Through partnerships with the congregations, classes, and members of the Christian Reformed Church, Home Missions is helping to create vital churches and other diverse Christ-centered ministries. Because of the many programs that we help to fund, the lives of people across North America are being transformed by the power of the gospel.
Through more than 200 unique ministries, Home Missions is helping the CRC to reach people for Christ in new churches, on college campuses, in mission-focused churches, and in other areas where there is a need for vital mission work.
The following stories demonstrate how Home Missions works alongside local churches so that God’s kingdom continues to grow and thrive across North America. The first is written by a new member who came to the CRC via a new Canadian church; the second is by a church planter.
In addition, you’ll read about some of the programs and teams that are at the heart of Home Missions.A Changed Family
One day in April 2006, Debbie, Jill, and Judy came into the fitness center where I worked. They asked if they could put up a poster for Discovery Church. I was glad to let them do it and mentioned enthusiastically that I was looking for a church myself. We discussed my background (I was raised Catholic) and how I had moved away from the church.
I knew I needed God and church back in my life. As the mom of a delightful and growing boy named Jamie, I had a strong sense of obligation to have him learn about God and be baptized.
Looking back, Debbie refers to our meeting as “divine intervention.” I have to believe that is true, because since that day my life has taken a different path.
I met with Debbie and another woman named Rose for the first time at Debbie’s house. I definitely felt that I was in the right place with these wonderful, caring women. I couldn’t get over how much Debbie reminded me of my Dutch grandmother. She even served those windmill cookies so familiar to me from my childhood!
Since then, Debbie and I have met almost weekly at the ministry center, with Jamie in tow. I bought my own Bible, which was an enlightening moment. I made profession of faith, and Jamie has been baptized. My husband, Brian, attended the service along with several other family members and was moved by what happened there. Back at home, Brian told me he “got it” and asked if he could start attending church with Jamie and me. My husband is a wonderful man, but I had not expected this, even though I knew Brian believed in God. In my opinion, Brian received his own divine intervention that day.
I see and feel changes in my life since the beginning of this journey. I also see changes in my husband and son, both of whom I love very much. Jamie, for example, told his uncle that “Christmas isn’t about presents; it’s about baby Jesus.” That made me so proud.
Pastor Martin Spoelstra, his family, and the members of Discovery Church have made it enjoyable, comfortable, and enlightening to come to church. I know my husband and son feel the same. Going to church on Sunday used to feel like a chore— but not anymore.
I’m a video guy. I love the movement, sound, and dynamics video can convey. But there’s something about a photograph that video doesn’t capture.
A photograph freezes time and lets the significance and depth and particularity of life come to light, especially in faces. A picture can translate a face into the language of the heart, with the power to move you.
Take a look at this picture. The child in that photograph no longer exists—he is now a young man. But for a second, his life was captured on film.
What do you see in his face? I see a hopeful, resilient, warm peacemaker ready to be unleashed on the world.
But the picture raises questions too. What’s he so happy about? What are his dreams? Where’s his life going? Video might provide answers, but a single picture just asks.
Unless, of course, it’s followed by another picture.
My favorite photographic exercise is the “before and after” shot. There’s the house renovation project. There’s the New York skyline. There’s my daughter when she was 2, and here she is at 6. Every year we take a family picture in the same spot by the same lake. Each new picture reveals continuities and wonderful surprises.
The picture of the 12-year-old on p. 23 was taken in the midst of his involvement with us at New City Kids Church. He had already been coming to Kids Church for four years, but it was unclear what God had in store for him or what choices he would make. Would he trust Christ at the hard points in his life? Would he develop the peacemaking gifts God had given him? Would he share his life or keep it to himself?
Every day kids like him come to our After School Center, where they are challenged to work and encouraged to find and develop their gifts. They are also invited into a relationship with the family of God and ultimately with Christ himself.
Our unique mission at New City Kids Church allows us to walk with children until they reach adulthood. Our ministry is more like a very long video than a picture—it has movement, drama, and a soundtrack. We’re blessed to watch kids grow up, and we try to be a second family to them, pouring our hearts and lives into theirs.
As you may have guessed, the young man in the picture below is that same 12-year-old boy, six years later. He’s now an 18-year-old leading young men’s Bible study, running a vending business, and attending a local university. As you pray for him and our ministry, imagine the stories of transformation we will be sharing in 2013!
