2104 Campbell Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Office: (815) 464-9181
Mobile: (765) 237-7678
President: Jason DeVries (New Thing)
Vice President: Bob Wierenga (Wisconsin)
At-Large Members: Dale Buettner (Illiana-Florida), Scott Stephan (Illinois), Chad DeJager (Chicago)
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE REGIONAL SYNOD OF MID-AMERICA!
Youth Corresponding Delegate to General Synod 2020 Needed – If you know of any youth in your church that may be interested in being a youth delegate to General Synod 2020, please email Chad. In addition to participating in the regular business of the General Synod, the youth corresponding delegates meet together for discussion and equipping. It is anticipated that the youth delegates have given some thought about the possibility that God may be calling him or her to be a pastor or in some kind of active Christian ministry. That does not necessarily mean that a decision has been made. It is an intention of the participation in General Synod as a youth delegate to help that person discern hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice. General Synod 2020 is at Northwestern College (Orange City, IA) June 11-16, 2020. All expenses are paid for this trip.
Take the Vision 2020 Survey – The Vision 2020 Team has put together a survey asking for feedback.All feedback from survey participants will be kept anonymous, and the results will go to their independently contracted survey researcher, Dr. Megan Mullins, who has worked with them to both design the survey and analyze the results. All of your responses will be confidential. Dr. Mullins will only report out survey results in group format. This is such an important season of discernment for our denomination, and your feedback will aid the 2020 Vision Team as they work toward a final recommendation to the 2020 General Synod. Please take this survey by December 18 by clicking HERE.
Registration Closing December 18! The RCA’s Mission 2020 will be held in Orlando, FL January 16-18, 2020 (just 4 weeks away) and will be a festival to God’s goodness. Throughout the three-day event, attendees will celebrate God’s goodness over 377 years of mission and together imagine the future of RCA Global Mission. Registration is now open by visiting mission2020.rca.org.
The She is Called Leadership Collaborative (LC) is being offered in the Chicagoland area for all women feeling led to explore their gifts and grow in their callings as followers of Jesus Christ. This is a low-cost opportunity to get leadership development. Most of the meetings will take place via video conference to make this as accessible to all as possible. Rev. Jewel Willis Thomas will be leading this LC in our region and you can find out more by clicking HERE. The LC will begin in January, so sign up soon!
Growing Young Cohort forming – This yearlong process helps facilitate strategic planning in your worshiping community and uses six principles to help your congregation grow young. You will learn from leading voices and researchers at the Fuller Youth Institute, engage in collaborative learning with other congregations investing in the same work, and begin implementing new innovative strategies to engage the entirety of your church in intergenerational ministry. All this will be accomplished through coaching, webinars, and two in-person summits. Sign up closes January 10. Click HERE for more information.
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.
The 2020 RSMA Compensation Guidelines are available by clicking HERE. These guidelines have been approved by all classes and can help guide churches as they budget for this next year. Also available on this page of our website are helpful resources for church personnel committees.
There will be a Faithwalking Retreat on February 7-8, 2020 at Grace Valley CRC in German Valley, IL. (8210 E Edwardsville Rd, German Valley IL 61039). If anyone is interested in attending the cost is $50 and they can contact Scott Stephan for more information or to register.
NEWS FROM CAMP MANITOQUA Have a BLAST this winter break – Registration began October 1 for our WinterBlast day camp program, a break from school, not from fun, at Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center. Held during winter break for grades 1-6; featuring classic camp activities, winter snow games, hot lunches, and more. Online registration and additional information (including downloadable brochure) available atManitoqua.org/winterblast, or call our office at 815.469.2319.
SUMMER STAFF: Camp Manitoqua is looking for ministry-minded college aged students to work on staff for summer 2020 at Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center. Starting in November, applications for 2020 summer staff at Camp Manitoqua are available online at Manitoqua.org/jobs.
Stand Out Youth Leadership Retreat – Stand Out seeks to help answer questions about what it means to lead like Jesus did as a youth. During this high school leadership retreat, we will be focusing on many leadership topics with an emphasis on becoming a successful Christian leader. For more information, go to https://www.manitoqua.org/standout
THOUGHTS FROM WAYNE
Angels Appearing to Shepherds at Bethlehem…Why?
