Written by Peter H. Holtvluwer Category: General
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Youth TrainingWhen people visit our worship services one thing they often ask is, “How do you manage to keep so many young people in your church?” They wonder how it is that young people will endure 35 minute sermons, sing Genevan tunes, and sit quietly for a good hour. What keeps them interested so that even when they grow older they remain as members?

The fact is, there is no ‘trick’ or particularly special thing we do. We would even say that “we” don’t keep the children in the church at all, but rather the Lord does it – all the credit and glory go to Him alone!
All we do is follow the Lord’s instruction in the Bible, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” (Proverbs 22:6). Under the blessing of the Lord, simple, faithful instruction in the teachings of Scripture is the key to keeping the next generation faithful in their service to God.

This is the way God’s people have kept the faith for centuries, even millennia.

3-Pronged Approach – Home – Church – School

Home

In the Canadian Reformed Churches we often speak of a 3-pronged approach to educating the children God has given us: Home – Church – School. All teaching begins with the parents at home and remains their primary responsibility. Again we follow the plain teaching of the Bible where God instructs parents to take His commandments and, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut 6:7). All parents are encouraged to model and teach their children Christian habits from an early age, to explain to them the rich promises of their Father in heaven as well as how He expects them to live day by day.

Church

The church supplements the instruction at home by giving official instruction to the youth of the church. Of course, by way of the preaching every Sunday the young are also taught the gospel. This is especially the case in the afternoon services where the preaching takes on more of a teaching character (see Worship Services ) and is geared more toward the young people. But in addition to this, the teens of the church are given separate classes one evening per week.

We call these sessions, “Catechism Classes.” Catechism is an old word used often in the church which simply means, “instruction.” Students are given six years of Catechism classes. The basic manual used is one of the church’s written confessions, the Heidelberg Catechism. The Heidelberg Catechism is a question-and-answer style of confession that takes the student through all the basic teachings of the Bible. Although this man-made confession is used as a tool, the Bible remains the basis for all teaching and is frequently opened and read in class.

The goal of all this instruction is to build up the understanding and so the faith of the children to the point where they desire to publicly profess their commitment to the Lord. After having learned what God has done for them in Jesus Christ and how He expects them to live, by the grace of God they may accept His promises and dedicate their life to His service. Such a commitment results in the public profession of faith of the student during a worship service – a beautiful moment!

School

We believe that all the education of our children should be from and through a Christian perspective as much as possible. To achieve that goal, as a community of believers in the Niagara region, we have pooled our resources and founded two Canadian Reformed Christian elementary schools (John Calvin School in Smithville; ACRES in Attercliffe) and one high school (Guido de Bres Christian High School in Hamilton). These schools are funded and operated by the parents directly, not by the churches. They are staffed by qualified professionals who are all members of one of the Canadian/American Reformed Churches or a sister church. In this way, the children are educated in a consistently Christian and Reformed way. The children grow to see the world as God has created it and learn to find their place in God’s church-gathering and kingdom work. Learning and growing up with other Christian children goes a long way to keeping them faithful to the Lord their whole life.

Young Christians by God’s Grace Alone

In these three areas we try to apply the basic command of the Lord – teach the children I have given you in my ways (paraphrase). Of course, we have many failings as parents, pastors, elders, teachers and children and as a result we often fall short in our callings. However, by God’s grace and the working of the Holy Spirit, a new generation is trained to walk in the Lord’s ways and so to live to His glory.

 

 
Written by Peter H. Holtvluwer Category: General
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Christ’s command to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) means not only spreading the gospel abroad (see Foreign Mission) but also within our own country, our own communities. This is all the more the case as Canada is home to many immigrants. As Christians, we share in Christ’s anointing. Christ fills us with His Holy Spirit and calls us to be His prophets who confess the Name of Christ to all. Though we may and must do this as individuals, the church also sees fit to organize such domestic mission collectively. Mission work is understood to be the responsibility of the local church which neighbouring sister churches support through prayer, financial giving and personal assistance where feasible. By God's grace and abundant blessing, over the half-century of our existence in Canada, several home mission posts have been established in various parts of the country.

The current mission posts are as follows:

Prince George Mission, BC

The Canadian Reformed Church at Smithers, BC, in cooperation with supporting churches across the country, has been involved with ministry to First Nations in northern BC since 1983. More recently, the focus has broadened to ministry among the citizens of Prince George, regardless of ethnic background. Prince George is a large city in the north, approximately 400 km south-west of Smithers. Rev. Jim Witteveen has been serving as missionary here since 2006. Under the Lord’s blessing, a congregation is forming with weekly worship services and fellowship activities. Visitors are heartily encouraged to attend!

Chinese Mission in the Greater Vancouver Area, BC

The Canadian Reformed Churches at Cloverdale and Langley, BC, are partnered together in the work of urban mission among the Chinese people in the Greater Vancouver area. Many sister churches throughout western Canada also support this endeavour. Rev. Frank Dong began the work in Surrey focussing on the Mandarin-speaking peoples of China and other parts of Asia. Soon the headquarters moved over to Burnaby, a more central location to those visiting the Bible Study group. Before too long, by God’s grace, there was an established fellowship group and since 2004 this group has gone by the name of the Chinese Reformed Church. Mandarin is spoken and sung at the weekly meetings. The adherents of the Chinese Reformed Church also enjoy a close social relationship with each other. Visitors are always welcome!

