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.
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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.
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.
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...
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...
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...
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...
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.
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 ...
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.
How many visits have we made? Have we prioritized our efforts well? Are there particular issues that we need to address? What are some key issues for the spiritual formation of our members that we ought to highlight? How can we help each other fulfill our responsibilities?
Family and friendship ties may help us keep somewhat informed about life in other congregations, but these informal relationships are inadequate. The quality and depth of the relationships require deeper conversation and shared life. This happens by taking seriously the
It occurred to me that perhaps one way of training elders (and pastors) in the work of pastoral care is to encourage the memorizations of the psalms. And then I wondered: if we had a program of training for elders, which psalms should be memorized?
Having been part of many conversations on organizational structure, I know that each organization structure is a balancing of a variety of differing objectives and at times conflicting values. The changes that are adopted depend on levels of trust within the community and the levels of anxiety that live within the organization...
Recently I read about Circles of Support and Accountability that helped many sexual offenders as they transitioned out of prison and into our neighbourhoods. It got me thinking not just about this particular engagement as a way of serving Christ in the neighbourhood, but more generally about discipleship.
I’m writing to ask for your help with an issue that affects all Christian Reformed churches. Faith Alive, as you know, is the publishing ministry of the CRC. But like many denominational publishers, Faith Alive is facing significant financial headwinds in today’s tough economic times.
There is a journey of renewed identity that some churches experience. They remember fondly the fruitfulness in their land of the past. Then they cross the first holy river into the desert where, through prayer and holy conversation, they climb the jagged mountains to discover renewed vision. They cross deep valleys
On April 16-18, a first-ever Prayer Summit for our denomination will take place in Los Angeles, Calif. By way of the “Each Church Send One!” campaign, I am inviting — and strongly encouraging — your congregation to send at least one person to this event.
If your congregation is like many we’re in conversation with, you’re seriously considering Synod 2010’s decision to welcome baptized children to participate in the sacrament of communion. But with change comes challenge—along with the need to replace old processes and practices with new ones. That’s the challenge we’d like to address
When looking for solutions to problems, the cross and the resurrection aren’t the pragmatic solutions we are looking for. It does not put food on our table, get our loved ones out of the hospital, pay our bills or get us to work on time... And yet, God sent Jesus into the world to the cross