Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Dr. King – A Call to Unity
An invitation from The Multi-Racial Initiatives Team of the Regional Synod of Mid-America:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
As believers, we are called to be peacemakers during this most challenging social justice time. The events in Ferguson, Missouri, Cleveland, Ohio, Staten Island, New York and across our entire nation is an opportunity for the Churches and Ministries in the Synod Mid-America to come together as ONE in the 1st Regional Synod of Mid-America youth driven celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Living Springs Riverdale Ministry Center, 14242 South Wabash Avenue, Monday, January 19, 2015 at 1:00 pm. Adults and youth are invited and refreshments will be provided. For more information contact: Ann Bilbrew (708) 646-8349 or Alfonso Surrett (708) 738-7775.
Regional Prayer Summit: Do you believe in the power of God to transform your life, your church, your community, and your nation? Then join with others for the first CRC/RCA Chicagoland Regional Prayer Summit, Feb 25-28 at Camp Manitoqua. This will be a time of Scripture Fed, Spirit Led, Worship Based Prayer, seeking the Face of God and expectantly waiting for him to move among his people. Click HERE for more information or to register or contact Jon Hoekema.
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is an event of prayer, song, and experience. It’s a privileged moment for prayer, encounter and dialogue. An opportunity to recognize the richness and value that are present in the other, the different, and to ask God for the gift of unity. Saturday, January 24, 2015, 7 p.m. at Church of the Master 580 Kuhn Rd., Carol Stream, IL 60188. For more information contact John Armstrong.
The Regional Synod of Mid-America has changed it’s web address. Our new web address is www.rsmam.org. Wayne Van Regenmorter’s email address is now firstname.lastname@example.org and Chad Schuitema’s email address is now email@example.com. Please update your contacts accordingly. The existing msyn.org domain will continue to work until all changes have been completed.
Another Way of Doing Life 2015 Winter Forum with Shane Claiborne; February 27-28, 2015 in the Wisconsin Dells. Christians are meant to be radical non-conformists, interrupting the patterns of our world with prophetic imagination—a holy counterculture. Join the Wisconsin Council of Churches and Winter Forum Presenter Shane Claiborne for a weekend of exploration around what it means to be both disciples and church in a culture that seems increasingly at odds with the heart of the gospel. The retreat will focus on: The Irresistible Revolution, Christian Troublemakers, The Economics of Rebirth, and Resurrecting Church. For more information or to sign up, click HERE.
The standard reimbursable mileage rate for 2015 has been set by the IRS at $.575/mile. You can learn more HERE.
News from Camp Manitoqua
Fathers and sons, join Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center for our Forge weekend retreat, March 13-15, 2015. Designed to give fathers the opportunity to commission their sons to begin the process of becoming men through biblical teaching and hands-on learning. Visit www.manitoqua.org for information or call the office for information and to register, (815) 469-2319.
Summer Staff: Have you considered spending a summer in ministry? Applications for 2015 summer staff at Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center are available online at www.manitoqua.org and are being accepted starting November 1.
Denial in a Declining Church…
It was in 2013 that Thom Rainer stated that “decreasing frequency of church attendance is the number one reason for church decline.” Well, that trend did not change in 2014 and might well continue into 2015. Rainer say there are several reasons why people attend church less frequently. He names the first and foremost reason being a waning commitment – people attend church less when spiritual priorities are less important. But there are other reasons as well. Most pastors could easily identify with the following reasons: 1) Parents with children have more “multiple activity” commitments such as sports, music, special clubs, etc. The demand of time it takes to be involved in these activities is literally eating families alive; 2) There is greater mobility in general in our culture so people are more likely to be traveling and on-the-go on weekends; 3) It is so much easy now to stay connected to the church online so if the family struggles to get ready on time on Sunday morning then live streaming is a great way to worship at home. The impact of these trends is numerical decline but the meaning for the church is broader than that. It can mean a declining influence in the community, a decline in evangelistic impact, and a decline in the hearing and responding to the Gospel. According to Rainer nearly nine out of 10 churches are either declining, or they are growing less rapidly than the community around them. That is the current reality in our culture. What’s dangerous about these trends, says Rainer, is that many church leaders and members are in denial…”they refuse to see the diminishing influence of their churches for the good of the Kingdom.”
