2104 Campbell Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Office: (815) 464-9181
Mobile: (765) 237-7678
President: Bob Wierenga (Wisconsin)
Vice President: Jason DeVries (New Thing)
Past President: Edie Lenz (Illinois)
The Regional Synod of Mid-America’s Annual Session is Tuesday, April 24. Please be in prayer for this important annual meeting with delegates from around the synod.
Flourishing Churches Grant – Many RCA churches have thriving ministries but lack the financial resources for necessary building improvements. The Flourishing Churches Grant provides funding for the facility upgrades RCA churches need to continue and grow their ministries. Six grants of up to $50,000 are available to RCA churches. To find out more, click HERE.
“Reading the Verbs: Finding the Script in the Scripture” with Dr. Anna Carter Florence, June 25 – 29, 2018. The Wisconsin Council of Churches annually holds the Washington Island Forum which is especially tailored to lay leaders and pastors who want to deepen their spirituality and connect with the message of the scriptures in a more profound way. Learn more and register here.
Ridder: Churches Leading Change is re-launching in our region this fall. This transformational process has been going through significant changes since its inception in 2010. Change in the church is hard. RCLC will help you keep your focus on mission while navigating the adaptive challenges of leading change. Whether you were a previous participant in the Ridder Church Renewal process or have never even heard about it, we would like to invite you to an informational online/conference call meeting on May 1 at noon Central. You will hear about what to expect from the process, stories of transformation from previous participants, details, and have an opportunity to ask questions. If you’d like to watch a short video the Regional Synod of the Heartland put together on the impact of Ridder, click HERE. If you would like to sign up for one of these informational meetings click HERE. For any questions, please email Chad.
The Regional Synod of Mid-America’s Ministerial Excellence Fund. The purpose of this Fund is to assist with alleviating some of the financial pressures facing clergy in their pastoral ministry. This fund is made available to both Ministers of Word and Sacrament and Commissioned pastors rostered in Illinois Classis, Wisconsin Classis, and Illiana-Florida Classis. Each classis began this fund with $10,000 which was matched by the Reformed Church in America for a total starting balance of $20,000 per classis. You will need to download and read the Ministerial Excellence Guidelines prior to filling out an application. Once the application is filled out, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
News from Camp Manitoqua Come partner with other volunteers at Manitoqua Ministries’ 14th Annual Camp Work Day. The Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center and King’s Camp work day is scheduled for Saturday, April 21, 2018. Lunch is provided. Visit Manitoqua.org/workday for more information. Please RSVP by April 11 for Camp Manitoqua to 815.469.2319 or for King’s Camp call 815.645.8277.
Set aside Saturday, June 2, 2018 for our ‘Spring Into Summer’ event at Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center with a 12,000’ family friendly obstacle run, swimming, food, and activities for kids and adults alike, as we kick off our 2018 summer camp season. Invitations with details will be forthcoming in April or visit Manitoqua.org/springintosummer.
STORIES OF CELEBRATION
We share stories of celebration to glorify God. This month’s story celebrates the work of God in the closing of Faith Church Valparaiso and the new life God birthed. If you’d like to share what God is doing in your church (or classis), please email Chad.
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.”
– Seneca, Roman Philosopher
That’s the reality being lived out at Liberty Bible Church’s new multisite campus in Valparaiso, Indiana. Faith Church (Dyer, IN) is a multisite church with 6 campuses spread across Illinois and Northwest Indiana. Each campus is unique in their make-up and location as well as their struggles. For the past 9 years Faith’s campus in Valparaiso, Indiana had struggled, both numerically and financially. As the second multisite launch for Faith, Valparaiso served as a learning experience for Faith in both enfolding of another church body as well as purchasing a campus building. But the reality was always looming that this little campus, 45 minutes away from the main location was not self sufficient, and the difficult decision was reached to shutter that location.
In the process of seeking options, other Evangelical churches in the Valparaiso area were contacted, one of which was Liberty Bible Church an EFCA church in Chesterton, the neighboring town to the north. Liberty had grown to 1700 members, pulling from all across the region, and had planned a future multisite campus in the Valparaiso area over the next couple of years. Sensing God’s movement, and wanting to extend care to the 103 members of the Faith Valparaiso campus, Liberty agreed to consider enfolding the church. After much prayer and consideration, Liberty tentatively agreed to enfold Faith Valpo, effective after the planned close date.
“Faith has been so kind and generous through this whole process.” said Brad Haitsma, pastor of the Faith Valparaiso campus and interim pastor for Liberty. “Their willingness to work with this other church for the preservation and protection of these people has been great.” In a search of their current database, Liberty found there were over 100 families that passed the Valparaiso Campus every weekend headed to their location. “We’re excited to watch these two church families become a blended family here in Valpo” Haitsma added. “We’re currently seeing double our normal attendance and it’s brought a new energy and enthusiasm to impact Northwest Indiana with the gospel. It’s great to not see other regional churches as ‘competition’ but realize that we’re all on the same team to reach disconnected people for Christ.”
