Pastor’s Corner – August 2015

_Paul-Tammy-Bradford-Portrait-Color-1 (2)Tammy and I have now been at RRC for 2½ months. We believe the Lord has led us here, and are very thankful! As we’ve been getting to know the congregation, we have been encouraged and blessed by the depth of love for God and others we have seen in the people at RRC, and by the strength of caring community we have observed.
 
It’s been a busy couple of months. We’ve been meeting with members of RRC to understand the richness of the congregation’s history and the present strengths and opportunities. I’ve been working with leaders, staff, and ministry teams to set goals and envision together the future the Lord has for our congregation. Tammy and I have particularly enjoyed our “Living Room Chats”. In the past few weeks we’ve met with 39 members of RRC, listening to personal stories, as well as hopes for the future. We want to meet with everyone at RRC. If we’ve not met with you yet, you can sign up online by going to rockfordreformedchurch.org/living-room-chats.
 
We’re also excited about the launch of Life Groups this fall. Life Groups are high-commitment, short-term groups designed to help us grow spiritually and develop meaningful, supportive friendships. Each Life Group session will be 10 weeks long, and sessions will be held in the fall, winter, and spring. The focus will be on Sharing, Study of the Scriptures, and Supporting one another in life and in our faith. Existing groups that already have these focuses may want to become Life Groups. We’re hoping everyone will participate in Life Groups for 2 or 3 sessions each year (see the Adult Ministry update below for more info).
 
I urge you to read through the entire Beacon each month. By doing so, you’ll be kept up to date with the many great things that are happening here at RRC. What’s more, you’ll be encouraged and excited to see what God is doing! So, enjoy your read!

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Consistory – August 2015

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The Consistory met on August 11 and we would like to share some items from the meeting with you, the members of the congregation.
 
Nomination forms are out now for you to nominate your choices for Elder, Deacon, and Administrative Board members. Prayerfully consider whom to nominate, complete your form, and drop it in the box provided at the back of the sanctuary next week.
 
The Consistory approved participating in Ridder Church Renewal. Ridder is a process for personal and congregational transformation. This 5-year process is divided into two modules, each 2½ years in length. A congregation commits to the first module (which, for us, begins in October) with the option to continue on to the second. The focus is on developing leadership and personal discipleship within the church, and leads to a renewed culture in a church, improving discernment, communication, and removing obstacles to growth and barriers to living out the church’s mission and vision. The core values are Integrity, Courage, Authenticity, and Love. A Ridder Committee, consisting of 4-6 people from the congregation plus the pastor, is trained in core values and skills, and then in turn trains the Consistory and Staff in these principles. The principles are then transferred into the congregation through teaching and training events. Ridder is a joint effort by Western Theological Seminary and both the RCA and CRC denominations.
 
Worship Director search update: Hoping to have a new worship leader in place by October, the Worship Director Search Team has recently expanded its search for applicants. Continue to pray that the person with the desired set of skills and the right fit for leading our church’s worship teams will be found soon.
 
Prayer Ministry Teams will begin this Fall. Prayer ministry teams made up of two or three people will be available after each worship service to pray for any person who desires prayer for any concern or need, whether physical, spiritual, or relational. Training for anyone interested in being part of a prayer team will be held this fall. Contact Pastor Paul if you are interested. 
 
Block Parties: The purpose of a Block Party is for the church to connect with our community and show God’s love to our neighbors. The RCA has a Block Party trailer that we are using to host two Block Parties this month. The first one is in the nearby Hillview Apartments on August 26 from 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., hosted by Ryan and Rachel DeKuiper. The second party is at 192 Rollingwood on August 27 at 5:30 p.m. and hosted by Ken and Wilma Nelson. Both places are in need of help with grilling, activities, and mingling with the neighbors. If you can help out, please see one of the host couples.

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Adult Ministry – August 2015

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As Pastor Paul mentioned, Life Groups will be starting in the fall. They are called Life Groups because each group will be sharing life together. The focus will be on Sharing (our lives with each other), Study (of God’s Word and how to live out our lives in following Jesus), and Support (with prayer and encouragement, meeting needs of those in our group and outside of it). Each Life Group session will be 10 weeks; three times a year people can join or leave a group. You may participate in one or more of the sessions.
 
A Life Group Covenant will be offered to and signed by each member of the Life Group, confirming a commitment for the 10-week period. Consistent attendance is asked in order to promote intimacy within the group and spiritual growth for the members.

 
Life Groups will be made up of 8-14 people with one designated leader (or a couple) acting as facilitator. Meetings are expected to last 1 ½ -2 hours and are offered on different evenings of the week. Some groups may choose to meet at church, but meeting in homes is encouraged.
 
A Life Group Leader Training is planned from 7-9 p.m. on September 10. Some leaders may choose to co-lead before leading their own group. The Adult Ministries Team is in the process of recruiting leaders. We will also be asking for people to act as hosts for a Life Group session, so watch for that opportunity. If anyone has questions, please contact one of the members of the Adult Ministry Team (email: Karen, Nancy).

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Youth Ministry – August 2015

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Our middle and high school Lake Day went very well. 24 students showed up, and we had a blast hanging out on the dunes, going tubing, and eating some great food.

