Edgerton, MN; Hull and Doon, IA PRCs
Edgerton, Hull, and Doon Protestant Reformed Churches are maybe rather unique in that, for almost as long as the three churches have been in existence, they have combined a good deal of their evangelism work. The Reformed Witness Committee has three members from each church, along with one sitting elder present from each. The ministers of the three churches are advisers. One of the elders is president and leads the meetings. The meetings are rotated among the three churches, with the minister of the hosting church present at the meetings held in his church. Each congregation also has a separate sub-committee consisting of the three regular members plus two extra men who are to meet between the regular RWC meetings. The ministers attend these meetings as advisers. These sub-committees then bring suggestions and proposals to the next regular RWC meeting.
The Reformed Witness Committee has sponsored many lectures throughout the area over the years, one of which is the annual Reformation Day Lecture. We also have another lecture scheduled at Hull in July.
The RWC has conducted a regular Bible Study at Dordt College for many years. In the past we held Bible Studies in Sioux Falls, the last of which was discontinued when the group there became a mission fellowship.
We maintain a bulk-mailing permit and in the past have sent out large mailings all around the country. We maintain contact with various people throughout the country with an active Corresponding Secretary who handles requests between meetings.
We place our denominational literature in various libraries, and we post notices and advertisements about lectures and worship services around the communities.
May God grant blessings on the feeble labors done in His name.
Faith PRC, Jenison, MI
The Evangelism Committee of Faith Protestant Reformed Church gives thanks to God for blessing our denomination with the resources and zeal to spread the gospel message of the Reformed faith both in the United States and abroad. In the past few years, our churches have begun to recognize digital media as a key resource for evangelistic efforts. In particular, the Evangelism Committee of Faith PRC has found the Internet site www.sermonaudio.com to be one of the most effective means for distributing the Word of God. During the past few years we have posted over 250 sermons preached in Faith PRC to this site, as well as various other speeches sponsored by the Evangelism Committee. These audio materials, which are freely available for download, have been accessed by thousands of listeners in over 40 countries around the world. Based on the ability of this resource to reach believers in the most far-flung regions, we encourage other churches in the PRC to consider its use as a tool for evangelistic outreach.
Some of our most actively downloaded materials onwww.sermonaudio.com have been the lectures from the Depression Seminar we hosted in the fall of 2007. In response to this overwhelming interest, we have produced a pamphlet based on these speeches, which is now available under the title Dealing with Depression: a Christian Perspective. We are currently distributing copies of this pamphlet to our sister congregations in the PRC, and hope that other members find it to be a helpful tool and resource in reaching out to those who are struggling with depression or other psychological hardships.
We have also begun a new program called Faith & Life, in conjunction with the Reformed Witness Hour, to distribute their messages throughout the local community by means of audio CDs. Individual CDs containing two sermons are freely available in several area restaurants, and are replenished on a monthly basis to provide recent gospel messages to interested parties. We have been encouraged by the rapid disappearance of CDs from the display racks, and look forward to expanding this program more widely to include other West Michigan restaurants or businesses. We welcome suggestions for new sites that would be willing to allow us to distribute CDs on their premises, and covet the broader support of other members of the PRC in this endeavor. May our risen Lord continue to bless the efforts of our denomination to spread His fame throughout all nations.
First PRC, Grand Rapids, MI
At First PRC, Grand Rapids, we as Evangelism Committee have certain activities that we continue to do on an annual basis, while looking always for new and challenging activities by which we can engage and encourage the members of our congregation in the work of witnessing and evangelism.
The following is a brief summary of our more recent and ongoing activities.
During the summer of 2006, we sponsored a summer class and studied the book Tell the Truth, by Will Metzger. This summer, we are again planning a summer series, beginning June 17 and continuing for eight weeks. We are planning, this time, to study Ted Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart. Typically, besides our own congregation, we invite the other PRC congregations from the Grand Rapids area and encourage our congregation to invite any friends they think would benefit from such a class.
During the past winter months, our Evangelism Committee sponsored a series of Sunday-evening programs for our congregation. The program followed a light lunch and provided an enjoyable way to end our day of worship. Recent programs included inviting the Reformed Witness Hour Committee to come and present their work to our congregation. With the continuing advancement of technology, the work of the Reformed Witness Hour Committee continues to change. How the various members go about their work to produce the program each week was explained.
At another recent Sunday-evening program, the AIM (Active in Missions) committee presented a program to our congregation. They reviewed some of the projects they have been involved in and some of their plans for the future. As both AIM and the Reformed Witness Hour are committees of First PRC, these were both very worthwhile programs to keep our congregation informed of the ongoing work.
