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Q Our church can’t seem to get an effective outreach effort going. What’s working these days?

A Recently I read about one church’s attempt at outreach that included hiring a petting zoo and giving elephant rides to get people in the door so the church could hit them up with a gospel presentation. With all due respect to that particular effort, I have a hard time believing that God needs a circus in order to connect with people in our communities.

A more effective and natural means of connecting with your community is to get involved with events and things already going on. As one critic of the church recently quipped, “How come you Christians don’t show up at anything that you can’t control?” That’s hard to hear, but worth considering.

Check out the community events calendar in your local newspaper and get involved! You’ll find things like book clubs, poetry readings, musical performances, ecological preservation gatherings, neighborhood association meetings, and more! Certainly these are the kinds of things Christians also enjoy and love, and they provide a natural platform of common interest on which to build relationships without any pretense or ulterior motive. There is certainly nothing wrong with having outreach events, but perhaps it’s our turn to show up.

—Bryan Berghoef Rev. Bryan Berghoef is pastor of Watershed Church, a Christian Reformed church plant in Traverse City, Mich.


Q Who keeps the administration at Calvin Theological Seminary accountable? And in turn, who keeps those people accountable?

A Perhaps the easiest way to understand this is to think about your congregation. Who keeps the administrative staff accountable? The church council. Who keeps the church council accountable? The congregation. If there is an unresolved difficulty, any member may ask classis or synod for action by means of an overture.

The Seminary’s 19-member Board of Trustees, composed of 16 people from the 12 regions of our denomination plus three at-large members, holds Calvin Seminary accountable. This board is accountable to the regions it represents, and a number of classes receive regular reports from their delegate. In addition, the Director of Denominational Ministries works with the administrators of all our agencies. Any unresolved difficulties may be addressed by our denominational Board of Trustees, and any member may ask synod for action by means of an overture.

—George Vander Weit George Vander Weit is a retired pastor in the Christian Reformed Church.


Q I’ve got password overload. How can I keep track of them all?

A There’s a paradox to Web security. Good passwords are complex, unique, and changed often—and, thereby, hard to memorize. So we write them down on pieces of paper and stuff them somewhere “secret” within arm’s reach of our computer. Or we use the same password for every site. Not very secure!

Fortunately, there are better ways, like using your web browser to memorize passwords for you. But that’s only secure if your computer is. And if you regularly use more than one computer, synchronizing can be difficult. Downloadable tools like KeePass have similar limitations.

I prefer online password managers. The one I use is PassPack, but check out LastPass and others. From any computer, I visit, enter my master password, and I’m “in.” From there, I use one-click login to access any of my sites. Since I never have to enter my passwords, much less remember them, I use complex passwords unique to each site.

Whatever method you choose, make sure your email password is very secure. If someone gets into your email, they can use those “send me my password” links to get into your other sites.

A final way to solve the problem is by not creating new passwords in the first place! A growing trend is for sites to allow you to log in using one of your existing passwords (e.g. Facebook). We’ve done that on, and 40 percent of users take advantage of that feature.

—Tim Postuma Tim Postuma is Web and e-communication manager for the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

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