At the time of my writing this, it has been six days since my friend Steven Timmermans, the executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, opted for early retirement and the Council of Delegates asked me to serve as acting executive director. I have accepted this interim appointment through Synod 2020, and I am humbled and honored by the privilege to serve.
Over the past five years, as director of ministries and administration for the CRCNA, I have focused on ensuring that congregations are well served. My goal is twofold: that all of our congregations are fully aware of all the resources that each of our ministries offers, and that these resources are a product of ongoing conversations between congregations and denominational ministries so that they are relevant to particular contexts and needs.
One need only look around the CRCNA to see evidence of this goal becoming a reality. For example, the digital library (crcna.org/library) makes thousands of Faith Alive titles free to all CRC members. There is now a seamless way to search for resources online (crcna.org/resources) and to contact the denomination by phone or chat to have your ministry questions answered. And there are an increasing number of regional ministry consultants from a variety of ministries available to connect with churches in their areas.
This list is far from exhaustive, and the work of connecting ministries to congregations continues. Yet I worry that all of this great work and all that we have accomplished together can easily fade into the background if we focus on the difficult circumstances that face us now.
Steve’s resignation and the denomination’s re-examination of its legal structure to ensure compliance with Canadian charitable law are challenges that we must face together. I urge us, however, to face them with the full knowledge that the God we serve continues to have everything under his control. We must face our challenges with the full knowledge that the Holy Spirit has already won the battle.
With this in mind, I hope we will continue to focus on our vision of strengthening congregations and leaders. I believe three immediate priorities will help us do that. First, denominational leaders are recommitting to an intense focus on prayer. Second, we must ensure that nothing we do operationally will influence our ability to serve congregations and leaders well. Third, we will intentionally work cross-nationally (in the U.S. and Canada) to ensure that we remain a unified denomination even as we exist in two distinct national contexts governed by two distinct legal and regulatory systems.
To assist with all of this, the Council of Delegates has appointed a group of 10 individuals from the U.S. and Canada to address issues that are ecclesiastical, structural, and legal, and to bring recommendations to Synod 2020. As a member of the COD, I look forward to actively participating in the conversation and to making synodical recommendations that honor the richness of our binational identity while also enhancing our ability to do contextual ministry in each nation.
We have a difficult task ahead, but that task is not one that should have any effect on our ability to be the church of Jesus Christ together or on our ability to support churches and leaders.
If you would like to periodically receive a note from me regarding issues to pray for, please let me know (email@example.com).
Thank you for praying, thank you for caring, and thank you for being a part of this body we call the Christian Reformed Church in North America.
About the Author
Colin P. Watson Sr. is the executive director of the CRCNA. He is a member of Madison Square Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich.