We are excited to welcome back a former member of our Faith Formation Ministries team: Kristen Rietkerk. Kristen serves as a Regional Catalyzer in California!
Kristen also serves with the Connections Project and as the coordinator for the West Region. She is a student at Talbot Seminary in Southern California studying spiritual formation and soul care.
1. Can you describe for us a key person (or people) who played an important role in your faith formation?
I’ve had the great fortune of having several excellent mentors in my life, including a handful of supervisors who fostered meaningful work environments. One example is a woman I met during my time in military ministry when she visited our Army base to facilitate a series of leadership workshops. She encouraged me to consider going back to school, not simply for a degree but also to channel my passion for leadership development into something useful for kingdom purposes.
During my 3 years of schooling, she connected with me often and asked broad, open-ended questions that sparked a deeper understanding of my gifts and life experiences. She was holistic in her approach to spiritual formation and regularly incorporated art, poetry, literature, and prayer into our time together. She also helped me appreciate reflection and contemplation in a life oriented around gratitude. She often said, “Kristen, what would extravagant generosity look like in this situation?”
This idea that we, as followers of Christ, are agents of change in the world, and that God gives His children good gifts, turned my world upside down and frames how I want to be as a leader today.
2. Kristen, you have a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership, how do you think that background has influenced your work with churches?
In my work as a catalyzer for Faith Formation Ministries, I enjoy resourcing pastors and church leaders with helpful tools that deepen a church’s culture and faith formation practices. However, simply handing out a variety of tools without understanding the current ministry context is a recipe for disaster. For many church leaders, it has been helpful to see how their local congregation fits into an overall ministry vision, considering both the denomination’s mission as well as what’s happening in the greater local area.
I enjoy helping pastors identify strengths in ministry as well as potential roadblocks and encourage them to discern where God is inviting the church to join Him in acts of useful service. A passion of mine is identifying and equipping church leaders to grow in their leadership skills, particularly in working with adult volunteers who can be fickle when it comes to long-term commitments.
3. What has been your favorite part of working with churches in the areas of small groups and leadership development?
As a small group facilitator, there’s nothing sweeter than when a group has an “aha" moment; where the learning taking place is almost electric. This can happen in discipleship groups as well as church councils and volunteer teams. I love when people come together with a desire to learn something new. Facilitators can help group members learn by incorporating activities that tap into the three learning styles: Visual--learning by seeing; Auditory--learning by hearing; and Kinesthetic--learning by doing. While most people have a dominant learning style, nobody has just one learning style. It’s a lot of fun to help leaders create activities that get people moving around or discover ways to hear new information either through music or poetry. Above all, in groups that are engaged in the learning process, there should be some increased energy.
4. If you could have dinner with anyone in history or alive today, who would it be and why?
I’d want to host a dinner party because I enjoy lively conversation. To that end, the topic would be: What is the Good Life? And I’d invite Krista Tippet, host of NPR’s On Being, David Brooks, New York Times columnist, Wendell Berry, author and environmental activist, and Sir Thomas More, English philosopher and author of Utopia. Not certain we’d come to a definitive answer, but it would be fascinating to listen in.
Faith Formation Ministries provides congregational faith formation leaders the opportunity to meet in-person or connect digitally or by phone with members of our team and other ministry leaders for coaching and support. Whether it’s a one-time, one-on-one conversation or a long-term peer group, we are here to help. For more information about our regional catalyzers, visit crcna.org/FaithFormation/coaching!