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Thoughts about Preaching

This last Sunday I preached at Stephenville CRC because their pastor is on vacation. This church did not know me at all to begin with, but because I am an ordained Minister of the Word in the CRC, this church in Stephenville trusted me to come and declare God's Word to them and how it should convict them of sin, change their lives, and give them hope. Wow!...

Pastors
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Flippant Greeting Disorder

I said, “Hi!”  She smiled and said, “Fine, thank you.”  I had a millisecond of mental short circuiting but then realized that she answered a question I did not ask.  To my chagrin, I realized that I had just encountered one more perpetrator of “flippant greeting disorder.”  It’s not an official diagnosis but I believe our culture needs to be healed of it...

Pastors
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Flourishing in the 40s

“How will you flourish in your forties?” My mentor asked me this question last year, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.  And with my fortieth birthday only days away, it’s on my mind a lot.  I’ve thought of this question in terms of my personal life, but also in terms of my pastoral life. I know the two are intricately related, but...

Pastors
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The Next Big Thing?

With the rise of the Millennial generation and the coming of what looks like a long economic downturn, thinkers in the field of church planning are beginning to write about the future of the local church and what it will soon look like. There’s not agreement on all predictions, but one thing has common agreement: the day of the mega-church model...

Pastors
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Exegete This!

Have you “exegeted” your church? “Hunh? Don’t we exegete the Bible?!” you may say. Yes, that’s what we do; we exegete the Bible. But I’ve learned over my lifetime, that we all have our own theologies on several levels. We say we “believe” certain things--that’s one level of theology. We live out certain beliefs--that’s another level of theology. And we are surrounded...

Pastors
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Mentoring and Coffee

There is a need to mentor those who are up and coming in leadership. Those who are still in the church and wanting to know their place in the world and in God’s world. We want to know why young adults and post-high are leaving the church. Why aren’t we mentoring them? Why aren’t we taking time to teach them what it means to be men and women of God?...

Pastors
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The Cost of Leadership

I just read When God Shows Up: A Pastor’s Journey. The bulk of the book is about the author's ministry, and in particular, a church conflict during the turbulent 70s and 80s, when the charismatic movement affected many established churches. It's a story of excited believers and disappointed ones, of emotional agony and painful misunderstanding, of people...

Pastors
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Working with Our Natural Rhythms Instead of Against Them

Life has seasons and rhythms. In a garden, there are times of planting, growth, harvest … and also time for the ground to lie fallow. Trying to fight these rhythms is foolish. It is like trying to surf between waves, instead of waiting to ride the waves. By the end of the day you’ve worn yourself out, and you wouldn’t have ridden the board much either...

Pastors
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Deep Skimming: What Would You Recommend?

Last month I asked for your help in co-teaching the Leadership in Ministry course at Calvin Seminary. Thank you for the great insights and questions that were provided. As we continue the conversation, what book would you recommend that our students dive into as part of their surveying the literature and gaining their bearings for their journey as servant leaders?

Pastors
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A Small Redemption

Our ‘88 Toyota Camry is 25 years old, with 156,000 miles on the odometer. But she’s a faithful family friend and she’s never left us stranded. So I felt much dismay one Saturday afternoon when I returned to the spot where I thought I had parked her and found it occupied by another vehicle. I checked all 150 cars in that lot. No sign of her. She was gone...

Pastors
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Next World Leaders in Your Small Church?

Dr. Ron Klassen wrote in his book No Little Places: The Untapped Potential of the Small-Town Church, "A disproportionate percentage of professional Christian workers, including as many as 80% of foreign missionaries, come from small churches...

PastorsRural
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Learning About Leadership from the Green and White

I don’t wear a carved out watermelon on my head on game day, but yes, I’m a Saskatchewan Roughriders fan. It just so happens that at the time of writing, this team is 8 and 1. An impressive record especially in a league where the regular season is only 18 games long. So, how have the Riders done it?  What can we learn about leadership from the Green and White?...

