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News from the Regional Synod of Mid-America
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Regional Synod Mailing Address - A reminder that the mailing address for the synod has changed to P.O. Box 2147, Valparaiso, IN 46384.  The physical office address remains located at Camp Manitoqua, but please send all mail to the P.O. Box.  Thank you!

The General Synod Workbook is now available online. Even if you're not a delegate, you can read reports from commissions, task forces, and other RCA agencies and institutions and delve into the business of the church.

Join the Illiana-Florida Church Multiplication Movement - The Illiana / Florida Classis Church Multiplication team is looking for church planters for upcoming projects!  We provide assessment, training, coaching, support and funding for new church plants.  If you are interested, go to http://www.iplantchurchplanting.com/ and click “start process.”

This issue's story comes from Faith Community Church in Stickney, IL and Rev. Christopher Poest...

Each May, our local school district gives “Step Up for Others” awards to folks who have done exactly that; gone above-and-beyond in service to other people. The five elementary schools, and the middle school, each nominate a couple of students and maybe a faculty or staff member, and there were three or four community members recognized as well. This year, I was honored to receive one of these awards, having been nominated by the principal and teachers of Edison Elementary School here in Stickney. The program for the evening included these words:

Rev. Christopher Poest (community member): Pastor Chris was instrumental in bringing an award-winning mentorship program called KIDS HOPE USA to our school. For the past eight years, Pastor Chris and members from Faith Community Reformed Church spend one hour each week with students who need a little time and lots of love and support. Pastor Chris and KIDS HOPE have made a difference in the lives of our students, resulting in significant changes in their attitude and behavior as well as academic performance. Pastor Chris has been “Stepping Up” for Edison students and wholeheartedly deserves this recognition.

I am the one who received the award, but it really goes to all of our KIDS HOPE mentors, prayer partners, and Nancy Luiz, who serves as our director. We have 8 mentors, each with a prayer partner, and an average Sunday attendance of 60; so over 25% of our congregation is involved in this ministry in our neighborhood elementary school!

KIDS HOPE is one way that we are living into our call to serve and bless our community and, as you can see, the school is deeply appreciative. Right now, we are working on ways to enhance the relationship that we have with Edison School, and asking them for ideas on how we can best partner with them in other areas. One of the things the school mentioned is that they are always running short on pencils and glue sticks. Parents do pretty well with supplies at the beginning of the school year, but as the year goes on, teachers are buying a lot of pencils and glue sticks with their own money. So next school year, we are going to provide all of the pencils and glue sticks that Edison needs. It’s a simple thing for us (most people fairly easily grab an extra pack or two of pencils when grocery shopping), and it meets a need at Edison. Edison School also has a high percentage of kids on fixed or reduced lunch, so we’re exploring a backpacks-with-food program to send kids home with healthy food on the weekends. That one is in the very early stages, but we’re talking and dreaming together about ways to serve our community.  




*Telling our stories is a way for us to encourage each other and to share what the Spirit is doing through the churches and people of our synod.  As you share yours, others may be empowered to do similar things or the Spirit may use it as a starting point for another idea to reach people for Christ.  We encourage you to share!

If you would like to share a story for a future issue, please email chad@msyn.org

Signs of Fearful Leadership...
 
You really want to introduce some new changes in a ministry that have existed for some time in the church but you're afraid and rationalize, "I just don't know if the current leaders are ready for that."  You've been thinking about starting a second service designed to be more friendly to the unchurched in the community but you're afraid of upsetting the voices that proclaim we need to worship as one church family.  You've been thinking about intentionally pursuing a new vision that will lead to some deep change in the church but you're afraid of the tension and anxiety that will need to be managed and so you don't take the next step toward that dream.  You've been challenged to take the plug and plant a new congregation out of your existing pregnant congregation, but you're afraid to navigate the voices of those who say "No!"  Our fears often stop us from pursuing what we believe God is calling us to do and keep us from stepping outside our comfort zones.  Yet we know from looking back over the timeline of our life experiences that some of the greatest times of growth in our lives have come when we journeyed outside our comfort zone.  So what can we do in those moments of fear in our leadership roles?  Can I still live in my fears but they no longer have a hold of me?  Can I trust God's promises - "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  (Isaiah 41:10)
 
In a recent article Thom Rainer identifies eight signs of fearful leadership.  He suggests that as leaders if we manifest any of these signs that we ought to seek immediate behavioral change.  Here is his list of fearful tendencies:  
 
