Comment Stream

Wendy Hammond March 8, 2010

Hi JT,

There are a lot of powerpoints on the CRCNA website: but looks like they are sort of outdated.

This link will take you to more up to date resources:

Here is a link to the current CRWRC DVDs:

One of our dilemmas as agencies is that video is more costly to produce than powerpoint, but churches seem to want videos. Any ideas? Any certain types of videos or powerpoints that are more helpful than others?

posted in : Video Resources
Karl Westerhof March 8, 2010

Paul, How about something like this --
What if the revitalization of the CRC depends like never before on deacons to show us how to answer the urgent needs in our communities? What if now is the moment to mobilize the denomination to do the deeds which will provoke the questions to which the Gospel is the answer? Is this the time for pastors, elders and deacons to SHARE leadership together, gathering the specific gifts and callings, and shaping the leadership team to respond to opportunities. Deacons would have a high profile in this mix these days I think. I'd go so far as to say it might be a kairos moment for deacons.

Karl Westerhof March 8, 2010

JT, Steve VS (works for WM) who hosts the missions page, and Wendy Hammond at CRWRC, and then the offices of BTGMI and Home Missions.... there are folks who would be happy to send you exactly what you are looking for. I'll mention this to them too.

posted in : Video Resources
Nick Monsma March 8, 2010

It seems to me that (at least in our case) that statistic might exaggerate the impact that paying with cash could have on our budget. In the first place, there is a lot of spending that cannot be done with cash: certain bills, online purchases, etc. Furthermore, there are many kinds of spending that wouldn't be reduced because payment is made in cash: medical copays, auto repair bills, etc. It seems to me that gasoline would go in this category too, since I personally drive as little as possible already.

I quickly looked at our budget and estimated that what is left when I exclude all of these things is about 20% of our monthly spending -- of which nearly all of it is made with a credit card (and paid off each month). If it is true that we buy 25% more because we use a credit card, we could theoretically reduce our total monthly spending by about 4%.

Perhaps it's worth abandoning the credit card to save 4%. But I'd also like to know more about how using cash will reduce my spending. In my experience, I choose to purchase something long before I get to the checkout. And I make the decision based not on how I'm paying for it, but on what the price is. Sometimes I haven't even decided how to pay for it when I decide to purchase it. It would be good to understand this further to see what sorts of steps we could take -- other than ditching the convenience of the credit card -- to get a similar effect. But a fascinating thought nonetheless.

One thing I am sometimes concerned about is the fact that my pay-it-off-each-month use of a credit card is subsidized by those who use their cards irresponsibly and pay much in fees and interest. Their fees and interest pay for my convenience. Is that right?

Tim Postuma March 8, 2010

Interesting question! Does anyone know whether the same is true for debit cards?

As for credit cards, I use mine as an alternative to carrying cash but now you've got me thinking. Plus the more I learn about the industry's practices the more horrified I become.

It would be great if there was an ethical alternative to the biggies - one that still gives the convenience but encourages responsible financial behavior. Impossible?

Mark Stephenson March 8, 2010

As an added comment to this discussion, Pastor Bill Van Den Bosch sent me the following note on March 4 which is copied here by his permission, "We had a retreat today with some folks from Oakdale that are part of a sermon training team and we discussed this very matter. We settled on an an understanding that whatever definition of excellence we want to settle on (technical excellence, presentation excellence, etc) it should create an inclusive worship that recognizes the presence and gifts of all and not an exclusionary worship in which the presence and gifts of worshipers - including those with disabilities - are not seen as "good enough" or bringing less than the best to God. The challenge that we have is that it is easier to measure the excellence of musical or verbal presentations than it is to measure excellence of the heart."

Andrew Alkema March 7, 2010

That would be great. It's hard to find good visuals.

Gayla Postma March 6, 2010

I think we're already seeing the growing chasm between contemporary worship and traditional worship being played out intergenerationally. At a recent funeral, teens and early 20s attenders did not know any of the hymns, and at graveside could not recite the Apostle's creed. After hundreds of years of hymns being inter-generational, we seem to be reaching a time when songs that those in their 30s know are different songs from the 20-somethings, and different still with the teens. Never mind the hymns that only the 40s and over know. There is no continuity or shared experience, it seems.
The contemporary songs today that have depth in both words and music will stick, and the rest will be sung for a year or two and die away. That is not new. When we all sang out of the same hymnal, the songs with depth and sing-a-bility were sung often and the ones that were difficult, dull, or whatever, were sang so seldom that many were dropped from subsequent versions of the hymnal.
I welcome new songs that are theological sound and meant to be sung by a congregation, not a performer. So I wouldn't classify myself as only weeping over the change, and as for resources for making wise choices, I would say Sing A New Creation would be a good start as opposed to introducing every new song that comes down the pike just because someone on a praise team likes it.
However, if one is in a congregation where contemporary is "in" and an occasional hymn is only thrown in for the "old folks" then the whole conversation about resources and what we can learn is moot.

