Q&A

Have any churches considered switching from a 501(c)(3) status to 508(c)(1)(a)?

September 12, 2016 0 0 comments
Q&A

Does anyone presently use cloud storage for Council documents or have tips/suggestions for an online storage of Council files?

September 12, 2016 0 6 comments
Q&A

I am a clerk of council and need to transfer the credentials of a minister who has since retired and joined another congregation. Is this an actual form or can I simply draft a letter?

September 7, 2016 0 1 comments
Q&A

Do we need to expand our articles of incorporation to reflect our relationship with the CRC and more? 

June 2, 2016 1 2 comments
Discussion Topic

What's the best way to let church volunteers know they're appreciated? If you've been a volunteer, what expression of "thanks" has meant the most to you?

March 28, 2016 0 2 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

You don’t need a reminder that Easter is quickly approaching. But as you’re fine-tuning your plans, I want to offer a few ideas for how you can make sure your work benefits the most people possible. 

February 18, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Here are some of the financial administrative responsibilities connected with managing an overseas ministry that your church should consider (based on experience with my own church).

February 5, 2016 2 4 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The Key Federal Tax Figures displays variables from previous fiscal years to the current fiscal year.

February 3, 2016 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Four years ago, CRCNA communications staff launched "Webinar Wednesdays" as a “no travel required” means for people in the CRC to get training and resources in a series of free, one-hour events...

January 13, 2016 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

I know the church directory is intended to be a resource for members to be able to contact each other. Yet I wonder, is it being used? 

November 16, 2015 2 12 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requires all organizations that serve the public to adopt a Customer Service Policy. Here's a sample policy for churches to consider. 

November 5, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

The Multilingual Gateway on IRS.gov contains federal tax information in Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. You'll find useful forms for personal as well as church tax requirements. 

October 12, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

Organizing and planting a new church requires careful planning and implementation. Keep reading to find practical help on the legal and financial aspects of organizing. 

October 8, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

None of the volunteers drew attention to themselves. So they didn’t get much attention. For this reason, churches need to be alerted. We agreed and gave it a name: Pastor and Ministry Appreciation. 

October 5, 2015 0 0 comments
Blog

Over the next few weeks, The Network wants to join with you in brainstorming simple and thoughtful ways to say “THANKS!” to the leaders in your church. 

October 5, 2015 0 2 comments
Q&A

Our church is in transition and looking to re-establish what it means to be a committee that takes care of the Property and the Finances of the church. What ought this group do?

October 5, 2015 1 1 comments
Blog

Having some defined hours allows a pastor to plan and also allows people to plan. It is respectful of everyone’s need to plan. But exactly how many hours? This requires discernment. 

September 23, 2015 3 2 comments
Discussion Topic

In talking with churches in transition, we have found gaps in the typical ways that we gather church metrics. What new tools can we use to measure church growth, decline, and other changes?

September 22, 2015 1 3 comments
Discussion Topic

It's time for that uncomfortable conversation again: my compensation. I will be pointing to this question, “Is the level of financial support for the minister appropriate and sufficient?" 

September 21, 2015 0 8 comments
Discussion Topic

Many churches are wrestling with the changes that technology brings. One aspect of church life that may be impacted is office hours for Pastors. Has your church struggled to define office hours?

September 16, 2015 0 4 comments
Resource, Article

There's no doubt that church communications can be a difficult career. But as a church communicator, there are some ways you can be more effective in your job.

August 24, 2015 0 0 comments
Q&A

Our church is beginning the transition to implementing background checks. We are running into several snags and would love the input and experience of others.

August 12, 2015 1 7 comments
Resource, Report

The annual Ministers’ Compensation Survey is intended to obtain information on the compensation practices generally followed by churches in Canada and the United States for pastors serving a congregation full-time.

August 11, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

The Church and Minister Profile Forms have been streamlined and are attached for quick download. 

June 22, 2015 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

Churches have a wealth of great content. It’s true. Yet so many churches struggle when it comes to finding the right things to post on social media, websites or other communications avenues.

June 16, 2015 0 0 comments

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  We use Google Docs for co-creating orders of worship and such and other leadership documents are now also being posted there.  Seems easy to invite those who need access to them to go head.  I'm not super techy but there are a lot of youthful folks who are ;)

Peg, you can use your personal account. then invite yourself at your church email to share a folder or document. Then share that folder with the council members. When I upload new agendas for council I always use the copy link option and use my church email to inform all the council members, include the link, as well as the simple instructions about where the agenda is in the council folder. 

