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Does your job description pinpoint the critical elements of successful job performance? Does the wording clearly communicate the desired outcome of the work?
September 9, 2014 0 2 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines
Tips for creating well written job descriptions.
September 9, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource
A list of several active verbs to use in job descriptions.
September 9, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template
An outline form for creating an organized job description.
September 9, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

The following link directs you to Buiten Insurance website.  This website provides you with Insurance products from Business Insurance to Individual Insurance.  Click the link to find out more information. 

August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Brochure or Pamphlet
The Christian Reformed Church in North America has partnered with Buiten & Associates, LLC to create a National Insurance Program available to all CRC members in the United States. The purpose of this nationally endorsed relationship is to provide excellent property and liability insurance coverage with significant premium discounts for its members.
August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
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For more information about Church Protection Plus, please click on the following link for a quote.

August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

Do you want to know more about Insurance Coverage for your church?  Church Protection Plus more than "inside and out" coverage.  Click the following link to learn more about Canada Insurance Coverage. 

August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The following document explains the policy regarding Spouse Travel.  Learn how to disclose financial material related to the travel purpose and who is eligible to accommodate you for business travel purposes.

August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The value of supporting documentation for financial transactions can be measured by the degree of objectivity with which such documentation was compiled.  For example, auditors rely on bank statements to confirm the accuracy bank holdings.  The following document show some definitions and a list...

August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines
The purpose of this policy is to give some guidelines for use of spending Petty Cash funds, to assist the church secretary to monitor its use, to provide consistency in the use of Petty Cash for personal expenditures, and to provide a process to assure accountability of Petty Cash use.
August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

This Payment Request Form is an excel spreadsheet that simplifies requests.  We are providing a form that includes description, account, amount, and additional information that describe the business nature of the request.

August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The purpose of this Expenditure Policy is to provide guidelines of how church funds are obligated and spent, to define accountability for spending church funds, and to develop a procedure for expenditure authorization and processing payments.  Learn more about the procedures and statements...

August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The purpose of this Policy is to provide access to efficient and alternative means of payment for approved expenses, and to improve efficiency and reduce costs of payables processing.  Learn more about the procedure of this the Credit Card Policy.

August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
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The purpose of the Benevolence Fund Policy is to provide financial assistance to both church members and members of the community who are experiencing difficulties meeting essential life needs such as: food, shelter, clothing, health care or other financial needs.  Click the document to learn...

August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
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The Children's Ministry Volunteer Packet equips the volunteer with a better understanding of what is required of the ministry and what God teaches through His Word regarding children.  Learn more about qualities, characteristics, and teachings that guide the volunteer through the Children's ...

August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Lesson or Study
The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it. - Psalm 24:1. Christian stewardship begins with a solid understanding that the property we call our own is not ours at all, but God’s.
August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Procedure

The following document is an overview of Consecration Sunday.  This includes information about its philosophy, goals, plans, time-frame, and more.  Learn what must be done during the time-frame and what each committee member must do.

August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

This Consecration Sunday Memo informs the Council of the plans for Consecration Sunday.  The plan presented to the council includes four goals for Consecration Sunday.  Learn more about what these four goals are and what is disclosed within the Memo.

August 19, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

The Barnabas foundation approaches their work with Stewardship and God's love.  The Barnabas foundation provides you with information, support, and materials for participating churches.  Learn about Benefits and Services, Testimonials, Church Conferences and Events, and more!

August 19, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines
This policy gives some guidelines as to how gifts of stock should be handled, and what processes to follow to protect the donor and your church.
August 19, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Chart
Have you ever thought about how you could give more to your church? There is a way to give more with the financial assets you already have.
August 19, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Mandate
The goal of Planned Giving is to encourage and assist members and friends of your Church to make planned gifts. These gifts will advance the mission and purpose of your Church ministries.
August 19, 2014 0 0 comments
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The Offering Procedures give detailed instructions as to what, who, and where the offering should go.  Learn more about who takes the collection during each service, where the offering should be placed after each service, and where the offering should be placed and its final destination.

August 19, 2014 0 0 comments
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If you would like to make a donation online, through phone, or by mail, please click the following link for more information. 

