Dear Friends: There’s a saying that the best prayers to God either start with “Help”, “Thanks”, or “Wow.” Recently I became aware that most of my prayers contained the word “help.” This awareness reminded me of my depravity, of my need for God’s graciousness, power, and, well, help! We all need God’s help! But I also sensed that too much of my prayer was centered on asking for help in a very needy way. 2nd Peter 1:3 came to mind: “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” In meditating on that Scripture it helped me change my prayer to “awaken _______ inside me that you’ve already provided.” Awaken the kindness inside me that you’ve already provided. Awaken the joy inside me, awaken the patience, awaken the grace, awaken the forgiveness…God has indeed given us everything we need for a life lived for him. May you, may your family, may your church be reminded that God has given you everything you need and may he awaken it with abundance.
If you’ve not heard, 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 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.
Digital Communication Strategy: The new normal of the pandemic has accelerated the church’s move to digital spaces. Any church looking to connect with its members and neighbors during this pandemic has had to increase its focus on developing an online presence. This four-week course on digital communication strategy is designed to help you adapt to the new reality of church attendance, digital engagement, and audience identification and communication. Course begins August 10; early bird registration opens May 4 and will be led by Sung Kim. Click HERE for more info and to register.
Starting a Church-Based Business Workshop – Starting a social enterprise—a business with a social good in mind—offers churches a unique opportunity to engage its members and neighbors, and additional capital to invest in mission. This idea might feel intimidating, unfamiliar, or unnecessary. And we understand! That is why we are offering this workshop, which discusses why and how a church might start its own business. Workshop leaders Sung Kim, Eliza Cortes Bast, Pat Dirkse, and Mark Sampson come from a variety of backgrounds and have successfully launched social enterprises out of their own churches. They will share stories of success and failure while serving their communities in this mission. June 23, 7:00 Eastern. For more information, click HERE.
Oikos Accelerator Cohort – The Oikos Accelerator Cohort empowers congregations to align money and mission by creatively using their buildings and property to further their mission and build financial resilience. By the end of the cohort, each congregation will effectively design and launch a social enterprise that utilizes their church property in some form. This cohort will run for approximately one year, not including an in-person celebration in Fall 2022. This pilot cohort will be available only to 5 churches; apply by July 16 for an August 11 launch. For more information, click HERE.
Digital Ministry Webinars – The RCA recently held two very popular webinars that are not available on demand: Digital ministry 101: Digital strategies to engage the next generation (This panel of specialists will help you build on what you have created, share how to best leverage each online platform, and hone your message to engage the next generation.) and Digital ministry 102: Vision casting for digital ministry in a post-COVID world (Digital is a powerful tool and requires strategy and vision. Take a minute to examine the big picture of digital ministry. What is the ecclesiology of digital and how does that play into the future of church? Learn how any church can utilize digital to expand the kingdom and reach those far from God.)
Lilly Endowment Awards RCA And CRCNA $1.3 Million Grant For Generation Spark – As part of a new initiative centered on nurturing the faith of youth and young adults, Lilly Endowment Inc. has approved a $1.3 million grant to support the collaborative work of the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA). The five-year grant will enable the continuation and expansion of Generation Spark, a mentorship program that Hope College began in 2017. To read more, click HERE.
Learning Cohort: Flourishing through Change and Disruption – consider joiningthis six-month learning cohort consisting of instruction, discussion, reflection, and application on leading in liminal times, coping with resistance to change, unlearning old behaviors, discovering new ways of making difficult decisions, and creating the right conditions for congregations to grow and thrive in a COVID and post-COVID world. It starts June 24, and runs once a month through December. To register and get more information, click HERE.
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 Registration for Camp Manitoqua’s summer day programs is open and Camp has started. Openings are still be available for future dates. Programs available for registration include day camp, encounter camp and SAM’s camp. For additional information, visit Manitoqua.org/Summer
Camp Manitoqua is hiring college-aged students for summer 2021. If you or someone you know loves children and is interested, please visit Manitoqua.org/jobs to read more and apply.
To get the most up to date information about Camp Manitoqua, please check out their updates HERE.
LINKS YOU MAY FIND USEFUL
3 Unique Gifts of the Rural Church – Allen Stanton says rural churches are uniquely positioned to be agents of change within their communities. Most are trusted long-term community stakeholders, and on any given Sunday people from a wide range of occupations and life circumstances are sitting in their pews.
The Opportunity of Fruitful Fear – We are taught to minimize fear and even to keep it to ourselves. Kelly Ryan wonders if fear can be a useful tool in church discernment. Fear is a normal part of life so honoring its presence and considering its purpose can help shift its role in our lives.
Leading in Difficult and Divided Times – This very frank article asks the question: how do you lead in this environment where few people agree on anything and everyone has easy access to you to criticize anything you do as a leader publicly and regularly?