i know this was posted a while ago, but I have a question - I see a possible issue if the person on the group does not have a google account? I know you can send/receive email without having a google account to the group, but you can't access the web based parts. Did you make each member create a google account? I think with the initial email you receive when you join the group this could cause confusion on the user since it tells them they can't access the group without having an account
Sheri has now shared sample bylaws in MS Word format.
How exciting! So thankful that this is a reality. I trust this will become a valuable resource to many!
Hey Paul, I gave that article a read and perused some of the writer’s other articles as well. I can’t say I agree with everything he writes, especially his incredulity about structural racism, but I think I see what you’re getting at. It shouldn’t be too surprising to anyone who knows how idolatry works that idolatry takes a good thing and makes it a thing to be worshipped. So, if I’m understanding you correctly, are you saying that antiracism is a good thing that can be made into a competitor for our highest loyalties? I agree; lots of things can be competitors for our loyalties (technology, work, sex, money, environmentalism, nationalism, etc), and yet the answer isn’t often to throw those things out, but to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. So, assuming that you believe antiracism is good and is part of the Church’s call, following our Lord who broke down the dividing wall between Jews and Gentiles, do you see a problem with educating kids about antiracism? (By antiracism I mean learning to truly value the inherent worth, dignity, and contributions of all people and to work to undo the ways that God-given worth isn’t valued in people of colour.)
The CRC's approach in this arena is nothing less than simply parroting and following the world's conversation. It is sad to see the divisiveness promoted by denominational employees in the name of reconciliation. Coates' writing is filled with thinly veiled hatred. That the CRC's "race relations" director would affirmatively quote Coates from his latest divisive screed (which he has) is a sad commentary on denominational approach to this conversation. The notion of "race relations" is an incoherent concept in itself, as races can't have relationships - only people have relationships. Continuously separating the body of Christ into competing groups with lists of grievances is antithetical to the concept of reconciliation. Removing a persons individuality and personal culpability (or lack thereof) in favor of identity and group politics is the way of the world, not the way of the unified body of Christ. Would that we would eschew any and all worldly religions (including the religion of antiracism with all of its corrosive effects) in favor of the simplicity of the gospel. I refuse to be pitted against people I have never met and told to reconcile with people with whom I am not in a state of enmity.
Thanks Bill. I've updated the link in the body of the post as well. Appreciate it!
The proper response to original sin is to embrace the teachings of Jesus, although one will remain always a sinner nevertheless. The proper response to White Privilege is to embrace the teachings of—well, you can fill in the name or substitute others—with the understanding that you will always harbor the Privilege nevertheless. Note that many embrace the idea of inculcating white kids with their responsibility to acknowledge Privilege from as early an age as possible, in sessions starting as early as elementary school. This, in the Naciremian sense, is Sunday school.
Think of it. A certain class of white person, roughly those who watched 30 Rock and Mad Men, lustily pumps their fists at the writings of a Coates who says that he is surprised that white people—i.e. ones like them—are interested enough in black people and racism to even bother reading his work. Coates is telling these people that they are sinners, in a sense, and they are eagerly drinking in the charge, “revering” him for it. This, ladies and gentlemen, is worship, pure and simple.
Thank you. These are helpful suggestions. Just one reminder, though: Using pictures of "real people in real situations" must be done with permission of the persons in those pictures, whether named or not. Many people are rightly aware of how even the best events and reports can be used harmfully.
I've done some stuff with "the bible project." We normally watch a video on the book of the bible, then do an inductive bible study on a passage, and that's worked well. (https://thebibleproject.com)
Also, we've done some versions of this one. http://www.letterstotheexiles.com
Or really dig into some theology--what do they want to discuss? life issues? usually I find making tailored to them material is better than the quick easy stuff you can find on the internet. but that's just my opinion.
My question relates to when an organized congregation should consider moving from "organized" to "emerging" status, and whether there are advantages to be an "emerging" church as opposed to an "organized" church. Do you have any thoughts?
The earlier link I posted has died. This one works
For our replacement of Power Point, our church tried Easy Worship and Pro Presenter by having our "Power Point team" try using them for a couple weeks. We ended up not going with either but instead are using Proclaim. That has turned out to be the easiest to train people on (our team is several people who take turns doing the slides at a service, so no one on that team becomes a "master user"), and the people who create the slides like it, too.
