The Church Order challenges ministers and elders to, "engage in and promote the work of evangelism” (Art. 12a). The Form for the Installation of Elders and Deacons confirms the charge when it says they, “shall … share the good news of salvation.”
That challenge, it should be understood, has a long tradition! I happened to read a reference to some decisions of Synod 1910, so I visited the Acts of the Synod of 1910. And sure enough, there it all was. That synod decided to make some imaginative recommendations to the local churches regarding missions (pages 22- 25).
Here are some examples:
- Societies of young people and adults should discuss the mission challenge.
- Local churches should strive for the ideal of sending out its own missionaries.
- Four times a year Sunday Schools should teach about missions.
- “Mission Days” should be organized on an annual basis.
- At major congregational meetings missions also should be given a place.
Synod of 1910 also appointed a committee to select countries for the denomination's mission enterprises, to report to the Synod of 1912. But Synod of 1910 added one recommendation that I thought was remarkable: synod asked the churches to “systematically promote weekly giving for missions.” It may be assumed that synod meant that weekly offerings were to be collected for missions.
There is something special about offerings in the worship services. Synod hoped that all CRC members were to be reminded of missions every week. Offerings involve a bit of action, a bit of a decision, a bit of involvement, a tiny touch of drama. Offerings are part of the worship service. Missions is part of worship!
Today, a century later, the denomination continues in the spirit of Synod 1910 and diligently promotes missions. But that synod's exuberance around the weekly offering for missions seems to have worn off in the course of the years. Though special mission offerings have been held right along, the idea of weekly mission offerings did not catch on. But today, more than a century later, we may take a lesson from that synod: it had it just right!