Spiritual formation never happens in a vacuum. It always happens when the call of the gospel challenges our habits of thinking and our way of living. Tension alerts us and invites us to pay attention. Amid the tension we can speak words that encourage new faithfulness.
If a person is trustworthy, we give trust easily. If a person is unreliable, we learn not to count on that person. If a person is vindictive, we become wary. So it ought not be a surprise that our understanding of God – the attributes and images we carry around in our head – make a difference in ...
It is hard to imagine that weeds are a sign of grace, yet that’s what the Parable of the Weeds and Wheat is suggesting (Matthew 13). Everyday I drive by fields (now harvested) of various grains. The farmers I know prefer fields without weeds. Jesus words are striking...
The title may seem a bit crass -- and actually it is -- but that is precisely the question that I am asked most often as a stated clerk by elders: "How do we get rid of our minister?" I vividly recall the conversation from the chair of council who actually began our phone conversation with that question. I quickly learned that he was the one having difficulty with his pastor and he simply wanted him 'gone'.
Every Thanksgiving Day – Canadian thanksgiving just passed - becomes on occasion for a preacher to reflect deeply on the very act of gratitude. This year was no different. If we want to help people grow in the life with God, practices of gratitude are a...
Each of the responsibilities of elders is important for transformation, but I have become convinced that one of the most important signs of kingdom transformation is increased unity. Our worship, our fellowship, and our witness are damaged when Christians are at odds with each other. Disunity is unattractive and even repugnant...
In our time there are many who participate in the life of the congregation but do not become members. Part of the ministry of the leadership needs to address the importance of membership covenants and relationships. This is about our life together in Christ.
According to David Lyle Jeffrey (Books & Culture - A Critique of All Religions), in the church in China “one may expect to find much higher levels of biblical literacy and theological clarity by three to five years post-conversion than amongst American counterparts after two or three decades in the church.” This got me thinking...
In our 70+ year old church we are engaged in a bit of research into the differing and dominant theological streams of thought within the CRC. Our pastor, Tom Kok, stated that there is a pamphlet that outlines the three major streams and I'm trying to locate it.
Confession of sin is part of the healing process. It's important to note that this does not mean that a particular sin was the cause of sickness. It does mean that when we come before the Lord with a request on our lips we also prepare to enter into the presence of God. Coming before the Lord is not a “right,” but a gift of the Lord.
The question has been raised about the elder’s role in the governance of worship... It is important for council to establish some guidelines in the area of worship if they are delegating responsibly. In my experience, very little of this is written down in a policy manual. The guidance happens through conversation and, at times, complaint.
Increasingly, church communities are seeking new ways of living in community with countless people for whom the role “heterosexual, married with children” does not apply. How do we talk about the pain, the struggle and the violence (physical and verbal) that has accompanied the journey of many among us?
Fear needs to be rightly trained. Fear needs to be disciplined by the guidance of the triune God and experience of deep love. Much of what we fear displays a mistrust of God’s guidance and direction. Much of what we fear reveals the inadequacy of the love in community. This past synod (June 2011) reveals many conversations we need to have.
Perhaps one of the hardest activities of all is listening well. Miroslav Volf in his book Allah: A Christian Response writes that in every conversation of two people there are seven present. Me and You. My image of you and your image of me. My image of myself and your image of yourself. The seventh is God.
In a given week there are probably more Christians listening to the words of Oprah than the words of God. More people probably pay attention to TV makeovers than pay attention to God’s invitation to transformation. Elders – in working for God – have a tough job.
Over and over again, I hear of elders – especially first time elders – struggling to get acquainted with the tasks before them. Not everything can be overcome through good planning. Some tasks simply have to be done the first time in order to learn the dynamics of the ministry. But there is no question that planning
As we head into May, we are approaching the end of the church year. Now is a good time to review the work of the past year. We usually like to gloss over this moment. After all, some are coming to the end of their terms of office and are fading out of the job. Others feel a little guilty about what they failed to do. Hopes and ambition
Recently we watched a marvelous movie, Of Gods and Men. It is a powerful story of a monastic community in Algiers that is caught up in the civil war of the 1990’s. These monks were faced with question: do we stay in the community and continue our service among these people or do we do flee to the safety of France?
Over the years I have noticed that many times the kind of supervisory conversations that take place on a council level, look more like feedback. Supervision requires guidance. Supervision suggests that there are standards to be met for which the supervisors are held accountable. But in council, supervision is often handicapped.
In speaking about the Japanese struggle with its nuclear reactors, Peter Goodspeed wrote “But the nuclear danger may also be a direct result of human hubris.” ( National Post · Mar. 15, 2011) I suppose at least part of the reason I paid attention to this comment is because of other reading I was doing. The book is named This Time is Different...