Mark Stephenson March 6, 2010

Thanks for your comments. Maybe an illustration would help most to make my point more clear.

Our family has attended an annual diversity service the past several years which has been sponsored by our classis diversity team. Those services are rich with participation by Latino, Lao, Vietnamese, African- and European-American people as well as people with disabilities. One of the women who usually participates in leadership has cerebral palsy which makes her speech somewhat difficult to understand. That fact alone would be enough for many worship committees to exclude her from participation even though she has important things to say and pray. They would leave her out because she does not reach a standard of spoken excellence that they are looking for. She has spoken and lead in prayer in the past to the great appreciation of those present and to the greater glory of God.

It seems to me that many people view worship as a performance which must attain some standard rather than as a dialogue with God (which I believe is the higher standard to which James calls leaders of God's people). As a result, many people with disabilities are written off by worship committees for worship leadership with the reason given that the worship service must be excellent (using the achievement of a certain human standard as the definition of excellence).

I can easily imagine a person who is a polished speaker by human standards who detracts from dialogue with God in a public worship service, and a person who is not a polished speaker (like the woman I refer to above) who in leading worship draws the entire congregation into deeper dialogue with God.

Is my point more clear now?

March 5, 2010

I work for a company owned by Citibank. I agree that people spend more on their credit cards, even if they pay them off in full each month. I struggle with a job that sometimes encourages people to spend more money then they have. There are a lot of people that don't make wise decisions with their money, and it really makes me feel bad.

Tim Postuma March 5, 2010

Thanks! It's fixed now.

Mark Hilbelink March 5, 2010

John, thanks for a great question - I appreciate the focus on stepping back from our current situations at looking at the big picture.

I firmly believe that the biggest mistake we're going to regret in 50 years is that we set contemporary/modern worship as an either/or over against traditional worship, both musically and preferentially. I think, as we see the dust beginning to clear from the "worship wars", we're seeing a huge chasm between traditional-only and modern-only churches. If we're realistic, I think that means in 50 years, as traditional churches continue to close their doors, the songs they sang will be locked up, as well.....and I think that's a dirty shame.

I might be in the "cheering" section for change, but I really love hymns. However, since the modern and traditional crowds decided to fight a war rather than learn from eachother, the casualties are necessarily going to be quality traditional hymns simply due to the age groups who sided with one or the other. Maybe not in the next 10 or 20 years, maybe not even in 50 years, but the trajectory is fairly clear to this observer.......and its a microcosm of the Church as a whole that reaches farther than music to theology, practical ministry, etc.

Churches who participate in separate traditional/contemporary services and divided worship services into "praise team" and "organ" exclusive sections only contribute to this divide and drive it home to congregants. I always try to encourage bands to play hymns because it drives home a different message - if the Church is going to be one just as God is one, then the music must also be one.

March 5, 2010

the link isn't clickable

Mavis Moon March 5, 2010

Our church has gone through changes in our worship style, or at least our musical style. We changed from all organ & piano & hymns or praise songs to a praise band and a worship leader who plays guitar and we include more contemporary music. We try to honor our tradition, though, by also including many hymns, often with the same traditional tune but a more contemporary beat, some transitional bridges or choruses. I love this blend of tradition and contemporary because I love the hymns so familiar to me and I like learning new things.

I thought of this when you asked about "the losses you feel". My wish when we started changing to this more contemporary style was that our members who loved the familiar hymns wouldn't feel a loss because we continue to include so many of the hymns. Unfortunately, it seems that quite a few people don't think it "counts" as singing a hymn unless it's sung exactly the same as they've always heard it, and only accompanied by a piano or organ, not a praise band.

I wonder if others have experienced this in their churches and what they are doing. We're going to try having one of our worship team members who is an organist start coordinating a special portion of the service for a traditional hymn with traditional accompaniment - probably a mix of solos, choral groups and congregational singing. I'm hoping this will help. I'd love to hear other ideas or thoughts.

Mavis Moon
San Jose CRC

Ernie DeVries March 5, 2010

Thanks, Chad. I agree that the health of a congregation's worship is directly reflected in the strength of it's singing - and based upon that we're doing pretty poorly. I think I'm going to send your post along to the members of our worship committee.

March 4, 2010


Honestly, if there's an under-the-radar network of modern-music-playing CRC folks, I'm not aware of it. OK, that wouldn't be so surprising, I guess...but where I'm going is that my "education", as it were, in modern church music has come from non-denominational sources--Campus Crusade for Christ, Christian radio, and various places on the internet. I would guess that I'm not the only one finding support and ideas out there, so I'd guess that's where you're most likely to find people doing that.

