Worth Your Time: Our DOC Regional Minister Reflects on the Situation We’re In

Many of you know, or know of, our Christian Church (DOC) Regional Minister Rev. Teresa Dulyea-Parker. She assists and cares for all Disciples congregations and pastors in Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan.


 One thing this means is that Teresa has her finger on the pulse of what our fellow Disciples are going through as we emerge from the Covid pandemic shutdowns. Truth be told, it hasn’t been easy or comfortable for any congregations or churches. And, she has had a unique insider’s perspective on what this period of time has been like for our fellow Disciples across these 3 states.


About 2 weeks ago, Teresa emailed another one of her frequent “clergy alerts,” which helps to keep pastors in touch with her and each other. In this particular email, she included her own reflections about where we’ve been and where we’re going together as Disciples. I found the truth of our situation jarring (yet again!). But I found her reflections inspiring and hopeful. This week I share these reflections with you, hoping that you find inspiration and hope in them as I did.


Peace in Abundance, Pastor Bob <>< 


Reflections of Rev Teresa Dulyea-Parker: 


Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Traveled 5 hours … on Monday to meet with a lovely Disciple congregation needing some support. These are “salt of the earth” and “light of the world” folk. Like you have in your congregations.


They told me about the hurt and pain that has been happening in their congregation over Covid-19 protocols/which is about so much more than Covid-19. (It would have been enough . . . if it were only about a pandemic.)


We talked about how this is affecting every congregation. We talked about the blessing that we are still here. We talked about the great need for mental health resources in our communities—there is pain, grief, anxiety everywhere. 


We talked about the reality that if 1/3 of your congregation is back that’s a point of celebration. If 1/2 are back that’s a huge grace. And, if you have more than that percentage, it’s time to do a dance of joy! We are still here!


We talked about the need to cut each other a little slack—read grace. And, that we are all doing the best that we can in this moment and the next. None of us can do this alone. We need each other. We need grace. 


And, we talked about the need for simple rituals, like lighting a Christ candle at the beginning of every board meeting and praying together for “Jesus to heal us and our church.”


And, I thanked them for doing the work of caring for the well-being of their people, even when it wasn’t appreciated. Even, when it was hard and hurtful.


Thank you. . . 


A reminder, we didn’t get into this quickly, and it will take time to crawl out of it, or recover or be made new. It starts with the first step—“Jesus heal us and our church.”


Ultimately, we will be made new. . .


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From my heart … Some personal reflections about our congregation, our church, and your offering.

In the past few months, we have talked about the offering and the financial status of the church more than usual. That’s not because we want to. Personally, any talk of money in a secular sense in and around the church usually turns out badly, and it makes me very anxious and uncomfortable. Maybe I should talk about it more. I’ll ask Jesus tonight.

But as for your offering, I believe that your offering is yours, not ours. Vine Street Christian Church doesn’t have a right to any of your money, or your time for that matter. Those should be things you decide with God, not from me or anybody else. Your offering, in general terms, reflects who you are, who God is to you, and what your church means to you. It’s very personal, because each one of us is in a different situation. Don’t ever feel like it’s a competition or a standard to be met. Seriously! Your offering is really your love letter to God. You and God will decide what it consists of each day.

So, you see, the offering is not just about money. In fact, for some folks, their offering comes in many different ways. Some give more time to their church and its ministries. Some help take care of their church. Some, especially our remote members, pray constantly and intentionally for their church. And some, but not all, give money. And that’s the way it should be.

The true nature of the “offering” that Jesus asks from us is not just monetary. Jesus wants our lives, and everything that comes with it. Nothing held back. And so, the offering is a visible and tangible way to give back a portion of what we have (time, money, resources, participation, prayer, etc.) to Jesus and His church. He gave us His life. We give Him a portion of ours back.

The one aspect that is clear from scripture, and from Jesus himself, is that our giving be sacrificial, not convenient and easy. As Jesus points out in Mark 12: 41-44, it’s easy for folks to give a little bit from their own abundance; and Jesus says they have their reward here and now. But the true disciple is the one who gave all she had. She will receive eternal rewards.  

