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tomstarkinlansing.com

The following materials are from the years since I came as organizing pastor of the University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan (1966) until my retirement in August, 2002, and from the years since then. Some materials were for church membership classes, or for the Board of Elders, Consistory, or the congregation. Some were prepared for the Classis of South Grand Rapids (Reformed Church in America- R.C.A.), and many were in response to issues and needs in the R.C.A. Some are from documents issued in the R.C.A.   Do not hesitate to copy- a copyright line is included in this Table of Contents ("copyright") and on some of the documents only to protect me from having something copyrighted and being unable to use it myself. Comments are welcomed at: Tom Stark, 2226 Bolley, Lansing, MI 48912. Email - starktomel@aol.com

 

1. FRAGMENTS AND REFLECTIONS-  FIFTY YEARS IN UNIVERSITY REFORMED CHURCH,  EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN, 1966- 2016,  by Tom Stark, retired pastor, Lansing, Michigan, November 2016,

 

 

ISSUES IN THE REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA- FOUR PAPERS

 

1. RESPONSE TO THE PETITION FROM PEACE REFORMED CHURCH, TO THE CLASSIS OF SOUTH GRAND RAPIDS, TO LEAVE THE RCA AND TRANSFER TO THE EVANGELICAL PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (7 pages)-

 

South Grand Rapids classis October 21, 2014

2.  WHY "COMPLEMENTARIANS" HAVE A PLACE IN THE REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA (6 pages)-

I am very interested in the "conscience clauses", because I helped write them in 1980.  Before the RCA voted to remove the "conscience clauses" in June 2013 I sent a paper to many friends in the RCA, and, after the action was final in June, I again sent the paper, with some additions, to many friends.  The title is "Why 'Complementarians' Have a Place in the Reformed Church in America".

 

3.  WHY I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE BELHAR CONFESSION IN THE RCA (14 pages)-

 

When our classis of  South Grand Rapids was voting on the Belhar Confession in October 2009 I was asked to present the case in favor of the Belhar Confession.  I prepared a written paper which went out in advance and also an oral presentation for the classis meeting. Our classis voted for the Belhar Confession, and the General Synod in June 2010 gave it final approval as an additional doctrinal standard of the RCA.  My paper, "Why I am Grateful for the Belhar Confession in the RCA", also includes quotations from others who have written since 2010.

 

4.  EXAMINING THE REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA'S STAND ON HOMOSEXUALITY (6 pages)-

 

This is a summary of the RCA's past actions concerning homosexuality and suggestions of work that lies ahead.

 

5.  UNIVERSITY TRANSFER COMMITTEE REPORT TO CLASSIS - January 7, 2015- (5 pages).  After this report there are a number of appendices.  Appendix A includes the relevant section from the Book of Church Order - 5 pages.  Appendix B is the University Reformed Church petition to transfer to the Presbyterian Church in America (40 pages).  Appendixes C-1, C-2, and C-3 are papers 2, 3, and 4 above.  Appendix D is a two-page summary response by the committee to the three main problems cited in the withdrawal petition.  Appendix E is a two-page item from the PCA Great Lakes Presbytery.

 

6.  RESPONSE TO THE REPORT OF THE UNIVERSITY TRANSFER COMMITTEE TO THE GREAT LAKES CITY CLASSIS- FOR THE MEETING OF MARCH 21, 2015- by Tom Stark (4 pages)

 

7.  APPENDIX ONE- SOME THINGS WORTH KNOWING ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY REFORMED CHURCH, EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN, March 2015- by Tom Stark (4 pages)

 

8.  APPENDIX TWO: SOME THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN AMERICA: March 2015- by Tom Stark (9 pages)

 

9.  EXCERPTS FROM THE MINUTES OF THE GREAT LAKES CITY CLASSIS, REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA, MARCH  21, 2015 (3 pages)

 

I. THE CHURCH

  1. "The Church of Jesus Christ” : Basic Principles for Understanding the Church", from a sermon outline-  3 pages. copyright
  2. "The Call to the Ministry (Especially Pastor/Teacher)", with a significant quotation from pioneer RCA missionary, Rev. Sam Hofman, on the training of ministers in Chiapas state, Mexico, 5 pages. copyright
  3. "Conversational Prayer Meetings", by William Lantz, a helpful approach to group prayer. 3 pages.

II. THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

  1. "Christ and Scripture" A classic treatment of Christ's view of Scripture by Dr. Kenneth Kantzer, the former Dean of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and editor of "Christianity Today". 6 pages.
  2. Daily Bible Reading
    1. Introduction to “A Plan For Bible Reading”
    2. "A Plan For Bible Reading" Daily readings from four different books of the Bible, usually a chapter from each, reading the Old Testament once, the New Testament and Book of Psalms twice in a year. In a booklet form, from Robert Murray McCheyne.
  3. Choosing a Bible Translation”, Notes on a number of U.S. Protestant translations from the last 60 years, especially the Today’s New International Version (TNIV), with pastoral thoughts for a congregation making a change. 28 pages.

III. A Handbook for Christian Small Groups  A resource especially for group leaders. 33 pp. copyright

 

                                               TABLE OF CONTENTS

                          I.    Introduction- page 3

                        II.    What are Christian Small Group- page 3

                       III.    Why We Encourage Small Groups- page 3

                      IV.    What Can Happen in Christian Small Groups- page 5

                       V.    How Christian Small Groups Can Start- page 6

                      VI.    Common Characteristics and Variety in Christian Small Groups- page 7

                     VII.    Leadership in Small Groups- page 9

                   VIII.    Help in Making Groups Effective- page 11

1.    How to invite others when beginning a group

2.    Physical surroundings for group meetings

3.    Sharing questions

4.    Arriving at group goals

5.    Principles in building relationships

6.    Handling conflicts in a group

7.    Evaluation time for a group

8.    How a group can divide and grow

9.    How to handle the ending of a group

                      IX.    Four Parts of Preparing and Leading an Inductive Bible Study- page 18

1.    Personal preparation

2.    Formulating questions

3.    Leading discussions

4.    Applying the Bible in a group

                       X.    Sample Application Questions for Four Scripture Passages-  page 23

                      XI.    Examples of Sharing Questions- page 25

                     XII.    Teaching People to Pray in a Small Group- page 29

                   XIII.    Resources for Groups- page 31

                  XIV.    What Small Groups are Not- page 32

 

IV. THE HOLY SPIRIT

  1. "The Holy Spirit", a teaching outline, 4 pages. copyright
  2. "What Christians Believe About the Holy Spirit", a short summary, 2 pages
  3. "The Gifts of the Holy Spirit", a teaching outline, 5 pages. copyright
  4. "Baptism with the Spirit: a Spectrum of Views", sketch and 8 categories from Michael Eaton’s Baptism with the Spirit- the Teaching of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 3 pages
  5. "The Scriptural Basis for a Healing Ministry", a sermon outline, 4 pages. copyright
  6. "The Holy Spirit’s Gifts of Prophecy and Discernment", a teaching paper, 6 pages. copyright
  7. "Revival", a short outline, with quotes from Ian Murray’s Revivals and Revivalism, 3 pages

