Praying for the RCA Special Council on Human Sexuality – In April, a special council of 74 RCA members will gather in Chicago. Their mandate is to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to discern “a constitutional pathway forward for the Reformed Church in America to address the questions of human sexuality as it relates to ordination and marriage.” Together, the Reformed Church in America is entering into a time of wisdom, discernment, and decision-making as we seek the leading of God for us as a church. Join others in prayerful preparation for this special council. Each day you will receive a devotional written by an RCA leader delivered to your email box that will help focus your prayer time as we seek God’s leading together. To join in prayer or for more information, click HERE.
Honoring Our Stories – All women are invited to “Honoring Our Stories”, a one day Women’s Retreat to be held at Downers Grove Community Church, from 10 am-4 pm on April 16. Lively music, prayerful reflection, interactive workshops, and meaningful fellowship will be led by:
Rev. Liz Testa, denominational leader
for RCA Women’s Transformation and Leadership
and Lesley Mazzotta, Director of Spiritual Formation for Community Reformed Church and
Christ Episcopal Church in Manhasset, N.Y.
The theme to encourage, equip and empower will guide the program for the day. Through interactive sessions, story-sharing and personal reflection, local women will connect, communicate and collaborate. Local leaders Rev. Marge Vander Wagen and Rev. Jewel Willis-Thomas warmly welcome you to join us on April 16. Registration will be at www.dgcc.org includes the retreat, lunch and snacks.
The Church on the Edge Forum – The Forum presenter on June 20 – 24, 2016 is Rev. Carol Howard Merritt, a Presbyterian (USA) minister whose writing, speaking, and teaching is anchored in theological wisdom and fresh sociological insight. She’s a sought-after keynote speaker, especially on the topic of ministering with a new generation of Christians.
When we look at our religious landscape, we can clearly see new growth arising in denominational churches, as people plant worshiping communities and revitalize existing congregations. While each gathering looks different, according to its context, there are patterns to the renewal. What are some common characteristics? What sort of needs are these churches meeting? What can existing churches learn from new congregations? We will explore these questions with Carol Howard Merritt, “Church in the Making” columnist for the Christian Century.
Rev. Carol Howard Merritt (@CarolHoward) is a Senior Consultant for the Center for Progressive Religion, the award-winning author of Tribal Church: Ministering to the Missing Generation (Alban) and Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation (Alban), and a frequent contributor to books, websites, magazines, and journals. She is a regular columnist at the Christian Century where her blog, “Tribal Church,” is hosted. A founder and host of UNCO, an open-space “unconference” that attracts church leaders across denominations, Carol is also known for co-hosting a thought-provoking podcast, God Complex Radio, with Rev. Derrick Weston. Visit: carolhowardmerritt.org
News from Camp Manitoqua
Camp Manitoqua’s Summer Camp 2016 registration continues. Price Break deadline for some overnight programs is March 31, 2016. Visit Manitoqua.org for more information and to register, or call our office at 815.469.2319.
Come partner with other volunteers at Manitoqua Ministries’ 13th Annual Camp Work Day. The Camp Manitoqua and Retreat Center and King’s Camp work day is scheduled for Saturday, April 16, 2016 Lunch is provided. Visit Manitoqua.org/workday for more information. Please RSVP by April 8 for Camp Manitoqua to 815.469.2319 or for King’s Camp to 815.645.8277.
Save the Date for Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center’s Spring into Summer Festivities, June 4. Enjoy an early start to the event with the 12,000’ Run – a family friendly obstacle course. Stay for swimming, food, jumpies, kids activities and a chance to meet the 2016 Summer Staff. This is an ideal chance for you to visit our grounds and enjoy some relaxing time with your family. More information available at manitoqua.org/springintosummer.
Renewal. Reprieve. Retreat. Come to Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center for your next retreat. Whether the event is for women, men or youth, we have a variety of day and overnight facilities and programs to accommodate your needs. From paintball, ropes course, food service and amenities, we can work with your group to build a memorable experience. Ask about the RCA discount available upon inquiry. Contact Ken at firstname.lastname@example.org or 815.469.2319.
…This month’s Celebration Story comes from Nate Pyle, pastor of Christ’s Community Church in Fishers, Indiana.
Two years ago our church needed some new ideas. Ministry was going well, but we weren’t sure what we should take on next. Should we focus on improving our children’s ministry? Perhaps we should attempt new outreach programs? Improve the worship experience? When it comes to improving ministry, there are any number of options. Not only are the many options, but there are many opinions about those options.