For planning our services, we use Church Planning Center (https://planning.center/). It's working great for the worship leader and pastor and secretary who update it throughout the week. Our volunteers are doing well on it, too. We started small with just the true worship planning team on it, but now we have accounts for all volunteers - sound, power point, praise band members, accompanists, nursery, hospitality elder, deacon who intros and prays about the offering, everything. The secretary offers personal assistance for those who need it. There are a couple people who don't have email, but not too many.
I'm encouraging our secretary to move toward using Church Planning Center for our membership and offering tracking, too. I think it'll be good to have all that in one system.
We use EasyWorship (EW). It is simple to use, especially if you stay within the program. We often use powerpoint slides with it, because we find it easier to put litanies or responses in powerpoint, and we have had problems in the past with EW and Powerpoint working well together. But we have kept EW updated, and now everything seems to be working well. It is very simple to add songs and scripture readings in EW.
The Google 'recaptcha' tool we're using works on mobile and touchscreen devices. It usually shows the "I am not a robot" checkbox but will occasionally show swiggly text if it needs more verification. Both forms work with assistive devices like screen readers.
If you're not seeing it at all, no problem. That means verification isn't needed.
But if you're seeing an altogether different style of captcha (not labeled 'Recaptcha') then let me know which page it's appearing on and we'll check into it further.
Unfortunately, there is not a I am not a robot box! Also, a lot of people use tablets and phones which don't use a mouse. This trend will only increase in the future as the mouse is slowly disappearing. Thank You for your efforts.
Thanks for the question, Lori. The Network uses Google's "recaptcha" service which has been built with accessibility in mind. Its latest version reduces the need for people to decipher swiggly text (instead, clicking a much easier 'I am not a robot' box) and also offers an audio option instead of the visual option. You can read more about it in this accessibility review of the service.
We've hopefully switched all the captchas over to this newer tool but if we missed anywhere please let us know by emailing the page URL (and screenshot, if convenient) to email@example.com and we'll check into it.
Ken, yes, we were fortunate, and I thank God for that. I pray that God will sustain you in the challenges you are facing. Mark
Immensely helpful post. Thank you for this!
Our church had used easy worship, but is now using pro presenter. I think there was some talk of going back to easy worship, but I think that had more to do with some of the litanies already being in easy worship. I think Pro Presenter may also play better with a Macintosh computer (not sure though).
I think Art 10 is a bit ambiguous, but if and to the extent it declares that one cannot be Christian if one believes gay sex is good, I disagree with the Nashville Statement.
I think all who so declare are simply wrong, but that some who so declare sin in so declaring.
Thank You , for your efforts and care for families with crisis!
I am so touched to hear your story, the Lord carries us during those times! Unfortunately the system you refer too exists here too depending on your financial state! I am facing many health issues and cannot receive all the care I need because of our system of insurance! You were Fortunate to have the care you needed and that makes me thankful!
Good perspective! Thx from someone who needs lower branches!
I have been disabled for a long time. I use to think this way too but after awhile have come to a different conclusion. Yes, pastors can help and many our strong advocates while others are not. If you need or want more attention just notify the Church leaders! They should respond with help from themselves or get others to. Be active in searching out help. God will send you someone or give you the strength to carry your burden alone for a time? Help like this doesn't come easy for some including Pastors. Don't hold that against them but try to uphold everyone if possible. My biggest problem with the church when it comes to disability is the use of Capcha! Lol
Ok, since it appears Jon's original post distracts from the main issue, let me re-ask one of the most pressing questions related to the NS. According to Article 10, and the clear clarification by Denny Burk on the CBMW website, He writes, "Readers who perceive Article 10 as a line in the sand have rightly perceived what this declaration is about. Anyone who persistently rejects God’s revelation about sexual holiness and virtue is rejecting Christianity altogether, even if they claim otherwise."
Am I wrong in thinking this says that if you believe differently than the Nashville statement (i.e. God's revelation explained/defined) then you aren't a Christian?
Hi Andy. They hunted for a long time to find a place to meet downtown but couldn't. The prices were too high. The present location isn't where they want but they're working with it. But their aim is the singles population that is returning to the city. If you know of some property in the city ...
We have resources about background checks posted on our website with other policy information. Safe church recommends a criminal background check for anyone working with children, youth or vulnerable populations. There are many options for background checks as well as different kinds of checks. An interview and reference checks are also part of a full screening process. The people that are entrusted to our care, especially the small and vulnerable, are precious and valuable to our Lord. It's our responsibility to do what we can to protect them and offer a safe and nurturing environment for faith to grow.
How interesting to read this article and then check out the website for "The Local Church" (aren't' tall churches local?) where one sees all these pictures of downtown Grand Rapids when in fact this is not where "The Local Church" is located. Talk about understanding your audience. Just saying. Andy
That was beautiful in so many ways!
