Two, four, six, eight—who do we appreciate?

After decades at the back of my brain, that cheer came to mind the other day. I was thinking about Inspire 2017 and our hope that two, four, six, or even eight members from every Christian Reformed congregation will attend.

Inspire 2017, set for August 3-5, is a new kind of event geared toward equipping, encouraging, and inspiring the people of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. There are dozens of reasons to attend: to learn about leadership in the church, to gain new skills for making disciples, to gather ideas about how to lead worship that includes everyone, and more.

But it’s not just about learning. Inspire 2017 is also about experiencing—and being inspired.

It would be interesting to poll everyone in the CRC and discover what percentage of members from each generation attended a church-related conference as a young person. Over the years, the names of events have changed. About a hundred years ago, there was the Federation of Reformed Young Men’s Societies, and then along came a parallel Federation of Young Women’s Societies.

For my generation, the big event was the Young Calvinist Federation Convention. I have great memories of attending a convention in Bellingham, Wash., and coming back with new friends from across Canada and the U.S. Today Youth Unlimited builds many such gatherings around service projects, and bringing young people together in auditoriums and assembly halls to worship together remains a key component of these events. Other CRC groups such as the All Ontario Youth Convention and ReActivate also plan annual gatherings for youth.

Isn’t it odd that in our denomination we have tended to limit such gatherings to the young? With the exception of events designed around specific slices of church life—such as GEMS conferences for the leaders of girls’ clubs, Coffee Break conventions for women, synod for the business and administration of the church—the opportunities to gather and experience the breadth of our denomination have mainly been designed for young people.

That’s changing this summer. At Inspire 2017, CRC members of all ages, from every part of North America, will descend on Detroit, Mich., for three days of learning, worship, fellowship, and inspiration. For many it will be a manageable drive. One analysis found that more than 25 percent of CRC members—from Holland, Mich., to Hamilton, Ont.—live within a three-hour drive of Detroit. For others, attending will involve a flight into Detroit Metropolitan Airport. No matter how you get there, it will be worth the trip!

Keynote speakers such as authors Ann Voskamp and Richard Mouw are magnets pulling many people to attend. For others, it is the chance to learn new ideas and techniques about a wide range of topics during breakout sessions and workshops. For all, it will be an opportunity to connect with others—people like you—involved in local church ministry, sharing ideas, and worshiping together.

Back to the math and to my cheer. Our denomination has a few more than 1,000 congregations. If some churches send two, others four, and still others six to eight, imagine the energy from the group that will assemble! Don’t wait. Register now at crcna.org/Inspire2017 and join me in the cheer. Who do we appreciate? Our great God, whom we serve in and through the CRCNA!

About the Author

Steven Timmermans is executive director of the Christian Reformed Church in North America.