August 19, 2014 0 0 comments

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Thanks, Sheri, for this information!  In my role of supporting church staff members, I have a number of sample job descriptions that I would be happy to pass along to anyone who would like to see them.  I can be contacted at jkallemeyn@crcna.org 

Jeanne Kallemeyn, Pastor-Church Relations, CRCNA

Thank you Sheri for these practical helps. They are exceptionally helpful. Administration is a spiritual gift (cf. the interesting Greek word "cybernesis," I Cor. 12:28) that often goes overlooked, but not by those who know that a good administrator can be the glue that holds a church's ministry together.

This is a fantastic presentation. I sat in on a similar presentation by Jerod a couple of years ago, and I'm a big fan of Church Juice and the work that they do.

In my experience, though, most CRC churches do not have staff or even volunteers with the necessary skill set to carry out the kind of strategic planning work, let alone the implementation of the ideas outlined here. I believe CRC churches need to raise the priority of this kind of work from both a staffing and budgeting perspective if they truly want to reach more people more effectively for Christ.

And full disclosure: I am a self-employed communications consultant specializing in planning and implementing communications strategies for small businesses, non-profits and churches.

James Bosma - Lift Communications

So often I see church signs that preach to choir ,unless your well steeped in the scriptures, the message oft times will mean little to the very people the church is or should be trying to reach. If they go past scratching their heads you might as well put some thing funny on the sign at least it will catch their attention .

In reading the Agenda for Synod 2014, I noted the highlighted point below: 

"A large part of the Board of Trustees’ work relates to the ministry programs, personnel, and finances of the denomination. The program and personnel details are reported to synod by way of the reports of the agencies and this section of the BOT’s report in this agenda. Additional information regarding financial matters is contained in Appendix H to this Board of Trustees Report as well as in the Agenda for Synod 2014—Financial and Business Supplement that is distributed at synod. The final budget and the ministry share request will be presented to synod by way of synod’s finance advisory committee.” Agenda for Synod 2014 – Board of Trustees Report, page 33

QUESTIONS: 

1. By not publishing the proposed budget and ministry share request in the Agenda of Synod, is BOT/Synod forgoing it’s fiduicary and due diligence obligations to the local church of the business to be dealt with at the CRCNA AGM?

2. By not including the proposed budget in the Agenda of Synod are legislated notice requirements for not-for-profit non-government organizations being overlooked?

I can't speak to how/when the changes get reflected in financial statements, but I can speak to why your church received a catalog. I believe the plan all along has been to continue making resources available to churches under the name/imprint of Faith Alive Christian Resources. See the first sentence of this Banner article (published a year ago, before Synod 2013's decision).

I will add here what I wrote about the budget changes at Faith Alive:

At synod 2013 some significant changes were announced regarding Faith Alive.  A week or so ago we received in the mail an 88 page catalog for products offered by Faith Alive. I thought this ministry was eliminated but obviously not. I went back to the acts of synod to find the financial info on this ministry. In 2011/2012 the actual loss of this ministry was about 1.5 million on an income of five million. Low and behold the budget for 2012/2013 was  balanced on a budget income of about 6.5 million. And the budget for 2013/2014 was about 6.6 million. The only major change was was that the FTE budget was down by 4 people!

The implicit message here is spend more with less people. Somehow this ministry (including Faith formation - not sure what that all entails) received an extra 1.5 million in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014. I wonder how many World Missions missionaries this could have funded?

The Faith Alive catalog has an introduction "dear faith alive customer". But has no ending with "yours truly" and a name. Who is responsible for this ministry? Where does it report? Who is in charge of "faith formation" if that is in fact a ministry and does it have any employees?

Synod should have an interesting discussion on this in June.

August, thanks for your comment.

I agree with you that "a Christian Reformed Church Building is just that - a building which needs resources for the upkeep. Since the local congregation is in charge of the building they can set rules - who to share the building with and how much to charge." I agree that congregations are under no obligation to do otherwise except, I would add, the obligation by which all Christian congregations live: to love God and neighbor as they have been loved. I agree that there are no arbitrary rules by which a church must act except, I would add, the commandment to love God and neighbor as guided by the Word and Spirit.

