Last month Peter Borgdorff wrote his “swan song”—his last “Dear Reader” column. Since then, Synod 2006 appointed me as the new executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.
Moving from my previous office as director of denominational ministries to the ED position gives me the privilege of writing this monthly letter to keep you informed about your denominational ministries.
Perhaps the best way to begin is to introduce myself. My name is Gerard Dykstra, but my family and friends know me simply as Jerry.
My first home was the parsonage of Pine Creek Christian Reformed Church in Holland, Mich., and I spent my childhood in the shadow of the church.
For as long as I can remember, my Lord and his church have been central in my life. As a young boy, I recall riding my bike to Calvin College’s new Knollcrest campus for the dedication of the library building and helping the church custodian lug folding chairs up and down the steep steps of Alger Park CRC. In my world, the local church and the CRC were part of everyday life.
Being the preacher’s kid may have been painful at times, but it did not deter my call to serve God, for serving God is at the heart of who we are in Christ. Perhaps Paul said it best, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: [who] made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Phil. 2:5, 7).
After 15 years of practical theology in the world of business, God planted me firmly in parish ministry. There my passion for ministry grew deep and flourished.
I love serving local congregations. No other calling allows one to be so intimately involved in the lives of God’s people. No other vocation is as rewarding. I was where I thought God wanted me to be, and I was satisfied. My plans, patterns, and family were well established. Leaving ministry in the local church was not part of my plan.
However, as God is prone to do, God opened new doors: a “chance” meeting in an airport, a word of encouragement from a trusted friend, an invitation to an interview, confirmation by family and church. Thus I find myself not behind a pulpit in a local church but behind a desk in the denominational office.
In the words of a popular country song, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.” Life in Christ is not about our plans—it’s about God’s plans.
So what are God’s plans for the Christian Reformed Church? I believe that God is calling each member of every Christian Reformed church to be about the work of transforming lives and communities worldwide.
If I am right, such transformation cannot be done by one individual. The church of Christ is made up of many parts, and only when those parts are working together will the church be able to do what God calls it to do.
Each month this Church@Work section in The Banner tells the story of what God is doing through and in the Christian Reformed Church. It tells your story, my story, our story.
Young (and not so young) people give up vacations to help rebuild ruined communities. CRC members give millions of dollars to bring relief to people and communities devastated by tsunamis, hurricanes, poverty, AIDS. Families relocate to carry the gospel of Jesus to other communities and countries. The message of grace is broadcast around the world.
These are your stories, for you are the Christian Reformed Church. You make up the body of Christ. I thank God for you, always.