The council folder is easy enough to manage the sharing as council members change. The share "circle" at the top of the page can be opened (click advanced after opening) and then remove council members who have retired out and invite council members who are new.

At council meetings, out of 14 attending, we have 2 who prefer to print all the papers and supporting documents. a couple of them print just the agenda, and then follow on their tablets, computer or phone for the supporting documents. But the majority have a tablet or computer, and the church IT volunteer has made the wifi public access strong for the council room so we have not had any problems with connections. The only clicking away on a computer is my typing when minutes are being recorded. everyone else is just scrolling. Hopefully on the agenda and supporting documents, on not on Twitter. :) 

We haven't had the agenda on a projected screen, but that is a wonderful idea. However, we don't have a screen in the council room. Yet. (note to self, contact the tech team.) :)

This continues to be a vexing issue, both on the privacy front and the CRA's continuing insistence that the "Ebay case" doesn't apply to charities (i.e. books and records need to be on servers either "in-house" to the Canadian charity, or inside of Canada -- at a minimum).

This goes right back to some of the discussions we had when PIPEDA was introduced: Technology is galloping ahead way faster than any legislative updates can accommodate.

So, this becomes an issue of balancing risks.  Does a charity make use of technological advancements & efficiencies (e.g. Google Drive/"the Cloud") or continue to rely on its own physical servers in its own bricks and mortar facilities?  There is no definitive answer to this, so it becomes a decision of each church leadership on what it will do.  However, that should be done consciously, with serious consideration.  Some professional legal advice may be in order.

Sorry this is a bit of a "soft" answer, but until some court case comes along to cement things a bit, charity leaders just need to move forward with the usual proper caution.

To use Google Drive for 'an organization', Google is requesting that I sign up (and pay) for a domain name.  Is this what you have had to do as well?  I had assumed that it was a free program.  I've started my own personal Google drive and tested it out, uploading and sharing documents, but do not want my personal one to be the main Google Apps for the church, especially as you mention, Shirley, council members change.

Curious, Geri, do the majority of your meeting attendees then bring their own personal devices to the meeting (laptop, tablet, phone) and use these during the meeting?  We presently email out the full meeting agenda in advance for everyone to review, but then provide hard copies at the meeting so that not everyone is clicking away on a device.  Or do you put the agenda on a projected screen?

Thanks for your responses!   

Peg

Google is great for this.  In fact it is what is used at the denominational offices for conducting the business of Synod each year. Box.net and Dropbox are a couple of the many others.

When you select a cloud service, find out if your documents will be secure both while stored in the cloud (data "at rest") and while you are creating, editing, uploading,etc. (data "in transit").  The service should be providing security (encryption) for both. A second component of security relates to access.  As council members change, someone will have to keep up with changing security and adding and deleting accounts/logins.  Often you can set up "groups" that have access and then just move people in and out of groups. Deleting old accounts is an important component of security. 

You state that keeping the hard copies has become tedious.  I can imagine that is the case, however, keeping a single hard copy of the minutes is a very good idea.  This is for two reasons 1) the format of electronic documents change significantly over time and often are not readable by the newer technology, 2) the storage medium (disks, CDs, flash/ drives) also change and can render the documents useless.

Calvin College provides archival services for all CRC congregations.  When sending in your church's material--Calvin wants it in paper format. You can find details at http://www.calvin.edu/hh/crc_archives.htm.  On this web page there is a file called "Keeping Congregational Records" that has great information about what, why, and how when it comes to record management.

 

 

Last year our council began storing documents on Google Drive. As the Admin Assistant, and the person who assists the chair and pastor with agendas, document collection and putting together the packet for the council agenda, I have found that it goes pretty smoothly. I have asked them not to DELETE ANYTHING, but to trust that the documents will be cleaned out as needed.

So, while it has been a learning process, we are transitioning to having almost all of our council members accessing the agenda and associated documents online during the meeting. It is printed prior to the meeting for one or two of 14 attending members. 

When minutes become part of the approved minutes, I save them as .pdf versions with the note "approved at Council meeting, date", and then the noted chair and clerk and person who took the minutes. These are saved in the Approved Council Minutes folder. (printed version goes into the binder in the vault)

Our council has four year terms, and usually it only takes a couple of meetings for those new to Google Drive to figure out the ins and outs of how it works, and I always let them know I'm available by phone or email.

