Looking at local churches: LaGrave CRC

When trying to juggle academics, part-time jobs, clubs and a social life, sometimes a formal liturgical worship service is a much-needed respite from life’s chaos. For Calvin junior Jenna Dyksen, LaGrave Christian Reformed Church has proven to be a source of solid doctrinal teaching and reverential worship during her past three years in Grand Rapids.

Many Calvin students make the weekly 15 minute trip downtown to attend LaGrave on Sunday mornings. Thankfully, LaGrave makes transportation easy with a bus that comes for students. In addition to weekly pick-ups, Dyksen said that LaGrave welcomes college students by “having a Bible study for them on Wednesday nights and a Sunday lunch for students every other week after lunch.”

Many of the students appreciate the traditional setting of LaGrave’s worship services. Dyksen said that the building “has a steeple and on the inside it has wooden benches, a long aisle to the front of the church and stained glass windows throughout. It also has an amazing organ!” The organ at LaGrave is often put to good use. Worship is traditional, with choir-led congregational singing and songs sung out of hymnals. According to the church website, “LaGrave stands in the Reformed tradition of worship. This means that our services are filled with a sense of reverence and awe, because God is sovereign and holy […] Our worship is God-centered. You will notice that our liturgy follows a dialogue pattern: God speaks to us and we respond.”

LaGrave’s emphasis on reverence is evident in many aspects of the worship there, including congregational attire; Dyksen explained that “everyone dresses very formally.” In addition, sermons are structured, providing for easy comprehension. Dyksen also said that she found the sermons “insightful,” and that LaGrave demonstrated “dedication to excellent preaching.”

Each week, the sermon is preached to a congregation of roughly 1,800 members. The congregation is composed of a variety of age groups, and includes a particularly large group of young couples and kids. “The first time you worship with the congregation, it can seem a bit impersonal because of how big the congregation is,” said Dyksen, “But people are very kind once you get to know them.”

Although its large size can make meeting people a bit more difficult, LaGrave’s large congregation is also beneficial. Dyksen said, “Being a large church, there seems to be a ministry for any type of outreach you can think of.” The church offers a wide variety of ministries, including Bible studies, book clubs, small groups, prison ministry and various youth ministries. “Being right in downtown Grand Rapids, LaGrave does make an extra effort to be a place of outreach for the city with its homeless programs and food ministries,” said Dyksen.

With its consistent, reverent worship, dedication to sound doctrine and emphasis on outreach ministries, LaGrave offers numerous opportunities for Calvin students. It can also serve as a foundation of stability amidst the storms of college life. All things considered, Dyksen said she would “highly recommend” LaGrave to other Calvin students.