Skip to main content

I think this article addresses something important but then mischarecterizes churches who 'rent" space to sister congregations. Should a church only be in a Landlord-tenant relationship with another church in which the only thing that happens between them is a writing and cashing of a rental check? No, that would not be a good situation and as Christians we are called to more than that. But does  that mean that the only other true "Christian" option is to let another congregation "share" the building without anything being given by them? Our church shares our building with an immigrant African congregation. We do not call it a rental situation. We know that our facilities are from God and we are happy to share them with another congregation. We do have a contract with them about usage and about rental fees. But we also worship together at times, have our councils meet together for times of prayer  ,and we hold Vacation bible school together. We see them as our brothers and sisters .And they are happy to contribute to keeping the buildings maintained and the utilities on. We share the buildings so we share some of the costs. I think situations like ours are a bit more complex and probably much more common that the article lets on. 

HI John. I never thought some points I made in another post would then end up being commented on in another seperate post. You do raise some interesting points ,some of which I wrestled with personaly before our last classis meeting. FYI, I do not want the Belhar to be accepted by Synod as a fourth confession. I did not get to say much at our classis that discussed the two overtures about the Belhar ,one to accept and one to reject , because I was chairing the meeting.

I disagree with you that delegates have to vote in sync with what the majority of thier classis feels when it comes to matters at Synod .In our particular case ,Classis Yellowstone ,one delegate represented a church that had brought an overture to our classis meeting that asked us to accept the Belhar. The overture was voted down. This person clearly was for the Behlar and so in no way is he being dishonest by going to Synod to vote for the Belhar. We sent him ,even though he did not share the view of the majoirty ,because as many people commented he is smart ,well spoken, gracious, and and a good listener .The kind of person we want to represent our Classis no matter how he votes.   I really hope Classis doesnt become a mirror of the current political proccess in this country where we send politicians to argue and where talking to others of different views, and compromising is seen as wrong. Synod needs to be different . It is a time to talk with other CRC delagates ,to listen to them ,argue perhaps ,pray together and even in our differences see eachother as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Brian Tebben on April 20, 2012

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

John, one more thing. I agree with you that delagates at Synod need to be open to hearing arguments and opinions from other people. But this needs to go for all people .Perhaps a few delagates from our classis that I thought would vote no on the Belhar ,may vote yes after talking with others and praying about it.

Meghan. This is the kind of post that causes many people in the denomination to groan. You seem to have a great care and love for people which is very good and very Christian. We should see peopel first as created in the image of God and not first as illigal or legal. But I wish there would be a little more nuance in your post and in  the "commitment to my Immigrant neighbo"r pledge.  Do you and those who work at the OSJ realize that America accepts mor immigrants than all the other countries in the world combined? This is a very generous country in terms of immigration.  I agree with you that this is a country of immigrants. Its what makes this country great ,what gives it energy and viatality .But does this country have the right to determine its own immigration policy? If it does ,then it needs to punish people who violate those laws. People do not have an inherint right to illigally immigrate and then to bring thier families here. The plege states that this is a complex issue and truely it is. So lets aknowlege the complexity by saying that the system is broken because illigal immigrants have broken it AND the US government needs to change some laws.  The plege states that illigal immigrants can not go the police when they witness a crime or are the victims of a crime. That is a blanket statment that is not based on fact . The Banner recently has had some good articles about people who are here iligelly. Perhaps we should also have articles in The Banner from small buisness owners and ordinary people who have felt the negative effects of illigal immigration.  Thank you  Brian Tebben

Meg, thank you for your opening questions dealing with these two overtures coming before Synod. Your questions get down to the nitty gritty of what these overtures ask. Contrary to what some may think or say ,these overtures do not ask us to revisit the solid biblical exegisis of the reports of 1973 or 2002. That is why it is important that people actually read them. The oveture from Classis Zeeland affirms the reports from 1973 and 2002. It states that, "we do not wish to challenge or replace the 1973 report in any way, but ask for guidance on how to apply the report's conclusions in these new situations". The overture from Classis Pacific Northwest says that, "previous reports from synodical study committees ,while excellent in their biblical focus and pastoral care ,do not directly address the issue of the legalization of gay marriage and how churches should respond." If someone is looking to change how our denomination currently addresses homosexuality ,these reports do not ask us to do that. We need to be theologically orthodox and at the same time pastorally progresive on this very contintious issue .I agree with Randy ,we must ask questions and talk about issues like these in confidence not fear. 

John Zylstra. The overtures do not ask us to revisit the biblical grounds of our position on homosexuality. That is a good thing. But they do ask us to address issues that have come before us since the 73 report was written. Are we equipped to give pastoral advice on for example, attending a gay wedding ,voting for a pro gay marriage law or amendment in a local or federal election? How about churches renting out their worship space for gay weddings? How about a parent of a gay person struggeling with whether or not they should attend the wedding of their child? I would love for our denomination to wrestle with some of these questions and to provide us with some advice on how to live in a culture that is increasingly coming to accept homosexuality as right and good and anything less than affirming as bigoted and hatefull.  

Brian Tebben on August 9, 2012

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I can understand how the debate raging around gay marriage and the Chick fil A controversy can stir passions on both sides.  But what is hard for me to understand is the "If Jesus didnt talk about it he must be ok with it" arguement. Jesus did not talk about homosexuality...I grant you that. But then to take the arguement to the conclusion that since He did not talk about it He then must  be for it or at least not against it is absurd. Jesus never came out against the Roman occupation of Isreal. So he must think that one country invading another is a good thing?  He never talked about beating your spouse so therefore he must be for it? He never talked about infanticide so therefore we cant possibly have a Christian response to abortion? Debra mentions Jesus talking about marriage, yes, but it was in the context of In the begining and Male and female.

