In his entire campaign, Trump vilified his opponents, some of whom later refused to vote for him in the Presidential election. (ie. the Bush family). Many Rep were talking of voting against their party. In the end, Trump convinced most that he wanted to unite the party, that bygones are bygones, and he even appointed some of his most vociferous opponents to cabinet posts. You forget that if both parties simply spout the same lines, there is no reason to have two or three parties at all. It remains to be seen if Trump's vision will work out, but many christians were convinced that with all its foibles, it was still a better option than the alternative.
In all of this we are forgetting a few things. Trump appealed to people on a whole bunch of populist ideas and concerns. He fought his campaign not on the basis of California liberalism, but on mid-west conservatism. But for years, politicians have been ignoring the plight of the unborn who are murdered at will. It is a more significant issue than terrorism since the number of human beings, black, white, hispanic, who are destroyed by abortion is vastly greater than any other deliberate cause of death. So if judges are appointed who can respect life, who can put limits to this carnage, then christians and muslims and other decent human beings ought to support that. And Trump's withdrawal of support for Planned Parenthood alone would give him a tremendous amount of room to make mistakes in other areas. In addition, although Trump's personal life is by no means ideal with his divorces etc., nevertheless if he supports traditional marriage and family values, especially in his later life, or at least politically, then that is a very important consideration.
He has stated a very definitive support for legal hispanic immigrants, as well as for blacks and other minorities. His own wife is an immigrant, which speaks as loudly as any thing he has said. It is possible that if a convincing argument is made regarding harmlessness of vetted immigrants that he will reduce or reverse his strong stance on that issue. But remember that he is a politician trying to keep his promises made on the campaign trail, not a politican who was intentionally lying the whole time.
He will have difficulty with the health care issue also, but that is a whole 'nuther matter.
Well said, Matthew. And John Span's response is also a good response. I think what this proposed ban will do is to illuminate us more about what the real facts are. Many people have the same idea as Trump, which is why he implimented it. Searching out the real and relative risks is an important process, as well as becoming more aware of the vetting process that already exists. I think comparing terrorist damage to typical murders etc often forgets the apparent randomness of the terrorist violence. Most murders are domestic, or drug related, or crime related, so many people feel quite secure that they will not be victims. They do not feel secure when it comes to terrorism.... such as a soldier suddenly randomly shooting other soldiers, or a couple in California planning a bombing or shooting scenario. Nevertheless, the risk must be put into perspective, and into the context of what is already being done to examine potential refugee immigrants.
I would like suggestions for resources for small group study - not necessarily Bible studies
Matthew you raise many important points. Here are a few areas in which I can wholeheartedly agree:
1. Governments should be allowed to set policies.
2. Christians should be charitable.
3. Christians should utilise prophetic voices in the face of injustice.
4. When one part of the body suffers, then the rest suffers.
Each of these, categories can be subject to category confusion and manipulation, if not treated with discernment. Let me explain.
1. I lived in North Africa. A new president with a lot of resolve came into power. He worked hard to ensure that the day to day lives of people had a sense of security and stability. This was accomplished in part by jailing people who were implicated in causing insecurity, but not necessarily guilty. From the local people's stance, they saw this as the cost of having a largely stable country. That is to say, there was a certain amount of collateral damage. Sounds cold, but they saw this as part of the cost of being at war against the forces that would cause instabillty. Guess what the reaction of some journalists from the West was? They cried injustice, unfair, heavy-handedness and the like. What they were doing was imposing a certain idealistic view on a situation that was not their lived experience. Thus, it would have been convenient for even churches who expressed a lot of sentimental humanitarianism to join forces with the Western journalists and call for the ousting of the president. It would have made good press, but some of the realities on the ground called for other responses.
2. Christians should be charitable. Absolutely. But that needs to be with eyes wide open. That is to say, we need to understand the motivations and means of any group according to their own statements, their own declared intents and their own actions. If a talking snake says that it has a declared intent to topple all of the values and Judeo-Christian ethic in a hen-house, then one must ask if it is prudent to invite the snake into the henhouse under the guise of charity.henhouse under the guise of charity.
To focus Christian charity on Christian refugees and groups that are systemically targeted i.e. the Yazidis, is, as you mentioned, a necessary duty. Just yesterday, I signed a petition asking the government to help with those Pakistani refugees stuck in Thailand, and between a rock and a hard place. In some way their plight is more pitiful yet than some from the Middle-East. They don't get much press, because the press is highly selective especially with stories that can invoke an emotional reaction, such as drowned children etc. Of course, one can be accused of being hard-hearted here, but we need to avoid both sentimental humanitarianism and indifference to the fate of others--both of which are questionable.
3. Christians should speak prophetically against injustice. Absolutely. I agree with you, that should be even when it is politically incorrect. However, recall liberation theology and its advocacy for the poor. On the surface this was great. What actually happened though, was the inclusion of Marxist-Leninist views into this so-called 'prophetic speaking' and it became a tool for socialist leaning governments to co-opt the church. The same can be said of the temporary ban on visas issue to certain passport holders. The church could get co-opted. Not saying it will, but the tendency is easy, especially when righteous anger with a touch of sanctimony sells sermons and print. Sounds callous, but most of the work of Old Testament prophets came with a lot of weeping in quiet for injustice and wrestling with God. Didn't seem to be the stuff of "look how prophetic I am, and look at what a wonderful advocate against injustice I am.' Should concerned Christians address the authorities? Absolutely. With eyes wide open.
