Discussion Topic

It's two weeks from Halloween and I'm curious, what is your church doing (or not doing) for Halloween? If planning something related to Halloween, how did you decide what to do? 

October 18, 2017 2 8 comments
Blog

Systems are made up of policies, which are in the hands of politicians, who are elected through partisanship, which puts us all in our silos. So this stuff is hard, and it feels bad. 

September 20, 2017 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

The recent "Nashville Statement" is profoundly damaging to our Christian witness, and theologically wrong in it's elevation of human sexuality to an issue of salvation.

September 5, 2017 0 32 comments
Blog

We hear a lot about World Renew's approach to fighting poverty, and how a "hand up" is better than a "hand out." But how does this look? This recent example from Kenya paints a picture of community. 

July 17, 2017 0 1 comments
Blog

Innovative projects and initiatives are happening across CRC, and the Ignite fund is here to help support this innovation and creativity in ministry! Check out a few of the exciting projects that have been recently funded through Ignite.

June 14, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

What stood out to me most is how World Renew strives to help the people who are most vulnerable – many of the families we learned about could not afford home insurance or were not able to qualify for assistance from the government.

June 8, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Sometimes I wonder if the struggles the CRC is facing are meant to kindle our imaginations so that we’ll be able to see a new thing that God has for us. What if God has brought us here – into this humbling confusion – to open our eyes?

June 7, 2017 0 2 comments
Blog

Join World Renew and other ministries of the Christian Reformed Church to be inspired, and discover new ways of doing ministry with your local and global community.

June 1, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

So what can we do about the violence in our neighborhoods? How do we avoid either minimizing it with easy answers or throwing up our hands because it overwhelms us?

May 12, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

If your church is looking to meet a need in the community and your campus includes ample green space, consider setting aside space for a garden where families can scatter or bury the cremated remains of their loved ones.

May 1, 2017 0 4 comments
Blog

In an age bombarded by social media sound bytes, the pain and sorrow of the world are front and center. But knowing what we know, the question still remains: What is my responsibility to the world? 

April 13, 2017 0 0 comments
Blog

I've seen people struggle to make adjustments to living and ministering in Florida. I've seen ministries not connect to their local community because they aren't willing to get a little sand in their shoes.

March 1, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource

Different churches face different challenges. These challenges framed the goals, showing where we need to go. These goals will enable us to better assist each other in mapping out our unique routes, while drawing upon our shared resources and expertise.

January 15, 2017 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

Do you have photos of your church living out its mission as a family of believers? Share them with your wider Christian Reformed Church family! 

January 12, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

No longer can we simply ask, “What can we do to get people to come to our church?” We must also consider, “How can we go into the world to encounter those in need of the gospel?”

January 1, 2017 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

Sometimes small congregations assume that any significant community ministry effort is beyond their reach. Read how a smaller church can make a big impact in their community.

January 1, 2017 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

What would a "church" look like, if it did not own a building? If the church is people, then why do we assume that a church should own its own building?

December 21, 2016 0 5 comments
Discussion Topic

What does Christmas and community look like at your church? I’d love to hear how your church is spreading the love of Jesus in special ways this time of year.

November 22, 2016 0 6 comments
Blog

If you are American and haven’t yet voted, I hope you do. I also hope you take heart and remember that there is no leader, no official, and no person who can come between you and Christ. 

November 8, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

At this fork, I find myself praying prayers like these: “Lord, the news cycle has helped me to see the great pit of fear that lives inside me. I feel paralyzed and confused. Pierce my fear with the power of your Spirit...”

October 12, 2016 0 5 comments
Blog

As the US election date draws nearer—a date being closely watched on both sides of our border—my prayer is that the Christian voice will increasingly become shaped by tenderness and tears. 

October 7, 2016 0 1 comments
Blog

Kevin DeRaaf, pastor of Faith CRC in Burlington, ON, tells the story of how his church moved their ministry beyond church walls. How about you? Do you have a story about your church engaging with its community?

