Discussion Topic

Christianity Today recently published an article identifying the top 5 church design trends to look for in the year ahead. I'd love to know, have you seen these trends at your church?

February 13, 2017 1 0 comments
Resource, Mandate

The Facility Renovation Team will be responsible to act as the primary contact between Our Church and the architect and builder.

August 7, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Mandate

These plans enable the church to finish building a facility at specified site.

August 6, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The following policies support the mission of our church and safeguards people and property.

August 6, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Many congregations rent their facilities to emerging or established Christian congregations in their communities. This seems like a win-win arrangement. But what does Christ think about such an arrangement?

April 24, 2014 0 20 comments
Blog

Our church doesn’t have a janitor. Well, the truth is that we don’t have a paid janitor. Instead, we consider ourselves a church of janitors. We all pitch in to keep the building clean and hospitable. People do sign up to take turns mopping, vacuuming the carpets, and cleaning bathrooms and the kitchen each Saturday in preparation for our worship gathering on Sunday...

November 5, 2013 0 1 comments
Blog

Do you know who has all of your outer door church keys? Many times members have lost their key or somehow a distributed key didn’t get added to the list. If you are thinking of changing the locks because keys are lost, maybe you also want to consider a keyless entry system. These systems, also known as external managed access control, are increasingly popular for controlling your keys and security.

April 25, 2013 0 2 comments
Blog

Have you thought about upgrading the light fixtures inside and outside your facility to more energy efficient LED or high-efficiency fluorescent lights? Many of the new products have reduced energy consumption, a much longer lifespan and almost no maintenance cost.  Here's the story of one church that has completed an outside and inside upgrade with a good return on investment.

March 11, 2013 0 0 comments
Blog

The most common symbol for accessibility features an image of someone in a wheelchair—lifeless, helpless, passive. Temporarily able-bodied people tend to look at people who have disabilities that way, seeing need without recognizing capability and giftedness. A new icon pushes that stereotype aside.

December 3, 2012 0 12 comments
Blog

Yesterday I worshipped at a new church plant that meets in a public school building.  Every Sunday, the setup/takedown team hustles to change this space from a public school auditorium to a place of worship.  As I sat there, I wondered about a recent article I read about the controvery over use of public school buildings for churches in New York City.. 

October 31, 2011 0 3 comments
Blog

The pastor of "Small Church" CRC is the go-to guy for everything.  He answers the phone, dusts his office, sets up chairs, prints the bulletin, and sees when things break or need attention. If you are a congregation with a small operating budget, how do you maintain the building, grounds, and other administrative needs of the church?  

September 12, 2011 0 1 comments
Blog

What would your ministry budget look like if you were able to cut your energy use for your church building 10%? Many of us would like to accomplish additional ministry priorities but the church income from our members has not increased much the last couple years.  What if we could help our church this fall by participating in a task force that would review energy management and hopefully cut some energy use and costs?   

August 18, 2011 0 3 comments
Blog

You come in early on Tuesday morning and the door is already open at church. It appears the church did not get locked last night. How can you ensure the facility is locked each night without assigning someone to check the doors each night?  Here are some ideas for closing procedures to post by your main doors.

February 7, 2011 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

Here are basic suggestions for a church which is approached about leasing space for a cell tower or antenna.

August 25, 2010 0 0 comments
Blog

Let us know if your church has teams to help with the building and grounds tasks--people who are using their gifts to serve the church.

July 1, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

This article demonstrates the effort, time, and cost that many churches in our denomination have undertaken to make their facilities accessible to people with physical impairments.

June 10, 2010 0 0 comments
RSS

Thanks for that feedback! Yes, we have updated the header of this article to indicate that this insurance program is only for US churches. I apologize for the confusion. 

Would it help in these types of posts that this insurance program applies only to churches in the USA?

Hi Ken, 

Sheri has now shared sample bylaws in MS Word format.

Thanks!

It looks like both the US and Canada "Letter of Call" samples are now available in a Word format here

posted in: Letter of Call

Hi Ken, thanks for this. I checked with Sheri and these Bylaws are not available in Word format but she is checking with some other churches to see if they have Bylaws that we could turn into a sample that would be available in Word. Stay tuned!  

Our church uses Servant Keeper for our church database/directory and to calculate online giving. It's good for generating reports and keeping track of a lot of stuff, like dates, allergies, membership status, and whatnot.

