Comment Stream

Michele Gyselinck September 5, 2017

I agree with Jonathan that although in theory God can choose to make people not-gay, as He can also make them not-schizophrenic or whatever, but in the same way that Jesus did not heal all the sick people in Palestine during His ministry on earth, so today, God does not choose to change all people to conform to the world's conception of normality.  I have had to learn to live with my illness, and LGBT people have to learn to live with who they are.  I am NOT saying that being homosexual is a mental illness, but it is different from the norm, and pressuring people to change who they are is not a proof of love and acceptance.  

Rick Theule September 5, 2017

I'm not sure where the fear you express is being presented. I believe you are reading too much between the lines of the Nashville Statement. If you have more documentation for clarification of your points, I'd be interested in reading them. I don't read any capitulation to fear in the statement.


Doug Vande Griend September 5, 2017

Jonathan: I don't read in Articles 12 and 13 what you claim for them.   Indeed, the last phrase in Article 12 seems to make clear that believers may be drawn to sin but yet resist it.

As to Article 4, very little is said by the Nashville Statement except that "God made us male and female," and that this "difference" is a matter of "original creation design."  It doesn't even say what that design difference is.

So with the possible exception of Article 10, which is unclear, I think we agree this Nashville Statement is rather unremarkable in terms of how it compares to the CRC position.  Given that, I think your assertion that the statement represents "hate and fear" is a bit hyperbolic.  I think you are correct that "many in our denomination look favorably upon the Nashville Statement," in large part because they will (accurately) perceive it as in line with what the denomination has said, which is what they believe.

Just curious: what do you think about the "Denver Statement?"

Wendy Hammond September 5, 2017

For questions about the reasons behind World Renew's name change, please see this document

Also note that while World Renew is an official agency of the Christian Reformed Church, we do not receive ministry shares and work with many different denominations. Volunteers for World Renew's Disaster Response Services come from over 27 denominations. The Reformed Church of America and ECO --Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians have chosen World Renew as THEIR agency of choice for doing disaster response.  In Canada about half of the funding for World Renew's work comes from outside the CRC, especially through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank where support is generated with 15 member denominations.

Paula Wigboldy September 5, 2017

We were out on the boat yesterday, hosting two young couples that didn't know each other... and as the day progressed, one couple asked the other, "have you found a community to worship with?"  I could only thank God for the direction and heart of the conversation!  Only HE knew how much that question meant...but I'm praying that it leads to more conversation!  A day on the water, enjoy fun behind a boat, meeting new people -- is ALL part of God's plan as well!  #heleadswefollow

Jonathan Assink September 5, 2017


Conversion therapy, while not explicitly named, is what the writers are talking about in Articles 12 and 13. The belief that through sufficient prayer and supplication that God will make you "not-gay" (or trans, or queer, etc.). I do not deny that God has the power to do whatever He desires, but this message of "if you pray hard enough, x will happen" has been used to emotionally and spiritually manipulate and abuse LGBT people in the church, especially youth.

Similarly, on complementarianism and patriarchy, I read Article 4 as the assertion that God has assigned roles to male and female and that to challenge those roles is to challenge God's intended design. And personally, as an egalitarian and a feminist, I don't believe male and female exist as fixed archetypes that we must mold ourselves into. I would probably agree with you that this isn't a new statement compared to the CRC or any other conversations that have been had on this point before, except when paired with Article 10. The statement that we cannot "agree to disagree" on this in Article 10, and the subsequent statements by CBMW doubling down on this point, are an unnecessary and divisive ultimatum, and one that this collection of individuals (CBMW) don't have the authority to make.

Staci Devries September 5, 2017

Seems like Al Postma's blog Classis: Near and Far could be a good follow-up read on this topic. 

Staci Devries September 5, 2017

Interesting questions on the role of classis in the local church. As someone who knew very little about classis until I began to work part-time in the CRC, I'd love to hear more on the topic. What kind of relationship would local churches really like to have with their classes? What kind of support do they need?

Doug Vande Griend September 5, 2017

I frankly don't see where the Nashville Statement contradicts statements made by the CRC about the same subject matter.  Could the author or someone point out those differences?

