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)
The Reformed Church in America recently held its annual General Synod on the Campus of Hope College in Holland, Michigan. For a comprehensive recap, click HERE. Some highlights:
As a response to outgoing General Secretary Tom DeVries’ report, delegates requested that the RCA discuss the future of the denomination “in light of our current state of contention and division.” The recommendation calls for the discussion to take place at the next stated meeting of the General Synod Council and of each classis and regional synod.
General Synod affirmed that the Heidelberg Catechism in Q&A 108 and 109 “categorically states that God condemns all ‘unchastity,’ which includes same-sex sexual activity” (R 17-61). The Heidelberg Catechism is one of the RCA’s four Standards of Unity. The recommendation says, “faithful adherence to the RCA’s Standards, therefore, entails the affirmation that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
Delegates approved commissioned pastors becoming voting members (as elders) of consistory, classis, regional synod, and General Synod. These changes, which are amendments to the Book of Church Order, will go to the classes for approval.
By a margin of one, delegates voted to instruct the Commission on Church Order to investigate amending the Book of Church Order to provide for the discipline of a classis. A report will be given at General Synod 2018.
Rev. Don Poest was appointed interim General Secretary and applications to be on the search team for our next General Secretary are being taken now. You can click HERE to apply.
The Christian Reformed Church has invited all RCA members to Inspire 2017. Inspire 2017 is an event put on by the Christian Reformed Church in North America intended to inspire, energize, inform, and pour into the volunteers and leaders in local churches. In this video, Dr. Steven Timmermans extends a warm invitation to members of the RCA. Join us for this unique opportunity to connect. If you’re involved in ministry at any level in your church, this event is designed for you.
Mediation Skills Training Institute for Church Leaders – The Lombard Mennonite Peace Center will be holding a training event intended to equip church leaders with the skills necessary to deal effectively with interpersonal conflict, congregational conflict, and other forms of group conflict. It includes lectures, discussion, and guided practice in role plays, and is designed to be active and practical in focus. The sessions emphasize hands-on skills training and role-plays based on the types of conflict faced by participants. This training is useful for pastors, lay leaders, and others who serve with church-related ministries. You can visit the LMPC website at www.LMPeaceCenter.org to download the brochure or register online. For more information or hard copies of the brochure, please email LMPC at email@example.com or call 630-627-0507.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
News from Camp Manitoqua Summer Camp, 2017 at Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center is here! Starting on Monday, June 12 and running through Friday, August 18. We ask for our church supporters to pray for counselors and children who will be on our campus for these 10 weeks as we teach the kids to “Abide” in Christ. Be praying that the Word of God takes hold in their lives and that these campers and counselors can take this back to their homes, churches and home environments!
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 Rev. Pedro Windsor and La Capilla del Barrio in Chicago, IL. 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.
Scripture admonishes us to “Seek the Peace of the City.” This is exactly what La Capilla del Barrio/The Neighborhood Chapel through its Violence Prevention Ministry is all about. Though our congregation is small, the gospel message we take to the street is powerful!
The fruit of this effort has been two-fold. First, our partnership with others has resulted in a decrease of shootings and killing in the 14th police district which serves our community. Second, and more importantly is witnessing God raising up a new generation of young people who have said “No,” to the chaos of the street violence and “Yes” to God. Their love for God and passion to impact the lives of their peers in a positive way is to be commended.
Two of these young people, a brother and sister team, Jasiah and Nina were recently selected to participate in a student exchange program in China! Nina received a scholarship to go to any high school of choice. She selected Whitney Young. Ruben, a soon to be a sophomore at Northside College Prep. has an insatiable appetite to be used by God to heal some of the hurt he sees all around him. “I want people to be aware of how their actions affect others.” Jasiah, an honor-student at Polaris Academy is a well-spoken young teen who has a deep compassion for his peers. “I want to be used by God to bring change in my neighborhood.” When asked, “To what do you attribute your success in life and school? Collectively they answered “God, and hard work.”
I make no apologies if I sound like a doting pastor. The fact is that I am! What comes out of the mouth of these teens is transformational. By providing a “safe-environment,” where they can share what’s on their hearts and minds, through the one-on-one and group mentoring activities (discipleship) where positive relationships are built, these young people and others like them have been able to strive, grow, and succeed!
These teens have stood next to me in the street vigils where a shooting or killing has taken place. They have marched with me in the various “Peace Marches,” throughout the community. They have witnessed the blood-stained sidewalks, the lit candles on the ground, and loved ones weeping on the very site where a life was needlessly taken. By no means have these young people been exempt from all the violence taking place around them. They live in the “Hood.” Yet by the grace of God, the gift these three teens have in common is the blessing of “Hope.”
This blessing of “Hope,” which radiates from these teens is evident in their shared sense of values and character and has a way of working itself deep into the fibers of their family and community. This is precisely why, once a month, we invite the family to a “Family Night,” where a meal is prepared for all, relationships are forged and the mentoring continues through a variety of activities.
It is unfortunate that when we turn on the television news we don’t hear much about the positive efforts going on in our community or how God is transforming the lives of young teens and their families one teen at-a-time, but as for me, my heart is so humbled and filled with joy when I see the fruit of God’s love and grace bringing healing and wholeness into the lives of these teenagers and their families. To God be the Glory!
