10088 Prairie Knoll Ct.
St. John, IN 46373
Mobile: (941) 302-1281
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)
RCA Global Mission WILL RESPOND to the urgent needs created by Hurricane Harvey. The RCA’s disaster response and volunteer teams will be meeting and are already connecting with our partners to determine the most effective ways that we can respond and how you and your congregations can be a part of that response. Please pray for our team as we seek the best ways to help. If you would like to contact the team to see how you can help, click here.
A Poverty Simulation Event will take place on September 9 at Calvary Reformed Church in South Holland. This three-hour (9am-noon) simulation is a unique opportunity to put yourself in the shoes of people who experience poverty. As you grow to understand this population better, you’ll also grow in your ability to minister to them. Many church members do not have opportunity to identify and unpack their feelings and assumptions about poverty. Neither do they often explore how their ministries fit within lifestyles influenced by poverty. This simulation opens doors so that more mutually transformational relationships can be nurtured. Plus, there’s no cost to attend. There’s only space for 40 people to participate, so sign up today to ensure you get a spot. Registration will close August 31.
Urban Ministry Grants from the Regional Synod of Mid-America are for ministries to, in, and/or for areas considered urban in geography of our regional synod. The minimum criterion is that it is a ministry to, in, and/or for the urban area with a vision, plans, and goals for outreach into the community. Those ministries applying for a grant that aren’t in a traditionally geographic urban setting should take into account that the ideal of the grant is that it be used for those living in geographically urban areas, multi-cultural areas, and lower socio-economic areas. The synod’s goal is to see lives changed through the work of Christ and the Gospel. 2018 will be the last year for Urban Ministry Grantsand the deadline to apply is September 29, 2018. You can read the guidelines and download an application by clicking here.
The General Secretary Search Team has been chosen and Rev. Dr. Matthew Waterstone from First Reformed Church in South Holland has been named to the team. The General Synod Council is continuing to develop clarity about what’s needed in the next general secretary, and they will share that direction with the search team when it is finalized. The search team is expected to present a candidate to GSC in time for consideration at General Synod in June 2018. Please be in prayer for Matt and the rest of the team.
“Church finances don’t have to be overwhelming.” That’s the catchphrase of Church Excel, offered through the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. Thanks to a grant we received, you can subscribe for free to access tons of resources: webinars, ebooks, tax guides, and more.
The Regional Synod of Mid-America has launched the 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 email@example.com.
The Classis of Wisconsin-R.C.A. is in need of an Interim Classis Leader due to current Classis Leader, The Rev. Lyle Zumdahl, accepting another call. This is a short-term, part-time position. The main function is to assist the Servant Team in maintaining the Classis functions while we seek God’s leading for the future of our Classis and how it should be led. The Primary Duties give a fuller description of the types of duties we are asking the Interim to fulfill. If you are interested in receiving a job description and applying for this position, please contact the Wisconsin Classis Clerk.
Reclaiming the Gates is a new 6-week training program for men high-school-aged and older involves 45 minutes of instruction and 45 minutes of small group interaction. Our vision is to empower men to empower leaders of the next generation. To accomplish this vision, we must:
Identify those men who want to be a part of the solution of building the next generation of leaders.
Equip them to heal from the wounds that hinder them from helping.
Inform these men of opportunities to to serve young men.
Deploy them to areas where they can make a difference.
Contact Jason Perry about leading your Men’s Group or young men through this 6-week series.
News from Camp Manitoqua Save the Date: Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center is organizing its first Project MTB. From September 23 – 25, those 18 years and older can enjoy an adventurous mountain biking experience in the upper peninsula of Michigan at Copper Harbor. Additional information can be read at Manitoqua.org/projectmtb. If interested, please email Nathan@manitoqua.org or call the office at 815-469-2319.
STORIES OF CELEBRATION
We share stories of celebration to glorify God. This month’s story comes from Revs. Brandon and Stephanie Smith from Heartland Community Church in Lafayette, IN. We hope these stories inspire and encourage others in our region. If you’d like to share what God is doing in your church (or classis), please email Chad.
