We are excited to introduce to you the newest member of our Faith Formation Ministries team: Kristen Rietkerk. Kristen serves as a Regional Catalyzer in California.
1. Kristen, can you describe for us a key person (or people) who played an important role in your faith formation?
10 years ago, I went back to school to study Organizational Leadership at Azusa Pacific University. I developed a close relationship with my mentor who helped refine my research, encouraged me to pursue new avenues of work and brought a unique perspective on the purpose of church and discipleship. I have continued a relationship with her over the years and appreciate her willingness to walk this Christian life with me. She has an inquisitive nature and has taught me how to listen deeply for the questions that are just below the surface. She pushes me to step out of my comfort area and entertain the idea that God is bigger than I could ever imagine. She holds me accountable to growth and loves me deeply despite my many faults. She is the essence of Christ in this world.
2. You work as the Church Mission Catalyst at your church, can you tells a little bit more about that involves and how you think that experience enrich your work for Faith Formation Ministries?
The Church Mission Catalyst is a change agent to help individuals, families and the church live into our mission of being “bold Jesus proclaimers and active world changers.” I spend a great deal of time listening to people, both in our church family and in the larger community, as they express their deepest longings and desires. As a church, we’d like to partner with other organizations and faith communities to see flourishing in our city. I find that the stories I hear often display God’s active involvement in the world and, through these stories, I connect people so that they can explore meaningful service to others. I’m also a collector of diverse resources focusing on faith formation, anything that gives a taste of the good life God promises us as His children.
3. You have also traveled the country and the world with your husband who in an Army Chaplain. What is your favorite place that you have been and how do you think your experience of being in so many different place and contexts had influenced your faith formation and work with churches?
In our military career, we’ve had the privilege of visiting a lot of unique places in the world. Last year, the two of us took an extended vacation to Italy and spent several days in Assisi, the town that formed and influenced St Francis. Walking the cobblestone streets, hiking the hills and listening to the countryside helped us gain a fresh perspective on the role that environment plays in our faith formation. While reading and lectures are certainly ways to gain new content, I find that being surrounded by the sights and sounds helps us embody what it means to be a follower of Christ. Traveling to distant lands is a humbling experience. Western Christianity certainly gave me a strong foundation of faith, but meeting people in diverse communities has helped me know that God is so much bigger than I could ever comprehend.
4. If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and how would you use it in your role as a Regional Catalyzer?
A super power that would be fascinating to me would be the ability to communicate and comprehend in all languages. How fabulous it would be to find myself at the end of a dusty road in Kigali and able to stop for a spell and have a cup of tea and converse with a new local friend. I could also introduce and translate for others that I’d like to bring together as friends.