“And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock at night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear.” (Luke 2:8-9)
In the story of the birth of Jesus recorded in Luke 2:8-20, have you ever wondered why the angel suddenly appeared to the shepherds, who were watching their flocks of sheep like any other night. The common story is that these shepherds were poor, smelly, and dirty because they stayed in the fields continually. They were on the lower scale of society, merely scratching out as living as they always have done. These shepherds were the poorest of the poor, yet God chose to announce to them the good news of the greatest event in history – that God had become a human being, born in Bethlehem. The story goes on that it was God’s design to first appear to “the least of these” because it shows His heart to reach out to the have-nots of society before appearing to those with wealth and authority like the Roman Governor Quirinius or King Herod or even the Jewish high priest in the Temple.
Well, it is certainly true that God has a heart for those who are broken, the hurting, and the downcast of society, but what if “with the angel a multitude of the heavenly hosts” were praising God for even a greater reason.
Dr. John B. MacDonald, an associate with Outreach Canada, suggests the possibility that the shepherds recorded in Luke’s Gospel were not shepherds of ordinary sheep. He points to the Mishnah, which is a collection of documents that recorded oral traditions that governed the lives of Jewish people during the time of the Pharisees. One of the Mishnah’s regulations “expressly forbids the keeping of flocks throughout the land of Israel except in the wilderness – and the only flocks otherwise kept would be those for the Temple services.” (Bab K.7:7; 80a)
The shepherds recorded in Luke’s Gospel were in fields surrounding Jerusalem and Bethlehem, not out in the wilderness where the ordinary flocks of sheep were kept. Therefore MacDonald suggests, “according to Jewish regulations, the flocks under the care of the shepherds near Bethlehem must have been for the Temple-services. These shepherds watched over sheep destined as sacrifices in the Temple at Jerusalem.”
Just think about that. The possibility that these shepherds were watching over sheep to be used as a part of the animal sacrifice system for Passover and other Jewish ceremonies. That out of nowhere, breaking through a silent night, an angel appeared to the shepherds announcing that the time of animal sacrifices would soon end. That the promised Messiah the priests had heard about from the prophets was finally born. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior; who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) The offering of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, would be the ultimate and perfect sacrifice to pay for all sin, once and for all on the cross through His death and resurrection.
No wonder these shepherds, probably not fully aware of what was happening but hearing and seeing enough, let loose “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told the.” Luke 2:20) No wonder these shepherds ran “with haste”…” to go over to Bethlehem to see this thing that has happened.” (Luke 2:15b) I’d be running too.
Christmas is the time for celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s the time to remember that Jesus is the reason for the season. He came not only to live but also to die. To give His life on a cross as the perfect sacrifice for sin, once and for all. Let’s celebrate! “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those whom he is pleased!”
— Wayne Van Regenmorter
LINKS YOU MAY FIND USEFUL
Why Are Churches Dying and What Can We Do About It? – Churches are dying. The Pew Research Center recently found that the percentage of American adults who identified as Christians dropped 12 percentage points in the last decade alone. So what happened? Why have so many people stopped looking to the church for guidance? This interview with Scott Cormode from Fuller Theological Seminary seeks to explore these questions.
Making Sense of Change – On some levels, we know that change and transition are gifts from God. Without change, our lives would become stale and unbearably boring. However, too much change leaves us bewildered and disillusioned. Finding a healthy balance is one of the key predictors of success for individuals, churches and organizations.
Adaptive Leadership – From early work by Ron Heifetz, to more recent books like Sailboat Church by Joan Gray and Canoeing the Mountains by Todd Bolsinger, everyone is talking about the reality that many of our old ways of doing things will not work in today’s church and world. At Duke University, Greg Jones has been advocating for traditioned innovation, keeping what is essential and meaningful in our faith and practice, and imagining it in new ways. Walter Brueggemann concurs with this idea, noting that both continuity and surprise characterize the pattern of God’s redemptive work.[i] Interestingly enough, we don’t have to look any farther than the birth narratives of Jesus to see models of this type of adaptive leadership.