Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar was recorded on: Wed, 02/15/2012 In this webinar you'll discover ways to mobilize your church to pray for both local and global missions.

February 15, 2012 0 0 comments

International mission has been communicated most powerfully by pictures of people engaged in ministry and those hearing the Good News about Jesus.  Ten students at Dordt College travelled to Mexico to shoot video of ministries going on in that country through Christian Reformed World Missions missionaries and their partners.

February 14, 2012 0 0 comments

In the 1980s the buzz word in international missions was unreached people groups.  Following the priority of Paul in Romans 15, such groups should get special attention.  In the last decade or so the buzzword has been partnership.  We need to partner with Christians around the world to

January 9, 2012 0 2 comments

Community Development or Mission work is not something we do for people – it is something we do with people. So often we think in terms of projects, participants and measureable results. But really the challenge is to look for transformation in the lives of people... 

December 26, 2011 0 2 comments

Having raised chickens with my wife for many years, we are very familiar with the ‘pecking order’ among chickens.   It is easy to see a hierarchy among a group of chickens and quickly one can select out the higher ranking chickens from those of lower status.   Whether we realize it or not, we often follow 

December 19, 2011 0 1 comments

Churches can end up with lots of missionary connections.  Gradually, and for a variety of reasons, new relationships are established. Soon the congregation has a dozen or more commitments.  Even the missions committee or GO team has a hard time remembering  

November 28, 2011 0 2 comments

On 27 July, 2011 the Church lost one of its greatest leaders, Rev. John Stott.  He contributed so much in so many areas that it is hard to overstate his significance.  He was called "a Renaissance man with a Reformation theology."  Indeed. He made a number of important contributions in the area of mission that deserve  

October 24, 2011 0 1 comments

Sometimes a short-term mission trip is just a beginning. At least, that’s what it was for Carol Van Klompenburg.In 2008, a team leader asked members of a 2008 service and learning team to the Nehemiah Center in Nicaragua what each of them was seeking from the trip. Carol answered, “A bigger world—mine is too small.”

October 15, 2011 0 0 comments

 For the last few years the word "missional" has been used and abused a great deal.  For some it seems that the focus on being missional in the local setting pulls away from international missions, which seems to be part of a traditional church model.  Is supporting an intermational missionary with prayer, care and financial gifts just a cop-out, a way of saying you are about extending the Gospel without really investing yourself? 

October 6, 2011 0 4 comments
Discussion Topic

Evolutionary theory has apparently encouraged many people to separate themselves from God.  Darwin and Dawkins and Templeton are some prominent examples.  Part of our global mission is how we interact with science and culture within our own context, and how do we respond to it.   So what is the...

September 30, 2011 0 129 comments

Webinars offer an opportunity for learning and interaction without investing time and money for travel. For several years Christian Reformed World Missions has been working with World Renew and other agencies to offer webinars on a variety of topics. Some of the choices in the fall lineup are The Changing Face of World Missions, The Millenium Development Goals and When Helping Hurts. 

September 18, 2011 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I choose to post this on the Global Mission site because this is where I tried to nudge conversation a year and a half ago (see the blog: Concept of a global world missions agency).  At first it went nowhere, then veered off.  There would be a logic to posting this on...

September 16, 2011 0 24 comments

As a kid, I thought of a cross-cultural missionary as a church planter or community developer sent by a denominational agency to some remote country in Latin America, Asia or Africa. Frankly, that definition left most of us comfortably outside of any of the possible lines of responsibility. As I grew older I realized that my childhood image was not all that Biblical. 

September 12, 2011 0 4 comments

The practice of mission work has changed dramatically in recent decades, and the pace of change seems to constantly accelerate. The way that we celebrate missions in the churches should also be dynamic. The idea of a mission emphasis week, often connected to a Faith Promise program for mission support, goes back several decades in CRC history. 

September 1, 2011 0 0 comments

I grew in Sully, Iowa, in the 1960’s. Every year my parents would take us to Mission Fest at Market Square in Pella. I thought of missionaries as rather exotic creatures who travelled to far off lands. They showed slides that could have been borrowed from the files of National Geographic.

August 29, 2011 0 5 comments

I want to encourage short term mission trip planners/participants to think long term commitment. We have talked with Steve Brauning about the "commando" mission trips, where a team drops in, does the work and disappears, never to be seen or heard from again... 

August 22, 2011 0 6 comments
Resource, Article

Let's learn together!

Webinars are a great way to learn about global missions and connect with others. All you need is a computer and a phone - no travel, no fancy setup, and best of all...they're free!

View Past Webinars: Our fall webinar series has completed. To view past webinars...

August 19, 2011 0 14 comments

Circles of friends with a shared vision are the birthing rooms for Kingdom collaboration. But sometimes circles of friends can become closed networks. Circles of friends can warp into ethnic or denominational bubbles or even just plain Christian bubbles - - bubbles that protect those on the inside from people and ideas that seem different.

August 15, 2011 0 6 comments

Many have criticized John Calvin and his fellow Reformers as being indifferent to the cause of missions outside the bounds of what was considered Christendom in the 16th century.  A Latin American missiologist will be  

August 12, 2011 0 0 comments

In the last few years I've heard a lot of pessimistic statements about the state of Christianity in America.  Evangelical leaders in the Global South, however, see growth in the influence of Evangelical Christianity in their countries.  Actually, I recently saw a globe showing numerical growth in the overwhelming majority of countries in the world with the notable exceptions of

August 8, 2011 0 1 comments

The question was really quite simple, “Can we be friends?” My first unspoken instinct was the somewhat sarcastic rejoinder that in my opinion we were already friends. But I bit my tongue and instead asked Darryl what he meant by his question.