Specifically on the Contemporary Songs for Worship: if it's the book I'm thinking of (a little red book? ...oh, that sounds bad), I looked through it and wasn't that excited. The arrangements reminded me a lot of what I've seen from Sing! a New Creation, and I've often felt those were lacking in a band context. I may not be quite as much a purist as others on songs for guitar vs. piano--I love arranging hymns for guitar, and I could totally picture organ arrangements of newer songs. However, I'd say songs in general carry a certain attitude/ethos/soul, and that's just as much a part of "modern music" as the melody and lyrics. I think it's often possible to translate that ethos to a different instrument, or deconstruct the song and rebuild it around a different, yet still authentic, ethos, but the people who are capable of doing those things usually don't need a whole lot of help from sheet music. And so the SNC book (and presumably Cont. Songs for Worship) are making contemporary lyrics and melodies accessible, I'm not so sure they're really making the music more accessible...if that makes any sense.

Neil de Koning March 4, 2010

Thanks for the concern.

I agree that confidentiality needs to be maintained. And it is true that particular difficult situations which could potentially be identified would not be appropriate for this forum. How to handle this and still talk?

First, let me suggest that most situations have a lot in common with many others situations. We can engage in some conversation about general areas of concern. While everyone likes to think of their situation as unique, fact is that it has much more in common with others than they imagine. So lets talk about some pastoral concerns.

Second, if there is something particular you wish to talk about but are unsure, send me an email. I can change identifiers, raise the concern under my name and let the conversation flow without it being directly related to a contributer in the forum. This way some distance can be maintained.

thanks once again. Neil


posted in : Confidentiality
Mark Hilbelink March 4, 2010

I appreciate your article here, Mark, but I think perhaps I disagree a little.

Excellence is really a funny term because it means different things to different people in different situations. I think one thing you're failing to point out here is that growth is an important part of excellence. If someone sings or reads poorly and no one says anything to them or doesn't help them improve, you're doing that person a disservice just as we would if they were having trouble in any other aspect of their spiritual life and we didn't come alongside.

Additionally, worship leadership falls under the broader category of teaching/leadership in general - which James mentions calls us to submit to a higher standard. I think throwing just anyone up on stage in worship is a disservice to them and the worshipping body. What's more - worship is a firstfruits offering and giving less than our best is a real issue.

I've met a lot of people in my time leading worship who really cared deeply about God and loved him and maybe even loved worship, but who didn't have the gifts to lead it. In a sense, it would be like throwing a cello at you and asking you to play cello in front of church, even though you probably never have.

I guess I'm really not sure what you're arguing for?

Jolanda Howe March 4, 2010

We just talked with our pastor about making that happen! Do you have a pattern in place so that you're sure to include people of various ages throughout the month, or does it depend on the month? I remember as a child going to a Catholic Mass where another child read scripture. It was like an instant connection. I wanted to go back there for worship because there seemed to be a place for me! Something seemingly small can have a bit impact . . . The worship team at my church does include teens and preteens--I'm so glad! We also have junior deacons who participate in the offering and prayer.

Do you use any type of worship outline/folder? I want to provide something that will help the older elementary and middle schoolers track with the sermon and engage more fully in other elements of worship, but I'm still looking for a good way to do that.

Angela Elliott March 4, 2010

We have people in the congregation read the scripture before the sermon and that is one place people from all generations can participate. Youth also participate in choir and praise teams.

Chad Meeuwse March 3, 2010

Hi everyone, I thought I'd join in the conversation here to add another voice from a different (though for some, maybe more familiar?) CRC-subset.

First, I would like to suggest here that there is no good formula for "modernizing" worship that can work in every congregation across the board. I'm sure you all can agree with that. Here is our story:

The church I serve was established in the mid-1930s in central California. It is said that the churches in our classis are more conservative than most in the whole denomination. My congregation's overall voice still includes a strong Dutch accent as a vast majority of our body is descendants of immigrants. Needless to say, change happens slowly. Over the last 10 years our congregation has checked some things off the modern worship list- projectors, quality sound system, and the addition of the "praise team" – including drum kit, guitars, and bass. However, 25 years ago, our church also purchased a pipe organ which to this day is one of the finest instruments from Fresno to Sacramento.

There were a few issues in place when I was hired 4 years ago at Modesto.
1. There wasn't much buy-in from the congregation from the beginning of the movement toward "contemporary" music. Though the equipment was purchased, it was still met with resistance. There is still some residual groaning to this day.
2. The "praise teams" were assigned 4 songs to sing at the beginning of the service only (the real worship began when they were finished), and the songs were chosen months in advance, therefore having little to do with the rest of the service.
3. The "praise songs" used (some, not all) were of what I like to call the "hoke" variety. Let me know if you need a further explanation of “hoke” or “hokeyness”.
4. The worship after the "praise songs" was disjointed, often taking on the flavor of "liturgical tossed-salad".