September 21, 2016 0 0 comments
Blog

We are challenged to discern God's activity by asking: Who in the community is working on behalf of the infants so they won’t die? Who is standing up for the worker? Who is working on behalf of the old? 

September 19, 2016 0 1 comments
Blog

As a church planter with a passion for changing neighbours from strangers to friends, here are a few ways you can start being active in YOUR neighbourhood.

September 13, 2016 0 2 comments
Blog

Within the first six months of living here we heard the stories told as if they had happened last week. It seems like everyone had a story. Everyone knew someone who didn’t come home. 

September 7, 2016 0 2 comments

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Athens CRC does 'do Halloween'. We see it as a mission opportunity. We have kids and parents coming down the street, why not be proactive? We hand out Audio CD's for kids from Focus on the Family and Insight for Living. We also hand out candy, bookmarks with the church programs listed, and gospel tracts. We have kids that come back each year to get the Audio CD's.

Here's a resource I recently discovered - Halloween Brings the Mission to Your Doorstep.

We have a community outreach event called Fall Festival each year.  This year, we had about 4,000 attendees!  We provided trunk-or-treat, a petting zoo, pony rides, bounce houses, a food court, games, shows and more.  Here's the highlight video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzztGIfUz8I

We are hosting a Halloween Fun Night on Halloween.  Our church members create and host games for the kids in the church lobby.  There are about 15 games for the kids ranging from tossing a ring onto a pumpkin to walking a plank to a treasure chest to a version of whack-a-mole.  The kids love it.  We have coffee and goodies for the parents. Everyone dresses up they way they want, but we discourage the more macabre elements of Halloween.  We used to do a Trunk and Treat in the parking lot, but this is Vancouver and more often than not it rains.  We stopped it one year because we couldn't pull it together, and we heard back from the community that they were disappointed that we didn't have it.  So for that past two years we have had the Fun Night inside and it's worked well.  We have flyers for our kids club and invitations to our church.  We see it as a way to provide a safe, dry, fun service to our community.  

There are MANY conflicts in our church right now over this very issue. On the mission field and in past churches, we have come to know several people who have been seriously abused by the occult on Halloween. It's an important holiday on the satanic calendar. Each year, Halloween seems to get bigger and bigger as it's hold on our people grows stronger and stronger. I continue to be criticized because I've asked people in influence to abstain from participating in things like haunted houses and then putting the pictures on Facebook for the world to see. The occult is growing in strength in our town, and yet people continue to think it's cute to dress up like witches. When people ask our position, we give them a helpful book to read called,  "Mommy, Why Don't We Celebrate Halloween?" by Linda Winwood. At the end of the day, I still land on what the Apostle John said, “This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5–7). Christians are called to walk in the Light and bring Life to the world, and not embrace death and darkness.

This year we are going to do something with our youth group that my whole high school used to do on Halloween: Trick-or-Can.  We'll meet at the church and have a few parent drivers.  We will go to a few different neighborhoods and the kids will go in pairs asking for donations of non-perishable foods instead of candy (though I'm sure there will be a bit of that as well).  We will then meet up at the church for some hot chocolate and share our experiences.  I'm hoping to make this an annual event.

We do a Harvest Carnival on the Saturday evening before Halloween.  It's inside the fellowship hall with all sorts of games, face painting, cake walks, and other kid oriented stuff.  Costumes allowed but not required.  We draw a lot from both our congregation and community.  Its known in the neighborhood because we've done it for a lot of years.

We also have food -- hot dogs and such -- for kids and parents.  I'll be working the kitchen again for my umpteenth year. :-)

Here at Fairway CRC in Jenison, Michigan, we will hold a "Trunk or Treat" event on the Saturday prior to Halloween. On October 28 we'll have a couple dozen cars/pickup trucks lined up for kids-- complete with funny or interesting displays and, of course, candy. There will also be games to play, a tractor ride around the campus, and food for everyone inside the building. We will try to do a better job this year of collecting contact information from our guests so that we can contact them later with events and ministries of the church. Last year we had about a thousand people come to the event, and it was a way for us to say to the community that we want relationships with people beyond our church's membership. 

We decided to do this last year for the first time because people on our long range planning team had grown tired of talking and wanted to lead the church into an event that everyone could get behind. We realize the shortcomings of a "come and see" event like this but also sense that it is a way to say "Welcome" to people outside of our church.

Dave Den Haan, pastor, Fairway CRC

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.

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?  

This piece from The American Conservative may bridge some of the gap where we've been talking past each other.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/is-the-nashville-statement...

You're going with the "they did it too" defense? 

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.  

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.

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?

Virgil,

I'm glad to hear that you are willing to engage with people in the LGBT community. I cannot speak to the interaction you had, but I will say it certainly does not match my experience. I have found the LGBT Christians I have met to be people of deep personal faith, who have spoken to and enriched my own understanding of God's love and grace. As you continue to engage, I would encourage you to avoid referring to people as "a homosexual" or "a transgender". They are people loved by God, no matter how they express their gender and sexuality, and the terms you are using would be taken by many as derogatory.

Article 10 itself references "homosexual immorality and transgenderism" as you say, but by the words of CBMW President Denny Burk himself, they mean far more. "We are declaring what it means to be a male or female image-bearer. We are defining the nature of the marriage covenant and of the sexual holiness and virtue. To get these questions wrong is to walk away from Jesus not to him." I understand Burk to be saying that the meaning of Article 10 is to signal a much broader understanding on human sexuality and gender identity. I take this to mean that even if I agree with their position on LGBT Christians (I don't) but view gender as non-binary, I cannot be a Christian by their standard.

Kyle: I actually think it is fair to say that in some sense Article 10 is a conversation killer, and in a sense, signing on to the Nashville Statement generally is a conversation killer.   But then the CRC statements in the past about these questions are equally conversation killers.  In fact whenever the CRC says something, you can look at that as a conversation killer. 

But there is a sense in which characterizing a stated position, whether the Nashville Statement or any prior CRC statement, as a statement made out of "hate and fear" is a bit different.  It doesn't constitute an argument about the confesssional stance but rather a claim of an internal motivation on the part of of the stance taker, an attempt to convince by ad hominem argument (not by argument against the stance itself) that the stance is a wrong one.

Now you may say that the confessional stance takers who signed on to the Nashville statement are being derogatory (judgmental) to others by stating that people who take other stances or act on them are acting sinfully.  And I understand that, but that level of judgment (and it is judgment) is unavoidable, and not ad hominem.  It may judge an action or perspective negatively, but that judgment results from an argument about the stance itself, rather than from a claim that the motivation of the stance taker is all the proof needed to judge whatever stance the person took.

Kyle, Article 10 references "homosexual immorality and transgenderism" as sin. I hope that Christians can all agree that all immorality is sin. So the question seems to come down to whether one can be a practicing homosexual and not be sinning. Transgenders are another categoty, but my reading is that it is rooted in sin as well. We had a transgender man visit our church a while back. He said he loved it. I took him out to lunch and we talked a long time. He said he liked our theology and friendliness. After attending our worship only once and then going fishing with a couple of us and having lunch with me, he mentioned as I asked how I could pray for him if I would mind if he showed up at church next week dressed as a woman and maybe use the woman's bathroom. I would hope you would have a whole bunch of problems with that with someone who is testing the waters, who would make our woman and children uncomfortable from the beginning, who's "people" have one of the highest suicide rates of any group, who seemed to be very confused and manipulative...it seems to me that you would owe your people as a pastor some protection. I said let's talk about this before we proceed any further. The next day he moved in with a different girl - he's had 3 wives - and texted that he was as happy as he has ever been. There is something very sinful and unstable about his whole demeanor. I was willing to talk with him, counsel him, look at scripture with him, pray with him, but not give him a license to check out the men and women and children at will in the church. I think there is very unsound, unstable thinking that is rooted in sin. So I don't have much problem with article 10. My issue was not fear of this man, but the safety and well-being of others. I offered to be his friend, to do emails and texts and he ended the conversations. I was always loving toward him and never showed any fear or hatred for some of the off-the-wall things he said and that he wanted to do. So please don't label me as a hater and a fearer of those who are homosexual and transgender. Because I have people in my extended circle who are such.

