Resource, Policy or Guidelines

Easter weekend is over. You now have time to take a breath. It’s also important to spend some time as a team debriefing and reviewing how Easter went.

April 8, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

Should you purposely try to fill the position from inside or should your purposely go outside your congregation? Does it really matter? There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

March 24, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Easter may be one of the busiest times of the year for your church. It’s an opportunity to reach new people and invigorate those who are already a part of your community...

February 25, 2015 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

This week the CRC launched a new experiment in crowdfunding. Is this the way we should do denominational publishing?

January 28, 2015 1 6 comments
Resource, Article

Talking to your congregation could be considered internal communications, while speaking to potential visitors and your community might be external.

January 23, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

Churches are encouraged to use legal counsel for creating bylaws but this sample may be a great place to start.

January 20, 2015 0 0 comments
Q&A

Normally youth ministry staff are paid based on the hours they work planning youth activities. What are guidelines for compensation when they are with the youth 24 hrs per day?

January 14, 2015 0 1 comments
Q&A

Our Bylaws are out of date and a mess.  Are there examples/samples, guides for CRCNA Bylaws (not articles of incorporation)?

January 12, 2015 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

Building and maintaining a good website is a struggle for many churches. Here are some of the most common roadblocks you can remove to give your website a better chance.

January 9, 2015 2 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

What guidelines have you used when you paid for expenses for moving a minister? Here are some suggestions regarding move estimates, packing, and travel expenses for starting that conversation.

December 9, 2014 1 1 comments
Blog

We’re into Advent, which means for many churches the Christmas plan is starting to roll. For church staffers, it’s been Christmas since July. Planning the season starts early...

December 4, 2014 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

We are researching payroll software for our church. We are looking for something affordable (preferably under $100) to handle payroll for up to 5 employees and our minister...

November 30, 2014 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

As December quickly approaches, many churches are well into finalizing their Christmas plans. Whether you’re finishing up your plans, or getting a late start, here are a few areas to consider.

November 24, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Communications issues often evolve into conversations about the vision of the church or what programs are working. Here are a few ideas for how you can strengthen the communications work you’re doing.

October 23, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

This annually published book provides invaluable information for managing the business side of a church.

October 14, 2014 1 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

This annual publication provides up to date tax information specifically for ministers.

October 14, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource

The Canadian Council of Christian Charities provides significant and helpful information to their members on issues related to charities.

October 14, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

Canada Revenue Agency site for helpful information on charities and giving.

October 14, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource

Internal Revenue Service website for charities and religious organizations.

October 14, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Job Description

This sample Church Administrator job description may serve as a sample for larger churches and provide understanding of tasks that need to be covered by volunteers in a smaller church.

October 13, 2014 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

Here is a list of resources for churches to use to become compliant to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. Although the target audience is for those living in Ontario, there are many helpful hints for all churches!

October 2, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

This form is used by a church for applications for assistance.

October 2, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The procedure for handling benevolence requests from non-members.

October 2, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

If you would like more information regarding Funds or financial inquiries, please click on the following link for contact information for the CRC Extension Fund.

October 2, 2014 0 1 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The following policy provides guidelines for safe travel during ministry use.

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments

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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

The issue of how to work with a pastor regarding standardizing "office hours" at church is indeed complex. Because of the options provided by cell phones, and because of the nature of ministry frequently and appropriately being done away from the church office, it is indeed possible for a pastor to do honest, productive work while not being in the office at church.

Yet, as you suggest, there is something positive to be gained when "office hours" are posted and observed. Among the benefits is the "drop in ministry opportunities" that may occur, to say nothing of the community perception that someone is at the building, and the congregational experience of seeing their pastor function in a disciplined, accountable manner. 

In our CRC polity a pastor is accountable to the church council, and it is appropriate for the elders and the pastor to speak openly regarding a policy for office hours, and a format for accountability regarding this. Such a conversation can take into account the personal style of a given pastor, and the need or desire for flexibility of scheduling, yet it also can take into account the positive factors that are gained through what we can call "the public accountability demonstrated through a posted schedule".  

A pastor who resists such a conversation and such accountability risks alienation with those with whom he is serving. Elders who resist dealing with this matter risk allowing distrust within a congregation to fester. On the positive side, a ministry and pastor that make themselves physically present on a predictable schedule will open themselves to unknown and significant blessings. 