One question you may want to ask is whether this is something one person is going to use on one computer or if this is something multiple people are going to need to access at different locations. Most church database software programs have local (one computer) or cloud versions or their software that come at different price points.

Do you know what exactly you're trying to do or keep track of with the software?

I was the Ministry Coordinator at CrossRoads when this was developed, and while I don't remember specifics of the results, I thought it was a great tool that ended up providing really helpful feedback. I'm glad to see that it's being shared for others.

Sheri, thanks for all the helpful posts that you've provided on various CRC web pages. I'm a member of a Michigan CRC congregation. We're in the process of creating both Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. Under Synod Resources it appears that we can get a running start by filling out the fields in the Michigan Articles of Incorporation Filing Form pdf file, and then append the Attachment to the Articles of Incorporation Filing Form MS-Word document, which can be modified by anyone having MS-Word on their PC (very helpful!).  So I think we have a clear path ahead for Articles of Incorporation.  But what about Bylaws?  The sample on the CRC website is quite long; we've seen another actual set of Bylaws that is both sides of one sheet of paper (three paragraphs).  Is the CRC sample available in MS-Word format?  That would help a lot!  Thanks.

The Dispatch CRC in Kansas has a Foundation Scholarship for those attending Christian higher education. Contact the pastor there for more information.

I've posted the Offer Letters for Non-Ordained Church Staff for anyone who is interested. Thanks!

Joel - I have some samples of offer letters which are often used when hiring non-ordained church staff.  You are welcome to connect with me at jkallemeyn@crcna.org and I'll send them your way.

Whenever the question "may we do this" is asked, it really needs to be accompanied by saying also, "as far as _____________ is concerned."

By my view, there are a number of possible problems with doing this, but none of those possibilities are actually a problem.  For example, it could perhaps be a problem with the IRS (from several angles), but I think it clearly is not.  And it could be a problem with the workers compensation insurer, but I think that unlikely as well.  Etc.

Last but not least on the least is whether this would be OK with the congregation (a political question really), but I expect it would be.  (They could be asked/informed).

So bottom line: I can't imagine how this would be other than permissible, and beyond that, appropriate.

Victoria,

I see no problem with this arrangement. The purpose of the church is to promote prayer and for Christian ministries to meet and serve the neighbourhood would appear to fall within the purpose of promoting the Christian religion.

Just got a question from someone wondering if the membership transfer form can also be used for CRC to RCA transfers. Any advice? Thanks!

posted in: Membership Transfer

The question about the longevity of digital records is very real for archivists.  First there is the question of ongoing software changes, after several new generations of softwares, files generally became unreadable.  This problem now is being resolved, but another question is longevity of digital media.  It seems to be accepted that digital files can be stored for about 10 years without degradation, although it may be longer, there is no way to know until the time passes. Copies can of course be made, but with each copy a little bit of the original is lost.  Related to this is that all digital systems rely on mechanical devices, which can physically fail, so backups are necessary.  

In short, paper-based records will last much longer than digital files. But many files now only exist in digital format, so we have to deal with storing digital files, indexing them, and accessing them.  I would not recommend converting existing paper records to digital as a means for preservation.

Hi Kathy!

We distribute a monthly serving calendar and on the back of it we have a list of those who have a birthday that month, as well as the couples that are celebrating a wedding anniversary. We indicate if it is a milestone number with a happy face next to the date and a note under the list that says ":-) = "Special" Birthdays (1, 5, 18, 21, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100+)" And then the highlighted anniversaries are 1, 10, 25, 50, 75+

Hope that helps!

Very interesting an important work. Recently, in dealing with some old historical records, an archivist told me that there may some doubt about whether digital records could be kept 500 years. No one seemed to know. The Dead Sea scrolls lasted some 2500 years (I think) and are still kept in a "safe place". 

Is this something we need to be concerned about?   Just wondering!

As part of the Yearbook staff, I have sought Dick's help numerous times, asking him to search the archives for that last little piece of the puzzle we were missing.  Dick was always happy to help and did so on a very timely basis.  I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to tour the archives and it is truly amazing!  It is so well-organized and it impressed me that with all the records stored there, how fast he could find what we needed.  And, you could see how much he enjoyed his work.  We will miss him, but I wish him much happiness in his retirement!