When I started the job, the first thing we tackled was flow. Musical and verbal transitions became much more important, and more actual worship leadership was given to the "praise teams". Secondly, we began connecting each song to its particular function in the service (praise, confession, illumination, etc). This added substance to the "praise songs" which they lacked when placed as token pieces of the service. I should also note that intentionality toward the placement of hymns aided in strengthening the flow. We also beefed up our diet of "praise songs". I saw the Top 25 CCLI list was mentioned in previous posts, so I reference it here for mine. Of the songs listed there, 15 are regularly sung in our worship, though I don't believe the CCLI list should be the end-all be-all to what we sing in church. Not suggesting any of you believes that either. The truth is, better songs are being written now than they were in the last couple decades (better hymns too!).

My congregation is a body that loves to sing, especially hymns. I believe they always will be. If you visit our church on a Sunday when we sing "It Is Well" you will know exactly what I am talking about. We also have a 30-voice choir that sings almost every Sunday. Our current pastor, who has served over a dozen churches in 40 years of ministry, has said that one way of gauging the health of a congregation is by how loud they sing. Our congregation is in a place now where they even belt out "Blessed Be Your Name" and "How Great Is Our God". We have provided them with the tools to grow by projecting music on the screens whenever possible and with 2 or 3-part harmony (4 if it's a hymn; all done in-house); we've taught the choir new songs in rehearsal so they can support the congregation when they're seated among them in the sanctuary; and they've learned by example that there is value in all kinds of music when they see praise team members wearing choir robes, teenagers in the choir and handbell choir, and the music director leading them in worship as he moves from organ to directing the praise team from the piano to directing the choir. Little practical things like the “hymn sandwich” (e.g. segueing to a stanza of “Holy, Holy, Holy” from the middle of “God of Wonders” and back), worship leaders who invite the congregation to join in singing a new song as they feel comfortable, and working toward finding a good balance between the “familiar and fresh” (thank you, Ron Rienstra) has also encouraged the buy-in we needed from the beginning.

Are we a “modern” church? No, probably not in the sense the original post had in mind. That’s not part of our DNA. But we are a living and growing body, in the here and now; a church unified (not blended, but unified) in our style of worship. I echo Marva Dawn’s words here when talking about traditional vs. contemporary styles of worship: “God is our ‘both/and’ to our ‘either/or’.” We didn’t just invent Him and we can’t put limits on Him. That’s how we see it. Like I said at the beginning, I don’t see a formula for modernizing worship that can be applied to every congregation. Other churches may take greater steps in that direction, especially newly established churches. But for us, this is how God is blessing our congregation. To Him be the glory!

If you made it this far, thanks for reading :)

Adam Van Dop March 3, 2010

Like others, I don't use just one of the models, but use a mix of them. In my mind, if you run a program solely under one of these models, 'success' just might not be found. Different kids come out for different reasons. I know if I was to never have a 'just-for-fun' event, some of my kids would end up elsewhere, whereas if I never had small groups, I would loose everyone of my leaders. Here's a bit of a break-down of what goes on over here ...
1. Event focused
- Around once a month, or once every other month, we'll do something extra, be it a random game night, service projects, or worship night with other local youth groups.
2. Relationally-based
- I try to meet up with most of my youth for coffee or a coke. I encourage my leaders to also do the same, so that we can build relationships through the goodness of starbucks or tim hortons!
3. Small Group
- for the most part, this is our focus, we use small group ministry to teach the kids here. I would say it happens 80% of the youth nights. When there isn't a scheduled SG night, lower numbers show up. The hard part is of course finding curriculum suited to all ages.

Adam Van Dop March 3, 2010

a couple pages i use for YM games and general ideas ::

posted in : SUGGESTIONS Please
March 3, 2010

I have attended all three "Christians & Money" conferences, and the one thing I noticed at each event was the incredible "buzz" during the breaks. The content is always thought-provoking, challenging, and inspiring, and the opportunity to connect with other church leaders to process what you just heard, or to discuss stewardship challenges in your church is truly unique.

Alex Krikke March 3, 2010

I have served as elder in a number of CRC's and have been involved with many Home Visits. My observation is that responses to these visits are by and large contrived, failing to glean from the visits true and heartfelt dialogue on the most important subjects that effect the respondents' relationship with Christ. (an "its' my business, not yours" attitude) Somewhere along the line Elders, and the church, for that matter have lost their authority over congregations, making many attempts to nurture ineffectual. Perhaps we need to explore a new way to reach out, preach to, and teach our congrations.
May I suggest one of the best way is to form the "Small Group" ideal - where elders, and maybe deacons are put in charge of facilitating small, house -sized groups once a month or so, with the objective of studying Christinan literature, and socializing, getting to know one another in a more intimate way, freeing us to express what we feel in a non-threatening way.