THOUGHTS FROM WAYNE
Essential Questions for Leadership Focus…
Have you ever come to the end of the day, all worn out, but wondering what have I accomplished? Coach Wooden had a saying, “Never confuse activity with achievement.” Life without focus is wasted time for what God is calling us as His servants to be and do. Unfocused pastors and church leaders drive everyone crazy including themselves. What’s even worst is that when we have the wrong focus it usually guarantees the wrong results. Distraction is easy; just do whatever you want whenever you want. But focus demands the courage to exclude things that really don’t matter and do more of what matters most.
When the Apostle Paul was writing to the churches in Galatia, he gave them four points of focus as they walked the journey of faith: “…walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), “…be led by the Spirit (5:18), “…the fruit of the Spirit is – keep in step with the Spirit (5:22), and “…live by the Spirit (5:25)”. The church leaders and people in Galatia had abandoned their focus of ministry in their lives and it showed up in the way they treated each other. They were back biting, criticizing and shaming one another; they were provoking one another to angry and envying one another. Some of the people had turned back to the law to save them. It was Christ who had set them free. But without the continual sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in their lives they were turning back to the law trying to live life by self effort. The leaders of the church had lost their focus. They had lost their dependence on God’s spirit within them to shape their leadership in the roles and responsibilities they had in the church. The Apostle Paul was encouraging them with these four points of wisdom to walk and lead in the journey of faith.
Ralph Mayhew encourages pastors and church leaders to ask themselves these 7 questions to set a path, to which the Holy Spirit can both hold us accountable and accompany us in our leadership focus.
1) “What is God calling you to stop? Are you in a position where you can let go of something? Maybe today is a great opportunity to reset your calendar ministry engagement and ask this important question: What dead horses are you still riding that you need to dismount? Sometimes this means ceasing a habit, a dead program, a destructive behavior, or a tired ministry. Sometimes God asks us to stop something that is good but is no longer serving God’s vision, distracting you or others or holding you back from investing energy or resources elsewhere. 2) What is God calling you to start? Within the rhythm of your organization or ministry, is there an opportunity to start something new? Maybe it is a new initiative, habit, or ministry. In doing so, you can increase your energy, bring focus to your work and have an easy to remember time marker against which to evaluate your fruitfulness. Starting something can often fill you with enthusiasm, passion and excitement. Don’t fall into the trap of starting something new because you’re feeling lethargic, bored or depressed. You’ll only add to your load and burn out sooner. Only start what furthers your vision, reinforces your culture and compliments your value. 3) How is God asking you to slow down? The demands of leadership are always increasing if you are leading effectively. The more you have, the more you need to do, the faster you feel you are moving. A fast pace cannot be sustained, and if consistent, will take from you more than you realize until it’s gone. Slowing down often leads us to look inwardly. Why do we crave the adrenaline? What is my pace taking from my family and me? What’s the benefit of slowing my life down? 4) How is God asking you to increase your intentionality? Intentionality is doing specific things with focused purpose. When too many things occupy our agendas, it becomes very difficult to remain intentional. Take some time to evaluate all you are doing. Ask yourself if everything required or expected of you is actually necessary. From what remains, measure if your current engagement in those things is as intentional as it should be. It’s easy to drift out of intentionality and not realize it’s happened. 5) What are you going to do about making disciples? Jesus’ final words in Matthew issued us with a charge to go and make disciples. It is the central calling of Christian ministry. What is your plan and strategy to make disciples? It doesn’t happen by accident, but it can happen if you are prepared to make it happen. Thinking through how you will be strategic will serve you and those you lead well as the year unfolds. 6) How will you inspire others in their Biblical leadership? Making disciples doesn’t happen by accident. Take some time to think and pray through who you can invest in and what that investment will look like. A key part of being able to lead others well is leading yourself well. Part of your answer to this question should involve how you intend to lead yourself better. 7) How will you guard yourself against sin? Every leader is as susceptible to sin as those we lead. The difference is when a leader is conquered by sin, those they lead are deeply affected too. The three big categories to be on your guard against are Money, Sex and Power. Guarding yourself against sin needn’t be a difficult process. It might be as simple as confessing your sin to a friend and having them hold you accountable. Maybe limit your exposure to a particular environment or influence. If you take the time to answer these questions seriously and deeply, the quality of your ministry and leadership will only increase.”
I have to answer these questions for myself. How would you answer these questions for yourself? Which question gives you the most difficulty? With which question have you had the most success? Finding focus begins a journey toward authenticity that ends in faithful service to Christ and others.
— Wayne Van Regenmorter
LINKS YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL
Goal Focused Evaluation – Developing a regular practice of evaluation can calm fears and actually boost effectiveness. Staff evaluations are often dreaded or just done to meet a guideline. How can they become tools to better live into who God made us to be?
How to Deal with Criticism – Chuck Lawless writes: “I don’t like criticism. I don’t like it when someone negatively critiques my sermon, my blogs, my teaching, or anything else. I want to be humble and teachable, but I still struggle every time criticism happens. So, I’m still learning to do these things that help me in those times…”
Leading without Agendas – Many leaders enter important situations without their own agenda they want to see implemented. This article is about becoming free from these attachment agendas. There are steps we can take to become more aware of the agendas that drive us. When we recognize them, we weaken their control.
Five Things that Keep Churches from Change – Ed Stetzer writes: “it is helpful to understand why churches resist change. I want to look at some of the things that lead to crisis, understanding that if the signs are recognized early enough, it may not come to drastic measures.”