August 1, 2011 0 11 comments

I’ve had the opportunity to see what the Father is doing in India through the careful distribution of simple, paper tracts. The numbers are so vast, they can only be believed when I recognize the immense power of God to use a low-caste slum dweller with a Gospel tract to bring a Hindu to faith in Jesus. 

July 25, 2011 0 0 comments

Have you been part of a service team that has discovered some unique and effective ways to connect with your host community?

The group I have been involved ( with has done a lot of the usual stuff - including visiting and praying with the disabled and elderly in their...

July 25, 2011 0 3 comments

Programs can be efficient ways to accomplish specific results. They usually involve commissioning or delegating people with special gifts to do certain tasks on behalf of the rest of us. Movements, on the other hand, happen when ordinary people like you and I become contagious about a shared vision and begin 

July 18, 2011 0 3 comments
Resource, Article

Normally I write an article to short-term mission (STM) participants or pastors. This one is going to be different. This one should be SENT to anyone who had a friend or family member go on a short-term mission trip. That might mean you are going to have to forward a link to this article--just...

July 11, 2011 0 0 comments



John, while you are reading and responsing to that article...

"...where dating is revamped to suit the fossils contained in the layers. I am not a conspiracist, but I have seen the impact of group think."  

Specifically, I would like to see the evidence for this claim in the first sentence of that quote. In the second sentence, I am guessing that when you see "group think", you tend to leave yourself out of that subgroup.  Only evolutionists are "group think" victims. I would wager the opposite, since through Christian publications, rallies promoting ID speakers, and social media like this one, the same examples, spins on evidence, and slogans are flung out to the masses, often without critique. And to ensure compliance in case someone does have a question, there is the quick threat of being a "Christ denier", i.e. " Would it lead you to deny that Jesus made the lame walk, the blind to see, and deaf to hear? "   That is fear mongering, my friend. It won't work with me but I am certain it works for many.  They must tow the line.


Jeff .....still thinking on your query, but wonderment takes a longer time than indignation to express itself. So might be Monday before I can give you a worthy reply. I got a sermon to finish and my head is elsewhere.thinking... ...  think         ... .. still thinking ...... 

J.C. used to be a scientist.

Still sounds like one.

But he has turned into

an apologist.

  Y'all good people should read Genetic Entropy      by   J.C.Sanford; very scholarly work both scientific and math'l..

Would open a lot of eyes!!

and don't change the subject...*s* 


this make any sense?  or is is it skewed and prejudiced?

Rinsen, I do not reject out of hand the geological time scale.   I merely question it.   There are instances where dating of certain rocks and layers has huge ranges, and where dating is revamped to suit the fossils contained in the layers.  I am not a conspiracist, but I have seen the impact of group think. 

You said, "we are faced with a God who assembles creatures "as if" they shared the same genetic script but actually, they don't. This is supposed to be an explanation?  Just like the various fossil strata  appear to be extremely old, and predictably laid down in layers going from more simple to more complex  "  

Actually creatures do share genetic building blocks, yes.   I did not say that they do not share the same genetic script in various parts.   They obviously have some similarities and some differences.   If they did not have differences they would be the same species, or even identical twins, etc..    What I did say was that these similarities in dissimilar organisms by themselves do not prove inheritance of origin.    They may demonstrate a similarity of planning and design. 

It is also interesting when looking at genome size, that some fish and amoeba and some plants have a much larger genome than mammals (homosapiens).   While other plants, bacteria, insects, and some fish have a smaller genome than homosapiens.   For example one measured amoeba genome was 670Gb in size, one fish genome was 130Gb in size, two plant genomes were about 130Gb in size, and the human genome is 3.2 Gb in size.  Some  bacterium had a genome three times as large as the human genome, while others were much smaller or similar to human genome in size.   From a genetic perspective, I'm not sure how that supports the simpler organism vs more complex organism theory. 

The fact that some fossil layers are old.... but what is old?   Is a thousand years old?   Is ten thousand years old?   Once a fossil layer is formed it does not visually look older.  Neither do the fossils.   So they are determined  old because of  fossils of strange animals we do not see anymore today, and because of radioactive dating....  but radio active dating is based on assumptions about parent rock materials.   When carbon material is still discovered in rocks supposedly millions or hundreds of millions of years old, then the carbon dating method is deemed invalid for that rock layer, but.... the carbon 14 is still there in amounts much larger than it should be.   When volcanic rocks less than ten years old are measured by Kr-AR methods to be millions of years old, then the method is deemed invalid, because the rocks are obviously too young to be measured.... but why does the method then not date them as young, instead of old?   How can we prove the assumptions for radio-active dating are actually right, outside of the previous preconceptions about the age of the rocks. 

It is interesting that fossils in the rock layers are generally also sequenced by size to some extent. 

When we have fossils that transect layers of rock that are "dated" as millions of years difference between layers, then how do we justify or explain the existence or survival of these fossils (half exposed and half buried) during the layering process?

You also said, "  The theory of evolution had NOTHING whatsoever to do with the findings of carban dating ..."    Well, you are partly right.   Without carbon dating, the theory of evolution was still orginally postulated.   But the theory of evolution had difficulty with shorter time frames of time, since mathematically the probability of evolutionary processes based on what we see today, required ever increasing amounts of time.   The radio-active dating methods began to give validity to these longer time periods.   But, the radio-active dating methods were based on certain assumptions about uniformitarianism for earth processes.   For example, one assumption is consistency in the rate of  formation of C14 in the upper atmosphere over time.  

You might find it oddly liberating if you were to really examine all the fundamental assertions of the E theory.  

