a classis is, or a synod, or an overture, or an NIV translation.

 

Don't dumb down our church language. It won't attract one new convert. And that, after all -- proclaiming the gospel -- is what it really should be all about.

 

Samuel Sutter April 9, 2019

hi Staci, yes, that's correct. [email protected] :-)

thanks for posting. 

Staci Devries April 9, 2019

Thank you for this excellent reminder! Setting up our church contact emails to start with 'hello' or 'welcome' may be more impactful than we realize. I've appreciated when companies create this "Yes, please contact us" impression as well. 

Staci Devries April 9, 2019

Hi Sam! I just wanted to confirm that the email [email protected] is the correct email? Thanks! 

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