2104 Campbell Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Office: (815) 464-9181
Mobile: (765) 237-7678
President: Bob Wierenga (Wisconsin)
Vice President: Dale Buettner (Illiana-Florida)
At-Large Members: Jason DeVries (New Thing), Scott Stephan (Illinois), Chad DeJager (Chicago)
On April 21, 2020 the Regional Synod of Mid-America Annual Session we formed a new classis: Classis de las Naciones (Classis of the Nations). God is doing a new and amazing thing in Florida and in addition to our strong and healthy churches already doing ministry in Florida four new churches have been adopted with many more working through the process of training ministers and becoming part of the RCA. This movement is with English and Spanish speaking churches and is an exciting work of God that has caused us all to awe at his power. There was a great article about this formation and some of our new churches and pastors in the recent RCA Today. You can also read minutes of this meeting HERE.
The RSMA is grateful to Jason DeVries who served as president these last two years and continued the movement forward into God’s future. Jason’s leadership during uncertain times was stellar and though his time as president is done, he will continue to serve our region on our executive team. We welcome the returning leadership of Bob Wierenga and look forward to further movement in leading our region and the RCA.
The Vision 2020 of the RCA continues to meet and discern the future of the RCA. You can read their most recent update HERE.
Women in Ministry Sunday is May 17, 2020. The RCA’s Women’s Transformation and Leadership Team has put together some excellent resources for celebrating women in ministry on this day. You can find those resources HERE.
The RCA and the Regional Synod of Mid-America have both reduced assessments for the second quarter of 2020 by 30%. More information from the RCA’s Chief Financial Officer Jillisa Tietsma on financial resources can be found HERE.
You can find all of the RCA’s COVID-19 resourcesHERE.
New Leaf Resources has established a special webpage for managing stress and other mental health resources in the time of COVID-19. You can check these our 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
Camp Manitoqua has had to cancel all current events including overnight camp for this summer due to COVID-19 but as of now, Day Camp is still scheduled to occur. Camp Manitoqua recognizes that they cannot run camp in the same way as they have in the past for summer 2020. Therefore, they are no longer taking new registrations for 2020 summer camp program. In addition, they are working with local officials to understand what restrictions they will need to abide by and hope to communicate additional information out to our camper families by mid-May regarding what that means for everyone.
THOUGHTS FROM WAYNE
Looking Forward to A New Normal…
There’s a phrase I’ve been hearing a lot from people these days – “I can’t wait until things get back to normal.” Pastors and church leaders are wondering – “What will it look like when we reopen the church doors and gather as God’s people for worship?” I can guarantee that we will not go back to normal. I don’t know about you, but I crave for some normalcy in my schedule. I ready for normalcy with date nights with my wife again. Over the past few weeks I have been listening to numerous kinds of church worship services online – maybe even watching the online service from your particular church. In one of those online worship services, Steve Furtick of Elevation Church raised a couple of questions. He asked: “What if normal isn’t something to get back to, but what if normal is something to look forward to?” And “what if the normal that we knew is not the normal that God is leading us into next?” I really do hope that certain things are normal again. I hope that when it is safe to reopen worship services that eventually your church space will be filled with passionate worshippers again. But what if God is bringing us into a new normal.
In the story of Exodus 14 we see God leading the Hebrew people into something new. God is bringing them into a new normal. They have only known one thing for 430 years – living in slavery. Think about that! When that is all you know, that is what is normal. On one hand they hated it because there was no freedom. They hated it because of the frustration with their task masters who were required them to make bricks and get their own straw. That was normal.
Before COVID-19 each of us had our own normal. For some people it has been about working far too many hours and not getting a good night’s sleep. It’s just normal. If you have kids in your home, you’re used to scampering here and there, squeezing in all their school and social activities. It’s just normal. We’re used to spending too much money, racking up credit card bills. It’s just normal. What we see in this passage is the Hebrew people are not just coming out of Egypt but they’re coming away from what they know is normal.
