In recent years you’ve run articles about why young adults leave the Christian Reformed Church for nondenominational churches and about keeping young adults in the CRC. From my perspective as a member of 30-odd years, I think the main thing that turns people off is that members who grew up in the CRC tend to sell it short.
If you don’t believe in your product, who do you think is going to “buy” it?
The CRC does not receive a plethora of affection from its members.
As someone who became a Christian and joined the CRC at the age of 17, I think this denomination has a lot going for it. The warmth of the fellowship is the first thing that comes to my mind, because that’s what drew me in the first place. The first day I visited First Christian Reformed Church in Montreal, Quebec—Dec. 21, 1975—one of the minister’s daughters, Anneke Geleynse, introduced me to people who included me and made me feel I belonged right away.
I also appreciate the quality of teaching in the CRC. It is biblical and meaty, and the CRC produces a wealth of resource material. Compared to other denominations, our pastors undergo rigorous training to qualify for ordination. For example, they must master both Greek and Hebrew. These are only a few examples of the wealth at our disposal—if only we would avail ourselves of it, let alone encourage young people to do so.
For the 150th anniversary of the Christian Reformed Church, in 2007, I wrote this magazine a letter in which I challenged fellow members to flood the office of The Banner with love letters for the CRC. It never got published, even though this denomination does not exactly receive a plethora of affection from its members. If anything, I see a lot more bellyaching in letters to The Banner.
I would have thought a mountain of fan mail would be a problem most people would love to have. After all, who complains at having piles of love letters once in 150 years? Go figure.
I don’t understand the attitudes of people born in this denomination, but I’m sure that if we don’t do something to change them, young adults will keep leaving the CRC for churches that are more positive.
Let’s stop taking what we have for granted. God doesn’t owe us anything—not even a rich spiritual heritage! And let’s remember, relationships don’t just happen. You have to work at them.
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