I regret that you received the impression that I was suggesting a mandate to guide all congregations renting space to other congregations. The relationship between two congregations which prompted my first post was not meant to provide an example of a relationship guided by rules. Rather, just the opposite. It was provided as an alternative to the typical rule-guided relationships between congregations which own property and those to whom they rent their property.  

 

A Christian Reformed Church Building is just that - a building which needs resources for the upkeep. Since the local congregation is in charge of the building they can set rules - who to share the building with and how much to charge.

The "Kingdom of God" encompasses the whole universe and is not limited to a wood and stone structure that is used to worship GOD by a very small group of people.

It is so "unreformed" in my way of thinking to force a structure made by man to some arbitrary rules that are labeled "God's rules". Its the type of thinking that seems to justify paying a very small wage to people working for a church.

That a church MUST share their resources for no charge because they are Christian, while businesses owned by Christians are allowed to charge in order to earn a profit because the businesses are not part of God's Kingdom comes from some Kingdom model that is totally foreign to Reformed way of thinking.

The whole notion of "landlord-tenant" is inappropriate with regard to church facilities. The facilities are not like someone's house or factory or some other real-estate. The facilities belong to the kingdom and the council is to exercise stewardship over those assets. Rent money doesn't become available to the kingdom once it has been collected by the 'landlord'. The money in all our pockets belongs to the lord...if the members of the other congregation use those same 'rent' dollars on other kingdom-expanding causes...the kingdom does advance. I fail to see the stewardship problem in this arrangement.

Thank you for your post, Andy. In answer to your questions, I generally post three to four new captions every Sunday morning. I usually vary the themes (partly depending on the season, both physical season and church season), rarely taking more than one caption from the various chapters in Your Church Sign. I almost always have one under the theme of encouragement and another under the theme of evangelism (sometimes a Scripture text will serve as one of these). I will often have one with a play on words, but never one that is too cutsey. As a standard caption, I always have one with the time and temperature and our church's website. Unfortunately, the city of Grand Rapids has strict rules for digital signs. There may be no moving parts (hence, no graphics), and each caption has to stay on for at least five minutes. Since I had signed that agreement, I keep to it (except for the time and temperature, because then the time would be five minutes off at the end of five minutes). I personally believe the sign captions help people understand what your church stands for, and especially for a drive-in church, that is important.

  Interesting topic, thanks Sam. Good food for thought. I believe our church 'rents' space to AA where they hold their meetings in our basement while one day per week we let local homeschoolers hold their music lessons in our sanctuary. Not sure if the home schooling group pays us or not. Where would one draw some kind of line involving who pays and who doesn't? It could be argued that AA does as much to 'advance the kingdom' as some churches while the home schoolers are all predominately from Christian families.  

My question relates to our understanding of kingdom, stewardship and space.  I simply wonder if Christ affirms of one congregation renting space to another. My concern is that instead of wrestling with that issue we begin with the assumption that the landlord-tenant relationship is the way to go unless we can be shown otherwise.  I would love it if we began with the assumption that we share space as partners in ministry. Then see what comes out of such a conversation.

As far as multiple congregations in the same area, I am sure you would agree that it is not always possible for every for every Christian in one geographic area to worship in one space at one time.  We would have too many people speaking too many different languages.  We will have to wait for heaven to enjoy that privilege.

Still, I grant that in some settings the possibility for organizational unity exists but is not pursued - and that practice should be challenged. 

 

 

 

Even sharing the copier?  Wow! 

Thank you, Verlyn, for your recent posts on church signs. Our church has recently changed its name and is installing a new double-sided sign, with a 2' x 8' back-lit fixed portion (with name and website) on top of a 2' x 8' color LED portion for messaging. We pray fervently that the Lord will use the sign to bring more guests to our worship services and we are preparing for that possibility.

Your book, Your Church Sign, is one tool I can use to be thoughtful and intentional in our messaging.

My questions relate to details of how you are using the digital sign differently from non-digital reader-boards. For example, Do you usually have 3 or 4 or more rotating messages? How many seconds do you leave a message displayed before rotating them? (Our sign is perpendicular to a road with a 35 mph limit.) How many days/weeks until one message is replaced in the rotation by another message? Do you mix the "pun-type" messages with announcements of upcoming special events. Do you put the time/temp on the sign so people know there will "useful" information on the sign at some point? Have you used graphics and do you have a recommended source for graphics? Basically, I'm interested in whatever you have done to which you attribute your stated "increase in attendance." We want to use our new tool as intentionally and as well as possible. We'll trust God for the results.