 

Reminder: Our High School service project is coming up. Students should be dropped off at church at 8:30am and picked up at 4:00pm. Sack lunches will be made at the church. On Wednesday kids need to bring work gloves and safety goggles. Our schedule is as follows:

  • Tuesday: Degage, Harvest Way
  • Wednesday: Mustard Seed Ministry, Kids Food Basket
  • Thursday: North Kent Community Services, Alpha Family Center

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Children’s Ministry – August 2015

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We have a praise! VBS was awesome! We had over 100 participants, collected $232 for Team Orphans, $170 toward food for North Kent Community Services, and most importantly, kids learned about God’s mighty power. It really was a great week!

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Missions – August 2015

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“Alleluia…Alleluia…for the Lord God Almighty Reigns”! This was our song of refuge, strength, and thanksgiving while in Haiti. We sang it to start Vacation Bible School at Les Bours School of Hope. We sang it with our Haitian friends during Bible studies in tent city Jeremie. We sang it while painting houses. We sang it while delivering beds. We sang it with the kids at Hope House orphanage. We sang it as we held the hands of Haitians dying of AIDS. We sang it as we comforted extremely malnourished children at Sisters of Charity. We sang it out loud. We sang it in our heads. We sang to our Lord. We prayed to our Lord. We know our Lord and we know that He loves Haiti. We love Haiti too and our lives are changed with the knowledge that we can go there and serve safely. We can be His hands and feet in a country where voodoo reigns and immense poverty has a death-grip on so many. We can go and we can help.
 
The missions team would like to thank RRC for supporting this trip. Your donations made a difference. They do not “fix” Haiti, but they matter. Beth Moore writes in her book, Whispers of Hope, to not be overwhelmed by the “plenty”. There is “plenty” of need in Haiti. There is “plenty” of need in Rockford, Michigan too. Moore challenges us to not miss an opportunity to do something good simply because we can’t fix the situation.
 
We went to Haiti knowing that we couldn’t “fix” the problems there. We went knowing that relationships matter and that being kind matters. We went knowing that sharing the “Good News” and the “Power of Prayer” matters. We went knowing that we had an opportunity to make a difference and that God would not want us to miss it. Thanks again for helping us make a difference and for your prayers. Mesi Anpil and God Bless!

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Outreach – August 2015

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“It is not enough for a church to rely on a few zealous evangelists hitting the streets. Every follower of Jesus is called to be salt and light. A vision for effective outreach must permeate your church board, children’s ministry, care ministry, youth group, worship music, preaching, custodial work, office team’s attitude – it should affect every ministry of your church. Organic outreach is a change in the culture of your entire church.”  – Kevin G. Harney, Organic Outreach for Churches

 

The current outreach team is getting a new name and a new purpose. We are currently transitioning into an Outreach Influence Team (OIT) with the purpose of building a culture of outreach at RRC. This team will:
  • Select an OIT member to join each RRC Ministry team in order to encourage each team to raise their outreach temperature through the asking of guiding questions.
    • Children’s Ministry – Deb Coon
    • Youth Ministry – Miriam Carpenter
    • Worship Ministry/Ushers/Greeters – Shirley Saenz
    • Property/Hospitality Ministry – Sandy Glaza
    • Missions Ministry – Kristen Van Stensel
    • Adult Ministry – (still open)
    • Consistory/Staff – Lisa DeBoer
  • Coordinate large all-church events, working through ministry teams and structures.
  • Equip team leaders to lead their ministry teams with evangelistic vision and action through the use of training videos, the Organic Outreach for Churches book, and additional outreach materials.
  • Encourage and assist ministry teams to look for ways to move their ministry a few degrees into the community.
The work of outreach starts with God who empowers us, inspires us, and commands us to participate in the Great Commission. God calls each one of us, young and old, men and women, introverts and extroverts, new believers and long-time Christ followers, to go and make disciples of all nations. The goal of the Outreach Influence Team will be realized when every person who belongs to RRC follows God’s command and begins to reach out naturally with the love and good news of Jesus Christ.

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Worship – August 2015

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The search for our next Director of Worship continues. We’ve reached out to our own networks, targeted local colleges, and posted the job on a variety of sites online to find qualified candidates. We have done a couple of first interviews. We continue to pray and ask God to direct us to the right candidate and also to place a call on the heart of the person He has for us. Summer, as you all know, is a slower season (for anything but visits to the beach, that is!) and we are trusting God will open up an abundance of doors for us as we head toward the fall. Please pray with us. If you have recommendations for qualified candidates, please don’t hesitate to let anyone on the team know.
 
As a team, we would also like to thank Bren Shantz for continuing to coordinate the worship team schedule and all of the volunteers who are so joyfully and patiently planning and leading our body in worship as we make our way through this time of transition.
 
Search Team members:

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Property – August 2015

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The next time you are in the north hallway behind the sanctuary, take a look in the cry room, library, and 2 classrooms –  we have new carpet! Thank you to all who helped move furniture to make this happen. Other updates include new lights and fans for the gym. The lighting posts in the parking lot will be prepped and painted soon. Thanks again to all who help keep our building and grounds looking good!

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