Rather than go around-and-around at our consistory meetings, we voted to work with a consultant. Daryl Cripe of Execheo.com came highly recommended by another RCA pastor, and so our consistory made the decision to move ahead with working with Daryl.
In the fall of 2014, fourteen congregational leaders and myself spent two-and-a-half days on a retreat. The purpose of the retreat was to gain a clear picture of where we have been as a church, where we are, and where we sensed God calling us. Daryl was a master at facilitating the conversation in a way that was fun as well as productive. He challenged us on some of our conclusions, pushed us to go farther, and helped all of us to see our church more objectively. In the end, we chose two strategic initiatives to focus on one the next year.
It get’s better.
What sold me on working with Daryl is that his work does not end when the retreat ends. At the retreat we identified two people who would lead teams assigned to the strategic initiatives. These teams were made up of those on the retreat who felt passionately about the initiatives as well as recruited congregational members. Daryl coached these teams for the first sixteen weeks after the retreat to ensure that they were working towards their objectives. Every eight weeks we had “Report Outs” where the teams reported on their progress, talked about where they were stuck, and updated us on any change of direction. Again, Daryl facilitated the first two report outs. Best of all? I, the pastor, was not a team leader or even on a team. My role was strictly advisory.
While many of the objectives stemming from our strategic initiatives were completed (implementation of a child check-in and security process, hosting neighborhood block parties, educational classes offered to the community, revamping our hospitality team, etc.) the best outcome was watching our congregational leaders take even more ownership. People who had not led were now leading. Others were excited to find themselves in a position to influence actual change at the church. All of this had a ripple effect. Thinking strategically about what we were doing and why we were doing it infiltrated consistory meetings. New teams were developed to solve old problems. As a whole, the vitality of the church increased.
Sometimes there’s a desire to want to do it all ourselves. Asking for help can be viewed as kind of failure. But sometimes we just need another set of eyes. Or perhaps it is better to say we need someone to hold the mirror far enough away so that we can see the whole picture. If your church is stuck, consider using a consultant or coach. It might just be the push your church needs.
*We share stories to celebrate what God is doing in the midst of the churches within our region. To share a story of celebration, please contact Chad Schuitema.
Wayne’s contact information:
10088 Prairie Knoll Ct.
St. John, IN 46373
Mobile: (941) 302-1281
The following are some links you may find helpful…
Trading Membership for Discipleship Helping Churches, Christians – Being a member, versus being a Christian, means doing a lot of things at church, serving on a committee, putting on events.Those things are good, but we fall into the trap of thinking that’s all our faith is about. Someone motivated by being a follower of Christ, on the other hand, seeks to practice their faith in all their affairs — however big or small and whether at church or not..
5 Things You Need to Get Something Done in Your City – Titus County Cares (TCC) is a faith-based organization founded in May 2005 that has been able to galvanize their community around several key needs of their area: food challenge, shelter, literacy, etc. They grew out of a repurposing of an old ministerial alliance involving just a few ministers into now a robust cross-domain collaboration of every sector of the town. Dozens of public, private, and social sector entities lend their time, money, and energy to various projects and ongoing programs of TCC. They have hundreds of volunteers assisting full-time staff members with these efforts, have developed a support base among a substantial donor pool of individuals, churches, businesses, and other organizations. Their active board has significant connections in every part of community life.
Why Information Is Not Enough for Discipleship – This video from Jo Saxton asks: “You can’t be what you don’t see. We get discipleship, but how many of us have seen it last more than one generation? Will we let people imitate our lives? Do I have a life worth imitating?”
What Can Your Church Do to be Better at Follow-Up – Once a church has been established for a certain period of time, it can be easy for pastor, elders, worship team members, ministry leaders, and members to fall into a routine pattern every week. Of course, having an order of worship and a structured way of conducting the church service is generally a positive thing, but when we become so attached to the normal patterns of how a church service plays out every week, we can miss ministry opportunities that may be hidden in plain sight: specifically, ministry to visitors, those who are not used to the normal order of how things work in our church.
A Quick Guide to Robert’s Rules of Order – In 1876, Army engineer Henry Martyn Robert published “Robert’s Rules of Order” to establish a firm set of guidelines for conducting meetings and making decisions. These rules of order still hold up, and here is a quick look at Robert’s formal meeting procedures and how they are used in meetings today.
Chad’s Contact Information:
2104 Campbell Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Office: (815) 464-9181
Mobile: (765) 237-7678
Ben Ingebretson has been facilitating the church planting movement since 2013.
Ben’s Contact Information:
765 Eastridge Dr. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Mobile: (616) 481-7566