It has been very interesting to read all these posts. I am a pastor in Classis Yellowstone which is very conservative and currently does not allow women elders to be seated . We are sparsly populated and very spread out .Last month I drove 550 miles to our classis meting .Our classis has been going through a sort of renewal during the last few years. We had Eugene Peterson at our last classis meeting which  was very powerfull, I even had a few people say to me that it was 'life changing" We are talking about planting a few new churches in our classis ,including one in Salt Lake City that will target the large immigrant population that has been growing there. We see classis as a time of worship ,renewal, mission, and prayer.

We had a very intense  but loving and patient discussion on the Belhar and voted on two overtures to Synod on whether to accept it or reject it .The overture to ask Synod not to adopt the Belhar passed by a majority. But the the overture that came from one church to accept the Behlar was treated with dignity ,respect and love .Our classis even voted on sending two people to this years Synod even though we all know that they will probably  vote pro Behlar. What I am trying to say is that a lot of good spirit led stuff is happening in our classis.

 One church has expressed its plan to seat women at our classis in the future .Thier communication to us about this  was one of love, and kindness ,with a call to all of us for patience and prayer.  The communication was recieved in grace.  I don't know what is going to happen this Fall when we bring up seating women elders at Classis, but we are off to a good start .So what am I saying? Let us in this classis talk to one another ,disagree with one another, pray with one another ,as Eugene Peterson says "to practice Ressurection with one another" Havins something forced on this classis concerning the issue of seating women elders would do harm to all the work we have been doing.  Dawn I can sympathize with your frustrations, but you need to remember that for many of us outside CRC areas, Classis is very important. If churches in the classis and some others who currently did not seat elders felt presure from  Synod about this, it would not go over well.  Anyway, Dawn ,I would like to hear some of your ideas on how you think churches could work at the regional level but not as a classis.

Hi Karl!. Thank you for writing this .I was at this classis meeting and even had to chair it (Yikes!) It was a wonderful time and I came back to Salt Lake City excited about the way this classis is turning the corner. No longer will classis just be about going over the budget and appointing new people to old committies .It will be a time of mission ,reflection, worship ,and growth! Karl ,it was great to have you there and thank you for this great post.

Thank you David for this informative and well written article. I am suprised that no one yet has commented on it. As someone who graduated from Calvin Seminary a few years ago and who went through the calling proccess Id like to make a few observations .Graduating and then eventually taking a call was one of the most stressfull expereinces that I and my wife have ever gone through.  You find yourself "comepeting" (yes I dont like that word ,but its true) with your seminary friends who you have grown quite close to for a very limited amount of open church positions. It is very stressful for marriages. Many wives and a few husbands have built carreers in Grand Rapids while supporting thier families while their spouse is engaged in fulltime studies at the seminary .Then when the student graduates, and naturally is inclined to want to get a job ,the spouse that has been working and advancing in thier career after much sacrifice must often times quit and move. By God's grace it all worked out for me and my wife and the church we were called to. But maybe the seminary in some way could help out these families when it comes to the life changing challenge of quiting jobs ,moving and entering a new church and community? I am not talking about financial support but maybe some coaching or counseling Here are a number of other observations and I would love to hear what David or any others have to say.

1 .Churches need to be more trusting when they are looking for canidates. I feel as if many churches are looking for a Rock Star with tremendous preaching skills that will halt the decline of thier church and attract new people. Some of these churches take years to interview or  hire someone.  I know hiring a pastor is a big deal. But have to many churches followed the corprate mindset? Whatever happend to humility and trust ,knowing there is no perfect canidate but that we should trus int the grace of God.

2.  I have heard from a few people that some churches are  "trying out" canidates for a few months before they offically call them .This might work for the church but it would cause great stress on the canidate and his/her family .Imagine moving to Iowa from Grand Rapids all for the chance that you might be hired eventually .David ,is this a trend you know anything about?

3. I often hear from people in the denomination and  the seminary of the great need for pastors and that thier are many churches that are empty .I have found out that many of these churches are vacant because they either cant afford a pastor or DONT want to hire a pastor .I know several vacant churches in West Michigan that didnt call a pastor for years because they had a steady stream of retired pastors ,Calvin seminary Profs and sem students who could preach. I think it would be best for everyone and for the denomination to do a study to see how many pastors the denomination would actually need in the next decade .The study could take into account the demographics of the denomination ,church vacancies and Seminary graduation rates.

Here are a few observations for future canidates.

1. The denomination does not owe you a job .Congrats on getting all A's but that does not mean you are going to get a call as a pastor .I have talked to a handful of graduates and some seem to expect to be handed a position. Sorry. it doesnt work that way. Also, take seriously what the canidadcy committee and your proffesors and even fellow classmates tell you about your shortcomings or things you need to work on such as preaching or pastoral care .Don't ingore good advice or wise counsel .It could very well mean getting a future position as a pastor or not.

2. Be wide open to where you will work. Too many canidates only want to be in an urban area or they will only accept a call to west michigan because their spouse wants to keep thier job.  People in Iowa and Montana need pastors too. If these churches show interest in you, be gracefull in your response. Dont say no right away. Maybe God is going to do something great with you in their church.

3. Don't act like your life finally starts once you get a call. Dont let your life revolve around looking for letters from churches in the mail or scanning the jobs section in The Bannar. Live life ,volunteer ,go camping, enjoy this time with your family ,get a job in the workforce. Even though you dont have a call yet ,God is still using you in his kingdom!

These are just some observations I have. Love to hear what others think!

We want to hear from you.

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

Add Your Post