Earlier this year, I made a list of all the ways that denominational ministries have pivoted in the last six years towards focusing more directly on blessing congregations. And I counted more than 20 ways!A handful of these pivots include the formation of Resonate Global Mission and its Local Mission Leaders, the launching of Worship Ministries, Faith Formation Ministries, Classis Renewal, Pastor-Church Relations changing its name to Pastor Church Resources, the restructured Council of Delegates, and many, many more.
The whole list of 20+ tells the story of an increasingly congregation-centric CRC that recognizes the beautiful challenge of thriving as faithful congregations led by well-supported pastors and leaders. Together, our ministries host hundreds of conversations that spark creativity, courage and hope.
Perhaps the greatest privilege I have in serving as director of the CRC Connections project is that I can picture specifically and personally the ways in which CRC ministries are blessing churches, and this inspiring picture brings Heb. 12 to mind: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.” (vv. 1-2)
Since 2014, these changes have occurred:
- World Missions and Home Missions have merged to form Resonate Global Mission.
- Back To God Ministries has moved from Palos Heights, IL, to Grand Rapids, MI.
- The Connections I project experimented with best practices for connecting with congregations.
- The Connections II project began in the summer of 2019 to extend the learnings of Connections I to the entire denomination.
- Worship Ministries launched.
- Faith Formation Ministries launched.
- PCR changed its name from Pastor Church Relations to Pastor Church Resources
- Al Postma was appointed as the first Classis Renewal Director.
- A new cycle of gatherings began, centered around Inspire.
- The Leadership Diversity Office was established.
- The five-year Ministry Plan 2020 listened to what congregations were asking for, and adjusted ministry accordingly. This process is continuing as Our Journey 2025 is being prepared.
- What were once called “Specialized ministries” are now the “Congregational Services Group,” which has become a team unified around a common vision for serving congregations.
- World Renew is doing more and more work with CRCNA congregations, in partnership with justice-focused ministries and deacons.
- The “Bridge App” was introduced to facilitate digital connections (in Canada primarily)
- The work of the Renewal Lab (renamed as Center for Church Renewal), and Ridder, now called “Churches Learning Change” engaged many CRC congregations.
- Vibrant Congregations launched to help connect congregations with the renewal process that will serve them best.
- The greatest area of growth now comes from non-Caucasian churches and members.
- The creation of Raise Up, which serves leadership development and teacher education.
- The Digital Library and Click/Call/Chat all serve to make denominational resources more accessible to congregations.
- Pastor Church Resources “Thriving in Ministry” project serves pastors in seasons of transition.
- The Lilly proposal, “Thriving Congregations”, generated rich conversations focused on serving congregations.
- The cross-ministry church planting project recognizes that all ministries are participants in church planting.
- Canada has added a congregational justice mobilizer.
And there are more. What did we miss?