Colin Watson, Sr., director of ministries and administration for the Christian Reformed Church, is excited about the ways in which the CRC’s new mission agency will be able to meet the growing needs of churches and their members in North America and around the world.
He is also excited that the effort to create this new agency by unifying Christian Reformed Home Missions and Christian Reformed World Missions is moving forward and that important decisions about the shape and leadership of the agency will be made soon.
“We are moving ahead in several ways as we work to create a new mission agency,” said Watson, who also chairs the executive leadership team that is guiding the unification process. Other members of the team include Moses Chung, director of Home Missions; Gary Bekker, director of World Missions; and Steve Kabetu, Canada director of World Missions.
“We are substantially along the way in addressing several matters and will be in a position to discuss them at the first meeting of the new agency board in September.”
Among other things, the 24-member board will be looking to approve a job description for a new agency director.
If approved, the job description will be recommended to the Board of Trustees, and a search for a new director could be launched later this year, with the idea of having someone in place for approval by Synod 2017.
In addition, said Watson, board members will have the chance to review and affirm job descriptions for other “second-tier” leadership positions, and the board will be able to review the proposed structure for the new mission agency.
The structure proposal envisions that there will be major geographical ministry areas in the United States, Canada and internationally. These will be further organized into four regions in the U.S., two in Canada, and several internationally. The final international structure is still under development and is the subject of a series of meetings currently under way with missionaries.
“We are excited to be moving forward in this way. It has taken a great deal of work from many people who have come together to get to where we are at now,” Watson said.
All along the way, he added, the leadership team has sought the input of CRC personnel and others to make sure they are on the right track.
And as the process has unfolded, different teams have been addressing a range of issues from providing a theological framework for the new agency to identifying ways in which Home Missions and World Missions ministries can work together.
Teams have also been looking at developing an effective advancement strategy and structure as well as examining the cultures of Home Missions and World Missions to see where they are similar and where they differ.
Overall, the effort has been about finding ways in which the two agencies can use their longtime experiences and skills in local and international ministries to address the needs of people in today’s world, said Watson.
He pointed out that people from countries all over the globe have moved into communities across North America in recent years, bringing with them the opportunity for churches to reach out in powerful and important ways.
Combining the two agencies, Watson said, only makes sense as the world gets smaller and the chances for ministry to various groups expands.
“There are now so many links locally and internationally,” said Watson. “Imagine how through this new agency our work locally can shape where we go and what we do internationally—and vice versa.”
Also, in this new agency there will be opportunities, he said, for the church to engage in ministry with certain populations, such as foreign students on North American college campuses, whose needs haven’t always been met in the past.
“We will now be able to have a more seamless approach to ministry,” he said.
But at the same time, he added, it is important not to ignore all of the good ministry that has happened and continues to happen as a result of the work the two agencies have done.
“While we are moving full-speed ahead with restructuring, we aren’t stopping what we are doing, and in the weeks and months ahead we will be sure to celebrate the wonderful work both agencies have done over the years,” he said.
At the same time, said Watson, the agencies are exploring ways in which they can work together now.
Meanwhile, a branding company has been engaged and is currently developing a brand strategy, including name and logo, for the new mission agency. The name will be announced next year, said Watson.
Synod 2015 approved joining Home Missions and World Missions into one agency that will have the responsibility of leading the missions programs of the CRC. Synod 2016 reviewed the progress of the unification process.
Home Missions and World Missions staff look forward to celebrating the beginning of the new mission agency at Synod 2017, but, above all, they praise God for the opportunities ahead to partner with local CRCs in the U.S. and Canada to bring the gospel holistically to the people of North America and the world.