Karen Kosters

Always efficient, knowledgeable and thorough. Thank you for your faithful service to the CRC. Blessings on your retirement!

Unless you see the real statements of the Defined Contribution plan you can never know if its better than what you have in teh CRCNA plan. The variations in a DC plan are enormous and folks can contribute more or less tha what the CRCNA put into your DB plan. It is almost impossible to compare.  DBs are based on the assumption that the employer will always pay the "Defined Benefit".  As you know from the city of Detroit and some other places this is not always the case.

The question I had is the salary that this DB plan is based on. In Canada they subtract the housing allowance which can be up to 1/3 of a Pastor's income. To not include that allowance in the salary calculation will greatly reduce the pension. ON the other side it would greatly increase the cost of the DB plan.

 

In the US, DB plans in Detroit and in some places in California have had to severely reduce benefits. This risk in DB plan is not always properly understood.

I heard a piece on the radio recently that members of Defined Benefit plans should consider options of opting out of these plans. I wonder if Pastors in our churches could do that and the church would stop paying the ministry shares for that Pastor. Those funds would then be provided to the Pastor to create his own plan. The church could even double that. That process would lead to elimination of the DB plan in the CRC and weaken it significantly. Jerry Hoytema's comment should be a warning sign that our Minister's Pension Plan needs a serious review.

I LOVE this idea, Felix. How cool to have a prayer of blessing from your church family as you enter a new year. 

We keep it simple in Miami.  We have a birthday cake available in our fellowship hall on the first Sunday of the month.  We invite those who have a birthday in that particular month to gather around the birthday cake for a special prayer of blessing for the new year by a Council member and then they get first dibs on a slice of cake.  If we missed anyone's birthday from our printed list, that's the time for us to update our directory.  Works like a charm and it incorporates anyone who wants to be recongized regardless of age. 

Hi Kathy - no, we don't list ages. I don't think everyone would be happy about that. :-) 

Thank you for the response and it sounds like the names for the birthday listings are solicitated...each member needs to give his or her approval to be included.  Do you list the ages as well?

Hi Kathy - our church has a prayer calendar in which each day (Mon - Fri) we list a person/family that members of our congregation can pray for. On the other side of this calendar, we print a second calendar with names of those who are celebrating a birthday and the specific date. Not everyone submits their names for the birthday calendar, but many do. 

Hello Kathy,

Our church regularly publishes the names of those members of our congregation over a specific age who are celebrating their birthdays. One of our members receives that list through our church software and looks after the postings in our newsletter. On occasion, there is a special announcement for a member, for example, someone who is celebrating their 100th birthday.

I appreciate the reference to "financial issues for long term pastors who have lived in church supplied houses." Not so long ago I received a notice from the CRC Minister's Fund (which pays a certain sum of money towards the funeral costs of pastors who have contributed to this fund), if we please could pay our assessment as soon as possible since some of the widows were unable to pay the funeral costs.

Churches with parsonages reaped the rewards of higher housing prices and many of the pastors upon retirement ended up in an apartment since housing was out of reach, particularly in many cities in Canada. 

Thanks, Harry! You can definitely add a comment that links to this article on your post Let's Talk About Pastor Compensation. Let me know if you need help adding the comment with a link. 

Hi Harry! Thanks for the note. You can certainly add a new comment to the discussion Let's Talk About Pastor Compensation that directs readers to this conversation. Simply use the linking tool or copy and paste the URL. Thanks for connecting these! 

Sheri my discussion in feb 2017 centered around how the CRC determines the salary amount when calculating pensions. My point was that it should be using total compensation not just base salary excluding housing allowance. In Canada the latter is simply a benefit bestowed on clergy  by our tax regime and IMHO  has nothing to do with pension calculations. I agree that expense allowance etc. should be excluded from the pension calculations.

My response to John B was if we included the Housing Allowance calculation, our pensions funds, I suspect both in Canadians the USA, would be significantly underfunded. 

Network manager...Sheri's comments should be include in the new discussion forum if possible.

 

This is a great addition to my post of Feb 2017. It clearly shows the separation between salary and housing allowance. Even if it is USA info the separation of income is telling. If the CRC in the US does the same to calculating pensions as the CRC dies in Canada then my point is even more valid. 

Network manager...We should tie these compensation topics together because each comment adds value.

