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Hi Rick, the DoJustice site has a variety of topics, including Economic Justice. I hope you find this helpful.

Hi Staci! I am pretty cheesy when I do volunteer gifts. I love giving things with a cute 'pun' attached. One year I gave artisan soup packages made from a lovely company out West who hires people with disabilities to do their packing, etc. (Mitchell's Soups) The card said, "I think you are Souper!" Another time I gave teachers at my school a bottle of "Simply Lemonade" or Simply orange juice with a note saying "You're SIMPLY the best!" It's usually the sentiment that means more than the gift, in my humble opinion! Pinterest is great for these cheesy gift ideas :) And a handwritten, personalized note is always appreciated as a volunteer!

Hi Gary! Great question! As a former Worship Coordinator, this was also on my radar and one of the challenges we faced EACH WEEK!  

-Countdowns don't really help (especially if not in people's view) and for our church they became more for the worship team to know when to come forward, which was great!

-We started our service with gathering hymns/songs so when people heard live music, it would hopefully trigger that something was starting. Anything said or did in that first 5 minutes was not going to leave people in the dark or make them feel like they walked into something half over. It was just a time of singing and praising God. Having a live person ask people to come take their seats a few times in between songs also helps (just so they don't think it's a CD or video playing but the service is actually starting!). 

-Because we used to hold coffee before the service as well and outside of the "sanctuary" (we were a church plant that met in a gym), we decided to move the coffee INTO the gym so people were in the room at least! One frustration was that some would still linger in the back and talk (quite loudly at times!) even though someone was up front trying to give announcements or lead the opening/Call to Worship. Again, patience will need to abound! :)

-Hopefully after some opening songs, MOST people will be in their seats. We would then have a time of welcome and announcements, and/or a Call to Worship and so on.

-Sometimes we would have a second 'mini' welcome for those we knew joined us late. For example, have a welcome/call to worship, God's Greeting, 2 Opening Songs, insert Mini Welcome, 1 more opening song, Confession, etc.

-We also made sure people were SEATED for the first portion so late-comers could come in and see where seats were open (or have ushers to usher them). So the opening singing was done seated, as well as the Welcome/Announcements and even sometimes the Call to Worship. If everyone is standing, it's difficult to know where to sit and people will then stay at the far back when there are open pews closer up.

Just like the "theatre protocol" Gary Tamming mentions (dimming lights, etc), it takes time to make those 'traditions' so that everyone is on the same page, but it can be done! I don't think we can herd people like cattle (unfortunately!). Chastising or calling people out is never the answer either. Some people are perpetually late; even to a movie or concert or other outing you'd think they would get to on time. While you'll never have everyone in their seats at the exact time your service is starting, being intentional and CONSISTENT in your plan of attack is always best. Communicate it everywhere: from the front, in the bulletin, in the sermon, in newsletters, etc. 

Blessings to you Gary!

Great question! I worked in church ministry for 15 years and have some background on this. My understanding was that this nominal fee was offered to pastors who were part of the Pulpit Supply list. This was part of the Classis churches' covenant to each to help another church out when they are vacant. This nominal fee covered the pastor's time to come and preach and lead a service, but it was assumed he/she was using a previously shared message and most of the service would be planned and executed by members of that particular church. He/she would also get mileage paid on top of this preaching fee. In our area, the amount was set at $150.

At my last church I challenged this tradition. (This was about 3 years ago.) We were a church plant and many times people who were asked to preach came with 'new material'. Many were asked to participate in a certain worship series we were doing so it warranted a brand new sermon to be written. Also, because our context was quite different than a typical CRC, we would ask that a message be geared to newer believers and/or seekers. So again, a new message would likely be done, or an old one would require some tweaking. And let's be honest, many spend between 10-20 hours writing messages. In order to honour this person's time and expertise, we set our preaching fee at $200-$250. Mileage would also be paid on top of this, if they so requested. Some internal people who preached for us would donate the amount back to the church as they weren't doing it for the money, but some would use it to help pay for their ongoing education or other things. Their choice was completely respected by our church leadership.

Overall, we felt it was time to up the amount we paid and also make it relevant to our church and culture. Hope this helps!

