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)
Dr. Tod Bolsinger led Illiana-Florida Classis in a time of thinking about and leading change in our congregations. Dr. Bolsinger helped the classis understand change as a healthy adaptation of the existing DNA of a congregation. His book, Canoeing the Mountains is an excellent resource for churches seeking to navigate change and you are encouraged to read it!
The Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising (ECRF) is designed for religious leaders in faith-based organizations and institutions who wish to learn more about the spirituality of fundraising and gain a core foundation in fundraising principles. Typical titles of attendees include: clergy, judicatory executives, development leaders, professionals at faith-based organizations, and lay leaders who have some responsibilities with funding or finances. Scholarship criteria include both demonstrated financial need as well as the potential for applying course learnings in your current professional context. For more information visit this link. Applications are due by November 27, 2017.
Listening Together Discussions on Unity from 2017’s General Synod are happening in classes and congregations throughout our region. If you have questions on these conversation or would like assistance facilitating them in your classis or church, check out discussion.rca.org or contact Chad.
Consider Supporting RSMA Urban Ministry Grants – The Regional Synod of Mid-America gives grants to ministries in, and/or for areas considered urban in geography of our regional synod. 2018 will be the last year we provide these grants and we are asking our churches to consider giving to this grant fund generously for one final year. The asking is $4 per member and that amount can be sent to the RSMA at any time during the year. Thank you for your generous support to these grants over the years. Many churches and blessed many people with the fruit of these grants!
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 Is your church holding a retreat soon? Consider having it at Camp Manitoqua! Reasonable rates, excellent location, and the beauty of God’s creation will surely enhance your experience. 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 come from First Reformed Church of DeMotte. 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.
First Church recently received a grant from the Illiana-Florida Classis to enhance their Life Groups.
One Life Group is the GriefShare group. This 13 week group of 20 participants has seen grieving people find real freedom from depression and anxiety.
Financial Peace University is another curriculum the Life Groups use. The church recently had 52 people sign up for the class to understand the Biblical foundations for finances.
Other Life Groups have been thriving using RightNow Media’s resources. The church currently has 41 Life Groups and had 45 people sign up to be in a Life Group last month.
Life Groups have experienced amazing growth over the past year. The church currently has 42 groups and a total of 558 people in groups. Just over the last month, 67 people were added to groups. That was largely because of a Life Group Sunday on October 1st where the message emphasis was on Life Groups. On that Sunday all the Life Groups Leaders went up on stage in their Life Group Leader T-Shirts. It was amazing because it recognized them for the love and effort they put into discipling their Life Group people. There were also leaders standing at a Life Group Sign Up table in the lobby. 47 new people signed up on that Sunday! It was amazing!
First Church’s Life Group Coordinator Molly Ciancanelli writes, “One of the biggest changes I’ve seen in our life groups is that leaders are meeting up with their people. They’re finding out where they are spiritually and with some, they are leading them to Christ. I know the numbers are exciting, but what is most exciting is changed eternities.” On Sunday October 29, we had 20 adult baptisms, and 30 professions of faith. Already new Christians are leading their friends to Christ. Discipleship is happening!
THOUGHTS FROM WAYNE
Thankful for God’s Faithfulness…
I’ve heard of the faith of a mustard seed, but have you heard of the faith of the Canadian goose? Leonard Sweet tells of a goose on a golf course whose foot is run over by a car. While the goose was driven to the vet, the male of the household took over the care of the nest. This husband goose, missing his love, developed a “coffee break habit” of leaving the nest empty every once in a while to eat and drink, then sit by the road near the place where Mamma Goose was hit. He would stay there until the cries from the nest got too overwhelming.Most of us long for that kind of faith! Most of us wish so much that we completely there for God and for others! However, the good news from the beginning of I Corinthians is that we don’t have to have perfect faith for God’s faithfulness to become fulfilled in us. In Paul’s flowery beginning, he makes a thumbnail sketch of themes in the whole letter. He is writing to some of his friends about the good things God has done for them. He is reminding them of God’s faithfulness even though there are a number of ugly moral problems going on in the church. These people were breaking into several factions, each group claiming special allegiance to a human leader. One member of the congregation was suing another in court. There was actually drunkenness when they gathered to observe the Lord’s Supper. There was a case of incest. Some in the group were about to abandon faith in the resurrection, and others were lapsing into various forms of idolatry. What a congregation! You think you have problems in the church. Most of what we deal with seems minor compared with what was happening in Corinth! Yet, Paul was reminding these people that through God’s faithfulness, not our own, we are made complete.First of all, we are GRACED. Paul is thankful that God has given them GRACE. “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus…” Grace is God’s unconditional love for us. Grace is love for the unlikely, the unlovely, the totally undeserving. It is love that goes searching for us when we don’t even want to be found and takes us by surprise. Paul reminds them that no matter what, God never stops loving!
