Last January, as we rang in the new year 2021, many of us thought we would soon be leaving the COVID-19 pandemic behind. We had endured a year of lockdown, social distancing, masking, and more. Our congregations had adapted to offer online services and were looking forward to gathering in person again. And our ministries were eager to get back to personal connections, peer mentoring groups, one-on-one discipleship, energizing conferences, and much more.
Little did we know that the pandemic would drag on as long as it has, and that our need to be adaptable and flexible in ministry would continue to be a prime necessity for our congregations and programs.
Now, nearly two years after the start of COVID-19, ministry leaders are weary. From my vantage point as executive director of the CRCNA, I hear stories of pastors who are burned out, of congregations who are struggling financially, and of classes who are fraught with tension as they try to navigate several politically sensitive topics without the benefit of in-person fellowship and discernment together.
This is a difficult time, no doubt. And yet I’m also able to see how God has been faithful through all of these challenges. I’ve seen congregations and ministries finding ways to tap into the Holy Spirit and discern new areas in which God is calling them to work. I’ve seen creativity in how we can pursue mission in our new reality. I’ve seen people setting aside their personal agendas to truly try to listen to and understand one another. And I’ve heard many stories from around the world of how God is using the Christian Reformed Church for his glory.
On the following pages you’ll read some of these stories and gain an overview of some ministry highlights in five key areas that we believe God has called the Christian Reformed Church to pursue: Global Mission, Gospel Proclamation and Worship, Faith Formation, Servant Leadership, and Justice and Mercy.
I hope that as you read about the many ways God is using our church for his purposes, you’ll see yourselves as key partners in all of this. Your prayers, gifts, and ministry-share contributions have been an essential part of these stories of impact.
Colin Watson, Sr., executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America