I assume you believe at least some of scripture.   How do you decide when your perception of observable facts trumps scripture?   How do you know that your interpretation of observable facts is correct?   Would your observation of observable facts lead you to deny that Elijah, Elisha, Jesus and Peter raised someone from the dead?   Would it lead you to deny that Elijah's prayer for three years drought was answered;  was it going to happen anyway?   Would it lead you to deny that Jesus made the lame walk, the blind to see, and deaf to hear?   

John... I am so sorry you reject out of hand the rigorous work of creationists who first mapped the the Geological Times scale.  It has stood the test of time.  Moreover, radio dating is a different way of  confirming age... and guess what? It's consistent with what the Christian geologists already discovered. The theory of evolution had NOTHING whatso ever to do with the findings of carban dating.  You sound like a conspiracist.


I would like to get to Jeff's questions. But I have salesmen to meeet amd people to bury.  Soon





Like I said, somewhat tangential, but I would say that part of what is at issue is where theologians/Christians have tried to situatate the scientific enterprise within the loci of theology.  Protestants, especially in the last hundred years have tried to situatate it within the area of revelation.  As far as I understand, other traditions such as Catholicism, seem to have situated it more under the doctrine of creation and "natural law", without making much reference to revelation.

But that, in my understanding is the historical interpretation of the doctrine...both general and special revelation are primarily revelation *of God*.  If this is neglected I think the whole doctrine is somewhat skewed.  You could, I suppose make the same distinction in special revelation.  Jesus refers to the scribes and teachers of the law who "search the scriptures" for the least bit of information but miss the point...that they reveal himself.  This is only revealed by the illumination of the Holy Spirit.  They have the data but not the import of the data. 

Is data that is discoverable by unaided human reason by definition not revelation?  Is it rather, the medium of revelation?  And isn't that revelation about a Person?

Jeff, you could ask the same question of special revelation, couldn't you?  Data or Person?  I find that much of what my teachers have said about general revelation was rather obtuse and unhelpful -- even maudlin.  Shouldn't there be a sound hermeneutic for scientific research just as there ought to be a one for Bible research?  Both should be about letting the data speak for themselves, from the common, uncritical read of it to the specialized and scientific.  This is what's wrong with the debate -- are we rigorously and bravely stepping into the natural world only to "learn" what the Bible says about it?  Queen of the Sciences, I guess. 

It's interesting the way you pose the question, though.  I would have thought the opposite at first -- the general "data" and the special, "Person"

John!  Dawkin's argument is more subtle than that.  And he deserves a better answer than the one you just gave. But once again, we are faced with a God who assembles creatures "as if" they shared the same genetic script but actually, they don't. This is supposed to be an explanation?  Just like the various fossil strata  appear to be extremely old, and predictably laid down in layers going from more simple to more complex --- but that's just how they "appear". We Christians know better.  I would find this God quite vexing, if I were a natural scientist. 

Rinsen, you said, "I mean, how in the world can you argue with his "best" argument against Creationists about shared genes? ""

You didn't specify the entire argument.  But the way I normally hear the argument about shared genes is that since genes can be transferred from one species to another, or since genes in some species are similar to some genes in entirely different species, these species must somehow be related, and must have descended from a common ancestor.   It is an old argument.   (Correct me if I am wrong in this summary of the common genes argument). 

It seems to be a good argument since genes are instrumental in formation of structures of organisms.  However, all genes are made of the same types of materials;  they are just organized in different sequences.  If you want to use the argument of shared genes or common genes, it is as valid to say that because all organisms are made of carbon compounds (thus the term "organic" is related to complex carbon molecules), they must have come from a common ancestor. 

It would in essence be like saying that all living things on earth must have originated from a common ancestor simply because they are living. 

The counter argument to that is that the same creator created all living things because He used a common materials and common genetic patterning process.  

The E theory postulates that because a certain type of car looks like another type of car and is made of the same type of metal or plastic, it must have been made at the same factory.  We know that isn't true, although we also know it was likely designed in one office. 

Shared genes are consistent with evolutionary theory.   But shared genes are not inconsistent with creation science. 

The biggest problem with evolutionary theory still remains.  We do not see it in the fossil record;  there is a lack of intermediaries in proportion to existing and fossil species.   We also do not see it occurring today in a consistent and dominant way;  only we see what we think "might" be evolution occurring sporadically and rarely here and there.   Predictions of missing links are consistently proved wrong.  There is more speculation than proof about various intermediary species.   Conclusions about ancient prehistoric fossils are shown to be wrong when the same type of animals still exist today (such as coelanth).   Even radio active dating methods are not determinative, and have been found to be interpreted in various ways (because they rely on certain assumptions), and are made subject to the demands of the theory.  

For all these reasons, we can conclude that there is no preponderance of evidence for evolution.   The only preponderance of evidence is in the eye of the believer.   Say it often enough and you will believe  it.   Say "preponderance of evidence for evolution" often enough, and you will begin to believe it, but that doesn't make it so. 


I think that there's something tangential but important in your last statement, and one that I would like your perspective on.  It seems that sometimes the scientific enterprise is conflated with the doctrine of general revelation.  I think that there is some overlap but at the same time important distinctions between the two.  You refer to it as "Christ's other book of revelation".  I have recently read it in the Banner as "creation revelation"...both of which draw squarely from the Belgic confession.  My only question would be, revelation of what?  Data, or a person?

I wonder if part of this debate also comes from differing ideas concerning the doctrine of general revelation...there are those who are "maximizers" of the doctrine, creating in effect a two-source model of authority, and there are minimizers, and there are those in between.  It was helpful for me in seminary when one of my professors was speaking about general revelation and then said "now, remember, general revelation is revelation *of God*.  He then went on to expound what he thought was a mistaken idea of general revelation, that it is primarily about data and not about the fact that the world is transparent to God's glory, only occluded by our own fallenness and spiritual darkness.

