Comment Stream

Staci Devries July 12, 2017

Would love to hear how this is going! 

Staci Devries July 12, 2017

I just recently picked up Heaven by Randy Alcorn, too. It came highly recommended. 

Staci Devries July 12, 2017

Would love to hear how it is, Maria!

Staci Devries July 12, 2017

Thanks, Mavis. Glad you appreciated it too!  

Valerie Walker July 12, 2017

I am in the middle of "Do Not Say We Have Nothing" by Madeleine Thien. This is what the Man Booker Prize site says about "Do Not Say...": 

In Canada in 1991, ten-year-old Marie and her mother invite a guest into their home: a young woman called Ai-Ming, who has fled China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests. 

Ai-Ming tells Marie the story of her family in Revolutionary China - from the crowded teahouses in the first days of Chairman Mao’s ascent to the Shanghai Conservatory in the 1960s and the events leading to the Beijing demonstrations of 1989.  It is a story of revolutionary idealism, music, and silence, in which three musicians - the shy and brilliant composer Sparrow, the violin prodigy Zhuli, and the enigmatic pianist Kai - struggle during China’s relentless Cultural Revolution to remain loyal to one another and to the music they have devoted their lives to.  Forced to re-imagine their artistic and private selves, their fates reverberate through the years, with deep and lasting consequences for Ai-Ming – and for Marie.

It's a great book!

Kirk Riddering July 11, 2017

This article is under the social justice category and I am wondering if there is any thoughts on the economic results of some of the  climate legislation that is being promoted, much of it would increase the cost of housing ,transportation and food. There are many in our society living on very tight budgets and could not incur these extra expenses. I would like to see this side of the social justice aspect included  with the stewardship side and how they both could be addressed.. We have to be concerned about the working poor and those on fixed incomes as well.

Doug Vande Griend July 10, 2017

A faithful (federal government) budget would, perhaps first of all, be one that did not spend more than it took in, except for special circumstances perhaps, and those circumstances probably don't now exist.

With respect to Community enCompass, while this article claims it  "relies on the generosity of donors," and "leverages ... government funds," it would seem, unless this article simply gives the wrong impression, the truth is the other way around.

Let's take one of the examples given here, SNAP.  When the latest federal legislation regarding SNAP was enacted, the House version wanted to get rid of "auto qualification" because that method of qualifying was being badly abused, by both individuals and many state government.  The Senate bill did nothing to curb that abuse.  OSJ lobbied in favor of the Senate bill, and the Obama administration went all out to increase the number of SNAP recipients, seemingly by any means possible.

A SNAP reduction and this point may well do nothing more than curb the abuse that wasn't but should have been done in the past, and reduce the SNAP roles to where they should be.

I have yet to see OSJ take on any program abuse, lobby for the curbing of any government social program, or ever express the concern that federal programs might create life crippling dependencies for some, especially when these programs always expand and never contract like a one way ratchet.

A faithful budget "does no harm," whether to future generations who will have to pay back the deficits we accumulate now, or to those who grow dependent on federal largesse that incentivizes in a destructive way.

Am I suggesting government should not provide a "safety net"?  Not at all.  I'm suggesting that the federal budget should be faithful in all respects, that ever and only increasing-in-size-and-scope entitlements can and often are destructive (hurting instead of helping), and that lobbying/advocating ONLY in favor increasing or maintaining government social programs is, on the whole, quite unfaithful.

Bonnie Nicholas July 10, 2017

Yes! Philippians 2 is an important key to what's needed in our congregations (and our own lives and communities). We are supposed to look like Jesus - and so we need much more of this mindset that empowers others, and does not live for self - that's how the transforming power of our Lord gets multiplied in the world bringing him much glory.

posted in : The Kinetic Church
Roger Gelwicks July 6, 2017

You are absolutely right to say that I don’t know you or the relationships that you speak of.  It sounds like you may be a great person, as well as your relationships.  That we don’t know each other is typical of websites like this that encourage blogging.

