Dear Friends: We’ve been in the process of remodeling our kitchen in our 110 year old home the last couple of months. We hired a contractor who works by himself and in order to make the job go a little faster (and save some money) we have helped with some of the demolition and other projects that we are able to do. I am not what you would call “handy” but I can follow directions pretty well. My wife and I have both learned how to install flooring, put in lights, patch plaster, and many other things we didn’t think we could do. This has reminded me of discipleship in many ways. We learn from Jesus to do things we didn’t know before – in fact, we even learn from Jesus to do things we didn’t think we could do! Jesus is just looking for us to be willing to try. My first patch of the plaster had a big hump in it and I had to do it over again, but the second time I did it, it looked great. We may fail as we try and follow Jesus through our lives as his disciples, but every failure is a learning opportunity. I know I have a new willingness to try some things that are part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, whereas before I thought, I’ll never change that, or I’ll never get that, or that’s just who I am. All Jesus is looking for is a willingness to try – you don’t have to be perfect – you just have to try. — Chad
The RCA Restructuring Team has been conducting regional update meetings and you’re invited! Join members of the RCA restructuring team and GSC staff leadership for an in-person, roundtable event at Christ Community Church, 13400 Bell Rd, Lemont, IL 60439-8131 on Saturday, April 1, 2023 at 9-11 a.m. (Central). During this time, attendees will hear what the restructuring team has been working on and the outcomes around which they feel called to restructure, after much discernment. There will also be a time for attendees to ask questions and provide feedback on what is presented. This invitation is for RCA members in your area, especially young people with a heart for the RCA’s future. No RSVP is necessary.
During this season of Lent you may want to focus more on your connection to God. The RCA’s Lenten resources can help with that – especially the Lenten Devotions on the Psalms. I’ve found them to be rich, insightful, and helpful.
Flourishing Churches Grants are back. These grants are generously funded by the RCA’s Church Growth Fund and are intended for thriving RCA churches that need facility upgrades for continued flourishing ministry. This year, the RCA will be awarding five grants of up to $50,000 each to RCA churches that have been organized for more than three years and intend to stay in the denomination. Visit the Flourishing Churches Grant webpage for more details about eligibility criteria. Grant applications are due May 31
Many church leaders are feeling stuck in the midst of burnout, cultural volatility, uncertainty and unhealthy church processes. Don’t miss this upcoming Church Now Conversation (presented by Vibrant Congregations, a ministry partnership between the RCA and CRC0 with John Messer of the Luminex Group. John will provide insight and guidance to help us discover systemic, long-term solutions to moving our churches forward in a life-giving way. Please join us on Thursday, March 9th at 11am EST
for our next live Church Now Conversation. Register HERE to join the conversation! And then, jump over to this YouTube link when the time comes: https://www.youtube.com/live/5JmpznowdNY?feature=share
Understanding the Bible: How to study Scripture – In 2016, General Synod recognized that across the RCA, we didn’t have a shared understanding of what it means to read Scripture with a Reformed lens. Synod called for the development of resources to cultivate a Reformed understanding of Scripture. The video series that was created then, featuring J. Todd Billings, is still a helpful tool and has recently been updated as a three-part online course, offered free on Faithward. Todd, who is Gordon H. Girod research professor of Reformed theology at Western Theological Seminary, first developed this course as a video series that could be used in a church setting, and it was recently updated for individual use, too.
NEWS FROM CAMP MANITOQUA Registration for Overnight Camp opens on March 8 at 6am! Go to www.manitoqua.org for more information.
Good Friday Prayer Walk – Come walk our grounds anytime on Good Friday (April 7) between 11:00am and 3:00pm as you read through the events leading up to the crucifixion of Christ. Click HERE to learn more.
Work Day! It would be difficult for us to imagine what the ministry of Camp Manitoqua would be like if we did not have the support of local churches and our brothers and sisters in Christ and so we invite anyone to come and help at our annual work day happening this year on April 15. Click HERE to learn more.
LINKS YOU MAY FIND USEFUL
The Real Reason Churches Are in Decline– Citing statistics is only one part of the picture of churches in 2023. Blaming our culture for attendance decline can be futile. This author says the real reason churches are in decline is us. Read it and see what you think.
7 Key Characteristics of Diversity-Oriented Churches – Diversity-oriented churches, despite the challenges they face, are some of the fastest growing churches in the United States, says Brian Leander. He names seven characteristics that help explain how these churches are able to embrace greater racial, ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic diversity.