It’s no secret that the Pacific Northwest is the most unchurched part of the United States. But Christian Reformed churches in and around Seattle, Wash., aim to change that.
The Seattle Cluster is a group of churches that is learning “it’s not so much about getting people to go to church as it is about getting the church to go to the people with the liberating news of Jesus,” said Rev. Benjamin Katt of Awake CRC.
Awake is one of eight Christian Reformed churches planted in the Seattle area in the past five years.
Another one is Dust, a nine-month-old church in South Lake Union near Seattle’s Space Needle. There, Ministry Associate Tim Soerens works with Americorps volunteer Jeff Rowe to learn the community’s assets and bring positive transformation.
In Ravenna, Rev. Brian Turnbull, pastor of the four-year-old House CRC, is part of a group of young dads in a co-op preschool who have formed deep friendships. They’ve been meeting regularly in a local pub for the past two years. Two of the dads have long tried to deny that God exists. Turnbull’s wife and co-pastor, Rev. Elizabeth (Betsy) Turnbull, said of the two, “They are tired and ready to let go and fall into the embrace of Jesus’ arms.” She adds that their families have recently started coming to the House.
Emmaus CRC, the “teen” of the Cluster, and 70-year-old First CRC are also moving out into their neighborhoods. Near Emmaus, the community garden was fighting blackberry bushes. Emmaus members hewed them down, and one member, a licensed plumber, addressed drainage problems.
The pastors learned to use asset-based community development to work with their communities.
“The vision of the Cluster is to be incarnational in whatever way that may look in each neighborhood,” Turnbull says.
Soerens adds, “It can continue the heritage of the CRC into a new day by connection and starting church with a kingdom vision.”