Dear Friends: Last Tuesday we dropped our oldest son off for his first year of college. If you’ve ever done that, you know how hard it is to leave your child on their own for the first time and drive away. On the way home I had some time to reflect, and without patting myself and my wife on the back, I became very aware that we did a pretty good job raising him. I’m proud of him and know he’s going to do great, but I’m also very aware that my wife and I didn’t raise him on our own. Wonderful people from each church we’ve served have helped raise him. He’s had great teachers in school that have helped raise him. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, family – all have helped raise him. And most importantly, God has helped raise him. God has given us the wisdom we’ve needed to help guide him through life – we’ve made mistakes, certainly – but God has given all of us grace. And it’s trust in God and his grace that lets me know that he is still being raised and taken care of even though he’s an hour and a half away from me now. For that, I give thanks to God! — Chad
General Synod 2021 will meet October 14–19 at the Westin La Paloma in Tucson, Arizona. For answers to questions about this change, click HERE. Please begin praying for General Synod.
The RSMA and Churches Learning Change is partnering together to have 3 webinars this summer and fall to help churches engage difficult conversations in a healthier way. We believe these tools can help churches navigate not only denominational questions but also all aspects to church life where they may be disagreement.
The first one about Container Conversations was helpful to our pastors and leaders and can be watched HERE. If you’d like the notes or powerpoint, please contact Chad.
The second one on Remaining Authentic in Hard Conversations will be on September 9 at noon Central. Click HERE to bookmark the link for that conversation.
The third will be on Keeping Integrity in Hard Conversations and held on November 4 at noon Central. Click HERE to bookmark the link for that conversation
Everybody Belongs, Serving Together – This comprehensive online guide to church accessibility and inclusive ministry will help your church embrace people with disabilities, not only as recipients of God’s love, but as partners in ministry. This guide features a plethora of new insights, resources, and tips for becoming an inclusive church. Check it out by clicking HERE.
ONE Voice – an online gathering for worship and stories from Council for Hispanic Ministries, African American Black Council, Council for Pacific Asian American Ministries, and the Council for Native American Ministries will be held August 26, from 12:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. CDT. Special keynote guests are Efrem Smith and Donecia Norwood-Smith. Register HERE to get the Zoom link.
Generation Spark gives church leaders a research-based action plan not only to retain youth and adults, but also to attract and to fully integrate them into the life and leadership of the church. Generation Spark is all about creating intergenerational relationships—authentic, safe, non-threatening intergenerational relationships—and it avoids forced interactions by using a unique problem-solving approach. If this piques your interest, there is more good news: Generation Spark is completely FREE for any faith community interested in participating in 2021–2022. Please note that we do have limited capacity. Learn more about Generation Spark and sign up on our website. Do not wait—applications are due September 15!
Discipleship Learning Community – The Reformed Church in America Discipleship team and Guiding Coalition invites you to join us as we partner with 3DM (3dmovements.com) in a 2-year Learning Community where teams from participating churches will journey together to build a disciple-making mindset and culture. Through four 1.5-day training immersions and weekly coaching, you’ll experience proven vehicles for discipleship and mission, evaluate your current realities of what is, and look to where God is calling your church into what could be and what will be. Register by October 1 HERE.
New Discipleship Tool – click HERE to read a blog post from the RCA’s Lead Coordinator for Discipleship and take the personal discipleship self-assessment. This self-assessment may help kickstart your growth as a disciple of Jesus.
Free Christian Counseling for Pastors and Church Employees – The RCA’s Board of Benefits Services Employee Assistance Program provides free, confidential Christian counseling either at at an outpatient clinic in your area or via an online telehealth session. Up to 3 sessions per issue are provided at no cost to any employee of an RCA church. Some common issues addressed are depression, anxiety, work-related problems, marital issues, family issues, substance abuse, and others. The 24 hour hotline number is (833) 244-2490. For more information click HERE.
NEWS FROM CAMP MANITOQUA
To get the most up to date information about Camp Manitoqua, please check out their updates HERE.
LINKS YOU MAY FIND USEFUL
3 Indicators of a Thriving Rural Congregation – Rural churches are often one of only a few permanent stakeholders in a community. They can see how God has been and is at work in the community, and they are eager to join in with that work. Allen Stanton says rural churches need better indicators of what it means to thrive. He outlines three characteristics of vital rural congregations able to lead the wider community toward the Kingdom of God.
What Churches Need to Start (and Stop) Measuring – With hybrid church (physical + digital ministry) as the new standard, how do you measure what happened at church last week? Measurements matter only insofar as they help you assess the extent to which you’re accomplishing your mission. And, what you measure shows what is important to you.
3 Ways to Define Reality and Give Hope as You Lead – Max Depree said that the first job of a leader is to “define current reality.” During the pandemic that has carried a new weight for our leaders and churches. Sometimes, however, defining reality can be daunting because it is difficult to find hope within that reality. This article may help you find hope as you lead and define current reality.
Simple Outreach Ministry Ideas and Tips for Getting Started – The RCA’s Coordinator for Local Missional Engagement, Eliza Cortes Bast writes, “Outreach ministry is the practice of looking beyond yourself to the people around you and sharing the love of Christ as you serve and connect with your community. This doesn’t require a big budget or a five-year plan. You can simply start with whatever is in your hand that you can offer to your neighbor.”
Staying on Mission in the Age of Outrage – Though technology can bring us closer together, it also has the power to drive us apart and bring out the worst in us. Technology has created interpersonal opportunity, but also depersonalized communication and conflict, dividing many of us from our neighbors. This article can be insightful as you look to stay on mission when people don’t agree and may be in conflict.