This is why the offering is part of our Communion Ceremony each Sunday. It’s at the Lord’s Table where Jesus shows us what His sacrifice for us was, and still is. We receive His broken body and His shed blood in the Communion elements. And then, to complete that exchange of sacrifice, we give back to Jesus some of what He has blessed us with. That’s what Communion really is … a mutual giving and receiving with our Lord.         

Have you ever thought you could give all you have to Jesus? All your time? All your money? All your resources? All your volunteer time? Your whole heart? Now that’s an offering! But, that’s precisely what He wants from us. And because the offering is not just about money, anyone (and potentially everyone) can give sacrificially all they have to Him and His church.

What would that look like for you? I suggest that you consider what “giving all” would look like for you, or your family. Not because it will help the church. That’s the bonus prize. But the practice of sacrificially offering to God on a regular basis, will alter your heart and mind in amazing ways. In ways that only Jesus could change you. You may not win any offering awards or ribbons. There’s no free offering mug for those who give. And you will never be congratulated in church for exactly how much you gave. But you will be given a blessing from God. Not because you gave to the offering. But because you gave according to your heart, as led by God.  

Friends, your offering is between you and God. Period. God will lead you to the place of sacrificial giving in a specific way that works just for you. Never let anyone tell you how much you should give. Only God knows that, and if you ask, God will let you know. And the way you’ll know it’s of God is that your offering BLESSES your life, and doesn’t BURDEN it. That’s a cheerful giver!

When you find this space with God, you will notice that you feel a peace and even a joy from giving. Whatever you’re giving becomes blessed because it’s of God’s will. Blessed money. Blessed time. Blessed life.

So, to put it simply, Vine Street Christian Church, like Jesus, wants to BLESS your life, not BURDEN it. And if we all would follow God’s lead for each one of us, then all that we give is blessed, because all that we gave was of God’s leading us.

Our church has undergone an amazing transformation during and since Covid. As most churches have, we have lost a large percentage of members. But, unlike many churches, we have welcomed many newcomers – individuals, couples, and families. Clearly, God is at work with us. We are in a Godly transition. We are being led by God. And we can be assured that, through our holy giving, God will provide exactly what we need, to do exactly what God calls us to do.

My advice: Don’t ever consider your offering in financial terms. Always open yourself up to God’s voice. God has an offering plan that’s just for you … that will BLESS your life. Ask God to help you decide what your own sacrificial giving should consist of. And when that happens throughout our congregation, then all will be well, in all matter of things. We put our trust in God.

Thanks for reading this. As you see, the offering isn’t really about money … it’s about love. It’s about your life and your relationship with God. It’s about your church and how it best can be the Body of Christ in the world today. And that takes ALL of us. Giving as we are led. Sharing with each other all that we have. And loving everyone as Jesus loves us. I don’t’ know what that will mean for our church, but I know that a community of faith built on those principles will be one BLESSED & BELOVED FAMILY OF FAITH.

And that’s precisely what Jesus wants us to be.

Peace to all. And if you are concerned or upset by anything I have written here, PLEASE don’t keep it from me. Let me know. I am just a work-in-progress like you. I can only be a better pastor when your thoughts and feelings are shared with me. And I want to be better.

In His Name, By His Word, I am,

Pastor Bob <><


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We all have sacred places and objects in and around us that for one reason or another are xtra-meaningful to us. These are things that we seem to notice more than usual, they always are catching our eye, maybe a warm feeling comes from inside when you’re in a certain place, and your heart gets soft or your spirit gets strong from these things. Or both.

There are many places and objects that touch me this way. Below, I’ve posted pictures of fifteen of my sacred spaces from the building and grounds of Vine Street Christian Church.

                See how many of them you recognize and could “locate” at our church. Next week I’ll reveal the locations and meanings to me.

Now, more importantly, you! Think about your own “sacred spaces” in your life. If you’re willing, send me a pic(s) of yours before next Tuesday and Ill exhibit them in next week’s Vision. All anonymously, of course, so we all can chat and guess about who could have submitted them. (Prizes for ALL participants – ALL ages welcome!      


Blessings to all! Have a great rest of the week, and hope to see you live or virtually on Sunday!

Pastor Bob <><

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