What’s on the minds of the next generation of Reformed Christians? The Banner introduces this new column by young adults in their 20s and 30s to give us all a glimpse. Want to add your two cents? Send a 500- to 600-word manuscript to “Next” at email@example.com. Six years ago, in a process that can only be described as providential, I landed in the narthex of a Christian Reformed church.
I didn’t go looking for a conglomerate of Dutch folks. I’d never heard of the Heidelberg Catechism, and the only thing TULIP meant to me was a favorite flower. I showed up as a young, disgruntled evangelical hoping to figure out what I really believed.
In retrospect, I walked into that church with three strikes against me: I wasn’t Dutch, my intellectual jury was still out on Reformed theology, and I was single.
I’m living proof that cross-pollination is a reality among 20-somethings in today’s Christian culture. For better and for worse, blind denominational loyalty has gone the way of the title “Domini.”
Yes, covenant children of the CRC have traded their catechism classes for the bells-and-whistles of mega-church fervor. On the other hand, some of us raised in the theological cacophony of nondenominationalism have stopped into local Christian Reformed churches long enough to wonder about the nature of the church and the importance of roots and identity.
From my experience, here are three reasons why 20-somethings may visit or even join Christian Reformed churches:
1. I never realized I might not fit in if I weren’t Dutch. I guess folks failed to mention it to me. Instead I found that people were more concerned with my story, with who I was as a person, than about whether my name seemed to be missing a “Vander.”
2. I joined a small group full of married people. They weren’t threatened by the fact that I was single. I wasn’t put off by conversations about the in-laws or babies, and as it turned out, we had quite a bit in common. Together we learned to value single and married adult church members equally and, in so doing, combated the most insidious -ism the church has yet to confess: maritalism.
3. When folks at seminary ask me why I joined a Christian Reformed church, I like to answer, with a twinkle in my eye: “I was seduced by your sexy theology.” The Heidelberg Catechism? Genius. Liturgy that encompasses the whole person? A welcome refuge from being happy all the time. A church with history, tattered and glorious by turn? Makes me feel like I belong. A premium placed on the preaching of the Word? Something for us all to sink our theological teeth into.
What difference can a local Christian Reformed church make? Of all the denominational slices of American Protestantism’s pie, who do we think we are? What extra spice do we bring to the whole? What are we doing on our street corner that no other church in our community can do? Answer those questions and unearth the deep, sturdy roots that have long fed us.
Live according to the sustenance of those roots, and let your well-nourished blossoms cross-pollinate as they must.