There are some basics here.

The pastor must divide his time three ways:

  1. Personal time. For those who are married: this will be a very important part of the family life. (Some pastors underestimate this role.)
  2. Prepare sermons, read, and study.
  3. Tend to congregational duties: visiting, pastoral care, and be part of congregational management.

Can these duties best be done by the pastor being regularly in his study in the church building...??

I could see advantages. Members would feel encouraged to come and see their pastors when needed.
But there are other equally valid possibilities. Just over a generation ago, most pastors had their study in the parsonage. I think it should be up to the pastors to make arrangements that would encourage parishioners to visit but that would also leave sufficient time for study and other personal  ministerial duties. Pastors may wish to have a study in the parsonage. That would be their choice. But when in  the church, parishioners should keep in mind that pastors don't have an office job. Many of their duties must be done in various settings. When they agree with the congregation that they will keep regular hours, those will be of necessity limited. Whatever pastors decide regarding the setting in which they can work best, they must keep one thing in mind: be accessible! The members should be able to reach them, if not directly then by leaving a message. With telephones now being sophisticated there should be no problems on this score. Congregations should remember that pastors need personal time: for reflection, sermon preparation, study, and a goodly part of pastoral work. In situations where pastors are urgently needed, there will be enough ingenuity among the elders and other leaders to locate him at short notice.

Thank you for the question. It is an appropriate one for this day and age where I find it easier - and more economical - to work from my home.  I would, however, like to suggest that we offer a parallel question: How many hours shall the pastor be in the study each week? And to that question, I think the answer has been and remains: "as long as it takes to prepare the sermons and lessons required each week." 

Any answer to this question has to be framed by the particular context of the congregation.  Here are four real life examples:

A rural church where the parsonage is across the parking lot of the church building and most of the congregation lives within 10 miles.  This pastor keeps a full schedule of office hours because it’s convenient, it’s a quieter space to study than an office in his home, and he serves as the “church secretary”.  He also wants to preserve a distinction between his home life and pastoral duties and prefers that his congregation meets him at the church office.  He does let the congregation know what days are his days off and asks that they be respected.

A small urban church where the pastor has a thirty minute commute to the church office and the congregation is widely dispersed throughout the urban area.  This pastor does not keep daily office hours, but does maintain a few days of the week when she spends most or part of the day at the office.  Cell phone and email keep the congregation and their pastor in 24/7 conversation.

A large urban church where the pastor lives within walking distance of the church building and the congregation is a lively mix of distance and proximity; some members live in the neighborhood and some commute 40 minutes.  This pastor tries to spend at least two full week days in the office so that folks can drop in, but also to interact with staff.  Those days vary because of other needs in the congregation and involvement in community activities.  If someone wants to meet with the pastor, he often suggests meeting at a place closer to where the congregation member lives or works than the church office.

Another urban church—the only CRC church in the city—where the pastor lives within a short commute of the church building but the majority of the congregation lives further away.  Again, this pastor has flexible office hours based on other demands on his time, but does hold himself to one consistent day a week to be in the office—the day he and church secretary pull together the liturgy and bulletin for the coming Sunday.   

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question.  It’s a balance that needs to be worked out between the pastor, the elders, and other church staff.  Most pastors would also point out that their participation in and attendance at church events during the week often offer better times for those casual conversations.  Pastors who volunteer at the church’s food pantry, help serve the neighborhood dinner, attend the local high school football games, or read a story at the church’s daycare center are creating informal opportunities for interacting with congregational members that can build caring relationships without the need to be “in the office”.

Hi Kory,

Thanks for you good question! It's encouraging to me that background checks are becoming more important in the CRC. More and more people are asking about them. And it's encouraging to see good answers to your question and resources already posted. The number of recent requests about background checks has led Safe Church Ministry to (very soon) add a page to our website regarding it. We are currently waiting to have one part of that approved (one company is prepared to offer a discount to CRC affiliates and we want that to be a part of our webpage). Your local police can give you guidance regarding background checks. There are different levels of background checks, and different costs associated with them. Each church must weigh the risks and costs carefully, and then chose what will be the best for that context. And it's important to note that a background check should never stand alone as a screening procedure, it's only one part of a process that can also include an application, interview, and checking references. And good policies are also important to prevent abuse, protect children and vulnerable adults, and as Libby points out, also protect the church from potential litigation. There are companies that help organizations with background checks. The following have been successfully used by many CRC ministries in the U.S. and Canada. 