I also don't see where the Nashville Statement "promotes conversion therapy," nor "patriarchy."  I do see where it might be said to promote "complementarianism" but not in a way different from the CRC.  Anyone?

Rick Theule September 5, 2017

Doug - While I agree we can't create a new vision because the ultimate vision has already been established, we most certainly need the Elders to ensure the proper vision is being worked out in our congregations. As we see a significant lack of engagement among members, the Elders need to be out front, sharing the vision, and ensuring it is truly being part of each and every part of what we do as a church family. Are each one of our ministries operating and succeeding within the vision set forth? That is what we must ask. Repeatedly.


Sandy Swartzentruber September 5, 2017

Sounds like you have a great system worked out, Keith! This Ten Ways tool was intended to help people think about how they can incorporate people of all abilities (including immigrants, refugees, people with disabilities, and others) into their small group ministry. If your groups are doing that, we'd love to hear how it's going!

Sam Huizenga September 2, 2017

Hi, I have found that women like to know people from other groups. We have  occasionally used the opening time to build cross group relationships to strengthen the social belonging.  Joseph Meyers, in his book Search to Belong, says that people need different kinds of belonging in order to feel part of something. The different types are intimate (3-4), personal (6-10), social (15-30), Public (50 plus) belonging. We do really well with the personal belonging in Coffee Break small groups. People also need to feel comfortable in the social space, as well.  

There are lots of ways to do that. Here's a couple that I have tried. 

(1) Ask everyone to arrange themselves is big circle by birth dates. Add a fun twist by telling the to do it without talking.  Then, they can ask the person next to them how they like to spend their birthday. Perhaps have a prize ready for pairs who share the same birthday. 

(2) Bingo - Create a bingo card with fun accomplishments or adventures. Send them off to get a bingo. Possible things to put in the squares: Someone who likes camping, Someone who has travelled to more than 4 countries, Someone who has bungee jumped, someone who has completed a quilt, etc. Be sensitive to the special abilities of your group when you create the bingo sqaures.  You could up the belonging quotient by asking for stories.

(3) Find creative ways to pair people up. Give them a set of interview questions so they can learn more about each other. Ask for two or three people to introduce the person they met to the whole group. 

I'd love to hear about how other groups use the opening time!!!



Edward Tigchelaar September 2, 2017

You are onto something worthwhile.   I encourage you to pursue exploring the issue(s) raised in this article 

by Paul VanderKlay!!

Meredith Van Dijk September 1, 2017

We have  singing and a share question  before we split into our groups.  Examples:

-which is better the top or bottom of the bun

-the farthest you have lived from "here"

-how old where you when you started wearing make up

-if you owned a restaurant what would your specialty be

-favourite olympic sport to watch.

John Zylstra September 1, 2017

Every church has its purpose, and distinguishing "flagship" churches does a disservice to the general mission of the church within classis. Larger churches obviously are meetings of larger numbers of people, and perhaps the preaching, organization or location is influencing that...praise the Lord for it. But some large churches are as likely to misrepresent the gospel as some small churches are likely to struggle...I think of Joel Osteen for example. And some large churches are a bit too much people(preacher) followers rather than God followers. However, the Lord will work with all of them.  

John Zylstra September 1, 2017

I agree, Keith.  At the very least, since "mission" is such a common word in the phrase "Mission Statement", it cannot be assumed to imply a faith based mission... therefore at the very least, it should have been called Global Christian Missions.   I no longer attend the CRC, and I don't have a problem with Christian Community Churches, since they are missional minded, to attract seekers, and not first of all confirmed CRC'rs.  That is a local decision, which does not tarnish or hide the true mission of the church.  But both World Renew and Global Mission are ambiguous terms, like World Vision, which while leaving open the possiblity for Christians to work in them, at the same time hides their origin and purpose, which is deceptive and misleading.   Those who are ashamed of Jesus will find that God is ashamed of them (and will find declining allegiance from Christians around the world).  

Andrei Belousov September 1, 2017

Thanks for this post! It's super helpful information since there doesn't seem to be a lot out there about this. I was wondering, could I see an example of the Church Directory Report? There wasn't a link under it.

