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Waiting

Waiting is hard. Especially in our culture of instant gratification. Waiting is an incubator of our hopes and fears. Waiting is a profound act of trust.  We wait because the most important action that can be taken is not one for us to make.  

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Supervision or Feedback

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. 

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After Watching OF GODS AND MEN

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?

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Annual Review

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 

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Transition Planning

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 

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An Invitation to Transformation

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.

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Good Listening

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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Change, People and Systems

Redemption is change.  Change is hard.  Even God thought the cross was the only way.  Sometimes it seems to me despite Jesus words that anyone who wishes to follow him needs to take up the cross, we prefer to escape it.  We would rather take a pill. 

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Fearing Rightly

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.

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The Praying Elder

What good is it to say (paraphrasing James 2:16) “I will pray for you” when we do not provide the support which is within our means? Sometimes we are the answer to the prayer.

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The Elder, Worship and the Church Order

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.

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Leading in Learning

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...

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Elders - Agents of Kingdom Transformation

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...

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Gratitude and Christian Formation

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...

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Grace Among the Weeds

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...

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Do Elders Need to be Members of the Congregation?

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.

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Who Do You Say That I Am?

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 ...

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Christmas, Occupy Wall Street, and Christian Formation

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.  

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Elders and Accountability

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? 

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A Covenant Engagement

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

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Psalms, Elders and Pastoral Care

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?

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Leadership and Organizational Structure

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...

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Discipleship and Circles of Support

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. 

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The Elder as Community Developer

You won’t find Community Developer in the ordination form.  Yet as I listen to cultural critics, spiritual directors and numerous other thoughtful people about personal growth there is a persistent reference to role of community.   

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Consider Faith Alive First

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.

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