Tim Postuma March 3, 2010

Great reminder, Noah. These are open forums and so elders (and others) need to maintain confidentiality here just as in other venues. If you ever see something that's questionable, hit the "flag as inappropriate" button and it will be immediately removed and queued for review.

posted in : Confidentiality
Lou Wagenveld March 3, 2010

Mark, in Global and Local you said "I think it necessitates looking at where we erred in our history" (or to that effect). I'd like to mention one dimension of that that has marked the DNA of our denomination (and others, like the Presbyterians as well).
Humanly speaking I owe much of my initial missionary vision and calling to the "Women's Missionary Union" meetings of a generation ago. But later as I went around on the tours speaking to them, I realized that Union should never have come into being. It did because the male-run consistories never took on that responsibility, and "missions" became largely the domain of the ladies, bless them. They had the support of a minority of so-called "mission-minded" ministers, but the congregational leadership focused elsewhere: mostly internally.
It is hard to undo history, or, to use the other metaphor "get missions in your blood" when your DNA doesn't have it.
I'm very concerned that now in this generation so much of the vision and initiative is seemingly in the hands and actions of another fringe element: the youth group! Or worse, the young short-term enterpriser, off to save the world. It is now increasingly difficult to even find a "Missions Committee" in local churches that answers to the Council; often the deacons have to field the funding requests, knowing little about the plan or person (other than that she is so-and-so elder's niece and the letter she sent sound like they have a challenge)
The solution? If the CRWM Board hasn't found it, will it apprear in this Network discussion?
I'll be following the conversation. For now, this historical (sometimes histerical) reflection.

posted in : Local and Global
Mark Hilbelink March 3, 2010

Hey Steve...

Sorry, I didn't see you'd replied to this thread. I was mostly just talking semantics of the word choice, but I think this is a great conversation.

I see a real interesting chicken-and-egg question here. Does a passion for local mission bloom into a passion for overseas missions in our people? I'm fairly certain, at least historically, that that was not the case. Or, put more directly, if you had a metaphorical gun to your head, and could only choose community impact or global missions financing for your congregation, which would you pick?

In our increasingly-congregational denomination, I think that paradigm is shifting.....but I'm not sure people really know what that means yet! I just finished a message series on missional living only to get asked 100 times, "I want to impact my community, but what does that look like?" I think we can resource THAT by showing examples of ongoing community impact ministries (like churches/small groups that do monthly service projects, etc.). I found it telling (about the CRC) that you didn't list viewing local missions as an alternative to global missions as an option above, but I think we may see that reality within my lifetime as this thing swings.

posted in : Local and Global
Mark Hilbelink March 2, 2010

Hi Ernie.....welcome to the conversation!

First of all, I want to say that I'm encouraged by your willingness to stay involved in your church's worship committee, even though you may not all be in agreement. Like all things in Christian life - this an a real iron-sharpens-iron subject and I'd like to welcome you as someone who really has a different perspective on the subject.

I think you bring up some really interesting questions that we may not agree on, but I'll try to give an honest answer as someone who's led worship in traditional-blended churches moving toward modern worship....

1. In regards to songbooks, its really a tough issue. Since most modern worship music is created and sung in environments that use projection exclusively, I don't know of ANY church that actually keeps an up-to-date modern worship songbook. If you can pull it off, more power to you - but I can imagine it is a hefty challenge. Modern worship comes out of the pop/rock music genre, which often lends itself towards free harmonizing rather than printed 4-part harmonies - often in thirds or descants. The only source I know of for 4-part harmonies in modern worship music is CCLI's hymn sheet database, which varies in cost depending on your church size. See my comment on your other post about printed music.

2. In regards to projection not matching printed words, etc.: In my experience, it is rarely a malicious attitude that causes such confusion. Projection is a touchy business and mistakes are far too common, even in megachurches. One way that we try to avoid mismatching is to have the projectionist prepare the projection ahead of time and do a "dress rehearsal" with the worship team. This requires more time on behalf of the projectionist, but often results in a smoother service, thus enabling people to worship more easily. In addition, often bands play from chordsheets, which do not necessarily match printed music - or simply add additional choruses or verses as a creative method.........that's part of what makes reading the music hard. But again, you have to remember that hymns and modern worship are different genres and thus, are written out and played differently. It doesn't make one or the other bad - just different.

3. Regarding changing stanzas at the wrong time, I can tell you that we as musicians and projectionists screw up, even on our best days, about 10% of the time. Aggressive practicing can help this, but that's often not very realistic in a small church atmosphere.