Doug Vande Griend September 1, 2017

I don't know whose worldly point of view the author is talking about, but I certainly don't consider African-Americans and Anglos to be the only true Americans.  Never have.  In fact, properly defined, that kicks me out of being a true American and I don't think that is so either.

Doug Vande Griend September 1, 2017

I appreciate your admission that this is a very complex issue, Bill.  My irritation with the issue as it relates to the CRCNA is that the CRCNA (via OSJ and otherwise) rather consistently takes a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israeli position.  Its not that I want the CRCNA to be pro-Israeli but rather to stay out of political side-taking and lobbying its members to take sides.

Resonate Global Mission September 1, 2017


This is a topic that was discussed thoroughly months ago and I would direct your attention to the following links

New Mission Agency - Behind the New Name

New Mission Agency Name Moves on to Synod

Synod 2017 Asked to Approve New Mission Agency Name

Comments from New Mission Agency Board members about the name

A letter from the New Mission Agency Board Presidents addressing the choice of the name (pg 8)

Video coverage of the presentation and discussion of the new name

An edited version of some of the comments at Synod

We recognize that change is something that is difficult, especially with organizations that are over 125 years old. We also know that it is nearly impossible to make everyone happy when choosing names for organizations (World Renew also received criticisms) But we also stand by the decision of our boards and Synod 2017. We are excited about the future of mission for the CRCNA and how God will use us as an agency.

Bill Thornburg September 1, 2017

Thank you for pointing out another view of this very complex issue, Bassam.  This is helpful for those who want a fuller picture of the issues.  I think it is important that we make the effort to look at a variety of viewpoints.

I appreciate the author’s point about lost opportunities on the part of Palestinians (and greater Arab world) to accept the division of Palestine and to establish the country of Palestine alongside the country of Israel.  A question I would ask the author, however, is when does grace run out?  Do we say, sorry, you had your chance and you blew it?  Now you have to live with the way it is.  Or, do we look at the current situation and ask, is this situation just right now?  Is the treatment of Palestinians by Israel just?  I appreciate the historical situation and it is very important to look at how a situation developed and what has transpired throughout history.  But I’m not sure the historical situation, or missed opportunities, or mistakes made in the past should prevent us from practicing justice in the present.  I don’t think grace has run out for the Palestinians.

Keith Knight September 1, 2017

I see incredible value in having virtual small groups specifically for men and specifically for women -- separate -- where they become accountability groups. The weakness of 'regular' small groups is that they tend to become either social gatherings or lead to superficial discussions on a book.

Our face-to-face small group meets weekly, discussing the past Sunday's sermon topic for the first hour and then splitting up into separate groups for men and women for the second hour. This is where accountability and spiritual formation truly takes place; talking about our personal struggles, our relationships (spouses, parents, children), our temptations and sins.  That discussion continues throughout the week in a Facebook group where we hold each other accountable.

It would be incredible to form a Facebook group that functions as an accountability group. Since you don't know each other, I can imagine spending the first several meetings just getting to know each other; getting deeper and deeper into personal issues and struggles.  There is something 'comfortable' about not knowing each other in this virtual setting. But it requires participants who dare to become vulnerable and who dare to hold each other accountable.  THAT is what the church and what faith is all about.

Needless to say, this kind of accountability and vulnerability can't work if it's a mixed group of men and women. The issues are simply too different.

Keith Knight September 1, 2017

The 'success' of a small group ministry rests with the content. Small groups have a tendency to become social gatherings rather than spiritual formation gatherings.  Our small group spends the first hour discussing the past Sunday's message, using questions provided by the church office.  The second hour is much more significant; men and women separate, meet in separate rooms, and become accountable for their personal lives over the past week. They share -- frankly and openly -- about their struggles over the past week as they dealt with sin, temptation, the amount of time they spend in devotions, their relationships (spouses, parents, children).  And throughout the week, they connect to each other by email or phone to see how they're doing.

This is spiritual development. It's accountability, something that few small groups seem equipped to do; nor do they desire to become that vulnerable.