Screening One (U.S.) and My Back Check (Canada) are very reliable companies that work with all kinds of organizations; their primarily work is with employers, but they also can help with any background check needs.

Protect My Ministry (U.S. and Canada) is an organization that is geared toward helping congregations and ministries and provides background checks as well as other services.

Plan to Protect (Canada - expanding to U.S.) is another organization that is more comprehensive in nature and has a lot to offer organizations that serve children and youth and are concerned with safety.  

 

I'm not sure how to answer your question about undocumented people - I've heard that background checks are possible with only a name and birth date (however, a more comprehensive check may require more than that). There should be no exceptions to any policy - change the policy if you need to - but be sure to follow it.  I'll check into it and let you know.

Hi Kory -- do you mean the police will only do 3 per month, or that turn-around is 3 months?  If turn-around is 3-months, you could phase it in.  If the police will only do 3 per month, that is a different problem....and one that you may wish to discuss along the political route since it creates the irony of the police process being the impediment to background checks.  As for other organizations, have you looked into this:

http://www.dps.state.ia.us/DCI/supportoperations/crimhistory/obtain_reco...

All the best as you sort this out.  Feel free to contact me at ServiceLink if I can offer any assistance (kbosveld@crcna.org)

Thanks, Libby and Ken, for your input and the helpful resources. Our local police can do something like 3/month. Do either of you (or anyone else) have any other suggested organizations and specific costs?

Thanks!

Hi Kory.

Here is a link to a page on the ServiceLink site with some additional info on background checks, and there is a link to ScreeningOne, which processes online background checks in the US.

http://www.crcna.org/servicelink/resources/background-checks

I would echo Libby's comment about emphasizing the integrity of the ministry and the doing a background check is a very small 'self sacrifice' toward our covenantal commitment to children and those with special needs.

There may be things you can do to accommodate and make it more convenient for people to go through the background check procedure.  The soccer association I coach with arranged for the local police dept. attend the coaches' registration day, ands the first phase of our background checks could happen there.  If there is a cost involved, you could consider covering or subsidizing that cost (typically under $50).

If you haven't done so already, contact your local police department and maybe one or two of the larger local minor sports organizations in your community.  While this may be new for you, there are others in your community who are likely already requiring these background checks, and they may be able to offer some helpful advice on how things work in your community and with your local police force.

And bravo to your congregation for taking this initiative.  It is not as intimidating as it first appears, and it demonstrates how much you value your ministry to children and those who are vulnerable.

This only addresses part of your post, but, in the case of people who refuse background checks, I recommend emphasizing how Safe Church policies protect volunteers as well as children. Background checks as well as policies protect adults from false accusations and litigation. 

 

Also, here is a one page resource on background checks that might be helpful to discuss with people. 

Mavis, I just started to looking at Salesforce in our church and appreciate your posts.  I did not install the NonProfit Package when I first signed up.  I don't know what version of the NonProfit you were talking about in this blog post, but Salesforce has come out with Version 3.  After looking at the it's household model, (your SPAM filters didn't let me put in a link)  I felt like it was the best option for us.   I tried to install the extra pack afterwards and ran into some big access issues.  I wasn't too far along in our process, so we just started over with fresh install of Salesfoce NonProfit Pack (one of the first options when you sign up).  I would really suggest that people do their homework on accounts before they sign up.  They can spare themselves some problems.  As you said, the non profit may not work best for everyone.  If you think it is best, it is smart to start with it rather than trying to convert to it later.

The article you link requires a subscription to read it. Could you summarize the conclusions of the article about how to weigh the decision of whether or not a church should purchase an AED?

Thank you.

Thanks so much for your explanation as how the "tools" criteria has been expanded within the Canadian context.

One thing that should be noted when considering the employee versus independent contractor for Canadian tax purposes is an expansion on the use of "tools". In many situations, where the individual has a particular set of skills that is not otherwise easily obtainable (doctors, lawyers and other such professionals being some of the prominent examples) this can lend a lot of weight toward the individual being considered and independent contractor. You might surmise that the same could be possible for musicians - I have yet to meet someone who picks up an instrument and is able to play it skillfully without having played any other instrument before.

