Last month I wrote about “denominationally related agencies” such as Dynamic Youth Ministries and Partners Worldwide. This month I want to tell you about other partnerships that are, in a real sense, part of the ministries of the Christian Reformed Church. There are too many partnerships to mention them all by name, but here is an overview of several.CRC Congregations
The agencies of the church are engaged in ministry on behalf of the 1,000-plus congregations of the CRC. These congregations lend substantial support to our domestic and international ministries that serve the Lord through church planting, liberal arts education, theological education, church education, Christian community development, disaster relief, and social justice. The ministries of Abuse Prevention, Disability Concerns, Pastor-Church Relations, Race Relations, the Committee for Contact with the Government, Service-Link, the Loan Fund, and a variety of supportive services are also included in that partnership.
It is truly amazing to see how the power of partnership maximizes the interests and resources of our congregations in the work of ministry.Government Agencies
It may seem strange to think of governments as our partners. However, through grants to the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and, to a lesser degree, from US-AID, as well as grants to Calvin College, the governments of Canada and the United States are our partners in activities that serve the common good.
The total of these grants is not great when compared to the total budgets of agencies, but we are grateful for our relationship with governmental agencies.Non-Governmental Agencies (NGOs)
The CRC and its agencies maintain partnerships with a number of Christian organizations such as The Canadian Food-Grains Bank, KAIROS (Canada), The Micah Challenge, Call to Renewal, Bread for the World, World Vision, and the Association of Evangelical Relief and Development Organizations (AERDO). The range of cooperation runs from sharing information to exploring and acting on common interests.
Such partnerships are valuable and important because they recognize that we are not alone in responding to the needs of our communities and the world. They also permit us to be more effective when needs outstrip our own resources.Other Churches
The CRC also maintains partnerships with national churches around the world. The days of maintaining mission churches in other countries went out with the passing of the era of colonialism. Today we develop partnerships with national churches, some of whom also use the Christian Reformed name. We operate as guests in their countries and help to support their activities. This is the case in Nigeria, Honduras, Japan, and the Philippines. When a Reformed partner is not available we often work in partnership with another evangelical church or faith community to further God’s work in the world.
Domestically our closest partner by far is the Reformed Church in America (RCA). Not only do the CRC and the RCA participate in the exchange of clergy and have a full partnership in providing resources through Faith Alive, we also cooperate in other ecumenical and programmatic ways.
Both synods have made provision for a congregation to be a participating church of the CRC and the RCA (there are currently six congregations that fit this description), and other avenues of cooperation are being considered.
I am grateful for all these partnerships in the gospel. It is a good and wholesome thing that we can learn from those who work with us. We desire to make our contribution to advance the cause of Christ in every way possible, and we believe that doing so is pleasing to the Lord we seek to serve.