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Conversation for the Journey

March 31, 2021

At first it looks like a normal pack of playing cards that could be used for pinochle or euchre. But a closer look tells a different story.

The front of the pack shows a leaf-strewn path leading through rich, green woods. In the upper left corner is the logo of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, and along the right margin is Our Journey 2025: Joining the Good Work Begun in Christ.

While the deck does contain a few game suggestions, its main purpose is to be used as conversation starters for families, friends, church members, and classis delegates. Questions on the cards center on the four key themes of the Our Journey 2025 ministry plan: cultivate, listen, grow, and share.

Often initiatives like the ministry plan gain some interest at the start, and then attention tends to drift over time, said Amy Schenkel, Great Lakes regional director for Resonate Global Mission.

Speaking online at a town hall for CRCNA employees, Schenkel said she believes the cards are a creative way to grab the attention of church members and encourage them to learn more about Our Journey 2025.

But the participation goes beyond learning.

“The cards offer thoughtful questions to help
individuals and congregations assess where they are on their spiritual journey” and how that connects with their local community, said Schenkel.

The conversation cards take people through all four of the goals — called milestones — of the ministry plan. These are items that CRCNA members and leaders have identified as areas in which they want to grow over the next five years.

Specifically, congregations and communities have said they want to

  • cultivate practices of prayer and spiritual discipline.
  • listen to the voices of every generation.
  • grow in diversity and unity by seeking justice, reconciliation, and welcome.
  • share the gospel, live it missionally, and plant new churches.

To a large extent, the cards exemplify the principles — the back-and-forth process — by which church growth and transformation often take place these days.

“We want to move away from the lecture format, which isn’t the way to get your points across,” said Schenkel. “We want to open up dialogue and learn from one another and not just learn from a sage on a stage.”

On the back of the pack of cards is this explanation: “Use these cards to inspire conversation from the council room to the dining room, and from youth mentoring sessions to small group Bible studies. Share them with anyone who is on this spiritual journey with you.”

Each individual card offers a conversation-starting question related to one of the four milestones. For instance, one card from the “listen to the voices of every generation” category asks, “What is something you’ve learned from someone who is younger than you?”

The hope is that as families, Bible studies, council members, and other groups spend time discussing these questions, they will learn from each other and grow in all four areas.

Schenkel said the denomination plans to distribute a free deck of cards to each congregation in the CRCNA. These will likely be distributed at upcoming classis meetings, although congregations may also request a set through the “special Sundays” order form that was recently emailed to every church.

In addition to the free pack, cards may be purchased individually or in bulk through Faith Alive Christian Resources.