Q. Our pastor has been here well over a decade. For the past five years we’ve seen a decline in church attendance and our pastor seems unconcerned. He is also not able to deliver a sermon with any content. For the health of our congregation, shouldn’t he be asked to leave?
A. We expect a certain level of competence and performance from people who care for our cars, furnaces, and physical health. It is not unreasonable to expect the same from those who care for our spiritual health.
When they do not meet expectations, they should be encouraged to improve and given the tools and resources to do so. If there is little or no improvement, the council and the pastor, following the provisions of our Church Order, should put in place a plan with a definite timeline for the termination of the pastor’s service to the congregation. The church visitors of classis and the denominational Pastor-Church Relations office may be requested to assist with this.
Sometimes the “fit” is just not right, and pastors are able to serve a different congregation much better.
—George Vander WeitGeorge Vander Weit is a retired pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.
Q. How can I be environmentally conscious when my husband works in the forest industry? Should I make him quit his job?
A. You do not need to be working for a conservation organization to be environmentally conscious, just like you do not need to be a missionary to bring the good news to the people around you. No matter what industry or line of work you are in, there is something you can do to take care of God’s creation.
God has put you in this time and place to be a blessing to this generation. If you (or your spouse) are working in a resource-based industry, use the opportunity to find out what policies and practices the industry has in place to keep the air, water, and land clean and healthy. Encourage follow-through on those commitments, or contribute to positive change where it is needed.
God’s people are called to be salt to the world. Season your words and actions with a lot of prayer, grace, and humility. Then do what you can with what you’ve got, where God has put you, and leave the results to God. You are called to be a steward, not a savior.
—Cindy VerbeekCindy Verbeek is the church and community group liaison for A Rocha Canada—Christians in Conservation, and an active member of Houston Christian Reformed Church, British Columbia. For more ideas contact her at email@example.com
Q. We work hard and make an average income, but have very little to show for it. What can we do differently?
A. To answer your question, let me tell you a story.
My wife, Beckie, and I had been down the path of using money our own way: spending with no plan, using credit cards, and living paycheck to paycheck. But after reading Larry Burkett’s book Complete Financial Guide for Young Couples, we committed before the Lord that we would never go down that road again.
And so the first thing we did was nothing—we just waited. Then we took the little bit of savings we had and asked God to stretch it and provide us with furniture.
The furniture stores had everything on our wish list, but the cost was more than quadruple what we had in our furniture fund. So we looked in the newspaper’s classified ads. One ad caught our attention because the sellers lived nearby and the asking price for their furniture was exactly what we had in savings.
We went to the sellers’ house, and when we walked in we couldn’t believe our eyes. They had three pieces of furniture for sale: a maroon leather overstuffed sofa, a matching loveseat, and a “sleepy hollow” reading chair—the exact items on our wish list!
Although God doesn’t always provide in such extraordinary ways, he did use that experience to reinforce a life-changing biblical principle found in Psalm 27:14: wait on the Lord.
What does that mean practically for our money? It means that before we reach for our wallets or purses we should wait, watch, and pray. Even if we see a good deal: wait, watch, and pray. Or if there seems to be more month than money: wait, watch, and pray.
—Mike BuwaldaMike Buwalda is a stewardship consultant for Barnabas Foundation (firstname.lastname@example.org).