Disability Ministry: The Church’s Great Frontier

I write this month not only as a worship leader in a congregation, but also as the provider of Spiritual Services for an organization that offers services for people with mental and physical disabilities. One of my responsibilities in this position is to stay in conversation with congregations and leaders about ministering to people with […]

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Strengthening Churches

Sitting in the middle of a church one night as a young girl, I watched as passionate people yelled and argued, some cried, as their church unity had weakened. These people could not get along. A split followed, a new church planted and young children looked around wondering why people could not just love one […]

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Don’t Give Up

I just passed the 30-year mark of full-time ministry to my calling from the Lord. I cannot believe I just wrote the number 30! Often times over the past 30 years I have wanted to quit, bail, run, hide, stop, move, etc. Ministry is hard. However, I can now say with confidence, quitting is almost […]

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Strong Leadership Development Systems

Encouraging Reminders for Effective Leaders Here are some simple reminders a mentor gave to me years ago as snapshots of some of the things effective leaders do. Please share these ideas with younger leaders in your sphere of influence and share your stories connected to these ideas.Have fun! Know the difference between leading and managing.Warren […]

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Singleness, Marriage, and the Church

Through the years I have heard many people claim that the contemporary American church does not know “what to do” with single people and often either intentionally or unintentionally marginalizes them. Sermons on marriage are preached and special marriage classes are offered, and churches have numerous ministries that focus on children and families; these are […]

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Do Something Dangerous

One of our family’s favorite movies is “Dudley Do-Right” based on a cartoon with a Canadian Mountie as the main character. The Canadian Mountie is a legendary figure with “Maintien le Droit,” or “uphold the right” as his motto. The responsibilities of the Mountie called for bravery, heroism, and strength. They were fearless and they […]

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How to Make Smart Staffing Decisions

Three weeks ago I participated in my first Purpose Driven Church Conference in Lake Forest, CA with Pastor Rich Warren as the host.  Wow! Practical, purposeful, encouraging and inspiring with lots of ideas shared. In this post I simply share one of the 45 minute breakout sessions dealing with choosing the right leaders as staff. […]

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Examining the Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality

The 2018 General Synod of the Reformed Church in America commended the Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality to churches and classes for “reflection, study, and response … as a means of deepening our understanding of the biblical teaching on human sexuality and finding a pathway forward toward unity in mission and ministry.” (The […]

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Wow, that is a long hashtag, and by the way, don’t look for it on Twitter, because I am not much of a twitter guy.  However, I am a guy who is deeply concerned about the political and racial divide in our country.  We have seen this divide most recently in the emotionally charged issue […]

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Reflection on the RCA General Synod 2018

Reflection on the RCA General Synod 2018 A little over a week ago I returned from the RCA’s General Synod held at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Being asked to write on my experience has forced me to intentionally reflect on the experience. I would boil my summary down to two words: Cautiously Optimistic. […]

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Reflection on the RCA General Synod 2018 A little over a week ago I returned from the RCA’s General Synod held at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Being asked to write on my experience has forced me to intentionally reflect on the experience. I would boil my summary down to two words: Cautiously Optimistic. I chose those words because there were elements that gave me great hope for the future of my denomination, one I have been part of since birth. But there were other elements that really left me questioning the viability of the RCA continuing in a healthy, God-honoring way for the long haul.

Elements that gave me hope:

  1. Interim General Secretary, Don Poest, gave his “State of the Denomination” address and included a call for the formation of a committee which would figure out a way forward for our denomination and present their findings to General Synod 2020. While this could be another effort to “kick the can down the road,” it felt to me that the delegates were desiring for this to truly be progress toward a day of being able to focus on preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ instead of arguing the authority and interpretation of Scripture as it pertains to human sexuality. Don’s recommendation passed by a large margin.
  2. The Leaders. During this General Synod, we affirmed and installed a new General Secretary, a new President, and a Vice President. I believe all of these men: Rev. Eddie Aleman, Elder James Nakakihara, and Rev. E J de Waard hold an orthodox view of Scripture. I am excited to have their influence in the RCA.
  3. The Great Lakes Catechism on Marriage and Sexuality was referred to the Commission on Theology and churches and classes. There was a movement to have it be referred only to the Commission, but that was defeated. I am glad that our denomination will be hearing from more voices than just those of the Commission who I fear will only try to negate or neuter the Catechism.
  4. Meeting with the CRCNA. Our sister denomination held their General Synod at Calvin during the same time frame. There were opportunities for us to worship together and meet to discuss further partnerships up to, and including, joining back together. (I believe that will be one of the ways forwarded presented by 2020 committee.) It was good to be together and be reminded that the Kingdom is larger than our corner of it.

Elements that have me cautious:

  1. Don Poest’s recommendation. While overall it gives me hope, there is a part of me that fears this will just be “kicking the can down the road” or that the committee’s recommendation will be to maintain status quo.
  2. General Synod Professors of Theology. There was an overture to create a mechanism to evaluate this fourth office in the RCA. It was defeated. I believe it was defeated because many who were against it, including the Professors themselves, argued there already exists a mechanism to do this, discipline. The basic argument was that if there were issues, they should be brought up on charges at General Synod. My feeling is that the proposal could have been more pastoral and conversational in nature than the confrontational charges.
  3. Delegates. This was my third General Synod in a row. For the previous two years I felt that the makeup of the delegates reflected the reported balance of the RCA and that votes overwhelmingly favored orthodoxy. This year I was surprised by the amount of opposing voices and where they came from. Classes I assumed to be orthodox had pro Room for All delegates. Votes were closer than I would have liked them to be. Something that has been evident for all three years is that younger voices, corresponding delegates from the Youth Commission or Seminary Seminar, do not seem to hold orthodox beliefs.

Again, I am cautiously optimistic regarding the future of the RCA. However, it is a great comfort to know our hope is not in a denomination, but in a Savior who has overcome the world! He has created a church against which He promises the Gates of Hell will not prevail!

For more info, and the RCA’s interpretation, you can find it here.