As I listened to your previous comment, it sounded like you are very enthusiastic and passionate about your faith relationship.  In fact you wondered why others weren’t like you in your enthusiasm.  You incessantly talk about Jesus with your atheist friends, and at every opportunity will point to the divinity of Christ with your Muslim family, even though you obviously know that this is a point of contention between Muslims and Christians.

I guess my response was a knee jerk reaction to what I thought might be normal for a non Christian listening to such enthusiasm about Christ.  After all, even Scripture points out that the cross is foolishness to the non Christian.  In part such foolishness is that non Christians know that Christians think of their Christian faith as exclusive of all other religions.  After all, there is no other name than Jesus by which one can be saved.  The message of Christ, or the gospel, devalues all other religions.  Just read the apostle Paul.  Isn’t that the point of the gospel?  If you are not trusting my Savior, Jesus, then you’re not going to make it to heaven or have acceptance with God. So we try to dissuade non Christians from trusting whatever they may have been trusting in, to that of trusting in Jesus Christ.  So it seems perfectly natural for a non Christian to be offended by an overly enthusiastic gospel spreader.  I think Paul warns us that such an offense is normal.

Thanks, Shannon, for the correction to my misunderstand of you, your friends, and family and my knee jerk reaction to your previous response.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus

Thanks for your comment, Roger, but you don't know me, nor the relationships that I speak of. My friends and family members who are atheists do share ideas that offend me at times, but that does not mean that we can't be friends. They actually strengthen me as a Christian. Their diversity is not a threat or a barrier to our relationship. It is a gift. As Christians, we are called to testify to our faith in our relationships with others, but that does not mean we need to cut ourselves off from those who we disagree with. Do people prejudge me when they hear I am a pastor? Certainly. Will people occasionally be caught off guard or offended by my Jesus-talk? Yes. But does that mean that I must be offensive because of my faith, or unable to live in relationships with others that are loving and honoring of who they are? No.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Roger Gelwicks July 6, 2017

Thanks Shannon for your thoughts on witnessing.  You say, “It is difficult for me to understand the mindset that is not compelled by faith to share our faith.”   You are speaking as an ordained minister of the church who has spent years in formal education preparing for ministry.  What other mindset could fellow Christians expect from you?  But for you to say that of others is a bit surprising.  And it is also surprising, the response that you receive from non Christian friends and family such as atheists and Muslims.  If you are as enthusiastic as you claim for Christ (incessant Jesus talk) it is a wonder that you have friends outside of Christian circles (and maybe even within Christian circles).  Put the shoe on the other foot.  If your Muslim family incessantly talked about their submission to Allah how long would you want to listen?  Or if your strongly committed atheist friends incessantly denied God and spoke often of the foolishness of religion including (especially including) Christianity, how would you feel?  I am guessing that you are so excited about your Christian faith that you lack sensitivity to the religious convictions of others.  And by your enthusiasm you diminish the value of their faith and beliefs.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Diane Curry July 6, 2017

Thank you for your response. It is more helpful than you know. I have a feeling I am making this harder than I should. I will definitely do as you suggested.

Thanks again


Carmen Huttenga July 5, 2017

How does this work when the leaders are the council, a group of volunteers that is constantly in rotation, and their vision is constantly changing?

Hector Rodriguez July 5, 2017

En muchas ocasiones hemos estado con mucha gente pero no hemos estado con nosotros/as mismos/as. Descuidando asi nuestra vida espiritual. Gracias al Dios altisimo que su gracia nos alcanza continuamente. Adelante en Cristo. Paz.


posted in : El Cuidado del Alma
Allan Groen July 5, 2017

When you play with a group, you could consider starting by playing only the melody line, and then gradually work from there. The organ is able to provide a sustained note better than any other instrument and can also be used to solo out the melody this way. For the rest, one would need to know what kind of playing you do. Did you take piano lessons? Do you mostly chord, or can you play in a more traditional way? In many communities you could probably find people who will help you get started. What kind of organ does you church have? I am a retired pastor, and very much an amateur musician. I would say that above all you should keep it simple. Simple music can be very beautiful!