THOUGHTS FROM WAYNE
Dealing with Gnats in Ministry…
If you spend any time outdoors toward evening this summer or plan to travel anywhere on vacation, you’ll probably be visited by some of these pesky insects – flies, mosquitoes or ants. But few insects are quite as pesky as the tiny, small-winged creature known as the gnat. The mere sight of these pesky insects in your home leaves you feeling itchy and wondering who left the door open. Rotten fruit, dirty dishes, or trash bags of spoiled food usually attract these tiny insects and as they congregate they can drive you crazy. They really can’t harm you, but they can pack a powerful sting.
All of us who serve in ministry in the church or in some form of specialized ministry know about gnats. These are the people who happen to “fly in” as we seek to be faithful and obedient to our call to ministry. They come in different kinds of species: some are the critics, some always think they have better ways to do things, some expect the pastor to visit them regularly, some always have the loudest voice and speak up often at congregational meetings, and most are usually negative. So how do you get rid of gnats? I read an article online entitled: “30 Ways to Get Rid of Gnats Inside and Outside your House”. Here are some suggestions: 1) Use a disposable gnat trap. These disposable fly traps contain some attractant which is in dormant state. When you fill these traps with water the attractant gets activated. Gnats cannot resist the smell and enter the trap and cannot leave. 2)Vanilla Repellent – Gnats hate the smell of Vanilla. You can apply vanilla repellent over the exposed areas of your body to make sure they are not attacked by gnats. 3)Citronella oil – Citronella oil is one of few things that gnats and other breeds of flies hate the most. You can prepare a spray from Citronella oil that you can use to deter gnats. 4) Diluted Rubbing alcohol spray – Gnats quickly die when they come in contact with diluted rubbing alcohol. 5) Lemon Oil – If you find gnats inside your home or kitchen, use lemon oil as one of the best repellents for them. 6)Buy a UV Light Bug Zapper – Bug zappers emit UV light are particularly effective against most species of gnats both biting as well as non-biting species. 7)Pour vegetable of Olive Oil in the kitchen sink – These oils make create a thick covering around gnats and make them immobile. 8)Hydrogen peroxide mixed with water – Fungus gnats die when they come in contact with hydrogen peroxide. 9)Vacuuming adult gnats – Yes, it may sound like a simple tip but scientists have confirmed that vacuuming gnats in any stage (from Adult to Eggs) can have success rates as high as 96%. 10)Sticky colorful traps – Bright colored sticky traps work as a charm for fungus gnats. The bright color of the trap attracts the pests and when they try to land on it they get stuck.
Don’t you wish there were 30 ways to get rid of “gnats” inside and outside the church! Thom Rainer suggests that “gnats” will never go way in the context of ministry. So we have a choice, either we can leave the ministry because of these type of people or we can deal with them. He suggests seven ways of grappling with these pesky gnats.
“1) Realize gnats are gnats. They are troublesome, and at times demoralizing, but they are never fatal. That is, they aren’t fatal unless you treat them like the larger problem they are not. 2) Look beyond the gnat moments. If you are a pastor or church staff leader, you will have gnats. You will have those who seem to constantly bug you (pun intended). But the issue almost always goes away. You will look back on those gnat moments and wonder why you acted like it was a major crisis. 3) Focus on those things that really matter. If you focus on the gnats, they can take you down. If you focus on those things God has called you to do, you will forget about the gnats. 4) Pray for the gnat source. Jesus told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). We can do the same with our gnat sources. 5) Realize gnats are a cost of leading ministry. Some pastors and church staff move from church to church trying to get away from the gnats. But they simply move from one nest of gnats to another. God called you to ministry. He didn’t promise it would be easy; and He didn’t promise He would remove the gnats. 6) Find joy where joy is evident. I once coached a pastor who was gnat-obsessed. He couldn’t find joy in his ministry because he was too busy focusing on the small bites of the gnats. I coached another pastor who seemed to have the same level of gnat attacks. But he focused on the great things God was doing in his church. Do you want to guess which pastor is doing well in ministry today? 7) Seek a wise confidant. Perhaps you can find a wise mentor in ministry who has several gnat bites himself. If this person has persevered in ministry and still has joy in the local church, he can offer great perspectives for you who are experiencing gnats today.”
Sooner or later we come to the realization that gnats are an inherent part of ministry. As a follower of Jesus, as a pastor and leader in the church or some other place, we must accept the fact that we will face gnats within the call to ministry. We must learn to accept the fact that gnats are a part of ministry. Pray for these people and love these people like Jesus did. Only then will we know the true joy of serving Jesus Christ within the context of where God has placed us.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35 (ESV)
Churches Mobilize to Protect the Environment – Christians have an obligation to “walk gently on the earth” and to take care of it, according to Rev. Carol Devine. Also, when it comes to climate change, “… generally, the first impacted are the poorest among us, and that is a huge concern for those who follow Christ.”
The Top 10 Ted Talks for Pastors – TED Talks are some of the most valuable online education people can find from a variety of speakers on a variety of topics. These 10 TED Talks were compiled as a “best of” for pastors.
Eight Major Changes in Churches the Past Ten Years – What are some of the major changes that have taken place in congregations that are doing relatively well? What are some of the ways these congregations have adapted to new realities? Here is a hint: None of the changes in healthy churches have compromised doctrine, diminished the centrality of preaching, or abandoned sharing the gospel.