Grace Encounters Take Advantage of New Media

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Taking advantage of new media, Encounter Christian Reformed Church in Kentwood, Mich., began videotaping “Grace Encounters,” testimonies similar to profession of faith that take place in front of a camera instead of the congregation.

Since its implementation, at least 12 members have testified through video. Twelve more are waiting to be a part of the next recording session. Although some members hesitated, interest in these video testimonials has increased since the church posted a few examples online. Members, from college-age students to retired adults, also have chosen to share them on Facebook and Twitter.

“Young people especially want to show their family and friends back home that they’ve changed, that God is working in their lives,” said Rev. Dirk Van Eyk. “I get comments from family members thanking us for making a way for them to be a part of this change even though they’ve never been to Encounter Church.”

Van Eyk said that technology has allowed members who don’t particularly enjoy the stage find another means to profess how God has worked in their lives. Members can post the video multiple times and communicate their story on different media platforms.

“The idea came from a conversation with Professor David Rylaarsdam at Calvin Seminary way back when I was a lowly seminarian,” said Van Eyk. “Children at the Lord's Supper had just become a hot topic, and I wondered what would happen to profession of faith if it were no longer used as a ‘gatekeeper’ for communion.”

“Technology, of course, is a means, not an end,” he said. “Using technology in the church is only useful insofar as it facilitates person-to-person and person-to-God interaction. One of my favorite surprises through this journey is how people have gravitated toward a theme and have become magnets for people struggling with those same issues.”

About the Author

Kristin Schmitt is a freelance news correspondent for The Banner. She lives in Hudsonville, Michigan.

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