Posted in: Drama Queen
Keep more money on the classical level?!? As they say in Minnesota, "Ish." Granted, I have only been a part of two classes in 16 years of ministry. But I would very much hesitate to give more money to classis. While Synod might not be the way to manage ministries of this size, classes can be downright dysfunctional when it comes to spending money and offer very little in the way of oversight of the ministries that they support. I would love to see more money kept on the local level, but I have my doubts that it would be used as efficiently as the denomination is able to. In fact, if memory serves (still), I believe an unnamed 3rd generation CRC pastor once remarked on how efficient our system is for the support of missionaries. :-)
What it boils down to for me is this: I don't believe money is the issue. Our ministries (CRC, classical and local) are not lacking money and management. They are lacking in leadership. IF money is the issue, it is only because it is perceived as the solution. Yes, there are things that we could do on the local level if we had more money that we don't do now. But how many of them would really help us to develop fully committed followers of Jesus Christ?
It strikes me that this debate is similar to what I hear about funding education. Some say more money is the solution; others say we would do fine if we were free of government bureaucracy. And still others just go out and get the job done with what they have.
Just my two cents worth - which won't support a missionary, a chuch plant or a denominational executive.
Awesome job, Paul. I was struck by the statement, "The horror young Steve Jobs experienced at seeing the suffering of African children did not prompt him to become a crusader for world justice or economic equity." How often don't we hear people saying, "Someone ought to do something!" without ever realizing that the someone might be them. For Steve, the "someone" was God.
I heard yesterday that his last words were, "Oh, my! Oh, my!" There doubtless is lots of speculation about what he saw (if anything) that caused this reaction. What if those words were expressions of shock as God came to him and said, "At a young age, I had you feel compassion for the poor. Why didn't you do something about it when you were rich?"
Posted in: The Mercy Of Hospitality
I had a similar experience at a church once. I had preached for them that morning (I was pastoring nearby). After the service, nobody approached me. I suppose we could blame it on the message or the style in which it was delivered. That might also explain why I felt very awkward when I tried to join a group of people. But what if it wasn't the message and it wasn't me? I do remember leaving there and thinking, "How would a guest feel?"
The solution, I think, is for one person to start changing how they interact with guests. I watched my mom for years. She would find the person standing alone and go talk to them. She would invite people over to our house for dinner. She would write cards and show care for them. Now - 30 years later! - I look for the person who is new, alone or looks like they feel "out of place." I know, there are many others that I could be developing deeper relationships with. But as a quieter person, I know how hard it is to stand alone.
Posted in: Dealing with Death and Dying
I like what you have to say here, Josh. It is an incredible privilege to walk with families through their times of grief.
I would like to add one more piece to our "job as pastors." I think along with helping the family see "the glorious end," we also have to help them to feel the loss fully and to enter into (and accept) the pain of the loss. For most of the people I've dealt with, their concern was not with where their loved one ended up; their concern was with how they were feeling and how long it would last.
I would also be interested to hear other opinions on whether it is valid/accurate/helpful for people to say, "You'll see them again some day." Yes, we will all be in heaven together (assuming faith in Christ). But will our relationships be changed so completely that it is really meaningless to focus on some people that we will see again? Wouldn't it be more accurate to say, "When you get to heaven, the love that you had for _____________ will be the same love that you feel toward all people."?
I like the idea of Google Apps, especially because you can put together a pretty decent site FOR FREE on Google Sites. You're a bit limited on what you can do, but not too terribly much. And you get to integrate easily with so many cool Google goodies.
We currently use WordPress hosted on eleventwo.com. Comparable in price to justhost.com. But it does require a bit more tech knowledge than Google sites.
We purchased our domain through GoDaddy, a choice I regret now that I see their commercials.