I also don't assume the whole council knows how to find a specific document or the agenda packet, so when it is ready, i send it as a link in the email, reminding them of the upcoming meeting. 

I hope this was helpful.

 

Hi Amy:

Thanks for your question. There is a form for the transfer of the credentials of a retired minister. It is posted below "Forms" at www.crcna.org/statedclerks. Or you can select the following link:

http://crcna.org/sites/default/files/Ecclesiastical%20Credential%20for%2...

Regards,

Dee Recker

drecker@crcna.org

 

 

Some suggestions:

  • Insurance should be handled the same for all employees based on full-time (30 or more) or part-time (may be two levels 20+ or under 20 typically)
  • Pension is a covered item for a minister of the Word.  Synod has determined this is how we will take care of our ministers in retirement
  • Housing Allowance is often 35-40% of salary
  • Salary is the most variable option.  Check out the Wage Scales sample in a search on The Network.  This sample from a larger church shows a salary range for a US Pastor Coordinator 1 starting at $49,750/min range/yr to a Senior Pastor max range of $108,340/yr.  This is just a sample from a church but gives you some idea of range.
  • The Ministers' Compensation Survey has variances based on 1st quartile, median, 3rd quartile.
  • "Compensation Handbook for Church Staff" by Richard Hammar
  • If you know of some churches that have a similar position, call them.

Hi Sheri: 

Pardon my digging up an old post. We are considering adding a second full-time staff person. The job does not require ordination, but many of our applicants are ordained. Could you tell us where to look for resources on how to compensate them fairly? We are came up with a base salary using the compensation book you mention here, but that no longer seems to apply if we go the ordained route (does it?)). We are also aware of the ministers compensation survey, but are looking more for information about how an ordained person in a different role should by fairly compensated (especially in comparison to the "lead" pastor with things like Insurance, housing, pension and, of course, salary). Thanks!
 

Nope.

 

posted in: Guns at Church

Has anyones views changed on this topic?

posted in: Guns at Church

Hi Michael: 

Here are a couple resources that may be helpful for you: 

The first is a blog (found here) that includes brief background on Bylaws as well as a sample church Bylaws document. 

Second, there was a communication (found here) that came out August 2015 about some revisions to the articles due to issues with same-sex marriage. 

Thanks!

Sheri 

OK, first off I am not an attorney. Second, the rules of Illinois are probably different than those of Michigan.  That being said, I believe that the primary purpose of modeling articles of incorporation became evident when churches began splitting and leaving the denomination during the long national nightmare of the WIO (Women in Office) issue.  The practical question was this:  If half of the congregation votes to leave the CRC and join the XYZ denomination, are they entitled to take the property with them?  Who owns the property?  By designating the relationship as one with the CRC, it helps with that question.  One less piece of agony to work through during what can be an otherwise messier divorce situation.  Read Article 6 D.

Thanks Randy. Last year I had to pull out a copy of the Letter of Call to remind them of their obligation. Some were stunned to see that in writing. It did change the previous decision and a raise was given. We need to keep everyone enlightened about their responsibilities. We take it for granted that everyone understands, but with changing council members it has to be brought to their attention. I am thankful for their understanding when they received the information.

Good to have this conversation.  I have found that you have to be assertive because committees don't always think logically when it comes to the compensation survey.  The survey is from LAST year's salaries and is meant for determining next year's salary.  It's not meant to BE next year's salary, but the finance committee in my church doesn't seem to understand that.  Because they have always used last year's numbers for the present year, I'm a year behind.  If all finance committee's did what mine does, our pastor's salaries would always remain the same.  The other issue is that our Classis had an influx of young new pastor's and the average dropped significantly for last year.  In my two years in my present charge I've actually been presented with a decrease both years.  Go figure!

When I stepped down as Prayer Ministry Director I was overwhelmed by the cards I received. There was the card from the Pastor, my Ministry Leader and then others that shared how the ministry had impacted them. I still have them. Don't let a volunteer step away without telling them how much their ministry and work has meant. Personal stories are really great.

