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New Agency to Help Congregations Thrive

May 8, 2023
In July 2023, Thrive became the newest agency of the CRCNA.
In July 2023, Thrive became the newest agency of the CRCNA.

At its May 3-5 meeting, the Council of Delegates took note of a new name for a Christian Reformed Church in North America agency designed to serve congregations and carry on the work of  nine smaller denominational ministries. The newly combined ministry agency will be called Thrive and will use the tagline Equipping and Encouraging Congregations.

“The verb thrive means ‘to become or continue to be successful, strong, and healthy.’ It is synonymous with the word flourish and encompasses the vision that all of the former congregational ministries share,” explained Chris Schoon, director of Thrive-U.S. “Our purpose is to walk alongside Christian Reformed congregations in such a manner that they can thrive.”

Thrive is made up of staff from the nine ministry areas concerned with race relations, diversity, chaplaincy, disability concerns, faith formation, pastor church resources, safe church, social justice, and worship. For the past year, these ministries have been undergoing a reorganization focused on better serving local congregations, increasing efficiency, and reducing overall costs.

The year has included changes to staff job descriptions, a reorganization of duties, and a focus on creating a cohesive strategic plan to support congregations. At their February meeting, the Council of Delegates endorsed the guiding document for the new agency, which includes a vision, mission, and core postures, and referred it to synod for approval. The COD also outlined a new mandate: “to provide expertise, wisdom, and compassionate support to congregations while remaining attentive to a wide range of opportunities and challenges facing the church today."

The recommendation being sent to Synod 2023 for ratification is to conclude the former synodical mandates of the nine ministries, and to replace those mandates with the new Thrive mandate.

“Thrive exists to serve the congregations of the Christian Reformed Church. Our desire isn’t to force certain programs or ideas onto congregations; instead, we strive to help them become (or continue to be) healthy and strong. We want churches to flourish wherever God has planted them and in whatever way fits their context,” said Lesli van Milligen, director of Thrive-Canada.

As for the name, a staff group that developed the new ministry agency branding felt that Thrive fit perfectly.

“Thrive is focused on equipping and encouraging Christian Reformed congregations in their local contexts,” said Schoon. “We know that churches are seeking to be faithful witnesses to the gospel, and that each has unique challenges and opportunities. We won’t offer pat answers or one-size-fits-all solutions. Instead, our goal is to walk alongside churches to help them thrive in whatever that looks like for them. This new name and our new mandate will allow us to be more accessible, more integrated, and more responsive in our engagement with Christian Reformed congregations and ministry leaders.”

Thrive will offer a new, monthly email to equip and encourage volunteers and staff in local congregations. To receive the first issue and stay in the loop as this new ministry develops, subscribe now.