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

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The Medical Emergency Response Team is responsible for responding to the needs of people with the love of God in times of medical emergency in church ministries.

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As leaders of God’s people it is imperative that elders model, teach, inspire, and reinforce the fear of the Lord and the qualities of Christ-likeness, among believers.

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All church officers (elders and deacons) represent Christ, the Lord, in the corporate life of his people. The office of deacon is designed to administer the mercy of Christ to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

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The Council Mandate consists of a sample list of responsibilities.

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Ever wonder how to build a stronger community in your church? Here are some activities that will engage a large portion of your congregation.

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Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. I John 3:18. Learn how the Christian Ministry Team fulfills this passage within the church.

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This education team promotes Christian education and assists in financial matters. They must adhere to a list of responsibilities.

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

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We will help the members of Our Church become all that God wants them to be.

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This Administration team mandate provides a sample list of responsibilities.

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Ministry leaders and volunteers agree to adhere to these standards. When these standards are violated they submit to correction and, if warranted, removal from leadership or service in that ministry.

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Disclosed are specific responsibilities for various Elder positions

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A request that indicates whether the nominated candidate is able or not able to serve at the specified time.

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You will find a copy of the mandate for the nominated position attached to this memo.

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This letter informs a candidate that the members of your church have made their suggestion for the office of Administrative Deacon.

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Part 2 of Nomination Process & Timeline. This document explains in detail the action needed for the nomination process.

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Have you ever considered what a timeline for Elder/Deacon nomination process entails? The following information is a standard setup for a nomination timeline.

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The attached document dictates the action needed for miscellaneous administrative policies

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The church answers God's call to carry out his redemptive plan through programs of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry and evangelism. The teachings of both Old and New Testaments provide the basis for these ministries.

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We have provided website design resources for beginning or improving upon your church's website design.

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

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The following guidelines are for the selection of Elders and Deacons.

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The following guidelines enable church members to communicate their mission, vision, and values effectively.

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The Church Software includes recommendations for accounting software and church administration software. The recommended software packages are designed to best suit your ministry.

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Thanks--I've added the "US" to the post.  We appreciate your insight on how Canadian law is handling these issues.

Shari - 

I just got an email from the pastor of a church plant my church is "parenting" in East Harlem (New York City) called Open Door Fellowship.

An excerpt from that email:

"The New York State Appellate Court has ruled that churches are no longer allowed to rent space from public schools. This decision has now also impacted all churches like ourselves that have been renting from public housing community centers. We have been curtly and abruptly denied access to our community center space without any explanation."

I know there are many churches that have been affected by this and can only hope that this appeals process can continue.

John Van Buiten
Covenant CRC, North Haledon, NJ

1) We have received information from CRA that the  value of the housing allowance is also to be included in calculating EI premiums. This is especially so for Youth pastors who may be part time and get a partial housing allowance and their salary alone is below the EI cut off.

2) We use a payroll service and have asked them to include all allowances ((study, car, hospitality etc.) as tax free. We leave it up to the Pastors to keep receipts for those expenses related to these items to at least the amount they receive. If they have more receipts they can claim the excess only.  We have been challanged on this procedure by the payroll service. They also said these amounts must be included in the EI  premium calculation

3) One commenter noted we should simply pay a Pastor a total wage and let him/her be responsible for filing the taxes. I like this approach but living in the greater Vancouver area I suspect we would have trouble determinening what this wage should be if no house is being provided. Maybe we should add that as a seperate discussion. 

3) When I read all the comments it appears churches may want to have some consistent advice and what we should do in regard to the allowance situation for Pastors.

Geepers, Terry, you've never invited ME for lunch and I live real close, slightly east of you. 

Thanks Pastor Jim and Pastor Colin for sharing your experience!

Colin, you are correct that "housing allowance" is not really relevant in Canada in terms of employment, tax, and the Clergy Residence Deduction.  However, the concept lives on and it is still very much a part of the CRC vernacular.  The formal Letter of Call used by the CRC throughout North America references "housing allowance" to the extent that it is relevant in the USA and may be considered by Canadian churches in how the total compensation (salary) is determined.  Similarly, the term and concept is also found in the annual Ministers' Compensation Survey.  Doing so provides some bases for comparison between classes and regions and even between churches within a Classis.

It is clear though that "housing allowance" and the Clergy Residence Deduction are not one and the same and are not simply interchangeable.

