Maybe It’s Time for a Field Trip
March 10, 2016
Updated May 8, 2019
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I have always loved field trips both as a teacher and a student. I am interested in how other groups or cultures go about the business of life. I wish that doing “field trips” was a more normative practice for adults to perhaps experience how other families navigate meal time or how other pastors structure their weeks or how other churches do various aspects of ministry.
I believe that ministry leaders would greatly benefit from taking the occasional field trip to neighbouring churches both within and outside their denominational tribe. Too often we miss the chance to learn about some very helpful and healthy ministry initiatives because we assume that our closest CRC is just like us or our closest neighbouring church is way too different to have anything that would be useful to our CRC setting. Assumptions can keep us from some great learning opportunities.
Here’s a recent example of a fruitful field trip initiated by Youth Director, Stephen van Breda, and Pastor Kevin TeBrake of Exeter CRC in Southern Ontario. While they were the first to say that overall, ministry was going quite well in their church, as TeBrake put it, “There was change in the air.” He and Van Breda began wondering if there still might be silos in how these ministries functioned with each other that were keeping them from being “cohesive and even more effective than they already were”? As they began looking to the future, they wondered how they would handle growth and wanted to visit an area church that had tackled some of the same issues Exeter might be facing in the future. They called their Classis Youth Champion to find out where they might visit another CRC that had a comprehensive, Cradle to Grave Faith Formation plan in place.
So the Classis Champion connected them to Faith Formation Ministries team leader, Syd Hielema, who then connected the Exeter ministry team with Meadowlands CRC in Ancaster and made way for a field trip to happen. The Exeter group included both TeBrake and Van Breda along with a youth elder as well as the church administrative assistant. They headed to Ancaster and spent a couple of hours over lunch asking about best practices and looking at Faith Formation from another church’s perspective.
Both churches had been a part of a Faith Formation Buffet earlier in the year and Exeter found it helpful to have the opportunity to ask deeper more specific questions along with finding out the reasons behind some of the Faith Formation practices found in Meadowlands. Both congregations shared both positive ministry experiences and some of the struggles they were experiencing while being a prayerful encouragement to each other. For the Exeter group the field trip was positive enough to want to go on another, maybe to a church right in their own area.
This is an example of fruitful networking, using both classical and denominational resources to help congregations grow in effective ministry. Is it time for your church or ministry group to go on a field trip?
Here are some things to think about before engaging in a field trip:
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