As one source I read says "the content of general revelation deals with God and various aspects of his being and activities.  Any efforts to widen the scope of general revelation to include information or theories about aspects of creation, humanity, or anything else besides God do not have support from the Bible, which limits the scope of general revelation to information *about God*.  General revelation performs the limited function of enabling all persons to know that God is and something of what he is like."  This person, one would think, would be a "minimizer" of the doctrine, which he would probably see as having been broadened too much by automatically linking it with the scientific endeavor.

For one thing, lets humbly admit that most of the evidence we have presently acccumulated as a scientific community fits with the evolutionary hypothesis, which is how scientists figure they can call it "a fact". I mean, how in the world can you argue with his "best" argument against Creationists about shared genes?  What is the sin in his particular claim?  Is he deceiving us? Or do we figure he's just too proud and puffed up to be taken seriously?

If Christians want to disagree with the preponderance of evidence (and the hypothesis which is supported by it) form another hypothesis and finish the gruelling process that other scientists must endure to overturn it. It's not good enough to hide behind our persecution complex and our propensity to call brothers and sisters "heretics" because we are afraid of being humiliated. I am truly tired of the nitpicking that armchair "scientists" among us love to do. It gives the appearance of wisdom, but it knows nothing of the power of testable, verifiable, peer-viewed truth. Let me know when you've got enough evidence to knock the stuffing out of the E theory.

Teaching the "controversy" in clever ways isn't science. It's scholasticism. Which is subterfuge .

Lets humbly admit that Dawkins is right on this score (it seems to best fit the evidence right now) and admit with him that Darwin was indeed a break-through genius. Of course, lots of geniuses came to ruin with new evidence. But we don't have the luxury of using this fact to "disprove" evolution.  Any more than medieval theologians thought that protestantism was a flash in the pan.

It doesn't mean Dawkins is right about God. It just means we must go our merry way without back-biting and find enough evidence to blow it all to pieces with our own scientific research. So far alI I see are Intelligent design "mysteries" and quandaries and clever suggestions. At best, they are comforting intuitions which have their own value. But they are not  research needed to squarely knock Darwin off his high horse. The "authorities" we now cite for the problems with evolution are those who seem to be preaching to the converted and many have questionable credentials in the area. Believe me, I've listened, read, watched a lot of it and its disheartening.

I for one, believe that Christ's "other" book of revelation will not deceive us if we listen to it just as carefully as we are supposed to do letting the Bible speak for itself, a discipline which long ago dissolved into pure politics and subjectivitism. That might be the more profound problem.  Christ is not a deceiver.  Those of you who figure you have the E hypothesis' number are indeed deceived. Get off your flannel board and do the work a good scientist is supposed to do today.



Sorry to put in three posts here in a row.... but I came across an excellent expose of evolutionary paleotology, put together by Street Church Adelaide.  Youtube - "Evolution - A Crumbling Theory ( StreetChurch Adelaide )  

Facts are not always facts, even when it comes to empirical science.   Evil and falsehood not only wants to pervert scriptural truths, but it perverts scientific and "natural" evidence as well, if the motivation is there. 

" ""   

Sorry to put in three posts here in a row.... but I came across an excellent expose of evolutionary paleotology, put together by Street Church Adelaide.  Youtube - "Evolution - A Crumbling Theory ( StreetChurch Adelaide )  

Facts are not always facts, even when it comes to empirical science.   Evil and falsehood not only wants to pervert scriptural truths, but it perverts scientific and "natural" evidence as well, if the motivation is there. 

" ""   

Richard, I sense also a bit of an emotional reaction to some of these discussions.   Maybe like, "do we really have to get all so wrung out about this debate?"  I sense you want peace (which is a good thing) and not strife.   You want people's faith to hold together, and not be sidetracked by empirical arguments.   You also want a focus on spirit, as opposed to "facts", a spiritual/emotional connection with a good God, instead of a concentration and focus on cold facts and truths.  

I understand all of this, and I empathize with it.   But I also believe that we are to worship God in Spirit, and in Truth.   If we neglect truth under the guise of spirit, we will eventually discover that we have lost the spirit, and gained a false spirit.   I know this from discussions with buddhists and with bahai and with moslems.  It is the spirit of truth that is given to us, not the spirit of falsehood.   Annanias and Sapphira died for no other reason than that they followed the spirit of falsehood;  they lied about the empirical facts. 

It is absolutely important and essential to know and believe and sense/feel that God is good, and God is love.   This should become part of the blood flowing in our veins.  It should be the essence of every word coming from our mouths.   But it is the truth of this statement as found in scripture, that helps us to understand that God is good even when we do not feel that God is good in our personal lives, or in the lives of our friends or in the lives of strangers. 

It is falsehood and evil that wants us to put truth on the back shelf compared to the goodness of God.   But it is a false dichotomy (I am speaking more broadly than just Genesis 1, but the principle applies). 

If God is good, how can he allow evil?   If God is good, how can he allow the flood?   If God is good, how can He allow eternal punishment?  

But God must be true to Himself.   If we understand that, then we can understand God's goodness. 

And we must be true to God. 

Richard, I definately did not miss your point.  In fact, I restated it and acknowledged it:  "You are right we should not miss the primary message of the creation story, that God is creator and maker and that what He makes he declared good ."  

You have now changed "true" to "factualness"... maybe a good thing.  

