CRC Stories Worth Celebrating
Ministry today can be messy, hard, and complicated. That’s what makes stories of innovative and effective ministry even more interesting. While these stories contain hardships and pitfalls, they also inspire a kingdom imagination within us and help us creatively consider what we could do in our own local contexts.
That’s the idea behind an upcoming event to be held online Jan. 27, 2024 (11 a.m. - 1 p.m. EST / 8-10 a.m. PST). Dubbed Stories and Strategies: Strengthening the CRC in Canada, this free event will be hosted by members of the CRCNA’s Canada Ministry Board and is open to all members of Christian Reformed congregations in Canada. It will provide them with an opportunity to share stories of what is happening in their own local churches so that people can hear from and be inspired by each other.
The story of Bethel CRC in London, Ont., is a great example. After decades of ministry, Bethel CRC’s building stood with a rich history but was weathered by the passage of time. The congregation, too, felt weathered. They had been led by devoted leaders but faced the reality of dwindling numbers. They embarked on a journey of 40 days of prayer and reflection to seek God’s direction for the future.
As the congregants grappled with the prospect of change, they were united by a shared commitment to hope in Jesus and had a desire to ensure that their spiritual legacy would endure for the next generation. At the end of their discernment period, the congregation came to the conclusion that the church known as Bethel should dissolve and that their building should become an extension campus of a nearby Christian Reformed congregation that was thriving and looking for additional space. Today the renovated building serves as the Eastern Campus of Forest City Community Church.
The closure of Bethel CRC allowed the ministry of the congregation to continue and made room for its former members to go on sharing the beauty of the gospel in a community that desperately needs it. This is an example of church renewal, showing how the Spirit can creatively lead us in new directions when we are willing to follow.
Leah De Vos, a mission network developer with Resonate Global Mission, offers another example. She welcomes people into her home in Thorold, Ont., every Friday for Dinner Church.
Dinner Church is an opportunity to reach out and connect with people who might not be comfortable in a traditional church setting but who are hungry for community and interested in learning more about Jesus.
Through Dinner Church, one individual overcame their nervousness about joining a religious group, thanks to the openness of the group. What started out as Dinner Church for her turned into Bible study with other Dinner Church members. She later was drawn to attend worship services at a local church. Then, one day, she gave her life to Jesus, and a short while ago she was baptized.
These are just a couple of examples of stories about church planting and renewal that will prompt further discussion and storytelling at Stories and Strategies: Strengthening the CRC in Canada. Learn more by watching this video, and register at crcna.org/canada.