Synod 2017, the general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church, approved a new name for the agency made up of the former Christian Reformed World Missions and Christian Reformed Home Missions – Resonate Global Mission.
Before talking about the name, Amy Schenkel from the former Home Missions and Joel Huyser from the former World Missions showed a video and presented some of the reasons for bringing the two agencies together.
Huyser said that we live in a new world in which people we thought we would meet on the mission field have come to live next door to us.
“The joining of Home Missions and World Missions is not first of all a structural change,” he said. “It’s about facing the challenge and also the opportunities of this new world.”
Schenkel said that there is a one in four chance that the person living next door has no church experience at all. Churches, she said, are feeling disconnected. “Even though what we’re doing on Sunday is good, ...we need to learn missionary habits that help us to love our communities.”
In order to meet the challenges of doing mission in this new context, Home Missions and World Missions were brought together into a single agency.
The co-chairs of the temporary board for the new missions agency, Joy Engelsman and Carel Geleynse, walked the synod through the process followed in selecting Resonate Global Mission as a name, and deciding on a tagline of “Engaging people, embracing Christ” and a modifying statement of “A ministry of the Christian Reformed Church.”
Engelsman and Geleynse explained that the organization did extensive research with their supporters and the broader church community. This research showed that people wanted the name to characterize an agency that would be “courageous, resourceful, and innovative.” They wanted the name to be metaphorical, more like Apple than, say, General Motors. They wanted it to be the sort of name that led people to ask about it rather than a name that was explicit about what it named.
They also had some specific criteria in mind. They needed a name that would translate well into other languages, that would work in societies that are not open to the gospel, and would have resonance with their audience.
After many months of research, meeting, and much prayer, the organization decided on the name and tagline being proposed to Synod 2017.
John Dykhuis, Classis Red Mesa, struck what was to become a theme in the discussion that took place in response to this proposal. He said that his first thought on hearing the new name was, “What were they thinking?” But, later, as he considered it and heard the reasoning behind it, he came to favor the name.
Debra Mead, Classis Holland, extended the metaphor of resonance. She said that her son had recently cast a bronze bell for his upcoming wedding. Bronze, she noted, is an alloy made of copper and tin. “Once the tin is added to the molten copper, it joins inseparably and creates a material stronger than either of the separate elements. Similar to a marriage, our two mission agencies have just been joined. We believe that together they will be stronger than their separate parts.”
Like her son’s wedding bell, Mead believes the new mission agency will make a strong and clear sound. “Let us with joyful celebration let the gospel resonate in the world,” she said.
Paul De Weerd, Classis Huron quoted a dictionary which defined “resonate” as “to produce a deep clear sound that goes on for a long time.”
Daryl Meijer, Classis Chatham, was also of a mind to probe the word for its metaphorical possibilities. He said that “resonate” reminds him of a guitar. If you sing or make a noise in the area of a guitar, you can actually get that string to resonate, he said.
In the same way the word “resonate” picks up on the deep meaning of an older word, “catechism.” The root of the word is katekhismos, which referred to a tradition of teaching something orally by having students echo words back. That, Meijer said, is what the new mission agency is all about. As Christ’s word goes out, people resonate, echoing it back and spreading it to others.
Not everyone was taken with the name. Mark Vande Zande, Classis Heartland, expressed his concern that Christ was nowhere in the name and that “Christian Reformed” appears only in the modifying statement after the tagline: “If we put CRC [after the tagline], we are losing our identity.”
Tom VanEngen, Classis Greater Los Angeles, was worried that the name would not adequately communicate the agency’s mission. He cited a name change for a youth program that he is involved in. “Most you won’t know what the name means, despite it being on the letterhead for a long time,” he said, expressing his desire for more time to find a better name.
“God sometimes has a sense of humor,” Don Draayer, Classis Lake Superior, responded to those speaking against the name. “Let the name settle in,” he said. “If it doesn’t ‘resonate,’ we can change it.”
Joelle Wilhelm, a young adult representative spoke near the end of the debate. She expressed enthusiasm for the name. “I wasn’t entirely sure about the name or what I thought,” she said, “but after hearing about the time, effort and especially the prayer that went into this name, I love it.”
There will always be push back to a new name, she said, but she is “confident that this name will be a good one” because God’s hand has been in the process. “We need to stop being afraid of change,” she added.
Synod 2017 was not afraid to affirm the new name, voting strongly in favor of it.
For continuous coverage of Synod 2017 including the live webcast, news, video recordings, photos, liveblog, social media links, and more visit www.crcna.org/synod.