• Missional Cafe – Chicagoland
  • Creating Congregational Cultures of Generosity Learning Community forming
  • Urban Ministry Grants in the RSMA
  • Block Party Trailer Rental
  • Thoughts on Guest Follow-Up from RSMA Visionary Leader Wayne Van Regenmorter
  • Downers Grove Community Church celebrates new ministries.
  • Links You May Find Useful

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10088 Prairie Knoll Ct.
St. John, IN 46373
Mobile: (941) 302-1281

2104 Campbell Street
Valparaiso, IN 46383
Office: (815) 464-9181
Mobile: (765) 237-7678


765 Eastridge Dr. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Mobile: (616) 481-7566








Creating Congregational Cultures of Generosity (CCCG) is an opportunity for any RSMA church to be in an RCA learning community focused on growing a culture of generosity in congregations. In three one-day seminars, pastors and ministry leaders learn to unearth and energize congregational generosity by exploring the significant and necessary steps to creating lasting cultural change.  Interactive segments of CCCG explore theology, the role of adaptive leadership, fiscal transparency, and the importance of donor care. Participants leave with action steps for both laity and clergy to explore and experience generosity.  For more information, click HERE.  If your church is interested in joining this learning community, please contact Chad Schuitema.

Urban Ministry Grants are a way the RSMA can help churches follow the call of God to impact urban areas in our region.  Askings of $4 per member and $2 per Sunday School participant  help fund these ministries that currently focus on multiple Gospel initiatives like tutoring at risk children in elementary schools, a weekly meal to a disadvantaged neighborhood, a start-up leadership program in a multi-culturally diverse and economically challenged area, an a flourishing arts program for under-resourced children.  The upcoming deadline for applying for an Urban Ministry Grant for 2017 is September 9, 2016 and grant guidelines and applications can be found HERE.

We are excited to announce the Missional Cafe coming Saturday, August 20, 2016 from 9am-Noon at Calvary Church!  Mark your calendars for this event and invite leaders from your church and surrounding churches. This event is open to churches and individuals to learn more about discipleship programs and a program on Outreach and Evangelism for your church community.  The Missional Cafe is a gathering of RCA and CRC pastors and church leaders who share a passion to see mission expanded in the local church and throughout the area. The Cafe is coordinated by the Chicagoland Kingdom Enterprise Zone (KEZ), a team of CRC and RCA leaders collaborating together to expand mission in our region.

The Missional Cafe this year will feature: Daryl Cripe and Ron Ovitt.  Daryl will review the topic of Great Commission activity for churches and Ron will talk about an opportunity for Outreach and Evangelism for your church community.  Please RSVP by Wednesday, August 17, 2016 to Earl Vander Wall at  or call 708-429-2200.

A Block Party Trailer is available for your congregation or group can reach out and build relationships with their neighbors and friends.   The trailer is equipped with grills, tables and a gazillion games to turn your average block party into an event the neighbors will never forget!   Interested?  Rental fee is $100. For details contact Rich Schuler.

Urban Ministry Grants are a way the RSMA can help churches follow the call of God to impact urban areas in our region.  Askings of $4 per member and $2 per Sunday School participant  help fund these ministries that currently focus on multiple Gospel initiatives like tutoring at risk children in elementary schools, a weekly meal to a disadvantaged neighborhood, a start-up leadership program in a multi-culturally diverse and economically challenged area, an a flourishing arts program for under-resourced children.  The upcoming deadline for applying for an Urban Ministry Grant for 2017 is September 9, 2016 and grant guidelines and applications can be found HERE.

News from Camp Manitoqua
Renewal. Reprieve. Retreat.  Come to Camp Manitoqua & Retreat Center for your next retreat.  Whether the event is for women, men or youth, we have a variety of day and overnight facilities and programs to accommodate your needs.  From paintball, ropes course, food service and amenities, we can work with your group to build a memorable experience.  Ask about the RCA discount available upon inquiry.  Contact Ken at or 815.469.2319.









We share stories of celebration to glorify God.  We hope these stories inspire and encourage others in our region.  This month’s story comes from Pastor Howard Hoekstra – Downers Grove Community Church, IL

“It is a pleasure and joy for me to share with the Synod the amazing gift God has given me to serve the Downers Grove Community Church.   After serving Calvary Church of Orland Park for 28 years, the Lord opened the door for my wife and me to come and serve Downers Grove.  We have been here just a little over 4 years, and are so thankful for the Lord’s work in this church and community.

There are several activities I would like to mention:

1.  Our Coffee Break Bible Study ministry has proven very successful in bringing women from the community into the church to study God’s Word.  We recently added a “Young Ladies Group.”  Most of the ladies who attend the Bible Study are from the community, and several have connected with our church.

2.  We began a “Community Fun Night” several years ago – an evening where we invite the community to a free evening of fun activities and food.   We have consistently had over 200 people attend the event and have been able to positively connect with our community.  We have had several people visit and become a part of the church because of this event.

3.  We built the “biggest, baddest playland in Downers Grove” on our church property.  Every day, weather permitting, we have community people come by with their children and enjoy the playland.  This year we are adding a handicap swing to bless any children in wheelchairs who never have the opportunity to enjoy a swing.  Our own children “are all over the playland” at each and every gathering.

4.  Our Vacation Bible School has grown from 30 to 65 this year.  We recently hired a part time Children’s Ministry Director, and she has been a tremendous blessing to our church and children, growing our children’s ministry from 5 to 30.

5.  Each week, through our Caring Community Kitchen we serve 60-80 people a great meal.  Most of these people are in need of the good food and fellowship the evening provides.  The meal is just about caring and loving our community.