Pastors
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Bishop Whipple Takes Heart

Henry Benjamin Whipple went on to become Bishop of Minnesota and to plead, famously, to President Abraham Lincoln himself, for the lives of the 300+ Dakota warriors sentenced to hang after the Dakota War. Lincoln later said he felt the urgency of Whipple's visit "down to his boots."  Most Minnesota white folks hated him. His colleagues thought him a fanatic...

Pastors
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Expectations, the Law, and the Spirit

My expectations are often merely another form of the Law. They are my expectations of how I think the world should be. They are my beliefs about my importance, my plans, my destiny, my life. The problem is that they also often do not match what God plans for me. All these expectations do is condemn me. They make me miserable. They place the law of sin ...

Pastors
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What Is the Gospel?

There is no idea more central to the NT than the importance of the gospel. It is the "good news" of Jesus. It is the message of Jesus and the message of the Church. I sure wish it was that easy!  Wouldn't it be great if everyone knew and understood what the gospel is, what it means, and how to proclaim it?  I am saddened that even within my peer group (pastors) there is...

Pastors
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What Your Church Coffee Says about You

My church recently changed the kind of coffee we serve on Sundays. There are coffee stations with self-serve air pots and a variety of seating options. Bare walls have been replaced with artwork. Fluorescent lights have been replaced with track lighting. Bulletin boards have been replaced with a video monitor. And here’s what I’ve noticed; nothing has really changed...

Pastors
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Jesus, Rabbi to Out-of-the-Way Places

Pick up a CRCNA Yearbook and among the familiar names you’ll find unknowns such as Terra Ceia, Woden, Prairie View, Austinville and more. Historically, we know how churches got planted in such places. But the question arises, “Would Jesus today go to minister in such out-of-the-way places?” If not, wouldn’t we be better off just closing down all those tiny churches...

PastorsRural
Blog
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Why a Drive-in Church?

I preach regularly at the Woodland Drive-In Church in Grand Rapids. The question inevitably arises: Why would people want to worship at a drive-in church instead of sitting inside a traditional church? There are two main categories of people who attend our services and a number of reasons they do so...

Pastors
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Can I Really Do This?

We just returned from vacation. But now, on my second day back on duty, I’m asking myself: “Can I really do this?” For the most part, I enjoy being a pastor.  But today I’m not so sure I want to do this.  Happily, August is generally a quieter month. But I know September is coming and I’m not sure I want to face the demands that lie ahead.  What’s a pastor to do?...

Pastors
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Leadership in Ministry Course - Your Input Needed

In preparation for a course I'll be co-teaching this fall, I'd like your input on what we can do more fully prepare our graduates for ministry. Finish the sentence "I wish Calvin Seminary prepared students more in…." and post your response in the comments.

Pastors
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More than Our Need to Be Right

"I love you more than my need to be right." I’ve been thinking about those words in the context of this verse  – “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry” – and have wondered what difference it might make to those standing on the margins of the church. What if their experience of church was marked by people who listened well to them and each other...

Pastors
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Ready to Dance!

In 1999 I was blessed to be extended a call to co-pastor Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which had a vision to become a multicultural church.  I researched the CRC’s doctrines, history and mission focus and it all seemed to align with God’s leading in my life. So I accepted the call. I was eager...

Pastors
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To the Least of These

If you minister where the most well-read news magazines are Progressive Farmer and the Farmers’ Almanac and not The New York Times, where you can't leave town without everyone knowing where you are headed, and where everyone knew your name before you ever arrived there, then this blog’s for you...

PastorsRural
Blog
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To Judge or Not to Judge: That Is the Question

One of my readers asked me to reflect on the whole issue of judgment in the church. His starting point was Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” How can we make sense out of this whole business about judging—a word used often in the New Testament and sometimes in opposite ways?...

Pastors
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Seeking God's Hand or Face?

"If you seek God's hand, you will miss His face. If you seek His face, you will get His hand also." I have to say this quotation hits the nail on the head as to why so many folks are not effective in their prayer life. They seek God's blessing on their work and life without seeking God's searching, purifying, and transforming grace. I know I have lived this way all too often. I have prayed...

Pastors

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