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Five Hot Tips on Reading the Bible (and Other Bad Blog Post Titles)

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This post goes out to all of you who live with someone who rambles on about their work day each night. Perhaps it’s your spouse chatting about the office, or a roommate complaining about a co-worker. My kitchen rambler is my husband Dane and his topic of choice: teaching teenagers how to read the Bible well. He is a not a teacher of Bible stories, or morals, but one who equips kids to fully engage with the Bible in ways that have probably never learned before. He encourages them to ask question and to seek answers from within the wider Christian community. Over the years I’ve learned how easily what he teaches teenagers applies to adults as well. Therefore, I compiled a few key points I have heard on repeat over the years and asked my husband, Dane Splinter, to elaborate while I madly typed.

The Bible is a Library
The Bible is not a single book; it is a collection of books or a library.  In it we find a wide variety of literature written by different people living in different places over a long period of time. Learning to read the Bible well involves an awareness of this diversity, as well as an appreciation of how it all fits together.  We don’t read the newspaper like we read our email, and we don’t read novels like we read a baseball box score.  Thus we should not read the Bible the way we read a regular book.

Teenagers are a lot like the rest of us.  They avoid what they do not like, and do not like what they do not understand.  Equipping students to read the Bible as a library of different books helps them understand and thus appreciate the text more.

Context Matters  
When we are reading the Bible as a library, we must learn the context for each of the genres. The Bible was written by real people in real places in real time. Exploring the context of a given book of the Bible is essential.  The words recorded in Scripture are time-sensitive.  The whole point of God revealing himself in history (as recorded in the Bible) is that God was disclosing himself in real time. Too often, we treat Scripture as if it fell off God’s desk in heaven, floating down to us from above.  When we speak of the entire Bible as “eternal truth” we devalue the world that God created and the word that he is revealing to us even now.

To read the rest come on over to Momentum

 

Feminism: Should the Church Take it or Leave it?

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Today I’m over at YALT’s Momentum writing about feminism and the church (ouch!)…

You would be hard pressed to miss the growing trend of celebrities using their platforms to share their support of feminism or show they are a feminist.  Beyonce had feminist in floor to ceiling lights at the Video Music Awards, Emma Watson recently addressed the United Nations and launched the HeforShe campaign.  And one of my personal favorites, Parks and Recreation’s, Aziz Ansari talked to David Letterman about why he is a feminist. I could go on with more examples but you should definitely click on that last link.

As easy as it is to find the word feminism in the media, it’s equally as difficult to find it within the church.

Should Christians avoid or embrace the word feminism?

I hope most Christians would agree on the basic tenet of feminism – that men and women are created equal.  Wait, did you know that is the definition of feminism?  Let me quote the dictionary, “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”

Yes, women and men are equal. I could flesh out this idea with all sort of scripture but I’ll just go with Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

So why the tension? Why the debate? Why does the church avoid using the term feminism?

You can read the rest here

Listening to the Marginalized

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I’m super excited to share my latest post with you all because it is has to do with a topic I’m passionate about. Not only do I love listening to people share their stories and their lives (I do this for a living as a coach), but I love encouraging others to listen. During my time at Jacob’s Well I had the privilege of listening to a lot of different voices and am so thankful for them all. This is a great opportunity for all of us to listen at the margins.  The following is an introduction to a post that is on Momentum (a blog I regularly write for), as well as, a blog that I’m so glad I discovered: Do Justice.

As people, we naturally gravitate toward those similar to ourselves. It’s simple, easy and it’s comfortable. We gain friendship, empathy and encouragement from such relationships but a problem ensues when we solely hang around those similar to us – we end up only listening to like-minded voices.

We often don’t realize how enveloped we are in like-mindedness until our beliefs are challenged in an abrupt fashion. Perhaps we see a tweet that jars us or a guest preacher stirs something up at church. “What? People believe that!” or “I have never heard scripture interpreted that way!” We are forced to deal with the dissonance that sometimes comes with new ideas.

Keep reading here or here (triple post!)

 

 

5 Ways to Empower People Under 40 in Your Church

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Today I’m over at Momentum. Here’s a preview of what I wrote!

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Here at YALT we know that people often read our blog because they’re looking for ways to better engage young people in their church. And now that you’ve ALL read about the 40 Under 40 in the CRC and RCA, you may be thinking, “How can my church empower young leaders?”  Here are five quick and helpful tips. But wait! Are you one of those young people? Keep reading to find out how you can help implement some of these ideas yourself, and add your thoughts (or more ideas) in the comments.

1. Make sure you actually have a variety of people under 40 in your congregation. Your church needs the voices of the next generation because, not only are they the future of the church, their voices are unlike any other generation.  No other people group has grown up in the church at the same time as these folks. No one else comes to the table with the same experience. It is a unique perspective you must harvest! Singles, marrieds, young parents etc. you need them all! If you don’t have the future of the church in your church, you might want to check with YALT’s great resources here.

2. Be mindful and considerate of single people without kids. Just because someone doesn’t have typical family responsibilities, doesn’t mean they have all the time in the world. This group of young adults should not automatically ‘do’ everything.  This demographic might have different availability options than parents but they shouldn’t be relied on solely because they ‘appear’ to have more time.