While I would highly recommend you seek out a professional opinion before making any determination on your own (and I would note that in my post I am NOT providing an opinion on your situation) this is something to consider as being self-employed has many tax advantages even if there are some shortcomings.

Tough one to deal with, having to draw the line between what should be volunteer and what should be paid work. This difficulty extends to any worship director/coordinator that your church may have.

One thing I think I could agree on, but still probably not clear cut depending on who you talk to (what in life really is beyond the story of salvation?), is the provision of music and other such supplies (strings, sticks, etc) to the musicians and singers. These are items that are being used in the ministry of the church and comparable supplies are regularly provided to other ministries. Although, if you're regularly demanding gold-plated guitar strings, I think we might have an issue. :) (Maybe a stipend instead?)

I personally do not expect to be paid for the amount of time I put into learning my instrument because I want to volunteer my time and do something I love to do, but I know we all come from different life experiences so not all will agree. But I am only in a worship leader role and the actual service planning is completed by another individual so if I were doing both consistently I might feel differently. (I suppose if I was paid and considered self-employed I might also be able to claim some home office and auto expenses on my tax return and donate the money I made back to the church for a tax credit...)

If there are not enough/no musicians in the church and outside musicians need to be brought in, they should be offered compensation where the church can afford it - it is up to the individual offering their "services" to determine whether they want to volunteer their time or not. But it is not nice to see churches where there are capable musicians as part of the congregation and outside musicians are always being brought in.

One thing that paying inside musicians could do is make it awkward if you have to stop paying someone because they are not pulling their weight or do not pay someone at all because their skill level is not there (not that this should be the sole reason not to pay musicians, just a musing)

Sorry for all the competing thoughts I have going on in this comment. It makes sense in my head...

posted in: Paying the Piper?

Joyce, thanks for making the points that musicians have (almost always) had years of lessons and practice and have to put in time planning. And that they must purchase music on their own, which is very expensive. Many years ago in a previous church I would hear people argue that Sunday school teachers are not paid, so organists should also not expect compensation. That falls on deaf ears for those of us who have studied music and paid for lessons since childhood.

posted in: Paying the Piper?

Hi August, 

Thanks for the inquiry! I have passed along your question to Faith Alive Customer Service and they will be in touch shortly regarding this order. 

 

This strange letter appeared in our in box. Is this for the Yearbook??

 

August

 

Order Number: 9107012

Thank you for your recent order!  We thought you'd like to know that the
above-referenced order was shipped on 04/21/2015 via
Expedited Mail.

If you would like to follow the transit of your package, go to the website of
the carrier listed above and use this tracking number, if available:
 1946358210486870

Your order total came to $45.12 and we applied $0.00, leaving a
balance of $45.12.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR ORDER?
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your order, please contact our
Customer Service department at orders@FaithAliveResources.org or toll-free at
1-800-333-8300.  Please have your order number or customer number available.

Again, thank you for shopping with us. And be sure to visit the newly revised
website at www.FaithAliveResources.org to browse ministry resources, view samples,
and download the catalog.

In the passages from 1 Tim. it begins with the assumption or requirement that there be a desire to serve in these offices, it seems this is lacking in many cases.  Currently in our church we are struggling to come up with enough nominees to fill the slots, what does this say about a congregation?

I spoke with a veteran youth pastor in a large church in West Michigan. Currently he is full-time and salaried in his position and therefore receives no extra compensation for the annual week-long serve project or week-end youth events.  He does though get a few days off, out of the office, when he returns.

When he was employed as a part-time, hourly compensated youth coordinator this was a topic of discussion.  The negotiated decision was that he was paid for 12 hours each day for the time he was at a youth event or serve project with the youth. 

He and I agree that the key is to have these conversations upfront, even at the time of hiring, to avoid a possible issue or misunderstanding at the time of the event.  To have a policy in place, in writing, is for the benefit of both the church and the staff person.

Thank you for this post. It is helpful and timely!

 

August - We've been unable to find a crowdfunding system that accepts two currencies at once. If this experiment goes well, we'll keep searching. In the meantime, donations from Canadian members will be processed in such a way that they can receive a receipt that satisfies Revenue Canada requirements.

Exactly my point. How wide will this spread inside the CRCNA hierarchy/churches? Does each ministry/church start its own?

