Seeking Mission-Minded Young Adults
Over the past year or so, Joel Van Dyke has interviewed more than 100 Christian Reformed Church in North America urban ministry leaders or people who have known them for the Urban Training Collaborative.
“We have lots of important material, and we will be able to learn and teach from what we have to further urban ministry in the CRCNA,” said Van Dyke.
For instance, he said, they have interviews with people at Spirit and Truth Fellowship, founded in Philadelphia by mission leader Mannie Ortiz; they spoke with people who knew Eugene Callender, the first black CRC pastor, who served in New York City; and they talked with Clarence Presley, pastor of Word of Truth International Ministries in Seattle, Wash.
“There are so many lessons and stories we came across,” said Van Dyke. “It may come as a surprise to people how deeply the CRC has been involved, with one ministry here and another one there, with urban ministry in some of the biggest cities."
A missionary for Resonate Global Mission who worked previously in Central America, Van Dyke did his research on behalf of the Resonate’s work in urban ministry and through the Street Psalms Collaborative, which Van Dyke founded and which offers training and other opportunities for people to form missional communities around the world.
“By studying these ministries and the people we interviewed, we can see where mission leaders have used creativity and imagination to work to form missional communities,” said Van Dyke.
The plan is for a team to sort through the findings and data from the research and to develop recommendations for how best to proceed in the desire to “encourage,” “connect,” and “resource” urban leaders and congregations of the CRCNA, said Van Dyke.
Meanwhile, as they begin to form a deeper vision for what they would like to do with the lessons learned from the interviews, Van Dyke and Resonate missionary Ruth Padilla-DeBorst have developed a 10-month training process based on a curriculum that will be used to educate urban leaders on the best practices for ministry.
Plans are to use this curriculum as part of a cohort of mission-minded, young-adult trainees, ages 18-25, from around the world.
And now the search is on for young-adult nominees who might be interested in learning more and finding ways to connect with global missions.
“The idea is that the cohort of young adults will start in September and meet for 10 months,” said Van Dyke.
“They will meet twice a month over Zoom and will work as a pilot group through the curriculum.”
Besides meeting online in person, participants will also be asked to take advantage of other resources.
Two other cohorts, each with an emphasis other than on young adults, will be meeting in the fall as well. One includes intergenerational learning cohorts of lay leaders in Eastern Canada. And another cohort includes Resonate staff.
In terms of the young-adult cohort participants, said Van Dyke, they will be paid a small stipend of $200.
“This will be for each of the young adults to have some compensation for their time invested in the formation process, and our hope is that the person who nominates each young adult will serve as a mentor for them during the experience.”
If you know of a young adult suited for this task and would like to nominate them, please do so using this link: Urban Mission Project.
To learn more about this work, view a concept paper describing many of the details.