First PRC Evangelism Committee is also involved in jail ministry at the Kent County Jail. Currently we have six men who go into the jail in groups of three every other month on a Sunday afternoon. Typically, we have opportunity to meet with three different groups of inmates at different locations in the jail. We usually spend about forty-five minutes with each group, during which time we open and close with prayer, sing a few songs, and give a 25-30 minute message, which is generally well received and generates many comments and questions. The current sheriff is very agreeable to this work, which gives us freedom in what we can bring in the content of our message. During the past couple of years, we have published a book by Rev. J. Kortering, Evangelism in the Established Church. This was initially a series of articles written by Rev. Kortering for the Standard Bearer. Also, Rev. A. Spriensma wrote For God and Country. This piece was published in pamphlet form. Both of these are available for purchase from First Church Evangelism Committee.
Our Evangelism Committee has also taken on the task of redoing the church Web site. This is nearly finished and we hope to have a finished product to review in the next few weeks. Part of redoing the Web site has involved uploading sermons ontowww.sermonaudio.com. This too has shown itself to be a useful tool the Lord has given us to use in the work of evangelism.
Funding for our committee and its projects comes from a collection at an annual summer singspiration that we sponsor, as well as several collections during the course of the year. Typically, any books or pamphlets we produce and sell are sold at cost or given away to the members of our congregation to encourage them in evangelism. This is our goal and purpose as an Evangelism Committee—we do the organizing and promoting, but as a committee of the congregation, we seek to encourage all of our members in their own calling of personal evangelism.
First PRC, Holland, MI
The work of church evangelism has many challenges. Especially for churches with evangelism committees, it seems that part of the challenge is helping the members of the congregation in their witness and not simply doing that work in their place.
Another challenge is attracting and reaching those from the community. It seems that too often an evangelism event is used strictly to edify the members of the denomination and not to bring the truth to those outside our churches. While edifying the existing body is good, it is not evangelism.
With these challenges in mind, First PR Church of Holland has been active in two unique areas. They are its Spanish literature program and its work at the Holland Rescue Mission.
Our work on producing Spanish literature began in the early 1990s. The desire was to produce Protestant Reformed literature and distribute it among the Spanish-speaking population of Holland.
One of the early works was a Spanish version of “The Faith and Practice of the Protestant Reformed Churches.” This was a joint project of Holland and the Domestic Mission Committee (DMC) of the PRC. Later the DMC would help us produce the book Todo El Que Quiera, which is Rev. Hoeksema’s Whosoever Will, which was translated by Emilo Manjo, a member of one of the Reformed Presbyterian Churches in Spain.
Over the years we have been in contact with different translators who have translated other pamphlets and booklets into Spanish. Some of the earlier items were translated by Christine Romano, in Flushing, New York, and later items translated by Paula Meagher, in Bolivia. Later this year we will publish a great translation by Marcelo SÃ¡nchez, a series of articles on God’s Word, written by Rev. Ron Hanko.
As mentioned above, the intent was to distribute the pamphlets locally, but the Lord has had other plans. The demand over the years for literature in Spanish to other areas of the US and to Latin America has surprised us all. Ministers, church members, seminary students, and prisoners have received many tracts and booklets to distribute to their neighbors and fellow pastors. We distribute the nine PRC titles that are in print, and also copies of the confessions and commentaries by Calvin and Hendrickson that we purchase from the CRC World Literature catalogLibros DesafÃ os. Other titles are available on our church Web site and the BRF Web site. Recently we have been sending our literature to a pastor in Mexico who distributes them to his little congregation and to twenty pastors and laymen that are working in his presbytery.
In the late 90s, our church was approached by the Holland Rescue Mission to conduct a chapel service that is required attendance daily for the men who are staying there. The Holland Rescue Mission is a Christian-based homeless shelter providing discipleship and counseling programs. It operates at two locations, one for men only and another for women and children and intact families. Our congregation committed to leading the men’s chapel once a month.
Recently the Mission decided to revamp their programs of working with other churches. The idea is to lead these people into a church family during their stay. This new approach is in recognition of the fact that many were passing through the Mission, and then later returning, their lives a mess again because they were without the continuing guidance and direction of a local church. The new approach is to have a congregation involved in the work of discipleship on a weekly basis in a Bible study, mentoring hour, special music night, or similar event. This allows the people to see and become involved with a congregation on a weekly basis for twelve weeks at a time.
Recently our consistory approved an Evangelism Committee proposal to conduct a focused study on the Heidelberg Catechism at the Mission. This is planned for the twelve Mondays in April through June. A men’s Bible study group will make up the core from our congregation that will lead the men at the Mission in the study. The Catechism was chosen for its basic, structured format, with its emphasis on the comfort the believer has in Christ.