My guess is that the hymnal is more a pre-order system, and the story book is true crowd sourcing. Since CRC NA has officies in US and Canada I am assuming that there could be receipts done in both countries. However, the note mentioned that the charges are in US $ with the exchange provided for with the credit card. That is a good way of doing it since the credit card produces competitive rates.  However the tax receipt would be in US $$ which is a problem for Canada's tax system which operates in Canadian $$. For the CRC, donations from Canada are usually done in Canadian $$, with receipts so indicated, and the US organizations get the US $$ from it, depending on the exchange rate. 

Crowd sourcing for the CRC should actually have two sites, one for Canada and the other for US citizens.

The Canadian site should then have prices in Canadian $$ with the risk of exchange being with the CRC, not the individual making the donation.

August Guillaume

Here what I wrote when I first saw the announcement.

 

This is a novel idea. What safe guards are in place to prevent this idea from spreading throughout the denomination and or individual churches? Is there an element of risk involved to the churches' reputation? Are there legal issues involved or tax issues of Canada vs USA. I noticed receipts can be provided.

Thanks for checking it out, August. Crowdfunding is used for both product launches and for pure fundraising. Or even both at the same time, as we're doing with the God Loves Me storybooks. You can pre-order it, or just donate to the cause. It's exciting to see people doing both!

When I went to the site, it was an advertisement to purchase material to reserve a spot on the assembly line. This way the CRC can find out how much interest there is in a specific product before publishing. If one is not interested in purchasing a specific product, the looker is expected to exit the site. I hope it works for them, but don't call it crowdfunding!

Crowdfunding is to me something different. In crowdfunding the internet community is asked to fund a project, in return sometimes getting an interest in it or tickets should there be sufficient $$ returned. There are many crowdfunding sites that organizations can use.  For instance if the CRC needs a new building for publishing, crowdfunding could be used to raise the capital. 

August Guillaume

 

 

A sample bylaw is now posted under the Church Admin & Finance section.  

 

I would recommend Ministry Scheduler Pro by Rotunda Software.  It allows volunteers to submit their serving preferences, known "unavailable" dates, etc.  They can also request substitues for a particular date, and see other team members' contact info.  There's even an app for both Android and iPhones

The auto scheduler part of the software ensures volunteers aren't scheduled to be in 2 places at the same time.  

If you're working with a larger number of volunteers and many different ministries, MSP is the way to go!

 

 

Thanks for this informative article.

Church Law and Tax Report creates a list each year of the top 5 reasons that churches end up in court (http://www.churchlawandtax.com/web/2014/july/top-5-reasons-churches-end-...). At the top of the list each year since 2010 is "Sexual Abuse of a Minor". We must not bury our heads in the sand and assume that it won't happen in our congregations. Having a safe church/abuse prevention policy in place, which includes background checks for staff and volunteers is an important step in protecting the children, youth, and vulnerable adults that have been entrusted to our care. It's also an important step in protecting our congregations from allegations, lawsuits, and financial ruin as well.

techsoup website allows churches to register for software donations in including quickbooks.  the admin fee for the donation is well under $100

you can also get microsoft office full versions and/or microsoft windows upgrades for small admin fees.

A position with this job description applies to a very, very large church. To put context to a job description like this you need to supply the context  (number of other employees this person is expected to work with). The average church in the CRCNA has only 225 members (1103/282500 source 2013 year book). A church that size would not have a function you outlined. But publishing these job descriptions is a good idea.

  " At the level of a council, there are a number of things which can be especially helpful:• View the pastor as a partner in ministry; with the elders, a shepherding team..."   This comment made above is particularly relevant.  However, the suggestions that followed this comment do not seem to follow from it, since they emphasize how the pastor is different, not how he partners.  The heavy reliance on the pastor, such as for preaching on christmas day for 25 years, for example, is caused mostly because of the inability of the partners to carry on the task.  In order to have true partnership, the elders should be able to be a true shepherding team, and carry on the task if the pastor has personal desires and obligations.  It is for this reason, as well as for enhancing the partnership, that pastors should be training the elders, and elders should be training each other.  While the primary role of the pastor is understood, and the function of primary caregiver is known, it should never be thought that others are unable or unwilling to carry out the tasks, roles and responsibilities.   This alone would relieve a great deal of stress and pressure from the pastor, and would encourage growth of the entire church.

This document refers to "written benevolence procedures," but they are not included in the post. Would it be possible to post those as well?

Thanks,

Noah Kruis, Administrative Coordinator
Creston Church

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.

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