Once slowly dwindling in numbers, Faith Church Highland now draws in curious neighbors each week.
The change began in December 2012, when the congregation of First Christian Reformed Church in Highland, Ind., voted to be enfolded into Faith Church, a nearby multi-campus Reformed Church of America (RCA) congregation. The church is now part of both denominations and is Faith Church’s sixth campus, Faith Church Highland.
Previously about 150 to 175 people attended the church’s services, and only a handful were children. Weekly attendance has jumped to 450 people—about 200 of those from the community.
“They didn’t wait until their church was on death’s doorstep,” said Jason DeVries, Faith Highland’s pastor, who transferred from another campus. “They were proactive in making a decision before it was too late. This can provide a model for a lot of congregations who are struggling.”
“God has opened up the floodgates in the past few months,” said Tim Huizenga, an elder at Faith Highland and a member of the original CRC church for about 30 years. “The ironic thing is that we’re not doing anything essentially different than we were before, just tiny things that helped people think differently.”
Those “tiny things”—like new signs and padded chairs instead of pews—are designed with the mission to “reach the disconnected and grow the connected,” said DeVries. With those who are disconnected in mind, “we want the building to look like a building they would go to any other day of the week.”
Yet the leadership is careful to honor the history of the church, DeVries added. “God was at work before we got there.” The worship leader is careful to choose songs that appeal to long-time members as well as more contemporary songs, and those involved in leadership before are still involved today.
A recent membership class welcomed 26 new people into the church. “Most of them are not Dutch names,” said DeVries. “They are people reconnecting to Christ.”
“It was a blessing that two denominations could come together with one purpose, throw off labels, and work together with a new purpose,” said Huizenga.