Looking at local churches: Millbrook CRC


Photo by Carrie Scott

Millbrook Christian Reformed Church is a Grand Rapids church characterized by fellowship, outreach and the desire for intentional diversity. The church has recently adopted a new mission statement: “Led by Christ to gather a diverse community unified in grace, love and hope.” As it undergoes a renewal process through Calvin Seminary, the church has been transforming and actively seeking God’s will for their community, especially during this divisive time in the United States.

Calvin biology professor Dr. David Koetje has been attending Millbrook CRC for ten years, and has served in numerous ways including on church council, as a refugee mentor, as coordinator of the mobile food pantry and as community garden coordinator. Koetje says that Millbrook CRC welcomes college students by inviting students “to lunches after the worship service and involving them in worship, discipleship and youth ministries.” These youth ministries often involve students from New Branches Charter Academy, located next door. In addition, many college students are involved in the church’s renewal process.

Millbrook also emphasizes community outreach, prayer ministries, fellowship and diaconal ministries, including a mobile food pantry and refugee support. These ministries reinforce what is practiced at the weekly worship services, which occur at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. There are also intimate worship services at 5 p.m. once a month. Sunday morning worship incorporates both new and familiar songs from a variety of musical genres. According to the church website, expressions of worship are intended to “reorient our focus upward and outward.”

Weekly sermons are crafted with the intention of transforming lives and building faith. Koetje describes them as focusing “on biblical truths than should mark our spiritual walk,” and also added that they are consistently “challenging.” He also describes pastors Wayne Coleman and Will Hensen as “very enthusiastic about what God is doing in our midst.”

Church leadership is especially dedicated to learning about the best ways to serve a diverse, God-fearing community. During the church’s renewal process, Koetje said, the congregation has been “shrinking and diversifying.” As the congregation continues to transform and develop, Millbrook’s leadership has been receiving mentoring from leaders at Madison Church. Koetje said he expects this to be a beneficial relationship because “evangelism and discipleship are key focal points for growth,” and it is important to pursue them “in ways that build authentic relationships with people from different walks of life through which the Spirit can inspire and transform lives.”

As Millbrook CRC struggles with responding to the election in a way that unites, heals and promotes empathy, it is continuing to learn, grow and experience renewal. As Koetje said, Millbrook CRC is a good place for members of the Calvin community to invest in; “the church is ripe for a rebirth.”