When Pathway Community Church opened in Olathe, Kan., in late 2004, its first services attracted just a handful of worshipers. But 19 months later, this church started by Home Missions, Classis Heartland, and First Hull Christian Reformed Church is vibrant and growing.
From its humble beginnings in a local coffee shop, the church led by Pastor Kevin Schutte is now a lively 100-member-plus congregation. Pathway’s children’s ministry recently expanded to four classes every Sunday morning; the church formed a new ministry called Compass for junior high teens; Pathway’s small group ministry is expanding, and several men’s groups and two new women’s ministries are meeting.
Other signs of growth are the drawings and site plan for a ministry center to be built on land that was given to the congregation as a gift.
“Completing a ministry center will help give us a presence in the community and a central gathering place for Pathway,” says Schutte. However, he maintains that even at such a prosperous time in the church’s young history, he and the other congregational leaders need to keep things in perspective.
“In the midst of all this, I think we are faced with the temptation of ‘doing church’—increasing attendance, starting programs, and so on—while failing to sit and dine with Christ,” he says. “That’s an easy trap to slide into.”
Home Missions at a Glance
Christian Reformed Home Missions exists to serve the congregations, ministries, and members of the Christian Reformed Church in North America through partnerships that work to fulfill Christ’s mission.
Synod has mandated Home Missions “to lead the church in its task of bringing the gospel to the people of Canada and the United States and drawing them into fellowship with Christ and His church.” That mandate is expressed in three mission activities:
- Encourage and assist churches and classes in their work of evangelism;
- Initiate, support, and guide new-church development in cooperation with local churches and classes;
- Initiate, support, and guide other evangelistic ministries (for example, campus ministry and Christian school ministry in New Mexico) with local churches and classes.
For more than 100 years, Home Missions has carried out this mandate by providing leadership assistance to classes and congregations of the CRC. Since 1988, more than 50,000 people have come to Christ by way of evangelism in the CRC.
Home Missions partners with local churches and classes to
- support educational ministries;
- help churches become healthy;
- encourage new church planting;
- train and equip people to lead churches and ministries;
- promote spiritual formation through small groups and prayer.
Twelve regional teams located across the United States and Canada provide coordination and encouragement for hundreds of ministries that impact people’s lives.
You can support the work of Home Missions with your church offerings on Easter Sunday, April 8. For more information, visit www.crhm.org or call 1-800-266-2175.
Eastern U.S. Regional Team Snapshot
Although the Home Missions director and other important departments are located in Grand Rapids, Mich., much of the agency’s ministry takes place in the field through 12 ministry teams located across North America.
The regional teams, led by local and ethnic leaders, provide coordination and encouragement for hundreds of CRC ministries that bring people to Jesus Christ and help them grow spiritually.
Take the Home Missions Eastern U.S. Regional Team, for example. The team, led by Drew Angus, includes small group training and development specialists, church planting specialists, leadership development specialists, and a church health and revitalization specialist.
Twenty-five percent of the U.S. population lives in this region, making it a ripe harvest field for ministry. Here’s a look at some of the work the Eastern U.S. Regional Team is facilitating:
- Twelve new and emerging churches are in various stages of life, with several others preparing to form.
- Three leadership development networks are actively training people for church leadership positions.
- Three church plant clusters meet regularly in New Hampshire, New Jersey, and Philadelphia to support church planters and cultivate new church plants.
- There are initiatives in Philadelphia and New York to cultivate and place church planters in those regions.
- The team is working to facilitate renewal of vision in established churches.
- The team is currently working with the Redeemer church planting network in New York City. As part of that partnership, the CRC hopes to plant 15 new churches in the region over the next few years.
Now more than ever, the Christian Reformed Church needs leaders. To help meet that need, Home Missions offers the Leadership Development Network (LDN).
This network is a three-year series of training courses in which future church leaders receive biblical/theological and ministry skill instruction as well as formation training.
Sessions are conducted in English, Spanish, and Korean, with graduates entering ministry as pastors, evangelists, church planters, or CRC church staff members.
Trainees are also mentored by experienced leaders in local churches. The goal of the mentoring sessions is to help trainees develop their ministry skills and spiritual discipline.