Beekeeping as a spiritual discipline. Spiritual care for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse. Navigating faith and marriage through a health crisis.
These are just a few of the topics tackled last fall by pastors from within Classis Georgetown, a regional group of Christian Reformed congregations in the southwest suburbs of Grand Rapids, Mich., as part of “REV Talks”—a speaker series patterned after the highly-successful TED talks held around the world, beginning with topics of technology, entertainment and design.
“Classis Georgetown recognized that pastors tend to be a treasure trove of experiences and specialties,” said Marc Nelesen, one of the regional pastors for the classis and pastor of congregational life at Georgetown CRC in Hudsonville, Mich. “Much of the time, this experience and expertise is shared with the local congregation but doesn’t get a hearing in other places.”
Nelesen proposed the REV Talks series to the classis vision team, which has been actively pursuing opportunities for congregations to work together on various ministry projects. The team enthusiastically embraced the idea, and classis coordinator Jim Roskam said it didn't take long for speaker slots to fill up.
“Within two days, it was filled,” Roskam said. “They came forward with their topics, with their ideas, and signed up just like that.”
Georgetown CRC hosted the series on Wednesday nights over a period of 12 weeks from September to December. Attendance varied throughout the series, with a high of 70 one night for a presentation on ministry to people with special needs. While pastors made up the majority of the speaker lineup, speakers also included a therapist who spoke about the emotional health of clergy members.
The REV Talks series was promoted to local churches with a brochure, PowerPoint slide, and mailbox flyer that was sent out to each congregation. It was also promoted through a campaign on Facebook. One local congregation chose to promote the series on their electronic sign, even though it was being held at Georgetown.
Speakers received a stipend of $150 for their presentations.
Plans are being made for a second series this fall with some possible tweaks—such as having two pastors from different congregations taking on a specific topic or having the venue rotate among congregations throughout classis. A survey may also be used to solicit program topic suggestions from the congregations.
“I don't think I will have any difficulty filling the docket,” Nelesen said. Georgetown CRC has archived podcasts of the 12 REV Talks from 2018.