Here is a list that ServiceLink has compiled, with 10 tips for showing church volunteers how much you appreciate them.  Many of these ideas are 'common sense' actions that volunteer leaders will already be aware of and following, but some may spark new ideas.  National Volunteer Week is also a good opportunity to give thanks, during the congregational prayer, for the faithful volunteers who are such a blessing to our congregations.

  1. Know your volunteers - Look for ways to spend some time with them and learn about who they are and about their lives. Where do they work? Who makes up their family? Ask about vacations. What significant dates are important in their lives? Showing you care about them indicates you’re interested in them personally and not just in completing a task.
  2. Ooze with encouragement either verbally or in writing. Tell your volunteers they did a great job. Share with them the impact they are making in your ministry. Send a card or an email. Let them know you’re praying for them.
  3. Care for your volunteers - Caring for your volunteers goes beyond knowing them. What are some of the things that they require in order to do their tasks? How about making sure they have access to workspace, computers and equipment. How about providing snacks for meetings or training events. This helps reduce the formality of meetings and may give people an excuse to come early or stay a bit later to build relationships.
  4. It’s all about Jesus! Every volunteer must see how their ministry connects to the gospel and changed lives – if not they’re only doing a task. So tell them! Tell them how their ministry connects to the mission of your church and the building of God’s Kingdom.
  5. Show them the ropes - You cannot expect volunteers to deliver quality ministry without some intentional training and team building. Provide the necessary resources in order for volunteers to be effective in their roles, as well as transferring attitudes, competencies and knowledge.
  6. Affirm their gifts - Sometimes people’s gifts are so natural to them that they don’t recognize them as such. When we highlight volunteers’ gifts we acknowledge both their gifts and the Giver of gifts, encouraging them to continue using those gifts to bless others.
  7. Respect their time - Volunteers have busy lives outside of ministry responsibilities. They may already be working long hours or need to arrange babysitters for their children. Lack of time is the most common reason people won’t commit to ministry involvement. So be prepared for your meetings, start on time and return calls and emails promptly. By respecting their time, you value them as volunteers.
  8. Keep them in the loop - People want their lives to matter, to know that they are important to the overall mission and vision of your church. So if there are new initiatives in ministry or changes in programs, keep volunteers informed and share the vision so they don’t feel awkward when other members may inquire of them.
  9. Cover their costs - Investing in a volunteer’s personal growth is a high level of appreciation. Is there a conference that would enhance their gifts and take them to a new level of responsibility? Invite them to participate in growth opportunities and cover their expenses.
  10. Say thanks! Just as you were taught from early on, saying please and thank you is good manners. Say “thank you” often and mean it.

 

Amen Fred! We are out to change our culture, not only follow rules. Safe Church is about creating a truly safe environment for all people, including those who may have experienced abuse, so that all of us together can worship, grow, and become all that we are created to be. It's a mindset that sees safe church as a critical part of building Christian communities that reflect our Lord, communities where his love and justice reign. 

i've enjoyed reading the 'loaded/important' questions, and the wonderful responses. In addition to the comments already made, i assume you are in the US Kory, based on some of your questions, and i have no knowledge of US laws and insurance as it relates ...

As a starting point for a safe church, i often refer to the safe church 'stuff' very much the same as the Occupational Health and Safety Act here in Ontario. As a factory owner, our staff is engaged in constant education, as we try to create a mindset of safety in the workplace. Our safe church team at church is also trying to create a mindset of a safe environment for our vulnerable members and our volunteers. Of course we have policies, vulnerable sector checks, procedures, annual mandatory training, etc. etc.  but through all this, it is a mindset that we all want to create in our volunteers. By creating a mindset of safety, the policies, procedures are less of an issue, and Love can then prevail much easier.

Thanks Larry for posting your comments and emphasizing some Canadian nuances that may prohibit a Canadian church to directly manage an overseas ministry.  All churches should consult their registration documents and ensure compliance with government requirements in terms of both soliciting charitable donations and disbursing monies.  Church partnerships with our denomination's overseas mission agencies is an excellent way to avoid some of these administrative / legal headaches.

Jeff: Thanks for this post.

There are some nuances for Canada that should be highlighted to provide insight into the different context of doing charity work in Canada. The terms "charitable objects" and "direction and control" are key to understanding the regulatory environment for Canadian charities.

