More than 150 church planters and other leaders from both the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America gathered recently for a two-day “Catch the Wave” pre-conference in Orlando, Fla., to focus on growing new churches together.
Church planters in attendance at the pre-conference, which took place before the larger Exponential church-planting conference, participated in worship, training sessions, small group learning events, and networking with parenting churches. The conference ended with a visit from Amway co-founder Richard DeVos, who challenged the denominations to work together closely to bring the gospel to more people.
“The CRC-RCA gathering was historic and groundbreaking,” says Rev. Jul Medenblik, who leads the Home Missions Church Planting and Development team and has been appointed to be the next president of Calvin Theological Seminary. “We sought to be used by God in the development of gospel movements where we support, encourage, challenge, and learn from one another.”
Tim Vink, the RCA’s coordinator of Church Multiplication, adds, “For both the CRC and RCA, this is a calling from God that many churches are hearing and asking to be further equipped.”
While the denominations have collaborated on church planting for a while, the conference marked the first formal gathering of church planters and parenting churches from both denominations.
“Catch the Wave” began with a worship service led by RCA church planter Rev. Mike Hayes, who leads an urban church plant in San Francisco and also led one of the pre-conference’s most popular group sessions on the pros and cons of urban church planting.
Throughout, CRC and RCA church planters and parent churches told stories about their experiences—the challenges and the joys—of multiplying new churches.
A session on multicultural churches initiated lively discussion about language barriers, cultural nuances, and immigration. Also emphasized was working in clusters—groups of churches and leaders located in the same region who work to create gospel movements and develop diverse leaders. “We laughed and worshiped and prayed and learned together as one family of God,” says Vink.