Your "Ten Ways.." are a given. They are the ground rules.  It's what happens during that weekly discussion time that shapes one's faith journey, and that ends up strengthening the entire congregation's faith journey.

Bassam Michael Madany August 31, 2017

You quoted Father Chacour, a well-known Eastern Christian priest,  who represents one view of a Mideastern problem.  May  I suggest that, for the sake of balance, please read an  article by the late Dr. Shaker al-Nabulsi, a Palestinian scholar, "sixty Years of Lost Opportunity." The Arabic text was published on Elaph, an  Arabic-language online journal.

(Rev) Bassam Michael Madany

Disability Concerns August 31, 2017

Yes, too often if someone has a disability affecting one part of their life, others assume that the disability affects all parts of the person's life. As you point out, that's not true at all. Among some people with disabilities I know, I've seen extraordinary creativity in finding workarounds to get things done. 

Michele Gyselinck August 30, 2017

 Besides, even if someone without arms can't pack grocery bags, it doesn't mean they CAN'T do ANYTHING else.  Having no arms doesn't mean that people cannot think.   In Québec we have a singer who was born with stubby arms and only three fingers on each hand as well as virtually no legs as a result of his mother having taken Thalidomide during her pregnancy, but the guy still finds a way to strum his guitar and begot perfectly normal kids, though I don't know why I insist on this.  The biggest employment hurdle to overcome for people with disabilities is the narrow-mindedness and lack of imagination of able-bodied people.  Here too we see too many chronically normal people placing roadblocks in front of people with disabilities trying to find gainful employment.

Michele Gyselinck August 30, 2017

 Abortion is pertinent inasmuch as it is the abortion of children with disabilities such as Down's Syndrome, for example, since a lot of couples will decide to abort a pregnancy when they know that the baby to be born is likely to have the disability.  In fact, some tests such as the one--can't think of the term--where the pregnant mother has some amniotic fluid drawn through a siringe and this liquid is then taken to the nearest lab taped to her body to be kept at body temperature with the purpose of determining whether the fetus has DS or not, so she and her partner can then decide to terminate the pregnancy or not.  I have heard that there are new procedures to make that diagnosis now that are less invasive such as a blood test.

Michele Gyselinck August 30, 2017

I'm NOT rejecting anything.  Actually, I would agree that people tend to let their emotions run away with them when it comes to matters of justice, especially when it comes to immigration--since let's not kid ourselves--immigration is a big-ticket issue these days both in the States and Canada as people of Haitian origin have been streaming across our border, as they fear deportation back to Haiti following your president's order that the protection offered by POTUS 44 after the earthquake of 2010 be rescinded as of Jan.2018.  The stream of July has dwindled down to a creek, but we're going to be processing cases for months if not years to come here in Québec, and all of them are getting basic welfare and free medical care until they can get a workers's permit and be allowed to look for work.  Do they get that in the States?

Michele Gyselinck August 30, 2017

 I was born in Québec as the eldest daughter of a Belgian immigrant and a Québécois mother in the 1950s, and when I started attending public school in French, most of my classmates and even the teachers had NEVER heard or seen a name like Gyselinck in their lives before.  In fact, I was only schooled in the French sector because my mother was a French Canadian of Roman Catholic confession.  Most children of immigrants went to schools of the  local Protestant school boards, and so since I was different and vulnerable the other kids started to pick on me and bully me.  I only found acceptance once my parents moved me to an English high school so I'd learn English since the teaching of English in Québécois schools was AND IS pathetic.  My experience as a first generation child of immigrant parents was that the nation to which I was born was and remains very ethnocentric.  Even now most francophones in Québec--especially those who trace their ancestry to French ancestors who immigrated in the 17th and 18th centuries--struggle to include and accept immigrants who look different and have different religions like Islam.

Mark Stephenson August 30, 2017

Michele, yes, with regard to suicide, a gracious Christian community can be a powerful healing presence. I appreciate the article you sent me via email: Striking differences in rates of suicide attempts between provinces revealed in mental health findings. I didn't realize that teens and young adults have highest rates of suicide attempts, and yet have the most difficulty getting mental health care. Here too, the church can play a critical, healing role. A friend who has lived with depression and who attempted suicide told me that she told her story recently to her church youth group. She said that the young people were not only attentive, but really benefitted from her dispelling some of the stigma of mental illness by her talking so openly about her own journey. 

Shannon Jammal-Hollemans August 30, 2017

Moyes' novel perpetuates a dangerous narrative that it is up to all of us to call out and challenge. Thanks for doing that with this post! 

Bill Thornburg August 30, 2017

Thank you for taking the time to do some digging into Father Chacour, Harry.  He really is quite the man.  To have experienced what he went through as a child and the oppression he continues to experience every day as a Palestinian living in Israel and yet remain committed to nonviolence, peace, and reconciliation is an amazing testament to his faith in Christ. 

Bill Thornburg August 30, 2017

I’m with you, Michael.  I would not advocate for violence - wearing facemasks or breaking windows – or suicide bombs or home demolitions.  And I don’t believe Father Chacour would either.

What I think he means by raising hell is not settling for the easy way out or giving up in the face of adversity.  He told us a story about trying to get a building permit for a classroom at his school.  The Israeli government had buried the request in the bureaucratic process.  But that didn’t stop Father Chacour.  He flew to the house of the US Secretary of State to ask him to use his influence to get the permit.  The Secretary ended up writing to the Israeli government and a permit was eventually issued.  He didn’t give up or settle for the easy out.   

It’s easy for me to sign a petition or give money or even write a blog.  That doesn’t involve much personal cost or take much effort.  Though it’s a great place to start, and it would be wonderful if you could encourage your church to participate in those things for the cause of justice for the Palestinian people. 

But what’s the next step?  How can we actually make a difference and get things accomplished.  I think raising hell means upsetting the applecart or the status quo or those in power.  When you do that, forces may rally against you. 

In 2014 while on a trip to Israel-Palestine I participated in a Women in Black demonstration at a major intersection in Jerusalem.  Women in Black is an Israeli group advocating for Palestinian rights. The demonstration was approved by the Israeli government.  But just by holding signs advocating for justice for Palestinians, we raised a bit of hell.  Drivers in some of the cars that went by gave us the Israeli equivalent of the finger and swore at us (it was in Hebrew so I didn’t really know what they were saying…but it didn’t sound very welcoming.)  Some of them spit at us.  Some pedestrians were yelling at us and calling us terrorists and trying to stop us from demonstrating.  The police came to tell them that we had a legal right to be there and made them leave us alone.

A great example of raising hell through nonviolence in the U.S. is Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement.  He advocated for justice through nonviolence.  But because he upset the status quo and went against those in power, a lot of hell was raised against him and his movement.

I’m glad you want inform your congregation about advocating for justice.  I encourage you to read Father Chacour’s book Blood Brothers as well as new Calvin Seminary professor Gary Burge’s books Whose Land? Whose Promise? or Jesus and the Land.  Also, check out the CRCNA Office of Social Justice for more information and ways to advocate -  Download their biblical advocacy guide -


World Renew August 30, 2017

This is definitely a creative outreach tool!

We hope you would consider World Renew when looking for an international organization to support. World Renew does many water projects as well and the unique difference compared to many other independent Christian development organizations is that World Renew works with local church partners and has a history of doing so way back to the 1970s.  Working with local church partners is a very important value for World Renew because the local church promotes a sustainable presence and on-going faith nurturing role far beyond the departures of international organizations. 

Many international Christian agencies ultimately replace the work of the local church while World Renew is an agency that very effectively RENEWs and strengthens the work of the local church.   Why does World Renew place so much emphasis on this?  It is because the church is the “bride” of Christ and we seek to “adorn her” as much as possible.

There are many opportunities for CRCs to partner with local churches that World Renew works with overseas and research shows this has a significant positive impact on CRCs also connecting with their own local community.  Staff from World Renew are eager to connect you....just a phone call or email away.  Now is a great time for CRC congregations to reconsider how they connect in ministry. 

Harry Boessenkool August 29, 2017

I write a lot of letters to radio hosts who continue to use  words " ........." in their programs. Especially words that offend Christians. My standards comments are that people doing that lack the vocabulary to express themselves properly. I have had some success.

