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Connecting with a public school links the church to the beating heart of the community. Here are a few ways churches can serve their local public schools. 

October 23, 2017 0 0 comments
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Someone once said that if you can teach your congregation to smile you’ll grow by 20%. Churches would also do well to teach their facilities to put on a smile. 

October 3, 2017 0 0 comments
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The Ultimate Frisbee community, like any other group coming together over a shared affinity, has its own special values. As we integrate into these communities, we have an incredible opportunity to live out our faith.

September 6, 2017 0 0 comments
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Many people that we meet at the farmer's market don’t know where our church is located. The market has provided an opportunity to tell them both where we are and a bit more about who we are. 

August 24, 2017 0 1 comments
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As I sit at the table, I have not said one single profound thing or come up with any solutions. But I am hearing stories, learning about the brokenness, and gaining a sense of the opportunities that exist. 

August 7, 2017 0 1 comments
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Are you from Amy’s church?  Is there ice cream tonight? How much cheese did you bring? These are just some of the questions we commonly receive from the residents of the People in Need House (PIN House). 

July 13, 2017 0 0 comments
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A few years ago Providence Church (Holland, MI) harnessed the energy of HGTV and remodeled a home while also raising thousands of dollars for a Uganda missional move. Here's a to-do list if your church is interested! 

June 29, 2017 0 0 comments
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Even with all the books and coaches and renewal team retreats, no change was going to happen in our congregation if I didn’t lead it. This was the quintessential money-where-my-mouth-was moment.

June 12, 2017 0 0 comments
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Sunnyside CRC in Sunnyside, WA, discovered a powerful way to demonstrate the love of Christ to neighbors while also building deeper fellowship among believers.

May 25, 2017 0 0 comments
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With the growing trend toward digital media in society, it should come as no surprise that churches can, and should leverage this opportunity to connect with a wide variety of people. Learn about how LifeQuest is using Facebook to grow membership.

April 29, 2017 0 0 comments
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Rock and Roll and Food Trucks was easily the largest outreach event that Faith Community has undertaken in the last twenty years. It grew out of the ideas and culture cultivated by the Church Renewal Lab. 

April 12, 2017 0 0 comments
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Up and coming writers are often given a simple piece of advice: write about what you know best. I think the same could be said of starting new ministry opportunities!

March 22, 2017 0 0 comments
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I was the only pastor there among people with graduate degrees in environmental science and ecology. When it was my turn to present, I unapologetically said that we are a church and are called to care for God's creation.

March 7, 2017 0 4 comments
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Our stately, traditional church building and dated signage gave the impression that the people inside were old, boring, and stoic. Our new image is fresh, modern, welcoming, and rooted in our identity.

February 23, 2017 0 4 comments
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Thanks Ben for your insightful and helpful comments.

Thanks for the article!

I think these type of distinctions are very helpful. I just shared this with our Elders as we just dealt with the unpleasant but necessary realities of Church Discipline.

Over 9 years ago, we set out to plant a new/restarted Church uniquely designed to make room for people who had been outside or returning to the Christian faith. At the time, we believed that in an established church setting, it’s often an unwritten policy that a person must not only fully believe and understand the truths of the Christian faith, but must visibly be on the road to becoming Christ-like in their daily life. Only then could that person fully belong in a Church community.

Knowing that paradigm for ministry creates a toxic environment for anyone ‘new’ to enter into a Church community, we turned that process on its head and created a place where anyone can ‘belong’ to our Church, without first believing. We trusted that in the Lord’s timing, people would become more and more like our Savior. The Lord blessed our efforts and we can all think of several individuals who ‘only at RedArrow’ could they feel a deep sense of belonging in a faith community.

However, the unintended consequence of this effort is that we have an extremely diverse congregation that bring a wide variety of belief systems and Biblical understandings. This is all well and good until the time comes to put people in positions of influence. It is in those settings that Biblical ignorance and spiritual immaturity really begins to surface. 

