When Synod 2014 voted to appoint Dr. Steven Timmermans as the new executive director of the Christian Reformed Church, the delegates had heard the heart of a man who, when asked to describe himself, listed several possible descriptions, closing simply with, “a child of God.”
The former principal, psychologist, professor, dean, and college president said he needs to “learn more and more” while avoiding distractions. The gifts he brings to the position, he said, are humility . . . and the ability to juggle a number of things, while acknowledging the need to be grounded in the Word and the body of Christ.
“I’m not all that gifted,” he said, “but I am suited temperamentally for this kind of role.”
Timmermans comes to this position after spending 10 years as president of Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Ill.
This is the first time an executive director of the CRC has not been an ordained minister.
Described as pastoral without being a pastor, Timmermans addressed his not being ordained simply by saying, “I feel called to this position.”
Timmermans has served as an elder and a deacon and in other capacities within the church. He anticipates being ordained as a commissioned pastor.
“My vocational pursuit has aligned me with ministry, all forms of ministry,” he said. That means working as a team, leading together, and working with ordained leaders and all members of the church.
Key to his view of living out discipleship daily, he said, were words from John Perkins regarding “reconciliation and relocation.” This has led to his family living in different neighborhoods as well as his involvement in a variety of hands-on ministries.
He described himself as a child of God and of the Christian Reformed Church. His motivation, he said, is reflected in the Heidelberg Catechism’s sin-salvation-service/gratitude theme. He testified, “God is my loving Father and I owe him a debt of gratitude.”
Timmermans likened the resolution of cooperation between the Reformed Church in America and the CRC to the unity candle at a wedding. The central candle represents the new cooperative efforts as the church fulfills its mission, while keeping the original candles burning.
He said there is an increased need for the church to challenge each generation to share its love for Christ and then step outside to share that in meaningful ways.
“We need to be mindful about discipleship and spiritual formation.” For him this has meant being involved in different Bible Study groups involving vulnerability and commitment. “It will take everyone’s ‘owning the vision,’” he said.
Specifically addressing young adults, Timmermans spoke passionately about linking arms with them in ministry without first appointing a committee to study how to do it. “If young adults want to build a well, they just go out and do it!” he said.
He noted that cultural idols facing the church are individualism and materialism. “It’s our focus on me and things.”
He also said renewing trust in denominational leadership will take time. He confidently and expectantly assured synod that the goals are in place but need working on together.
Synod’s vote judged that Timmermans is ready to lead the effort.
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