Staci Devries July 5, 2017

Check out all posts by Jerod Clark for even more helpful website tips! 

posted in : Website Policy

Amen, Greg. It is difficult for me to understand the mindset that is not compelled by faith to share our faith. I have so many friends who are not Christian, and it would be difficult for me to hide my faith with them. I know it can lead to uncomfortable moments between us, but because we love and trust each other, my atheist friends "put up" with my incessant Jesus talk, my Muslim family know that I will point to the divinity of Christ at every opportunity in conversation. I seriously have no idea how I could muzzle that kind of talk. Is it a problem of timidity we face, or are people so wrapped up in their Christian communities that they are failing to be in deep relationships of mutuality and trust with people who aren't Christians? I wonder some times. 

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Kevin Soodsma July 5, 2017

Message me or skype me.  I use the organ all the time with a worship band.  It's more than a paragraph to post.

Adom Postma July 4, 2017

Hi Diane, 

I'm not an organ player so I don't know for sure, but I would think you might be able to glean some information from some of the instructional videos on YouTube for playing keyboard in worship (it will seem overly simplistic, but when you're playing with a number of other musicians your role in the music decreases, not necessarily in importance, but in the amount of "notes played" as instead of filling the whole spectrum of sound you'll have a particular role). 

If you have specific questions you could ask and I could try to answer out of my limited knowledge. 

Greg Sinclair July 4, 2017

The dilemma I face is that my evangelical friends (mostly Baptists) have more success motivating people towards personal sharing of their faith through an "it all depends on you" Arminian type of theology. Perhaps it is similar theologically to efforts to lead moral lives among LDS followers - who are motivated by a "works theology." My point I guess is that if we are going to have good theology we still need to be working, serving, sharing, even though God doesn't need us - we have the privilege of being on mission for Him. I hope that makes sense and would love to hear others ideas on motivating people towards verbal witness.


posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Greg Sinclair July 4, 2017

Yes I believe in the sovereignty of God in this process and love Luke 10:9 "Heal the sick who are there and tell them, 'The Kingdom of God has come near to you.'"


posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Harold Winter July 4, 2017

I cannot speak for every CRC pastor, but I've always used the New International Version. For most of my life it was the 1984 NIV, but a few years back I purchased the 2011 NIV. While I consult many other versions, the Bible I use for sermon preparation, visiting, and personal devotions is the 2011 NIV. Hope this helps . . .

Victoria S July 4, 2017

Oops, I'm sorry I missed part of your question.  Former VBS participants should be treated like any other adult volunteer.  Sadly it cannot be assumed that younger children are safe with teens.  I have found it difficult to get many church members to appreciate the risk so it is wise to get the information from Safe Church as the other contributor mentioned.

Victoria S July 4, 2017

I have been in a ministry where we did allow some volunteers limited duties without the full police check - ONLY if they are never left alone with children and are under the direction of fully screened volunteers.  In essence they become more people to keep track of.   For example volunteers helping out in the kitchen who have no direct contact with the children.  It is not my preference.

Keith Doornbos July 2, 2017

Thanks John for the encouragement.

Terry Woodnorth June 30, 2017

I wasn't able to attend the webinar. Was it recorded? I do have the documents that were distributed.

David Gifford June 30, 2017

I should have mentioned that I really appreciated the touching story about your family, and think it's horrible what that guard tried to do. I enjoyed the article generally, it was just the next to last paragraph that seemed to call evangelism into question in a rather general way, so I felt it important to poke a little bit. Blessings.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Rob Aukema June 29, 2017

Recently I've read Not Sure by John Suk, which articulates a very thoughtful perspective of our faith journeys at multiple levels. 