Are you aware of an MOU template that could be used in reaching an agreement with a potential (non-CRC) partner?  Thanks

Thanks Doug for your expanded explanation regarding Pension Plans.

I was a sole bread winner for many years and have a defined benefit plan. I have had one small (1%) permanent raise in the last 14 years and three independent payments of about 1,000 dollars. My plan gives 60% of my pension to my spouse should I pass away. I am not complaining these are just the facts on my DB plan.

All this to say I do have some biases in favor of defined plans. Several years ago I was involved in a merger of two Christian schools and a big discussion arose around this topic. DC or DB? We hired Hewitt and Associates to help us thru the discussion. They had full access to the CSI pension plan (the Canada version). The committee of teachers and community reps decided in favor of the CSI plan after a full review and presentation by Hewitt.

As far as costs go I believe John B is not quite correct. If the CRC Canada Pension plan were to properly value income paid to Pastors the DB plan would probably need a lot more money to be fully funded.

This is why I would still like some feedback on the method in arriving at the average salary for Pensions for CRC Pastors in Canada. The fact that it leaves out the housing allowance is  major flaw. In Canada Clergy have a special deduction from income involving the value of their housing. In my view this has nothing to to with their income and is simply a CRA/Clergy issue. Given the hunt for cash by the (all) governments, this deduction may disappear in the nex few years. Best to fix this issue now. The cost of that fix to the DB pension fund would be enormous. I hope this one of the things that the Lily Foundation money will be used to research. And of course I recommend professionals like Hewitt or Mercer be consulted.

While they are at it they could probably also solve the salary scale issues that we so badly need across Canada to take the guess work out of Pastor's salaries.

Defined contribution (DC) plans are simply more precise and predictable than defined benefit (DB) plans.

Some simple definitionscan be helpful here.  In a DC plan, dollar contributions are made to the person's account, whether from employer or employee, or both.  Then at retirement, the total accumulated amount (contributions plus investment income) is precisely known.  Sure, it can at the employee's option be annuitized at that point (that is, the large amount exchanged, in whole or in part, can be exchanged for a monthly payment for an unknown remaining life span), but the retirement dollars that are available are precisely known and the employee has control of the entire amount.

In a DB plan, while contributions are also made, the dollar amount of total contributions made at retirement is somewhat irrelevant.  What is more relevant is the contractual benefits that were promised years earlier, in exchange for the contributions.

DB plans are somewhat a bundle of guesses, about what future benefits will cost, about what income will be acquired from investing all those contributed dollars before retirement arrives, etc etc etc.

DB plans often favor some retirees over others. For example, because the "defined plan" might have a "benefit feature" that provides income only for as long as one lives, a retiree who dies soon after retirement might leave nothing or little for children even if that retiree's contributions were worth much, much more than the benefits turned out to be.  DC plans treats retirees according to their contributions.  In other words, in some respects, DB plans can be said to generally be a bit or much more "forced socialism" as to all retirees.

The biggest danger for DB plans is that the guesses made about the costs of the post-retirement benefits, or the assumptions about how much income the pooled contributions would make before retirement, turn out to be wrong.  If those guesses or predictions are wrong in one direction, some retirees are given more generous benefits than they "deserved" (but always at the expense of someone), and if they are wrong in another direction, some retirees are given less generous benefits than the "deserved" (which will always benefit someone else).

All other things being equal, I tend to favor defined contribution plans because they are more precise, calculable, and certain in an overall way.  

In my state, public employees have in the past received far greater benefits than they "deserved" because their defined benefit plan (PERS) was based on "bad guesses and predictions."  It as nice, very nice, for some past employees of course (my wife among them), but counties, cities, and present workers are all paying for it, dearly, today.

I'm now 72 and a retired CRCNA pastor.  Early in my career I would come up against the suggestion that I should consider going RCA since that had a better retirement plan for pastors.  Of course I never considered doing that but It made me question if the defined pension plan we have is better than the RCA contribution plan. I really never pursued this then nor do I want to now.  Our younger pastors however have much more of a stake in this than I.  I hope they respond. 

 

The Lilly Endowment has provided the CRCNA with a $1 million grant to not only understand the financial issues facing pastors, but to do something about it as well.  

 

As to the issue of a defined benefit plan like our current Ministers Pension Plan that is provided in both the US and Canada or a defined contribution plan...I strongly support the defined benefit plan design for our ministers of the Word.  Not only does it provide a benefit that a minister can not outlive, in the long run it is less expensive for the denomination to make sure a life time benefit is provided than using a defined contribution plan.

