A post-Christian context calls for new ministry strategies, Lee DeYoung says

In his report to the General Synod on Friday, June 8, General Synod president Lee DeYoung highlighted the impact of the RCA’s ministry through mission initiatives around the globe and through small, faithful churches here in North America.

“I believe that obedience to God’s call for this next chapter of the Reformed Church in America’sministry requires us to intensify our twenty-first century witness to Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth,” said DeYoung.

He proposed that the general secretary consider establishing a global church planters’ leadership collaborative to facilitate ongoing interactions between North American church planters and their counterparts in other parts of the world.

He also urged the general secretary to help launch leadership collaboratives for small churches in at least three RCA regional synods. He defined “small churches” as those with fewer than 100 people in weekly worship.

A changing context—including the growth of Christianity in the Global South, migration on a global scale, and a shift from rural to urban living—inform the church’s ministry, strategy, and training, said DeYoung.

The RCA has partnered with other denominations and organizations to further God’s mission. Despite the disagreements even within the RCA, DeYoung said, our churches do desire to follow God, and should “prayerfully strive to be faithful and welcoming witnesses to Christ’s redeeming love to everyone in their surrounding communities.”

Doing this requires a fresh approach to mission, said DeYoung. “Our traditional views of church multiplication and global mission should no longer be confined to separate ministry ‘silos.’ Consultation between North American and global church planting efforts can provide synergy for these related outreach endeavors.”

He praised the RCA’s partnership with the Presbyterian Church of Manaus (IPManaus) in the Amazon basin of Brazil, as well as the witness of the RCA’s mission partner, the Evangelical Church of the Republic of Niger (EERN),  following politically motivated attacks on Christians in Niger in 2015.

DeYoung celebrated the impact of small churches, lifting up the work of the Small Church Forum, which brings together pastors for encouragement and mutual learning. He also spotlighted three congregations that share a church building; one of these three congregations is a primarily immigrant congregation with a focus on planting churches both in the United States and in Nepal.

DeYoung concluded his report with a reminder that “God doesn’t need any particular denomination (including the RCA) to accomplish his eternal purpose. But by his grace, he offers us not only eternal life, but also the precious opportunity to align our lives and witness with what the Spirit is already doing around the world. Our calling is to obedience: to radically follow Christ in mission together.”

See full synod coverage at www.rca.org/synod.