When I worked for World Renew a few years ago, I would regularly get together with communicators from other Christian denominations to share resources, receive training, and network with each other. What I’d hear time and time again from the others in the room was how jealous they were of the generosity of the Christian Reformed people.
And it is true. Over the years, the Christian Reformed Church has started a wide variety of ministries they feel the church ought to be involved in but are too large or complicated for one individual or congregation to do on their own. The church has also committed to supporting these ministries with their prayers, volunteer time, and their financial gifts.
As a result, the Christian Reformed Church offers a breadth of ministry today that is practically unheard of for a denomination of our size. Many denominations have mission organizations, some have an outreach that responds to global poverty, but not many also offer abuse awareness and prevention; resources for faith formation at all stages of life; tools for improving accessibility and inclusion of people of all abilities; support for pastors in transition; a ministry geared toward fostering vibrant and theologically Reformed worship; a media ministry sharing the gospel around the world through radio, the internet, and print; and the many other programs and services that are available with and through the ministries of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.
And because the people of the Christian Reformed Church continue to believe these ministries are an essential part of applying a Reformed world and life view to all aspect of life, and because they see these ministries as an extension of their own personal and local congregation’s work in the world, they continue to provide generous support for ministry activities either through ministry shares or through church offerings and individual donations.
The “Our Shared Ministry” section of each issue of The Banner is a place where ministries can report back on what we, as a church, are doing together in the world. Whether it is a reminder about how we are walking alongside persecuted Christians around the world, a promotion of an online series to share stories from survivors of abuse, stories about how the gospel is reaching vulnerable people in far-off places, celebrations of young people who are finding authentic ways to express their faith, or reflections on how we continue to enfold and be blessed by immigrant communities; these stories are intended to celebrate God’s goodness and remind each other about the Kingdom work taking place with and on behalf of the Christian Reformed Church.
Sometimes this ministry is hard. Stories about unresolved issues, about ongoing needs for evangelism even after 10 years of ministry, and about tensions and violence are also important to share so the body of Christ can pray for those on the “front lines” of these efforts and support and encourage them.
But whether they are stories of celebration or challenge, our hope is that each CRC member—those who put a dollar in the collection plate and those who write a check for $100,000; those who pray for ministry daily and those who pray for it during a worship service—will see themselves in what is being shared.
We hope they will recognize that being part of a church denomination has allowed them to have a greater reach in the world than they could on their own and that they will celebrate the impact that we are making together.