Today in South Africa 4,000 mission leaders are gathered to dream and plan for how to complete the task of world evangelization. Most of them are Africans, Asians or Latin Americans, demonstrating that God has changed the face of world Christianity in the last century. Among the speakers at this conference is Ruth Padilla DeBorst, a missionary with Christian Reformed World Missions.
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Recently I heard Jay VanGroningen of CFA talk about “good neighbors” – and then he kicked it up a notch by asking: And what makes a GREAT neighbor? That got me to thinking. We know what makes a good deacon…
This coming week at our fall classis meeting we will discuss an overture to make some changes to Article 17. The request comes out of a concern for the ministry of the church: we have been given a ministry of reconciliation and yet in our practice of Article 17, reconciliation and healing seem so problematic.
Why is a church without people with disabilities incomplete? What do we mean by the word “disability”? What is ableism? In what ways are people with disabilities marginalized by societies around the world? What is “healing”? A friend of mine, Carolyn Thompson, directed me to a pithy statement called “The Accessible Church: Toward Becoming The Whole Family Of God” which she helped draft for the Massachusetts Council of Churches. Here are some excerpts.
Is a Christian's calling to business as important and sacred as one's calling to be a pastor or a missionary? Can business really be one of the leading spheres of society where the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be lived out on a daily basis? What role does business play in advancing God's Kingdom?
I am not a fan of awkward silences. Sometimes silence is good and appropriate – during prayer or following a particularly moving anthem. However, the silence between a pastor’s words of “And now the choir is going to sing for us” and the choir members standing in their seats and walking to the front is unnecessary and it disrupts the worship flow.
My point is that we are waiting with bated breath to see what the BOT has done with the deacons task force. Are you eager to know the reporting deadline? Are you even more eager to know who is on the task force? I am! Did the BOT amplify the instructions to the task force ...
Several years ago Pastor Dan Ackerman made a statement that really struck me. He said that today short term missions is what Catechism instruction was: our basic method of discipleship. Short term mission trips went from being an oddity, to an add-on, to something integral to the process of raising our young people as Christians. How do we make the most of them?
How many is too much? How many new songs can you have in a worship service? I know of churches where including a new song in worship is something that is done with some fear and trepidation on the part of the worship planners who also know that a new song can ...
A decade into her vocation as nun, Mother Teresa began to suffer “darkness” and the “absence of God.” briefly, that darkness and absence of God constituted her greatest suffering. Yet, after some years, she came to this stunning conclusion: "When you accept the vows [of a nun] you must accept the same fate as Jesus [abandonment by God?]"
A six-year-old girl stormed into my class this Sunday with fists clenched. She was angry at a friend — another one of the girls in my class. What do you do in moments like these — when you have a class full of kids and one of them is struggling with real life stuff?
This guest blog by Alan Johnson, organizer of Widening the Welcome, asks how we talk about mental illnesses. He writes, "Language can be tricky. It can elucidate things or muddy things. So what can we do? Keep on keeping on working on language seeking to describe how things are. Perhaps the best thing is to talk with the person who is affected by a “mental illness” or a “brain disorder” or a “disability” to see how they see it themselves. This is all about relationships anyway."
I came out of the meeting with a strong sense that God is a God of Action, not a God of inaction. The Lord desires you to be moving forward in your life, and especially in your faith. He wants you to be doing something, to be bettering yourself for His purposes, so that your righteousness will surpass that of the Pharisees.
Even if your church doesn't have a website or will never start using Twitter or Facebook, I'm sure your church records sermons. With tape players obsolete and CD players common, it would be good to make the switch to recording your service digitally if you haven't yet. Not only will this be more compatible with your church listeners, but will allow you to easily podcast your sermon.
Last week I asked why we tend to limit our idea of diversity in church to ethnic diversity. Like one reader responded to the question last week, diversity of ability falls outside of most people's thinking because most people don't want people with disabilities included in their activities.
A few weeks ago, Herm confided in Deacon Henk about the foreclosure notice he'd received. It's been a tough few weeks and Herm needs a bit of strong friendship! "I wish me and the wife could talk about doughnuts and weight. Seems like we don't talk at all, or we're fussin' at each other about money."
I was reminded by a conversation in the forum that I had planned to develop material on the various positions and tasks in the community of elders. I’m glad someone took up the challenge of the job descriptions. I am not particular enough for naming it all. What interests me more is the question what makes for excellence in council leadership. It clearly means more than leading a meeting well or providing competent or interesting minutes. Here are some thoughts I have:
Whatever your committee’s or team’s name or function it is easy to get in a rut, to do things a particular way because that’s the way it has always been done (even if it’s only the second year you have been doing it). So how do you get out of a liturgical rut? How do you discern when a once helpful practice has become unhelpful or when a 100 year old practice needs to be retained? How do you lead your congregation to grow in the area of worship?
When we envision the diverse church, in our minds' eye, we see a diversity of skin colors, foods, ethnic identities, and languages. Usually, we also see we see the young and the old, male and female. But in our vision of the diverse church, we rarely see a boy who uses a wheelchair, woman who lives with mental illness, a girl with Down Syndrome, a man who is blind, or a woman who is Deaf and uses sign language. Why?