Becoming a “Bleeding Heart Christian” and Other Perils of Radical Love


This recent post by Jana Greene on her blog, The Beggar’s Bakery, should–in my opinion– be read by any white evangelical Christian questioning what they are or should be doing during these times of so much unrest and calls for justice in light of the death/killing of George Floyd and countless other African Americans in the U.S.

The Beggar's Bakery

By: Jana Greene

This is an article I need to write. I’ve been needing to write it for years, but haven’t had the courage to “come out,” lest I disappoint friends and family. And that itself is sad, from my current vantage point, but we too often inherit our political beliefs and sit on them like the goose who laid the golden egg.
But I can sit on it no longer. The egg is rotten.
I’m finding it disturbing which issues are falling down party lines lately. Things that should just be a HUMAN thing are becoming a political thing.
Us vs. them. Right vs. wrong. Enough already.

Something shifted in me years ago and I can’t dance around the really hard issues anymore. It started when it became apparent that my daughter in her late teens was becoming a *GASP* LIBERAL. I couldn’t believe it! My far-right heart…

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Organizational Effectiveness and Mustard Seed Missiology


RECONCILERS with Chris Rice

mustard seedTo measure organizational effectiveness, one default mode for Christian non-profit leaders is looking to books like From Good to Great. Personally, I will be forever grateful for the paradigm of management guru Peter Drucker in The Effective Executive: “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”

We live in an age where Christian organizations are under increased donor pressure to show immediate, visible results. But with that comes the following temptation of results-based management: Theassumption that deep long-term change in the world is always under human control.

For the “faith” of faith-based organizations to be meaningful requires thinking missiologically about effectiveness. The following account of Hong Kong scholar Kim-Kwong Chan is illustrative. Chan writes about the fate of Christianity in China after foreign missionaries were dismissed by the Communists who came to power in the 1950s. In the following two decades and especially during Mao Zedong’s…

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Shifting From Doing Ministry For to With Others … and Why it Matters


This presentation by Wendy McCaig of Community Way in Richmond, Virginia is an excellent introduction to why and how we need to shift from doing ministry for others in the community to doing ministry with them. This brief video is worth watching even if you are a seasoned practitioner in some form of community ministry.

 

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What Does Inclusion in the Church Look Like?


The following post was written by David Morstad and originally appeared on his blog/website, Larger Table: Reflections at the Crossroads of Faith and Disability 

Special Worship

When it comes to people with developmental disabilities, integration into typical environments is always the best option.  Or is it?

One look at where people with developmental disabilities have lived over the past few decades demonstrates a decided shift away from institutions and, more recently, even group homes.  A similar move has happened in public school classrooms.  The number of self-contained special education schools and classrooms is a fraction of what it once was.  The future (and the present, for that matter) belongs to more independent and integrated environments.

Still, some specialized and dedicated activities remain and most people would agree that they are, in no way, viewed as problems to be solved.  Special Olympics is wildly popular and continues to offer important experiences that may be unavailable elsewhere.  These programs offer people an opportunity to experience success, camaraderie, joy and interaction.

As people of faith, this issue should grab our attention because the same philosophical discussion is going on in our ministries.

Where is worship for people with developmental disabilities most meaningful and inclusive?  Does it happen best when people participate as an integrated part of a congregation that earnestly announces its welcome and acceptance of all people, regardless of ability?  Or, is it more likely to happen in an environment specifically designed to accommodate different styles of expression or learning? As the reach of both types expands, the question – integrated, congregation-based ministry, or a dedicated, disability-friendly ministry – becomes more and more important to consider.

Understandably, people with disabilities and their families have learned to be wary of programs that seem to separate them from their non-disabled peers.  They may have become equally wary of the “You are welcome!” invitation with the implied understanding, “Please sit quietly in the back.”  Sometimes, worship that appears integrated really isn’t.  The hymnals are opened, but I cannot read.  The congregation is told to rise, but I am able to do so only in spirit. An atmosphere of quiet is expected, but I am unable to control the sounds I make. The sermons invite sustained attention and depth of thought, neither of which is counted among my gifts.  I am present here, but am I truly included?

Then, there are the alternative, specialized or dedicated ministries designed specifically for the needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  In the Christian tradition, there are several examples of organizations designed for this purpose, and their success is impressive.  The list includes groups such as Friendship MinistriesJesus Cares MinistriesRejoicing Spirits and a host of independent ministries. In every case, soft or loud, active or passive, the word is proclaimed, prayers find voice, and praise is freely expressed.  These are not environments merely of welcome and accommodation.  Differences are celebrated here and participants, the only ones truly qualified to judge, call them what they are: Inclusive.