Streetlight Ministries in Hamilton, ON

Streetlight Ministries is a joint project of the Ancaster Canadian Reformed Church and Fellowship Canadian Reformed Church of Burlington-South. Begun in 1998, it is supported by many sister churches through regular collections. Streetlight Ministries' mission is to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of downtown Hamilton. It is the aim of Streetlight Ministries to use volunteers from the supporting churches to teach others the glad tidings of God 's grace, to be received by faith alone, for the salvation of all those who repent of their sins and believe that Jesus is Lord of all. (Romans 3:21-26). At present this work is coordinated by missionary Rev. Paul Aasman and full-time mission worker, Hilco de Haan. The work has grown to include a regular group of believers, adherents and worshippers who meet together each Sunday for worship and at other times for Bible study and fellowship. The hub of this work is the Ministry Centre, located at 82 Ferguson Ave in downtown Hamilton.

 
Written by Peter H. Holtvluwer Category: General
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Before the Lord Jesus ascended into heaven, He gave His church the charge to proclaim the gospel to the ends of the earth: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20).

From the early years of our establishment in North America (1950), the Canadian Reformed Churches have made efforts to obey this commandment. The Dutch immigrants to Canada naturally took their starting point for foreign mission where their forefathers had begun long before – Brazil and Indonesia. Mission work is understood to be the responsibility of the local church which neighbouring sister churches then support. By God's grace and abundant blessing, over the half-century of our existence in Canada and the US, several foreign mission posts have been established on two continents and numerous churches have been planted.

The current mission posts are as follows:

West Timor, Indonesia – From Smithville, ON

The Canadian Reformed Church at Smithville, ON took the lead in 2003 in calling a missionary to serve on the island of West Timor, Indonesia. Various sister churches in the Niagara region give support for this work. Candidate Edwer Dethan accepted that call and has been working diligently on this island ever since. Based in the area of Kupang and with the help of existing Reformed churches, Rev. Dethan has been planting and overseeing new congregations. Over time the stress has fallen on training indigenous church leaders to serve as elders, deacons and ministers. To that end, a formal Theological Seminary was established by 2006 and continues to thrive. Various updates over the years can be found from the pen of Rev. Dethan here . Rev. Dethan and his wife Femmy also play a major role in helping orphaned children. Mrs. Dethan is chairman of the New Hope Orphanage which takes in street kids and those who, humanly speaking, have no hope to help themselves.

Brazilian Mission - From Surrey, BC

Maranatha Canadian Reformed Church (Surrey) has sent several missionaries over the years to the mission field in Brazil. This work is supported by most of the Canadian Reformed churches in western Canada. Specifically, the field is in the North-East of Brazil, centred around the states of Alagoas and Pernambuco. Several missionaries have laboured in this area since 1972 to the point where a small federation of churches could be established. Presently, Rev. Ken Wieske and Rev. Julius VanSpronsen are working as a team. Because a base of churches has already been established, their work focusses more on training native leaders and specifically deacons, elders and ministers to serve in the churches. As well, the missionaries also answer inquiries from other churches and ministry leaders in Brazil who are keen to know more about the biblical gospel of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, all of which is summarized in the Reformed confessions.

Brazilian Mission - From Hamilton, ON

The Cornerstone Canadian Reformed Church at Hamilton, ON, aided by her neighbouring sister churches, presently has one missionary working in Maceió, Brazil (the North-Eastern part). Rev. Abram de Graaf concentrates his activities in building up the existing church in Maceió toward the day when it may be instituted under indigenous leadership. From time to time he also teaches native Brazilian seminary students in preparation for their work in the churches. This latter work is done in partnership with the missionaries from the church at Surrey, who also work in North-Eastern Brazil. For further information see Igreja Reformada do Brasil.

Papua New Guinea - From Toronto, ON

Bethel Canadian Reformed Church at Toronto, ON, also supported by neighbouring sister churches, has sent one missionary to work in and around the area of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Rev. Henry Versteeg and his wife are serving as missionaries for the second time, having served once before for Bethel church as missionaries in Irian Jaya. There is a house congregation in the village of Ekoro, some 60 km distance from an established church in Port Moresby. Other preaching points have become active in and around the city.

 

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The Bible teaches that the Lord's Day has been set aside for rest and worship. Therefore we worship in the morning and the afternoon. Our worship services are formal. The Bible teaches that a worship service is not merely the meeting of a number of people with one another but above all the meeting between God and his people. Reverence and respect are fitting as we worship in the presence of God. The sermon takes central place in our worship services. The Bible teaches that faith comes from the Holy Spirit and is strengthened by the preaching of God's Word. The Bible also teaches that the preaching of God's Word is meant to give direction for holy living.
The opening of Scripture is therefore central to the worship services.