Rev. Steve Van Zanen was serving as pastor of a Christian Reformed congregation in Minnesota when the Missionary Union sponsored an event featuring CRC missionaries at his church.
It was an exciting event that drew representatives from several CRC congregations in the area. Van Zanen says he was impressed by the energy that the gathering generated. Missionaries spoke, people prayed for missions work, and everyone gathered for a meal.
Fast forward to 2009. The Missionary Union, which served its purpose for many years, has been disbanded. Meanwhile, Van Zanen is no longer a pastor in Minnesota. Instead, under the auspices of another program, he is now one of the representatives visiting churches to promote the cause of CRC missions.
Based in the Grand Rapids, Mich., office of the Christian Reformed Church, Van Zanen leads a team whose primary aim is to educate and motivate churches for global outreach. Titled the “Missions Education and Engagement Team” (MEET), the team is part of the ministry of Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM).
This new effort is funded in part by CRC ministry shares. Christian Reformed congregations provide approximately 40 percent of World Missions’ income through this system, in which congregations contribute a certain amount of money per year to help pay for the shared programs of the denomination
“Because of the generosity of God’s people through the use of the ministry-shares system, World Missions is able to provide many services and resources to CRC congregations at no additional cost,” says Van Zanen
A variety of resources are available, including speakers that can preach and teach on missions in worship services and adult, teen, or children’s classes.
“We provide missions education resources that are not aimed at gaining support for CRWM work but rather are more broadly about the global mission of a congregation,” says Van Zanen. Van Zanen himself visits 20 to 25 churches per year.
“Our vision at World Missions is to walk alongside local congregations to enhance their vision for global outreach,” he says. “We want to see local congregations actively engaged in global ministry. Through tailored resources, training, and consultation services, we strive to assist local church leaders in stimulating a deeper vision for and involvement in missions.”
To learn more and obtain resources, please see www.crwm.org.