Almighty God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – we praise your name, for you alone are God. There is none like you, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding with covenantal faithfulness. You care for the orphans and widows and look upon the immigrant with affection. Your love is not threatened by the ways we diminish, marginalize, and destroy each other. There is no one like you. Continue reading
Monthly Archives: June 2012
When I saw the advisory committee report on the Belhar Confession late Monday night, I was quite concerned that the conversation and voting among the delegates would unfold the way it did. I am still processing last night’s decision and expect I will continue to do so for some time. It was not the outcome I had hoped for. As several delegates expressed last night, there is a bit of frustration in not being afforded an opportunity to vote on the Belhar as a Confession or at least as a Testimony. The non-binding nature of the Ecumenical Faith Declarations designation leaves the Belhar in an awkward place for us. How do we relate to a confession that does not bind us together? On the other hand, by providing some official status to the Belhar and approving it for use in discipleship and liturgical purposes, synod held open the door that the Belhar can be utilized in very beneficial ways within individual congregations.
My post yesterday morning (When Excellence is Not Enough) outlined my concerns with the advisory committee report. What I did not say in that post was that I was actually quite encouraged to see recommendation number 6 in the advisory committee’s report. This idea is extremely important in that it would allow us to explore one of the underlying issues that our denominational dialogue on the Belhar has exposed over the past three years: we have multiple operational definitions of what a confession is at work among us. The fact that a study committee on “what we mean by confession” was not approved by Synod was extremely disappointing. Perhaps, many of the delegates discerned that such a study committee would be all about the Belhar for another three years. Whatever the personal rationale, the communal decision left much to be desired. Continue reading
Like many of you who will read this post today, I have eagerly and perhaps somewhat curiously been waiting to see how the advisory committee responding to the overtures related to the Belhar Confession would present their recommendations to the CRC Synod (This is the annual leadership gathering for the denomination in which I am rooted). Admittedly, I was quite surprised to see a predominately unified report emerge. I had fully expected a set of majority-minority reports to be presented this year. For their efforts to present unity in the presence of an ongoing disagreement about the status of the Belhar Confession within our denomination, this advisory committee needs to be thanked.
However, for as much as I would like to see consensus emerge in our discernment surrounding the Belhar, I do not believe that the creation of a new category of Ecumenical Faith Declarations is the route we should take. I have three significant concerns related to the advisory committee’s recommendations and two comments in response to our reactions around the Belhar. Continue reading
Last fall, Mike Breen offered a course-corrective 2 part blog post called “Why the Missional Church will Fail.” The post provoked a fair bit of conversation within missional church circles about the tendency to overlook discipleship in our enthusiasm for engaging with our neighbors. Mike writes:
While the ‘missional’ conversation is imbued with the energy and vitality that comes with kingdom work, it seems to be missing some of the hallmark reality that those of us who have lived it over time have come to expect: Mission is messy. It’s humbling. There’s often no glory in it. It’s for the long haul. And it’s completely unsustainable without discipleship.
Discipleship, as Mike goes on to describe it, involves an ongoing process of growing into the character and competency of Jesus Christ. In discipleship we become progressively more and more like Jesus, integrating more fully who we are with how we live so that we live as Jesus would if he were us.
The question that follows from this emphasis is “how do we cultivate discipleship?” Continue reading