Tom Trouwborst has pastored Calvary OPC in Schenectady, NY for the past 20 years. Prior to pastoring, he spent 10 years as a CPA. The church in Schenectady is challenged by the fact that the town used to be the hub of GE with 30,000+ employees, and now today a little over 1,000 employees.
This week, we share Tom’s responses to our first 3 questions in the interview….
Question: What is something that you believe and/or do in regards to outreach that has changed over your time in ministry?
I spend more time with people without feeling guilty. Earlier in ministry, I focused and saw pastoral work as preparing for Sunday, theological studies, and official shepherding. Now I am trying to spend more time with and around others, Christian or not. I don’t necessarily try to “accomplish” anything. Without feeling guilty or thinking I need to quickly get back to my study to prepare for Sunday or address some crisis, I am looking to spend time with neighbors, or attend a child’s sporting or school event, living in community as such.
Question: If the OPC and OPC churches want to continue to grow in our effectiveness in reaching the lost-what is the most important thing we need to work on and how or in what way(s) should we be working on it?
We can think small.
God is sovereign, yes, but God also uses means, and this is a both/and issue. The church is that means; we should continue to consider how we can be more self-conscious and deliberate in reaching out as an overall mindset of ministry. How can we be more winsome? How can we not unnecessarily cause others to stumble while presenting the truth of Jesus? What practical steps can we take to help others know about our churches? And instead of a grandiose plan for outreach, we can make sure we do the basics, the little things.
Way back when, my wife and I would chuckle observing how many OPC churches made their church signs parallel to the road rather than perpendicular so that the passerby would likely never see the sign. We can work to fix things like that.
In thinking small, every Sunday, before SS, we pray that God would provide visitors and that we would be able to minister unto them well.
We exert ourselves as a congregation to welcome and get to know visitors, including the children.
We look to connect with the brothers and sisters in our midst each Lord’s Day.
Being self-conscious about the small things adds up.
Question: What is a great idea or practice you learned from someone outside the Reformed world (something you learned in pre-Reformed days that you still do or something you’ve picked up from those outside the Reformed world) Doesn’t have to be you personally, could be church practice.
Just do it. Something. Yes, we can criticize the Baptists or the seeker friendly churches in 1001 ways. I understand. But “mistakes of ambition are almost always better than mistakes of apathy.” Chesterton said something like “anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” So make outreach efforts, however imperfectly.