These men need that comfort. They are men from broken families. Some have histories of drug and alcohol dependency or abuse. Others are in poverty because of wasteful spending, often as a result of substance abuse, legal problems, or divorce. These people carry a lifetime of guilt—guilt that we as Christians by grace have been able to lay at Christ’s cross. We know the comfort of belonging to Christ. It is our hope to lead some of these “publicans and sinners” to our Lord and the comfort and salvation that only He can give.
Georgetown PRC, Hudsonville, MI
The Georgetown PRC Evangelism Committee’s theme for 2009 is “Equipping the Congregation.” Our committee is using diverse means to accomplish this equipping. Some of these are: Summer Bible Memory Program, neighborhood canvassing, Georgetown PRC Radio Program, our Web site, and Young People’s Serve Projects.
Summer Bible Memory
The Bible Memory Program is a delight for the Evangelism Committee to oversee because excitement for evangelism can exist only when the Word of God is exceedingly precious to His people. We are eager to bring the Reformed faith through Scripture to our church by commemorating John Calvin’s 500th birthday. On June 7, the Lord willing, Rev. Haak will kick off “The TULIP must BLOOM” Memory Program with a series of sermons on the five points of Calvinism. We also hope to celebrate this quincentenary by serving cake—with tulips on it, of course—on July 10. Our prayer is that the Spirit will make the Word as it is manifested in the Reformed faith written “with a pen of iron and with the point of a diamond” through eternity upon the hearts of those who participate this year!
We plan a neighborhood canvas as well again, an activity that is useful for informing the neighborhood of where we are, when we hold services, where to check us out on the Web, and what we believe. Our ability and enthusiasm in this area need improvement. How many of those in our vicinity know us to be a church filled with hearts that are passionate for Christ? The answer could be summed up as: more need to know. In looking ahead to the future church, our youth, we are planning to involve the young people in this project for the first time this year and are praying that the Spirit will incite them with enthusiasm to “go and tell what the Lord has done.”
Georgetown PRC Radio Program
Our church services are broadcast Sunday afternoons at 3:00 p.m. on WFUR 1570 AM. After two years of broadcasts we have developed a regular listening audience. This provides a wonderful opportunity for the preaching of the Reformed truths to be heard in our broader community.
In 2008, we began broadcasting our worship services live online. Users can click on our “Sermon Audio” icon and listen to our worship services in real time. Following the service, our system automatically archives the service into our online library. Future plans involve installing a video system in which we can stream and record our services in video.
The summer of 2006, our EC hosted a Serve Project in which twenty-three young people and five chaperones volunteered to work at Rehoboth Christian School in New Mexico. We completed numerous projects, such as painting, building, sweeping, spreading stone, etc. This Serve Project resulted in a diverse learning experience and rich spiritual growth for all. A DVD of this project is available via Georgetown PRC Library.
Grace PRC, Standale, MI
The Evangelism Committee of Grace Protestant Reformed Church strives to serve the Lord by promoting the spread of the gospel within our own congregation, our community, and throughout the world.
The committee’s primary outreach to spread the gospel in our community has been through work withChristianity on Campus, a student organization on the campus of Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. During the school year, this group meets weekly for a Reformed Bible study. The Bible study is often led by a minister—but has also been led by teachers from the area or by one of the student-members themselves. Currently the group is studying the Gospel of John, and is being led by a GVSU student who is preparing to enroll in the Protestant Reformed Seminary. The role of the Evangelism Committee in the group is to give continuity from year to year (since there are constantly new members joining and others graduating), support them with funds for advertising and organizing special events, and to make any resources they need, such as leaders or study materials, available to them. Over the past twelve years, this group has been a blessing to many students who desire a serious, doctrinal Bible study on a secular university campus.
Another outreach that the committee has pursued is making our sermons and literature available on our Web site. The Grace PRC Web site was recently overhauled to make it easier to use. The new site features live audio streaming of every worship service for anyone on the Internet to hear. Every sermon is also added to an online archive that allows visitors to download and listen to a sermon at any time. Our sermon archive is also available via an iTunes podcast on the Web site and in the religious section of the iTunes directory. This podcast allows users to download new sermons automatically to their computer each week and listen to them on their computer, iPod, or MP3 player. In addition, we have added a call-in phone system for members of our congregation without Internet access to listen to live sermons from home.
Another service that the committee offers is the reading of the Beacon Lights onto tape and CD. This service is a great benefit to many saints who are blind or visually impaired.
