Chris Schoon has been appointed as the next director of Faith Formation Ministries. At their recent meeting, the Council of Delegates voted to ratify this decision.
“We are extremely pleased to welcome Chris as a leader of Faith Formation Ministries and as a member of the denominational team,” said Colin Watson, Sr., director of ministries and administration for the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA).
“Chris's experiences as a pastor in both the U.S. and Canada will add to our ability to serve ministries in both geographic contexts well. Chris is excited to begin working and building on the superb platform created under the leadership of Dr. Syd Hielema.”
Launched in 2014, Faith Formation Ministries provides resources and coaching to support Christian Reformed congregations and ministry leaders in their calling to encourage lifelong faith formation in their unique contexts. Since then, Syd Hielema has been leading Faith Formation Ministries, and he is retiring in June.
Schoon has served in ministry in both the United States and Canada and sees his calling in the areas of preaching, teaching, writing, and coaching. He has loved the Christian Reformed Church (CRC) environment and is passionate about Reformed theology, especially “how theology becomes something we are living out in our daily lives and not just talking about,” he said.
Schoon has served the CRC in a variety of ways for the past 17 years. His experience extends to many aspects of local church ministry. He was a pastor at Plymouth Heights CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich., for seven years before moving to Hamilton, Ont., to pursue a doctoral degree. He is currently serving as lead pastor of First Hamilton (Ont.) CRC.
Schoon has also taught mission and leadership related courses in academic settings through online classes at Calvin Theological Seminary (Grand Rapids, Mich.) and at Redeemer University College (Ancaster, Ont.).
His formal education includes a doctor of theology degree from Wycliffe College and a master of theology degree and a master of divinity degree from Calvin Theological Seminary.
“I wanted to explore the intersection of mission, worship, and discipleship, and that is why I decided to pursue a doctor of theology degree,” he said.
Schoon is also a frequent writer for The Banner and Reformed Worship magazines. He and his wife, Hennie, who is dean of students at Redeemer University College, have four children.
Schoon is most excited about the collaborative teamwork environment he sees at Faith Formation Ministries and about the direction the ministry is going. In particular, he points to its looking beyond just children and youth to also envision people in our churches who are retiring or people who are in the midst of their vocations and careers.
Schoon says he was also impressed by how Faith Formation Ministries is looking for diversity in its staff and in the communities they work with so that the work reflects the diversity present in the entire denomination.
Early in his journey, while he was still discerning his place in ministry, said Schoon, he interned at Madison Square CRC in Grand Rapids, Mich., where he became involved in antiracism work. His mentors, Pastors Dave Beelen and Dante Venegas, instilled in him a deep awareness of how systems and structures play out in how we treat people, how we work against racism, and how we live out the gospel.
Schoon resonates with Faith Formation Ministries’ posture to be not a top-down ministry but a ministry that walks alongside churches and ministry leaders as they learn how to disciple people in their congregations.
“In getting to know Chris, I've been so impressed with his understanding of where Faith Formation Ministries has been and where it needs to go; his listening posture (a key value of Faith Formation Ministries); his longing for diversity both in resources and on our team; and his understanding that faith formation is more than what happens on a Sunday morning. I believe that Chris's vision for discipleship will beautifully build on the work that's been done over the past five years under the leadership of Syd Hielema,” said Karen DeBoer, Faith Formation Ministries’ creative resource developer, who was involved in selecting Schoon.
Schoon will officially take up his role with Faith Formation Ministries in early June of this year.
During his interview process Schoon asked Watson what his vision is for the denomination and for Faith Formation Ministries. Schoon said he was thrilled to hear that the answer was “everyone in North America following Jesus.”
In response to Watson’s answer, Schoon said, “It’s not about Faith Formation Ministries, and it’s not even about the denomination; it’s about working toward that vision by coming alongside congregations making disciples everywhere in North America.”