Ashamed of Our Christian Reformed Identity

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Resonate Global Mission just doesn't resonate. It is a 'sell out' to all that is Christian Reformed.

It seems as though Christian Reformed Home Missions and Christian Reformed World Missions were ashamed of our identity in selecting a new name and it ignores the denomination's rich heritage.

Christian Reformed World Missions, especially, was a "brand" (to use today's secular lingo) that was recognized around the world, built upon a century of mission work.

"Resonate Global Mission" lacks missiological, pedagogical and theological context. The choice of the name change is a branding sellout to corporate America, as was World Renew before it.

Why not Christian Reformed Missions? It says who we are, clearly and unambiguously. When the new name was chosen, was there a board discussion around whether or not this new missions entity was still 'Christian' or still 'Reformed"? And does 'Resonate' bring any clarity at all to our reformed perspective when it comes to mission?

Perhaps it was all about branding and about trying to attract secular donors who might inexplicably be turned off by a Christian Reformed label. Perhaps "Resonate" seemed generic enough and safe enough to appeal to a broader non-Reformed audience.

There appears to be a trend towards shedding our denominational identity so that we become more appealing to our secularized world. Churches increasingly call themselves community churches rather than Christian Reformed churches, and now our flagship mission agencies have done the same.

These name changes will diminish both the identity and the mission of the church.

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Community Builder

Keith, 

This is a topic that was discussed thoroughly months ago and I would direct your attention to the following links

New Mission Agency - Behind the New Name

New Mission Agency Name Moves on to Synod

Synod 2017 Asked to Approve New Mission Agency Name

Comments from New Mission Agency Board members about the name

A letter from the New Mission Agency Board Presidents addressing the choice of the name (pg 8)

Video coverage of the presentation and discussion of the new name

An edited version of some of the comments at Synod

We recognize that change is something that is difficult, especially with organizations that are over 125 years old. We also know that it is nearly impossible to make everyone happy when choosing names for organizations (World Renew also received criticisms) But we also stand by the decision of our boards and Synod 2017. We are excited about the future of mission for the CRCNA and how God will use us as an agency.

I agree, Keith.  At the very least, since "mission" is such a common word in the phrase "Mission Statement", it cannot be assumed to imply a faith based mission... therefore at the very least, it should have been called Global Christian Missions.   I no longer attend the CRC, and I don't have a problem with Christian Community Churches, since they are missional minded, to attract seekers, and not first of all confirmed CRC'rs.  That is a local decision, which does not tarnish or hide the true mission of the church.  But both World Renew and Global Mission are ambiguous terms, like World Vision, which while leaving open the possiblity for Christians to work in them, at the same time hides their origin and purpose, which is deceptive and misleading.   Those who are ashamed of Jesus will find that God is ashamed of them (and will find declining allegiance from Christians around the world).  

Guide

For questions about the reasons behind World Renew's name change, please see this document

Also note that while World Renew is an official agency of the Christian Reformed Church, we do not receive ministry shares and work with many different denominations. Volunteers for World Renew's Disaster Response Services come from over 27 denominations. The Reformed Church of America and ECO --Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians have chosen World Renew as THEIR agency of choice for doing disaster response.  In Canada about half of the funding for World Renew's work comes from outside the CRC, especially through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank where support is generated with 15 member denominations.

Keith, thank you so much for bringing this up. I have felt the same way. In reading "behind the new name". I feel like we are putting Christian Reformed on at the end because we "have to" not because we "want to." Resonate is moving away from using reference to the CRC as a way to "break down barriers"? We ARE Christian Reformed, that IS our identity. Why are we hiding it? Churches are changing their names and dropping the CRC because they don't want to "offend" people or they want to seem more "inviting". I fear the direction our denomination is heading when we no longer want to identify with who and what we are truly about.

Community Builder

Thanks, Carmen. So true.

And I certainly don't want to minimize or attack the fine work that World Renew and World/Home Missions / Resonate is doing.

 

Why are we hiding our incredible mission focus under a secular 'branding' bushel?  Our focus needs to be on 'ministry'; not fundraising. We seem to be selling off our birthright so that we can appeal to a few more potential shekels from beyond our Reformed world.

The time will come -- probably sooner than we like -- when synod will actually debate a denominational name change, arguing that "Christian Reformed" gets in the way of appealing to a wider donor base. Look at all of our ministries? Which ones are left with an offical CRC tag?

Participant

Let's set aside for a moment the specific agencies with changed names, because there are some specific factors there that don't necessarily fit in with the big picture that we are really dealing with in these discussions--that being our Christian Reformed identity.

What is that identity? There was a time (in some places in the not very distant past) where the identity was CRC=Dutch. I can tell you that as a child I was thrilled to see the Banner cover with the burning wooden shoes, as I was sick of having to explain why I wasn't Dutch, and why not being Dutch didn't mean that I was not much. I think tossing "Dutch-ness" as an identity (rather than just an item of historical interest), was a good thing. In fact, it is something we need to keep working on. 

But, I do think that in jettisoning our Dutch-ness, we may have thrown out the beautiful baby with that dirty bathwater. Throughout the CRC, we are losing touch with something very unique--our desire to be a "properly confessional community." (I use "properly" because there is a tendency among other Reformed bodies to use the confessions as a weapon or a fence rather than a guide and a teaching tool.) 

Rather than focusing on the words "Christian Reformed," I'd like to see us focus on how we can remain confessional in a proper way, and in the context of community--our local communities, our classes, and throughout North America.

I will say, I don't think we haven't lost this altogether. When my family goes on vacation, we try to attend CRC churches, and I preach in CRC congregations around Wisconsin as a "licensee." In those travels, I still see a sense of CRC confessionalism and community. As an example, my family visited Willowdale CRC in Toronto during a trip we took in the summer of 2016. We ended up staying for over an hour after the service talking about all sorts of CRC community matters (local and binational) with people who clearly understood CRC identity in a way much deeper than ethnicity. It helped that we sang many of the same songs, that the worship leader read from the catechism, that the liturgy was clearly Reformed in its focus on worshipping a God who meets with his people and speaks through the word and then responding in gratitude and service, and that the sermon was eminently Reformed in its content and style. We've had similar experiences in other places, as well.

I'd be interested in hearing from others on how we can retain, recover, rediscover, and revitalize an appropriate CRC identity. Perhaps if we do that, we will no longer see the names of our agencies as a key issue, but just a side distraction.

Chuck Adams

Sheboygan, WI

Admin

Thanks for this, Chuck. The question of identity is one that seems to be coming up quite a bit lately. Kristen VanderBerg just shared a post with some feedback on the question "What does it mean to be Christian Reformed?" from CRCers who attended Inspire 2017. Might be interesting to check out. 

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