Summer Newsletter Excerpt
By Pastor of Youth and Family, Ben Wimmers
If you remember back to Tym Berger’s reflection in our 2023 Lent Newsletter, there was a time in which young people were disinterested in what makes the Reformed church distinct in its beliefs, and uncertain on how to bring these teachings into youth groups. In my days as a youth, there was very little in our teaching that was explicitly Reformed. We watched videos of cool youth pastors from the U.S., giving edgy talks on an empty subway or in a dilapidated barn. Christianity was presented in broad strokes that would reach a wide audience of churches. By the time I found myself a part of Youth with A Mission, I wasn’t sure what made me Christian Reformed. As I went through seminary, I figured that was a good time to find out and after countless discussions with my Baptist friends, I was starting to get the idea; it’s grace, all the way down (to quote James K.A. Smith in Letters to a Young Calvinist).
While we cannot change the past, we can make some changes to our present. So, for 8 weeks, Tym and I met with 6 young adults to explore the Belgic Confession. Uncertain of what to expect, we prepared as best we could and prayed that the Spirit would guide our discussion. It quickly became one of my favourite times of the week. We set aside 90 minutes each evening to talk about a section of the Belgic Confession and we easily could have doubled it with the richness of our discussion. As a group, we investigated, we debated, we challenged our pre-existing understandings of faith and salvation. It became clear to our group that the broad strokes of Baptist theology that inform much of popular Christian teachings, songs, and podcast didn’t line up with what the Belgic Confession taught. This was most apparent in our discussion of Article 34: Baptism. The theological foundation of infant baptism stems from human inability to choose God, instead relying on God to choose us through grace! This is different than the widespread message that you are responsible for choosing to follow Jesus out of your own free will. What a great gift we have in our Reformed perspective, to be chosen by God despite our failure to choose him!
Here is what a couple of our young adults have to say about their experience:
I was excited to do this class primarily because I yearned to learn about the foundations of the CRC tradition. Growing up there were few opportunities to dive into historical texts that explain why we believe what we believe – although, I’m not sure a younger me would have appreciated that knowledge yet. I found myself looking forward to Sunday nights when our group would discuss the various topics in the Belgic Confession. It was great to hear everyone’s questions, and I was encouraged by the open conversation we would have. — Maritha
Reading through and studying the Belgic Confession most definitely aided in the further development of my faith, knowledge of the history, and more insight to biblical passages. Ben and Tym were awesome in helping us through this catechism course. — Giovani
What now? There can be more opportunities to explore the creeds, confessions, and contemporary testimonies of the CRC. Maybe your small group wants to dig into the Belgic Confession, or to use the Heidelberg Catechism for family devotions, to see a discussion group like our young adults’ class for the Canons of Dort? If you can imagine a place to engage with these historic documents, then it can happen at Living Hope CRC. And I don’t think you will have too much trouble finding interested teachers and learners.
Do you have a passion for teaching one of the Creeds, Confessions, or Contemporary Testimonies? Let me know, and I would be thrilled to work with you on how we can bring that passion for teaching into our community!