Exodus 14:10, “When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord.” The people are standing in front of the Red Sea and they have no context on how to get across. It’s just like we’re standing at the Red Sea of a global pandemic and we have no context for it in our personal lives, in our economy or in the church. We have no context because never before have we lived through a stay-at-home pandemic. And like the Hebrew people, we’re anxious and sometimes we’re even terrified.
Look at what they did. They craved for the familiar; they wanted to go back to normal. Verse11, “They said to Moses, ‘Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?’” They’re saying, we’d rather be dead in Egypt that alive in uncertainty. But God was doing something here that they had never seen before. He would divide the Red Sea and eventually take the people into a new Promised land, a new normal.
I think God may be taking His church and taking us into a new normal right now in at least having better priorities. People are praying right now who never took the time to pray. People are visiting your online worship service who have never stepped into a church. People are spending time with their families like never before. People are making room for faith in their lives where they were too busy to think about faith in the past.
This is our time, friends. This is what the church was made for. We’re standing in front of the Red Sea and I believe God is saying to us, “I’m not trying to get you back to normal, I’m trying to bring you forward into a new normal.” God is increasing our capacity to connect with people right now by emails, phone calls or a simple “I care about you” note. God is inviting people to consider connecting with others in small groups on Zoom and eventually in homes. God is increasing our capacity to care for people by sharing in food pantry ministries and loving our neighbors in creative ways. God is inviting us to trust Him and move us into a new normal. He has something better for us. God is bringing us closer to what he had for us all along as His church. He’s resetting our schedules and revealing new things. God is giving us new ways to trust Him.
Verse 12, “Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again.” God is moving us into a new freedom as pastors, church leaders and churches. He’s leading us into a new normal. Maybe God is doing something in our churches and communities that we have never seen before. Take some time to think and pray about that.
Are Churches Behaving Like Malls, Just Hoping For People to Shop Again? – Cary Nieuwhof says, “Crisis doesn’t create failure, it accelerates it. Crisis doesn’t create momentum, it accelerates the momentum that was already there.” This article does a tremendous job getting us to pause, evaluate, and think critically about where we are right now and what the future might hold.
Navigating the Unknown: Adaptive Leadership in Highly Anxious Times – Tod Bolsinger, author of Canoeing the Mountains and professor at Fuller seminary says, “Adaptive leadership is called for when you are facing something you have never faced before. A term made famous by Ronald Heifetz and his colleagues at Harvard, adaptive leadership begins the moment you find yourself without expertise, and when you are truly facing the unknown. It is that daunting moment when someone is looking at you for direction, and you have to take a deep breath, exhale slowly, look into their frightened eyes and admit, “I have never seen anything like this. Right now, I really don’t know what we are going to do.” This article helps us examine how we might lead adaptively right now in the time of a pandemic.
What Relaunching the Church Might Look Like Over the Next 3–12 Months – We are in the midst of a crisis that is forcing churches to take a look at how ministry is done now and will be done throughout the rest of this year. This technical article from Ed Stetzer looks at time frames, benchmarks and other criteria you may want to adopt for your own church.
Five Ways You Will Be a Different Pastor after the Pandemic – Thom Rainer invites us to consider that the pandemic is changing the way we do church and changing the way pastors will shepherd and lead in the future. He asks us to look at God’s possibilities rather than the artificial limitations imposed by COVID-19.
Responding to External Shocks with Honesty, Vulnerability, and Resilience – Congregations are vulnerable, yes, but they are also resilient. They can adapt, persevere, and come together with the grit that we all hope defines our kids and communities in these unforeseen times. This global pandemic may be a physical, spiritual, and financial crisis for many congregations, yet I believe religious communities and their leaders are creative and innovative. They are up to the task of leading their communities and congregations through uncharted waters in matters of both faith and finances as they lead with honesty, vulnerability, and resilience.