Written by: Erin Knight & Steve Dykstra
Are you looking to serve and learn alongside lifelong urban ministry leaders working out their faith in urban Hamilton?
New Hope, an emerging Christian Reformed Church in East Hamilton, Ontario, is hosting a unique internship for Classis Hamilton and surrounding churches.
“New Hope was born out of a desire to create a worshipping community that’s embedded in its neighbourhood, and enfolds those experiencing poverty,” Steve Dykstra, Pastor of Mission and discipleship, explained. “We’re eager to share what we’ve learned and are appreciative of help along the way.”
At the same time, it’s the church’s hope that this project can meet some of the spiritual needs of its participants.
So what makes this internship so unique?
“In my previous church,” Dykstra says, “we spent a lot of time discussing an article from The Banner entitled, ‘Pew or Canoe’, which talked about ‘the unexpected black hole’ of middle age attendees in churches.”
“Something noticeable happens when the kids leave home and you’re an empty nester,” the author, Gary M. Burge, writes. “You’re about 50 to 60, active in the peak of your career, and you have an entirely new set of questions (more on that later). But the church really doesn’t find you again until you retire or spend some time in the hospital. It’s the 50-something “black hole.” You’re not young, but neither are you elderly, and the natural bridge to the church’s children and youth ministries has disappeared.”
The article points out how many people entering into the empty nest or retirement stage of life are asking questions about the role of church in their life, and how to live out their faith with those in need. “We hope this internship can be an outlet to explore these questions,” Dykstra went on to say. “While this internship is for anyone, the focus on urban ministry makes it a good fit for those with diaconal experience.”
The church hopes to attract participants who:
- (i) desire to learn about church and neighbourhood ministry and worshipping with those experiencing poverty;
- (ii) are willing to commit to serving at and attending New Hope services for 4-8 months.
- (iii) can share what they’ve learned with their home church.
Ideally, as part of the project, participants will create an action plan they can share and apply with their home congregations.
This pilot project is funded through Resonate Global Missions and Classis Hamilton Home Missions, and all project materials will be freely made available to reproduce. Applications are still being accepted and they hope to launch the internships this fall.
“We’re excited about the opportunity for this project to be a model for other churches across North America!” Dykstra exclaimed.