The Banner

Why Does Church Membership Matter?

Department: Author: Kathy SmithWhy is church membership important? Why not just do away with membership and let people be involved as they so choose?It’s true that some people today are reluctant to make the commitment to join a church, perhaps because they are skeptical about churches and institut

Super Deer? Super You!

Department: Author: Susie Vander VaartWe are all made for a purpose. God designed every creature and every person with a specific purpose in mind. Take the addax, for example. Mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:5 (NLT), the addax is a deer designed for life in the desert. It has light-colored fur to refle

‘I’m Still Here’

Department: Author: Lorilee CrakerAfter almost a century of survival, “I’m still here,” Theodora Kleisma often tells people. And no one is more surprised than she is.Her story dates back more than 350 years to the Spice Islands of the Indonesian archipelago and the wars that erupted over their cont

The People Behind The Banner

Department: Author: Shiao ChongWelcome to our new blog, Behind The Banner. Featuring monthly posts, this blog seeks to give our readers a behind-the-curtains peek into how things operate at The Banner.When readers meet me, the editor, in person, there are some commonly asked questions, such as, “Ho

What Makes Us Believe God Is Calling Us?

Department: Author: Douglas J. SchuurmanWhat Makes Us Believe God Is Calling Us?Different kinds of experience can provoke a sense of one’s calling. For some, it is the wise counsel of a coach or a parent. For others, it is a dramatic encounter with God’s power and grace, one that interrupts one’s p

Remember the Sabbath

Department: Author: Hank OttensI don’t recall my parents sitting me down to explain just what we kids could and could not do on Sunday. We learned by example and fell in step with the prevailing home and church standards. Sometimes we learned the hard way: a reprimand, a scolding, a shaming. On Sun

Is Peace on Earth Possible?

Department: Author: Chris SchoonChristmas is wrapped up. The holiday decorations are back in their storage bins, safely tucked away in attics, basements, and closets. And we’ve returned to our normal worship patterns, too. The pleading of “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” and the celebration of “Joy

What Am I Doing Here? Reflections of a Choir Rookie

Department: Author: John A. TammingAs I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect t

Should Pastors Preach on the Environment?

Department: Author: Rolf BoumaOur pastor recently preached on Psalm 104 about the divine wisdom in God’s manifold works of creation. He said animals and plants are examples of God’s wisdom, so if we don’t treat them well, we are disrespecting God’s wisdom. He tried to say creation, like salvation,

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Department: Author: To send letters to the editor, please see our guidelines at Cost, Extra BlessingThank you for “Extra Costs Bring Extra Blessing” by Tony Kamphuis (Sept. 2019). At All Belong Center for Inclusive Education (formerly CLC Network), we have been partnerin

‘How’ Matters

Department: Author: Shiao ChongOne of the things I learned from 15 years of campus ministry is that “how” matters. How we carry out good intentions to reach good ends makes a difference. Why and what we do matters, yes, but how we do it also matters to God.I have heard from many young Christians th

To Swerve and Protect

Department: Author: Diana ZondagThe other day, I swerved. A car came into my lane, and in reaction I swerved into the lane on my left. I was met with a honk, and I am sure some choice words, as I made my way back into my proper lane. Everyone was fine, but in that one moment, lives could have been

Should the church recognize a marriage not recognized by the government?

Department: Author: Adam BarkmanIf a couple takes issue with state marriage and decides to privately commit to each other forever with the Lord as their witness, should the church recognize their marriage?The Christian Reformed Church’s official position on marriage is that it is “an institution cr

Pro-Vida es Pro-Amor

Department: Author: Shiao ChongCuando mi esposa estaba embarazada de nuestra tercera hija, nos dijeron que había un alto riesgo de que el bebé tuviera síndrome de Down. Nunca consideramos el aborto como una opción a causa de nuestra fe y deseo de seguir los caminos de Dios. Pero el miedo a lo desco

낙태를 반대할 때도 사랑으로 해야 합니다

Department: Author: Shiao Chong제 아내가 셋째 딸을 임신했을 때, 우리는 그 아기가 다운증후군일 가능성이 매우 높다는 판정을 받았습니다. 우리는 우리의 신앙과 하나님의 방식을 따르려는 열망 때문에 결코 낙태를 고려하지 않았습니다. 물론 우리 아이가 “정상”이 아닐 수 있다는 슬픔과 미지의 두려움이 우리를 지배했습니다. 그러나 모든 과정에서, 성도들의 도움과 더불어 하나님의 능력과 은혜를 철저하게 의존했습니다. 다운증후군인 저희 딸은 지금 12살이고, 우리는 우리 삶 가운데 그녀의 존재로 인해서 하나님께 감

From Republic of the Congo to Appleton, Wisc.

Department: Author: Laurie PluimerI watched her lightly step down the stairs wearing my old skirt and sweater, discards from my surplus of clothes. Each callus and crack on her bare feet told a story of hard work and determination. Her flawless skin made me suddenly self-conscious about my pale, fr

Words We Don’t Want to Hear in 2020

Department: Author: Abby ZwartBetween church-hopping as a Millennial and working at a Christian school teaching students of Gen Z, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the language we use in church. I’ve encountered several words and phrases that have started to fall flat. To me, they might feel

What are the dangers for a church focused on attracting people?

Department: Author: Karen WilkWhat are the dangers of being a church that focuses on attracting people?One of the reasons the “attractional church model” is being questioned today is the realization that it often produces consumers of religious goods and services more than it makes disciples. Parti

What’s Your Brand?

Department: Author: John Van DonkAll I have to say is “Coke” and you know what I am referring to. “Coke” means “refreshing,” “goes well with popcorn,” “delivered in shiny red trucks.” That’s because the Coca-Cola people have cultivated the brand and protect it vigorously. If local distributors fail

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Department: Author: Ignorance and ConvictionIntellectual humility is a virtue (“Ignorant of Ignorance,” Nov. 2019). If we’re smart, then we ought also to be wary of theologians who shout, “The Bible is absolutely clear!” And yet, to refrain from agreeing that Scripture is absolutely clear on some t