2019 Annual Ministry Report

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In my work as executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, I am blessed to have a front-row seat to much of what is happening in our congregations and through our ministries.

Almost daily I see and hear stories of people around the world coming to Christ; of individual men, women, and children growing and maturing in their faith; of congregations flowing like rivers of love and witness into their communities; and so much more.

As I think about these stories, I am reminded of two things. The first is that none of this is possible without the amazing and mysterious work of the Holy Spirit. The second is that no matter how large and daunting the tasks before us may seem, God is even larger and greater.

I think of Inspire 2019 as a great example. For two years a team of staff and volunteers worked to plan all of the details for this binational conference, held August 1-3 in Windsor, Ontario. While the task was huge, and it sometimes felt like we’d never pull everything together in time, Inspire 2019 ended up being a wonderful event with more than 720 people in attendance.

As we look back on those three days of workshops, worship, plenary speakers, and fellowship, we can see that God was at work in so many ways we hadn’t even considered. For example, note the two young men pictured on pages 2-3 of this booklet: LeMarr Jackson and Scott Hofman. They blessed Inspire 2019 with their powerful spoken-word poetry. The Spirit was at work through their testimony. Glory be to God!

On the pages of this Annual Ministry Report you’ll find more examples of what God has been doing with and through the Christian Reformed Church in North America. I hope that as you explore these, you will join me in thanking God for the power and gift of the Holy Spirit. I also hope you will see reflections and reminders of God’s work in your life.

While these ministries are powered by the Holy Spirit, they are also supported by your prayers, ministry share gifts, and offerings. Thank you!

Before he ascended to heaven, Jesus told his disciples they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came on them. "And you,” he said, “will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

That promise and pledge is for us as well. We have been given the Great Commission to spread the gospel message, and God has not left us to our own devices to get this work done. The Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the opportunities in our midst, equips us for the task at hand, encourages us when we make mistakes, and sustains us all—together—for the long road of kingdom work.

—Steven Timmermans

P.S.  Check out crcna.org/MinistryReport for additional stories from the past year.

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Community Builder

This is a wonderful report which gives me a chance to see what the church is doing in the world. 

This report becomes extremely important for our congregations as we transition to a new process for Ministry Shares.

The new process more or less forces churches to start the budgeting process in the summer in order to have something available for the Fall Classis meetings in 2020.

In this report the 2 biggest recipients of MS are 1) Resonate and 2) Congregational Services. The latter include no less than 17 stories in Ministry Report, none of the 17 have any financial information. That will prove to be a barrier to understanding the total scope of Congregational Services. There is no story for Denominational Services yet it is the 4th largest MS recipient. 

The information on World Renew is simply interesting but has nothing to do with MS as this Ministry is self-funding.

The Calvin College MS is the most difficult as the source of those MS are spread disproportionately over all the Classis in the denomination.

Of course I have no idea how the guidelines for the budget will be presented to the congregations. Will each church get a report on what they contributed in, say, the last five years? That information must be available.  To lump 17 ministries under one heading and ask for almost 5 million dollars will be difficult for most congregation to digest without a bit more granular information.

My quick response is that if the Ministry Report contains a story about a ministry it should show the financial info as well.  The Agenda for Synod each year provides excellent information on the number of employees (FTE). Should that not show in the Ministry Report as well?

The CRCNA year book is a treasure trove of member numbers but has very little information on FTE numbers in both churches and respective HO functions. I suspect when churches are going to be asked for pledges the issue of FTE will come up so it might be wise to have these numbers available in the process.

Community Builder

Hi Harry.  This is Kristen VanderBerg responding from the CRC Communications account.  Thank you for your excitement about this piece. We like it as well. Thank you also for your critical feedback.  There is, in fact, financial data about the congregational services.  You can find it on page 22. I hear what you are saying, though, about the need to break this down even further and maybe also show employee rates and more information from denominational services.  I'll take note of that as we think about how to do the 2020 report.  As for your questions regarding the pledge process, should Synod 2020 endorse the idea of reimagining how ministry shares are collected, the plan is to send information to every congregation each July. This would include some information about their previous giving (at least 1 year and maybe the last 5) as well as some suggestions for how they could consider coming up with their pledge amount (e.g. as a percentage of their total budget, as a per member amount, or as a % increase from their previous gift). Since this will all be new, I suspect that we'll continue to hone and refine this annual communication as we learn what information is helpful to churches as they do this work.  Thanks again for your feedback.