4. Re: Music on the radio. I will grant that there are some songs that are played on the radio that are not good for congregational singing, but we'd probably disagree on a few. For instance, we sang "If We Are the Body" by Casting Crowns on Sunday and it was executed flawlessly by the band and the congregation, even though its not a particularly "congregational" song. I think the bigger issue is often that churches try to play modern worship songs without a modern worship band. Chris Tomlin, Hillsong United, etc., who write most of what we sing as "modern" songs today play with no less than an rhythm guitar, a lead guitar, a bass guitar, a drummer, a keyboardist and a CLEAR worship leader. Trying to play worship songs and expecting them to sound like they do on CD's without a worship BAND is foolish. Many churches make this mistake and end up ruining their chance for modernization. The #1 rule of worship transition - if you're going to do anything, do it WELL. If you can't do it well, don't do it - you'll just face controversy. And you're right - worship can cause divisiveness if its not changed well. I encourage you to keep encouraging your musicians and your worship ministry to press on in faith, hope and [the greatest of these] love.

I'd love to talk more about it! []

Mark Hilbelink March 2, 2010

Hey Ernie....

First, let me say that CCLI's SongSelect is the best place for 4-part modern worship songs, in my opinion, especially because you can transpose them. It should be said, however, that these are mostly just chord formations off the lead sheets (ie, taking the guitar chord and just attaching 4 notes to it - not made for actual 4-part congregational singing).

In regards to a MIDI setup with music notation software, its definitely a possibility, but may cost you more time and effort than you care to put forward.

I wonder, have you ever considered bringing in a vocal teacher who understands pop music dynamics to come teach your vocalists about harmonization in the pop/rock genre? I don't know of any modern worship bands in churches or otherwise who sing from 4-part hymn sheets/songbooks, simply because 4-part hymn-style singing is not really part of the pop/rock genre most modern worship music is written in. But no fear - harmony is still an important piece - its just often not written out as we're used to it - it is more of a learned ear-trained skill, developed over time.

One other point, I noticed in your comments here and Joyce's on the other page something about "songs should not be more than 2 pages". It seems to me that worship music has gotten a bum rap for years for being "happy-clappy" or "simple choruses", etc. (insert modern worship critique here). BUT, when bands like Hillsong United actually DO write complex worship songs (more complex than hymns, musically and lyrically, I might add), we complain that they're too long. The reality is simply that they're not MEANT to be played or sung off of 4-part hymn sheets, per the comments above.

That said, if you can make a songbook work, more power to you, brother!


Ernie DeVries March 2, 2010

Well, I'm the computer techie but just don't have any experience in this area. As for copyright, we've goat a ccli membership and are careful to stay within the rules for that.

Beth Swagman March 2, 2010

Thank you for raising the issue of "spiritual talk". I'm not quite sure how to respond to spiritual talk. Mostly, I feel guilty for even thinking about challenging it when I hear it. I'll give an example. What does "That's a God thing" mean? Isn't everything a God thing? If I agree with the speaker, I'm probably saying that just to be nice. I'm tempted to challenge it, but then will the speaker think I don't give credit to God for His work? See, it just messes me up. The use of spiritual talk reminds me of peer pressure. Others judge you as "in" or "out" depending on whether you say what they say. Those judgments get elevated to a greater impact when people use scriptures to justify the judgments.

March 2, 2010

Thank you all for sponsoring this 4th Christian and Money Conference! My husband, Stan and I had attended the 2nd Conference at the Prince Center once and it was very good and inspiring!

If we want to see the Lord Jesus come soon we need this kind of seminar which will encourage us all Christians to give our tithes and offerings faithfully to our churches so that our churches will have all the resources needed to fund the fulfillment of the Great Commission. I heard from the 2nd Christian and Money Conference speaker Dr. Rodger Rice that statistics showed (by Barna Group) that the average giving of the North American Christian is only 2 % and Calvin College Social Research Center showed that we at the CRCNA are only giving on the average of 4.5%. Come to think about it, if we are all going to be faithful in giving a minimum of the tithe (10%), then we will be able to reach the ends of the earth for Christ. Then the Lord Jesus will come already, wow, hallelujah!

Matthew 24:14 says, "And this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." We still have around 1.5 billions of the world populations who have not heard of the gospel yet. Church members, we need your financial support to carry on this global mission.

I am very excited to hear again the findings of Dr. Roger Rice in his survey of the Good Steward Ministry sponsored by the Barnabas Foundation in cooperation with CRC churches. And to hear about the Stewardship Bible and the reports of experiences of the Good Steward Churches.

May God bless this 4th Christian and Money Conference with many attendees and many Christians who will be faithfully applying the lessons learned through this gathering. I pray that we at CRCNA and globally will all long to see the Lord Jesus face to face. To God be the glory!