OK, so let's table the term "fear" for a moment. Would you also agree that Article 10 is a conversation killer?

As an aside: there are many names on the Nashville Statement who I like, respect, and read. That's part of why this hurts so deeply for me. I feel betrayed by people I trust, and wonder if they'd question my faith.

I believe "hate and fear" is a way to both label and kill a discussion and not useful for debate. People say things like "You're homophobic" and give you other labels just because they don't like someone disagreeing with them. I have high respect for people like Francis Chan and others who signed that statement. I would never characterize him as a man who promotes or teaches "hate and fear." I think such labeling dies a diservice to a discussion and tries to control or stifle discussion.

To be clear, what Jonathan did was point to a characterization of Article 10 by Denny Burk, the president of CBMW. Given that CBMW created the Nashville Statement, any writings they have on the topic should be treated as more than simple characterization. Just as we treat the Federalist Papers as providing more insight into the intents of the Constitution, rather than as a third party's characterization.

The fear is CBMW's. Packer signed the document. Therefore the he is implicit in the fear, even if it is not something he personally feels.

"Soooo," what?  First, you characterize the statement rather than quoting it, but second, you "sooo" as if Packer's "fear" should be self-evident.  But I still don't see Packer's "fear".

Neither of us may know exactly why he signed, but the fact is he did sign a statement saying Christians who disagree with this position aren't Christians. Soooo...

I glanced at the Denver Statement, while I certainly agree with more of it, I still don't find the point-by-point "Affirm/Deny" structure to be helpful in ministry contexts. It might be helpful in debate club, but that's not what Church is.

JI Packer is one of the signatories.  I really doubt he signed because of his "fear" that "there are alternate, valid interpretations" about this issue.

Rick,

When I say "fear", I mean fear among the signatories that there are alternate, valid interpretations of scripture from what they believe it says. I'm sure they wouldn't describe it as fear, but that's what I believe it is. The clearest thing I can point to (that rises beyond debating semantics) is this post 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."

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.  

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.

 

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?"

Doug,

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.

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?

Excellent!  Rain catchment of all types is critical in this age of climate change.  It happens too rarely.  Blessings on the work of World Renew!

I'm not sure I understand what this would look like. Can you give some examples of what you are talking about? Such as: "preach[ing] co-illumining Bible/creation-based sermons and catechiz[ing] whole lives based on the whole counsel of God? " Could you give a link to someone doing that? Or a transcript? And "tutor[ing] seminarians on God’s word in nursing, computer science and journalism and [teaching] them how to read those ‘creation texts’". I'd like to see it and understand it better.

I love this. I sense momentum toward that church reformation in our denomination every day. That said, I also sense we tempted to sit on the fence, in terms of seeking stability and sustainability. These are exciting times if we are brave enough to close our eyes and hold on for the ride. 

Thanks, Jeff.

Thanks, Sam:

Intriguing idea, especially the memorial garden.  Some time ago I visited the colonial era Christ Church (Episcopal) in Philadelphia where my cousin is a member, and enjoyed the beauty, heritage, and remembrance of their memorial garden space.  Their classic parish-cemetary had been relocated from the church grounds to another location centuries ago, but to keep the history and heritage alive, created the memorial space in its place, for members past and contemporary.   I appreciate the issues you bring up about land use and cremation as an option.

Thanks for that response. I bounced the idea of a group in Wisconsin last night and they, too, confirmed the need and embraced the idea.

Fantastic idea for those churches that have some suitable land.  People are turning more towards scattering and natural burial.  I'm not sure how many congregations are ready to have these discussions though.  I'm interested to see what others think.

Joe, Thanks for inviting conversation around this topic.  We are currently in a new church development process here in Detroit which is asking those questions and experimenting with answers.  We are building relationships among three different "house church" communities across the city.  Once a month, we borrow space in a building from another church in order to gather with the combined groups.  We don't have intentions on worshipping as a large group every week, because each neighborhood/house church already has their own rhythms of meeting weekly in their own community.  We do not desire to own a building of our own for both financial and mission-minded reasons.