Hope PRC, Walker, MI
The Constitution of the Reformed Witness Committee of Hope Protestant Reformed Church of Walker, Michigan, states:
This Committee shall labor on behalf of the congregation of the Hope Protestant Reformed Church to disseminate our distinctively Protestant Reformed views, based on the Word of God and the Reformed confessions, among those in this areaand also among those outside of the scope of our churches elsewhere.
Our Committee has for the past eight years held a summer lecture Class Series in June and July over a four-week period. These class series have been led by Prof. Hanko on a variety of timely subjects and have been well attended. Opportunity is given throughout the lecture for questions and discussion of what was taught. This work has been very beneficial for many members of our own congregations in their daily walk but also for many outside of our churches, as the lectures are available on CD and DVD. We are also exploring the possibility of publishing some of these lectures in a pamphlet or book format for wider distribution.
Our Committee also has a correspondence committee that continues ongoing contact with individuals or groups who have requested pamphlets and spiritual nourishment. Some of our correspondents receive CD/DVD copies of our sermons on a regular basis as well.
Hudsonville PRC, Hudsonville, MI
The Hudsonville Evangelism Committee has transitioned over the past few years to using the technology that God has provided. In the past we maintained a sizable mailing list, which has slowly shrunk. We send monthly, to about 50-60 people throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, and even India, the small pamphlets written by Rev. Stewart and Prof. Hanko. Although this is a good way to witness to the truth, we have been focusing more on the Internet. We now make our sermons available onSermonaudio.com. Since we began in March 2007, over 6000 sermons have been downloaded. We see this as an excellent way to witness to the truth of God’s Word. We have also updated and improved our church’s Web site, which includes making available live broadcasts of our worship services via streaming audio. Not only is this helpful for members in our own congregation who cannot attend worship services because of sickness, but this is a way for others in the community to hear what our worship services are like.
Believing it is important for our congregation to witness in the Hudsonville community, our committee is sponsoring, for the second year in a row, a spring conference. Last year we had a good turnout for three messages on the subject, God and Marriage. This year Rev. Eriks and Rev. R. Kleyn will address the Christian and finances, using the theme, Unchanging Truth in a Changing Economy (May 1 and May 8). Even if not many visitors come, we believe this is an opportunity for some visibility in the community, which God may use sometime in the future.
In the coming year, our committee plans to focus on encouraging the congregation in its witness by personal contact. Recently we distributed to all the members of our congregation the small book written by Rev. Kortering, Evangelism in the Established Church. We are in the beginning stages of planning a seminar for the congregation on witnessing. It is our desire that God use us to speak of His wonderful works in our community (Ps. 40:5).
Kalamazoo PRC, Kalamazoo, MI
In the fall of 2008 the Kalamazoo Protestant Reformed Church Evangelism Committee discussed ways in which to let our church be known in our community. We also discussed the importance of getting the whole congregation involved in this matter. In January’s meeting, the committee decided to ask one of the missionaries to give a speech on the importance of evangelism. Missionary Rev. Wilbur Bruinsma graciously agreed to come to Kalamazoo on March 18, 2009. His speech title was “Principles and Practices of Evangelism.” The speech told not only how evangelism is the official work of the church (I Cor. 1:17 and Mark 16:15), but also how it is the calling of every member of the church (Acts 8:4 and I Pet. 3:15), and that this evangelism must be Reformed. On March 21, 2009 Rev. Spriensma gave a speech on “Finding Our First Love.” The speech emphasized the necessity of letting our light shine, and how important it is to have our Bible in our hands and to know the Bible thoroughly when talking to others about it. At the end of Rev. Spriensma’s speech, the Evangelism Committee distributed copies of three different case studies, and we divided the audience into three groups to study them. After about 30 minutes of group discussion, we reassembled and a spokesperson from each group gave their assessment of the handling of the situation and told what they thought should have been done and said as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. The night was well attended and very inspirational. The Evangelism Committee is currently making a pamphlet “Getting to Know Us” (patterned after a pamphlet that the Pittsburgh saints made), which tells about our church, our stances, location, and what time our church services are. We also discussed how to distribute the pamphlets, and other ways of getting the word out, which may consist of other means: mailings, radio, CDs, DVDs, etc. This fall, the Lord willing, we will invite the community to a lecture, to celebrate with us our 55th anniversary as an organized church.
Randolph PRC, Randolph, WI
In carrying out our mandate to bear witness to the gospel in our community, Randolph PRC’s Evangelism Committee is involved in several ongoing projects.
1. We supervise the congregation’s Web site.
2. We sponsor lectures twice a year, to which we invite members of the immediate and broader community. Occasionally these have been held in other cities, to try to draw an audience that would not otherwise travel to Randolph.