I'm looking forward to reading Introverts in the Church, by Adam McHugh and Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton (which I understand is a "local missions" version of the fantastic When Helping Hurts).

Shannon Jammal-Hollemans June 29, 2017

Sure, Kyle. The thesis would be: God is speaking to the people of the world in many ways, while one of those ways is through Christians called to testify to the hope we have in Christ, God doesn't need us to accomplish his purposes. He chooses us to do that. And he speaks to people in spite of us sometimes.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Kyle Kloostra June 29, 2017

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Hey, Shannon. I think I am a little bit cloudy in the head this afternoon as I am having a difficult time interpreting your post.  So, if you would not mind helping me out,  I was wondering if you could provide me with a one or two sentence summary of what your main thesis is. For I think if I have a summary of your thesis I will be able to re-read and benefit more clearly from the message you are hoping to relay.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
John Lee June 29, 2017

Thanks for an insightful and incredibly practical set of guidelines. This is something I've innately tried to do, but never have put words to it nor have I ever seen it distilled into a principle like this.  We really appreciate the work you at the church renewal lab are doing!

Shannon Jammal-Hollemans June 29, 2017

I appreciate your thoughts, and I think you are misunderstanding. When I was in Seminary, I remember one of the professors pointing out how the quote that says "Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet..." from Teresa of Avila wasn't exactly correct. Because God still is at work, around us and at times in spite of us. I think that is the beautiful thing about Reformed theology--that God's salvation is not dependent upon us, but on God, and God's choosing. That is what I hoped to convey in this article, not to take responsibility off of us for living it in word and in deed that the world may know that Christ is Lord. I probably could have conveyed that more clearly. Thanks, again.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
John Lee June 29, 2017

This is a great story – but the conclusions drawn from in in the second-to-last paragraph lost me. There seems to be a theologically (and logically) invalid jump from "We don't own Jesus" directly  into "we don't proclaim Jesus" (cf:"it is not our job to offer Jesus to others.") . I’m preaching on Colossians 1:24-2:5 on Sunday where Paul’s point is “We proclaim him [Jesus], admonishing and teaching everyone…to this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:28-29).

I was hoping I was misunderstanding, but that same summary paragraph goes on to suggest that somehow God’s general revelation makes proclamation of His special revelation unnecessary. Specifically, the article moves from God’s work in general revelation (“…revealing himself in and through the world he created”) to the author being called merely to be "reflecting the love and mercy and grace of Jesus in the place where God has planted me" as opposed to naming the source of that grace and mercy and calling for belief in him (cf. "It is not and has never been God’s will that I 'save' [those] who don’t follow Jesus.").

Herman Bavink affirmed general revelation, but he did not do so in opposition to clearly and robustly calling for faith in Jesus.

To put the above in denominational context, I wonder if concerns with the argument put forth by this article were reflected at Synod by those who felt that bald calls to social justice (cf: “reflecting the love and mercy of Jesus”) was indeed being offered as a substitute for Gospel proclamation (cf: “its not our job to offer Jesus to others”).  Personally, I think we need both – and our language honors the Gospel best when we scrupulously avoid suggesting a choice must be made between them.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Shannon Jammal-Hollemans June 29, 2017

I agree, Greg. We need to live the gospel, in word and in deed, and trust God to do the work that we cannot, which is changing hearts and minds.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Shannon Jammal-Hollemans June 29, 2017

I think you are missing the point of the article, but thanks for your comment, David.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Greg Sinclair June 29, 2017