It is not that I deny what you are saying, in that if we focus on the factualness too much it may make us forget the underlying theme.  But the focus in the other direction is just as much a problem.   If we deny the factualness (not you, but others), then the underlying theme loses its validity.  Martin Luther's socks may not have made a difference to his speech, but the alternative to creation by fiat and the creation of man by God, is presently a never-ending process of evolution which makes a big difference to whether God created the universe "good" or not.   And it makes a big difference to whether man is truly in the image of God, and whether there is such a thing as sin or not.  

In the Martin Luther analogy, the significance of where he was, who was there, when he made the speech, and the state of the country at the time is very significant to the impact of the speech.   If he had made the speech in his bathroom to his mirror, or if merely written in some op-ed piece in the local paper, it simply would not have had the impact, and would not be seen to be important in the same way.   

When people are defending the literalness of Genesis 1, they do so primarily in order to validate the underlying theme.   It is not merely for the sake of the empirical facts themselves. 

John, I think you missed my point again.

Here's what I said above, that you seemed to suggest I didn't say: "While I also believe that the message of chapters 1-3 are rendered all but meaningless, if those chapters don't represent what actually happened, that message is still much more important than the mere factualness of it's setting. My point was that so much attention has been given to the factualness of the creation story, that the message of the Bible in that story is being lost." (underscore added for emphasis)

In other words, while it is neccessary to view Creation as presented, the most basic truths in Genesis 1-3 are not the mere factuality 'that it happened this way and not some other way.' No. The basic truth is that God created this creation for life, particularly for human life, so that we could have fellowship with Him. A secondary truth is that the creation is harmonious and beautiful and good, even very good.

I also argue that emperical truth, is only somewhat interesting, even as it brings something to bear on this story. It's about as interesting as knowing which color socks Martin Luther King was wearing when he made his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, or what time it was precisely when he have the speech, and who exactly were in attendence. Yes, those details can be interesting from a certain perspective, but don't let those incidental details make you miss the speech! Now by saying those details are unimportant, I'm not calling into question whether he actually said anything, that he said it on a certain day or at a certain time, to certain people, while wearing certain socks. I'm just saying that those facts are a paltry distraction from what was said.

Similarly, when we focus on the mere factualness of the creation story, we miss the point. Not that there is no factualness there, it's just that the factualness of what's there is a paltry distraction from what we are being told there.

"Truth embodies both the realities of good and evil ."   I want to clarify this statement from the previous post, since it might be misunderstood.   It does not mean that evil can be equated to truth, since it opposes truth. 

What I mean by this statement is that truth embodies the struggle of good vs evil.   That Jesus is the truth, because he defeated evil, not just because he was good.  That truth reveals falsehood and evil to us, and also points out the good to us. 

"Good" requires truth, as "evil" requires falsehood.  

I do not take for granted, the "of course" part of your first statement.  There are  some even within the crc who do not "of course" take every part of scripture as "true".   In spite of their profession of faith.   In spite of their signing a form of subscription.  But I am glad you take every part of scripture as true. 

You are right we should not miss the primary message of the creation story, that God is creator and maker and that what He makes he declared good.   But earlier you said that "good" was more important than "true", (which while I understand you are refering to chronology and actual events as "true"), is misleading in the sense that truth is downplayed.  You see if there is no truth, then there is also no good.  Truth embodies both the realities of good and evil.  God is as much true, as he is good.  Jesus did not say "I am the Way, the Good, and the Life."    He said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."    Truth is good, even when it reveals evil.  Especially when it reveals evil.  

When we suggest that scripture's truth might be relativised, or that it is subjective, or that it is more important to be "good" than to be "true", then we are missing something about who God is.  When God allowed Satan to subject Job to misery, we can only say that God is good, because we know first that God is true.   And we know God is true through scripture, through His Spirit, through faith.  A false scripture hinders the work of the Spirit, and weakens our faith.  And that is not "good".   

God wants us to struggle with Genesis 1, with Genesis 11.   Not to toss it off as some allegory just because some quasi scientists (and real scientists) have decided that their world view does not permit Genesis 1 to be true.  

The great difficulty in arguing that Genesis 1 is not true in a meaningful sense, that creation did not happen in seven days, that things were not created in that order, but yet that creation was "good", is to discover a true basis for that conclusion.   If creation did not happen in seven days, then there is no basis for saying that creation was "good", since both conclusions are based on the same written word.  The basis for describing our relationship to the creator is also lost, since why should that be more true than creation by fiat in seven days? 

Thus you see that truth is more important;  it is primary.   Without truth, good does not exist. 

John, of course I believe that the Scriptures are true, in every sense of the word 'true.'

But I think it's a mistake to get so embroiled in the factuality of the creation story, that we miss the message in the creation story.  Though I firmly believe that Genesis 1-3 is historically accurate, I don't think that those chapters are there primarily to teach us a history lesson. They are there primarily to teach us about the nature of our Creator, the creation, and us as creatures in relation to the rest of creation and our Creator.

While I also believe that the message of chapters 1-3 are rendered all but meaningless, if those chapters don't represent what actually happened, that message is still much more important than the mere factualness of it's setting. My point was that so much attention has been given to the factualness of the creation story, that the message of the Bible in that story is being lost.

The other part of my argument is that we must soundly and thoroughly reject the 'scientific,' AKA 'empericist' world view that sees mere, measurable facts as the only reliable truth. Such a world-view collapses in on itself and cannot even live up to it's own criterion, since that world-view can not be demonstrated emperically as either the only, nor the most reliable world-view for reliably discovering all the facts there are. We must thoroughly reject not only the conclusions of this world-view, but the world-view itself!

In other words Genesis 1-3 was not written primarily to be an apologetic against other creations myths (including the 'big bang' myth), it was written to invite us into fellowship with and worship of our Creator.

