We are pleased to report that seventeen of our churches responded to our request for a resume of their evangelism (church extension) efforts. In this and perhaps succeeding issues we shall report on each of these churches. We hope not only that this will make for interesting and informative reading, but also that these articles will be of benefit to the various evangelism committees and church extension committees. Perhaps various churches will gain new insights and ideas concerning this all important work.
We shall begin the survey in the West. Our Church in Lynden, Washington is nestled between the snowcapped Cascades and the Pacific in the far Northwest corner of the country. Lynden is not only known in Protestant Reformed circles for its extremely beautiful location; she has a reputation also for being very active in the work of evangelism. This has not been without positive fruit. In 1965 Lynden numbered some five families; today there are forty-six families. Lynden has its own Christian School as well. Their work of evangelism, initiated by Rev. Bernard Woudenberg, is being continued under the leadership of Rev. D. H. Kuiper. Rev. Kuiper writes: “The congregation sponsors the broadcasting of one of the regular worship services over a local radio station. This is actually aired one week later by means of tape. We have had enormous response to this program. Some families have moved to Lynden and joined our church due to this contact. We hear of many, many people in Lynden as well as in far off places who are listening. A few send in contributions, which are never asked for.” Lynden mails approximately twenty cassettes per week, each containing two sermons. Some of them go as far as California. Work has been begun in the Mt. Vernon and Monroe, Washington areas (a bit south of Lynden). Pastor Kuiper has lectured there on various topics and also conducted a weekly Bible study class. Lynden is calling a home missionary to labor there. Their hope and prayer is that this work will bear fruit in the establishment of a Protestant Reformed Church. Lynden’s church extension committee also operates a small “bookstore” in the church. According to Pastor Kuiper there is a good turnover of our literature, both books and pamphlets.
The Hope Church of Redlands sponsors the Reformed Witness Hour each Sunday over a station out of Riverside, California. Once each month the Evangelism Committee mails literature to approximately seven hundred fifty addresses. Five hundred of these are first time mailings. These are sent a pamphlet, “Is The Christian Faith Easy?” written by Rev. J. Kortering. The remaining two hundred fifty are those who have shown interest and requested to be on Redlands’ permanent mailing list. To these, Redlands mails articles written by Rev. B. Woudenberg, as well as various Standard Bearerarticles. Redlands also mails approximately twenty sermon tapes (Cassette) each month.
Loveland too is active in Church Extension. The pamphlet or folder mentioned above, written by Rev. Kortering, is mailed to some five hundred addresses each month. The folder, it seems to the undersigned, is very attractive. It answers in simple, direct language three basic questions: What is a Christian?; Are You A Christian?; and What We (Loveland) Can Do To Help. There is ample reference to the Scriptures, a brief description of our doctrinal basis, and a detachable portion which the reader can send to Loveland. Other of our churches might wish a sample copy for possible use in their work. Loveland also sponsors the Reformed Witness Hour over one of the local stations. They are contemplating changing to a much larger station in Denver so as to cover more f the state.
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
There is more than rich oil fields in Edmonton, much more! There is the First Protestant Reformed Church and its clear, faithful witness to the Reformed Truth. Every Sunday morning Edmonton’s pastor, Rev. R. Moore, expounds the Scriptures on a fifteen minute broadcast. To this there is some response. A letter containing a brief summary of the Reformed Faith is mailed to five hundred homes each month. The worship services are advertised in the weekend edition of the local newspaper. Edmonton also sponsors public lectures upon occasion.
Doon, Hull, Iowa and Edgerton, Minnesota
We report on these churches together because most of their church extension work is done by a committee of the three churches. This committee, which had its origin in the stormy days of the split of 1953, is called the Reformed Witness Committee. Its constituency consists of three members from each congregation with the three pastors serving as advisors. The committee prints and distributes a pamphlet entitled, “The Reformed Witness.” The committee has been concentrating its efforts recently in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota area. There has been, however, very little positive reception to the work in this city. The churches in part sponsor the Reformed Witness Hour over a Sioux Falls station and the station of Dordt College in Sioux Center.
Doon is the calling church for the mission in Singapore. This of course consumes a great deal of time and effort. Hull has its own lecture committee which sponsors a Spring lecture.
The Trinity Protestant Reformed Church of Houston is very active in Evangelism. Trinity also uses some different methods from which other of our churches might profit. Rather than try to sum the material sent we will simply quote Pastor Wayne Bekkering’s letter: “1) We have given a Reformation Day lecture each year. This is not unusual for our churches, but in Houston there is very little emphasis on the Reformation so this gives us a good opportunity to emphasize our distinctives. The attendance at these lectures is good with about 20 visitors each year. 2) We have used newspaper ads and articles with varying success…. 3) The Reformed Witness Hour has been aired in Houston from the beginning of our work here. The results have been disappointing. Presently we are developing radio sermons that use 28 minute excerpts from sermons that are preached in the congregation. 4) We have worked to get our books out in two basic ways. First we got five bookstores in Houston to carry seven of our titles. Secondly, we have given away a number of books to interested persons. We believe that books are a good long range extension means. For over a year we have had a Christian Discount Book Center. This organization carries most of our books as well as other good solid Calvinistic materials. This bookstore has also given away many of our pamphlets. Presently we are working to get this chain to market some of the sermon and lecture tapes of our churches. 5) We have used trial subscriptions of the Standard Bearer as a means to have others become better acquainted with us. 6) We have, from time to time, held Fellowship Picnics. We invite those who have attended our lectures or who have shown interest in other ways. The next picnic that we have we are planning a Singspiration in our church in the evening. 7) Last year for the first time we had what we called, for lack of a better name, a ‘Mid-Winter Faith Refresher.’ It was a conference to discuss Reformed Evangelism. Rev. VanOverloop and Rev. Woudenberg were here to help us. We invited various men to our discussions during the day and we held three evening meetings that were open to the public. We had good interest and participation in this venture. 8) We have also tried to extend the witness of our church in our area by going from house to house to introduce our church and to invite people to visit. From time to time we have very nice opportunities to discuss God’s truth with people. We always leave a brief statement concerning our church with the location and time of worship.”
The Fellowship Picnic and going from house to house are two ways of reaching people and witnessing seldom used in our churches. From Pastor Bekkering’s letter it appears that they have borne fruit. However that may be, one thing is sure, the little band of saints in Trinity Church is certainly busy in church extension.
There was one more response to our request from Classis West, South Holland. We will include South Holland in our next article.