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Youth-Friendly Churches

Kudos to Rev. Pereboom and Anita Plat Kuiken for sharing their experience and assessment of youths in our congregations and community (Shaping a Youth-Friendly Church, June 2010). The five “traits” mirror my experiences as youth elder and catechism teacher.

The challenge becomes how we respond to this call. My hope and prayer [is that] those on whom God has placed concern for attracting youths will take up the call of action based on the suggested responses.

Even a small role or action, done together with Christ’s Spirit, will turn into grand blessings!  

—Nick KinkelJarvis, Ontario

As a parent of three teenagers, I was excited to read the article about youth-friendly churches. I liked the article, but I feel you missed out on a huge step.

Our teens love challenges, and they need a place where they can find these challenges and experience and grow from them in a safe environment. But with the whole safe church movement (to which I am not opposed) our teens were left behind. No longer can they teach Sunday school, lead clubs, or be VBS leaders because they have to be an adult professing member [to hold those positions].

It’s funny, because my oldest was at one time qualified to use a defibrillator, but even though she was a confessing member, she wasn’t allowed to teach Sunday school because she wasn’t an adult. She could help save your earthly life, but not your spiritual life.

Let teens play, let them develop good bonds with fellow church members, but let’s challenge them while still holding their hands so that they feel nurtured, excited, and most of all, included in something that is amazing—God’s church.

—Lisa PosthumaEdmonton, Alberta

Doctrinal Nitpicking?

When I read your editorial on the efforts to make a shared version of the doctrinal standards between the RCA and the CRC (June 2010), a question arises. It concerns the dropping of the words “only begotten” from Q&A 23 and 33 of the Heidelberg Catechism and the Apostles’ Creed.

If we as Reformed churches cannot even agree on the smallest things, then I’m afraid we’re going to waste a lot of time “nitpicking” instead of pooling our resources to witness to God’s love for a world that is in rebellion and chaos.

—Jake GroenewegAbbotsford, British Columbia

Mental Illness

I just read the article about the conference in Ontario on mental illness (“Helping Churches Deal with Mental Illness in Ontario,” June 2010). Earlier I re-read the article in the May 2009 issue “Understanding Mental Illness.” My congregation in Montreal is well aware of this issue. For my part, I’ve never treated my illness as a secret.

I want to say to hurting and resentful family members of depressed people that if you only knew how miserable your close one feels, you would not suspect them of having chosen this illness to aggravate you.

And don’t be ashamed of them; mental illness is NOT a character weakness. On the contrary, illnesses like schizophrenia are believed to be transmitted genetically.

Do you control your genetic baggage? No?

Neither do we.

—Michele GyselinckMontreal, Quebec

Muslim and Christian Roommates

I found myself saddened after reading the news article “Muslim, Christian Roommates Find Common Ground at Calvin College” (June 2010).

It is nice to hear that these two young ladies have established a solid friendship despite their differences. Likewise, it was encouraging to hear that the experience had a positive impact on Katelyn Fuller’s faith.

However, it was disappointing to hear that Anika Farhan’s experience at Calvin College made her Muslim faith stronger. I pray that through her future experience at Calvin, and the friends she has there, that Anika will turn from the teachings of Islam to the truth of Jesus Christ.

—Wes GunstMattawan, Mich.

Avatar’s God

In Wayne Brouwer’s review of Avatar (May 2010) he writes that his friend enjoyed the film because “it told the truth about meaning, existence, life, and God.”

I truly hope that Mr. Brouwer set his friend straight! This movie reeks of paganism and pantheism. There is nothing about the God of the Na’vi that is remotely close to the God of the Bible.

First, Avatar’s god, Ai’wa, is the universe. The God of the bible is not the universe; he created the universe and is transcendent of his creation.

Second, Ai’wa is weak. She is unable to save Grace from death due to time constraints. The God of the Bible is omnipotent. He created all things and has authority over all things.

Third, Ai’wa is not a personal God. The God of the Bible calls us his children, answers prayer, and sent his Son to die for us to save us from sin.  

Am I saying don’t watch this movie? No. Watch it. Watch it with your kids. Discuss what the movie teaches and tell them why it is not biblical.

—Verla NeifertOtley, Iowa

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