You’ve Got A Friend


Written by Burt Braunius /
April 15, 2014

“Acceptance of our lives as God made us” was one of the teaching points made by Pastor Jim Lankheet of Beechwood Church (Holland, MI) on Sunday, June 23, 2013. The sermon was about God being the Potter (Isaiah 45:9-13 and 29:16). Our loving God has shaped each of us uniquely and differently. Our responsibility is to accept the work of God in our lives.

Another way of saying this is that in God the Potter “You’ve Got a Friend!” And, that the Potter, Who has created each person in a special shape for a specific purpose, is there “Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall.” For a classic version of the James Taylor and Carole King song, click here. For a version that fuses the song together with “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by Tamba Giles, click here.

From a leadership perspective, there may appear to be an incongruity between being a leader and being a friend. But somehow, we acknowledge the biblical teaching that Jesus, our Lord and Master, is also our Friend.

This perspective of Master and Friend guides the way in which Church Leadership Center provides training for lay pastoral leaders as well as other leaders.

Course facilitators, while having strong ministry credentials, are not professors or lecturers in the traditional sense of the word; rather, they are more like caring guides and mentors.

Pictured is a class on Sacraments and Liturgy being taken by five Reformed Church in America Commissioned Pastor candidates. It is facilitated by Dr. Mark Veldt, who is a senior full-time CLC staff member. The class discusses questions such as, What is baptism? What does the Bible teach about infant baptism? What is worship? What tools are needed for performing official church functions, where are they found, and how are they used? Class participants in this picture are, from left to right, Troy Stansberry (Worship Leader, Rosewood Reformed Church),Lisa Urivez (Outreach, Christ Memorial Church), Mike Gruppen (Outreach, Christ Memorial Church). Ron Lugten (Pastor, Twin Lakes Church) and Mark Veldt (facilitator).

Church Leadership Center also develops training plans. These plans provide freedom to personalize and contextualize the learning journey of each individual. Participants and their mentors are involved as friends in developing these plans. The picture, below-right, is of a training plan meeting for Steve Martin, on the right, of Fellowship Church, Hudsonville, MI. Others at the meeting are on the left, Rev. Shawn Hulst (Lead Pastor and classis representative) and, in the center, Rev. Earl Slotman (Mentor).

Leadership development takes place best within the context of both friendship and guidance. A mentor is in some ways in a potter-partnership with God and a mentee. A strength of the Commissioned Pastor designation in both the Christian Reformed and Reformed denominations is the ability to recognize a person’s calling and context and provide training that is tailored to the individual and her/his call.

You’ve heard of friendship evangelism. We do friendship training!

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