Churches are registered charities in Canada meaning that the government has given them the ability to issue receipts for gifts given in support of the churches charitable objects. This is a legal privilege for a charity not a right. In Canada registered charities can only give to other registered charities. The intention of this regulation is that a Charity support only the things that that align with it's "charitable objects".

The founding documents of a church contain the purpose or "charitable objects" of the organization. These documents are called either letters patent or letters of incorporation. For Canadian charities their operations are limited to the items listed in their "objects". Most churches in the CRC denomination have very broad objects: "preaching the word', "benevolence", "support for Christian education" and "support of the ministry of the CRC denomination".

These objects are general in scope but intentionally do not include direct overseas ministry. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has always had a more stringent set of regulations for organizations that send money outside of Canada verses those that do work within Canada's borders. In this way CRA has developed a differentiated regulatory context for domestic and international charity work. (This distinction is beginning to blur as CRA moves toward a more stringent regulatory environment for all charities.)

If a Canadian church wants to engage directly in overseas ministry they should consult their founding documents to ensure that they are able to do so in a direct way. In most cases founding documents will be silent on overseas ministry. For this reason (among others) the CRC denomination has agencies i.e. World Missions, Back to God and World Renew that do ministry overseas.  The best practice for any CRC church is to coordinate their desire to work overseas with the appropriate denominational agency in order to remain in compliance with CRA regulations.

A church must also ensure that any money it disburses to another charity will support it's own charitable objects. This is where the principle of "direction and control" comes into play. A charity must be able to demonstrate it's direction and control over the money it gives away. (i.e. that it's money is being used for it's charitable objects or purposes.) In essence the "giver" must be telling the "receiver" how the giver's money should be spent. It is incumbent on the giver to also ensure that the receiver is using the money for the intended purpose so that the giver's charitable objects are being fulfilled. In other words a charity must "direct" funds to it's the charitable objects and ensure that "controls" are in place to verify that the giver's money is actually spent on the charitable object. (direction and control). 

This Canadian regulatory environment is what makes doing charity work outside Canada much more complicated. By the way this stringent regulatory environment (direction and control) includes money Canadians might direct to ministry in the USA as well as anywhere else on the Globe.

 

Thanks Bill for your comments and especially for your church's generous support of these various missionaries.

Our congregation helps to support two missionary and three missionary families and we personally know them all. I can't think of a better way of doing it.

Thanks for sharing! It's very important to consider what makes sense and is most helpful in your particular context. It's a nice bonus that your half of classis also puts out a directory. 

We are blessed with different methods of connecting.  Within our our faith community directly there is a printed list of all members and adherents within their districts.  This list / booklet also includes ministry contact info etc. but does not have any advertising.

In addition the area churches in our half of Classis (approximately 15 groups including a non CRC but Reformed community and a Christian Retirement Home) also distributes the lists of members and adherents of those churches.  So we are connected to the churches around us as well.

In our particular context (large numbers of elderly in a semi-rural town) the online component is not yet a priority as many members do not have computer or internet connections that would warrant this level of connecting.

Sounds like some great ideas for other churches and a very sustainable directory! Thanks for sharing, Justin. 

We are in the process of redoing our directory after a multi-year hiatus. It was a big job getting everybody's information current again. This time around everything went into an online database. 

Now that it's there we can run a report that outputs the directory in the format for our print directory without all the work of updating a word document or whatever was used before. Plus we can quickly run reports on Profession of Faith aged, teens, singles, widows, etc. Even made these great family reports for house visits.

Also we have it linked to office365, mailchimp, etc. through the api so it's change once and update everywhere. So much better!

Also it's free, so dutch friendly :)

 

There was a question in the December Banner regarding the calling of Pastors.

A long established process in business  is Job Posting. The above basically does that via the forms that have been developed for the "Looking for a job" and a form for  "Looking for a person". The key ingredient is a facilitator. The Pastor Church relations folks could be that group. Confidentiality will be the major issue.

Maybe  you could share your program with Henry De Moor and he can tweak it to meet church polity!

Eva - thanks for the timely and helpful comment. I'm finding via responses that these church directories are still an incredibly useful and valuable tool. I can see it being a bit of work to maintain both printed and online versions. Looking forward to hear the progression of how your church decides to best transition! 

Thanks, Bill! Agreed that it is very important to keep spam out of any sort of online directory. 

