THE CENTER FOR CHURCH RENEWAL STORY
CCR began at Calvin Seminary (Grand Rapids, MI) as the Church Renewal Lab in 2013. The Lab brought together cohorts of congregations for a two-year renewal journey for the purpose of becoming intentional missional congregations that make more and better disciples who transform lives and communities for Christ. After a multi-year pilot project involving 80 churches from five regions it became clear that additional tools would be necessary to help churches and leaders invest in renewal.
Today the CCR continues to offer our flagship Church Renewal Lab but we also provide various assessment tools, several types of coaching, multiple training events and conferences along with additional renewal resources. Our tools and training are focused on renewal leaders believing that “as leaders go…so goes the church.”
The CCR recently found a home with Multiply 222 Network of Sunlight Community Church in Port St. Lucie, Florida. We also affiliate with the Vibrant Congregations which is a renewal-focused collaboration between the Christian Reformed Church in North America and the Reformed Church in America. We are also partnering with Calvin Seminary on an annual renewal conference and with Western Theological Seminary (Holland, MI) in a Doctor of Ministry Degree focused on church renewal.
The Center for Church Renewal launched in the Spring of 2013 as the Church Renewal Lab under the direction of the Institute for Global Church Planting and Renewal at Calvin Theological Seminary. The Renewal Lab was designed as a two-year renewal journey for the purpose of developing intentional missional congregations that make more and better disciples who transform lives and communities for Christ. The CRL’s tag line is “Change the Atmosphere…Journey to Mission.” Participating congregations journey in cohorts of 5-10 churches gathering quarterly for learning labs. During the two-year process the CRL provides training, coaching, quarterly assignments, peer learning and accountability.
In the past five years nearly 100 congregations from four regions (Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, Northern Alberta and the Pacific Northwest) have participated in the CRL with promising results demonstrated by dozens of congregations who have experienced renewed hope, fresh vision and greater capacity for outreach and discipleship. Approximately a third have become turn-around congregations and two-thirds are welcoming into membership individuals who joined as a result of intentional evangelism.
As the vision for renewal continued to expand, CTS encouraged the Lab to seek new partners possessing greater passion and capacity for church revitalization. That encouragement led to a partnership with Sunlight Community Church in Port St. Lucie, Florida and their Multiply 222 Network. Sunlight is a true turn-around church focused on Gospel-telling and disciple-making. Additionally, the Lab is partnering with a recently begun Vibrant Congregations. Vibrant Congregations was born out of a shared vision for church renewal imagined by the joint 2018 synods of the CRCNA and RCA.
An important highlight in the Church Renewal Lab’s story is that the CRL’s board of directors recently expanded the Lab’s vision for church renewal including several additional renewal tools: renewal conferences, renewal coaching, renewal skills training, renewal networks, renewal interim pastors, renewal leadership development, renewal resources, a renewal legacy project and renewal assessment tools. Along with this expanded vision came a new name, The Church Renewal Lab will remain the flagship project of the CCR.
Several of the expanded investments of the Center for Church Renewal are already under development. For example, recently the CCR developed a Renewal Legacy Project to help churches close well by investing in church planting and revitalization. Additionally, the CCR has been involved in long term coaching with individual congregations and key leaders throughout North America. The CCR also provides an annual “More and Better” conference and is conducting training seminars for classes, conferences and congregations. This is simply to highlight that the CCR’s reach is relatively broad given the youthfulness of the project. Opportunities to serve are growing daily.
Growing Each Year!
"Taking the Church Renewal Lab journey was one of the best decisions our church has ever made. It helped us to refine and focus our missional efforts. In the last two years we have enfolded 16 new members through evangelism—more than the last three decades combined—and the number of new believers is growing each year."
A Large Impact!
"The Church Renewal Lab has had a large impact on my ministry and leadership in the church. Through it I received great training in leadership, along with materials and connections to continue that education. Even more importantly, my time in the Renewal Lab confirmed basic ministry passions in my own heart. These passions for discipleship and gospel-centered preaching have given clarity of direction in my ministry, and have filtered down into the communities I've served in."
Exactly what we needed
Beckwith Hills CRC,
Grand Rapids MI