This Fall we plan to begin a new ministry reaching out into our community – “Empower Ministry” – a ministry that reaches out to people addicted to drugs and alcohol.  This is a tremendous problem in the Western suburbs of Chicago, and we are excited to see how we can bless and encourage people struggling with addictions.  We are also hopeful that many of them will connect with the Lord first, and then become a part of our growing fellowship.

Our goal in the future is to be “a new kind of Community Church,” one that truly touches, blesses and enhances our community.









Effective Church Guest Follow-Up…

One of the things we talked about in the Consistory at Reformed Community Church in Venice, FL, is effective church guest follow-up.  RCC is a small community church but guests show up to attend the worship service almost every week.  We spent some time training the Elders and Deacons on guest follow-up using a resource by Jonathan Howe, who serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources.  There is often a first point of contact at a church, but what is the roadmap for  follow-up?  If the church has no roadmap in place, how are the guests to know what is next for them?  Howe talks about seven ideas for effective church guest follow-up.  So here are his seven ideas which can be used for  an on-boarding process or assimilation plan for new visitors to your church.

  1. “Thank You Email.  This is the simplest form of follow-up.  First-time guest emails can easily be the template for use time and again.  It’s always best, however to personalize the email from week to week.  Always address the guest by name, try to reference the sermon title from the service they attended, and mention any upcoming events they might be interested in.  Your guest thank you email should go out no later than Monday afternoon following a Sunday visit.
  2. Phone Call from Pastor or Staff Member.  If your church collects more information than name and email address, then take your contact to the next level.  A phone call from the pastor for first time guests is almost always welcomed.  If you are in a larger church, these calls might have to be split up between staff members simply due to the volume and ministry level.  For instance, your minister to children or preschool can call guests who had kids in the nursery, the student minister can call guests with kids in the student ministry, etc.  It’s always best to have someone with knowledge of specific ministries contact guests who may express interest in that ministry.  These calls should take place before the next church gathering.  Don’t leave guests waiting for answers to questions they may have.
  3. Church Information.  If you have an address for a guest, consider sending an informational packet and letter from the pastor.  Again, personalize these as much as possible.  The content really depends on your church and what you want to emphasize.  If at all possible, tailor the content in the informational packet to the guest’s interests.  It wouldn’t make sense to send a college-aged newlywed couple information about an upcoming senior adult trip.
  4. Appreciation Gift.  In his book “Fusion”, Nelson Searcy advocates for a small gift card or a book for first time guests.  I absolutely love that idea.  It costs less than you think, and makes a greater impact than you can imagine.  A $5 gift card to a local coffee shop is a great way to say thank you to a guest who visits your church.
  5. Note to Kids.  Churches don’t often send mail to kids, but it is simple to do and makes a big impact on both the kids and the parents.  Purchase or write a quick thank you card to children who visit your church’s student or kids ministry.  This shows that you are investing in all generations of the church and want to help everyone grow in his/her faith regardless of their age.
  6. Invite to a Gospel Conversation.  This might be the most important follow-up of all.  If we’re failing to have gospel conversations with guests, we’re failing at the Great Commission.  We’re called to make disciples, not church members.  Make sure sharing the gospel is central to your church’s guest follow-up plans.
  7. Membership/Discovery Class Invite.  Once you’ve had that gospel conversation, it’s time to discuss next steps.  An invite to a church membership or discovery class is the natural progression.  It allows you to express both information about your church and expectations your church has of members.”

So how does your church follow-up on guests?  Maybe you already do all of these things and more.  So what would you add of your own to this list?  Great hospitality in a church is a sign of health and following up on guests is a great way to make disciples.

— Wayne Van Regenmorter





                            LINKS YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL




Pokemon Go Is A Tool to Reach Your Community – This podcast explores how to use the new game phenomenon, Pokemon Go, as a tool for reaching our communities.

Gil Rendle: Leadership Means Pushing People to Purpose – Gil Rendle has spent four decades working with issues of change and leadership in the United Methodist Church as a pastor and consultant.  As he prepares to retire from his current role, Rendle reflects on his career helping Christian leaders in congregations and denominations.  One of the biggest changes is that he no longer thinks it’s useful to develop basic principles for all congregations to follow, he said. In this cultural moment, leaders don’t take people from Point A to Point B.

Creating a Learning Culture – Most leaders in the church take the simple route of a sermon delivering his or her vision to church members and expecting it to take hold. But that pattern does not take into account the way most adults learn. This article explores what it means to creates a culture in which members receive information rather than actually learn, initiate and innovate. What would it mean to focus our Christian institutions on what we need to learn, rather than what we already know that we are going to share? How much more effective might we be if we think of ourselves first as learners rather than lecturers?

Silo Mentality: Breaking through to Creativity – We have great leaders.  They just don’t work together collaboratively. What we accomplish together is sometimes less impactful than the sum of our individual parts, because we spend precious time and energy protecting individual or departmental turf. This is silo mentality.  What kind of creative breakthroughs could we have if we changed this?

Taking Time from the Day-to-Day to Take the Long View – Most leaders have heard and have benefited from Ron Heifetz’s insistence that leaders need “balcony time,” when they step back from the metaphorical dance floor of their daily obligations to take the long, strategic view.  While leaders intuitively know the truth of what Heifetz says, it can be hard to find the time to climb into the balcony to reflect on an institution’s life and priorities. But, for many leaders, the deeper obstacle to taking time on the balcony is not finding time but feeling permission to do it.

Making the Shift from Consumer Christians to Committed Disciples – Reggie McNeal writes, “You know things must change.  They can change.  Your church and its impact on the community depends on it.  But how do you make the shifts necessary to effectively lead consumers to become cross-shaped disciples?”






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