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I recently walked into a roomful of newly appointed church planters and first-time campus ministers. It was the first morning of an orientation session for new Home Missions personnel, and I was there to offer a word of welcome and some opening remarks. I have had the opportunity to do that many times, not just for Home Missions but for World Missions and CRWRC as well.

Each time I’m asked to participate in an orientation, I am inspired by the people I meet. Most of them are young couples about to start a ministry career. They are full of hope—and a little apprehensive about stepping into the unknown. It is exciting to anticipate together what God will accomplish through them as they engage their calling.

They absorb a lot of information during orientation. Much of it is technical, practical information about agency policy and procedure—important information when one is joining the ranks of an organization. Our agencies are good at helping new staff deal with practical matters. I admire people who assume responsibility for tending to details and helping others find their comfort zones.

Practical issues aside, however, there is another very important reason for bringing these folks together: to communicate to them the values and principles the agency holds as dear and essential. These values and principles reflect the priorities of the Christian Reformed Church as well as our Reformed understanding and outlook.

Being Reformed is not just about theology. It has a lot to do with how we view the call to ministry, how we go about our assigned tasks, how we give and receive encouragement and nurture, and how we understand the mission of the church.

A basic principle of our ministry is that “our world belongs to God.” People—the crown of God’s creative work—are important, but so are the culture in which we live, the political world we are part of, and the environment we are to tend. The Reformed view of ministry is all encompassing because everything belongs to God. The church commissions people to service, but the mission is God’s.

The call to serve may come through an agency, but the whole church is involved as God’s agent in the ministry of redemption and reconciliation. The ministry is a shared journey and an embrace of the sending and the sent ones.

The people engaged in orientation that morning were, for the most part, sons and daughters of the CRC. In a collective sense they represent all of us as we send them out to preach and teach, to witness and bear testimony, to build communities and disciple individuals. Theirs is a mission to “proclaim good news to the poor . . . bind up the brokenhearted . . . to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Please support them with your interest, your prayers, and your gifts.

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