Unfortunately, denial can be deadly and have deadly consequences. Rainer says denial means the problems are not addressed. Denial means more and more churches will be closing their doors in 2015. He identifies 10 key dangers of denial:
“1. The problems will only worsen. We can’t wish away the challenges in our churches. We must be Biblically obedient. We must take action or the situation will worsen.
2. Future generations are forsaken. Churches in denial are not thinking about their children or grandchildren, or for that matter, any future generations. They are only concerned about their present perceived needs.
3. Leaders will have regrets. True leaders, both staff and laity, desire to make a difference in this world. They desire for their churches to make a difference. These leaders will regret their failures to admit that problems exist.
4. Churches will miss opportunities for solutions. It is amazing to see what the body of Christ can do when it works Biblically together. But the first step is admitting there is a need.
5. There is no urgency for change. The gospel and Biblical truths are unchanging. But the world is changing rapidly. Churches in denial have no urgency to change in this fast-changing culture. They quickly become irrelevant.
6. Maintenance ministries engender frustration and conflict. Churches in denial try very few things new and challenging. They tend to be focused on keeping things the same. Such a posture is frustrating. Because it refuses to look forward, such a posture causes members to fuss and fight over their particular preferences.
7. Churches in denial are usually disobedient. They can be disobedient to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. They can refuse to obey some of the challenging commands of Scripture because it will get them out of their comfort zones.
8. Many of these churches will tolerate open and flagrant sin. Churches in denial tolerate mediocrity. The members don’t like to “rock the boat.” This attitude can lead to a tolerance of some of the most flagrant sins. I spoke with one church leader where many members knew that three of the Elders were involved in adulterous affairs. No one ever spoke up, and three families were torn apart.
9. The church will lose its best members. They will leave to go to a congregation where they can make a difference. They will refuse to accept the mediocrity that comes with denial of problems.
10. Comfort becomes an idol. Eventually churches in denial will become congregations of members who are focused on their comforts and needs. The denial will become entrenched, and hopes of biblical and healthy change will fade rapidly.”
What kind of assessment needs to be completed in the church where you serve in 2015? How do you and the leaders of your church respond to these 10 dangers? What do you think will be the trend for your church? In the Reformed Church in America? With God, all things are possible; there is always hope! Jesus said in Matthew 19:26: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
— Wayne Van Regenmorter
12-15: COSE/Interchange Partnership Meeting/Leadership Training Event/Phoenix, AZ
16: Travel Day
18: Sunday Worship
19: Conference Call/Reformed Community Church, Venice FL
20: Synod Executive Team Go-To-Meeting
21: Chicago Classis Coordinating Committee/Tony Campbell/Calvary Reformed Church/Orland Park, IL
22: KEZ Meeting/Racine, WI
24: Travel to Florida for Meetings
25: Worship/Rolling Hills Community Church/Zellwood, FL
26: Consistory Meeting/Reformed Community Church, Venice FL
The Single Best Way to Lead Change in a Very Traditional, Old or Resistant Setting – As enthusiastic as we say we are about change, all of us resist it. That’s why you haven’t lost that final 10 pounds, haven’t cleaned out the hall closet nearly as often as you should, and haven’t started that blog you were going to launch/book you were going to write. All of that involves change, and we’re resistant. Too many of us make too many excuses.
The Art of Worship Planning – How we plan worship reflects what we believe worship should be — a transformative, communal experience of observing, trusting, trying, reflecting, and taking chances for the sake of experiencing the Holy One. This sample process cultivates the skills for worship planning.