It's now clear to the Elders that there was a small group of people in our Church that wrongly believed Christian fellowship should look more like a 'social club' or a 'service league' and less like a transformative force for good in a broken world. When we pointed out the 'high bar' of expectations were those given by God Himself, several walked away from the Church preferring to be conformed to the patterns of this world. If nothing else, we have learned to be more intentional about highlighting the reason God calls His people to righteous and holy living; out of gratitude for what Christ has done for us.

Thanks for these notes.  It would be interesting to talk since this experience has really awakened me to these questions.  Email:  gary.burge@calvinseminary.edu.  

 

Thanks, Gary, for your words. We resonated with your experience on looking for a new church. My wife and I experienced the same move as you (from Wheaton to GR) two years ago. It was logical in our search to check out a church from the denomination we had been part of almost our entire adult lives. In brief, we were invisible to the congregation, even to the person at the "welcome desk". So...we checked out a congregation recommended to us by a friend of a friend. It happened to be a congregation of the CRCNA. When we walked in for the first time, it was as if we were being welcomed home. Search over. Now it is our home congregation, blessing us and, hopefully, being blessed by us. Christian (biblical) hospitality seems to be outside the comfort zone of many churches of all stripes. Any wonder that such churches are wondering why they don't grow? Training in this area, for and within churches, is needed. I hope you have been welcomed home. If not, we should talk.     

Thank you Keith.   I appreciate your perspective, and am grateful for your shared experience.   We will keep it in mind.   Blessings!

Greetings Joe,

Twenty years ago I pastored a congregation immediately following an exodus of members to form a new non-denominational ministry.   The congregation requested permission to move from "organized" to "emerging." This decision proved helpful for several reasons.  First, we were partnered with another congregation that provided ministry support.  Second, we were able to form a steering committee from the most gifted members (both men and women) who were specifically focused on revitalization rather than maintenance.  Third, the obligations for ministry beyond our own congregation (i.e. classis and denomination) were significantly reduced.  Finally, it created a new atmosphere of urgency, fresh beginnings, creative thinking, permission for risk taking and the assumption that business as usual would have to embrace change.

 

I'd suggest joyfully embracing emerging status when it becomes clear that resources are limited, ministry focus is necessary and a ministry partner would be beneficial. 

Keith Doornbos

 

 

My question relates to when an organized congregation should consider moving from "organized" to "emerging" status, and whether there are advantages to be an "emerging" church as opposed to an "organized" church.   Do you have any thoughts?

Immensely helpful post. Thank you for this! 

Hi Andy.  They hunted for a long time to find a place to meet downtown but couldn't.  The prices were too high. The present location isn't where they want but they're working with it.  But their aim is the singles population that is returning to the city.  If you know of some property in the city ... 

How interesting to read this article and then check out the website for "The Local Church" (aren't' tall churches local?) where one sees all these pictures of downtown Grand Rapids when in fact this is not where "The Local Church" is located.  Talk about understanding your audience.  Just saying.  Andy

Thanks for this thoughtful piece on church culture, and how well we welcome folks. I hope you will come visit us at Oakdale Park CRC (if you haven't already)! Grace and peace as you settle in Grand Rapids.

Doug - While I agree we can't create a new vision because the ultimate vision has already been established, we most certainly need the Elders to ensure the proper vision is being worked out in our congregations. As we see a significant lack of engagement among members, the Elders need to be out front, sharing the vision, and ensuring it is truly being part of each and every part of what we do as a church family. Are each one of our ministries operating and succeeding within the vision set forth? That is what we must ask. Repeatedly.

 

This is definitely a creative outreach tool!

We hope you would consider World Renew when looking for an international organization to support. World Renew does many water projects as well and the unique difference compared to many other independent Christian development organizations is that World Renew works with local church partners and has a history of doing so way back to the 1970s.  Working with local church partners is a very important value for World Renew because the local church promotes a sustainable presence and on-going faith nurturing role far beyond the departures of international organizations. 