Likewise, remember that being single doesn’t make someone unqualified for ministry. The church has an unfortunate history of elevating marriage and married people beyond reason in the church. Those without a partner also bring their own perspective and are equal to serve the church as married people.

To read the rest of the article click here!

Canadian/American “Relations”

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As you know, every once in a while I like to post a funny story on my blog because I love laughing. For lack of a better cliché my heart has been heavy lately with all sorts of sad news.  I wrote this story a while ago but it is on Momentum today. In fact, some of my readers may remember this story from it’s original debut (i.e when it happened).  I hope that in the midst of all the news, you will have a laugh.  

As a dual citizen who has lived in both countries, the relationship between Canada and America is of great interest to me. Here is a brief reflection on my experience, as well as, a hilarious story of two clashing countries.

Canada-US-flag-pinI’ve lived roughly half my life in the US and half in Canada. I’m about 970 km (600 miles!!) away from completing a full circle around North America.  My extended family is all from Canada, but my dad’s work moved us to the US when I was three.  I basically grew up in a “Canadian” household in California. I learned from a very young age that Americans know next to nothing about Canada.  For example, in my very diverse Southern California school, we had “Around the World” day, where kids would bring things from their country of origin (or their parents’ country) and hold up their country’s flag during a school assembly.

When the teacher was collecting names of kids that were born in other countries, I raised my hand and got to represent one in this assembly.  At first, my teacher looked at me sideways. I’m sure she was thinking, “What is Jane talking about? What country is she from?”

You can read the rest here

 

Hope for Kids in the Church

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I recently became a blogger for Momentum – The official (note, this is not the unofficial but official!) blog of YALT (Young Adult Leadership Task Force) of the Christian Reformed Church (which is my denomination by choice not by birth).  Although it would be easy to question my “young adult” status we figured I’m young-at-heart and I am passionate about issues that YALT addresses. Speaking of status, it would be easy to question my CRC status as I’m not Dutch and I’m writing for the such blogs.  However, I’m thankful they will have me!

Here is my second post:

I often worry about raising kids in the church.  Sometimes I can’t even believe I will have kids that say “Yeah, I’ve been going to church my whole life.” Really? I did that?  It’s not our particular church that I’m worried about; people at church really love our kids. I mean really love them. Friends offer to babysit for free (ok maybe that is loving my husband and I, but still!). One person brought them cool gifts like real industrial knee pads and brand new snow boots that didn’t fit their grandchild. At coffee time after church, my kids learn how to do fist pumps and high fives. A few neighbours from church play hockey with our kids (and our neighbor’s kids) when we are sick of doing it. My kids learn lessons in Sunday school about justice and generosity.  They also learn that God loves little tiny babies because they are invited on stage to watch when the babies are baptized.

Yet sometimes I worry because I hear so much about people who “grew up in the church.” Kids who felt forced to go to church every week; kids who were never told about other ‘options.’  There are kids who feel like their faith only exists because that is how they were raised. I also worry because I didn’t grow up there. I worry because I don’t know exactly what it should look like. I’m sure there are many parents who were raised in the church and still ask that question. I know, none of us are perfect but what should it look like? What do I want my kids to really know about my Christian faith? My prayer for them reminds me of this profound quote by Rob Bell, “My wife, Kristen, and I often talk about raising our kids in such a way that they have as little as possible to unlearn later on in life.”

Sometimes I envision them having conversations with new friends in the cafeteria at the small private liberal arts college they some how chose even though we couldn’t afford it (scholarship?). I imagine them reflecting on their childhood and saying things like this:

“My parents always told me that Jesus loves me no matter what – they were kind of annoying how much they said this.”

“I’ve always known what Jesus really wants from me is to love him and to love my neighbours. I grew up always knowing my neighbours and they are easy to love.”

“They definitely showed me that knowing Jesus doesn’t make our life perfect. We still road the struggle bus from time to time.”

“I know that Jesus loves the world but doesn’t love the way things go down a lot of the time. My parents were often talking about other parts of the world.  We used to light a candle before dinner and say what we were thankful for and why. And then when we blew it out we would share something we wanted to see change in the world.  We did eventually do a bit more praying together but the candle never changed.”

 What do you hope for your kids in the Church?

 

Gay & Christian: One woman’s perspective

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I recently became a blogger for Momentum – The official (note, this is not the unofficial but official!) blog of YALT (Young Adult Leadership Task Force) of the Christian Reformed Church (which is my denomination by choice not by birth).  Although it would be easy to question my “young adult” status we figured I’m young-at-heart and I am passionate about issues that YALT addresses. Speaking of status, it would be easy to question my CRC status as I’m not Dutch and I’m writing about such things as this.  However, I’m thankful they will have me! My first blog post did not actually involve much writing because I interview my dear friend and former co-worker of many years Beth. One question I asked her was:

How has your journey of discovery and coming out as gay impacted your experience of faith?  What has been most spiritually formational in your journey as a sexual minority person? You can read her thoughtful and gracious answers here!

And if you are reading this from the lovely and today SUNNY Vancouver, please come to an event I’m hosting on Weds Oct 30 7-9 pm with New Direction Ministries. You can find out more about it in my last post.