What timing to see this posted on The Network. We just finished updating our directory, and have it available to our members in both printed and online versions. We also have a picture directory online, but it needs serious updating. Our congregation is a good size, so they appreciate having a photo to help identify who is who, especially as the young couples marry and have their own children. But keeping track of two versions is a lot of work. I anticipate that within ten years time, we will only have the online version. 

But to see it obsolete? No. Now that phone books are no longer being produced, this is one of the main ways of keeping in touch with each other. People eagerly look forward to their updated copy each fall.

Unless a phone directory is restricted to members, they will be suckers for every sort of advertising and political campaign . . . every sort of nut.

Thanks, Bert! Glad to hear it is such a helpful resource. 

Thanks, Jim! Interesting that your church is using both - nice way to be inclusive. Do they plan to continue with both or only the Instant Church Directory?

My Church Membership in in the First Christian Reformed Church of Sarnia, Ontario. In our city, we have three congregations of our Denomination and every other year, we publish an updated Church Directory of the three congregations, with the new directory to be published in 2016. I'm a bit puzzled that there would be even a discussion about church directories, if it would be a thing of the past. Absolutely not!!

In our home, we use our church directory almost daily and when there are changes, we update our directory. As far as we are concerned, church directories is a very practical publication and very helpful for the majority of our church members.

We have a printed directory, but last year also starting using an online directory, Instant Church Directory.  It runs on smart phones, tablets, and laptop and desktop computers.  Many find it very helpful to look up names and faces, make phone calls, or get directions to members houses.

 

Jim - Ann Arbor CRC

If you look under Church Admin & Finance, Ministry Organization and look at the resources, you will find a sample mandate for an Administration Team.  The Finance Team is a subset of this team that meets when needed for budget and stewardship related matters. 

The Building and Grounds Team is also a subset of this team in this model and usually meets monthly, often working on projects for part or all of their scheduled time.  A member of the Administration Team serves on the Finance Team (a sample mandate also on the site under Finance resources) and a member serves on the Building and Grounds Team in addition to a member serving on the Personnel Team in this model. The Administration Team is a subset of Council so you have a council connect for both of your teams.

When it's pastor appreciation week, I look forward to encouraging not only the pastor but his family as well.  So often we forget about the sacrifices the family is making by allowing their dad/husband to serve us.  It's a great time to say thank you!

Thanks for this post Staci and drawing attention to recognizing and thanking those involved in various ministry capacities. This is an area that often gets overlooked in churches - or where there's maybe only one day when some recognition is given. ServiceLink has a document posted on their website with 10 Tips for Recognizing volunteers which provides ideas for showing thankfulness outside the giving of gifts. We have other ideas as well, but thought to share this one for now. I look forward to hearing other people's ideas.

Todd, it is definitely a thing. I finally remembered where it comes from. The letter of call.

"We also promise and oblige ourselves to review with you annually in the light of the synodical Ministers’  Compensation Guidelines the adequacy of this compensation prior to the adoption of the church budget."

Boom! ;)

 

Is it possible to divorce "health" from "paying the bills?" 

If you want to compare the health of churches and you only use Yearbook data, you will be greatly disappointed in the accuracy of the data to do such a comparison. It is pretty difficult to agree to new metrics which will be used and measured the very same for all the churches. 

A discussion of the health of churches will be beneficial. I hope that many will contribute.

 

Pastor Cecil,

Thank you for prescribing spiritual discernment regarding this issue.  It can be a tricky one!  For some reason, some people seem to equate office hours with the number of hours the pastor actually works, not realizing that often he/she does his/her best work away from the "office."  But I agree, balance is needed.  One thing I've done recently with council approval is to spend some of my "office hours" at the local Tim Horton's.  So, I spend most Tuesday afternoons there, so I call it "Timmy Tuesday."  I've found that more people (church and community) are willing to visit me at the local Timmy's than drop by the church "office."  I would encourage other pastors to try it!
--Leon

 

 

 

Cecil,

Good advice! One of the distinct observations I made in transitioning from the parish ministry to chaplaincy was that I suddenly felt less stressed. In analyzing why, I observed that it probably related to suddenly having boundaries I had failed to create for myself in the parish. I suddenly had working hours and non-working hours (not to mention a more defined list of responsibilities). I had weekends that I was committed to preach or be on-call and weekends that I felt fairly free. I was struck by how much healthier this was. My advice to pastors since that time is to give yourself permission to communicate to your congregation (over and over, if necessary) that you have and need boundaries and schedules. Know that it is ok to focus on what you are good at and delegate other things that are not your forte. Commit to sermon prep time, visiting time, administrative time, etc. and time to be "off the clock" (Sabbath). You will be healthier, your work will be more focused, and your congregation will come to appreciate you as a well organized professional.