V. THE SACRAMENTS

  1. BAPTISM
    1. "Christian Baptism", a short summary, 4 pages. copyright
    2. "Infant Baptism", by Rev. Francis Schaeffer, 10 pages
    3. "Various Views of Infant Baptism", a one-page chart of 7 views
    4. "Infant Baptism Report", a statement for the South Grand Rapids Classis Executive Committee, from a special committee- Tom Stark, Robert Bast, George Kroeze, initiated by concern over an RCA minister whose children were not baptized. 4 pages
    5. "Presumptive Regeneration" - The view formerly required in the Christian Reformed Church (from 1908 to 1968). It still has obvious influence in the CRC, and even in the RCA, though it was never endorsed as RCA doctrine. Also discussed in Louis Berkhof's Systematic Theology. 2 pages.
  2. THE LORD’S SUPPER
    1. "Various Views of the Lord’s Supper", a one-page chart of 5 views.
    2. "Who Should Be Invited to Receive the Lord’s Supper- Searching for a Pastoral Response "
    3. "The Invitation for Communion, Board of Elders, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan. Now superseded, but revealing the pastoral struggle over whether someone has to have "membership", be baptized, etc.
  3. CHILDREN AT THE LORD’S TABLE
    1. An Overture to the General Synod of l989 Concerning Children at the Lord’s Table, from the consistory of the University Reformed Church, East Lansing, MI to the South Grand Rapids Classis, and from the Classis to the General Synod, because of dissatisfaction with actions of earlier General Synods. 7 pages
    2. "Guidelines for Boards of Elders- Children at the Lord’s Supper", from the 1990 General Synod, R.C.A., 1 page
    3. "General Synod [1990] Clarifies Reformed Church Position on Children at the Lord’s Table", from "The Pioneer" (RCA magazine in Canada). 2 pages
    4. "Children at the Lord’s Table", pastoral notes for elders and parents. Approved in slightly revised form by the University Reformed Church Board of Elders. c. 2001, 2 pages. copyright
  4. INFANT DEDICATION
    1. "Policy of the Board of Elders, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, MI. Concerning the Dedication of Infants" How one Board of Elders struggled to be responsive pastorally to parents who could not accept infant baptism as scriptural. 1 page
    2. "Service of Infant Dedication", approved by the Board of Elders, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, MI. 1 page

 

VI. CASE STUDIES IN THEOLOGY, based on Systematic Theology, by Wayne Grudem.  Prepared for the Commissioned Pastor program of the Synod of the Great Lakes, RCA

 

                      TABLE OF CONTENTS

                                                                      

     FORWARD, by Dr. Ronald Geschwendt                  

Introduction to Theology, by Pastor Tom Stark         

I.              Rationale for the Case Study Method

II.            Our choice of resources

III.           What it can mean to “do theology”

IV.          The importance of theology in a pastor’s life

  1. Case Study 1 – Holy Scripture
  2. Case Study 2 – The Attributes of God
  3. Case Study 3 – God in Three Persons: the Trinity
  4. Case Study 4 - Creation
  5. Case Study 5 – “Free Will Baptists”
  6. Case Study 6 – Miracles and Prayer
  7. Case Study 7 – Human Beings as Male and Female
  8. Case Study 8 – The Person of Christ
  9. Case Study 9 – The Atonement
  10. Case Study 10 – The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
  11. Case Study 11 – Election and Reprobation
  12. Case Study 12 – The Baptism and Filling of the holy Spirit
  13. Case Study 13 – The Doctrine of the Church
  14. Case Study 14 – “Baptism Requests”
  15. Case Study 15 – The Holy Spirit: Personality, Fruit and Gifts
  16. Case Study 16 – The Return of Christ: When and How
  17. Case Study 17 – Heaven and Hell

 

                     APPENDICES

                   (all can be found on this web site)

                                                                                                               

1.    Christ and Scripture, by Dr. Kenneth Kantzer (6 pages)

2.    Revised Declaration on Holy Scripture, RCA General Synod of 1963 (4 pp.)

3.    Presumptive Regeneration, Christian Reformed Church, Acts of Synod, 1942 (2 pp.)

4.    Infant Baptism, by Francis Schaeffer (10 pp.)                           

5.    Infant Baptism Report, for South Grand Rapids Classis (4 pp.)

6.    Christian Baptism (4 pp.)                                                              

7.    The Holy Spirit (4 pp.)                                                                     

8.    What Christians Believe About the Holy Spirit (2 pp.)                                                                    

9.    The Gifts of the Holy Spirit (5 pp.)                                                

10. Baptism with the Spirit: a Spectrum of Views (3 pp.)           

11. The Scriptural Basis for a Healing Ministry (4 pp.)                 

12. The Holy Spirit’s Gifts of Prophecy and Discernment (6 pp.)

 

VII. MENTORING (OR DISCIPLING) OTHERS: One to One and in Small Groups.

      Materials for a workshop of varying length. 

Materials for a workshop of varying length.

