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:
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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?
What is a denominational missions agency supposed to do? When they began the idea was that all the international mission effort of the congregations was to be channeled through their denominational agency. And it worked a lot like that for many years, but times have changed. These days congregations of all denominations are doing lots of ministry through lots of agencies and directly. In response to this Christian Reformed World Missions has
Yesterday I preached on the parable of the prodigal – with emphasis on the elder son on the story. This morning I read Psalm 1. The two passages provide an intriguing intersection of ideas. Psalm 1 celebrates the Law of the Lord. It is a source of life and hope. Such a life of righteousness is a place of abundance. Yet the elder son who did everything commanded stands on the outside of the celebration of redemption.
How do you get volunteers to serve in ministry along side you? Brian Bierenga, Youth Pastor at Brookside CRC, shares his approach by using the internet. He suggests three things: Use email, Use template, Track Smarter.This is a fantastic blog to equip you as a Youth Ministry Leader in recruiting volunteers.
It appears that confessional preaching/teaching and the second worship services are both going the way of the dodo bird and passenger pigeon in most places in our denomination. Check out this article about second services by Matt Vande Bunte in a recent on-line issue of The Grand Rapids Press and then read on. I hope the article remains available for a while.
A while ago I wrote an article detailing several items that every church website should include no matter the size of their church or website. Mick Mel's recent post "Don’t be like a “University Website"" details many of the items I mentioned along with several items that are unnecessary on your church's homepage. Most of the items are aimed at presenting a good impression for your church, but also help with not frustrating return visitors.
If you are interested in reading charitable, honestly Christian comment on the issue of Christian-Muslim relationship—especially on the topic of Koran burning—today’s issue of Evangelical Fellowship of Canada's Virtual House News will be helpful. Pass this around to members of your congregation, council members, friends. Encourage prayers, calm, gentleness and generous portions of Christ’s love. If you don’t have time to read all the items editor Daina Doucet refers to, I particularly recommend at least Geoff Tunnicliffe’s record of his conversations with Pastor Terry Jones.
I understand their fear. We haven’t had enough time together to know one another all that well. Most are new to this whole small group thing and relatively new in faith. Today I’m asking myself how I can gently lead them to feel comfortable praying out loud as a group. Here’s what I’ve thought of so far:
Christian Reformed World Missions and CRWRC provide a series of webinars whose presenters come with a variety of expertise but under the heading of Global Mission. By using the internet and an 800 number, you can engage in this learning community free.
More and more software programs are becoming available online or 'in the cloud'. Currently, there are several popular services like Google Docs or now Microsoft Office Web Apps that make working in the cloud advantageous. Recently, Intuit unveiled Quickbooks Online which allows an organization to manage their books, run reports and more online. Now those who keep track of the church's finances and books can do so in the cloud.
Dr. David Livermore of the Global Learning Center at Cornerstone University is one of the leading experts in short term missions and cultural intelligence which are key issues for youth and intergenerational mission teams. He will be the keynote speaker at a conference on these topics on October 30 at Ivanrest CRC, Grandville, Michigan. Sponsored by Christian Reformed World Missions, in cooperation with Youth Unlimited, CRWRC, Christian Reformed Home Missions, and Calvin Theological Seminary.
Our use of money is one place where our spirituality gets incarnated. Spirituality in our imagination is rather high-minded, mystical, and holy. But money matters seem stressful, mundane, practical and –in these days of recession – discouraging.
Prayers for our enemies are prayers for the wellbeing and ultimately for the salvation of those who oppose and hurt us. They don’t excuse sin nor reduce the need to call attention to injustices of all kinds. However praying for our enemies does align us with God’s kingdom building work.
Let's learn from the Roman Catholic masters from whom we separated--and whom we villainized for many years. Perhaps one spiritual benefit of ecumenism for all Christians is to examine ourselves, scour our motives, use the agonizingly slow, maddening wheels of the church to move with us and we pastors and leaders with them.