This article is great Anita! I would echo pretty much everything you said here. I attended my first (and only to date) Pow Wow 2 years ago. It was an incredible experience for me. While the memory is unfortunately fading a bit for me now, how it made me feel has not. I was so humbled by the way they respected and honoured the earth, each other, and all people in this time of 'worship' and coming together. I say this because I had come straight from my own worship service at church and marveled at the similarities! I was humbled by their genuine hospitality! I initially felt like a 'stranger' or intruder - because it was my first time and I also wondered/feared they would just see me as a 'nosy white person'. Those fears were quickly put to rest. Hospitality was seen by the way the 'MC' explained what they were doing to the vendors who provided foods and handmade crafts and goods. One of the main reasons I went was because our friend/neighbour down the street is Indigenous and she invited us and I knew this would also lead to a deepening of our relationship as I continue to shine Jesus' light in my own neighbourhood! 

I hope others will share their experiences here in the comments or in their own articles! Thanks again Anita!

Hey Ken! Great post! As a communicator and former church administrator, this is something I'm pretty passionate about. When I came on staff in my former church, I assume the church had wanted to seem approachable and friendly when they first set-up our emails, so they used our first names in our email addresses: [email protected]. On the surface that seems great... but from a visitor's or non-member's point of view, they likely thought, "Who is this Erin? What does she do? What do I contact her for?" While office@churchname might seem cold and distant and impersonal, it's super practical and you don't need to change it with every staffing change! When it comes to emails, keep it simple and clear for the win!

Wow, this is quite something. I have no idea how you were able to draw this conclusion from reading the book of Esther. 

When reading it in its entirety, I see in chapter 3 what Haman's decree was:

8 Then Haman approached King Xerxes and said, “There is a certain race of people scattered through all the provinces of your empire who keep themselves separate from everyone else. Their laws are different from those of any other people, and they refuse to obey the laws of the king. So it is not in the king’s interest to let them live. 9 If it please the king, issue a decree that they be destroyed, and I will give 10,000 large sacks[c] of silver to the government administrators to be deposited in the royal treasury.” (NLT)

In short, Haman ordered a genocide of the Jewish people living at that time. This is pretty serious stuff and did require some pretty serious actions to be taken in order to prevent this. So yes, when we read Mordecai's 'response' to this decree, we understand why it says: "11 The king’s decree gave the Jews in every city authority to unite to defend their lives. They were allowed to kill, slaughter, and annihilate anyone of any nationality or province who might attack them or their children and wives, and to take the property of their enemies." Later on in chapter 8 we read "16 The Jews were filled with joy and gladness and were honored everywhere. 17 In every province and city, wherever the king’s decree arrived, the Jews rejoiced and had a great celebration and declared a public festival and holiday. And many of the people of the land became Jews themselves, for they feared what the Jews might do to them."

So, does this book/bible story make a good argument for the 2nd Amendment, as Dan puts forth? I really can't see how. Does this make a good argument for countries to 'arm' themselves, via the military, in order to protect their nation and its people? Yes, I could agree with this. Perhaps this sounds like the same thing but to me, they are different. I'd also tend to agree that IF we see this text as Dan sees it, we need to also look at Jesus' words as Terry points out. What does it look like today to truly love our enemies? To turn the other cheek? When are these responses applicable and when are they not? When is it okay to take another man's life? These are the questions I wrestle with as a follower of Christ. I have not found any simplistic answers for these, and I likely never will. 

Hello Dan, a wise person once said to me, " The Bible was written FOR you, for TO you". When I reflected on this for a long time (over 2 years!), I understood what he meant. I fear the path that leads any of us who try to interpret the Bible to bolster our argument on a certain topic and to help us rally other Christians to agree with us. It almost puts our ways before God's ways. We know and have been taught OVER and OVER again that all of Scripture needs to be read and studied in the proper context. 

An article I read yesterday said, "Many of us want simple black-and-white bumper-sticker-worthy statements from the Bible. We want them because they’re clear. They sound final and authoritative. Mostly, we want them because we don’t want to do the hard work of living with the Bible, and letting God to teach us, through an ongoing engagement with this powerful book." ( I tend to agree with the author. 

If we begin to apply every verse in the Bible to the way we live our lives today, this would make for chaos, inside and outside the church! I don't even need to go into the thousands of examples, particularly ones from the OT. So when using the Book of Esther to bolster a "2nd Amendment" argument, I wonder if this is another time when using Scripture to back up our own thoughts and views is inappropriate.

I'll continue to wrestle with this and thanks for your input and thoughts on this Dan! God's blessings to you as you grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,


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