Larry -

As for your retirement pension.  Good advice to save more.  I certainly don't see the current CRC pension plan being sufficient in coming decades.  I would like to see us move away from a defined benefit pension towards a defined contribution pension system (Like the RCA) to encourage pastors to know more about our own (and our church's) financial matters.

May you continue to experience God's provision in this new phase of life.

As for the annual conversation about finances.  I've never had it with either of my congregations.  I didn't know it was a thing.  When needed I've broached the topic and we've discussed it well, but I think this would be a good thing to implement here.  If I had it to do over again, I would negotiate an annual cost of living increase as part of my call.  Something to the effect, "Ordinarily the pastor will receive an annual cost of living increase to his total salary (cash and housing).  When mutually agreed upon that annual increase may be suspended for up to one year or increased as God leads." 

That language helps when there is a significant turnover in council during a pastor's tenure.

//

 

 

Randy 

Thanks for writing about this.  Being retired it does not affect me in the same way except to say that my 1600 /mo pension is considerably less than fellow Christian school teachers, RCA pastors,and the members of my church employed at Ibm, Savemart, and gov. Employees.

 

 

 

Should not local salary be based mostly on local cost of living?

My meeting went quite well, by the way. The expectations in my post reflect what I have often felt, but I was heard and understood in this meeting, and while some measures were below what I expected, others were above the classical average, and I was satisfied that we were at the right place. The important thing for me is that there was some communication, and the respect and understanding that comes from that communication. Also, when I wrote this post rather quickly, I did not specify that what the finance committee thinks is actually my fear or my past perception of what they think, which thankfully did not turn out to be the case... so, if there's a way to edit that, I would like to do that.

Thanks, Randy. Quite frankly, I am much relieved not to have that annual conversation any more. In my second to last year of pastoring full-time (and more?), there was no conversation, in fact. Rather the Chair of Finance made a an off-hand comment to me on the way out of another meeting that support staff would be getting a 1% raise, but the pastor none. Budget contributions were down at that point in the year, blah, blah, blah. I was so stunned I couldn't even think bad words.

So, come January when expenses were all paid, turned out there was a $20K (OK, it was Canadian $$) surplus. Whoops, too late to reconsider; the budget was already approved for that year.The $20K went to pay down the mortgage. (Btw, how and why a 30+ year-old congregation still had a large mortgage on its original building always escaped me and most folks simply didn't seem concerned, despite the interest charges accruing.) Not conducive to feeling good about Council. And they didn't get it when I brought up the issue civilly; uncivilly would have been worse, I'm sure.

The next year, a new Personnel and Finance Committee had taken over and a new climate was clearly evident. They were stunned, embarrassed when at "the meeting" I said there'd been no meeting the year before, no raise, no consideration of compensation guidelines. That was corrected and I thanked them.

Still, it makes for unpleasant memories plus temptations to cynicism. So, more power to you. You are NOT alone.

A great question! As a CRWM missionary currently on home service in the U.S. visiting 21 different churches across six states over the course of a short six months, we get a quick church-health snapshot of a lot of different congregations. In some places the decline is obvious and disheartening. In other places there are refreshing signs of renewal and growth.

Half of our work in Mexico is with Multiplication Network Ministries (www.multiplicationnetwork.org/) whose motto is "More Churches, Stronger Churches." This ministry, in fact, was founded by several members of the CRC and others (their global office is housed in Emmanuel CRC in Sauk Village, IL).

One of the tools we use in Mexico from this ministry is called "Take Your Church's Pulse." It is available in PDF format from the website and it can also be administered by means of an online survey. The heart of the tool is a questionnaire with seven questions in each of ten vital areas and ministries for every church (Vision, Leadership, Church Body Using Gifts, Resources, Context, Proclamation, Discipleship, Service, Fellowship and Worship). The point is not to "grade" a given church, but rather to promote healthy conversations about the church's life and ministry at this point in time.

Rev. Ben Meyer

CRWM Guadalajara, Mexico

bmeyer@crcna.org

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