Regarding the reduction of income tax in consideration of the Clergy Residence Deduction, the onus is rightly on the employee, as the taxpayer.  CRA requires the submission of a Request to Reduce Tax Deductions At Source (see link below),  by which an eligible person would request recognition of the CRD and possibly, other recurring and substantiated deductions ie charitable donations.  If successful, CRA will issue an approval to be provided to the employer which permits the employer to effectively reduce the amount of tax deducted at source.  This avoids the "worst case scenario" of penalties, etc as mentioned by Colin.

http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pbg/tf/t1213/t1213-11e.pdf 

Colin, I don't think this means that you're out to lunch, although if you're ever in Ontario or would consider a call to the East, lunch is on me.

Terry V

I completely agree. I have participated in such meetings, and have also led them for mission committees at churches where I've been asked to recommend new partnerships. It's surprising that so many churches have not had the opportunity for open, safe discussion before. It's so important for building community.

our church has had what the elders called "congregational conversations", and they went very well, even over some issues that had a lot of potential for division.  These "conversations" were well led, and far more informal than a congregational mtg.  We did break into smaller groups, and I believe it was a very positive experience for the congregation.  Open communication is so important.  Once people perceive that something might being brushed aside (even if that's not the case), to avoid discussion, that generally makes things worse.   Mis perceptions and misunderstandings are one of the enemy's key ways of bringing division, so when we can openly and lovingly discuss potential issues, it is huge in helping prevent strife.  The presence/leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit is of course key.  I know we know that and we pray that He does, but so often when we get into the discussion we can tend to end up leaning on our own understanding.

@ George Vander Weit

John, 

You ask if a simple majority would be sufficient to depose an elder or in the case of a single nominee.

Yes, the majority, not the minority, should determine these matters.

 ----------------------------------

Interesting answer, given that in almost all non-profit organizations that I've seen or helped create, their articles or bylaws almost always require a two-thirds votes to remove a director. I rarely see otherwise and would never advise my clients to use less than a supermajority rule for that.

It has been said in this thread about a greater than 50% vote requirement,

"It makes people, who live in a society where majority decisions are implemented, believe the council is pulling a fast one [by requiring a supermajority] to maintain the status quo or to resist change."

I don't think the premise is true at all -- that we "live in a society where majority decisions are implemented."  If, for example, one wants to amend the US Constitution, one have have a two-thirds majority assent from the House, from the Senate, and from all states.  Wow. That's a lot more than a simple majority from one body.

In sharp contrast, adding a fourth confession ("form of unity") to the CRCNA requires only the assent of only a simple majority of a body of representatives who sit in authority for only one week, during which it takes up dozens of of other matter as well. It we take the pattern of the "society we live in," we'd require a two-thirds assent by Synod, plus a two-thirds assent of all classes.

More examples in daily life.  In most business agreements, many provisions are subject to 2/3's (or other supermajority) vote.  Why?  In large part, to maintain unity. (I write these sorts of agreements). Indeed, in society around us, we have lots and lots of examples of super-majority requirements.  Most of them have "peace and unity" as a root motivation.

Within the church, it has been a very long time since I've seen a pastor called with less than a substantial supermajority vote requirement -- thankfully.

Finally, consider the tradition of the Friends (Quakers). I've had cause to provide legal counsel to some of their congregations (and greater bodies) in my area. Their tradition is to do things by full consensus. Thus, if a motion passes by a majority, they will further discuss and revote until there is consensus. Yes, that would be by 100%. Certainly, those who vote in the minority have a tradition based "obligation" to give serious thought about whether they should continue that vote in subsequent ballots, but I think that tradition could teach us a lot.

The "Letter of Call" refers to "the use of the parsonage (or a housing allowance of $_____ annually)."  Some churches pay a cash salary and cash compensation for housing.  My understanding is that this statement on the Letter of Call refers only to these instances.  It is not intended to be used for entering housing allowance or the clergy residence deduction for tax purposes.

I have finally got our treasurer/bookeeper to understand what the real situation is in Canada as well.  According to Revenue Canada, there is no category called "housing allowance" that is set by the church.  There is a tax break called "clergy residence deduction" which is entirely dependant on what sort of housing you live in and the limits of 1/3 of your income.  So my church pays me a salary not a salary + housing allowance.  From that salary I secure a place to live, in my case, owning my own home.   I think the use of the term "housing allowance" is misleading for a congregation and still has people thinking that the church gives the pastor "free housing" alongside a full salary, which is never the case. 

Our full time Youth Pastor also claims the clergy residence deduction but the congregation never used the term housing allowance for him.  That just highlights the need to remove that term from our parlance.  If you live in a parsonage, and you are not charged rent for it, your salary has been reduced by that factor, so in fact you do pay rent by having salary withheld.  I believe it is healthier for a congregation with their pastor in a parsonage to pay a full salary and then have the pastor pay rent to them.  That clarifies the status of that housing (and the responsibilities of both the landlord and tennant). 