 

 

Great idea to post about PCO, Adom!  We started using Planning Centre Online at Faith Church in Burlington about 4 years ago. Here are some notes based on our experience.

I highly recommend PCO for any church team, especially where you have one or two technology champions who can assist others with the rollout. There is a huge range of options -- many of which we don't use -- and for those comfortable with using software, it is very intuitive.PCO is an amazing worship planning tool (and more), especially used in conjunction with CCLI. I use a lot of SAAS (Software as a Service) tools in my line of work and PCO is better than most from a user design perspective (not to say there weren't some growing pains from less tech savvy users). They continue to make improvements over time.

Planning Centre Online has been branching into other areas such as volunteer management and online giving. Based on my experience with PCO to date, I suspect those tools would also be great.

Here are some highlights of the features we use most:

- Scheduling - team members (including pastors and AV volunteers) can block out their dates in advance so that our scheduler knows who is available when.

- Email Notifications - A reminder is automatically sent a week in advance to anyone who is scheduled for the next Sunday.

- Planning - we have a general service template so that all of the regular pieces of the order of worship are there. Then you simply drag and drop your songs into the template. The planning matrix view allows you to see past Sunday plans alongside your current plan so that you can avoid repeating songs too often. Our pastor has started to pre-populate the plans in advance with his sermon themes and Bible passages, so that worship leaders can get started planning their services as early as possible.

- Worship Plans/Cue Sheets - Once a service is planned, a one-page PDF of the plan can be sent to all of the team members who are scheduled, along with a note where you can provide special instructions or additional information about the service.

- Reporting - PCO keeps track of when and how often you use songs and allows you to generate reports.

- Music Stand App - I am the only team member who has taken advantage of the Music Stand app but for me it has been a huge game changer. I use my iPad to lead worship. I see the chord sheet in the key of my choice and I advance the page or backtrack using a bluetooth foot pedal. - I am also able to attach prepared notes such as introductory words and prayers and include that on my screen. There are some cool built-in features, including a metronome, and notation and highlighting tools. While the rest of the team sorts through paper file folders to gather their music, I just put my iPad in it's holder and open the app.

 

 

 

 

I've used PCO also as a volunteer at my church.  I really enjoyed having the option to review the sheet music or listen to the music at home.

Thanks for posting this, Adom. Looks like a pretty great tool (and built with a very modern interface). I'd be curious to hear how other churches are using it as well. 

I thought it would be helpful to add a link to their website: planning.center

Sorry this article is 4 years old. They have changed their info since it was written. It is worth the money for us

You are mistaken. Nothing about it is free. We're small and looking but your advertisment was misleading

Thank-you Terry!  My board was wondering if we could sign up for CCCC via the denomination but I suspected we would need to get our own registration.    I have found them essential when I was working in small grass route charities but the board is not as familiar with them.  I had forgotten about charitylaw.ca and will add them to my resources.

I'm so thankful to have a place to ask questions like these!

Victoria

Thanks so much Dick.  Hamilton Classis has a lot of information that will help me.

I have to remember how far reaching the Network is for future questions! 

Victoria

I very much recommend becoming a member of the CCCC's, subscribing to their charity newsletters and accessing their Charities Handbook and other helpful resources.  The denomination, CRCNA, is a CCCC member and has benefited greatly as a result.  My local congregation is also a member.

Another invaluable information resource in the areas you have listed is http://www.charitylaw.ca/

Terry V 

oops, meant to reply but added a new post. reply below.

We now use planning center people as our principle database and have built custom reports for household reports, printed directory, etc. The online directory is by a company called adjace that links to planning center people.

Integration is done with zapier. However, planning center has not built in webhooks yet so it's not quite perfect.

Victoria: It would appear that you are serving a church in Ontario. Feel free to check the Classis Hamilton Website at this link http://www.classishamilton.ca/-1/. You might find some helpful material there.

As to whether CCCC membership is valuable, I am of the view that it is.

Dick

What database program are you using that links to your office 365??! That would be awesome! I currently have to update contact information in so many places!

Pages

Members

this section to get email notifications of new posts
Isaac Hoogland
Nikki Huttenga
Rand Hedman
Network Admin