Brian Vriesman’s ministry can be summed up in two words: lifelong impact. By doing ministry in one place for 34 years, he left his mark on generations of followers of Jesus.
While numbers don’t tell the whole story, they give one tangible measurement of the impact Brian has made for the Kingdom of God. With Brian as its pastor, Twin Falls Reformed Church grew from 102 households with 380 people to 516 households with 1,959 people. Along the way, he led 56 staff members—whom he treated like family, invested in, and challenged to maximize their effectiveness.
Church and faith impacted Brian’s life from its start. His father, Dick Vriesman, was a pastor of six RCA churches, and his mother, Nel, served alongside her husband as the organist in each church. Dick instilled in Brian a love for God and a heart for people, which ignited his passion to help others. Nel gave Brian a love for music and worship, which led him to join Youth for Christ, where he travelled to different churches as part of a music group. This is also where he met his wife-to-be, Lori.
Brian attended Hope College (where he was a standout basketball player) with the intent of becoming a social worker. One summer as a counselor at Camp Geneva, he felt God calling him into ordained pastoral ministry. He realized that in the church he could maintain long term relationships with those he was trying to reach.
After graduating from WTS in 1979, Brian’s first call was alongside his uncle, George Muyskens, as the associate youth pastor of Peace Reformed Church in Eagan, MN. Together they taught a Bible study called Crossways, which became foundational in Brian’s ministry.
For two years Brian led his Minnesota youth group on mission trips to Idaho called “Operation Spud,” where they helped an RCA church with children’s summer ministry. Another Idaho RCA church took notice and reached out to Brian and Lori. Feeling strongly that God had used the mission trips to prepare them to leave the Midwest, the Vriesmans accepted the call to Idaho. In 1984 Brian moved his young family across several states to become the associate pastor at Twin Falls Reformed Church. There he continued to make an impact on youth and took on increasing responsibilities in preaching, teaching, and church leadership. In 1989 he became the senior pastor of TFRC, a role he would serve in for 29 years until retiring in 2018.
The American church landscape in the 1990s was marked by worship wars, but because of Brian’s leadership, TFRC never had those wars. Brian remained faithful to worship in the Reformed tradition, yet he brought a never-ending stream of creative thought and energy to worship at TFRC, such as team teaching, reading Scripture from the center of the room, promoting community by putting tables in the worship center, and having TFRC write their own book of psalms. As aspects of worship changed, he didn’t want anyone “left behind,” so he always explained the “what and why” of the changes. After adding a contemporary service in 1989, TFRC shifted to one blended worship style in 1996, which continues to be the way they worship.
Brian created 193 sermon series and preached 1,204 sermons. Through all this creative energy, God used him to make a visible impact on the TFRC community. Weekly worship attendance grew from 281 to 810. He baptized 391 infants and 228 adults.
Brian envisioned a church campus that would maximize TFRC’s ministry. During his tenure, the church embarked on four building projects. TFRC moved from a small location downtown to 25+ acres on the outskirts of the city. Brian didn’t know it at the time, but God had placed TFRC in a strategic location. Originally, the new church campus was in the middle of nowhere. Now, it’s in the middle of dramatic community growth. Expansion increased TFRC’s worship capacity as well as its ministry to children, youth, and adults.
Brian loves bringing people to a deeper understanding of the Bible. When he first arrived at TFRC he began teaching Crossways, the two-year Bible study he led with his uncle in Minnesota. He taught it for 34 years, and more than 350 people expanded their knowledge and love for God’s Word.
A study trip to Israel dramatically affected Brian’s teaching, passion for discipleship, and desire to follow Jesus. He longed to bring the Bible to life to his congregation by bringing biblical culture and context to TFRC. He traveled to Israel three more times, and through his influence, 100+ people from TFRC went to Israel to study the land and culture of the Bible.
On his first trip he had gained an appreciation for “standing stones,” which inspire people to ask, “What is that stone for?” (which then leads to a teaching opportunity). Brian established five standing stones on the TFRC campus, and they remain there to this day.
Brian passionately sought to make an impact throughout the world in the name of Jesus. His love for missions was evident before he came to TFRC through his involvement with Youth for Christ, Camp Geneva, and his “Operation Spud” trips. He took TFRC on mission trips to Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, and went with teams to Thailand and Malawi. He helped launch several local non-profits: Magic Valley School of Performing Arts, Mustard Seed Thrift Store, and the Mustard Tree Wellness Clinic. Because of his love for mission, TFRC has 29 partners in mission on five continents and seven countries and gives over $250,000 to missions each year.
Throughout all these amazing accomplishments, Brian’s greatest impact simply comes through who he is: a down to earth, humble guy. His youthful playfulness makes him fun to be around. He goes the extra mile. Brian genuinely loves and cares for everyone he encounters. Above all, Brian is deeply passionate to become more like Jesus. It was an honor for both of us to work with him!
by Rev. Chuck Swoboda (Lead Pastor)
and Lori Ann Lee (Co-Director of Worship)
Twin Falls Reformed Church
AT A GLANCE:
Brian Lee Vriesman
Preacher, vissionary, leader
Married Lori Wolters on June 4, 1977
Children: Nicole, Kim, Brett, Kelly
B.A. Hope College, 1975
M.Div. Western Theological Seminary, 1979
Service to the church:
(1977-78) Youth Intern, Peace Reformed Church; Eagan, MN
(1979-1984) Associate Youth Pastor; Peace Reformed Church; Eagan, MN
(1984-89) Associate Pastor; Twin Falls Reformed Church; Twin Falls, ID
(1989-2018) Lead Pastor; Twin Falls Reformed Church; Twin Falls, ID