We require police clearance certicates for anyone in leadership in our church. Yes, it is not full proof, but, it does send a signal, particularly to guests or newcomers, that this is a church that cares about it's vulnerable members, and takes its responsibility seriously. We also have policies about visits by elders, deacons, or youth group leaders, etc., not to drive alone with a member of the opposite sex, or visit them alone. Such visits, if unavoidable, are then to be conducted in a public place like a coffee shop or library.

Steve, I'm so sorry for your loss. My older brother died of ALS a few years ago, also very untimely and unexpected. I know what a sadness this causes for you, your family and friends. How wonderful that your brother's daughter could give such a loving tribute to her dad, and that he was a faithful example of representing Christ on earth.

Richard, you said a while back, "The matter of origins is extremely important. It shapes our entire view of reality. For that reason, it's essential that we believers begin with the Scriptures, or better, the message and teaching of the Scriptures. The message there is that the creation is "good." That's so much more important than "true," especially when it's a holy God saying that word. "True" comes in at such a disappointing and distant second place, by comparison. The so-called creation scientists who try to make their own house of cards, also seem to trade in "good" for "true," and wonder why people aren't impressed with their findings. "" ""

I think this is an important statement.   It is one I disagree with however, for this reason.   It is a false (not true) dichotomy.  How do you know if the message in scripture, that the creation was created "good", is true?   How do you know what part of the creation is "good"?   How do you distinguish between what God declared "it was good", compared to what is not so good anymore?   Wouldn't you have to believe in the truth of scripture first, to believe creation was made good? 

Evolutionary theory would postulate that creation was not made good.   It just was.  And by our standards it would not be good, unless weeds, disease, strife, battles, murder, hatred and selfishness are good. 

It would seem that truth and goodness are inseparable.    The truth is also that God often turns evil for our good.   But that doesn't make the evil good on its own.  

Conduct a good relevant interview, not only on attitudes towards children, but also on what it means to live a life of obedience to Christ.   Get two references, if the volunteer position is outside of the local church.  In world missions and world relief situations, make sure that workers do not work alone nor travel nor visit alone;  this is to protect the workers as much as children, since in some situations workers can be tempted by adults, or their reputations (and god's work) can be sullied by mere rumor and innuendo.   When I was in Mexico for two weeks, the local pastor/missionary would not visit women without his wife present, and he took me along to several visits as a substitute chaperone/elder to prevent problems.   The same type of policy should be considered for dealing with children, although sometimes a semblance of privacy of conversations may be beneficial, so a common sense solution is required. 

Very good points, John. I am well aware that there are serious issues with people who have never been convicted...Sexual abuse of children is rampant in the church--I have a good friend whose father, a pastor (not in the CRC), abused her all during her childhood. And to your other point, my former pastor was almost not allowed to cross the border to Canada when he was dying because of a prior felony (many, MANY years prior). Nobody who knew him would argue that he was "renewed in faith and life by Christ". CRWM does not automatically exclude a volunteer because something shows up on a criminal record; rather, we look at them on a case-by-case basis. 

Do you have any suggestions/ideas on how to get beyond the surface? We do ask for references, including one from the volunteer's church, but if you have any suggestions on how we could take even small steps towards a more thorough vetting of volunteers, we would love to hear your feedback. 

There is nothing wrong with getting criminal background checks for volunteers.  (We have done it in our church).   But it merely skims the surface.   It is harmful to do it, if people assume they have then fulfilled their responsibility.   It misses those who have never been charged or convicted.  It misses those who may have never done anything in the past, but might in the future.  It taints those whose criminal charge or conviction has nothing to do with abuse of children.   It has no way of considering or accounting for those who have truly repented of their misdeed, and have been renewed in faith and life by Christ. 

It is something invented by Social Services (government) primarily to cover their legal butts.   We should be aware of its serious limitations. 

I just attended a webinar that gave a preview of the 2nd edition of this book which will be coming out in May. Great stuff!

posted in: When Helping Hurts

one documentary on Uganda and the LRA that I found insightful was "An Unconventional War" by the Sentinel Group which looks at it from a spiritual warfare angle...  if you have an opportunity and can get a hold of a copy of the dvd, I would encourage you to do so.

Thanks Jay for clarifying your concern with this distinction.  Now I understand why you feel so strongly. It would be tragic if the church as institute took no responsibility for what its members do or don't do beyond official church programs.  A church that is satisfied to worship, learn, care and fellowship internally and ignore its community is lacking something absolutely central.

On the other hand, some of the best and most important ministry happens when Christians from across congregational and denominational lines, who have been stimulated and challenged by their churches (institute) gather in a common cause to serve their community.  Once this gathering of Christian individuals comes together in the name of Christ to serve their community, are they the Church or not?  I would say yes.  They are the Church as organism. 

If the institutional church feels good about itself just because it is preaching the word it has to check the influence that word is having in and on the body.  You might think you are eating a balanced diet but if you show signs of malnutrition something is definately wrong.  The body is made of many parts and is only doing what it is intended to do when the parts are doing their part.  The instituional church must work for the full engagement of the organism in the life of the community and the world.

Preaching the gospel will have an influence on community.  If there is no influence on community, then perhaps the gospel has not been truly and comprehensively preached.   While a church as an institution does not vote, a sermon distinguishing on the biblical distincitions and significance attached to human life vs animal life might influence the voting of its members. 

Preaching the gospel might influence the relative importance the members of a church place on sending money to foreign missions, vs spending time and money on poor nearby neighborhoods.  

Preaching the gosple might influence the energy of church members directed towards establishing christian schools and colleges and summer christian bible camps.  

