Q: What is the biblical basis for paid clergy and sermon-dominated worship services, such as those in the Christian Reformed Church?
A: In the Old Testament the priests and worship assistants came from the tribe of Levi. Because this tribe was not given land in Canaan, it had no direct means of support. So the Levites were to receive a tenth of the harvest and the livestock (Lev. 27:30-33; Num. 8:21) and were to be invited to sacrificial meals (Deut.12:12).
Even though Paul made leather goods, including tents (Acts 18:3), to support his ministry, he gratefully received the help of supporting churches (Phil. 4:14-19). He defends such support saying, “If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?” (1 Cor. 9:11-12).
Tent-making ministries, in which pastors work at another job for their primary support, are still common in some cultures. However, it is more common to pay clergy so they can fully devote themselves to ministry. Thus our denomination’s letter of call says, “Knowing that laborers are worthy of their hire, to encourage you in the discharge of your duties and to free you from material need while you are ministering God’s Word to us, [we] promise to pay you.”
Sermon-dominated worship services are rooted in the Reformation’s reaction to the services of the Roman Church, in which the Word of God was practically eliminated by the ceremony of the Mass. The Reformers insisted that people be taught from the Word in their own language, and the sermon became prominent. That emphasis still marks our services today, although we are becoming more appreciative of and creative with other movements in the liturgy.
—George Vander Weit
Q: Should my child be on medication for ADD?
A: ADD is a deficiency of attention—Attention Deficit Disorder. The brain is unable to focus attention on a single task or goal. I describe this to kids by using the example of a radio. A well-functioning radio has a tuner that allows you to listen to one single radio station clearly without any interference. Having ADD is like having a radio without a tuner and hearing all the stations at once. This brain overload can result in hyperactivity, with your brain bouncing randomly back and forth from station to station or zoning out and listening to white noise.
ADD medication is meant to be the tuner for your brain. The medications help the brain focus so kids can be successful in a world that rewards completed tasks and listening to the teacher. Other techniques can also help your child to focus. A routine for study and other tasks helps eliminate some of the variables that can be distracting. Physical distractions like TV, clutter, other kids walking in and out of the room, and so forth, should be minimized to help your child focus.
ADD medications in the past have all been stimulants. These are convenient because they work right away and can be taken just when needed, such as on school days. Some children may experience side effects such as anxiety and weight loss. A newer type of medication is available that is not a stimulant, but it must be taken every day to build up a level in your child’s system. You can talk to your doctor about the options to help your child focus for a successful future.
Q: Our adult son has told us he is gay and wants us to meet his partner. Although we love our son, we don’t agree with his decision to live a homosexual lifestyle. Should we refuse to meet his partner?
A: No. Part of loving your son is accepting him unconditionally. Although you have a right to tell him how you feel, you do not have the right to set rules for an adult son and to make his acceptance of your rules a precondition of your contact with him. Get to know your son as he is now, as well as his partner, and treat them the same way you would treat a heterosexual son or daughter who brings home a significant other. Understand that your son’s journey of coming to terms with his sexual orientation may have been very difficult. Check out resources such as the book Someone I Love Is Gay by Bob Davies and Anita Worthen (InterVarsity Press, 1996).
One last note—you do have the right to set rules for conduct in your own home. If you prefer that your son and his partner occupy different bedrooms should their visit include an overnight stay, make your wishes known to them before they come. Hopefully your son will accept you unconditionally, even if your views differ from his.