1.      "Procrastination.  Fearful leaders put off tasks for fear that they cannot do them well.  They are experts at passive-aggressive behavior.  They can receive an assignment to do a task, then 'conveniently' forget to do it.
2.      Over-analysis. Fearful leaders want to over-analyze every situation in an attempt to eliminate risk.  They never stop analyzing because they can never eliminate the risk.  An organization built around fear will have an excess of analysts and policy wonks.
3.      A bias against actions outside the status quo.  The status quo is the lone comfort place of a fearful leader.  Get him or her beyond status quo, and the leader is often deemed ineffective.  Though the fearful leader may avoid the overused, 'We’ve never done it that way before,' he or she might say something similar like, 'That’s really not the way we do it here.'
4.      Worry about critics.  The fearful leader is a people pleaser.  Critics can immobilize him or her.  To use a sports metaphor, fearful leaders avoid decisions that might draw criticism because they play not to lose rather than playing to win.
5.      Reticence to show weaknesses or lack of knowledge.  The fearful leader is an insecure person.  He or she does not want to exhibit any weaknesses, even though he or she may have several.  You will see the opposite trait exhibited in confident, courageous leaders.  They have no problems pointing out their own weaknesses and ignorance.
6.      Reticence to move people off the bus.  No one should enjoy firing people.  No one should enjoy telling a volunteer that he or she is no longer needed in a particular position.  But for the sake of the organization, leaders need to move some people off the bus.  The fearful leader will let persons stay on the bus well beyond their effectiveness because they fear confrontation, and because they fear making a wrong decision.
7.      Failure to reinvent oneself.  A fearful leader does not want their circumstances to change; that is why such leaders fiercely defend the status quo.  Likewise, they don’t see any need for change in themselves.  Courageous leaders are constantly reinventing themselves.  Fearful leaders rarely improve their skill sets significantly.
8.      Obsession with details.  Fearful leaders love to stay in the morass of insignificant details.  Because the details are usually unimportant, it is difficult to make a mistake of consequence.  Of course, it’s impossible to do anything of consequence when your focus is on those things that really don’t make a difference."
 
As I read through these eight signs of fearful leaders I asked myself, what are the signs that I personally exhibit?  Which of these signs do I see or others see mostly in me?  How about you?  As you evaluate yourself, what signs do you find yourself gravitating toward?  Ultimately we all have the choice whether or not to step outside our comfort zones to be used by God to serve Him in greater ways.  You and I will always have fears but with God's strength within us our fears lose their grip from keeping us from pursuing all that God calls us to do.
 
Wayne Van Regenmorter


Wayne's Schedule:
June
9:  Crosspoint Gathering/Calvary Reformed Church/Orland Park, IL; Training Illiana-Florida Special Committee/Living Springs Community Church/Glenwood, IL
10:  Office/Travel to Pella, IA - General Synod
11:  Panel at GS Clerk's Meeting/Pella, IA
12-17:  General Synod/Pella, IA
18:  Meeting/Beecher, IL
19:  Office
20:  Coaching; Conference Call
21:  Off
22:  Preach/New Hope Community Church/Wausau, WI; Ordination and Commissioning of Jill Vande Zande/First Reformed Church/Randolph, WI

Wayne's contact information:
10088 Prairie Knoll Ct.
St. John, IN 46373
Mobile: (941) 302-1281
Email:  wregen@msyn.org
The following are some links you may find helpful...
The Most Common Factor in Declining Churches: Tom Rainer has studied thousands of churches and written multiple books about churches and the impact they can have on the world.  In this article, he writes about what he has seen over and over again as the defining mark of declining churches: an inward focus.
What We Get Wrong About Evangelism: Evangelism is more than just saving people from going to hell.  What is it really and what are some ways we can all become better proclaimers of the hope that we have?
Difficult Conversations - 9 Common Mistakes: Holly Weeks writes in the Harvard Business Review about the pitfalls many of us fall into when having difficult conversations and how to avoid them.  A great resource for church leadership.
Free to Discern: Church leadership often complain that the church shouldn't be run like a business...but how else do you do it?  How do we make decisions other than democratic voting?  Where do we begin to identify the difference between group decision making and authentic communal discernment?  
The Church Must Minister to a Multi-Cultural Society: Does your church membership resemble your community as diverse and multi-cultural?  What are some ways to minister in an ever-changing society?  As we assimilate people into the life of the church, do we expect them to become just like us?




Chad's Schedule:
June
9: Office/Travel to General Synod, Pella, IA
10: General Synod Clerk's Meetings
11: General Synod Clerk's Meetings
12: General Synod
13: General Synod; Return Travel
16: Office
17: Office; Meeting with Consultant
18: Office
19: Office; Coaching
20: Office

Chad's Contact Information:
P.O. Box 2147
Valparaiso, IN 46384
Office: (815) 464-9181
Mobile: (765) 237-7678
Email: chad@msyn.org
Copyright © 2014 Regional Synod of Mid-America, RCA, All rights reserved.


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