What is the Domestic Mission Committee (DMC) and what is its work? And what work is the DMC doing now while we currently have no home missionary? Good questions. There is no better way to get the answers than to go to the DMC’s official Constitution, which can be found on the PRCA website (prca.org).
The Preamble of the Constitution states that
The Protestant Reformed Churches believe that, in obedience to the command of Christ, the King of the Church, to preach the blessed gospel to all creatures, baptizing, and teaching them to observe all things which Christ has commanded, it is the explicit duty and sacred privilege of said churches to carry out this calling according to the measure of our God-given ability. We believe that this missionary activity includes the work of church extension and church reformation.
Further, the committee chosen by synod to do this (DMC) is “to regulate and supervise all mission activity of the churches in common as prescribed by synod.”
What a calling for our churches and what good labors for this committee! But how is all this to be accomplished?
The DMC’s Constitution stipulates that “The Mission Committee shall consist of ten members from Classis East, five of which shall be ministers and five elders or exelders” (II. Constituency). As a full committee, we meet monthly at 7 a.m. on a Tuesday morning at the Seminary to review the work of the previous month done by various subcommittees and then to map out future labors.
Among those labors given to the DMC is to “find possible fields and recommend them to the churches” (IV. B., Duties). This is the work of the New Fields subcommittee. We welcome potential leads from all sources. We follow up to ascertain to what extent we should pursue these leads. There are currently a number of individuals with whom we are in contact. The New Fields subcommittee has been assisting a small group of believers in Franklin, Pennsylvania who have expressed interest in becoming a mission work of our denomination. Various ministers from our churches have been preaching for this group, bringing them the Word and working to increase interest in the gospel in that area.
In conjunction with the above-stated goal, the New Fields sub-committee has conducted a number of presentations to evangelism committees and councils of our churches. These presentations promote the scriptural concept of local churches reaching out into their surrounding areas with the ultimate goal of establishing new congregations. In addition, the presentation lays out a general pattern of how to begin an outreach program and guidelines to follow as such a program develops and matures.
We must obey Christ’s command to the local church in His Great Commission to go and teach all nations (Matt. 28:18-20). The early church obeyed this command by reaching out to entire regions, such as Galatia (Acts 14) and Macedonia (Acts 16). Our denomination is seeking to reach out to the areas surrounding our churches by conducting Bible studies. Grandville PRC is holding a Bible study in Rockford, MI; Grace PRC in Spring Lake, MI; Byron Center PRC in Wayland, MI; Cornerstone PRC in Aurora, IL; Georgetown PRC in Muskegon, MI; and Heritage PRC of Sioux Falls in Harrisburg, SD.
Let us know if your church is interested in having us come to share some background and ideas on how to start an outreach program of your own.
The DMC is also mandated “to advise the calling church with regard to the organization of a new congregation” (IV. F., Duties). This past year saw our mission labors in Pittsburgh come to the point where the group of believers we had been working with for over 15 years could be organized as a new church. Thus the DMC concurred with the decision of Southwest PRC, the calling church, to come to Classis East with a request for organization. This request was granted and the Pittsburgh Protestant Reformed Church was organized as another pillar and ground of the truth on June 24, 2016.
The DMC’s Constitution also stipulates that “Synod shall request one of the churches to function as the calling church. It shall be the duty of said church to call a missionary from a list of suitable candidates provided by the Mission Committee” (VI., The Calling of a Missionary). Southwest PRC had been the calling church for our missionary Rev. W. Bruinsma, who, as we know, accepted the call from the newly formed Pittsburgh PRC to be their pastor. As a result, Synod 2016 requested Byron Center PRC to be the calling church for a new home missionary. In light of the Great Commission, they have faithfully accepted this great responsibility and, from the list of candidates provided by the DMC, have called a number of our ministers to serve in this capacity. A joint committee from the DMC and Byron Center has met with these men to answer any questions they may have about the call. This is especially necessary since the missionary that we are calling must do something not done before—he must create his own field. This raises many questions as to how the work is to be done and where the missionary will be stationed before a field of labor opens up. So far the Lord has directed these pastors whom Byron Center PRC has called to remain in their existing charges. As a denomination of churches, we all should be praying for the Lord of the harvest to send His laborer into the field.
Another important stipulation of the DMC’s Constitution is that “Although the local church has the calling to perform the work of missions, synod regulates the mission work of the churches in common through its Mission Committee, working closely with the local consistory” (VII., Relation Between the Committee and the Calling Church). Here we read of differing roles between the calling church and the DMC, and the harmony needed to have the Lord’s blessing on the work. The Constitution gives details as to what is meant by this working in harmony: “The local church and the Mission Committee will work closely together to determine a field of labor, the time of labor, and the method of labor to be employed” (VII. A.). How is this carried out? “…the decision of the local calling church regarding the field of labor, the time of labor, and the method of labor is to receive the approval of the Mission Committee” (VII. B). This means that the calling church ultimately makes the decisions regarding the field of labor, the time of labor, and the method of labor. The calling church does this, however, with the input of the DMC and then, finally, with the approval of the DMC.
In addition to these labors stipulated by its Constitution, the DMC also oversees the denominational website (prca.org). Our webmaster, Chuck Terpstra, is in charge of the daily maintenance of the website and the app, with help from others. The webmaster consults periodically with the Website committee on policy matters and content for the website.
The DMC also has a Mission Development subcommittee. This committee has the mandate to develop mission policy, especially as it relates to the method of labor that is to govern the work of the home missionary. This is the subcommittee that drafted the proposal of the DMC to the 2016 Synod to call a missionary who is to create his own field of labor. Although the method of doing this has been adopted by synod, the details are yet to be worked out. The subcommittee hopes to be able to do this in consultation with the missionary the Lord will give us.
These, then, are the key points of what the DMC is about, along with some of its actual labors. According to our Heidelberg Catechism, good works (labors) are only those that proceed from a true faith, are performed according to the law of God, and to His glory. As a committee, we strive to follow these principles. Ultimately, we know it is the Lord Himself who calls His people unto Himself, with His gospel that He has accomplished in Christ, through His preachers whom He has raised up, and whom He sends out under the auspices of His churches. Brethren, pray for us as we do the good labors He has given us.
—Mr. Pete Adams