  1. Sample Class Schedule and Commitments
  2. Resources for Study Together in Mentoring
  3. What Mentoring/Discipling is- and What it is Not
  4. Choosing and Contacting Mentoring/Discipling Prospects
  5. Qualities of a Christian Mentor/Discipler
  6. Built to Last: Making Disciples in Little Communities
  7. Small Groups: a Venue for Reaching Out
  8. Quiz on Commitments
  9. Keeping Commitments
  10. Conversational Prayer Meetings- see I. 3 above
  11. Small Group intercessory Prayer- How to Do it
  12. Being a Mentor to Someone from a Younger Generation
  13. How To Find a Mentor, by Fred Smith, from “Leadership” magazine, handout
  14. Christ and Scripture- see II. 1 above

VIII. "THE OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES OF CHURCH-BASED CAMPUS MINISTRY" (Revised, March, 2007). I hope to encourage churches with a vision and love for the campus to see the multitude of possibilities for campus ministry. 18 pages. Copyright

IX.  DIACONAL MINISTRIES

  1. TO THE DIACONATE – RESPONDING TO THE NEEDS OF THE AGING, for the Board of Deacons and Deaconesses of the University Reformed Church, April, 2006.
  2. DEACONESSES
    1. “The Board of Deacons and Deaconesses (Diaconate)”, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, MI, 1993, with revisions since adopted in 1981.  3 pages
    2. “The Board of Deacons and Deaconesses (Diaconate), shortened version, 1999.  2 pages
  3. “DO THE POOR FEEL WELCOME IN YOUR CHURCH”, by Eddy Hall, 5 pages. copyright

X. CHRISTMAS

  1. "Christmas is for Giving", from the Church Herald, 3 pages.
  2. "Christmas is NOT for the Family", from the Church Herald, 4 pages

