Q If elders and pastors no longer regularly visit congregation members in their homes and inquire personally about the state of their faith, have these leaders defaulted on one of marks of the true church: discipline?
A Home visitation is much maligned, probably because it was often treated either as an inquisition or as a social time of irrelevant banter with a brief mention of spiritual matters.
When done wisely, this traditional practice has many benefits. It gives every member one-on-one time with church leaders to convey anything they wish to express, something that’s important in an impersonal world. Beyond that, it provides an opportunity for church leaders to visit members “on their own turf,” to encourage them in their spiritual growth, and to thank them for their service to the congregation.
That said, our Church Order’s requirement of “annual home visitation” (Article 65) is unrealistic. In the congregations I served in my 40 years of ministry we attempted to visit each person once every two years and would do so more frequently by request.
—George Vander WeitGeorge Vander Weit is a retired pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.
Q My daughter is a picky eater. If she’s eating healthy food, is it worth the tears that result when we require her to try new foods?
A As parents, it is almost impossible not to have some power struggles with the children we are to raise. But parents do need to pick their battles, carefully and deliberately.
Before age 2 parents make all the decisions, but after that most children are ready to begin exercising some power and control. This is all part of their maturation process toward becoming confident and mature adults. Parents can celebrate this!
But what to do as your young daughter practices being in charge of what she eats while you also teach her the limits of her right to choose?
It might help to answer the following questions: 1) Is she undermining her health by her choice of foods? If the answer is no, I would not consider it worth a power struggle. 2) Is it too cumbersome to allow her her food choices while also allowing you yours?
It might be worth telling her that it is more important to you that she feels comfortable than that she try new foods, but that there will be no compromise on eating healthy foods for supper.
And remember, children are great imitators. Before long she will be tempted to taste something that the rest of her family is eating with enjoyment.
Judy Cook is a family therapist living in Hamilton, Ontario. She is a member of Meadowlands Fellowship CRC in Ancaster. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. All responses will be held in the strictest confidence.
Q I volunteer at my church as well as work and attend to my family. I find that I don’t volunteer out of love but out of duty. Is this how it’s supposed to be?
A I commend you for maintaining the desire to serve Jesus at home, work, and church. But serving the Lord out of duty is not how it’s supposed to be! Our motivation should be gratitude, joy, and love.
Romans 12:1 spells out why we are called to serve: “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” The Holy Spirit is always directing our attention to what God has already accomplished in Jesus. Jesus died on the cross because we fail to serve God in our home, work, and church. Second, when he rose from the dead he clothed us with his righteousness and glory. He is the only one who has served the Lord completely, and now imparts his servant-heart to us.
I am a church planter in Edmonton, Alberta, and I have been working very hard for the Lord. But last year the Holy Spirit revealed to me that I was lacking joy, love, and gratitude. The reason? I was working like a madman, trying to obtain the Father’s approval. Then I was cut to the heart by the Holy Spirit that in Jesus Christ, the Father already says to me, “My good and faithful servant,” and I don’t have to work to gain his approval. In view of God’s mercy, I can truly serve Jesus at home, work, and church with joy, love, and gratitude.
—Victor KoRev. Victor Ko is pastor of Mosaic House Community Church in Edmonton, Alberta.