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: Vacant
Past President: Edie Lenz (Illinois)
“Growing Young” a Snapshot of one Gathering:
On a warm spring day in downtown Sheboygan at Remedy church a group nearly a hundred people gathered to understand what growing young means in the church. The ecumenical gathering showed the need for this message. Our speaker Steven Argue, PhD from the Fuller Youth Institute, came to shake us and stir our imaginations.
Churches growing young simply means helping young people discover and love your church, which brings overall vitality to the whole church. During our time together Steve led us through a broad array of points that focused on the topic at hand. Using both winsome expressions and telling stories he opened up opportunities for everyone to engage in conversation together on the points at hand.
Consider what it would look like if your congregation started a learning community using Growing Young as its guidepost. Starting with Keychain Leadership then moving through the other points such as Empathy Today, Jesus’ Message, Warm Relationships (which includes Growing Old), Prioritize Everywhere, and Best Neighbors makes these activities transferable and renewing.
Unlock Keychain Leadership – share the keys; capabilities, power, and access to empower young people.
Empathize with Today’s Young People – asking these three questions of our Emerging Adults (18-29 year olds); Identity, Belonging, and Purpose.
Take Jesus’ Message Seriously – three key shifts; more about Jesus, more about life, and more authentic honesty.
Fuel a Warm Community – Warmth defined by young people; Warm is the new Cool.
Prioritize Young People Everywhere – Intentionally paying attention, prioritizing families, and young people must play a load-bearing role.
Be the Best Neighbors – “Who is my neighbor?”, Mt 22:34-40 and Lk 10:25-37; Hospitable neighbors, patient neighbors, and courageous neighbors.
There is no myth; only, can we become people that empower others to lead. Nothing was nuanced, it was plain as day; taking it back to our churches requires our own letting go and seeking to hear the voice of our young people and embrace what Jesus has told us repeatedly to love one another. For me this was a reminder that wherever you are at in the church you have something to offer and that I need to open the doors so you can. I would highly recommend the book to the whole church.
— Rev. Tony De La Rosa
Reclaiming the Gates is a new 6-week training program for men high-school-aged and older involves 45 minutes of instruction and 45 minutes of small group interaction. Our vision is to empower men to empower leaders of the next generation. To accomplish this vision, we must:
Identify those men who want to be a part of the solution of building the next generation of leaders.
Equip them to heal from the wounds that hinder them from helping.
Inform these men of opportunities to to serve young men.
Deploy them to areas where they can make a difference.
Contact Jason Perry about leading your Men’s Group or young men through this 6-week series.
The Regional Synod of Mid-America’s Annual Session took place on May 2, 2017. Minutes from this meeting can be found here. The Rev. Jason DeVries was elected Vice-President of the region, and in addition to hearing reports from the president, synod staff, and the Mission/Vision Task Force, each classis examined the current reality of the regional synod and began discerning future direction.
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.
General Synod is June 8-13 at Hope College in Holland, MI. Delegates from classes and the regional synods will gather to do the business of the church. Please be in prayer for these delegates and the leaders who will attend. If you want to keep up on all things General Synod, you can click here.
News from Camp Manitoqua Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center invites you to our Spring Into Summer event on Saturday, June 3, 2017. With a 12,000’ family friendly obstacle run to start the day, there will also be free swimming, food, and activities for kids and adults alike, as we kick off our 2017 summer camp season. Click HERE to register for the 12,000’ Obstacle Run and click HERE for more information about the rest of the day!
Cooks & Summer Kitchen Assistants: For cooks, food service experience and sanitation license is preferred. No experience needed for summer kitchen assistants. Contact email@example.com for an application or call the office at 815.469.2319.
Registration for ‘Summer Camp 2017 begins February 1st. Remember to register early for preferred dates. Visit Manitoqua.org for more information and to register, or call our office at 815.469.2319.
STORIES OF CELEBRATION
We share stories of celebration to glorify God. This month’s story comes from Rev. Chad Strabbing and St. Paul Reformed Church in Van Wert, OH. 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.
At St. Paul’s we have created an environment of praying and waiting to see what opportunities to serve our community that God places in our path to join Him in. One of our adult Sunday school classes has slowly been working through Blackaby’s Experiencing God and began a special prayer time focusing on listening and seeking God’s direction for our church. This has been instrumental in creating that environment.