Beth Swagman March 2, 2010

I agree that the perfect screening procedure does not exist. However, if a tool is inadequate by itself (the criminal record check), then we should be willing to seek out other steps of screening. An application form can ask about an applicant's experience with other organizations. For example, was the applicant dismissed or terminated for misconduct? Interviews are another important screening step. During an interview, the applicant might describe his or her conduct with a child which could lead the interviewer to question the applicant's suitability to work with that age group. And references are not just about asking your best friends for a rosey review. Some friends or co-workers will share the concerns they have about an applicant if they are assured the source won't be shared with the applicant. The point to be made here is that we should do due diligence to assure parents and guests to our churches that we have taken reasonable steps to consider the appropriateness of each volunteer for a position. What do other people think?

Mavis Moon March 2, 2010

When we decided to re-do our website we looked for this type of solution, one that was all on the web and did not involve any installation of software. We also wanted this setup so that a member who is more technical and knows web design could login to do more advanced things, while I, knowing less about web design, could do the bulk of the work.

We narrowed it down to either Squarespace ( or Gutensite (, both of which we'd seen used by other churches whose websites we liked. We ended up going with Squarespace because it seemed to offer a little more flexibility. It's worked really well for us.

Mavis Moon
San Jose Christian Reformed Church

Karen DeBoer March 2, 2010

We used to rent a highschool for our church services and used the teacher's staff room for our nursery. In addition to staplers and paper cutters that needed to be covered up there was a huge bubble gum machine in the room!! We used the bedsheet system too:)

Whenever I'm setting up my Sunday school room I always take a moment to sit where the kids will be sitting so I can see what they will see. That way I can remove distractions and make sure the action is at their eye level.

posted in : Chair Wars
March 2, 2010

Wonderful! We can celebrate together the one great mission of Jesus Christ.

posted in : Both And
Joyce Borger March 2, 2010

Many good points have been made here. And let me assure you that many of them have been thought through. As suggested I will start a new thread regarding the new hymnal and pick up on this conversation there.

Joyce Borger March 2, 2010

Yes, you would need a music program like Finale or Sibelius and buy a keyboard w/ a midi interface so you can hook it up to your computer. There should be a computer techie around who can help you hook things up and download the right programs. There may be some free music softward online as well.

I do need to add a friendly reminder regarding copyrights. Arrangements of published music are not allowed to be made without the permission of the copyright holders.

Jason Postma March 2, 2010

1. My greatest joy is developing relationships with students, youth leaders, and families of our youth.

2. My greatest struggle is getting the congregation to see the importance of letting the youth have an active leadership role in all aspects of church life, particularly in regular worship service planning, membership on committees, and in providing fresh insight and innovative ideas for our church.

posted in : Joys and Struggles
March 2, 2010

I'm one at Willowdale CRC in Toronto. Same title probably does not mean the same job description, but it could still be good to connect.


March 1, 2010

Our council is trying a new council structure where there is an administrative team and a pastoral team and we went through the process of creating job descriptions for clerk... Our description included minutes, membership records and transfers, correspondence and emailing, and other stuff. hope that helps.

Shirley DeVries March 1, 2010

Cloud computing definitely opens up opportunities for churches.

For readers that may not be certain what cloud computing is I thought it might be helpful to give a quick overview.

Cloud computing is not brand new but it is taking off in the tech world as a way for small to medium businesses to be able to take advantage of robust technology with less capital investment. Cloud computing can present some great opportunities for churches for the very same reasons.

There are a number of ways that cloud computing has been defined. SaaS (software as a service) is another term that is sometimes used inter-changeably with cloud computing. The difference between this and the "standard" way of computing is that in the SaaS or cloud model you are leasing the software vs buying the software. You are cloud computing when the data and application that you use are housed on servers that you don't have physical access to. A service provider hosts and maintains the equipment and the application.

In general, cloud computing provides a number of advantages.
-- It allows users to access the information whenever it is convenient for them.
-- Typically upgrades are on-going and less cumbersome to apply. Often upgrades are seamless.
-- The backup obligations are put on the provider, rather than on church staff.
-- Hardware becomes less of an issue--it is more about what browsers are supported than whether you are using a PC or a MAC or what version of operating system you are using.
-- Compliance/regulations are often handled better by outsourcing than they are by keeping the data in-house.

When considering cloud computing there are some things to look for:
1) A contract that states that the information (data) belongs to the church and that obligates the company to provide you with the data in csv or text delimited format in the event of the termination of the contract for any reason.

2) A contract that specifies the data backup obligations of the company.

3) Encrypted access. This can be achieved in a variety of ways. The most common is SSL meaning when you access the site you do so via a URL that starts with https:\\ instead of the usual http:\\. Another way encrypted access may be provided is via Citrix--a client that you put on your PC or Mac that allows access into a network.

