Director of Church Relations, Dordt University
Posted in: Best Practices for Filing Sermons?
Just a note for easy backup in the "cloud." Dropbox.com is a free software that will automatically save and upload the files you designate to a secure site that you can access from anywhere. Also, you can easily share files with another computer (i.e. a desktop and a laptop computer) so that they sync when you have an online connection.
The service is free for up to 2 GB of storage. This is usually adequate, but if you need to, you can upgrade to 50GB for a cost of $99.00 per year.
I had the privilege of participating in this program recently. I highly recommend this experience. Karl is an excellent teacher-facilitator and the video conferencing with your cohort is effective and meaningful. You will also have the opportunity to have in-person meetings with everyone to add to and enhance your learning. Feel free to message me if you have other questions.
Once again, this is well worth your time. As with all CPE experiences, what you learn about yourself will help you learn to pastor and counsel more effectively. It will benefit your ministry, your church, as well as yourself.
Thanks for the post and I appreciate your concern. I "hear" in your post that you feel disrespected by not being allowed to administer the sacraments, even though you have been ordained in another denomination.
I'd like to bring to your attention a couple things to think about. First, I think the issue you are identifying is not unique to the CRC or even the Reformed expression of faith. I would guess that you would not be allowed to administer the sacraments in most Presbyterian, Lutheran, or even Roman Catholic churches, for that matter. I am guessing the same would be for most churches from the Baptist or Methodist traditions. Only those ordained and authorized by those denominational bodies would permit someone to administer the sacraments.
Secondly, and closely related, is the expectation and requirement that the person who administers the sacrament has an understanding of those sacraments that are consistent with the biblical understanding and theological teaching of the church and denomination. The CRC understanding of the covenantal promises of God in baptism and the true presence of the Holy Spirit in the Lord's Supper is significantly different than a Baptist, Lutheran, or Roman Catholic understanding of the same sacraments. Therefore, according to our church order, the proper administration of the sacraments is done by one who is ordained, under the supervision of the council. The assumption is that this person understands and agrees with what the CRC believes that Scripture teaches about baptism and the Lord's Supper.
Using this as a background, the Church Order of the CRC requires that the sacraments "shall be administered upon the authority of the the consistory in the public worship by a minister of the Word (CRC), a commissioned pastor, "or in case of need, an ordained person who has received the approval of classis..." In certain circumstances, a member of the council, ordinarily an elder, could administer the sacraments when an ordained minister is not available. (Reference Art. 53 & 55 and their supplements of the C.O.)
I provide this to you as information. Hopefully, you have a better understanding why the council asked that you not administer the Lord's Supper. You might not agree with these reasons, but the council acted consistently within the CRC's understanding of whom may offer the sacraments.
Posted in: Matt 18:15
You'll be alright. There will always be people who you feel you have to push or pull rather than lead. Keep your integrity, so that when people don't "like" what you are doing, they can't fault your intention or what you are calling them to be. Basically most people speak most loudly when they are afraid. Angry voices often are scared voices.
P.S. I'm looking for free stuff too..... ;-)
Posted in: Matt 18:15
I think the healthiest thing to do whenever I've received a stinging comment or criticism is wait. There have been times when someone has made me angry or hurt me with their words. My best response to them has been no immediate response. Take some time and walk away from the person so that you can take what they said and see if there is anything in what they said that perhaps you need to listen to. It also gives you the opportunity to ask yourself, "What is really going on here with that comment? What makes that person give me such a criticism or complaint?
Secondly, I surround myself with people from inside and outside the church whom I trust. Those people don't always layer me with compliments, but they give me their honest feedback. Most importantly, they want to see me succeed, not fail. So any criticism is done with a desire to see me thrive and do well in ministry.
It all looks so easy typed up on a screen, but its much harder to pull off when you are living it.
That's why I love the saying, "God hits straight with a crooked stick."
Posted in: Overtures, Politics, & Justice
I appreciate the article and I do share some of the same concerns about how much or what type of issues our denominational agencies or denomination as a whole have to speak about.
However, to discern what is appropriate is difficult. Using your argument that Scripture is to provide the rubric by which we determine what issues are addressed, then one could say that many of the things that our agencies speak about are guided by scripture--especially the several times where God's people are commanded to care for the "orphan, the widow, and the stranger or sojourner within our gates." So, that said, I agree that scripture should be the guide, but I also sense that if what is said can be attributed to scripture, the next level of our response will be determined by how what is said fits or conflicts with our political leanings. This will influence our reaction and response to what our agencies say.
