An expo offering a full range of vendors, suppliers, and support teams specifically geared toward churches will be on site to provide tools and ministry resources for everyone attending Inspire 2017.
Being held Aug. 3-5 at the Marriott Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit, Mich., Inspire 2017 will be a gathering of people involved in ministry across North America. Featuring speakers, workshops, and times of prayer, the event will offer participants opportunities to connect with other Christian Reformed Church members as well as ministry experts for inspiration, new ideas, and renewal for ministry.
Among those who will be offering tools and resources to participants is Lis Van Harten, codirector of the Christian Reformed Church’s Pastor Church Resources office.
She is looking forward to meeting with and getting to know church leaders better during this summer’s Inspire 2017.
What excites Van Harten is the fact that so many people who are involved in ministry will be together in one place to share ideas and stories and to celebrate their collective commitment to the work of God.
“Inspire will be a wonderful time when folks from all over the denomination will gather to worship, learn, and fellowship together,” she said.
“For our office, it will be a tremendous opportunity to put a face with the ministry, and for people to become aware, perhaps for the first time, of all of the helpful resources that Pastor Church Resources has to offer. . . . Such occasions are very rare.”
Inspire 2017 will open at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 3. At that session, evangelical leader Richard Mouw will talk about how God is connecting people to share in the Lord’s love and ministry.
Other presenters during Inspire will be writer Ann Voskamp, who will be encouraging people to press forward when ministry is hard. And missionary leader Ruth Padilla-DeBorst will wrap up the event on Saturday morning and invite people to "go out" and keep serving in the name of the Lord.
Organizers say an important goal of Inspire will be to fill people with information, fellowship, and inspiration to return to their ministry settings reinvigorated and with new ideas.
Bonnie Nicholas, director of the CRC’s Safe Church Ministry, said her hope is that Inspire 2017, whose goal is to provide renewal and to reinvigorate people for ministry, will also give participants the opportunity to consider such issues as abuse in the church.
“Two Christian Reformed Church members will be presenting a workshop at Inspire titled ‘Breaking the Silence.’ They will share their own stories of abuse,” said Nicholas.
Chris DeVos, assistant director of the Journey-Ridder Renewal Institute in Holland, Mich., said his organization is attending Inspire because he sees that it has great potential to draw people together. In addition, he will be presenting, along with the Church Renewal Lab of Calvin Theological Seminary, a workshop on church growth.
“First, Inspire allows for relationship building at a time when there is a lot of anxiety in our national political and ecclesial communities,” said DeVos.
“Second, if done well, we will be inspired around a common axis of mission; and, third, there will hopefully be something for just about anyone who comes.”
Indeed, Inspire is bringing in more than 50 vendors, including book publishers, prison ministries, faith-based media organizations, worship resource providers, youth ministries, volunteer organizations, colleges, and social justice initiatives.
“I’m thrilled that so many organizations are excited to come and join us at Inspire 2017. They share in our goals to ‘pour into the attendees’,” said Paula Wigboldy, one of the organizers.
“They are invested in providing new tools, creative ideas, resources, and support for ministry of all kinds. They are committed to partnering with the attendees to walk beside each one involved in ministry.”
The expo partners, she said, “will be joining us at mealtimes, and some will be offering sessions. . . . You will be as energized by them at Inspire as by the sessions. Together we can be better at what we do in Christ.”
The CRC and Reformed Church in America Disability Concerns offices, which seek to bring about the full participation of all people with disabilities into the life of the church and the full participation of the church into the lives of people with disabilities, will be at Inspire, said Mark Stephenson, director of CRC Disability Concerns.
“I hope and pray that Inspire will be . . . a catalyst for renewal of the individuals who attend as well as their churches through the power of the Holy Spirit,” he said.
Our Daily Bread Ministries, which began as the Detroit Bible Class in 1938 and is now based in Grand Rapids, Mich., is a nonprofit organization that works to reach “out to people all around the world with the message of God’s love,” said Joe Tower, director of church ministries at the organization.
“Gathering together with CRC church leaders at an event such as Inspire is critical to deepen partnerships throughout Christendom as together we serve the Lord in building the body of Christ for the calling of becoming more like him and fulfilling the Great Commission,” said Tower.
Dan Meeks, vice president of development for Talking Bibles, said his organization provides leaders in communities of oral learners around the world with Bibles in their native languages.
“Inspire 2017 will be an opportunity for many ministries and churches . . . to share how we as a body can reach out to the unchurched in our various communities in the U.S., Canada, and overseas and introduce them to the Reformed faith,” said Meeks.
Justin Paul Lawrence, director of sales of InterVarsity Press (IVP), is coming because IVP has an increasing number of quality authors from the CRC, such as Calvin College chaplain Mary Hulst (A Little Handbook for Preachers). He added, “We find that laity-focused events like Inspire have high levels of engagement with folks who read IVP-type books, and we really like that it's being held in Detroit.”
Amy Schenkel, one of the new regional leaders for the CRC’s new mission agency, will be taking the new Great Lakes Regional Mission Team to Inspire “because the work we do is all based on the relationships we have with people in local ministry settings.”
Inspire, she added, will be “a great time to see and interact with the CRCNA ‘family’ as a whole and to listen to the ways the Spirit is working among us communally.”
In addition to these organizations, other vendors and ministries supporting Inspire include the Christian Learning Network, Partners Worldwide, , MorningStar Music Publishers, Christian Stewardship Services, CrossRoads Prison Ministries, Witte Travel, The Righteous Bean, and more.