Many international Christian agencies ultimately replace the work of the local church while World Renew is an agency that very effectively RENEWs and strengthens the work of the local church.   Why does World Renew place so much emphasis on this?  It is because the church is the “bride” of Christ and we seek to “adorn her” as much as possible.

There are many opportunities for CRCs to partner with local churches that World Renew works with overseas and research shows this has a significant positive impact on CRCs also connecting with their own local community.  Staff from World Renew are eager to connect you....just a phone call or email away.  Now is a great time for CRC congregations to reconsider how they connect in ministry. 

Let’s think about this a little further. 

In Acts 6 the apostles resist “the daily doing of ministry” by saying “no” to waiting on tables.  They conclude that their focus must be on prayer and ministry of the Word.

 Why invest in prayer and ministry of the word?  Is it not to discern and communicate God’s will for His people?  And what is discerning God’s will for His people all about? Is it not discovering a picture of God’s preferred future for His church and His world?  And isn’t a picture of God’s preferred future just another name for vision?  So to the extent that the work of pastors/elders is about prayer and ministry of the Word it is also about seeking and articulating a biblical vision. 

Blessed are churches led by pastors/elders who can say with the apostle Paul, “I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven” (Acts 26:19).

Thank you for this encouraging blog.  I need it and want to learn more.

 

What a timely and helpful post by Chris Pedersen. It clearly describes how complex the act of listening is. The four-direction model is helpful in demonstrating this. I find that this issue is especially pertinent in making room in the church for people with mental health challenges. Not only might there be no room at the table for them, there may be no "table".

As one who spent his career as a social worker listening to others, I am conscious of how imperfectly I listened; it is still a challenge. Several factors get in the way.  Here are four reasons / excuses:

1.  Time - I don't have (or take) the time. How can I be a better steward of my time to include listening?

2.  Fear - I don't know how I would respond to something I don't understand. Actually listening doesn't require solving anything - it requires only my presence. Many husbands find this out the hard way.

3.  Skill - I don't know how to listen. Our churches can do something about that. how about Listening 101 as an Adult Discipleship class?

4.  Apathy - I am not sure I care enough to listen; I have my own issues to deal with. Closely allied with fear.

The challenge of listening is much more than an individual one, it is institutional as well. Churches are noisy places - we sing, pray, drink coffee and chat, and do service. but our churches by-and-large do not structure themselves to allow listening to flourish. Small groups may help to make this happen but not uniformly.

I would be interested in hearing from people whose churches have structured themselves to help make listening easier. We all have stories to tell, but is anyone willing to listen?

David Lundberg

Volunteers in Service, Grand Rapids, MI

dlundberg@visgr.org​​​

 

     

 

 

 

 

posted in: Sustained Listening

Hi Doug, Thank you for writing this. I can't help but wonder what tasks on prayer that you would put the church membership ? Those not staff, or leadership ?

Just last week, we held our Community Wide VBS at the local public elementary school. It was Group's "Maker Fun Factory" and to pull it off, RedArrow again partnered with other churches in town including Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, & Roman Catholic. Out of over 200 kids who attended throughout the week, when parents registered their kids, more than 50% said they have no Church family. As the week ended, Crew Leaders and other volunteers confirmed that many of their students were hearing the Gospel of Jesus and other Bible stories for the very first time. While I agree that investing in those new relationships is absolutely essential, we should NEVER underestimate how the Lord can use outreach events like these to plant the seeds of Faith. 

There are good things said in this article.  At the same time, I couldn't agree more with Eric's comments as to a couple of things said in this article.

Today's culture seems to demand that we must "be the best," that whatever we take on be "incredibly exciting," that we must have "great impact on many."

None of that is bad, but insisting on them is.  I love churches that are faithful, regardless of whether they have a "unique vision," or whether they have embarked on "uncharted waters."

The Gospel story is pretty old.  Preaching it may require churches to address the particularities of their own congregants and communities, but the revolution has already happened.  Churches don't have create a new one.  The old one, preached and lived well, is pretty exciting actually, and pretty satisfying.

