Skip to main content

Agreed. There was a very brief discussion on a side issue that briefly touched on the existence of the report in my congregation's leadership meeting, but we are (properly) so focused on issues like keeping people safe in worship and in the community, helping those who cannot leave their homes, providing for significant needs in our community, and figuring out the role of a significantly changed congregation in a new era--not to mention our core focus on Word and Sacrament--that these issues get short shrift. This leads to only those with the loudest and most opinionated voices being heard, and ends the possibility of dealing with the issue with grace and nuance. So I applaud the effort, but worry that--especially in these unusual times--there is little opportunity for a a truly deliberative and careful process.

I've never been a huge fan of mainstream CCM (back then, I liked the more hardcore stuff like Death Before Dishonor, Dig Hay Zoose, Undercover), but Jars of Clay was one huge exception--I still listen to them regularly. I saw them in the early 2000s at the Weill Center in Sheboygan, WI. My double-take moment was when "Flood" was used as bumper music going to commercial during an NFL game where the rain was coming down so hard it was impacting play. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. 

The fiction book club that meets at my church finished "Mila 18" by Leon Uris. We were going to read "Joy in the Morning" (also known as "Jeeves in the Morning" by P.G. Wodehouse, but the library has insufficient copies, so we are all reading different books from the Jeeves series.


My morning book club with some local guys (mostly CRC) is reading "A Light to the Nations: The Missional Church and the Biblical Story" by Michael Goheen. I've enjoyed it tremendously, and it gave me an idea for a sermon I am preaching later this month.


Another morning book club with local friends is reading Ibrem Kendi's "How to Be an Antiracist." I also highly recommend this one.


My theological/philosophical book group just finished "The Cambridge History of Philosophy in the 19th Century" and is now moving to "Creative Minds in Contemporary Theology" by by Philip Edgcumbe Hughes. Probably not most people's cup of tea, but the books in this group have been very important in helping keep me thinking and engaging the mind.


On a lighter note, I just finished "Cutting for Stone" by Abram Verghese and enjoyed it very much. I have moved next to "Unaccustomed Earth" by Jhumpa Lahiri, which is book of short stories. If you like Lahiri's novels, these stories will be up your alley. I always have a sci-fi book on hand when my brain needs a rest, and I am reading "Now, Then, and Everywhen" by Rys Walker, and it is a fun read.


A more difficult piece of fiction is "The Kindly Ones" by Jonathan Littell, which tells the story of World War II from the perspective of an SS officer and explores how a person can sink to the depths of evil required to serve the Nazi regime. I'm about a third of the way through and thankful my library allows me to renew books remotely, as I can take only so much at a time, and yet it is a worthwhile read. 


I've got several more going and a pile next to my chair waiting to start...yes I have a problem. I remember being a kid and gazing up at my parents' shelves and asking my dad if he had read all those books, and him telling me, "No, most will wait for retirement." Clearly bookaholism is genetic. :-) Retirement is still more than a decade away for me, d.v., but I know what I'll be doing then!




Did anything ever come of this request? I am interested in hearing what kinds of systems are out there, and how (or if) they considered church order when creating the systems. 

I have an even better idea--let's find ways to make sure that the Christian day schools we support (whether in Grand Rapids or out here in the provinces) are capable of admitting children from every ethnicity, race, and income level. That way everyone has access to a Christ-centered education.

Having served six years on CRWRC's board, I fully understand that our binational structure can seem like a burden. But as a U.S. member of the CRCNA, I am thankful for our strong Canadian contingent. Wherever I have gone in CRC circles, I have constantly been reminded of the amazing contributions of our Canadian sisters and brothers. (One of my proudest moments during my service on the CRWRC board was being declared an "honorary member" of the "Canadian Caucus.") Rather than thinking of the red tape and additional structure that occasionally annoys us, I hope we instead think of how much being a binational organization has helped us. We U.S. folks need the Canadians. I hope they feel the same about us.

I am glad this think tank has been formed. Too often I have seen money raised for short-term mission trips that clearly were not going to benefit either the travellers or the folks in the destination country.  I still remember meeting a Haitian pastor who, suggested that just maybe Haiti would be better off if North America would "just leave us alone."  

That being said, it may be that there is still room for overseas short term missions "done right." For example, one of the focuses of a well-done short term mission trip might be education--learning about other cultures, learning about how our actions in North America have a major impact around the work, etc. I had an experience like this in college during a two-week "mission trip" to the Dominican Republic, where we spent much of our time either learning in a classroom type setting or learning by spending time connecting with the folks in the DR. Yes, we did some painting and some digging, and taught a VBS in a batey, and I don't pretend that our trip was some paragon to be admired or copied, but the focus really was on learning from and connecting with Dominican and Haitian Christians, and it seems there were at least some long-term benefits. 

I don't pretend to have any answers on how we should be doing short-term mission; best wishes to the folks involved in the think tank--I suspect they will make conclusions that will be both challenging and beneficial.

Interesting. Is there a reason in this sample that the President and Vice-President of Council must be an elder? (Interestingly, in my congregation, the President of Council may be an elder or a deacon, but the Clerk of Council must be an elder.)

If the denomination splits, can my U.S. congregation join the Canadian side? 

I say this only half jokingly. Speaking as a US person who has served on one bi-national board in the CRC and worked in a number of contexts (denominational and otherwise) with Canadian CRC folks, I guarantee that the US CRC will be less effective, less wise, and less able to fulfill its unique mission without our Canadian siblings.

Maybe we need to find ways to acknowledge Canada's unique needs through our governance structures while still maintaining our unity and our strength through diversity. It might make for some discomfort at times for us U.S. folks. But it'd be worth it.

Here's an option: sing a doxology after the benediction, during which the pastor has the opportunity to walk out of the sanctuary and get out into the lobby before being cornered. Note that the same people will probably rush to get to her or him. Before doing this, though, ask the pastor what she or he thinks about this (or any other) plan - remember, the pastor has just expended a ton of energy and may need some time to decompress with closer friends/family.  

We want to hear from you.

Connect to The Network and add your own question, blog, resource, or job.

Add Your Post