So what my pay stub has is a salary and then a designated portion that is "tax exempt" so that the bookeeper does not take off that tax and then I wait until tax return time to get it all back.  Technically, to do this the employer has to ask Revenue Canada permission to do so, but given its longevitiy in our society, it is passively premitted so long as the amount is reasonable.  Worse case scenario for the church is that they receive a penaltly from Revenue Canada for improper bookeeping practices or something like that (I discussed this with Revenue Canada and that is what they told me). 

So I say, pay your pastor a full salary, and let them pay for their housing like every other employed homeowner in the congregation.  If they choose to rent the parsonage, fine.  What is claimed as clergy residence deduction is not relevant to the church, but to the clergy.  It is based on the actual living situation, not on what the church says that situation is. 

Realtors, property managers, rental ads should be used to find the market rental value of any home you own to determine what you can claim no matter what the church says about housing allowance.  I would like our form letters of call also changed to correct for this misleading terminology. 

Feel free to correct me here if I am out to lunch :)

 

Colin

Thanks to Terry and Shari for posting this. Everything Terry writes is accurate, but I believe it's important to make a few comments about details in filing for the clergy housing allowance in Canada.

I have been taking advantage of this "Constantinian" allowance since entering parish ministry in Canada in 1986. During our stays in our first two churches we lived in parsonages and thus were granted "free living." Since buying a house in St. Catharines where we have lived and worked for the last 8 1/2 years, filing for the allowance has become a bit different. My church treasurer every year indicates what the allowance should be, as determined by the finanance committee. This is not, in my case at least, even a third of my cash compensation. Rather, it is determined in conjunction with real estate values (for "fair rental market value") and rough estimates of utility costs (heating fuel, water & sewer, hydro [aka "electricity" in the US]).

When, however, I come to filing my taxes, I do my own using a computer tax program. (I probably shouldn't advertize, but it rhymes with "quick fax" or, more recently, "burpo slax.") I follow the detailed "step-by-step" option the program offers at start-up--though I can always go to the forms themselves. So far, though, this step-by-step option has proved relatively simple and accurate, since it asks questions that direct the user to opening and filling in the proper forms for his/her situation. Thus there is always a question: "Are you clergy?" to which I answer "yes." Then the program asks for costs for all of those exempt items: fair rental value (for which I ask a local realtor friend to give me a letter with an annual range estimate) and utility costs. I calculate all those and enter them on the indicated form, which then factors that into the rest of the tax return.

As I said above, so far this amount has not amounted to either 1/3 of my paid compensation or even the somewhat lower amount determined by our finance committee. (Ironically, after we put a new furnace, windows, doors, insulated and renovated the basement family room, our heating costs dropped by about 38%. So, we ended up spending money to save money! But the house is much more efficient and comfortable after those renovations.) One year I was asked by the tax department to prove the costs, which was simple to do, because I had kept all utility bills and then sent copies to the tax people.

My main point in this is to caution clergy merely not to estimate, but to report actual costs and to keep records accordingly. I always love April, b/c we get a good whopping bit of cash back from tax contributions through the year--even though the gov't used it for all that time. But it sure beats living in other places I've worked and lived!

 

 

 

 

Excellent post Sheri!  Thanks for the reminder, challenge, etc.

Hi Brad

We have been using PowerChurch Plus, which not only keeps track of the membership, their ministries and skills and services, but the finances, payroll and contributions as well. More than one person can have access to the program, with limits set. Our chair of council can see the membership, but not the finances without the correct password, while our treasurer has access to all accounting programs, but not the membership. I have used it for five years and am very happy with it. They also have a great support team that will walk you through any questions or frustrations.

Eva

Oh yes, clergy taxes -- the bane of the profession.  While there are lots of tax claims we are eligible for, they are also IRS audit detectors.  I recently got together with our deacons and we watched a webinar by the Clergy Advantage people of clergysupport.com about the church setting up a Pastor's Accountable Expense Plan.  It's a great plan which helps pastors get the full benefit of every tax dollar not only a percentage.  Our deacons are going to make a proposal to our council that we adopt this.  Under this plan the pastor is responsible with their spending to the church not the IRS.  That way you don't have to put any business expense on your taxes, your takehome looks right and probably less (for tax purposes).  The plan covers ever expense out of your pocket from the regular tax claim clergy can make for people in their home to potlucks and coffees.  It makes a ton of sense and I recommend every church watch it.  

I also have some techy tips for pastors about how to keep track of all your receipts, mileage and expenditures.  I use Evernote and Expensify to track everything and it works like a charm.  In fact I just went out for coffee today and took a picture of the reciept with my phone in Evernote which is synced with my Expensify so when I have to pull everything up I even have a visual record with no paper.

posted in: Ministers and Taxes

Andrew,

Thanks for the posting on this.  I started testing this out.  I was able to import my old database without too much trouble.  This is still geared more towards a web admin with SQL experience, but I like the idea of having the data managed securely available via the web.  This would allow others who need to see or modify the data access, without it being locked up on a single computer in the church office.

