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: Vacant
Past President: Edie Lenz (Illinois)
Growing Young Event – Wisconsin Classis and the Regional Synod of Mid-America are sponsoring an event with Dr. Steven Argue (Professor at Fuller Theological Seminary). Dr. Argue will be speaking at Remedy Church in Sheboygan on May 11 during the day and at Alto Reformed Church in Waupun in the evening. Dr. Argue’s work has focused on churches reaching out to younger generations and was one of the main researchers for the book: Growing Young. For more information, contact Lyle Zumdahl.
People of Faith United for Justice Advocacy Day – This day-long gathering is being formed to learn, discuss, pray and advocate together for social justice issues of importance to all the people of Wisconsin. Some of the topics to be explored: Sex Trafficking in Rural and Urban Areas, Clean Drinking Water, and other issues regarding state government. This event is being organized by the Wisconsin Council of Churches. For more information, click HERE.
Coaching Offered by RSMA – If you are in need of a coach, the Regional Synod of Mid-America offers ministry coaching for pastors needing coaching on specific areas of ministry focus. Contact Chad for more details.
A Youth Corresponding Delegate to General Synod is still needed for this year’s RCA General Synod taking place in Holland, MI at Hope College from June 8-13, 2017. This non-voting delegate is one who is somewhere around traditional college age. In addition to participating in the regular business of the General Synod, the youth corresponding delegates meet and do things together. It is anticipated that the youth delegates have given some thought about the possibility that God may be calling him or her into ministry, but 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. Do you know of someone who might be a candidate for this youth delegate? Please contact Chad.
News from Camp Manitoqua Summer Staff: Have you considered spending a summer in ministry? Applications for 2017 summer staff at Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center are available online at www.manitoqua.org/jobs and are being accepted. Cooks & Summer Kitchen Assistants: For cooks, food service experience and sanitation license is preferred. No experience needed for summer kitchen assistants. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for an application or call the office at 815.469.2319.
Registration for ‘Summer Camp 2017 begins February 1st. Remember to register early for preferred dates. Visit Manitoqua.org for more information and to register, or call our office at 815.469.2319.
STORIES OF CELEBRATION
We share stories of celebration to glorify God. This month’s story comes from Illinois Classis. 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.
The Revitalization Team of the Classis of Illinois has been experimenting with different ways to foster revitalization within the classis. One of the early experiments has revolved around the practice of goal-setting.
There is tremendous energy that can be produced by one carefully-designed, prayerfully-discerned goal. An effective goal is one that is S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Agreed Upon, Realistic, and time-based).
Believing in the benefit of goal-setting, the Revitalization Team brought a recommendation to the Classis in the Fall of 2016 that would require every consistory to engage an annual goal-setting process with the end result being a document detailing the goals, next steps, person(s) accountable, timeline, and metrics to evaluate the goal. This document would be submitted to the Revitalization Team at the same time the Annual Consistorial Report form
is submitted. The classis unanimously approved this recommendation.
We are in the early stages of this experiment as eight churches have submitted goals at this time. The plan is for the Revitalization Team to provide encouragement, accountability, and prayer for the churches as they pursue the goals they have identified. One of the early benefits of this practice has been learning from one another and being inspired by the ways our churches are attempting to live into the mission.
The hope is that the simple yet powerful practice of goal-setting will inspire all of our churches to greater intentionality and action.
– Pastor Scott Stephan Chair of the Illinois Classis Revitalization Team
THOUGHTS FROM WAYNE
Seeking Relationship With Emerging Adults…
How often have you heard it said, “young people are leaving the church” or “they’re just lazy Millennials” or the iPhone has made them “spiritual but not religious”. Has the church given up on the Millennial generation? Are there ways that the church can define its relationship with this generation and take people ages 18-29 seriously? In January, the classis leaders in our region and I attended a learning event on Emerging Adults with about 50 RCA staff and leaders. We had the opportunity to learn and reflect on the facts or fiction of what it means for today’s church to reach out to emerging adults. Dr. Steve Argue, a professor from Fuller Seminary, was the guest speaker.
