"Who today is the focus of [the deacons'] task? Our church order and ordination form emphasize the necessity of addressing widening circles of need that center in the congregation. Is this a good distinction for us to be making? Do we run the risk of ignoring greater needs because we see only
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Denying Jesus' resurrection started the day he arose. It’s natural to deny the resurrection. We modern folks like to get to the root of things. And at the root of all things biological is that life will end in death. That's all there is, folks. There ain't no more.
Our task as worship leaders and planners is to be used by the Holy Spirit to help our congregants live as Easter people in a world of wars, disease, flooding, abuse, sickness, depression, and yes, hope. It’s been said “we are an Easter people living in a Good Friday world.”
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?
It is common now for churches to use technology to connect within their community -- using Skype to visit with missionaries, social networks to encourage each other, electronic prayer groups, and so on. How does, or can, the church go even further with technology, and use it to do more than connect with each other?
On a radio program one time, Ben Mattlin talked about his disability with pride. Then he asked, "Are there no wheelchairs in heaven? I'm not buying it. For me, if there is a heaven, it's not a place where I'll be able to walk. It's a place where it doesn't matter if you can't.”
The three year olds I teach in Sunday school are wonderfully creative and fun but I need to be ready to adjust my lesson on the fly. A few weeks ago the lesson I had prepared began with each child getting a paper figure of a child to represent themselves. Then I handed out the figures ... That’s when things started to go in ways I didn’t plan for.
At Synod 1987 a fellow delegate taught me new words for the second stanza of “Onward, Christian Soldiers:" “Like a mighty turtle moves the church of God; brothers, we are treading where we’ve always trod.” I found myself singing that song again when I read some of the overtures to Synod 2011.
I don’t think any ministry jobs can be molded into 40-hour a week, five-day schedules. I know that youth ministry positions certainly can’t fit that corporate model. I think that causes friction in some churches where parishioners believe that they should find a youth pastor in the office when they visit church.
Many say Lent’s 42 days mesh with Jesus’ 40 days of desert temptation by the devil. He was sustained by praying. Lent is still a time for praying. When do you pray? Isaac Bashevis Singer, Nobel Prize winning novelist, was once asked when he prayed. Singer famously answered, “"I only pray when I'm in trouble. But I'm in trouble all the time, so I always pray."
Some see support raising as a great opportunity to connect with people, tell ministry stories, and call people to faithful use of the resources that God has given them. Others consider it “begging,” and see it as demeaning to the missionary. What do you think?
Near the end of the play, just after being beaten and abandoned by his handlers, he calls after them in a husky voice, “I’m a man. I’m not an animal. I’m not an elephant. I’m a man.” The Elephant Man helps audiences reckon with the painful dehumanization that many people with disabilities experience: gawked at or ignored, left at the margins
I have two books to recommend for churches who already have small groups or who are considering starting new groups. They are challenging yet practical but extremely insightful and will be a valuable resource for any church who take their small group ministry seriously.
Synod 2011 must end at noon on Thursday, June 16, because a joint session with the synod of the Reformed Church in America is scheduled for the afternoon of that day. Because synod must end then, it will begin on Friday, June 10, a day earlier than usual. Though unstated we have another exception
In all of my years of youth ministry, I rarely brought our youth groups into interaction with those outside the Reformed tradition. Honestly, many of the parents of our youth members were probably glad I didn’t. I’ve been blessed by my relationships and work with a variety of Christians. So why haven’t I brought that same blessing to our youth group?
What would make a “persuasive listener”? Well, obviously it’s someone who has already listened well to God’s leading and is listening from within God’s presence. Listening from within God’s presence would attune me to the Spirit’s leading and discerning.
Everyone dreams of a Sunday school where everyone comes on time, listens attentively, responds appropriately and loves to come every Sunday. Like in Lake Wobegon all the children, teens and adults in Sunday school are above average. Then comes the reality of Sunday
This is the time of year when we start (or ought to!) thinking about planning for preaching, worship and teaching for the school/church year starting in September. I invite you to take a good look at the website for The Story to learn about what I think is a very worthwhile potential preaching, worship and teaching
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.
Synod 2011 will be unique in a number of ways. Because of the recent resignation of Rev. Jerry Dykstra, it will be the first in recent memory where our denomination’s executive director is not available to assist the synodical officers. Because of the retirement of Dr. Henry De Moor, it will also be the first in recent memory
Most of our members know that synod meets once a year. Most of them are probably not aware of how much work is done beforehand to ensure that these meetings run well. Preparations for synod begin months before synod actually convenes. Study committee reports must be available to the churches by November 1 of the previous year so churches and classes have time to consider them and to respond
Since synod is the highest ruling assembly, is it the pope of the Christian Reformed denomination? Sometimes it feels that way, but that question misunderstands the nature of the authority and function of our denominational assemblies. The Church Order, a set of regulations by which our denomination is governed, states
We had a youth group that was comprised of mostly one high school. No matter how hard we tried to help those from other schools feel welcome, I don’t think they ever really felt they were part of the group. Of all the challenges I experienced as a youth leader, realizing that some youth did not feel as if they were a part of the group frustrated me the most.
Singing of a Christ who challenges us to love our enemies including those of different faiths or ethnic backgrounds, to forgive the worst of sinners and then enfold them into our community, to take care of the orphan even those with HIV/AIDs, to be willing to give up some of the comforts in life in order to bring comfort to those who need it most; to sing of such a Christ puts us outside our comfort zone.