Perhaps you are planning to address these types of questions in a future blog. If so, great, I'll wait. Thanks for your sharing your experiences in this realm.

I thought I would share this up-date. The folks sharing kingdom space with us are growing rapidly. They started worshipping in our upper room auditorium. They rapidly out-grew that space and moved downstairs to our fellowship room. For a number of weeks now this group has seen 'standing room' crowds and asked to use the sanctuary. The photos from Sunday morning show an almost full house. We couldn't be happier for these dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Their youth group is thriving as is their couples club. God is obviously blessing this group and we rejoice accordingly. 

What does the statement mean: "What does Christ think of such an arrangement?"

Certainly the fact that there are two different congregations in the same geographic area must be challenged!

We were supposed to be 'one' to convince the World about the Way!

How many have we become?

 

 

My church doesn't list all the staff salaries including the pastor on the budget sheet but if someone wants a breakdown of the salaries, they are welcome to request more information from the leadership.  This gives leadership an opportunity to address and educate the inquiring person on the process of review prior to setting compensation and benefits.

It must be a "Central Valley thing." I understand that Visalia CRC has been doing the same thing? They even share the church copier....how stewardly is that?

Our church adopted this policy many years ago.  As one of the employees of the church, it was an extremely uncomfortable matter that everyone in the church knew what my salary was.  It came to a head at one congregational meeting when someone stood up and offered to do the job for a lower amount.  Now only Council members, the Personnel Committee, and the Salary committee, know what each person is paid.  I think most church employees are acutely aware that their salaries are paid for by member contributions, and therefore work very hard to earn both the dollar value and respect of those on whose behalf they carry out their particular roles of kingdom service.  As far as I can determine there is no added benefit to congregational members knowing the individual amounts of staff salaries.

Lambert, thank you for the details regarding your practice of sharing space with another Christian congregation.  I hope and pray the relationship continues to be blessed.  

What exactly are the 'biblical stewardship' and civil - legislative issues being alluded to in this post? If a local congregation of Jesus Christ decides it wants to share facilities with other brothers and sisters in Christ, is it not free to do so? By the way, how many local congregations in the CRC are bound by the Safe Church guidelines? What exactly is the legally binding relationship between local congregations and the CRCNA in Michigan?  

Our relationship with this group of folk is simply our strategy to advance the cause of Christ for the Spanish population in Kings County. Our insurance underwriter is fine with these arrangements. We have enjoyed 4 years of mutual joy and encouragement in advancing the cause of Christ here in Hanford and look forward many more years together as faithful stewards of the resources entrusted to our care. 

As I've indicated in previous posts, I can understand the desire to further Kingdom work.

What I don't understand is the avoidance to engage in the notion that these congregations operate within civil and legislation frameworks as two distinct corporate entities.

Framing the matter as purely a monetary / power imbalance ignores both the biblical stewardship relationship between the parties, as well as the civil / legal issues that arise when two parties jointly agree to share in the use of a facility. What Hanford CRC has offered the other church meeting in it's space may "feel good" but may also be problematic in the eyes of the civil authorities, as well as, other parties such as insurance companies, e.g. what binds the other church to abide by CRCNA Safe Church policy.

The article above does not provide a lot of detail on the Hanford CRC relationship, however, the Brian Tebben example is more helpful and moves in the right direction. Harry Boessenkool also alludes to the complexity of legal constraints that exist in Canada, and probably also the United States, on providing services and facilities on the same equity terms to both church members and non-church members. 

 

 

 

Not sure I was influenced by the philosopher Foucault. Maybe his writings have seeped into my psyche through someone else since I haven't read him.  I will have to check into that.

I do see a recurring thread, however, in some of the comments thus far: an assumption that a church charging another church or ministry rent for the use of space is normative and, hence, exceptions to that norm unusual.

If that be the case, I want to lift up the Hanford (CA) CRC as a model worthy of emulation. By treating the ministry of another congregation on their campus in the same fashion they treat ministries like GEMS, Cadets, and Coffee Break, they provide an admirable model for other congregations.  Wouldn't you agree?
 

