Okay, why is October 31 an important date for Reformed and Presbyterian churches?  Nope, it’s not because the kids will be out “Trunk or Treating” in our parking lots. On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his “Ninety-five Thesis” on the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral… and the Protestant Reformation had begun.

In case you haven’t done the math yet, 1517 was five-hundred years ago this year. So in the “Reformed” tradition, we’re celebrating, although you probably haven’t seen any helium-filled balloons, or napkins and paper plates with big “500”s emblazoned on them—remember these are Reformed and Christian Reformed churches--and we’re infamous for our lack of exuberant celebration.

But this five-hundredth anniversary is indeed significant and we should be thankful for all of the courageous reformers who risked, and in many cases, lost their lives to bring the true gospel of “grace through faith alone” back to the world. So, as a tribute to our Reformed faith, I thought that it would be fitting for all of us to dedicate the next few months (June–October) to memorization and understanding of some of our basic foundational beliefs and creeds.  
So, let’s see how well you know your Reformed faith.

We’ll start with the easy ones:

  1. Recite John 3:16.
  2. Pray “The Lord’s Prayer” (using the “Reformed” wording).  
  3. Recite from memory Ephesians 2:8-9.
  4. Repeat “The Apostles’ Creed.” (Did you use “catholic church” or “Christian church”?) 
  5. What is The Great Commission? Where is it found? Can you recite it? 

    Now we’ll find out who the true Calvinists are:
  6. Explain Guilt…Grace…Gratitude.  (What’s the CRC version?)  (hint: SSS)
  7. What are the “Five Points of Calvinism?” (You know them by the TULIP acronym.)
  8. Recite the first “Question and Answer” from the Heidelberg Catechism. 
  9. What are the five “solas”?
    (If you’re really good, you can give both the Latin and English versions.)
  10. List the Ten Commandments…in order.  

How’d you do? If you weren’t perfect, don’t worry—you’ve still got four months to memorize them.
But you better get to it, because I’m going to quiz you again on October 31.

Written by Jim De Horn

Vacation Bible School

At Fellowship we love VBS!  We love the excitement that it generates in our church and community.  We love the fun and craziness and chaos that comes along with the week of VBS. It’s totally energizing to walk into church and see the entire sanctuary converted into a fantasy wonderland, to experience the joyful organized chaos of nearly nine hundred fresh-scrubbed little faces in their bright colored tee shirts, to bounce to the rocking beat of songs, to watch the crazy antics of the theme characters, to see pews filled with kiddos, buckets filled with coins, faces filled with cookies, balloons filled with water, classrooms filled with crafts, and hearts…filled with the joy of Jesus.

But the thing that excites us the most about VBS is the potential it provides for bringing our own precious kids into a more intimate relationship with our Lord, and to bring new kids and families to Jesus! VBS provides us with the opportunity to move outside the walls of our church and to reach out to Hudsonville in a big, yet personal and eternal way.

So why is VBS so important to all of us at Fellowship?

  1. VBS is our largest children’s ministry event all year long, and the best opportunity to reach more kids at one time with the life-changing message of Jesus. Even compared to our other children’s programs, Vacation Bible School is our most consistently effective and productive outreach ministry. VBS naturally brings out new kids and families who might otherwise never darken the doors of our church because many kids whose parents would say ‘no’ to church say ‘yes’ to VBS!
  2. VBS shows parents that we really care about their kids, and it allows them to get a great first impression of Fellowship. With new kids come “watching parents.” They’re watching to see how friendly we are, how organized we are, and whether they even realize it or not, how much like Jesus we are. The impression they get of us will probably be based on the way we treat their kids. And if parents know that we love their children, we’ve just built a connection and potentially opened their heart’s door to the gospel.
  3. VBS gives us four days of repetitive influence and gospel exposure! Think about it. The influence that could likely take months of regular church programming to accomplish can be done in just four days! Four days of back-to-back-to-back-to-back Gospel! What a great opportunity for the Holy Spirit to work.
  4. Kids get saved and make life-changing decisions for Christ at VBS!  85% of people “come to Christ” before the age of 13 and hundreds of our own covenant children do so at special events like VBS and “church camp.”

As Operation Arctic explodes into motion this morning, join us all in praising God for bringing all of the hundreds of beautiful little souls under our guidance, and pray that they would see Jesus in dozens of ways this week.

Written by Jim De Horn