Randy,

Thanks for this questions.  Please look at the Code of Ethics for volunteers from Community Reformed Church.  I wrote about it for the Network here.  Maybe you can find it useful.

Laura

In some ways, it's a moot point.  As long as it includes a statement to the effect that we affirm the Contemporary Testimony, I cannot in conscience sign it.

I do not affirm article 38, or articles 47-54 (revised version of CT), the first because it contradicts the Catechism and the Belgic Confession in its teaching concerning the Lord's Supper and affirms in effect a consubstantiationist view of the sacrament; the rest because they bind us to a political agenda I do not share and, even if I did share it, would believe inappropriate as a condition for holding office in the Church.  In addition, certain statements in those articles undermine the doctrine of total depravity and indicate a solidly unreformed view of the task, capabilities, and role of civil government.

As for your own question, if the CT is affirmed, we would have to sign the "covenant" frequently - the CT is designed to change with the times, so there's no guarantee that what you signed up for the first time is what's on the books the next time.

Sorry posted same message twice.

We at Terrace CRC are using Churchinfo, currently we only use it to track membership,  small group lists and elder lists and most important printing the church directory with or without photos.

Churchinfo is a free web based solution. It has many features that we are not currently using including:

 

  • group membership
  • contact lists
  • reports on groups and roles
  • Members Directory: Printable directory of all members, grouped by family where assigned
  • Letters and Mailing Labels
  • Birthdays: Members with birthdays in a particular month
  • Family Member Count: Returns each family and the total number of people assigned to them.
  • Membership anniversaries: Members who joined in a particular month
  • Person by Age: Returns any person records with ages between two given ages.
  • Person by properties: Returns person records which are assigned the given property.
  • Person by Role and Gender: Selects person records with the family role and gender specified.
  • Person Count
  • Recent friends: Friends who signed up in previous months
  • Select all members: People who are members
  • Select database users: People who are registered as database users
  • Total By Gender: Total of records matching a given gender.
  • Volunteers: Find volunteers for a particular opportunity
  • Volunteers: Find volunteers for who match two specific opportunity codes
  • Advanced Search: Search by any part of Name, City, State, Zip, or Home Phone.
  • Families to canvass: People in families that are ok to canvass. 

I recently "made" a covenant with Neerlandia CRC when I volunteered to be their Parish Nurse. I became familiar with the idea of covenanting during a course I took from Concordia University College in Edmonton, Ab which prepared me to be a PN. I had to read Improving your Multiple Staff Ministry by Anne Marie Nuechterlein.She says that one of the reasons for a covenant is that ". . . loyalty, trust, and open communication can be more easily established and staff members can experience what it means to relate with each other as a faithful, forgiven, Christ-centered staff." (p. 21)  I liked those words -- faithful, forgiven, Christ-centered. They are a powerful affirmation of who I am and can be.  And so, when  I wrote my own covenant for my "inaguration" as parish nurse I promised to be confidential, accountable and trustworthy, relying on God's guidance through his Holy Spirit and Word.  And from that day on I covenanted to bring the compassionate presence of God in my ministry of parish nurse.  

 

 

Here is the "Individual Leadership Covenant" that all ministry leaders in our church must sign:

 

Leadership/Service Covenant

 

There are different kinds of gift, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit

 is given for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7

 

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10

 

We thank you for your willingness to serve.  At Our Church, we believe that all God’s people have gifts for ministry and we give thanks for yours.  As a leader in the teaching ministry, we ask that you covenant with us by embracing this document.

 

I, _________________________________________, believe that:

                          (please print name)

                          

·        Jesus Christ is the Son of God sent to redeem the world, and love and trust him as the one who saves me from my sin, and I with repentance and joy embrace him as Lord of my life.

 

·        the Bible is the Word of God revealing Christ and his redemption.

 

 

In my capacity as ______________________________________, I will:

                                   (name of Ministry and Role)

 

·        lead/teach/serve in accordance to what is taught in the Bible and as is faithfully reflected in the creeds and confessions of Our Church.*

 

·        submit to and respect the leadership and direction of my ministry by the elder(s), deacon(s) and pastor of Our Church.

 

·        also fulfill my role in accordance with the Guidelines for the Prevention of Abuse for Our Church.**

 

Signed: ______________________________           Date:__________________

 

*Creeds and confessions refer to the Apostle's Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort.

**A copy of our Abuse Prevention Policy is available at the church office.  All participants, volunteer or salaried, are required to have read the sections that pertain to their ministry.