Perhaps hyperbole sells, I don't know.  But it can also disappoint.  If we demand from elders that create a new vision, they just might.  Or, they might just become discouraged for doing the mere stuff that needs to be done, that apparently has no value.

"Articulating vision is the primary work of elders."  No, it is not. 

"Elders consumed with the daily doing of ministry have lost sight of their essential calling."  No, they haven't.

Great post! For further reading, this post from 2011 has additional ideas: Vacation Bible School as Missions. 

Yes! Philippians 2 is an important key to what's needed in our congregations (and our own lives and communities). We are supposed to look like Jesus - and so we need much more of this mindset that empowers others, and does not live for self - that's how the transforming power of our Lord gets multiplied in the world bringing him much glory.

How does this work when the leaders are the council, a group of volunteers that is constantly in rotation, and their vision is constantly changing?

Thanks John for the encouragement.

Thanks for an insightful and incredibly practical set of guidelines. This is something I've innately tried to do, but never have put words to it nor have I ever seen it distilled into a principle like this.  We really appreciate the work you at the church renewal lab are doing!

As the author of "Keeping Your Eye on Your CVI" I'd like to make another try at speaking into the CVI.  

As I read the helpful and thoughtful comments made about the article I heard folk saying "numbers should not be the measure of ministry."  To that I say a hearty "amen."  Numbers cannot capture the full story of an authentic missional move.  I was reminded of that during a recent visit to several Northern New Jersey churches who's Yearbook numbers do not reflect the vibrancy of their after school programs, half-way houses, investment in local neighborhoods, discipleship programs, youth projects, dynamic Gospel preaching and the like.  I was humbled by what I discovered.

 

So numbers cannot be a measure of ministry but they are often a helpful reflection on aspects of ministry that need our attention in the same way that high cholesterol numbers are a call to action even if a person feels entirely healthy.  

Take for example one of the CVI numbers; namely, persons coming into the life of the congregation through evangelism.  If evangelism is defined as persons who were disconnected from faith and faith family who are now connected to faith and faith family and if that number is a small handful over an entire decade then those numbers may indicate the need for a congregation to focus on a more intentional discipleship pathway.  In other words, the congregation may be good at building bridges from the church into the community but not so good at building bridges from the community into the church.  Evangelism numbers can identify this concern and lead to practical solutions to an important ministry opportunity.

Numbers, rightly understood, are a friend to ministry leadership. They provide the opportunity to increase urgency, focus resources and develop a renewed vision of becoming intentional missional congregations that make more and better disciples.

 

 

 

 Is this Church Vitality Index formula a valid measure of a church’s missional health?  Consider which of these two churches is responding most faithfully to Jesus’ commission on the Easter Sunday evening in John 20:  

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

 

Church A has a 50 year history in a neighborhood which over the past 20 years has transitioned into a largely Spanish-speaking population, most of whom are first generation immigrants.  Most members of the congregation have chosen to move to newer neighborhood on the outskirts of the city, where many have joined Church B.   But around a fourth of the members have remained committed to Church A—either because they were not financially able to move or/and because they sensed a call to remain a presence and witness in the older neighborhood.  Most of these people are past childbearing years, so there are few child baptisms.  Language and preferred worship style are barriers to bringing in new residents in the neighborhood, so there are few transfers or converts joining the congregation.  Nevertheless, members have actively sought to welcome and become acquainted with new residents.  Most of this is done by personal contacts and conversations, but periodically a bi-lingual event—concert, informative discussions, talent shows, games and always with food—is held at the church building to which many in the neighborhood now show up.  At some of these events the four Latino congregations in the area are invited to publicize their calendar and make literature available, Recently a fifth church has begun and worships at Church A’s facility on Sunday afternoons.  Members have also organized an ESL class, with day care for young children, which meets two mornings a week at the church.  When it became evident that undocumented immigrants had become very fearful over changes in government policy, a men’s Bible Study group decided to approach the city council seeking ways to modify or at least clarify things so as to relieve some of this anxiety.  The church’s budget includes a sizeable benevolent fund to be available for basic food, utilities, and transportation needs that become evident among neighborhood families.