There is a Foucaultian post-modern tendency to view relationships with suspicion when it comes to the matter of power. 

Though I can understand that "power" might be an issue, nonetheless a landlord / tenant relationship is usually premised on a contractual relationship with obligations and responsibilities similar to the concept of a covenantal relationship. Secondly, that contractual relationship is regulated by legislation and civil authorities where recourse for remedies can be pursued even though it may not always work effectively.

Moreover, quite apart from the state ensuring that the interests of the respective parties being protected there are also other matters which need to be addressed that are raised by Harry Bossenkool and Brian Tebben.

 

There is another facet of the landlord-tenant relationship and that is power.  Doesn't it seem that the one receiving money (landlord) is in a position of power over the one handing over money? And how do we harmonize that position of power with our unity in Christ? 

This is an interesting discussion. Let's assume the renter is a new emerging CRC or church plant (the initial article did not specify a CRC just a "Christian church" and that can be a pretty loose definition!) The rent could be put in a special fund to pay for a new facility at a new location once the emerging or church plant grows. If the church is not affiliated with the CRC a formal rental agreement would still be needed to cover off all the legal issues (and there are many nowadays). The rent fee can often be only a minor part of a lease agreement.

Many churches offer other services in their facilities. How do we define when rent should be charged? Are all funeral services to be free no matter who asks, or marriages if the couple is simply looking for a place with a nice organ or other unique feature? The legal issues regarding the latter are already pretty involved.

Maybe we need a discussion on how a church can protect itself from the use of their building by (unacceptable - however defined) third parties.

I think this article addresses something important but then mischarecterizes churches who 'rent" space to sister congregations. Should a church only be in a Landlord-tenant relationship with another church in which the only thing that happens between them is a writing and cashing of a rental check? No, that would not be a good situation and as Christians we are called to more than that. But does  that mean that the only other true "Christian" option is to let another congregation "share" the building without anything being given by them? Our church shares our building with an immigrant African congregation. We do not call it a rental situation. We know that our facilities are from God and we are happy to share them with another congregation. We do have a contract with them about usage and about rental fees. But we also worship together at times, have our councils meet together for times of prayer  ,and we hold Vacation bible school together. We see them as our brothers and sisters .And they are happy to contribute to keeping the buildings maintained and the utilities on. We share the buildings so we share some of the costs. I think situations like ours are a bit more complex and probably much more common that the article lets on. 

Though I can understand Hamstra and Sikkema's point about furthering the kingdom, I feel they have both missed the point on "stewardship" by focusing purely on the monetary aspect of the transaction. Both congregations in the relationship are involved in tilling the fields of the Lord and contributing to the upkeep of his flock. The landlord church may or may not need the rent, nontheless the hope would be that whatever is collected would go to furthering the Kingdom. Secondly, the tenant church may or may not be able to pay rent, nonetheless we are called to give of our gifts to further the the Kingdom. Should the landlord church decide to forgo the rent to further the Kingdom, that is also a gift.

Good points!

Driving past the Evangelical Free Church in Winnipeg today, I saw a sign reading "The keys to heaven are hanging on the cross" or words to that effect.  I liked it!

I find that signs that try to be funny rather than uplifting make me roll my eyes and not want to go to that church. Examples: "Our church is prayer conditioned." "What's missing in our chrch?"

Sherri,

Once again a very useful suggestion. We need to be careful to encourage pastors to do continuing education, while at the same time not be strapped financially to do so. The costs, as you indicate so gently, should not be part of the taxable compensation package. Accountability will encourage both pastor and those in the congregation responsible. Thanks for your good encouragement.

 

 “ WiFi Available—Feel free to enjoy wireless access while you are here.  Connect to the ----- network with the current password,-----.” 

During the Sermon? <G>

I am interested in a policy or guidelines that deal with the privacy issue of displaying pictures , videos on the church website

recently i posted a photo gallery from a special sunday on our website

but questions were raised about the privacy

Any suggestions??

posted in: Photos at Church

Thanks so much for your responses and sharing how this issue applies within the Canadian context.  The web link to CRA guidelines is most helpful.  It is nice to see there is some common logic shared by both Canada and USA tax authorities as it pertains to the criteria for classifying paid staff between employees and independent contractors.  The US Internal Revenue Service also offers the option to solicit a determination by filing form SS-8.  The US government web link to this form is http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fss8.pdf .  However, the USA Internal Revenue Service makes no promises for providing a timely determination.