Wonderful article! Thanks for shedding light on an important topic. As the economy recovers and as expectations for church space continually rise, new churches will be moving into public schools more and more. As a planter of a church-in-a-school, I love that our message to the community is one of affirmation of existing structures (both literal and institutional). I'd like to briefly draw light on the fact that because our system has a church as a tenant, the school system could recover a small amount of the massive budget shortcoming that all schools face. Also, the school custodians, people who are not typically paid a great deal, could receive overtime pay for 16 hours a month. The overwhelming response I've received from those who had to "sacrifice" for us to meet there, is "I don't know what I would have done had this opportunity not come when it did!" 

This all begs the question, "Should schools look to churches to diversify their revenue stream?"

The Compensation Handbook for Church Staff does not have info on IT positions.  If you go to crcna.org and search "Church Finance and Administration Resources" you can look at one church sample wage scale that includes "Network Administrator."  Check under Employment Issues/Compensation. 

Do any of these resources have information about hours and compensation for Information Technology positions? (Computer help!)

Randy, I think your document shows promise.   I hope you had a discussion with your council before you presented it to them, in order to encourage them to be pro-active, rather than just re-active to your document.   Just a couple things perhaps missing:   you did not mention homosexual activity, which might slip thru the wording of the document.  Also not included are theft and dishonesty.  

You might want to consider the impact on other ministries such as church maintenance, cleaning, serving meals and coffee, clerical, bulletin editor/typist, foreign mission trips, etc. 

Randy,

Sorry I didn't see your question until today and since we are on a snow day here in Denver, I can't easily get to our Child Protection Files.  In it, I have an application for Ministry Volunteers that includes some of what you are asking.  We also have a policy statement that they are asked to sign.  (I'll try to send it to you tomorrow.)  

In our training session each fall, I mention the "promises" that the Council makes to the volunteers and then ask them to make promises of their own.  That way, volunteers know that there is a two-way covenental nature to this document.  For instance, Council promises to provide the resources necesary for them to do their work and promises to pray for them.  (Your document uses the word covenant, but it doesn't say what the Council's role in that covenant is.)

I'm happy to share our documents with you as we received help from others in writing them and it's a good thing to share! 

I'd also like permission to borrow from you as you've done a great job in being both clear and kind in setting your expectations.  

You may want to clarify the word "may" in the last sentence of "personal lifestyle."  I agree that you should retain that right to ask someone to step aside, but the Council (or Consistory) should consider ahead of time what situations would warrant a restriction in ministry leadership and what situations would get a "pass."  Ironically, the folks in these situations who don't think they need to take a break are often the ones who do need to step back and the ones who think they are going to cut out of the life of the church are the ones who might need to be re-affirmed in their roles in church life. 

We recently encountered this situation when a Ministry Leader went through a divorce.  This person came to me in tears because they assumed that--in addition to all the other losses that accompany divorce, they had also lost the privilege of participating in a ministry that they loved.  In this case, the Elders were unanimous that the person be affirmed in lthe ministry role--knowing that pastoral care and mutual discipleship was happening within the other leaders of the group.  

Our church also has different standards for Ministry Leaders and Ministry Volunteers.  We require church membership for Leaders, but not for Volunteers.  In recent years, God has sent people to our church family who have gifts and willingness to serve, but who do not come from a tradition where church "membership" is a high value.  We invite them into service (under the supervision of Ministry Leaders) while we continue conversations and classes toward the goal of membership. 

Good work on your draft and I hope it helps in fostering health and spiritual growth among your volunteers!

P.S.  Are Council members also required to sign the document? 

DRAFT DOCUMENT, SUBJECT TO REVISION

This is what I have so far; constructive feedback welcomed. We will discuss it tonight as a council.

 

Neerlandia Christian Reformed Church

Ministry Volunteer Standards and Covenant 

Created October 26, 2011

 

            Neerlandia Christian Reformed Church values its ministry volunteers. As a Christian church that seeks to glorify God, to be obedient to his Word in Scripture, and to witness to the Christian faith, we also have certain lifestyle and conduct expectations of those who volunteer to lead and serve in the ministries of our congregation. Leaders and volunteers are expected to aspire to lead a Christian lifestyle, to witness to their faith, to maintain healthy spiritual practices, and to cultivate respectful standards communication. Ministry leaders and volunteers agree to adhere to these standards, and agree that when these standards are violated they submit to correction and, if warranted, removal from leadership or service in that ministry.

            These standards apply to leaders and volunteers in all of our ministries, including Sunday school and catechism; Gems and Cadets; Teen Club and Youth Ministry; Coffee Break; music groups; and members of church committees. Where required, volunteers undergo background checks in order to comply with our Safe Church policy.