 

Meanwhile Church B has grown rapidly, mostly through younger families with children, so child baptisms are monthly happenings.  People are joining from a variety of denominational backgrounds, and since many adults do not have a baptismal record they too agree to their being baptized upon joining.  The leadership of the church is pre-occupied with planning a building expansion, helping new folks assimilate into the fellowship and hiring staff to plan and organize activities.  The vision statement of the church is primarily about attendance projections along with the building space and fund-raising needed to facilitate this growth.

Ditto for the context in which I currently minister. In rural, Midwestern America, the missional edge is much more with what Barna calls the "prodigals/nomads/exiles" - rather than than the formally "unconverted". It is with the "dechurched" not the "unchurched". To quote a Barna 6-3-13 article:

"Over half of Millennials with a Christian background (59%) have, at some point, dropped out of going to church after having gone regularly, and half have been significantly frustrated by their faith. Additionally, more than 50% of 18-29 year olds with a Christian background say they are less active in church compared to when they were 15."

I just had a conversation with two such individuals a half hour ago who are dealing with a lot of past pain and hurt. When they come back into a church community and find healing and a new start - they don't show up in a CVI - but I would suggest they still reflect a sign of vital kingdom ministry for which we should give thanks.

 

I agree. We submit the information but it doesn't seem to show up, neither in the printed yearbook nor on the website.

Does anyone know why this information is no longer published in the yearbook? It would only be an extra ten or twenty pages.

We also struggle with a definition, but it is the definition of "member". We have a significant number of people who come to church pretty much every Sunday, and we consider them a member of our church family. But they do not, and do not want, to go through the formal membership process. That seems foreign and unnecessary to them. 

I'm not saying we never go through the formal membership process - we do. But it seems wrong to narrow the definition of "member" to that piece of paper when we're talking about people who have been beloved members of our church family for years.

When counting our numbers each year, we struggle over the definition of evangelism. We welcome people into membership in the church who have not been part of a church for many years. They are not transferring from a non-CRC church. Still, we wouldn't say that they were new believers. They were believers, separated from their community. This group doesn't seem to fit either label. It seems that there may be a benefit to creating a fourth indicator.

Thanks Keith, that's helpful!

Thanks Marian for your insights and your question.  

Yes, you are exactly right that sharing faith is all about relationships. Relationships are God's tilled field for the Gospel.  The Church Renewal Lab emphasizes this reality as we teach the importance of nurturing a "personal parish" where everyone invests in intentional relationships with those God places in our path.  

 

The three-step plan suggested in this article seeks to provide simple training so followers of Jesus are able to give answer to the hope that is within them.  Recently I put this into practice with a young person God put in my path.  Our first meeting was not faith connected but during subsequent gatherings I began to introduce "God-words" into our conversation so he understood that I was a person of faith.  During an extended coffee time a couple months later I asked if I could share my testimony with him and when he tragically lost a couple friends in a drowning accident I was able to share the hope of the Gospel.  

Moving from God-words, to testimony to sharing the Gospel has been an important part of my own faith sharing journey.

Thanks for this article.  I wonder if you could share a story of how this has played out?  It would be so helpful to read an example of how this has been put into practice. 

I have seen that one of the pieces of sharing a faith story is the need to develop relationships with people who are far from God.  As we develop relationships, we begin to see the places where someone might be open to something of the Gospel story.  In my experience, I've had opportunity to share really only once I've developed a relationship.  The sharing typically takes on a unique shape, depending on the story of the person I'm connecting with.  Also, the story is told over time, through the rhythms of life - rhythms of eating together and simply doing life together.  We need to know the basics of sharing a faith story, certainly.  However, the relational piece of ministry I believe is equally important.  Many of us struggle to get beyond our church community.  We need to rub shoulders with people so that they will "ask you to give the reason for the hope that you have".  