The post has been edited to add US! Thanks for Canadian info.  If individuals would like to post blogs pertinent to Canada, let me know!

Thanks Fred for pointing out the Canadian Law on this issue.  I wish that if someone from a denomination or para-denominational writes on these matters, they would either flag it as dealing with American or Canadian law or preferably take the time and effort to document the rules in each country. 

In Canadian tax law, the same issue exists, and in this case you cannot determine yourself whether you are classified as an employee or self-employed; it is determined by CRA, the Canada Revenue Agency, according to similar rules that the US IRS uses. The Canadian publicationon this is RC4110, available at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/tg/rc4110/.

Thanks for this.

Jeff,

Good job!  I'm beginning to understand the church's challenge is more than spiritual.

Thanks, Jeff, for making us aware of the difference between employees and independent contracts and why it's important. This is good food for thought!

Hi, Kristin! This one for our church is a brief overview of the whole ministry, but includes a few tasks for the Head Usher (our Head Usher is the weekly point person, different from the person who organizes the overall ministry, if that makes a difference.)

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1lrUyCxXj4EdorNE7LsF8TM_We11Mo0Mui6zd...

Our sign has been without power for over a week, and I don't miss it at all. I don't miss the simplistic moralisms, the guilt trips, the superior sneering at those unchurched motorists who drive by every day. Not all of the sayings were of that nature, but far too many were. Our church sign is some kind of a witness, but too often it is negative and ineffective, perhaps even counter-productive in reaching out with anything approximating "good news." This post is a reminder that as pastor I have to take control of this and put it back into the hands of those who think about our outreach. It is also a reminder that such signs have to be part of a well-considered, intentional ministry to our community. Our sign was simply donated by a member, with no mandate or reflection upon how it would be used, and since it was donated, we presume we have to use it, right? I will be looking forward to the next installment, on carefully choosing captions. But our sign is technogically limited; it can only display one short line at a time, which means people driving by see one half of a message, and have to crane their necks to see the first or second part...not exactly a safe situation. I would prefer the time and date and "Welcome to our Worship" to what we have had. But I have not put it high on my priority list; this year I won't have that excuse any more. I think the first rule with these signs has to be "do no harm."

posted in: On Church Signs

Good stuff, Jim.  We use Dropbox.  At council meetings we project everything on the white wall.  At home, everything's just a few clicks away.

 

It has already been said that communication is imperative especially when the Council is segmented. I would like to share a simple "reporting" form that I have found effective and saves much time. Divide a sheet into three sections and use this one form for every group/committee/ministry team that reports to the Council. Question #1 is, "What are you doing (working on)? Question #2, "where are you going (planning for)? Question #3, "What do you need from us (how can we help you be more effective)? This report can be filled out as often as the Council meets (monthly or quarterly) and insures that each Council member is informed about all work being done in the church on a regular basis. It also means that the only reports which the Council needs to spend time on are the reports asking for Council action.
Blessings!

Glad you've joined and found it to be so helpful, Henry. Please help spread the word about The Network in your congregation. There's a lot of ministry know-how across the CRC and the more people we can get connecting with each other the better.

Mike,  Thank you for your comments.  They are helpful!  It is always interesting to have additional input from other interested parties, particularly when ideas are shared!  It can make for long meetings when done in a meeting format but, I just found this forum yesterday, and already I can truly say I love it! :)

Henry Dekker,

I am one of the pastors at a medium large congregation. I will add my two cents regarding practicalities to Henry DeMoor's comments (which are spot on).

Communication is very important. We currently use email to send the minutes of all committees, including the Pastoral Elders, Deacons, and an Executive Board, to all 'full' Council members. This is a gentle and regular reminder to all officebearers that they are accountable for all of the work of the congregation, not just their 'spiritual' work as you indicated concern about (though I would argue it's all spiritual...). Occasional reminders that any officebearer is welcome to attend an executive board meeting should a particular issue of concern be raised might be a good idea too.  