But the church elders may not be the school board members, and the church pastor will not go to the foreign missions, and the church elders may not be the ones who set up a help center for the destitute next door. 

Thus the distinction between the institutional authority of the church elders, vs the influence of the church on its members to live Godly lives in their community.   In some cases, there may be a seemless blend between the two, and in other cases, clear distinctions need to be made. 

Seems like a church (institute) can feel pretty good about itself as agent of "pure preaching" even if members do not engage in the redemption of the neighborhoods or cities they occupy using this distinction - right? 

As far as God's redemptive purposes are concerned in His world, that is up to individuals then and not the church? The church does not take responsibility for what members do or do not do, it is up to each member to hear and respond as they are led? Do I understand your position on this?

The reputation of the church in the community as an institution that serves members is really quite pleasing in this scenario. As long as members are satisfied with the preaching, teaching, fellowship etc its all good?

Seems like that could lead to institutional isolation of church - a church (institution) without influence beyond its capacity to influence her own members, without ascribed, planned contribution to God's redeeming work in a place. Sound at all like a present reality?

How many neighborhoods and cities have many churches and no discernable or measurable influence in the places they occupy? There is no stain on the church for their irrelevance to their community in those places?

What would your community miss if your church was taken out of the picture? That seems really quite irrelevant if the church has only to preach and teach members and be a loving bubble community... not accepting responsibility for the condition of the community.

How many neighborhoods once had churches that were active in community, and as the community changed, the members up left? The commitment was to members...and not the community.

Who benefits from the distinction? Those who do not want to be held accountable for the role of church as great neighbor - agent of redemption? That is for individuals...

@ Wendy Hammond

Wendy's relayed response from Jay Van Groningen is:

My opinion on the distinction between church as institute and organism:

1. Who benefits from making this distinction? 
2. How does it benefit the isolated, poorer neighbors to maintain this distinction?

My own answers to Jay Van Groningen would be:

Response to #1. Everyone benefits, at least in the long run, although seemingly not in the short run.  In the Dutch Reformed tradition, Christian Schools result from the work (preaching/teaching) of the church as institution, but the implementation of Christian Schools result from the work (members responding to the preaching/teaching) of the church as organism.  The wisdom of implementing that distinction is, in my view, abundantly clear.

Jay himself does his work not as part of the church as organism, bu as part of the church as organism (he is as an agent of "Communities First Association").  Why?  A hint to the answer comes from a publication written by Jay himself.  He wrote "Communities First",  of which Chapter 8 is: "Justice: Creating Policies, Laws, and Systems that Work for Everyone.  This chapter describes how ministry and community leaders can effectively advocate for justice without getting caught up in partisan politics."

Hmmm, "without getting caught up in partisan politics"?? The task of the church, as institution, is to preach, teach, encourage, provide for fellowship, and provide a simple form of benevolence (both within but also without).  Certainly, local churches can and do also get in the community (after all, it invites the community to share in that which it preaches, teaches, etc., and to become part of that local 'family''), but at a point, if the church, as institution, gets too involved, it simply won't avoid getting caught up in "partisan politics," Jay Van Groningen's Chapter 8 notwithstanding.  Result? Some members will leave because they have a "political perspective" at odds with that which the church Council has; Council starts looking at new elder nominees by examining their "political perspectives" in addition to other qualifications (after all, the church's political message to the community needs to be consisitent); Council's work is increasingly about matters outside the competence of Council members; and the job of Elder or Deacon starts to become quite different.

If we don't differentiate between church as insitution and as organism, we adopt a Roman Catholic tradition.  I'll take the Reformed tradition any day.

Response to #2.  The poor and isolated are benefitted because more work, and more competent work, is being done for their benefit.  Elders/deacons aren't necessarily your best local Christian school board members (or administrators or teachers).  And I wouldn't want my elders/deacons to also have those jobs  -- too much out of their area of competency (and just too much work).  Certainly, some elders/deacons will also be school board members, but that's because they chose to and have multiple competencies.  And when he/she votes as a school board member, he/she is voting with different co-directors, which aggregately has a different skill/experience set (thankfully!).

Don't misunderstand.  I'm all for what Jay Van Gronigen wants CRC church members to do, and I've spent my personal life trying to practice that preaching.  But I do it because of the preaching/teaching I received, and I do it sometimes in concert with a local board of directors in a community, sometime as a volunteer for another community organization, and sometimes just as myself.  In all those cases, I'm glad I'm not doing it under the control of my church's Council.  Hey, my elders/deacons are great people but not necessarily the best to be calling all the shots in all of the things I involve myself in for the community.  I'm glad the Council does its job, and my local community organizations do theirs, and that my local community orgnizations can be governed by a board that includes people from all sorts of churches -- even people not from church (a BIG plus).

Honestly, I don't understand why we in the CRC no longer seem to understand the benefits of distinguishing between church as institution and church as organism.  Have we simply stopped teaching this?

[quote=Lou Wagenveld]

Yes, I did see the "comments" after the Banner article.  Is there any other site/blog/forum where this is being discussed; clue me in, please. 


I'm not aware of any, and I do try to keep up with the online discussions/forums.


It been a little while since I visited here again... what I quoted or implied was at most "tenuous."It isn't so easy to find information, but a conversation with a CRWRC functionary led me to believe that some significant change may be in the works.  So I read with interest the Banner online report of the February Board meeting, and now this from BOT:

  1. Discussed at length and eventually tabled until the May 2012 Board meeting a decision about whether to endorse a proposal by the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) to change its name to World Renew (see news story). A delegation of CRWRC board and staff members told the Board of Trustees that CRWRC’s name no longer accurately reflects much of the work that it does or its many partnerships outside the Christian Reformed Church. They said the new name would enable CRWRC to expand its mission by engaging more effectively with a broader range of people.
  2. Adopted recommendations formalizing a number of areas in the relationship between the denomination and CRWRC. These included recognizing the 14-member Joint Ministry Council as CRWRC’s governance entity and recommending that synod approve CRWRC’s request to submit single nominees for at-large positions on its board.

