The 209th General Synod of the Reformed Church in America will begin June 11 and last until June 16th. Many resources are available on the RCA’s General Synod webpage including the ability to watch General Synod via livestream, resolutions, the workbook, and schedule. Please be in prayer for all our delegates and leaders who will be participating this year.
Minutes from our Regional Synod of Mid-America’s Annual Session are now available on our website. Also available are the annual statistics for our region. Overall, the region had a net growth of nearly 400 members! We are praising God!
Confession is Not Easy…
You may have heard the story about four pastors in a van who were returning from a conference together, seeking to practice being more authentic with each other. They began to share openly and confess their sins before one another and pray for God’s forgiveness together. One pastor began, “I confess my sin is gambling. I just can’t stop it, and I know it is straining the heart of my ministry.” Another shared, “My sin is alcoholism. I just can’t stop drinking.” A third said, “I confess that I have a lust in my heart that gets in the way of my ministry.” The fourth pastor just sat quietly, being hesitate to share. After a lot of encouragement from the others, he finally took a risk and piped up, ‘Well, my greatest sin is gossiping, and I just can’t wait to get home!”
Whether the story is true or not, it illustrates the fact that confession is not easy. Throughout the history of Christianity, confession has been a central aspect of practicing our faith, but too often we reduce confession to a simple affirmation that I’m okay and my sin is okay, as long as I check in and mention it to God every once in a while. The truth is that confession is heart-wrenching. It’s the “therapy and transformation” process of becoming the persons that God created us to be.
When Isaiah experienced his calling, he had a vision of God sitting on a great and awesome throne with seraphim flying around. His response is a great model for confession. First, he said, “Woe to me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips…” The first action step of his calling was to get in touch with self. All of us have bacteria of the mouth, and what comes out is not always clean. Racism, sexism, judgmentalism, ageism, and all sorts of assorted resentment and violence come out of the mouth. You and I are persons of unclean lips.
But there’s more. He continues, “…and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” The second action step of his calling was to get in touch with humanity. Part of the weight we all carry is not just our personal sin, but our corporate sinfulness. Nothing hurts more than the sins of others against us, even those of the Christian community. Pastors are not immune to this. I know what this kind of hurt feels like. I’ve served several churches, all of them unique and wonderful experiences. But I’ve received anonymous notes that have just torn me apart. I’ve had people tell me that they would leave the church over a conflict about future direction if I didn’t. I’ve had people devalue my family when trying to resolve a scheduling conflict. I’ve had a staff member boycott a ministry I was leading out of resentment about my leadership on the matter. I’ve had parents threaten my job because I caught their youth using drugs on a youth mission trip. This is real life and there are real hurts we all face when involved in the ministry and mission of Christ. Including ourselves, we live among a people of unclean lips.
Here’s the good news. Isaiah continues, “…for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” The third action step was to get in touch with God. Isaiah’s confession before God was part of what helped him become what God had created him to be, a minister and a prophet. God can do the same for you and me. Just as one of the seraphim in Isaiah’s vision placed a hot coal on his lips, you and I can find cleansing and healing through the refining fire of the Holy Spirit. Give God your sins and hurts that you have experienced and felt in a deep way from the sin of others. Be cleansed by His love and warmed by the fire of the Holy Spirit.
“And I said, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” – (Isaiah 6:5 – ESV)
– Wayne Van Regenmorter
8: Ridder Conference Call
9: Wisconsin General Synod Delegate Conference Call; Wisconsin Classis Servant Team Meeting/First Reformed Church/Cedar Grove, WI; Meeting/Beecher, IL
11: General Synod Council Meeting/Trinity College/Palos Heights, IL
12-16: General Synod/Trinity College/Palos Heights, IL
The following are some links you may find helpful…
Digital Disciples – God is everywhere, even in the Twitterverse. And if the church fails to embrace that, it stands to lose its future members. Read about how some pastors are incorporating social media and encouraging teens to use their phones in their spiritual development.
Reaching the Anti-Churched – Dorothy Ross saw many in her community turning away from the church and to other forms of spirituality. They became anti-church. But then, she says, “We’ve come to understand this generation’s value of tolerance as a blessing. They may hate Christians, but they don’t want to be intolerant. So we share stories, and each person listens to the other’s stories without passing judgment—it’s just all my stories happen to be about Jesus. I listen to their stories and try to hear where the Holy Spirit is already working … maybe the person sharing is into Wicca because of healing properties, so I can talk about Jesus healing people in the Gospels. I’m trying to offer them what they’re already looking for and don’t realize.”
How Can You Build a Better City? – With his usual wit and wisdom, author and Leadership Network Director, Reggie McNeal, discusses the importance of the conversation church leaders are having as a part of our City Impact initiative. Reggie also talks about how HUB:City Impact provides the right environment for teams to develop plans that will lead to lasting change.
8: Office; Coaching
9-11: General Synod Clerks Meetings/Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, IL
12: General Synod Delegate Lunch/Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, IL