3. We pay for the broadcast of the Reformed Witness Hour on radio station WFDL in Waupun.
4. For the last several years, in August, we have sponsored a booth at the fair in Alto, WI. We have considered doing the same at two county fairs and one other annual farm show, but have not yet done so.
5. Three times a year we send out a mailer to every postal address in Randolph and three other surrounding communities. These address a current topic from a biblical perspective, or some doctrine essential to Christianity and the Reformed faith. For instance, the theme of our January 2009 mailer was “Sin: The Reason Why We Need Christ.” Our upcoming one is entitled “Creation Ex Nihilo” (“out of nothing”). We’ve also treated various aspects of the doctrine of God, and the issues of the DaVinci code, storms (in God’s providence, this one appeared weeks before last year’s tornado in the area), homosexuality, yoga, and the 2008 presidential election.
We do our work in the consciousness that God’s Word does not return to Him void, but accomplishes that which He pleases (Is. 55:11). So, while we do get negative response to our work at times, particularly from the community mailings, we strive to do our work faithfully. And, while we often wonder what more we can do, especially in a community such as ours in which people’s opinions of the PRC and Reformed truth are formed and not easily changed, we trust God to use our weak means to fulfill His will.
Trinity PRC, Hudsonville, MI
The Lord has given much work to the church in the spreading of the gospel and the witness of the Reformed faith, and many means to carry out that work. This is evident to all of our congregations, and here at Trinity PRC it is no different.
The work of the Trinity Evangelism Committee began about eight years ago. Following the mandate of our Constitution, we have been busy in the spread of the Word that is preached in our church, to the local community and to the entire world.
Many means have been employed in the witness of the truth. These include the use of the Internet, the printed page, public lectures, neighborhood outreach, and participation in Reformed and Presbyterian conferences.
The Internet has been used in three ways for the spread of the truth, the first being the weekly live broadcast of the church services in our congregation. In addition to this being a value to our own members, we regularly have listeners from outside our denomination and have had contact from some frequent listeners.
The second is our membership in a site calledsermonaudio.com. This site is a library of over 230,000 sermons, which the listener can download and listen to free of charge. Trinity currently is broadcasting more than 520 sermons on this site, with almost 65,000 sermons downloaded to date. These sermons are downloaded worldwide, in over 120 countries, the most active being China. This site also allows us to advertise our literature, which people can order off the site. There is also a blog section in which people can comment on different subjects. These two features have been very conducive to generating interest in and contacts for Trinity PRC.
The final way in which the Internet is used is by placing ads on Google. We advertise several items, but the most successful is the advertising we do for a speech given by Rev. R. Kleyn entitled “Jesus Christ in the Movies.” Trinity gets about 200 visitors to our Web site a month as a direct result of these ads. Most of these visitors come from India.
Trinity has also embarked on various publishing ventures. We have published two pamphlets: The Unconditional Covenant in Contemporary Debate, by Prof. Engelsma, and Jesus Christ in the Movies, by Rev. R. Kleyn. We have also worked together with the British Reformed Fellowship in the publication of two books: Keeping God’s Covenant, by Profs. Engelsma and Hanko, and The Five Points of Calvinism, by Profs. Engelsma and Hanko.
The work that Trinity has undertaken in the local community has included a booth at the Hudsonville Fair, with Hudsonville PRC. This booth is stocked with Reformed literature, CDs, and DVDs that are distributed for free, and is manned by members of the congregation. In addition to this, we have held public lectures on timely issues and have gone door to door handing out literature and inviting the local community to worship with us. All this work is, of course, done in the service of the preaching in our church weekly, with the goal that neighbors will come to worship with us.
The Trinity Evangelism Committee has also co-sponsored a booth with the RPFA at the Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology. Last year’s topic was “Precious Blood: Christ’s Atoning Work.” This year the topic was “Right with God: The Doctrine of Justification.” These conferences give us the opportunity to distribute our literature and sermon CDs and DVDs to the broader Reformed and Presbyterian church world, and enable us to present our distinct Reformed view on the topic being presented. The other opportunity this affords us is the interaction with guests at the conference.
The fruit that God has given upon our work thus far is the contacts that we have been able to make with people throughout the world. We currently have 137 contacts in the USA and 38 contacts internationally. It is our prayer that we may continue to develop these contacts with the goal that God is honored through our witness; believers encouraged in their personal spiritual growth; and, if the Lord pleases, some are brought into our churches. We thank God for the Reformed faith that has been graciously given to us, and we pray that we remain faithful to the calling set forth in Matthew 28, until our Savior returns on the clouds of glory.