Beautiful article Shannon - thank you for pointing us to the sovereign work of God and away from evangelical individualism that puts the onus on us and then gives us the glory (look at the good work I have done). I would go further though and say while God has revealed himself through general revelation - we still need to present God's special revelation to those who 1.) don't know about it 2.) have greatly misunderstood it. This is our responsibility - verbal witness. It's not about us, it is about God, but we still have to be active. I raise this because there is some concern about our declining numbers - and need for more training in evangelism - and more active evangelism. I think we need to develop in our congregations a culture of evangelism - and that indeed means we don't own Jesus - but we do have a responsibility to not only live in a way that honors Jesus but also points directly to him. In our culture today our passion for Jesus will either be misinterpreted as religious zeal or attempts to gain merit. We will have to verbalize that we are motivated and indeed saved by grace through our Lord and Savior Jesus.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Paul VanderKlay June 29, 2017

It is true that we don't own Jesus, he owns us. 

One of my central texts is the beginning of the book of Acts. The disciples imagine that now post-cross and post-resurrection the real show is about to begin. "Now will you restore the kingdom to Israel?" and the answer is Ascension and Pentecost. "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses..." This is the thesis statement of the book of Acts. Paul is pretty set upon a clear verbal witness, and the book is pretty honest when in chapter 26 Agrippa basically says to Paul 1. "you're mad" and 2. "Do you really think you can convert me with your little sermon." 

This is bracing honesty in a book which is in many ways a book filled with sermons which are supposed to do just that for the readers. Paul it seems knows what he's doing and is under no illusions (neither is Luke) about how it will be received. What then to make of this enormous Christian tradition of outright conversionism? 

It can't be mere tribalism either given the fracturing of the church and the constant divisions. 

I've also never really gone along with either the evangelical version of "What God is up to" by Blackaby's Experiencing God or the rather progressivist version that tends to see God in alignment with the agenda of Western post-Christendom. I'm rather taken by Tolstoy's observations of the elites of his time and place. 


Life in Europe and my acquaintance with leading and learned Europeans [Footnote:  Russians generally make a distinction between Europeans and Russians. -- A.M.] confirmed me yet more in the faith of striving after perfection in which I believed, for I found the same faith among them.  That faith took with me the common form it assumes with the majority of educated people of our day.  It was expressed by the word "progress".  It then appeared to me that this word meant something.  I did not as yet understand that, being tormented (like every vital man) by the question how it is best for me to live, in my answer, "Live in conformity with progress", I was like a man in a boat who when carried along by wind and waves should reply to what for him is the chief and only question. "whither to steer", by saying, "We are being carried somewhere".

Tolstoy, Leo. A Confession (Kindle Locations 175-181). Unknown. Kindle Edition. 

I don't own Jesus, and he need not be faithful to me in the way I must be faithful to him. What he does with others is his business. I need to figure out what being publicly owned by him looks like. 

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Victor Laarman June 29, 2017

Hi Justin, 

I have two copies of Someone Cares, which were given to me from John. Has he run out of copies? If so, I can certainly give you a copy when I'm in the area next.



David Gifford June 29, 2017

I feel like some of your statements are half truths that could be misleading. Your next to last paragraph, taken as it is written, would seem to undercut all verbal evangelism. Yes, we shouldn't feel superior to others and see them as problems, but they still have a spiritual problem that we are called on to provide solutions to. Yes, we don't 'own' Jesus, he owns us, but we do have a fellowship with him that is necessary to have if one is to be saved, and so we urge others to have fellowship with him, too, so that our joy may be complete (1 John 1.3-4). And yes, I agree we don't 'save' anyone in and of ourselves, that saving people is the Holy Spirit's work (although, see James 5.20). But our testimony to people who don't believe is a crucial element in their being saved (Romans 10.14), which God does desire (1 Timothy 2.4). And so God does want us to communicate Jesus and his message to people who don't believe, so that they will be saved.

posted in : We Don't Own Jesus
Mavis Moon June 29, 2017

I highly recommend When Breath Becomes Air, too.  I listened to it, but reading or listening, it's great!

Mavis Moon June 29, 2017

Just read News of the World  by Paulette Jiles and really enjoyed it. Two on my to be read list: Ruined by Ruth Everhart and La Rose by Louise Erdrich.