Second, we are ENRICHED. Paul writes, “…that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge–even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you–…” I wonder how many of us are going to eat something rich this Thanksgiving. My sister-in-law prepares a plethora of desserts for our Thanksgiving meal together – maybe as many as seven. Imagine that, seven? Yet the richness of the food does not compare with the richness and eloquence of the preaching, teaching and faith sharing in this fellowship of Christians at Corinth. They had grasped the gospel. They had the best news imaginable to communicate.
Third, we are BLESSED. God had opened His treasury of spiritual gifts to the Christians at Corinth. Picture any program or service that could build up the church and enhance its life–someone in Corinth had been equipped for it. “…so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Our gifts are not an end in themselves, but a glimpse of God’s future glory! They are the presence of Christ in partial form.
Fourth, we are SUSTAINED. We can be thankful for this remarkable assurance. “…who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This is astonishing! Here is a church that hardly seems to act like a church at all. The church members are Christians with all kinds of blemishes and rough edges. They are a group of people that most pastors would be tempted to give up on. But Paul says that God is going to sustain them to the end, so that on the great day when Christ returns, no one will be able to bring any charge against them. God is at work in them, and finishes what He starts. God is faithful to a church called to be!
As we anticipate the celebration of Thanksgiving, let’s remember God’s great faithfulness to us and to His Bride, the church. Like the Canadian goose, I pray we can take time from the busyness of our responsibilities and “sit by the road” to wait, reflect and be thankful for the One who heals our wounds, who fulfills all His promises and becomes our source of hope as He returns some day. God is faithful in Christ! Happy Thanksgiving!
“God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” I Corinthians 1:9 (ESV)
— Wayne Van Regenmorter
LINKS YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL
A Definitive List Of Every Essential Element For An Effective Church – It’s too easy to allow non-essential preferences to take over our lives, churches and ministries. The danger isn’t that we’ll fail, but that we’ll do the non-essentials so well that we’ll accept them as a substitute for truly effective ministry. Perhaps the #1 job of a church leader is not to let our guard down in the relentless battle to keep the non-essentials from crowding out the essentials.
We’re in the Innovation Business – “Innovation” is a term not typically associated with religious institutions, which tend to be oriented toward conserving and maintaining tradition. Yet at its heart, the Christian church is about innovation—embodying God’s new life, hope, and community for the world. It is time to claim this identity amidst powerful disruptive forces in today’s world.
Four Tips for Delegating – Volunteers are the backbone of the church. Unless your leadership team decides to hire more people, you’ll need volunteers you can trust with more complex tasks. This could include leading teams of other volunteers or managing an area on Sunday that staff members have typically handled. To prevent miscommunication and frustration for staff and volunteers, here are four keys to delegation success.
Things that Keep People from Leading in the Church – A lack of leaders is the visible problem in your church, but we want to address the root cause. After all, if you simply put a Band-Aid on the symptom, you’ll never be able to truly experience a healthy and growing church.
A Case for Christian Leaders to Practice Integrative Thinking – To be a leader in a church or Christian institution is to be continually confronted with choices that present themselves in stark either-or terms. However, the best leaders practice integrative thinking: the ability to stand in the presence of two seemingly contradictory positions and live in the tension between those perspectives until a better way emerges.