 

Lifestyle Standards

            Leaders and volunteers are called to live a life worthy of the calling they have received from Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:1) and to witness to the good news of salvation by the way they live their lives (Matthew 5:16). Activities that would constitute violations of this standard would include habitual drunkenness and drug abuse, marital unfaithfulness or premarital sex or cohabitation, use of pornography, criminal conduct, and physical or verbal abuse. Persons who are undergoing a separation or divorce may be asked to step back from their ministry for a time in order to focus on their own spiritual health.

 

Church Commitment

            Leaders and volunteers are expected to be professing members in good standing of Neerlandia Christian Reformed Church, with the exception of baptized members under the age of 18 who may not have yet made profession of faith. Any exceptions to this requirement must be approved by council. Leaders and volunteers are expected to regularly attend worship services. It is particularly important that catechism teachers and mentors understand and affirm the Reformed perspective on the Christian faith.

 

Communication Standards

            Ministry leaders and volunteers commit to supporting the leadership and staff of Neerlandia Christian Reformed Church. They also commit to maintaining Christian standards of grace and respect in their words and communication (Colossians 4:6). Leaders and volunteers commit to avoiding malicious gossip and slander, destructive criticism of other volunteers or the church leadership, and spreading rumors. Ministry leaders commit to maintaining appropriate confidentiality when people speak to them in confidence.

 



 

 

Covenant

           

I understand and agree to the standards for ministry volunteers and commit to these standards

 

as a leader, volunteer, or committee member in ____________________________.

                                                                                    (ministry or committee)

 

 

_________________________________     ________________________

Name                                                              Date

Since I didn't get any good leads I am starting from scratch. I did see something from the Canadian Council of Christian Charities (http://www.cccc.org/members_sample_documents_view/html/17), but it was far too fundamentalist-oriented for our purposes.

I google searched on the subject and didn't come up with anything that really fit well with what you are looking for as a starting point.  It would be great to add this sample resource under the web "Church Finance and Admin Resources" when you have an approved document.

Well, sorry.  I didn't mean to imply that your council would not be involved.  And of course your council should do whatever it thinks best in this regard;  if it wants to look at what others have done, so be it.   Only my suggestion to perhaps consider starting from scratch, might help to change the tenor of the discussion in a surprising way.   They might take more ownership and might also give more thought to it.  All the best.

Hi, John,

Obviously we're not just going to blindly adopt someone else's policy; I was looking for some examples on which to build. I am in the midst of writing one now, and of course it will require council approval. The issue came up in council when there were cases of leaders involved in what I will vaguely call gross public sin or in a few cases boycotting church but still wanting to retain seats on committees or positions of leadership. I'm not thinking of the lists of vices that one had to foreswear, for example, at Wheaton College in the old days, some of which in the CRC where considered nigh unto holy virtues, if the smoke in the consistory room and the borrelje van Jenever after huisbezoek (drink of gin after the elder visit) was any indication.

Randy, you have mentioned some good stuff, but it might be useful if you discussed it as a council, rather than simply adopting someone else's policy.   It will help you to focus on what is important and what is not, depending on the type of volunteer position or activity, of which there are many types.  Some churches adopt a rule/guideline that to be a deacon, you may not drink alcohol or smoke.  Many other churches do not.  Some would say that divorced people and remarried ought not to serve as preachers or elders.   Some would evaluate the inconsistency between behaviour and leading a bible study.   In some cases the line of inconsistency is a bit gray, since how do we distinguish weakness from deliberate carelessness?  

From a spiritual perspective, discussing this in instances where it may be a concern, will lead to confronting issues and perhaps a better context for spiritual admonition than a simple:  "well that person doesn't qualify" type of environment.   Hope this helps a bit. 

That has also been the practice within Classis Huron. Only first time delegates (to classis) need to sign the Form of Subscription.

And within local church councils, only first time officebearers -- elders or deacons -- generally sign the Form of Subscription. And once Synod adopts the new Covenant, it seems logical that everybody will need to sign the new document.

It does beg the question: Does one's commitment to the Reformed creeds never change after 30, 40 or 50 years .. if you've been a long time office-bearer? The answer, presumably, is No.

Shari -

I live very close to NYC and have heard both sides of the issue you are referring to.  It is important to remember that the US Constitution (specifically the First Amendement) does not actually require the separation of church and state as most people recognize it.  All it requires is that "Congress shall make no law repescting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".  The agrument that the NYC Board of Education was making, as you pointed out, that by allowing people to worship in public schools when they are available (and thereby favoring Christians), they were inadvertently favoring one religion over the other.  I do not believe that this is a Constitutional issue.  It is merely a business opportunity for the city to make some extra revenue while schools are traditionally vacant.