The benefits of not having a building are multiple: not having the costs associated with it, not having people get in the mindset that the building is central to the ministry, interacting with our church and community in spaces that are not owned by us, having to be creative rather than getting into routines based on a consistent meeting space, we don't fall into a consumeristic mentality of providing goods and services to the church.

 The challenges are: The need for good communication is critical because of a lack of a consistent meeting space for people to depend upon.  It can also be challenging to be nomadic in setting up for a gathering (even once a month).  People with needs also seek us out in our homes rather than a building, which can be a challenge to have need coming to our doorstep rather than an "organization" like a church building provides.

If we were to settle on a consistent space for our monthly gathering (or if we decided a more frequent pattern of gathering with the larger group was better) we would try to find a space to utilize that was already a neighborhood asset in order to partner with other community-serving agencies.

Those are some initial thoughts to keep the conversation going.

posted in: Organic Church

Thank you Ken.  You definitely offer a lot of "food" for thought.  My assumption would be not to meet in people's homes, but in a facility owned by someone in the community with whom we can build a ministry partnership.  

My biggest concern is that the building can be seen as a "safe" place for the congregation, but viewed as a "members only" club by folks in the community.  If we are to be seen as missional, and connected to the community, I think we offer some level of vulnerability by being willing to meet in another's "space".  

In my humble opinion, "church" is not primarily about a worship gathering or a Bible study, but rather the people serving the community, being Christ's hands, feet, ears, heart, and at times His voice.   In order for that to happen we need to be intentional about engaging our community.

posted in: Organic Church

I like the idea of "House Church".  As a missionary with CRWM for 20 years in Mexico, this is where we often began: Sometimes in the back yard under a tree for shade: but there were certain disadvantages:  If you hold it consistently at the same place, what do you do when they need to leave for whatever reason for a few weeks or a month: sure, you tell everyone that normally attends where the next service will be: but not everyone has the space for a growing house church: sure, develop leaders and  hold multiple services in more homes as needed: that's the goal: eventually home groups will either want to join a larger group of worshippers where there are more options available for children's ministries, or for youth ministries or for the worship experience with larger groups, good music, liturgical experiences like baptisms and Christmas programs etc.  Home worship and small group experience is a great way to get started or to reach the unbelieving neighbor.  But sooner or later the group itself will be asking, "where can we meet where there is more space to accommodate our growing need for "Sunday School rooms", for a vacation Bible School program, for ceremonies like weddings, baptisms, and funerals?"  The host may eventually realize that their home is no longer their home: it becomes everyone else's space: people will assume that the bedroom can be used for a class, or that refreshments for the kids can be taken from the fridge: and you have no control over perceptions of how well a host welcomes or resents the intrusion of everyone taking over their space.  We have had people say to us, "we want to attend your worship service but we won't go into that home: her husband or her unbelieving family that lives with the host have said inappropriate things or behaved rudely towards me or my children."  Some just don't like the idea of continually entering in someone else's private space as if it was a public space: because there is always the possibility "that my turn will come soon and I don't know if I want people in my home." Some are too embarrassed to let everyone see how they live. 

When you have to "rent" for the moment, or share the worship space with another congregation in order to make more use of the same facilities, there is always tension over use or abuse of materials shared, space shared, sound equipment or musical instruments shared, etc.  or if you have to move in, set up, take down and clean up after every event, yes things break down or wear out quicker, including the people you count on to help do the work.  I've been there too. 

So there are benefits to pooling resources and owning property for the purpose of public worship and providing the options large congregations can provide when it comes to ministry.  I didn't even point out the limitations for handicapped or those in wheel chairs and those who need walkers in order to be mobile:  House churches are less likely to be "handicapped accessible" unless they have someone with those needs living there. What a blessing to have a church facility that is accessible to be able to host "friendship" or other events that are a delight for all to attend: for events like baptisms, funerals, weddings, Christmas and Easter programs, etc.

Pastor Ken Vanderploeg

posted in: Organic Church

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