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What’s wrong with Peppermints?

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Ok, so we had a crisp, hard hitting Reformation sermon that sounded like it was threatening to take away at least one thing each of us find important in church. But taking a crack at peppermints, that was going too far. “Is he going to ban peppermints?” was a question floating in the air after church like the fragrance of mint rubbed under the arms.

And after the combined service, the awareness was, “At least Rev Pols is gentle in how he asks us to keep changing and re-examining our practices.”

Are we getting any better at taking ourselves lightly yet? It’s a sign of maturity you know!

Today I will borrow from Bert Witvoet and Reformed Worship magazine for my blog posting:

http://www.reformedworship.org/article/september-1994/peppermint-christianity-firsthand-experience-dutch-tradition

Savor it.

The Oversight Committee’s report to Classis

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OK this won’t interest everyone, but at Classis last week the committee of Classis that is overseeing Nobleford CRC’s process of self-evaluation gave a report. I think it is worth sharing, and have asked the Committee for permission to do so. Consensus is that it is a public document, having been presented at Classis in a public setting.

“Classis” is a twice-a-year regional gathering of appointed Pastor Elder and Deacon delegates from each church.

Classis appointed such an oversight team for the congregation and for Pastor Kevin when the Article 17 parting was finalized. In each case the oversight groups will give final advice to Classis about whether and when the congregation is ready to be approved to call a pastor again, and in the case of Pastor Kevin Jordan, whether and when he is ready to be available to entertain a call to a church.

Here is a link to the report: http://wp.me/P3etrg-98

Today I’m thinking about questions

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My reality is I like a good question much more than a ‘neat’ ‘tight’ or ‘closed’ question or answer. Yesterday I had several conversations with people where they were asking good questions that were having them grappling in a good way. So this week’s post is about the value of good questions.

You can get there by clicking on the underlined phrase, but here’s the link as well: http://wp.me/P3etrg-8W

Some thoughts about “Attributing Motive”

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Here is the link to my blog post for this week: http://wp.me/P3etrg-5s

If anyone would like me to continue the print editions and/or audio/video editions of these posts, please let me know. I am reluctant to put the time and effort into them without some confidence that people are actually consistently using them.

Where we are in the STM process

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It seems fitting to give you a sense of how far along we are, inasmuch as I can get a sense of it myself. The tricky part of laying out a planned process is that sometimes things happen that call for a complete change of direction. So, remember that as you read this outline of steps.

To background a bit, remember that Classis Alberta South required you as a congregation to undergo a ‘guided reflection’ process to their satisfaction before you could get permission to call another pastor. This is standard practice in most Classes after a parting of ways between a Pastor and Congregation such as you have had.

Much as some want to deny anything was ‘wrong’ the reality is that a major disruption has occurred and history has shown that unless pastors and congregations spend some time in assisted reflection on what transpired, nothing is learned, the Kingdom is not served, and problem relationships tend to recur.

I am the Specialized Transitional Minister contracted to lead you in that reflection.

1. My first step was to get to know the congregation and its members as well as I could in a short time. That part has just been completed.

2. The second step is to form the Transition Team (TT) — a group of people who will help me in sorting out the truth or fiction from what I think I have learned about you and what happened with your last pastor, and who will communicate with you as a council and congregation about these things. They will also likely seek information from you at some point in step 4, and then will be the people who will attempt to discern future directions. This step is almost completed.

3. Once the Team is formed, we usually look extensively at the history of the congregation, but my gut says that would in fact not be helpful or necessary because your history is pretty fresh on people’s minds from the celebration of 100 years. So instead we move to the next step, where I share with the Transition Team everything I think I have seen and have concluded in my interaction with the congregation, and ask them to verify or prove mistaken my perceptions. So we will go through my extensive list of observations, and the ones a consensus of the TT agrees are valid will go into a report.

4. Next, it is likely the TT will seek information from the congregation on ‘best experiences and practices’ from the past. This might be done in an ‘interview night’ where you come in and are asked a set of questions like: “When, in your experience, do you think God’s Holy Spirit was most active in Nobleford Christian Reformed Church (NCRC)? What was happening that showed it?” or “Of all the pastors you have known, what about them most helped you grow spiritually? The answers will all be pulled together into a profile report of what NCRC likes to see happen.

5. This may be the hardest part, or it may be self-evident after steps 3 & 4, but it will be the task of the TT — with the agreement of Council — to identify who God is calling the Nobleford CRC to be right now and going forward, and how that might be accomplished. It will likely be referred to as our “Congregational Calling” and should be something almost everyone can agree to.

To be fair, I need to say that this is a point at which some people might say “I can’t subscribe to that” and may begin to talk about not being part of the future of NCRC. That may be hard. But having too many contradictory ideas of the the church’s calling operating in one congregation also will prevent movement in any direction at all, and will only continue conflict at a level that is not helpful. More on all that in another blog someday…

6. Once the “Congregational Calling” has been processed and agreed to by council (the TT is a committee under Council’s authority), the next question they will address is “What kind of a pastor do we need to accomplish what God is calling us to be?”

For instance, if the Congregational Calling becomes “We are a place to raise only our own children and grandchildren in a safe environment where they learn the foundations and traditions of the Reformed faith” you will need a differently educated and experienced pastor than if it becomes “We are a church with a mandate to reach out to all those in Nobelford who do not yet know God’s love in Jesus Christ and to help them become Reformational disciples of Jesus.” I’m hoping that the different needs are self-evident. This information will be turned into the ‘calling profile’ of what kind of pastor NCRC likely needs next.

7. At that point we can begin to form a Pastor Search Team, providing Classis has been asked for and has given the go-ahead to extend a call. I will then train the search team using new materials Pastor-Church Relations has just published. At that point I usually begin to look for where my next contract will be, but I promise that my intent is to not leave until the Search Team is adequately prepared and equipped.

So, as you can see, we are on major step 2 of a process that has 7 steps. My contract is for one year, renewable in 6 month or one year increments. I cannot see accomplishing all this in less than 2 years in total.