One place we have been called is to a ministry in Van Wert called Bread & Bowl. It’s an outreach ministry through the local co-op ministry that provides a meal every Friday evening at a church in downtown Van Wert for those who are low income and in need. We became aware of this when one of our members joined the co-op ministry board. She felt called to take the lead in our church to become a part even though she was very hesitant as she didn’t consider herself to be a cook. Through following God’s call she has found that when faithful, God will surround you with people who will make it successful. She found she not only can plan these meals but also draw people from our church to be a part in various ways in this ministry.
Each church that is a part of Bread & Bowl is put on a monthly schedule to serve a Friday night meal with members from the church collecting ingredients, preparing and serving. This has not only connected us with other churches through a common ministry, it has also brought together many members of our church who have not served in other ministries. The community building as a group and with those in need has been an incredible lift to our congregation. In seeing many of the same people each time we serve has created some good relationships as well as an appreciation for what those in need go through.
This has provided opportunities to pray, encourage, and connect with those that we may not have had the opportunity before. Some even ask for prayers for family or life situations. It has also been interesting to see a few of our members connect with people from their past that they have lost touch and have come for a meal.
We keep looking for where God is leading us. Right now we are waiting to see if another opportunity works out with a local Boy Scout troop possibly using our building. When we follow where God leads us we believe we will continue to make an impact on our community.
THOUGHTS FROM WAYNE
The Web Weaving of the Spirit…
Would you care to take a guess at this question: what is five times stronger than the same weight of steel? It’s spider silk. Researchers at MIT have been studying the remarkable strength of the silk spiders spin, as well as the intricate design of a spiders web which boosts durability. A single strand of spider silk can stretch 20% of its length before breaking. What’s more amazing is that the complex web structure means that when a single strand of the web breaks, the overall strength of the web increases rather than weakens. Markus Buehler, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston said, “The real strength of the web is not the silk but how its mechanical properties change as things strain it, which is a very sleek inbuilt feature which could be used in many areas of life to contain damage to a small area.” Researchers found the silk itself has an ability to soften or stiffen to withstand different types of loads – unlike any other natural or man-made fibers. When woven by a spider, the web is pieced together in just the right way to catch the largest insects with the smallest amount of material. If a strand or two of the web breaks, the spider can do minor repairs rather than start from scratch. Tests show that removing up to 10% of the threads from various areas of the web made the web not weaker but actually 10% stronger.
But I know of something that even stronger. I know of something that can withstand anything. I know of something that cannot be broken by the greatest evil or most threatening blow. It lasts forever and just keeps getting stronger every time it is beaten, bruised, or pierced. It’s the body of Christ. It’s the strongest web in the world. And the master weaver is the Holy Spirit. It’s strong because Christ is the cornerstone, and it is upheld by His power. It’s a web because it is made of people with many different gifts, abilities, passions, personalities, and experiences.
What makes the body of Christ so strong is not that everyone is the same but that everyone is different. We tend to get this mixed up sometimes. We tend to value our own experience or culture over everyone else’s. We tend to want other people to be just like us, rather than to be just like they are supposed to be with all their diversity according to God’s design. Yet the Apostle Paul was clear, when he was writing to the Corinthian people, that everyone is uniquely gifted for ministry. Overwhelmed by the expression of a variety of gifts in the new church, I imagine people were perplexed. But Paul cleared it up by saying that there are a variety of gifts, services, and workings but one Lord.
If you have a moment, look in your pocket or purse and pull out a quarter. What does it say underneath the top? E PLURIBUS UNUM It means “of many one.” It’s the melting pot concept that our great country was founded on. Many people who were once different come together in a way that melts them together. I would dare say that the body of Christ might be more like E UNUS PLURIBUM Out of one comes many. From one Spirit we become a web of strength and power, but on the differences, diversity, and gifts we are all given. So don’t try to be someone else or try to get people to be just like you. Rather, be the best “you” you can be, the way God designed you to be!
Wednesday Is the New Sunday – Just like anybody else, churches in America are also trying to adapt to the changing times. That’s why even the time-honored tradition of 11 a.m. Sunday service is at risk. Some churches are even rescheduling their services on weekdays.
The Gift of Constraints – Instead of a “completely free hand,” maybe what we need are good constraints and the imagination to receive them as gifts for innovation. A Calvin College professor finds important lessons in Philadelphia’s newest art museum.