One of the fastest-growing churches in the area is Newton Church of the Way. Pastor Steve Heerema is thrilled about his church’s progress ever since he started his mission from God nearly four years ago to start a church in Newton.
“The Church of the Way is a church that started about three and half years ago,” Heerema said. “We are actually a church plant. We’re a church plant of Third Reformed Church out in Pella. This church that we’re at used to be a church called Community Reformed Church. They were kind of a dwindling congregation, their numbers were decreasing, and they were dwindling. So three and half years ago they decided to join the Way and kind of disband as a church.”
That move has benefited both churches in the long run. The previous church was averaging 60-75 people for service on Sunday. Church of the Way averages around 500 every Sunday for their three services in the church that seats 275 people. For Easter Sunday, they had over 700 people come. Heerema preaches all three services.
The Way splits their three services up. The first service is referred to as the Way Classic service while the other two are called Ignite services. Heerema explains the differences.
“Our first service is at 7:45 a.m. and that’s our classical service,” he said. “At 9 and 10 we have our Ignite services. Those are our more modern and contemporary services. The music style is the biggest difference between the two. One is more kind of hymns and keyboard driven. We don’t have the scripture up on the screen or any videos or anything like that going on. At the Ignite services we have a full blown praise team, drums, an electric guitar, we have video up on the screen. It’s a lot more interactive media kind of experience.”
The biggest reason for the growth of the church is the influx of young families. This could be aided by the church’s acceptance of casual dress, their modern web site, Heerema’s blog, and free Zumba classes throughout the week. Heerema talks more about the church’s beliefs.
“We are very biblical,” he said. “But it’s very casual. Our worship style is very casual, but our approach to scripture is very biblical. I preach in blue jeans, it’s a very come as you are place. You don’t have to go out and buy a suit to come to The Way. One of our favorite slogans at The Way is, ‘We will not be enablers of the superficial.’”
Another reason for their growth is they don’t judge people on where their level of divinity is at.
“We just want to encourage people to be real about their walk with Jesus,” he said. “If that means you’re just begging, that’s OK. If that’s means you don’t even really know what you believe about Jesus, that’s OK too. You’re going to hear biblical truths about Christ, we’re not going to pull any punches about that. But for wherever you’re at in your faith walk it’s OK. We are cool with that. You can take time to figure out what you believe to be true. Our scripture that we build off of is John 14:6, ‘Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’”
Heerema has no idea as to how much more his church will grow, but he is relishing it. He left his own successful business and church home in Pella to see this church started. The questions he always throws out to people are: “Do you want to know God? Do you want a relationship with God? And if you do, Jesus is the way.”
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at email@example.com.