The paradox, that the most inclusive environment for an individual may be one that happens apart from the congregation, is an important dialogue into which we are all called. And we ought not be satisfied with easy answers.

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My Name is Not “Those People”


Minnesotan Julia Dinsmore has known poverty all of her life and is no stranger to homelessness. Her childhood was marked by frequent moves, chaos and episodes of violence — her mother struggled with mental illness, her father with alcoholism. As an adult, she has struggled to support herself and her three sons through insurmountable medical needs and expenses. “My dream is to earn enough money so I can get myself situated and help my kids and grandkids,” she says.

Julia uses her gifts in creative storytelling, music and poetry to educate others on the effects of poverty. Below is a video presentation of her poem, “My Name is Not ‘Those People’”, which speaks to the importance of remembering the human stories and realities behind issues that are often looked at solely through a policy lens.mynameischildofgod_juliadinsmor_book

She has written and published a book, My Name is Child of God . . . Not “Those People”: A First Person Look at Poverty. “Julia Dinsmore puts a face on poverty and challenges readers to answer God’s call to respond to poverty and its effects.” (Amazon)

 

 

As Christians, we must continually ask ourselves what was asked of Christ: “Who is my neighbor?” We must also ask ourselves, do I think of my neighbor as “the other”? Does my voice, and my vote, build a wall between myself and “those people”?


Source: ELCA blog post, “My Name is Not ‘Those People’”

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Healing Peace …


I was reading some recent Advent postings and came upon this one from the blog, In Silence Waits. Reading and reflecting on these words brought me some much needed comfort, peace, and hope. I hope and pray they do the same for others who come upon them.

My Soul In Silence Waits

Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.
— John 14:27

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

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Congregational Resources for Disability Week (Oct 10-16)


Journey Toward Shalom

Disability Week (October 10 – 16) encourages congregations to grow in becoming places of belonging for everyone and places to engage their gifts in ministry—with a particular focus on people with disabilities.

Christian Reformed churches (CRCNA) and ministries are encouraged to celebrate Disability Week October 10 through 16, 2016. These dates correspond with Reformed Church in America (RCA) Disability Awareness Sunday and with various disability organizations in North America. Depending on your church’s calendar, other Sundays would be appropriate as well.

Continue reading @ Resources for Disability Week

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Congregational Resources for Disability Week (Oct 10-16)


Disability Week (October 10 – 16) encourages congregations to grow in becoming places of belonging for everyone and places to engage their gifts in ministry—with a particular focus on people with disabilities.

Christian Reformed churches (CRCNA) and ministries are encouraged to celebrate Disability Week October 10 through 16, 2016. These dates correspond with Reformed Church in America (RCA) Disability Awareness Sunday and with various disability organizations in North America. Depending on your church’s calendar, other Sundays would be appropriate as well.

Continue reading @ Resources for Disability Week

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Why Reformed Christians Hate Being “Reformed”


I greatly appreciated these words and thought they were worth sharing with those who read my blog.

STACEY MIDGE

The author of today’s letter is Audrey Edewaard, a 2016 graduate of Western Theological Seminary who was a Corresponding Delegate to this year’s General Synod. Send your #WeAretheRCA letter to revstacey@gmail.com, or if you’d like an additional layer of anonymity, drop me a comment and we’ll make other arrangements. 

Dear Reformed Christians and RCA leaders,

My name is Audrey Edewaard, and I unabashedly love the RCA (it’s actually a bit embarrassing). My denominational identity has been nurtured by a lifetime spent in the RCA, thoughtful professors at Western Theological Seminary and Calvin College, my exuberant family, my call to preach and to teach, and ineffable moments of humility. My love for the RCA is largely influenced by a Reformed articulation of Scripture, tradition, and witness.

One of the many fundamental characteristics I love about the RCA is its commitment to be transformed and transforming; reformed and reforming (whichever slogan you…

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Engage 2016: A Multiethnic Gathering—Why You Should Be There


This summer from June 8-10 plan to attend “Engage 2016: A Multiethnic Gathering” hosted by the CRCNA and located on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Read more . . . Engage 2016: A Multiethnic Gathering—Why You Should Be There

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