New Synod of Mid-America Website
The synod’s website has been redesigned. In addition to classis/church listings and previous newsletters, there are discipleship and prayer resources available on the site. Visit www.msyn.organd check it out.
Call for Bloggers
If you are a blogger, or your pastor is a blogger, or someone in your church blogs regularly about things pertaining to faith and church and you would like to share that blog with the synod to be featured in a future newsletter, please email the information to Chad Schuitema.
RCA Job Posting: Coordinator for Local Missional Engagement
The Coordinator for Local Missional Engagement is responsible to empower, equip, and engage congregations, classes, and regional synods in the Reformed Church in America to live out the gospel of Jesus Christ in transformational ways, bringing salvation, compassion, reconciliation, justice, blessing, and hope to individuals, families, and communities that God draws into relationship through divine appointments and opportunities to express faith and love in action. More information can be found here.
Last Call for Youth Delegate to 2014 General Synod
Annually each regional synod of the RCA can send one youth corresponding delegate to General Synod (Central College in Pella, Iowa, June 12-17, 2014). A corresponding delegate participates like a regular delegate but is not able to vote. A â€œyouthâ€ 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 to be a minister, 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 Spiritâ€™s voice. Do you know of someone who might be a candidate for this youth delegate? Please give your suggested name and contact email address to Chad Schuitema.
Synod of Mid-America Youth Invited to Genesis: 2014
Genesis is an event for Senior High students, where leaders and students can worship honestly and grow spiritually. Students are given an opportunity to lead and serve in various ways, grow together as a group, and connect with the other youth that have all converged on The Grand Traverse Resort, Traverse City, Michigan. This event is sponsored by the Regional Synod of the Great Lakes. The 2014 event will be held February 28 thru March 2, 2014 with the cost being $175. This year the Synod of the Great Lakes invites the youth of the Synod of Mid-America to Genesis! For more information see here: http://genesisevent.org/
Smaller Churches Moving Forward…
According to Barna research, 80 percent of the churches in North America are plateaued or on decline. Pastors and church leaders are very much aware of this current reality and are working hard to be missional and show the love of God to their communities. They attend conferences and hear exciting stories of vision and change but return back home to face some of the same challenges and frustrations. How can the church transition so that those who are disconnected can hear the message of salvation in Christ Jesus? How can a congregation move forward to see renewal and revival which often creates conflict and difficulty for many congregations?
Steve Reynolds pastored primarily small churches and has struggled with these questions for more than 32 years. He is now the director of 4T…I-40 church consulting, a ministry designed to bring affordable consultation services to smaller churches. His ministry is described on its website as, “a church consulting ministry that seeks to equip any local church that is going through any type of transition whether it would be through pastoral change, a change in church or community, a change due to a crisis in the church, or any kind of transition.” His ministry derives its name from, “Transformation Thorough Transitional Times” and the passage of Scripture which says, “They will soar like eagles” from Isaiah 40:31 – thus 4T…I-40.
In his recent blog, Pastor Reynolds identifies six factors needed for a congregation to move forward. They have their foundation in Numbers 13-14:9 where the Israelites struggled with the same question as they wandered in the wilderness and came to the doorstep of the Promised Land. Here are the factors that he identifies:
“Factor #1: EVALUATE WHO THE LEADERS ARE (Numbers 13:1-6) – Without leadership, a congregation will not likely move forward. Before the exploration of the land and the development of a strategy to enter the land, a team of leaders representing the various tribes gathered to begin the process. A congregation would do well to identify and evaluate its leaders before moving forward. A leader may participate in a governing board, but often someone else has a great deal of influence in the congregation regardless of his or her function.
Factor #2: EXAMINE THE LANDSCAPE (Numbers 13:17-24) – Moving forward requires an understanding of the landscape or ministry setting. When the spies entered the land, they thoroughly examined the land God had promised and the people who lived there. Likewise, congregations need to understand their own communities and to understand the opportunities and obstacles that await them. A congregation may find it helpful to have an outside â€œset of eyesâ€ such as a consultant to assist in this process.
Factor #3: EXPLAIN TO THE CONGREGATION THE OPPORTUNITIES AND OBSTACLES (Numbers 13:25-29) – The report brought back to the Israelites spoke of the fruit and fertility of the land but also spoke of some of the threats. Moving forward requires an honest look at the landscape that must be communicated with the congregation. Churches often fail either by moving forward without looking at the obstacles (with the result that they are not prepared) or by being so focused on the obstacles they do not move forward.
Factors #4: EMBRACE THE VISION OF GOD’S PROMISES (Numbers 13:30) – In the midst of much discussion, Caleb knew God would lead His people into the land. While open communication is important, in order to move forward, a congregation must move beyond the â€œtalking phaseâ€ and embrace Godâ€™s vision for the church.
Factor #5: EXPECT OPPOSITION (Numbers 13:31-14:4) – Opposition begins with a â€œWe canâ€™tâ€ attitude that really means, â€œWe wonâ€™tâ€ and begins the process of disobedience and unbelief in Godâ€™s promises. Opposition continued to grow into grumbling, which in the Hebrew text suggests the people became set in their ways. Opposition continued to grow into a desire to turn back, and culminated in outright rebellion with the Israelites demanding their leaders be replaced. Whenever a congregation moves forward, expect opposition.
Factor #6: ENERGIZE THE VISON BY STAYING FOCUSED ON GOD (Numbers 14:5-9) – While the opposition continued, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb stayed focused on God and His promises with prayerful humility, sorrow and conviction. Moving forward centers itself in the fact that God will faithfully lead his church through the opportunities and obstacles.”
I want to encourage pastors and church leaders because moving forward is always difficult and challenging. Just look at the Israelites in their demonstration of fear, anxiety and outright rebellion. Would we expect anything different in a congregational setting? But eventually as the ancient people followed the Lord’s leading, they entered the Promised Land and celebrated all the blessings of God. The once unhappy and rebellious people found in Numbers 14 eventually discovered purpose, meaning and victory in Joshua 3-4! Pastors and church leaders can learn and lead congregations through transition and move forward as empowered by the Holy Spirit who leads people to victory and celebration.
Wayne Van Regenmorter
January 27: Coaching, Conference Call, Office 28: Wisconsin Ridder Regional Implementation Team
Conference Call 29: Management Team New Church Plant Calls
Chicago Classis Coordinating Committee Meeting,
Calvary Reformed Church, Orland Park, IL
31: Synod/Classis Staff Meeting/First Reformed Church/Racine, WI with Tony Campbell
February 1: Missional Cafe Event/Calvary Reformed Church/Orland Park, IL
2: Sunday Worship
3: Transformed and Transforming Implementation Meeting
4: Strategic Planning Meeting Faith Church, Dyer, IN
When Having an Opinion is A Weary Endeavor by Nate Pyle: Too often we listen to another person with a posture of â€œagree/disagreeâ€ or â€œright/wrongâ€ or â€œhow can I respond and look good.â€ What does a community of grace and truth look like?
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!No story this issue.