4) In comparing costs of on-line systems vs. in-house systems I have found that it helpful to
--include all the costs of an in-house system (remember you have to be backing it up)
--map out the costs for 3 years--the first year costs can be significantly different but looking at 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year costs will often show you a more accurate comparison.

5) Verify that the security of the provider and the system meet applicable privacy and data security laws. Data that is most critical center around bank account and credit card account numbers as well as social insurance/social security numbers. If you aren't keeping this type of data, and if you don't provide vendors with your mailing lists, your data compliance issues are greatly deminished. If you do keep bank/credit card numbers, ask providers about security compliance. Good things to look for are CICA 5970 certification (Canadian accounting), SAS 70 Type II certification (US accounting) and PCI DSS or PA DSS (these last two apply to credit card transactions).

Robert Felton March 1, 2010

I use Logos. I bought it when was taking classes at CTS, but at that time, I was a Windows-only user. Now I'm primarily a Mac user.

Logos 4 for Mac is officially still in Beta. They had a release version for Logos 3 (which I now use), but it was missing quite a bit of function. Since I have a working Logos 3 for Mac installation, I'll wait to upgrade to Logos 4 until the Mac Version is a full release.

I have way too much invested in Logos to consider switching to Accordance (or anything else).

Bob Felton
Ellsworth Christian Reformed Church

posted in : Study Software
Robert Felton March 1, 2010

We don't have a loop system, but we use a Sound Mate system (personal wireless receivers with ear-buds).

The receivers will also use a "loop" that hangs around your neck and connects to the pick-up in your hearing aide, if you have one that is so equipped.

In other words, we don't have a big "loop" that goes around the sanctuary, but small "loops" that hang around your neck.

This system works really well for us, because it works for both those whose hearing aides are equipped with receivers and those whose hearing aides are not.

Bob Felton
Ellsworth Christian Reformed Church

posted in : Loop System
Robert Felton March 1, 2010


To answer your question, We use MediaShout in our sanctuary for our main services.

I use ProPresenter on my personal laptop (late '08 MacBook Pro) for Youth worship and lessons.

Our Sanctuary computer is 8 years old; so, it's a little light-weight for MediaShout V4 now; so, when I do projection, I quite often use my own laptop, boot into Windows and use MediaShout (That's what we are licensed to use in our main services.)

Now that it's time to consider updating our main sanctuary computer, we may go with a Mac and use ProPresenter. ProPresenter is supposed to be available on Windows this summer; but from my experience, the Mac just runs these programs more efficiently.

Bob Felton
Ellsworth Christian Reformed Church

Shirley DeVries March 1, 2010

PowerChurch offers an on-line option as do many of church management systems. It may be worth taking a look at PowerChurch On-line rather than waiting on Google to be able to deliver a relational database.

Robert Felton March 1, 2010


I don't know of an open-source cross-platform solution. There is a cross-platform commercial solution, Live Worship. I've tested it myself. It isn't a high performer, but it is cross-platform and will display song lyrics and bible passages over still and moving backgrounds.

The three biggest names in commercial worship software right now are EasyWorship, MediaShout, and ProPresenter. Both EasyWorship and MediaShout are working on a Mac version, but neither is to the Beta testing stage yet. ProPresenter is working on a windows version, and although they haven't released a beta yet, they have announced an expected release for this summer.

Keynote is a little different than powerpoint, in that it does not have an API. In other words, programs cannot tap into it and use its functionality. You can, however, save your keynote presentations as either powerpoint slideshows or a series of jpeg images. You can then add this into any of the worship softwares we've mentioned.

Now, when it comes to quicktime, ProPresenter, being a Mac application, will play it natively. MediaShout and EasyWorship require some extra work to get them to playback quicktime content; but it can be done. What you need for either is the free K-Lite Mega Codec Pack. Here are some instructions from the MediaShout website; but keep in mind that if you have Windows 7 there is an additional step (see the second link).

I hope that is helpful. You can always contact me through the forum contact form.

Bob Felton
Ellsworth Christian Reformed Church

Robert Felton March 1, 2010

A little shameless self promotion here: There are several hosting/content management systems available as well. They combine the software, the hosting, and all of the ad-ins you mention above (plus support), but in a neat package for a monthly fee.

Faithwebsites is one such package that you can read about on my website

Bob Felton
Ellsworth Christian Reformed Church

Deloy Johnson March 1, 2010

Ivanrest CRC in Grandville, MI has had a loop system installed for a few years. We rarely hear much about it unless it's not working ... then we find out all the members who have been quietly relying on it. We have one member who has a profound hearing loss and always sat near the front to be able to read the lips of the pastor. She came to me with tears in her eyes following the first service she was able to use the loop and told me she heard every word of the sermon. Now she can sit anywhere she wants and can take notes without missing a word.

posted in : Loop System