Our church has been using Sterling Backcheck. Combined with an application form called a 'volunteer profile' and a sign off on our abuse prevention policy. Each ministry leader is still responsible for documenting the reference checks.
Sterling is very simple and can be easily set up so the church can pay for each application. In Canada, any church that is a member of Plan to Protect, receives a discount from Sterling as well.
Hope this helps ...
This piece from The American Conservative may bridge some of the gap where we've been talking past each other.
Thanks Sam! I think one of the things that I'm learning is our need to 'wonder'! I often challenge people to try to read the text as if reading it for the first time. (We often read through our 'churchy' eyes, and miss some key details.) What do you wonder about? What questions does it raise for you?
Sometimes we ask questions with the answer already in mind. What about the things we don't readily have answers to? What might we learn or begin to see about who God is? What are we wrestling with in the text?
I love the beauty of asking questions, and how they help us to dig deeper into the truth of scripture. Jesus asked questions of his listeners and followers, a lot!
Thanks for the reminder, Sam!
Thanks for this thoughtful piece on church culture, and how well we welcome folks. I hope you will come visit us at Oakdale Park CRC (if you haven't already)! Grace and peace as you settle in Grand Rapids.
You're going with the "they did it too" defense?
Thanks Mark, and Rod. :-)
My garden the the vegetables grown only by what God has provided. The St Lawrence River with it's power and beauty and it's clear waters, the Black River in the Adirondacks and how it truly appears black. The sun on my body, the raindrops on my head, the cooling wind on a hot day blowing my hair. The majesty and awe of the Rocky Mountains, the coldness and wind whipping crazily and the warmth of the lake below that I wade in and pull a leach off my grandson and gaze at the beauty of the wildflowers. It has been a busy blessed summer and God has allowed me to see much of his magnificent creation!
Jonathan: I'd be interested in reading your own Denver like response to the Nashville. Denver fundamentally disagrees with Nashville as well, and their statement makes clear how. I appreciate the authors of Denver for doing that.
Kyle: Again you have to explain the statement for lack of the statement saying what you claim. The Nashville makes no claim to comprehensively opine as to all questions about human sexuality. Are you supposing they approve of heterosexual adultery because this statement doesn't cover it. Granted, embezzlement is not sexual but this argument remains silly notwithstanding, and for the same reason.
What I would recommend you do is to put together your own Denver type of statement. Get together with others, like the Nashville and Denver folk have done, and say what you think. You can even comprehensively cover all sex related questions if you like, so that no one would accuse you have having a "litmus test" (although I would defend you if you didn't :-) ). Seriously, do a Denver style response. Or align with Denver. Its easy to tear down, not as easy to build up. Make your affirmative case so folks can evaluate your position.
By that same logic I can say the authors of the Nashville Statement are barring false witness against LGBT Christians by denying their faith.
If you fundamentally disagree with them, feel free to express that. What Dan is objecting to is your assigning of the dual motivations of hatred and fear, which you cannot know and which fly in the face of the testimony of the signatories. I think it's "profoundly damaging to our Christian witness" for you to bear false witness in this manner.
Thanks for this, Chuck. The question of identity is one that seems to be coming up quite a bit lately. Kristen VanderBerg just shared a post with some feedback on the question "What does it mean to be Christian Reformed?" from CRCers who attended Inspire 2017. Might be interesting to check out.
The Nashville Statement is intended to be a clarification of a Christian view of sexual morality; from the Preamble:
"Therefore, in the hope of serving Christ’s church and witnessing publicly to the good purposes of God for human sexuality revealed in Christian Scripture, we offer the following affirmations and denials."
Consequently all sexual immorality is well within the scope of the statement, unlike homicide, burglary, or embezzlement.
As for the litmus test, I refer back to Denny Burk's blog post about the statement:
"Readers who perceive Article 10 as a line in the sand have rightly perceived what this declaration is about."
CBMW's view is: if you disagree with the statement, you're on the wrong side of the line in the sand. Sure seems like a litmus test to me.
I don't agree with them but I'm not questioning their faith. You're right that I can't read the minds of the signatories, so all I'm left with is their actions as evidence for what they believe. I fundamentally disagree with how they view human sexuality, gender, and God's grace and love.
The 9th Commandment commands us to avoid bearing false witness against out neighbor.
Unless we are able to read the internal motivations of people (i.e. we're mind readers), or the person has explicitly stated their internal motivations, isn't it bearing false witness against them to say they are motivated by fear and hate?