XI. THE REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA

  1. “The Variety of Church Government Among Reformed Churches”
  2. “Eleven Changes in the RCA- Procedures and Practices” A reminder of many ways in which the RCA has changed. 3 pages
  3. THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE
    1. "Revised Declaration on Holy Scripture", from the Minutes of the 1963 General Synod, R.C.A. 4 pages
    2. INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE- "Biblical Language and Worship", An address by the late Professor Harold Nebelsick, from Louisville Presbyterian Seminary (PCUSA), delivered at Western Theological Seminary, March 3, 1987. 13 pages
  4. THE REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA DOCTRINAL STANDARDS (Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, Canons of the Synod of Dort)
    1. "Historical Notes on the R.C.A. Doctrinal Standards, and Their Major Problems", 8 pages. copyright
    2. "Notes on the Heidelberg Catechism", 4 pages. copyright
    3. Letter to the TEA [Theological Education Agency, RCA] TIMES, May 1995, clarifying certain issues about the RCA Doctrinal Standards. 3 pages
    4. A Review of Meeting Each Other: in Doctrine, Liturgy and Government. Daniel Meeter’s book, in the RCA Historical Series, includes the first publication since 1906 of the "Constitution" adopted when the RCA became independent of the Dutch Church (1792), including the significant "Explanatory Articles", which modified some past practices. 4 pages. copyright
    5. Revision of the Subscription for Ministers, from the RCA General Synod of 1972.
    6. "Why We Need Our Creeds". from the Church Herald, Jan., 1973. 3 pages.
    7. "Why We Need Our Creedal Declaration for Ministers", from the Church Herald, Feb., 1973. 5 pages.
    8. "The Proposed Creedal Declaration for Ministers", by Dr. Arthur Jentz, professor of philosophy at Hope College, a member of the Theological Commission, from the Church Herald, March, 1973, 3 pages. At the Synod of 1973 (June), when final approval of the amendment was voted on, I indicated that, based on Dr. Jentz assurances, I would not vote against final ratification, though I would also not vote for it.
  5. THE EXTENT OF REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA LITURGICAL REQUIREMENTS
    1. "RCA Liturgical Requirements for Sunday Worship", 8 pp. (Some 40 supplementary pages are referenced but not included, from the 1792 Constitution, the 1906 and 1968 Liturgies, and the General Synod Minutes of l987, l988, and l989.) copyright
    2. "Twenty-four Ways that the RCA Services for the Lord’s Supper Can Be Varied". 2 pages, not exhaustive, but meant to recognize and encourage variety. copyright
    3. Excerpts from "A Matter of Trust", by Rev. Allan Janssen, "The Church Herald", May 2001. A "hard line" on liturgical conformity. 1 page
    4. Letter to the Editor (unpublished), "The Church Herald". Summer 2001, attempting to refute Rev. Janssen’s assumptions on liturgical conformity. In fact, he stated on August 6, 2002, in a letter following up my review of his largely outstanding Constitutional Theology (see below): "I may have stretched the point further than I should have in the "Church Herald" article. In fact, I was getting at pastors who aren’t even close to the Directory! That’s not a matter of theological position (conservative or liberal), I’ve discovered, nor of geography."
  6. A REVIEW OF "CONSTITUTIONAL THEOLOGY", by Rev. Allan Janssen, Eerdmans, 2000. A significant commentary on the RCA Book of Church Order, with a few debatable positions. 4 pages. copyright
  7. REVIEW AND NOTES ON "THE CHURCH SPEAKS: VOLUME 2: Papers of the Commission on Theology, Reformed Church in America, 1985-2000". A collection of 17 documents, some never approved by the General Synod, in which it is difficult to trace their status in the RCA. Some are open to significant reservations. 6 pages. copyright
  8. "THE REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA’S POSITION ON ABORTION", a five-page summary, sent to the RCA General Secretary, March 2003, challenging the accuracy of the summary on the RCA web page, which was updated correctly in Sept, 2003. copyright
  9. THE FORMULA OF AGREEMENT (with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church USA, and the United Church of Christ) An Overture to the General Synod of 2000 challenging the proposed relationship with the United Church of Christ, from the South Grand Rapids Classis, 22 pages
  10. THE REFORMED CHURCH IN AMERICA’S "FOURTH OFFICE" (Professor of Theology) - An overture to the General Synod of l992 from the South Grand Rapids Classis to Eliminate the Fourth Office and return Professors of Theology to classis membership. 6 pages
  11. SAMPLE ORDINATION EXAMS
    1. RCA Senior Theology Exam 1
    2. RCA Senior Theology Exam 2
    3. RCA Senior Theology Exam 3
    4. RCA Senior Theology Exam 4
    5. RCA Senior RCA Doctrinal Standards Exam
  12.   WOMEN IN CHURCH OFFICES
    1. Excerpts from the report of the "Committee on the Ordination of Women" to the General Synods of 1957 and 1958. 16 pages
    2. "Bibliography of works taking the ‘historic’ (compared to the ‘progressive’) view of women in church office". (Terms taken from Women in the Church -see bibliography), 2 pages. copyright
    3. "Women in Ministry: What We Can (Almost All) Agree On", Workshop Outline from the Institute on Women in Ministry, Western Theological Seminary, revised and updated. 7 pages. copyright
    4. "Applying the Words of the Apostle Paul- Part I", sermon outline, 6 pages. copyright
    5. "An Informational Flyer About Women in University Reformed Church, East Lansing, MI", approved by the Consistory, updated February, l994. Though some of the information has changed, it is an example of how a local church can strive to encourage unity and the use of gifts. 6 pages.
    6. "A Letter to a Sister in Ministry"- a real letter, no name given here, to try to indicate how I believe Christians can affirm one another. 2 pages. copyright
    7. The Reformed Church in America's "Conscience Clause" on Women in Office
      1. "Women in Church Offices: Where We Are Now", Guest Editorial in the October 2, l981 "Church Herald", following the adoption of the "conscience clause". 4 pages
      2. "Twenty Years of the Reformed Church in America’s ‘Conscience Clause’", January 2000, 21 pages. copyright
      3. Letter to the Editor, "The Church Herald", February 1, 2002, concerning the "Conscience Clause", 2 pages
      4. A Brief History of Events Leading to the "Conscience Clause", spring 2003, 4 pages. copyright
      5. May 2004- The RCA "Conscience Clauses"
      6. "Response to the Commission for Women" (RCA),1999, 4 pages