John Van Buiten

Henry De Moor sent in this response to your question:

Technically, the Church Order of the CRCNA insists on having the Form
of Subscription signed by those being ordained at times stipulated by
the council and the classis (Art. 5).  For the council, in my
experience, most people sign it each time they are ordained, but there
are councils that do it only upon the ordination in the first term,
then not in additional terms.  As for the classis, most of them
stipulate that it be done by first-time delegates.  That follows a
more "Presbyterian" way of doing it since they believe in once
ordained, always ordained, and do not tie the ordination to the actual
times of service.  Interestingly, some classes ask a candidate for
ministry who has just passed the ordination exam to sign the form
right there and then, not even waiting until the first time he or she
might be delegated to the classis.  Currently, delegates to synod do
not sign the Form but "stand" for the Public Declaration.  My
prediction is that this will change to signing the new "Covenant," as
we will now call it, so it seems. 

Background checks and the persons confession are extremely important. Ability to relay Gospel in coherent manner is also a plus. I don't know how you would evaluate or monitor lifestyle or moral behavior. Hope you find what you need.

I heard of a man that the day he found out his wife was having a affair with a man who was his pastors good friend. The way I understand the story, he drove aound till 3;30 am looking for him. Not mind you to hurt him but to prevent him  from commiting suicide . He found him and gave him enough hope to carry on. That is a pretty cool example of how Jesus allowed him to extend Grace under pressure. You can't by his book because I heard about this verbally. I thought I share this comforting story of  how God can work. Even though this is a old conversation, I had to tell you guys this victory. God is Good

Does your local church have a missions program?  local missions?  that requires money to support it?  Local ministry is the first line of the wider ministry.   Every wider ministry has a local ministry aspect, local for them, wider for us.   Or local for us, wider for them.   Local ministry is very valid, and can be the most effective, if the effort is there and the spirit is right. 

 Is the amount allocated for facilities disproportionate to everything else?  Perhaps too much building for too few people?   Would you estimate that people are donating 10% of their income to church or kingdom causes?   or other charitable causes that fall into the category of caring for the widows and orphans (sick and needy).  or is it dramatically below that 10%?  

It may be that giving is low for spiritual reasons.   Perhaps we must be careful not to look at the amount given to the denomination as a potential mark of pride, nor as meeting some kind of criteria that we can meet the approval of God in it.  

God has given each church many talents, many minas.   Some of those talents and minas are money.   What are we doing with it?    

Let me share with you what is happening in our congregation.  And from talking with others we are far from the only congregations dealing with this.  We have begun giving to less organizations and more of our offerings are now for the local budget.  Nearly every week we have an offering for the local budget.  Our budget hasn't even increased at the rate of inflation.  Yet, we are not receiving as much in offerings as we have in the past.  This means that we barely give anything to our denomination.  For some it is because they disagree with something at Calvin College or another part of the ministry shares.  For others, I'm not sure.

Right now the hot word is economy.  We blame it for the lack of giving.  Yet, our community hasn't really felt the pinch.  As a matter of fact, those I've talked to, including accountants and financial planners, agree that the incomes of our families have not been hurt.

What I feel, although I have no actual proof, is that we are not as interested and concerned about our communal involvement in the world.  If we can't see it and it doesn't impact us then we are less interested in participating in it.  Many from our community haven't been outside of the community so for them the world is within a short drive.

There was a time, not so long ago when we gave 100% to denomination, classis, and the local budget.  Now, with less organizations we are giving a measly 15% to the denomination.  I don't see how the way in which ministry shares are promoted or the information that we receive leads us to giving less.  It seems to me that the reason is ourselves and not the system or the information.

We are struggling with this issue in our church and have had many conversations within council.  No one really has an answer to why we have this problem.  Is it because we aren't willing to sacrifice as much as our ancestors?  Is it because we no longer feel a connection to the rest of the denomination?  Is it because we are concerned about our local community at the expense of the wider ministry?  Is it because we have become more selfish?  These are hard if not impossible questions to answer when you are dealing with a whole congregation but they are questions that need to be asked.

So far I haven't preached a message on this because I'm still trying to figure it out.  May God give us all grace, wisdom, and gratitude so that we are cheerful and abundant givers!

Perhaps it is poor giving leading to lack of ministry shares....   but maybe it is good giving, sacrificial giving, but not necessarily to ministry shares.   We maybe have to be careful not to assume that not giving to "service"  shares is the same thing as poor giving.  There may be other avenues of service.  We all make choices about what we donate to.   So for example, if I have two universities and two colleges asking me for donations, I may decide to donate more to a Christian college than to a secular university, and also more to a Christian college that follows scripture than a college that appears to be only nominally christian or one that is less closely aligned to my view of christian committment and witness.   Or if  several organizations are asking for funds to support children in third world countries, how does one make a choice about which ones to support or use.   Or  if several missionaries or mission fields (foreign and local) come to my attention, how do I decide to support one or more, or do I decide to abdicate that choice to someone else?  