Wouldn't it be better to take them at their word: that they are motivated by faithfulness to Scripture, concern for the integrity of God's design for Family, and love of people who are lost in sinfulness and headed to destruction?
Sorry Kyle but that's a bit of a silly argument. The Nashville Statement doesn't condemn homicide or burglary or embezzlement either. It is a statement about less than all of human activity. Your argument can be used to damn any and all statements, creeds, or confessions.
The words "litmus test for Christian or not" are yours, not the authors or signers of this statement.
Let's set aside for a moment the specific agencies with changed names, because there are some specific factors there that don't necessarily fit in with the big picture that we are really dealing with in these discussions--that being our Christian Reformed identity.
What is that identity? There was a time (in some places in the not very distant past) where the identity was CRC=Dutch. I can tell you that as a child I was thrilled to see the Banner cover with the burning wooden shoes, as I was sick of having to explain why I wasn't Dutch, and why not being Dutch didn't mean that I was not much. I think tossing "Dutch-ness" as an identity (rather than just an item of historical interest), was a good thing. In fact, it is something we need to keep working on.
But, I do think that in jettisoning our Dutch-ness, we may have thrown out the beautiful baby with that dirty bathwater. Throughout the CRC, we are losing touch with something very unique--our desire to be a "properly confessional community." (I use "properly" because there is a tendency among other Reformed bodies to use the confessions as a weapon or a fence rather than a guide and a teaching tool.)
Rather than focusing on the words "Christian Reformed," I'd like to see us focus on how we can remain confessional in a proper way, and in the context of community--our local communities, our classes, and throughout North America.
I will say, I don't think we haven't lost this altogether. When my family goes on vacation, we try to attend CRC churches, and I preach in CRC congregations around Wisconsin as a "licensee." In those travels, I still see a sense of CRC confessionalism and community. As an example, my family visited Willowdale CRC in Toronto during a trip we took in the summer of 2016. We ended up staying for over an hour after the service talking about all sorts of CRC community matters (local and binational) with people who clearly understood CRC identity in a way much deeper than ethnicity. It helped that we sang many of the same songs, that the worship leader read from the catechism, that the liturgy was clearly Reformed in its focus on worshipping a God who meets with his people and speaks through the word and then responding in gratitude and service, and that the sermon was eminently Reformed in its content and style. We've had similar experiences in other places, as well.
I'd be interested in hearing from others on how we can retain, recover, rediscover, and revitalize an appropriate CRC identity. Perhaps if we do that, we will no longer see the names of our agencies as a key issue, but just a side distraction.
Another problem I have with Article 10: it singles out "homosexual immorality or transgenderism" as a litmus test for Christian or not. Why not simply (as they did in other articles) use the phrase "sexual immorality" there?
As I read Article 10, if I believe having an affair is OK, I can still call myself a Christian (albeit a sinful one). On the other hand, if I am undecided about the sinfulness of homosexuality, not only am I sinful, but I'm not a genuine Christian.
Why the discrepancy?
We both agree that, at some point, decisions often need to be made in the interest of actual progress; however, the decision ought to come out of discussion and reflect the church community's discernment. Which raises the question: what was the nature and extent of the conversation that led up to the Nashville Statement?
If I understand you correctly: "hate and fear" is a judgment about someone's internal state, therefore ad hominem?
Whoops. I think my last comment was in response to Jonathan, not Kyle. Sorry about that.
Thanks for your admonition Kyle. I will take that not as a hate statement, but as wise counsel. I never referred to any of the folks in my circles as homosexual or transgender in conversation. I like to to think of them as human beings like anybody else. I do not like these categories that we've created in our society. We are creating division rather than unity. But the men - that's usually who I interact with - will refer to themselves as transgender or in same-sex relationships. So I take it that you promote a double-standard. If the man or woman introduces themselves as transgender or homosexual, that's fine. But if I use the term as they have, then I am being derogatory. Can you explain that too me? How come when they describe themselves that way, it is fine. But if I honor their description and repeat it, I am sinning, right?
By the way, I have a Christian friend who is supporting his daughter going through her sex-change surgery. She wanted to be referred to as he. Now it's it, but he's not sure when and what he's supposed to call her anymore. She can change by the hour or the day. What is so wonderful and right and healthy about all of that confusion? He had a daughter, now a son, then an it and now he's not sure? How do you counsel him when he asks you for advice? I admire him for loving his daughter so graciously. But even that is derogatory on my part according to you because she doesn't want to be called a daughter now, right?