Indiana Pastor Uses Heidelberg Catechism as Outreach Tool

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When James Halstead was ordained as the pastor of Community Christian Reformed Church, in Fort Wayne, Ind., he soon identified the need for a CRC-friendly strategy for reaching others for Christ.

“The church should be crying right now because we’re disobedient,” he said. “We’re not sharing Christ.” As he struggled to help the people of Community CRC better learn how to share Christ, he found a useful and familiar tool in the Heidelberg Catechism.

Halstead says that he developed “Go and Tell,” an approach for evangelizing that uses the catechism “to raise up and equip workers for the kingdom’s harvest” within his own congregation.

Briefly, the strategy uses the Heidelberg’s first question and answer about our comfort in life and in death to lead to an understanding of personal sin, genuine repentance, and Jesus’ work of salvation, which then results in a life of service. Agreeing that Christians are often fearful of evangelizing, Halstead cites illustrations of how the Holy Spirit has used these truths to draw many to Christ, in spite of those fears.

Noting that CRC members generally understand the value of the catechism, Joel DeKoekkoek, director of youth and outreach at Grace Christian Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Mich., hosted a seminar in October at which Halstead presented his “Go and Tell” strategy. DeKoekkoek’s hope is that “people catch this fire.”

Jim DeVisser, a member at Grace, said, “It’s tough talking to people about the gospel.” He attended the seminar because he has been “wondering how to approach such things,” especially on his new job.

As Halstead says, “The goal is to be equipped by this strategy and thus bring more passion into fulfilling Christ’s commission.”

About the Author

Anita Ensing Beem is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. Retired director of education and outreach at North Hills CRC in Troy, Mich., she now resides in Grand Rapids, Mich., and is a member of First CRC.

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I presented the Go and Tell Evangelism seminar at the CRC Regional Prayer Summit recently. Here is a testimony from one of the participants: "A young man from our church was on his way home. He was planning to mow his neighbor’s lawn following the summit. God told him to not charge the woman but instead ask to present the gospel. He went to Jim’s breakout on evangelism (Go and Tell). He mowed the lawn, when she came out to pay him he refused the money and asked if he could share something that he just learned. She was moved and told him she was going into the house to pray to receive Jesus. He’s 19 and accepted Christ about 2 months ago.” May the Lord raise up more workers for the harvest field!
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