I hope you will share a story, to give a context for faith sharing. 

Thanks!

Go and Tell is an easy and practical way to equip you to become a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19). This three hour interactive seminar will provide you with the tools to “be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” (Philemon 6) Go and Tell is free online at www.fortwaynecrc.com

Great article! Also want to invite readers to check out the Faith Storytelling toolkit from Faith Formation Ministries . . . it offers dozens of practical, doable ways to shape and share testimonies and faith stories. You'll find it at crcna.org/FaithFormation/toolkits.

I am inspired by this article. It conveys what I know to be true and my experience in leadership. The metaphors of "a journey" and "marathon" are right on.  Listening and making room for people who have different perspectives, cultures and experiences are critical in Christian leadership.

When I read articles in the CRCNA on leadership, I try to see myself , an African American woman who did not grow up in the CRCNA, and others like me in what is being said. This article is transparent and relational. 

I especially like, "As a white male; I need to keep before me the need (if I am going to be a good leader) to seek out the voices of others who will bring wisdom and insights that I would miss—if I am not deliberate to listen and learn from them. If we really see value in a chorus of witnesses, we need to be willing to seek those voices out to be part of that choir. For me, this mean that I must seek the counsel of women, Canadians, African Americans, Brazilians, Chinese, Koreans, Latinos/Latinas and the list goes on.  (I have a lot to learn.)"

A key question is really, "What do we value?"

Thank you. Have a blessed time as you continue the Reformation Tour.

Its good to be well equipped with some resources. Here is a really great video that I appreciated from Tim Keller, who was invited to address Google. He was addressing the skeptical and also to promote his latest book. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uIvOniW8xA 

I also appreciate Keller's "accessible prose"... it reminds me that the goal is never to win the argument but win the heart in order to share the gospel. Much like Koukl, he speaks in an "inoffensive" manner.  He also beautifully uses the offensive approach (2 Cor 10:15) by showing the often self-refuting nature of others' belief systems. In addition to Keller, I would highly recommend (at the top of the list) anything written by John Frame, a former student of Van Til and a champion of presuppositional apologetics.   http://www.wtsbooks.com/category/318/John-Frame?view_all

One can also find on youtube some great debates between Doug Wilson and the late Christopher Hitchens.  (really good stuff!)

Also, while I'm not familiar with all of the suggested sources, I am aware of Hugh Ross and what he advocates and promotes. Since I'm unaware of the others, do any of them come from a six-day creation belief?  It may be wise to state up front, some of the beliefs of these men. Perhaps a quick sentence so as not to mislead anyone. Much more could be said regarding that issue, but suffice it to say, there is much apologetic material supporting textual evidence that is contrary to what Ross believes... and it maintains theological consistency in regards to doctrines on the nature of man (historicity of Adam), the doctrine of sin and the sufficiency of God's Word.

I think the listening piece is key. Thank you so much for sharing this. 

Wow great work Trinity. Thank you for being such an inspirational example of what local creation care means. I hope your work has ripple effects in the hearts of all those who are involved and learn about this project. 

Thanks for putting your love for God and your "neighbors" into action, and then sharing that with us. As an upstream neighbor of this church, it is inspiring to me to know that there are others who put their faith in action by showing up and counting macros! I've seen kids suddenly come to life when they realize that things live in the creek.  These little insects have a lot to say if anyone is willing to slow down and listen. The type and quantities of insects reflect the health of the stream environment, and that alone is a life lesson worth experiencing.  Slow down, show up, take notice, and take action. Keep up the great work, Trinity CRC!

Love this! It's great to hear about Trinity's passion for creation care. Please keep us updated on this project and other future creation care projects you may take on. Keep up the good work!

Kris, this is spot on.  The six points you listed are key for sure. Why we think de-churched or people far from God should act like Christians when they come to church is beyond me.  It makes no sense.  Thanks again for posting.

