The CRC’s vision statement begins: “The Christian Reformed Church is a diverse body of healthy congregations, assemblies, and ministries. . . .”
In 2004, synod and the Board of Trustees decided that the health of local churches should be the CRC’s top priority. Synod later approved a special $10 ministry share for the purpose and instructed its denominational agencies also to focus on this goal.
One aspect of the healthy church initiative is Sustaining Congregational Excellence (SCE), a program implemented this year. The goal of SCE is to serve all congregations in the areas of communication and coordination and to serve smaller congregations with grants, learning events, and coaching.
But what exactly is a healthy church? And who decides whether a congregation is healthy? The pastor? The members? The neighborhood?
No definition of congregational health is conclusive, but the denomination has tried to describe it. The Board of Trustees listed 10 characteristics of a healthy church (http://www.crcna.org/pages/healthy_church.cfm.) including proclaiming God’s Word, assembling for worship, and promoting discipleship and justice.
It is often easier to recognize health than to define it. This continuing series called “Healthy Churches” will profile a number of Christian Reformed churches in Canada and the United States.
No church is perfect, and health looks different in each one, but each has areas of strength. The churches have agreed to share their stories for the encouragement of the whole diverse body that makes up the Christian Reformed Church in North America.
For more information about the CRC’s Sustaining Congregational Excellence program, visit http://www.crcna.org/pages/sce_front.cfm.
About the Author
Kristin Niehof is a graduate student at Regent College, Vancouver.