Giving money is one thing, and perhaps relatively easy.   But tying in personal committment and action to the giving of money is much more difficult (it can hurt sometimes).   So getting involved in local missions and relief is often a lot less fun (and sometimes more rewarding and more fun), and involves a whole lot more work and sacrifice than just writing a cheque.  

I am not at all saying that it is wrong to have ministry shares.   But there is a danger that a few actions by one or two agencies might hurt the entire panorama of ministry shares.   A parallel example is where many people do not donate at all to United Way campaigns simply because Planned Parenthood is in the mix, and they support abortion.  The other organizations in the mix kind of lose out because of it.   But perhaps they still benefit as well, due to the efficiencies of collection of money by one organization. 

We ought not to get angry about how other people donate or contribute financially.  They should be encouraged to give back some of what God gave them financially, and perhaps about 10% is a good guideline for most people.  But ultimately it is part of their relationship to God.   Giving uncheerfully or grudgingly or is not what God desires.   He doesn't need nor want our sacrifices, as the prophets clearly indicate.   He wants our hearts.  Then the thank offerings will come. 

John,

I understand what you are saying.  It is hard when ministry shares is impersonal and often hard to put specifics on it.  Yet, I think that we too often find the blame in the system or shovel it off to those on the "top".  Really, the problem is all of us.  We don't care as much as we used to about our communal offering.  We look at it more as an economic transaction and so we expect to get a bang for our buck.  Unfortunately, we don't always see that but this is not an excuse for the poor giving of so many churches, mine included.  I get angry when we withhold our money because we don't trust each other or we have a problem with one person or one part of the denomination so we use money as a weapon.  What if we stopped blaming others and looked at our own desire or lack of desire to give?  What if we gave with the expectation that we won't know the wonderful and amazing ways in which God will use it?  What if we gave so joyfully that we gave to the point of hurting?  What if we stopped being so "me-centered" and too focused on our own impact and started realizing how God has stretched our little denomination around the world and allowed each one of us to be a part of that by our ministry shares?  These, in my humble opinion, are the more important questions.

While ministry shares provide efficiency,  and security, and seem to lead to being able to talk about the 'numbers" statistics(countries, languages, missionaries), the greatest lack often seems to be the personal connection.  

We have a small church.  About 90- 100 attend every week, including small children, and children are about half the church.   Yet we had a collection two weeks ago where we contributed an amount equivalent to about half the ministry shares, in one single collection, to a non-ministry share foreign mission project in Kenya, mostly because we knew the people who were going there, and had seen videos and slides of the work that was progressing there.    Ministry shares may be good, but they often seem to end up in never-never land, being absorbed into the large soup pot of the church collective, and we are never quite sure what difference our particular contribution makes, or who uses it or spends it, or who is affected by it.   

It is not psychologically possible for people in most churches to observe or connect to 200 countries and 200  missionaries.  Small churches can handle one or two, and large churches maybe  four or five.   And somehow they have to connect themselves.   A connection handed down from above (perception) will not work so well, particularly if the connection is to a chaplain when they may be more tuned into foreign missions... or vice versa. 

Ministry share might be important, but not for their own sake.   They are important only for what they accomplish.   If the method of raising funds needs to be adjusted for some things, in order to accomplish more, then perhaps we should not be too reluctant to try something different. 

Thanks!!!  after 2 nights of reading 49 pages of instructions, I have a CPA comming to my office!!!  My eyes are glazed over!!  One more FYI.  I found out my church has not filled out Personal Property Tax forms for 9 years!!  Even though churces are tax exempt YOU MUST FILE ANYWAY!!!!  Keep your 501(3) status safe an file.

My understanding is that a minister may be included in the calculation of FTE's but not in the calculation of average wages because the minister is considered self-employed. The credit is only for premiums, not for amounts in an HSA account according to my reading of the instructions.

Is housing allowence included in wages for the minister?

If minister is self employed is he included in calculation?

If insurance policy included an HSA acct, can it be used for credit?

Sheri,

An addition to your "closure list" might be any software disks or other media (flash drives)  that contains church files and programs.  Many times a church can purchase software with a volume charity license and this software might be inadvertently be in the former employee's possession.

It would be good for the local council to make the decision, given that technically the congregational votes are advice to council.   However, in practical terms, if the council has not decided otherwise ahead of time, it would generally feel obligated to follow a simple majority.   

John, 

You ask if a simple majority would be sufficient to depose an elder or in the case of a single nominee.

Yes, the majority, not the minority, should determine these matters.

 

 

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