Church Now Conversations
with Eddy Aleman & Colin Watson

 

Church Now Conversation Notes, Feb. 2, 2021
Eddy Aleman (RCA) and Colin Watson (CRCNA)

 

What are you celebrating right now?

E:  The work of God in the midst of a challenging season.  We can still see signs of God during this time.  One example is the new Classis in Florida and the amount of people coming from different parts of Latin America that want to be part of the RCA.  He gives thanks for his team at the RCA and the joy from the calling that he has in his work.  

C:  He gets to work with passionate individuals who are called to their work.  He celebrates a team that is coalesced around the fact that they are in ministry together and taking joy in their ministry.  In many ways, ministry has flourished.  Churches have found new ways to connect with their constituency and community.  

What have you discovered in the past year from a church angle that will help churches as they think about their future?

C:  It’s easy to think about what we don’t have.  We really need to start operating from a perspective of plenty, because God’s provision is abundant. 

E:  We need to do a better job of equipping our churches to respond to the needs of the world.  We have to do a better job of equipping local congregations and helping our churches to connect more to the changing realities of the world.  

What are the challenges that lie ahead in the next 12-18 months?

E:  Biggest challenge is the decision for the Vision 2020 team report to make this year.  (restructuring, formation of a new mission agency)  Hope to have those decisions made this year.  This might cause a possible shift in how they do ministry.  

C:  Human sexuality report goes before Synod this year for a conversation-looking at report and deciding what to do with it.   Deciding if there will be Synod in our normal format because of Covid and deciding how to meet.  

What would you like church leaders to know?

C:  We are better together.  There were significant challenges when Covid hit; we were able to provide funding, technology assistance, etc. to churches that experienced significant challenges.  If we work together, we can focus on what we do have.  We are taking a ministry approach right now to create cohorts of churches so we can share in what kind of learnings that have evolved over the last several months and years.

E:  Our transforming team has been able to do great support of churches.  In the midst of this challenging time, we are not alone.  God has promised to be with all of us as we continue to do the work of the kingdom.  In the US, we are seeing a lot of divisions.  A lot of times, the divisions are reflected in the local church.  The importance for churches is to focus on the main thing:  the proclamation of the gospel and how the Lord is asking us to bless a world that is broken; a world that is crying, a world that is on its knees right now, a world that is in need of support.  Focus on serving your communities.  Primary thing is the gospel and to be the hands and feet of Jesus in every community that we are doing ministry.

What advice do you have for congregations that know about the resources the two denominations have but don’t know how to get to it?

C:  Colin is pleased with the partnership we have with the RCA.  Most recent partnership is Vibrant Congregations.  If you’re unsure how to connect with the denomination, connecting with Larry Doornbos is a good place to start.  One of the reasons Vibrant was created is so that you can go to one place and know that the group is interested only in what is good for the local church; it’s a partnership between the RCA and the CRC.  Many ministries in the CRC focus on specific areas which can tend to create silos, where one ministry doesn’t know what the other is doing.  We’ve been working hard over the past few years to create a connections mindset so that the various teams can work together and know who might be of help to a congregation.  Everything we do comes from congregations.  Our new ministry plan (Our Journey 2025) came from congregations and what we’ve heard from congregations.  This plan includes 4 milestones:  prayer & spiritual disciplines, listening to voices of every generation, listening to full diversity of voices, and being on mission.

E:  RCA has a great team doing leadership in different areas of ministry.  They offer a lot of learning communities, making disciples, leadership development.  Approach any on the team to be engaged.  Connect with them and they will be able to support local churches.  Eddy feels we have a great partnership in ministry between the RCA and CRC.  Eddy is talking about 4 things with the team for the future of RCA:  disciple making, multiplying leaders, multiplication of ministry, and missional engagement.

How are the CRC & RCA collaborating together in ministry and mission?

E:  They meet every quarter to pray and to ask God for guidance.  Working hand in hand with church multiplication efforts.  Disability Concerns is the same team.  

C:  RCA & CRC staff would get together to get to know each other and understand who their counterparts are and how they support each other in ministry.

Where can the RCA & CRC step in and help bring some healing during this time?

E:  That is a really hard question.  We have thousands of denominations around the world.  RCA is going to have a month of prayer before meeting, because healing begins with coming to God in prayer.  Devotions will be offered to ask God for forgiveness and to confess our brokenness.  

Each of our denominations is anticipating a potentially very divisive decision around the issue of marriage and homosexuality.  There’s a small grassroots conversation that’s been happening between pastors of our two denominations around the possibility of a grace filled realignment of churches and or classes between our denominations.  Should the RCA become more open to an affirming position on same sex marriage and the CRC maintain a traditional view?

C:  Our 2 synods have some conversations to have yet.  We might need to consider what are some areas of common ground between churches?  It is a good healthy conversation to have.  

E:  Healthy conversations are important.  Sexuality conversation will become a part of the conversation within the RCA after the Vision 2020 report.

Is there a chance that Synod will say that they need more time for talking about human sexuality, since Covid has taken a lot of discussion time this last year?

C:  Ideally we would’ve had this conversation in person at Synod 2021.  There are some overtures in progress asking for such a delay.  The COD will need to make a decision about this shortly.  Regardless of when the formal conversation takes place, it’s important that the report is out.  We still will need to engage with the report and pray about it.  

E:  RCA already had the year delay and are supposed to have the decision made in 2021.  They are processing a way to make the decision--they cannot wait another year.

As the RCA looks into its new future, how does that affect the RCA/CRC collaboration?

E:  He hopes to continue to collaborate.  If mission agency recommendation is approved, they’ll have to see the impact, as it has a lot of implications.  If it is approved, they will need to adapt the way that we collaborate.

C:  One of the things we’ve been trying to do is to make sure there is as little impact as possible when changes take place so that congregations and missionaries continue to be supported.  

If you were going to write a letter to the church right now, what 3-4 things would you want to put into that letter to the churches as your final word?

E:  Always remember the calling of Jesus.  1. Be the agents of transformation to the world-this is our primary call from the Lord.  Let’s keep the main thing as the main thing.  2.  Embrace and remember the covenantal relationships we need to have with each other:  encourage and support one another.  3.  Prayer of Jesus in John 17-the world will know that we are His disciples when we love each other.  We need to know how to disagree with respect and know that we are one in Jesus.

C:  First, don’t forget your first love and who God is.  Maintain your relationship with Him.  Second, don’t forget your 2nd love-your relationship with people.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  No matter what happens, Christ is on the throne.  How do we make sure the church of Christ looks like the prayer in John 17--that we are one and in complete unity?

 

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