Turning to the article itself and main character, it is worthwhile looking him up. Father Chacour is quite the man. If you dig deep enough he does have a tradition. """"The KD (Kairos Document) is a prime example of contextual theology and liberation theology - or "theology from below" - in South Africa, and has served as an example for attempted, similarly critical writing at decisive moments in several other countries and contexts (Latin America, Europe, Zimbabwe, India, Palestine, etc.).""

This is simply to point out a worldview that Father Chacour holds.  How he does things is an example to others.  

Michael Bentley August 29, 2017

It’s probably just me, but I don’t think of peaceful anything when I hear the call to “raise hell.” Could you provide some context – maybe some examples of what Fr. Chacour was organizing and participating in that would be considered “raising hell?” I’m curious how to inform my congregation about organizing to promote justice without wearing facemasks and breaking windows.

Angela Elliott August 29, 2017

For me it would have to be kayaking in Deep Cove, Vancouver BC on the ocean. The beautiful scenery, the sun shining off the water, the salt on my lips, the wonder of being able to move my body and the friendship of others all made for a beautiful afternoon.


Doug Vande Griend August 29, 2017

Thanks for this post, Mark.  I haven't read the book or seen the movie, but I have lived in a state that has chosen to glorify "death with dignity," and in the process diminished the value of human life, especially when it is "less than perfect."

Alex Marriott August 28, 2017

I forgot to mention that you can request more information or get in contact at

Drew DeVries August 28, 2017

Chris, thanks for your comments and insight!

Drew DeVries August 28, 2017

Thanks for reading, Angela!

Staci Devries August 28, 2017

Thank you for sharing this opening!

Chris Schoon August 28, 2017

Thank you for drawing attention to the mundane moments, Drew. I've often heard self-control (in the fruit of the Spirit passage) described as being able to resist temptation, which is certainly true. But I wonder if we're missing out on the real substance of self-control when we only talk about it as restraint - or not doing something. Your post depicts a more engaged view of self-control, with an emphasis on what we commit ourselves to doing, not just what we avoid. I think what you are describing lends to a more active and deliberate, rather than a passive and reactive, discipleship.   

Jennie Hill August 28, 2017

Antifa does not plan to kill anyone as far as I know.  

Keith Doornbos August 26, 2017

Let’s think about this a little further. 

In Acts 6 the apostles resist “the daily doing of ministry” by saying “no” to waiting on tables.  They conclude that their focus must be on prayer and ministry of the Word.

 Why invest in prayer and ministry of the word?  Is it not to discern and communicate God’s will for His people?  And what is discerning God’s will for His people all about? Is it not discovering a picture of God’s preferred future for His church and His world?  And isn’t a picture of God’s preferred future just another name for vision?  So to the extent that the work of pastors/elders is about prayer and ministry of the Word it is also about seeking and articulating a biblical vision. 

Blessed are churches led by pastors/elders who can say with the apostle Paul, “I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven” (Acts 26:19).

Shannon Jammal-Hollemans August 26, 2017

I will Get working on that. Thanks for the recommendation!

Tricia Bosma August 26, 2017

I would love a discussion guide for the documentary Accidental Courtesy.  I was brought up in another network post I believe.  I watched it and really appreciated it.

Shannon Jammal-Hollemans August 25, 2017

Thanks for your question. We don't have any other guides available yet, but we are working on developing them. Let us know if you have suggestions to pass along!

Mavis Moon August 25, 2017

I heard Trevor Noah's interview on Fresh Air. It was good. I haven't read the book yet, but now I will. Your questions look great and I plan to return to discuss. Thanks!

Gerald Vander Hoek August 25, 2017

The main stream media says Trump equated the two sides.  He did not.  He said there was blame to go around.  Yes there were some espousing hatred, racism and Nazi Symbols.  But some on that side were also there about the issues of keeping the confederate symbols as part of history. On the other side were people standing for equality and peace.  But that side also included Antifa and others just looking for a fight.  Calvinists and every parents knows that rarely is there a purely evil and totally righteous side in a fight.