Healthy congregations need healthy leaders—but all too often, church planters find themselves on the brink of burnout. This fall, Resonate Global Mission gathered church planters for a spiritual formation retreat so they can thrive in their ministries long term.
“The Indo-Pak community is scattered in Southern California,” said Eric Sarwar, pastor of Artesia City Church, a church plant supported in part by Resonate Global Mission.
That makes it difficult for believers to gather in one space to worship together. As a result, many believers don’t have the opportunity to worship God in ways that express their heart—and those seeking faith don’t have the opportunity to hear the Word of God in a language that speaks to their heart.
With Sarwar’s leadership, Artesia City Church is changing that.
The Bridge, a church plant in Fergus, Ontario, supported in part by Resonate Global Mission, is passionate about engaging with the community. When the members learned about a recent need, they stepped in.
A Desire to Serve
As Pastor John Vanderstoep sought to partner with other churches in the community, he learned of three in the area that each hosted a community meal on Friday nights. They were looking for another church to fill the other Friday spot each month.
Hauwa was never especially interested in religion—until her 10-year-old daughter Kadiatu insisted on attending church.
The daughter of an Islamic leader and wife of a Muslim man, Hauwa had always practiced Islam. But as a determined women’s activist, her daughter’s education came before her Islamic ties. She enrolled Kadiatu in Kabala Christian School, a Resonate Global Mission partner in Kabala, Sierra Leone.
More and more Christian Reformed Church pastors are bivocational—they work another job in addition to pastoring. For many pastors, a second job is a way to pay bills. For others, a second job is part of their ministry.
“What does it mean to be a pastor? They embody Christ, and they share God’s love with conviction and with reverence, and they usher you into the space before God. It’s beautiful,” said Sam DeJong McCarron, who works as a ministry vocational consultant for the CRC’s Pastor Church Resources.
Shamshadeen Mayers felt God call him to be a church planter 10 years ago—he just wasn’t sure when, where, or how to plant a church. But God lined up the perfect opportunity to partner with Resonate Global Mission and plant City on a Hill Church in Bloomfield, New Jersey.
“I’m not the guy who goes to a conference and says, ‘Oh, I found the secret formula to saving our church,’” said Jeff Heerspink, pastor of F Street Neighborhood Church in Lincoln, Nebraska—one of two Christian Reformed church plants in Classis Heartland.
Located in the urban core of Lincoln, F Street Neighborhood Church does not look or operate like the established churches in its classis that have been around for decades. Jeff and his congregation face unique challenges, particularly in terms of sustainability.
The church is called to provide a home for all of God’s children, but sometimes children are overlooked. Thanks to you, a Resonate church plant has been able to show children how much God loves them.
God called Eric and Shumaila Sarwar from Pakistan to Artesia, Calif., to plant Artesia City Church in partnership with Resonate. As they joined the local community of immigrants from Pakistan and India, it soon became clear that God had called them there for a reason.
When Roosevelt Park Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., closed its doors three years ago, Allen Pontarelli and Henry Bouma knew the community needed another church. So, they planted Southwest Community Church (SCC) with the support of Resonate Global Mission.
But SCC did not start as a church. It started as a dinner.
Church plants are key to bringing the gospel to unreached areas. But how do church plants work? And who will do the planting? With Resonate’s help, John Granada is learning these things firsthand.
John felt a call to church planting after serving at Vida Nueva, a CRC church plant in Miami, Florida, for 14 years.
“It was a process of discerning a desire prompted by the Spirit,” said John. “I was envisioning, dreaming, and considering how God had gifted me and my family to serve. We were waiting to see what place he would lead us to.”
Olivia* was 14 when her mother passed away after never fully recovering from a car accident. That was just the start of her grief—but God met her at Destination CRC, a Resonate church plant in St. Thomas, Ontario.
We don’t have to discover God’s call on our own. Sometimes God speaks to us through many different people. Just ask Karlos Palacios.
Karlos is a church planter at Iglesia Comunidad de Fe Poinciana Christian Reformed Church, a Resonate Global Mission partner church plant in Poinciana, Florida.
Karlos said his calling to ministry started with service opportunities in his church, The New Horizon CRC (Paterson, New Jersey). As he joined the choir and read Bible verses during services, people soon recognized his leadership abilities.
Two churches are tackling Oakland, California’s gentrification and racial division head on: they’re merging.
Bernard Emerson started The Way Church in Oakland three and a half years ago. One year later, Resonate Partner Kyle Brooks planted Oakland Communion. This year, the two congregations joined to form Tapestry Church.
“We come from different church traditions and different church backgrounds,” said Bernard. One church is Baptist; the other is Christian Reformed.
Sometimes equipping the global church takes place before a community even considers that the Spirit is at work there. Such was the case in the village of Medina, Sierra Leone.
Like the Islamic holy city in Saudi Arabia that Medina is named after, almost everyone living in this community adheres to Islam. But when the people looked for assistance in developing their community to reduce poverty, they turned to Christian Extension Services (CES).
Note: Read the introduction to the Used Tires series to learn the meaning behind the metaphor.
Detroit, Michigan, is a city known for its poverty and resulting crime. Many neighborhoods, blighted from downturns in the once-booming auto industry there, could be described as “used tires.” But as Mark Van Andel saw beyond that and began serving in the Brightmoor neighborhood, he has partnered with Resonate Global Mission for church planting support.
Most church planters make it their goal to open their doors to new neighbors, but this takes on a whole new meaning when you get over a hundred of them at one time.
With a new townhouse community under construction right next door, members of Friendship Community CRC, in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa, are excited about the opportunity to minister to their new neighbors, and they are partnering with Resonate Global Mission to do this.
Ronnie Lopez’s passion for the Reformed faith stems from his time growing up in the Philippines. That’s where, 50 years ago, he met Vince Apostol, Resonate Global Mission’s first missionary to this country, and became a member and seminary student in the CRC of the Philippines.
“It’s embedded in me,” Lopez said of the Reformed worldview. “And the moment you understand it, it leads you to a life of gratitude in the Lord.”
True to its name, members of F Street Neighborhood Church make it their goal to serve the neighborhood around them—a neighborhood where 88 percent of students at the nearest elementary school qualify for free or reduced lunch and 72 percent are minorities. These figures include Alexis and Taylor (names changed), two sisters who have been coming to the church for about two years.
The majority of Christian Reformed church plants Resonate has worked with over the past decade are still serving their communities. In fact, 144 churches planted in the last 10 years are thriving. However, sometimes the call to plant a church turns out to be temporary and the church folds after a few years. In these situations, church planters have found that even when a church stops meeting, their efforts have not been in vain.
An Increase in Satellite Campuses and Unconventional Meeting Spaces
It’s opening weekend for the latest superhero movie in Vancouver (B.C.). Bucket of popcorn and 3D glasses in hand, three enthusiastic fans slip into the theater early, hoping to get a good seat. To their surprise, there aren’t previews on the screen in front of them but a group of people standing in line to take bread and wine.
How many times have you heard the Christmas story? Too many to count?
For some, the Christmas story will be new this year and God is still doing amazing things through this story.
Ben Katt, Resonate Global Mission’s regional mission leader for the Western United States, recently recorded two examples of this while visiting Anchorage, Alaska on his podcast, Replacing Church. Ben visited Parachutes, a drop-in center for high-risk teens that partners with Resonate.