Thanks for posting, Gerry, and even more, thanks for taking on this project.  I have done some stream invertebrate study myself, and found it fascinating and eye-opening, a window into the wonder of creation that is right in front of us, but usually goes unnoticed.   I completely agree with you that we have a "we have a strong calling to care for God’s creation".  I am so grateful that CRC congregations across North America are taking this responsibility seriously.  Thanks, Trinity,  for taking a leadership role in our denomination!   And good luck with securing your 2-year grant. 

Thanks Elaine and Herb for your helpful responses.  As I said, I've seen a lot of CRC churches go the same route.  Some have gotten rid of their "Christian Reformed" middle name altogether (many replacing it with a new middle name of "community").  Some have decreased the size and prominence of "Christian Reformed" but continue to add it as a tagline ("a Christian Reformed ministry"). Others exclude it from the name and signage but do nod to their CRC heritage in the "about us" or "what we believe" sections of their website.  

Your explanations about the reasons behind this make a lot of sense. Churches should want to be more inclusive and accessible. If our names are a hurdle that block people from walking through our doors, then we should humble ourselves and change them. 

The flip side, however, is that when more and more churches remove their denominational name, it becomes harder and harder for people to understand what we're all about.  Herb mentioned that people don't understand the term "Christian Reformed" and think that it might be related to prison ministry.  How can we help the term have meaning when we use it less and less?

I'd love for the term "Christian Reformed" to become synonymous in our broad culture with a people called by God to live a life dedicated to faith formation, servant leadership, gospel proclamation, worship, mercy, justice and mission. I wonder how we can better build up that understanding when we downplay the words. 

Then again, maybe we need to humble ourselves and not worry about how well our denominational name is known or understood, but just focus on how well Christ is known and understood. 

 

Thank you for your question Kristen. The brevity of the article doesn't adequately communicate the complexity of our decision. I'll attempt to fill in and clarify a few things. Although it's difficult to convey the tone of the healthy conversations that took place in Council and with the congregation through out this process.

First, it's worth mentioning that we didn't approach this decision with a desire to "get rid of our denominational identity", to be "more appealing", nor "to appear non-denominational".  The decision was part of a larger conversation to clearly communicate our commitment to and life in Jesus Christ. We chose to humble ourselves by removing our middle name to be inclusive and accessible to those who didn't grow up in our tradition. The motive for minimizing of our middle name was not an attempt to achieve something better. We lowered ourselves so others could experience the richness of reformed faith.

We are still Christian Reformed; we just don't lead with it. We lead with being followers of Jesus Christ.

Talbot Street Church changed their name from the First Christian Reformed Church in London 4 to 5 years ago.  I voted for the change for several reasons.  There is no "Second CRC" by that name in London.  Our public do not have any association with the words Christian Reformed.  Ones that I have asked focus on"reformed" and think we have an association with reforming prisons or people in jail.  Some stumble on the idea of a church being "Reformed".  They cannot relate to it in any way. Finally, Talbot Street Church tells a "story". This is where we are located and our mission is to serve the downtown area by Talbot Street Church.

 

Hope that explains it from my perspective....Herb Bax

 

PS We were relatively new to London and had  no history to the church which perhaps made it easier.

Thanks for your excellent post, Elaine.  As Director of Communications and Marketing for the CRCNA, I'm curious about why discussions about a church's identity led to a decision to get rid of the denominational identification?  This question isn't a judgment.  I think a lot of churches have reached the same conclusion. They feel that getting rid of the "Christian Reformed" part of their name somehow makes them more appealing. I'm just curious what the term "Christian Reformed" seems to communicate to the public that makes us want to avoid it?  Why has it become so appealing to appear non-denominational? 

I really appreciate these suggestions. Might a corollary to "refusing to compete" be to "partner or cooperate with other churches when appropriate" (which probably wouldn't apply to the grocery store)?

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