Melissa Raap June 28, 2017

Yes, looking more for how to monitor use of the site, what type of content to include (keeping in mind privacy, etc).

posted in : Website Policy
Doug Vande Griend June 28, 2017

With respect, Danielle, the comment policy isn't a comment policy (since there is no commenting) but an apology for the decision not to have commenting.

It does point out that other CRC agency sites also don't offer commenting, but none of them recently told Synodical delegates, repeatedly, that the point of their sites was to have conversation, as OSJ. repeatedly claimed to Synod about Do Justice.  And of course that was my point.  Don't tell the decision makers that this blog is a conversation when its not.  

And true, you post some of the Do Justice articles to the Network (which is then a conversation one step removed), but only some, and by my observational metrics, the picking and choosing of which to post, to meet your metrics, is strategic indeed.  One could even conclude the point of the selection pattern is to avoid conversation.

Danielle Steenwyk-Rowaan June 28, 2017

Thank you for sharing those thoughts, Jack. 

Danielle Steenwyk-Rowaan June 28, 2017

Hi Doug, we've had this conversation before. Here's our comment policy, in case you haven't seen it. Our goal is to post one Do Justice piece per week on the Network. I've just reviewed our metrics from this quarter and we met that goal. 

Harry Boessenkool June 28, 2017

Well done! 

Keith Doornbos June 27, 2017

As the author of "Keeping Your Eye on Your CVI" I'd like to make another try at speaking into the CVI.  

As I read the helpful and thoughtful comments made about the article I heard folk saying "numbers should not be the measure of ministry."  To that I say a hearty "amen."  Numbers cannot capture the full story of an authentic missional move.  I was reminded of that during a recent visit to several Northern New Jersey churches who's Yearbook numbers do not reflect the vibrancy of their after school programs, half-way houses, investment in local neighborhoods, discipleship programs, youth projects, dynamic Gospel preaching and the like.  I was humbled by what I discovered.


So numbers cannot be a measure of ministry but they are often a helpful reflection on aspects of ministry that need our attention in the same way that high cholesterol numbers are a call to action even if a person feels entirely healthy.  

Take for example one of the CVI numbers; namely, persons coming into the life of the congregation through evangelism.  If evangelism is defined as persons who were disconnected from faith and faith family who are now connected to faith and faith family and if that number is a small handful over an entire decade then those numbers may indicate the need for a congregation to focus on a more intentional discipleship pathway.  In other words, the congregation may be good at building bridges from the church into the community but not so good at building bridges from the community into the church.  Evangelism numbers can identify this concern and lead to practical solutions to an important ministry opportunity.

Numbers, rightly understood, are a friend to ministry leadership. They provide the opportunity to increase urgency, focus resources and develop a renewed vision of becoming intentional missional congregations that make more and better disciples.




Angela Elliott June 27, 2017

I'm reading "Mentor For Life: Finding Purpose through Intentional Discipleship" by Narasha Sistrunk Robinson and plan to return to "Teaching the Faith, Informing the Faithful: A Biblical Vision For Education In The Church" by Gary A. Parrett and S. Steve Kang. Interspersed will be some light mystery novels on my e-reader.

Jack Kooyman June 27, 2017

Thank you, Danielle, for providing some helpful background and perspective on the Synod discussion about articles on Do Justice. Thanks too for encouraging us to listen, dialog with, and learn from a diversity of Christian voices from backgrounds and with experiences that differ from our own.   I learned many years ago during my studies at Reformed Bible College (now Kuyper College) that all truth is God's truth no matter the source. Therefore, I can learn from, be blessed by, and grow closer in my relationship with God by listening to and getting to know people from cultures, backgrounds, experiences, nationalities, and even religions that differ from mine. That being said, I am deeply grateful for the good and very important work done by the Centre for Public Dialogue and OSJ!