An 82-year old and a 28-year old walk into a church. The older gentleman comes out of habit. His friends are there. His family is there. This is his church. The emerging adult comes out of desperation. His friends are not there. His family is nowhere in sight. This doesn’t feel like his church. After the service, the 82-year old tries to be helpful and addresses the young man: “When I was your age…” He goes on to list his cultural achievements. “I was married, had a steady job, bought my first house, had a couple children. Don’t worry, you’ll get there eventually.” But he may not. The cultural rules have changed. And the attempt at helpfulness is perceived as a cruel accusation that sums up what the emerging adult already feels about himself: “You are not enough.”
While this story is an exaggerated case of what most often happens in our churches, it’s true enough. That’s why the church my wife and I pastor, Heartland Community Church, needs help. To our delight (and surprise!), the RCA provides such help through the ministry of Rick Zomer, the RCA’s Coordinator for Next Generation Engagement. Rick recently led our church, along with two other area pastors, through a conversation on emerging adults. After discussing why our language matters – and why not to use the phrase “when I was your age” – Rick walked us through a strategic framework of engagement. The strategy is three-fold: 1) Create a shared understanding of the world, 2) connect with young people, and 3) commit to ministry with (not to) young people.
We learned how the young people of today grow up in a drastically different context then the young person from generations before. We were challenged to think about how young people are not addicted to technology, but to relationships. We were reminded that are job is not to try to be cool. Nor do we need to worry when it gets awkward. Our divine calling is not to be perfect, but to be present. To try. To commit to showing up, coming alongside, discipling, and loving. That’s a winning strategy. God can work with that…and God will.
Following this “Next Gen Connection Event,” which I’ve just described, we are now discerning next steps. At Rick’s invitation, we are eagerly exploring the possibility of starting a learning community with a couple other area churches. The invitation is extended to you as well. Let us commit to loving one another – including our emerging adults – since Christ first loved us.
If you are interested in finding out more about Next Generation Connection Events or exploring the possibility of being in a learning community, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
THOUGHTS FROM WAYNE
Leading in an Era of Divisiveness and Disrespect…
I attended this year’s Global Leadership Summit (GLS) at one of the church sites, and Bill Hybels in his first presentation spoke to the challenge of leading in “an era of divisiveness and disrespect.” This is a very relevant topic as we remember that on the morning of June 14, U. S. Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot while practicing for the annual congressional baseball game between Democrats and Republicans – one of the few occasions for which Congress people can get together on anything. And then more recently a 32-year-old woman was killed and 20 others injured when a speeding car slammed into a throng of white nationalists and counter protesters who attacked each other in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is quite evident that we are living in an era of deepening racial, ethnic, and religious divisiveness and disrespect.
At the GLS, Hybels reminded us that we seem to be living in an era of increased disrespect for women and a widening gap between the rich and the poor. He cited that the use of social media, which was birthed as a communication for friends, now threatens “to drown us in cesspools of vitriol”. “Cable news and talk radio have devolved into shouting matches. Politicians in many places of the world spend more time berating each other than solving the problems they were elected to address.” One must wonder “where this path of increased division and disrespect might take us,” he said.
In doing research on this topic Hybels cited Christine Porath’s book on Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace as being especially helpful to him. According to a series of research studies done by Porath, incivility in the office chips away at all areas of a company’s well-being. According to a survey of U. S. workers back in 1998, 25% of all employees experienced rude or disrespectful treatment on the job at least once a week. That same survey was given in 2005 and it revealed that nearly 50% of U. S. workers had been treated rudely once a week. In 2015, the results were much worse. The research showed that everyone who experiences incivility responds in a negative way. So there are costs related in incivility, “far more than soft costs,” Hybels said. Over 50% of the workers of these studies confessed that they deliberately decreased their effort or lowered the quality of their work until a particular issue got resolved. In addition, 25% of disrespected workers confessed that they take their frustrations out on their customers. Maybe that explains some things in your shopping experience in the marketplace?
I wonder if it explains some things to us as leaders who work with volunteers in the church. What happens to the volunteers we work with when they feel disrespected? What happens to a pastor when he or she feels disrespected by a consistory member or other members in a church? Does that explain some things when we struggle to build a vibrant and thriving church that lives and loves like Jesus? How do we as pastors and church leaders lead in an era of mounting divisiveness and disrespect? What is the solution? Hybels said, “The solution has to begin with me. It starts with who am I as a leader and pastor and what do I stand for. How I ask people to behave who are under my influence really matters.” As we say in Ridder often, I am only responsible for myself – for leading myself first. That’s about all we can control in this world if we want to be on the solution side of the incivility problem.
Hybels reminded church leaders that people of faith believe that every single human being is made in the image of the Most High God and therefore has intrinsic value and intrinsic dignity. We who have faith do not get to choose who we respect because the Bible states with clarity, in I Peter 2:17, “Show proper respect to everyone…” (NIV). He then shared “Ten Rules of Respect that Every Leader Must Obey”:
Leaders must set the example of how to differ with others without demonizing them. We can have different opinions, but can’t we differ with each other without demonizing each other?
Leaders must set the example of how to have spirited, animated conversations without it getting personal.
Leaders must not interrupt others who are talking and must not dominate the conversation.
Leaders must set the example of limiting their volume levels and refusing to use incendiary or belittling words that guarantee to derail a discussion.
Leaders must set the example of being courteous in word and deed to everyone at every level.
Leaders must never stereotype. It hurts everyone.
Leaders must apologize immediately when they are wrong instead of denying or doubling down.
Leaders must form opinions carefully as opposed to just spouting off opinions they heard on a talk show. They have to stay open to additional information. If leaders are leaders of integrity they must change their position if new information or data comes their way.
Leaders must set the example of showing up when they say they are going to show up. They have to do what they say they are going to do.
Leaders must set rules of respect for everyone in the organization they lead and they must enforce them relentlessly.
I wonder, when was the last time you reflected deeply about your own convictions regarding respecting others? When was the last time you searched the Scriptures to clearly define what kind of church God wants you to be or to lead? Everyone in the church or in the place you serve is looking to you for clarity on this matter. What price are you willing to pay to call people to a higher level of civility that will impact your community and world in an era of increased divisiveness and disrespect? Do you have a written code of respect for consistory meetings or other church meetings? Do you have a written code of respect that all members of teams sign and adhere to? Let’s journey with each other as we seek to understand each other in uncomfortable territory. Let’s treat each other with respect and civility.
— Wayne Van Regenmorter
LINKS YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL
Reflective Leadership Is Key to Transformation – This business article uses the language of employees but can easily translate to church members. If we want to lead effectively in today’s culture we must reflect inwardly to understand how the changing face of the culture must inspire change in how they lead. By placing the emphasis on leading with purpose, church leaders can inspire engagement more effectively.
Pastors, Hit the Refresh Button – Every pastor who still wants to be in the ministry five years from now needs to take a day or two off each quarter to hit the “refresh” button. The most valuable assets we have, after all, aren’t our offices, computers, books and other tangible resources. Instead, our greatest assets are intangible–our creative souls.
Vision: What Difference Do You Want to Make? – Congregations and institutions must name a vision and choose priorities that support it. Otherwise, they risk muddying their missions, weakening their impact, and confusing stakeholders, funders, and staff.
Measuring Ministry Impact Takes Years – Your supporters might want to see immediate results. But your role as an institutional leader is to focus conversations around long-term impact and vision.
Budgeting Toward the Sweet Spot – When creating your budget, think of it as the speedometer in your car. If you budget too high, you run the risk of overspending on things you don’t need and wasting what you could otherwise reserve. If you budget too low, you create limits for yourself that could hold up the traffic of church projects. This article guides us toward more effective budgeting in churches.
The Best Way To Evaluate Your Church – Are you evaluating your church? What lenses are you looking through as you evaluate? Most often we evaluate by our own personal preferences but what if we instead looked at church through the eyes of who we might invite?