Working Together Makes Us Stronger

A growing trend in denominational ministries is the movement toward alliances and partnerships to leverage resources and enhance ministries.

Norm Thomasma (left) at the fall ministry kickoff in Holland, Mich.

Last October at Park CRC in Holland, Mich., Classes Holland, Zeeland, and Georgetown held a joint fall ministry kickoff and invited denominational staff to join them.

Two of the denominational staff who attended were Bonnie Nicholas of Safe Church Ministries and Rev. Norm Thomasma of Pastor-Church Relations.

Nicholas met with congregational leaders to reaffirm the importance of maintaining a safe church environment for children and for everyone in which each person is valued and abuse is not tolerated. She highlighted new resources available from Safe Church Ministry.

The group shared ideas about how to meet challenges associated with abuse awareness, prevention, and response.

Thomasma engaged participants in conversations about “early warning” conditions that make congregations vulnerable to destructive conflict. The conversation led to thinking creatively together about what kinds of things congregational leaders can do to address conflict proactively so that when it happens, conflict can be constructive rather than destructive.

He noted that isolation from other churches and leaders is a contributing factor that makes a congregation vulnerable. When denominational ministries, classes, congregations, and leaders work together, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Quick Facts: Sustaining Congregational Excellence

Sustaining Congregational Excellence (SCE) seeks to foster health in pastors and smaller congregations so they can flourish. It specifically focuses on the denominational priority of creating and sustaining healthy congregations.

Programming includes grant opportunities, learning events, and conferences. Sixty-five percent of all CRC congregations are eligible to participate in SCE. To date, more than 70 percent of eligible churches have done so.

Prayer Requests

  • For smaller congregations as they engage in ministry in their communities.
  • For pastors who are called to minister in challenging situations.
  • For the health of congregations, their pastors, and their pastors’ families.

Quick Facts: Safe Church Ministry

Safe Church Ministry is a resource for churches in abuse awareness, prevention, and response. Churches reflect our Lord best when

  • the environment is safe and free from the threat of abuse;
  • relationships are open, honest, and respectful;
  • children and those most vulnerable are protected;
  • leaders use power and authority appropriately in loving service to others; and
  • the response to abuse is compassionate and just, leading to healing.

Prayer Requests

  • For wisdom and insight in responding to complex situations that are often difficult to unravel.
  • For effective use of “Circle of Grace,” a prevention program for children and youth that can help churches build a culture of respect.
  • For Safe Church Teams to function well as resources to churches and for teams to be formed where there are none.

About the Author

X