A few months ago, Christian Reformed Home Missions Great Lakes Regional Co-leader Al Mulder brought a missions emphasis message to First Christian Reformed Church in Zeeland, Mich.
First Zeeland, said Mulder, was the first church plant in the CRC. It was organized with its own church council in 1862, just five years after the founding of the denomination.
Not long after visiting the church in Zeeland, Mulder brought greetings at Red Arrow Ministries in Paw Paw, Mich., on the occasion of the church presenting its first slate of elected elders.
Red Arrow Ministries, which now hosts three morning worship services, is the most recent plant to be organized in the CRC, just six years after the closing and rebirth of the former Paw Paw CRC.
Far more people come to Christ—on a per-member ratio—through new churches than through established churches. However, it's also important to remember that the whole church plants churches, says Mulder.
For example, in the case of Red Arrow Ministries, Pastor Ben Bowater was mentored by another pastor who was trained by Calvin Seminary. He was called and ordained by Westwood CRC, approved and subsidized by Home Missions and Classis Kalamazoo, coached by his uncle Pete, assisted by his wife and ministry partner, Maria, supported from day one by a growing cadre of committed leaders, and prayed for daily by a host of prayer warriors.
The Bowaters aren't alone in their region, Home Missions' Great Lakes Region.
The region is home to currently- and formerly-funded church plants including the Bowaters, the Chungs at Living Water, the De Ruiters at Square Inch CRC, the Gonzalez’s at J.A.M. (Jesus And Me), the Hansons at Celebration Fellowship, the Huizengas at River Rock CRC, the Ledeboers at inSpirit, the Meyers at Crosswinds/Intersection, the Ondersmas at The PIER, the Ortegas at Celebration Community, the Schenkels at Monroe Community, the Sims at Step of Faith, the Scholtens at Alive!, and the VanEyks at Encounter.
Every Sunday these young churches have a combined attendance between 2,000 to 3,000 people, and many of them are walking with the Lord only because the whole church plants churches.
The Great Lakes Regional Team for Christian Reformed Home Missions serves 12 classes (regional groups) and their churches.
Through coaching relationships, they help classes, churches, and ministry leaders focus on developing areas such as reaching their community, understanding their neighborhood, and building relationships.