Steve encouraged us not to blame emerging adults but to recognize the journey this generation is on to adulthood. He identified these characteristics in their journey:
· These people are exploring their identity – trying out various possibilities, especially in love, work and belief
· These people interested in talking about spirituality and religion, but they need space to share their doubts and the complexities of life.
· These people who need to be accepted, supportive and want a sense of belonging
· These are people seeking open conversation about good news
· These people are enmeshed in social media
This next generation is emerging – still trying to figure out love, work, and belief in a very complex world. They are not disinterested in talking about spirituality and religion but they need space and other people who are willing to listen and engage in conversation. The church can serve them best by recognizing that this is a significant formation time in their lives. People in the church need to have the kind of relationship with emerging adults which allows them to seek the truth and to help them in that process without judgment or blame.
Steve reported on some of his latest research on Millennials and emerging adults:
· 88% of undergraduates’ religious preferences stem from the Christian tradition
· 80% have an interest in spirituality
· 83% believe in the sacredness of life
· 76% are searching for meaning/purpose in life
· 79% believe in God
· 81% attended religious services occasionally or frequently
· 69% looked to their religious beliefs for guidance
· Two-thirds pray and 28% pray daily.
So what questions should a church ask about reaching this next generation? Here are some to consider.
1) How do we equip our congregation to engage in dialogue with emerging adults?
2) What language should our church use that is helpful in attempting to communicate with an emerging adult?
3) In what ways does your church’s communication style/language hinder your interest in connecting or being involved with emerging adults? What about those phrases we often hear like: “When I was your age the church…” Or “You remind me of my own kids when…” What impact does the use of that language have on emerging adults in your context?
4) What opportunities exist for emerging adults to be involved in your church?
5) What might keep emerging adults from becoming involved in your church?
6) Is there one thing that emerging adults wish your congregation knew about them in regards to their experience in the church?
If you wish to read more about caring and serving the next generation in your church order the book: “Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young Adults Discover and Love Your Church” by Kara Powell and Jake Mulder. Mark your calendars for May 11. A partnership of the Wisconsin Classis, the Regional Synod of Mid-America and the Evangelical Free Church Network of Youth Ministries will host an equipping event with Steve Argue who will speak about how churches can better connect with emerging adults. The event will be held in the Sheboygan, WI area at Remedy Church. Forming relationships with emerging adults is a felt need in congregations overall as most congregations are aging. This event is a great opportunity for transformation and growth as leaders intentionally engage with emerging adults in their churches and communities.
— Wayne Van Regenmorter
LINKS YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL
Six Suggestions to Reinvigorate Smaller Churches – Many smaller congregations are questioning their viability given program-rich congregations that are just around the corner in nearly every community. Smaller churches can, however, flourish if they’re willing to reimagine a God-preferred community-focused future.
Six Innovation Leadership Skills Everybody Needs To Master
– Innovation is about much more than inventing. It’s about figuring out how and where you can add unique value. It’s about how fast you can unlearn, relearn and master new skills. It’s about how you engage others at a deeper, more humanistic and passionate level. These six skills can help you lead your team more effectively.
Christians Turn To Podcasts To Say Things They Can’t Say In Church – A study by the Pew Research Center, released in 2015, shows that millennials have been leaving Catholic and mainline Protestant churches in droves from at least 2007 but they don’t necessarily lose their belief in God. In fact, more than half say they’re still religious or spiritual. That’s the type of audience that’s tuning in to various podcasts to explore their faith.
Congregational Leadership as Spiritual Practice – Claiming our role as spiritual guides is a matter of seeing God’s presence and then encouraging its emergence within the congregation. In a time of spiritual challenge, limitations, and frequent polarization, such spiritual vision is the result of a commitment to nurturing awareness of God’s presence in ourselves and others. In the business of congregational life, it is easy to lose our way, focus on product rather than persons, become overwhelmed by the tasks of ministry, and forget that we are always on holy ground as we interact with God’s beloved children.
Your Staff Doesn’t Actually Have a Communication Problem – Often church staff and church members cite communication as a problem within a church. People usually sense that something is wrong, then they blame poor communication for causing the problem. I’ve learned, though, that’s it’s rarely the problem. Instead, it’s a trigger to dig deeper. There’s a core issue below the surface, and we need to continue looking for the root cause for what’s wrong.