This is where the issue becomes difficult. It seems that it will be difficult do find a happy, "just right," middle ground. It seems that this issue lends itself to one of two paths: The OSJ continues to speak on a number of issues, some of which our members will disagree with because of political reasons. Or, maybe they will agree on scriptural principle, but will disagree on the solution suggested. The other route is to go the route of more conservative churches in the Reformed tradition and say nothing as a denomination in regards to the specific issues that affect our country and world.
That said, thanks for the discussion, and I am interested in hearing the response of others.
Posted in: “Something Other Than the Lectionary”
I appreciate the post. While I have not followed the lectionary through an entire liturgical year, I have found it particularly helpful during the seasons of Advent and Lent. The collection of texts: OT, Psalm, Gospel, and Epistle follows the moves weaves together the texts that lead us from God's promise to the Incarnation, from ministry in Galillee to the empty tomb on Resurrection Sunday.
What I have particularly appreciated about the lectionary is that it is a faithful guide to lead preacher and congregation through the major themes of God's salvation plan.
I point the finger at myself as I share that the lectionary also keeps me from what I perceive to be the tempation of putting together the gimmick sermon series all done with the intent of keeping things "fresh." As one parishoner shared with me during this past Christmas season, "Sometimes we forget, but it is is the 'old, old story' that we need to hear. Everything else is tinsel and ornaments. It's nice for a while, but after a few weeks, we put it back in a box and forget about it for another year."
While I am glad that I am not bound to the lectionary as some other religious traditions might be, I am thankful that I have the lectionary as a resource to enrich my preaching.
Posted in: Church Safety Video?
Thanks, Bonnie! Very helpful. I appreciate the resources. The powerpoint presentation is a helpful overview to show to my leadership.
I'm still wondering if there is a video focused for teachers and volunteers that could outline specific boundaries. Perhaps it doesn't exist.
I'm wondering if a slide presentation might be more applicable.
I was hoping to find something that we could show consistently from year to year that would not be dependent on one individual to present. My thought would be to outline our policy via a handout and then show a brief video affirming the key principles of child safety.
Posted in: The 'Resignation' of Our Executive Director
Call your regional BOT representative. I did, and it was helpful.
While staying within the boundaries of confidentiality and the separation agreement that was made with the EDM and the BOT, my representative was able to fill in enough blanks that I think I understand the situation.
I am not saying that I agree with everything, but I think I do understand some of what happened.
I think the article by DeMoor/Postma outlined the main issues well and informs this particular situation. The current model of organization at the denominational level isn't working well. As the article points out, it never really has.
Reading between the lines, this is my informal evaluation of what I think happened: There is a turf war between the ministry offices at 2850. One of the responsibilities of the EDM is to mediate/facilitate so that they all play nice. It was perceived that the EDM took sides. The atmosphere was growing more and more toxic there, so the BOT decided that something needed to change. The EDM was the one to take the fall.
There were no moral or ethical issues involved. It was the BOT determining that the EDM was providing leadership that was detrimental to the long term health of the organization/denomination. It was judgment call. We are free to agree or disagree.
Posted in: Our Attitudes Toward Our Leaders
Thanks, George. I agree.
I have commented previously on my opinion or read on what happened with the changes in our leadership, but I have never questioned the integrity of the BOT. Even though I had concerns, I suspected nothing underhanded.
I think Matthew 18 is in effect as well. For those who are quick to chime in their conspiracy theories or cynical message board comments, they need to think seriously about giving their regional BOT representative a call and speak to them directly rather than question their integrity without giving them a chance to respond or answer questions.
I have spoken with my local BOT representative as well as other members of the BOT at Synod, and I am pleased and have trust that they are doing their level best to lead our denomination and its offices with integrity. We might not always agree with their decisions--and agreement is not mandatory; we CAN disagree--but we should give respect.
As members of the CRC, our level of dialogue, while sometimes informal, should be raised to higher level than what we wiitness from many message boards and online editorials.
A great question. I think you identify some of the key issues toward the end of the second paragraph. Also, you are correct about the "dual-citizenship." I'm not sure that any church who recognizes membership within their polity would allow their members to also be members of another church or denomination.
Basically, I think you're on the right track. It's a great teaching opportunity for you and for the couple. You would also want to have the council involved, endorsing and affirming the faith of the couple.
May I suggest one more thing? There are people much wiser than me and probably some who have had experience ministering in this situation that could find your question here, but are more likely to find you the Facebook group: Pastors of the Christian Reformed Church. It is a a "closed" group, meaning you would have to request to join and the moderators would include you. It is an active group with close to 700 members of both active and (actively) retired pastors.
Blessings to you as you walk with this couple in their faith! What a privilege!