The Christian Reformed Church’s 150th anniversary, with its theme of “Grace Through Every Generation” reminded us of God’s goodness, grace, and faithfulness. We began by reflecting on what God has done and continued by celebrating what God is doing in and through his people. We now arrive at the final phase of our celebration: rededication.
Rededication is all about looking forward. What is God calling the Christian Reformed Church to be? Where do we go from here? What will the future hold?
On one level, those questions are beyond our ability to predict. Only God knows what lies ahead and where we will be 50 years from now. But we know that God has called us to be faithful and obedient. And as we open the next chapter in our history, we are called to rededicate ourselves to transforming lives and communities worldwide.
As Jesus prepared his followers for his ascension, he called them to make disciples—to transform lives. When lives are transformed by the power of Jesus, communities experience grace and they, too, are transformed.
While transforming lives and communities worldwide is at the heart of what we are called to do, we need to consider how that can be accomplished in the day-to-day reality of church life. In 2005, the Christian Reformed Church adopted the priority of “Creating and sustaining healthy local congregations.” I am convinced that if the CRC is to be a transforming force, we have to find effective ways to strengthen congregations.
As I read the last verses of Acts 2, I see a picture of the body of Christ where lives and communities are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. People who were caught in cycles of sin and disbelief are now more concerned about others than about themselves. They are devoted to a gospel of grace and reconciliation with God himself. They are committed to fellowship, communion, and prayer.
Such devotion is the strength of the Christian Reformed Church. We are known around the world as having excellent programs and ministries. We are respected for our ability to integrate faith and everyday life. We are appreciated for our high standards and outstanding scholarship, but what is often overlooked is our devotion to Jesus.
That devotion to Christ is what will shape and assure the future of the CRC. When men and women rededicate their lives to Christ, local churches will be renewed and revitalized.
Many of our congregations are strong and healthy, but not all. Some are struggling and hurting, some are declining and broken, and some are just tired. Those churches need our attention. Because the CRC is not simply a confederation of like-minded churches but, rather, a family of churches held together by common beliefs and experiences, we will find ways to support and encourage each other.
The future of the Christian Reformed Church is bright—not because of our plans and dreams, but because God is in control. God has called us to be a light in the world and, by God’s grace and power, I am confident that we will be his agents in transforming lives and communities around the world.