The Regional Synod of Mid-America recently held it’s annual session in Chicago. Tony Campbell, one of the Transformed and Transforming leaders in the RCA spoke to the leadership assembly about the RCA’s 15-year vision. In addition to in-depth work and study of Transformed and Transforming, Bob Wierenga was elected vice-president, Rev. Edie Lenz became president, and Jimmie Stevenson became past-president.
This issue’s featured blogger is Bill Flavin
. Bill is pastor of Trinity Community Church in Brown Deer, Wisconsin and blogs at http://pastorbflavin.wordpress.com/. Bill’s focus in reaching deeper into faith and growing stronger in Christ. Check out Bill’s blog, and if you are a blogger and are willing to share your blog with us, please contact Chad Schuitema.
News from Camp Manitoqua Spring Into Summer at Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center with swimming, food, and activities for kids and adults alike, Saturday, May 31, 2014, as we kick off our 2014 camping season. Our annual 12,000’ Run, a family friendly obstacle course run, will be in the morning. A complete list of the activities are available on our website: manitoqua.org/spring-into-summer. Run does require registration prior or morning of.
At this time, Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center is actively seeking out a Godly & qualified individual to fill the role of Program Coordinator. Resumes are being accepted until May 1, 2014 and should be sent to Nathan Phillips. Job description available upon request. Or call Camp Manitoqua at 815-469-2319.
Other News Missional Cafe – On April 26 a gathering of leaders from the RCA and CRC will learn about discipleship, evangelism, and initiative for churches. Seven speakers including Jason DeVries, Dave Izenbart, and Jason Perry will be sharing where they see God at work and leading a discussion about joining Him. For more information and to sign up, go to missionalcafe.org.
Starting a 2nd Service Webinar – (Even if you missed the first one, you can still register) The Synod is providing opportunity to learn and design a second service strategy for next fall or 2015! The next dates are April 28 and May 19 at 2 pm CT. Together these webinars will cover discerning readiness, laying a foundation, identifying a target, launching strategies, biggest mistakes made, assimilation and much more. If you’ve even wondered about starting a second service, you’ll gain insight and be helped. The training features experienced pastors and is being coordinated through the synod by Ben Ingebretson. There is no charge for these events. Register by emailing Chad Schuitema.
Join the Illiana-Florida Church Multiplication Movement – The Illiana/Florida Classis Church Multiplication team is looking for church planters for upcoming projects! We provide assessment, training, coaching, support and funding for new church plants. If you are interested, go tohttp://www.iplantchurchplanting.com/ and click “start process.”
On a recent study tour to Israel/Palestine we walked up the hill to the place called Mount Precipice, the traditional site where an angry mob of people tried to throw him off the cliff. Early in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus gave a sermon in his hometown of Nazareth. By the time Jesus arrived in Nazareth, the people were buzzing about his teaching in synagogues around Galilee and the performing of healings and miracles. So when he stood up in the midst of the congregation and was handed the scroll of Isaiah to read, all eyes fell on this newest local celebrity. He shared the following passage: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then Luke records that he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. He told them: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”
For those of us who are pastors, we love it when there is visible response to one of our sermons, whether it’s a tear shed, a face enlightened by God’s presence, or a simple prayer uttered. It delights us that God uses us, as unworthy as we are, to impact the transformation of lives week after week. But I don’t think we’d like to get the kind of response Jesus got to his sermon. His words were so powerful that the people of Nazareth just couldn’t handle it. They ran him out of town and tried to throw him off the cliff. Why?
They had no idea how radical God’s love is. When he came to his hometown synagogue to read the Scriptures, they were proud. When he read God’s plan for salvation and freedom, they were excited. When he said that these things were fulfilled “in their hearing” they were amazed and began to nudge each other. So far, so good. But when he brought up examples of prophets who showed God’s favor for Gentiles over the Jews, implying the radical love of God for people who they deemed unlovable, it was too much for them to bear. The hometown preacher boy got kicked out of town.
I wonder sometimes if we were really aware of how radical God’s love is, how undeserved and overwhelmingly and ridiculously unfathomable it is, would we kick Jesus out too? Maybe so! We live in a culture where we’re taught you have to earn what you’ve gotten. How odd it is to think of God’s love, the most valuable thing in the universe, as something beyond the grasp of our control. There’s nothing we can do to make God love us anymore, and there’s nothing we can do to make God love us any less. It’s bigger and more powerful than we can imagine. And yes, it crosses the boundaries and the walls that we construct to keep people different than we are out of our lives. Do we really understand how radical and powerful God’s love is? Unfortunately, the church doesn’t even live it out in the places where we are called to live.
I remember reading a book by Philip Yancey entitled, “What’s So Amazing About Grace.” Set against a society where liberal and conservative Christians are too often publicly at each other’s throat, Yancey argues for the need to show more love and less judgment. He writes, “I’ve been in politics long enough to expect criticism and hostility. But I was unprepared for the hatred I get from Christians. Why do Christians hate so much?” Jesus refused to hate. In fact, his love was so radical that people hated him for it. I pray that we will discover the depths of that kind of love.
In a collection of letters from various Christians and Jewish children, one writes: “Dear God, I bet it is very hard for You to love all of everybody in the whole world. They are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it – Nan.” Yes, God’s love is radical. It’s powerful, it’s unexplainable, and it’s what the cross and the resurrection are all about. Sometimes it is hard. But most of all, it’s life giving. Give yourself to love someone today. Wayne Van Regenmorter
Wayne’s Schedule: April
21: Meeting/Grand Rapids, Michigan
22: Meeting/Faith Church/Dyer, IN
23: Coaching Cluster Confab/Lawndale Conference Center/Chicago, IL
24: Ridley Assessment/Kalamazoo, MI
25: Commissioned Pastor Video Conferencing Meeting
26: Missional Cafe Event/Calvary Reformed Church/Orland Park, IL
27: Preach/Beecher Campus/Beecher, IL
28: Church Multiplication Webinar
29: Synod Staff Meeting/American Reformed Church/DeMotte, IN
30: Synod Executive Team Conference Call Meeting May
4: Sunday Worship
Wayne’s contact information: 10088 Prairie Knoll Ct. St. John, IN 46373 Mobile: (941) 302-1281 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chad’s Schedule: April
22: Office/Ridder Church Renewal
23: Manitoqua Office/Ebenezer Reformed Church, Oregon IL
24: Office/Coaching/Illiana-Florida Revitalization Meeting
25: Office/Commissioned Pastor Video Conference
29: Synod Staff Meeting/DeMotte
30: Synod Executive Team Conference Call
2: Office/Ridder Church Renewal
Chad’s Contact Information:
2533 Mar Ruth Drive
Lafayette, IN 47905
Office: (815) 464-9181
Mobile: (765) 237-7678
*Note: as of May 9 my contact information will be changing to:
2104 Campbell Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Stories of Celebration:
*This issue’s story of celebration comes from Faith Church’s Hammond Campus and the Hammond Arts Center.
Our goal at the Hammond Arts Center is to be a place where the Hammond community encounters Christ’s love. We have found that reaching people through the arts is a powerful and unique way to do that. It allows us to build intentional relationships. Through many conversations, it’s become clear that many of the people who have come through the doors of the HAC would not have come through the doors of our church without first having the relationships with us that they have! Faith Church’s vision for ministry is to “Reach the disconnected and grow the connected”. The HAC is proving itself to be a valuable way to reach the disconnected.
As arts funding in our schools continues to be cut, we’ve partnered with three local schools to provide free after school art classes. In addition, we have community art classes at our facility for both adults and children. In 2013 we had approximately 190 children and adults take part in our classes. So far in 2014 we have had about 85! We are currently gearing up for our summer children’s classes and our annual community picnic at Harrison park (across the street from the HAC).
As the arts community in Hammond grows, the HAC is in a great position to form relationships and partner with local artists and the broader Hammond community. Our monthly art shows feature work from local artists, both in the church and in the community. The first Friday of each month we host art show openings where we provide food and live music. This fun, relaxed atmosphere provides unique opportunities to interact and build relationships with our community.
The Lord has called us into a community that is largely unchurched and who have deep needs. These classes and events are a great way to get to know individuals and families and start building into their lives. We’ve been excited to see the Lord begin to work and have seen moms start attending MOPS and families and individuals visit our church as a result.
Sarah Smith, HAC Director
*Telling our stories is a way for us to encourage each other and to share what the Spirit is doing through the churches and people of our synod. As you share yours, others may be empowered to do similar things or the Spirit may use it as a starting point for another idea to reach people for Christ. We encourage you to share!
If you would like to share a story for a future issue, please email@example.com