Steve Van Zanen

About Me: 

I am a CRC "lifer" who has made a deliberate effort to connect to the broader evangelical and Christian community in order to bring back the richnes of other traditions into our own. I grew up in Bethany CRC, Bellflower California, and attended Calvin College. In between I had a profound experience of grace and professed my faith in Christ. While there I not only loved the teaching on Christian worldview, but also was deeply involved in the InterVarsity group which was characterized by a strong commitment to mission.

After study at Calvin Seminary, Gordon-Conwell (M.Div.), Calvin Seminary again (Th.M.) and New College Edinburgh, we spent six years in pastoral ministry in Raymond, Minnesota. The next six years we were missionaries in Romania and Lithuania. Since our return from Eastern Europe I have served World Missions from the denominational building. I helped new missionaries to communicate their ministry to potential partner churches and individuals, as well as overseeing church relations and missionary home service for the agency. The best part of that job and my focus now is providing information and inspiration to churches on the cause of missions and the work that we are privileged to do. I preach and teach on missions 25 or more times per year. This work has brought me to every U.S. classis as well as most of the Canadian ones.  I am now a candidate for the D.Min. in missiology at Trinity International University.

My wife, Chris, works at Calvin College, where our oldest is an alumnus. Our other two children are Calvin students, so we are experiencing an empty nest.

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Missions Priority

People sometimes wonder what percentage of their church's budget ought to be devoted to missions. Some statistics from other churches might be helpful in thinking about the issue.

Global Mission
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What's Up at World Missions?

Changes in the missionary support paradigm at Christian Reformed World Missions have created some controversy. A former missionary and current missions leader gives a personal perspective.

Global MissionCRCNA and Synod
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Becoming Fools

New Film From the Heart of Guatemala City Through Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) and CRWM missionary Joel Van Dyke, the CRCNA supports Guatemalan leaders seeking to share Jesus' love and grace with at-risk youth in Guatemala City. In 2010 the film production company Athenikos released Reparando , a documentary capturing the work of two such Guatemalan leaders - Shorty and Tita. Now Athenikos has produced a companion documentary, Becoming Fools. Becoming Fools Becoming Fools is the legacy of a man who lived as a fool and died as a friend. Italo Castro was a professional clown who...
Global Mission
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Downton Abbey and World Missions

Watching Downton Abbey has become a worldwide phenomenon. Lots of diverse people have become invested in the fortunes of the Crawleys: upstairs and downstairs. It occurs to me that one of the fundamental story lines in that series has important parallels to the future of Christian Reformed World Missions...

Global Mission
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Former Missionary Grieves for Tacloban

Joel Hogan worked as a Christian Reformed World Missions missionary for seven years in Tacloban, a city of about 200,000 people on Leyte island, which was in the eye of  Typhoon Haiyan that hit the Philippines last Friday. In fact, he lived on a road leading from a Christian Reformed Church in the Philippines (CRCP) congregation near the water and the airport. 

Global Mission
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Events Celebrate 125 Years of Christian Reformed World Missions

During this anniversary year the history and current ministry of Christian Reformed World Missions will be celebrated in a variety of ways.  At www.crwm.org/125 you can see a painting, order a book, read stories, watch videos and learn about events that will be happening in...

Global Mission
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Missions for the Future

CRWM is committed to sharing God’s Word worldwide. But to cover the cost of this work, CRWM has had to increase missionaries’ support-raising goals.

Global Mission
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The Pope as Evangelist

When Pope Benedict XVI decided to retire, I saw a number of Roman Catholic leaders, including several of the cardinals, interviewed about the kind of person who should be elected as the new Pope. A number of the interviewers thought that the new Pope ought to be a really good manager who could whip the bureaucracy into shape, or deal effectively with scandals. But several of the clergy interviewed said that the most important characteristic is that the new Pope must be an evangelist, someone who could effectively communicate the Gospel to the modern world. I found this to be quite remarkable...
Global Mission
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Mission Emphasis Resources

Fall is a key time for mission emphasis events in many churches.  As you prepare for special worship services, mission-themed dinners and the like, you may find these resources to be valuable.  Most of them were sent to churches in mid-August in hard copy.  If you misplaced them

Global Mission
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Crossing Cultures at Home

We typically think of short term missions as something that happens when people from North America cross cultures by traveling to an unfamiliar setting here or abroad.  Recently, missionaries Mike and Megan Ribbens, who normally live in Abuja, Nigeria, crossed cultures by visiting their partner churches

Global Mission
  • Hi Wendy, As someone just returning to overseas missions and who is working on a prayer letter this morning, I am very interested in responses to your article.  I am planning to send most prayer...

  • Hi Harry,

    Just to be clear, I wasn't aiming to calculate only foreign missions.  Instead I was counting budgeted amounts that go to ministry outside the local neighborhood.  So, that would...

    posted on: Missions Priority
  • Abby,  Thanks for your work this summer. You did a marvelous job for the Global Mission Network page.  Steve

  • Hi Lou,

    The exciting thing is that churches have mostly responded very well in the past year.  Instead of keeping their total dollar amount the same and shifting it around, many have...

  • Hi Steve,

    This is where I mentioned on the Twitter feed that I concluded we were talking past each other.  I hear you speaking to the need for the denomination to stimulate the desire to...

  • Hi Donna,

    As Wendy mentioned, the finances of World Missions and World Renew are very different.  World Renew does not receive Ministry Shares, so the 50% decline in their purchasing power...

  • Hi Harry,  Actually, every congregation in the Christian Reformed Church received a report last September detailing the situation of the career missionaries they currently support.  It had figures...

  • When my wife and I felt called to missionary service in 1996 I went to my denominational agency, CRWM.  The staff tried to interest me in work happening in the Philippines, but our sense of call...

  • I had this situation some years ago.  In the end I asked some questions of the mother and some of the seven year old boy.  And he was baptized.  But, this didn't count as profession of faith. 

  • Hi Ken,  In other settings the word has gone out (not with complete accuracy!) that CRWM career missionaries will need to broaden and deepen their support networks.  Until now CRWM has relied...