Can we trust that the BOT heard enough rumblings so that those "recommendations" will keep the agency in not only the CRCNA sphere, but tighten its planning and working relationship with other ministries/agencies?  Crunch time will be May.  Yes, I did see the "comments" after the Banner article.  Is there any other site/blog/forum where this is being discussed; clue me in, please. 


In response to your request we've added a link to the materials that were discussed in the webinar along with a link to the outline that was sent to webinar participants.

I was unable to participate in the original webinar.  Is is possible to request the materials that were discussed?  Thank you.

I have no doubt that Jay has spent a good deal more time thinking about this than I have.  So, I am eager to hear his thoughts on this. 

It seems to me that this distinction can come in handy in some circumstances.  People sometimes want "the church" to speak about issues or support candidates which congregations and denominations should not speak to.  Of course, from a legal standpoint congregations and denominations can put their tax deductible status in jeopardy if they engage in certain kinds of political activity.  But even if that were not an issue, it seems to me that the church "as institute" can get itself embroiled in all sorts of internal controversy and external public relations problems when it blunders into areas beyond its competence.

On the other hand, when a group of Christians organize to advocate for justice or to speak into a societal issue, often across congregational and denominational lines, is that the Church?  I would say yes.  It is the church as organism, as a body.  Jay points out that often engagement with social change issues has to start in this way.  Congregations and denominations aren't set up for this kind of work.  The unity of purpose expressed by Christians in such settings can be truly beautiful.

George, I asked Jay, the author of this article, about the church as institution and church as organism, and this was his response

My opinion on the distinction between church as institute and organism:

1. Who benefits from making this distinction? 
2. How does it benefit the isolated, poorer neighbors to maintain this distinction?

Lou, CRWRC has no plans to leave the denomination. There is no way it actually could, if you read the bylaws. of the organization. I encourage you to talk directly with CRWRC leadership if you have questions.


Above you see: "Changing administration will not necessarily improve the connecttion between word and deed.   It might, but it is mostly about an attitude....That attitude will cause those in home missions to talk to those in the Back to God hour.   That attitude will cause those in CRWRC to talk to those in foreign missions and home missions, and vice versa.   Pick up the phone...." etc.

But instead of picking up the phone and calling as you suggest, CRWRC is picking up its marbles and going to a different playground!  They for all intents and purposes a year ago right now by intentional default did not participate in the conversations that were suggested by denominatinal leadership precisely to that end.  In August the signal came loud and clear... we have our own ideas as to where we want to go. The "possible name change" survey was circulated to 10,000 people.

And now if any are paying attention - the Banner is mute on this - the survey results suggeststhat while they want to continue a relationship with the CRCNA it strikes me that might end up being pretty tenuous.  Does anyone out there have a handle on some of this?









Interesting article.  I think there is another direction from which this should be approached.  If we think in terms of church as institution and church as organism it is the institutional church that often gets bogged down in being "church" so that it cannot affectively bring community transformation.  But if each part of the church that is a living body is doing its part then those parts will be touching and transforming the places where they live.  To often we as church end up withdrawing from the communities we live in.  We develop freindships at church only and shun non believers or believers who are different from us.  We often leave our communities and drive to another location where our congregation meets. These factors don't make community engagement and transformation easier.  How would you feel if people who don't care enough about you to live among you start trying to fix you?  

Just some thoughts.

Thanks Al.  what I mean by doing missions through others rather than with is seeing those we are working with as a means to accomplish our priorities rather than really engaging with them and choosing the priorities in that dialogue, so that they are really ours.  We don't want to be ugly Americans (ugly Canadians?) in the way that we deal with international partners.

Steve appreciate your article and the need to reach the unreached.  Say a bit more about what the difference is between doing missions with and not doing missions through - could it not be both? 

Hi Lou,

Just a clarification that the writer is Rick De Graaf.  I agree with your concern about the use of terms.  Steve

Thanks, Steve, for re-visiting this perennial topic in missions/development work.  You write:

"...the challenge is to look for transformation in the lives of people."  My experience is that people necessarily continue in their culture and mileu, and that to think that two years is going to work a significant change is, yes "hope" but not at all that certain. I'd like you to put this piece and the Cambodian project in your 2014 agenda to revisit to see how it is progressing by then.

    I can't say that I have a good notion of what that Field School consists of, which would be a big factor in evaluating the likelihood of your hopes being realized.    One other observation I make: I have not seen many places where "missionary and development worker" are juxtaposed in the way you use those terms; interesting.  To me it betrays in just one more way the separation of Word and deed that has hamstrung our ministry efforts for the last two generations. 

    So at this season  of hope, lets hope and work for the outcome of the re?structure and culture change that is underway.

Thanks, Rick, for a good piece about the problem of perceived "superiority" in cross-cultural partnerships.  It takes intentionality on the part of both partners to erase this perception, or better yet, to avoid it in the first place.

I should have added a seventh point.  As part of the process of paring down the number of relationships, deepen the financial commitment to each of the remaining missionaries.  That way, instead of having 15-20 supporting churches, you missionaries might move toward having 8-12 churches with whom they could maintain a deeper connection.

Great post.  My thoughts exactly.  When we do start fundraising to go to another country, my hope is to get a few churches that we can grow a deep relationship with.