I would also add a concern about "lording it over" other officebearers. It is imperative that the Pastoral Elders, Deacons, and Executive be equal, parallel entities who are all accountable to the Full Council (the three together). If your executive "Council" has greater authority than the Pastoral Elders or Deacons (and especially the 'full' Council), that would be a significant issue of concern (and a violation of CO Art. 35 a).

This, however, doesn't need to require more, longer meetings. With good communication of all activities occurring in the congregation to all officebearers, each officebearer can digest these activities on their own time. When there are 'full' Council meetings (3 or 4 a year), it is only a matter of approving previous minutes and discussing any matters arising from those minutes. A complete re-hashing/re-decisioning process shouldn't be necessary except in only the rarest of situations. Hopefully this will help the officebearers focus on their particular duties while still being fully invested in the whole ministry of the congregation of which they govern on the Lord's behalf.

I hope this helps!

Henry De Moor;  Thank you so much for your very quick response!  Your comments are helpful in that you describe in detail the exact structure that we had more than 5 years ago (when I last served on our Church Council)!

However, I gather from your response that you are in essence telling us that our current structure appears not to conform completely to Article 35 of the Church Order.  I think we will need to review our situation again... but we are open to additional suggestions as, (unless we are unique in this regard) this must be an issue being faced by other large churches as well.

While your point about disenfranchised Elders and Deacons is a very valid one, there is also the other side of the coin where you can have Elders and/or Deacons who feel that attending additional meetings to deal with issues that are not of a 'spiritual' nature is not something that they can get very excited about and some may have no problem expressing their views in that regard!

Having said that, I do find a little nugget in your comment about communication... and specifically the available technology such as e-mail.  There may be a way to involve the 'Pastoral' members of Council (notice that I didn't draw a line through that one!) so that having (and attending) additional meetings can be minimized to deal only with those issues raised by 'Pastoral' Elders and Deacons as requiring additional discussion, or those issues that require the subsequent approval of the congregation as a whole.

Again... thank you for your insight!

Blessings,

H. Dekker

 

  

Henry,

Most large congregations that have a council as large as yours handle this matter by recognizing, first off, that all the ordained (ministers, elders, deacons) form the council of the church.  This is a creedal basis found in Article 30 of the Belgic Confession.  Next, if this council is too large and has long meetings, they often split up the elders by having administrative elders and pastoral elders, and the deacons by having administrative deacons and "pastoral" deacons who attend specifically to diaconal issues.  The administrative elders and deacons then gather to form an "Executive of Council," the pastoral elders meet as a consistory (Art. 35) and the "pastoral" deacons meet as a diaconate (Art. 35).  The Executive of Council meets monthly and takes care of routine responsibilities.  The full council meets only two or three or four times a year.  This is time for mutual censure. the broad vision of the congregation's ministry, the final adoption of the church budget that reflects that broad vision, and other matters of major concern like calling a minister, choosing new officebearers, etc.  The full council then often receives reports of the consistory and the diaconate.  This works well because the pastoral elders and "pastoral" deacons do not feel disenfranchised (they're in on full council meetings too and get to vote on major matters) and the administrative elders and deacons that form the Executive of Council have smaller meetings on a monthly basis.

I do not find this in conflict with Article 35 and Article 36 of the Church Order.  I am afraid that in the structure you mention there is an issue of disenfranchisement since pastoral elders and deacons don't vote on the annual budget etc.  I also think it is better to speak of Council and an Executive of Council rather than council with a line through it and council without a line through it. 

As for times of meeting, Article 36 says monthly but we have always interpreted that to mean that all these meetings should be held often enough to meet all the needs of the congregation and its governance.  There is some flexibility, but as long as an Executive, a consistory, and a diaconate meet monthly, it's fine if full council meets only three or four times a year.

The key, actually, to avoiding problems here is that there must be good communication all around.  And our current technological advances (group e-mails, etc) make that more possible than ever before.

I would make sure, again, that we follow the creedal impulse: all the ordained are the council.  It may then increase its efficiency through a structure such as I suggest above, and in practice your structure doesn't seem that far removed from what I propose.

Hope this is somewhat helpful.

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