4. When one part of the body suffers the rest suffers. Absolutely. Yet, we need to tease apart a few categories. America is not paradise. All Christians in the world are not called to come to the Americas. Some will remain in countries where their witness is vital. They might be abused, be poor, and even die. I have seen this first hand in another country in Africa where I lived. Guess what? Many would not trade in all of the trinkets from the West for the ability and privilege to suffer. They taught me how to pray. Let's drop the notion that we are the solution.
Secondly, some suffering is more newsworthy than others. It is more 'sexy' to highlight the suffering of someone in the West Bank--perhaps with a political agenda behind it--than someone from, say NGoroland. That is why it is prudent for the church to do her homework, as to which sufferings are the most un-noticed, and which should and could be alleviated. Anything that causes the church to receive undue good press for its noble efforts, might be looked at carefully. It might also cause us to ask serious questions about our motivations.
A while back, we met with what we called "the most powerful woman in __________" Eyes lit up. You met with the First Lady? Actually not. She was the second wife of her husband, now taking care of her five children while he had his fling with his new wife. She walked to work. Sang all day. Came to work tired sometimes because she had been at an all-night prayer meeting. She knows the Living God. For her. Trump? Who is that?
Blessings in Christ
That's a helpful link, Tim. It addresses exactly the part of the End User License Agreement that I am concerned about.
Several comments to that post identify Word-encrypted attachments as a possible way forward. If we can do this simply, I may have found my solution.
Are you aware of an MOU template that could be used in reaching an agreement with a potential (non-CRC) partner? Thanks
For training in abuse awareness, I've adapted many items from my predecessor, Beth Swagman. One of her presentations was entitled, "The Short Course on Abuse". In that presentation, the very first point is: Expect denial from everyone, including you! We simply don't want to believe that abuse really happens, especially when the one who perpetrates it is someone we know, love, and respect. We have to work, to choose the harder path, to overcome our tendency toward denial. We also need to understand the devastating effects and deep impacts of abuse on those who have been victimized by it. Their experience must not be minimized. Instead we honor them by listening carefully, by giving them a voice, by not being afraid to enter in, with them, to a dark place. The Lord can only bring healing when we have acknowledged what has happened and the harm that has been done. This is not an easy path, but the rewards are well worth it. It's been said that the truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable. A long term perspective is needed. The first step is overcoming our own strong tendency to deny and to minimize. We do so much harm, re-victimizing those who have already been hurt, when we fail to take this first critical step.
On Facebook this past week I have read about how civil servants working in American airports handcuffed a five-year-old boy because he was Muslim; separated a woman from her two children and detained her for about 48 hours without food or water ALSO because she was Muslim; and detained another woman for 20 hours ALSO without food or water and ALSO because she was a Muslim. How do Americans who say they are Christians countenance such atrocities? What does it do to your witness to your Mulsim neighbors, if you let your government get away with treating people who are seeking refuge like that just because they belong to a certain religion and come from certain countries that were not even the ones from which terrorists who attacked your country came from anyway? Why didn't Republicans target Saudi Arabia, for example in their list of countries from which people are banned? How do you think you will convince Muslims to even consider Christianity when people who claim to be Christians behave that way and enact such inhumane policies that go against our Lord's teachings and commandments? Obviously, the people in power in Washington don't care about that, and if they say they do despite ample proof to the contrary, you can call them liars to their faces, but if you do care, what are you going to do about it? As a Canadian I can sign petitions until the cows come home, but at the end of the day, it's your country and your government. According to your political system, you are the ones who have to hold those politicians accountable for the laws they pass, especially when they're immoral.
Thanks Doug for your expanded explanation regarding Pension Plans.
I was a sole bread winner for many years and have a defined benefit plan. I have had one small (1%) permanent raise in the last 14 years and three independent payments of about 1,000 dollars. My plan gives 60% of my pension to my spouse should I pass away. I am not complaining these are just the facts on my DB plan.
All this to say I do have some biases in favor of defined plans. Several years ago I was involved in a merger of two Christian schools and a big discussion arose around this topic. DC or DB? We hired Hewitt and Associates to help us thru the discussion. They had full access to the CSI pension plan (the Canada version). The committee of teachers and community reps decided in favor of the CSI plan after a full review and presentation by Hewitt.
As far as costs go I believe John B is not quite correct. If the CRC Canada Pension plan were to properly value income paid to Pastors the DB plan would probably need a lot more money to be fully funded.
This is why I would still like some feedback on the method in arriving at the average salary for Pensions for CRC Pastors in Canada. The fact that it leaves out the housing allowance is major flaw. In Canada Clergy have a special deduction from income involving the value of their housing. In my view this has nothing to to with their income and is simply a CRA/Clergy issue. Given the hunt for cash by the (all) governments, this deduction may disappear in the nex few years. Best to fix this issue now. The cost of that fix to the DB pension fund would be enormous. I hope this one of the things that the Lily Foundation money will be used to research. And of course I recommend professionals like Hewitt or Mercer be consulted.
While they are at it they could probably also solve the salary scale issues that we so badly need across Canada to take the guess work out of Pastor's salaries.
Love these specific examples of how simple it can be to include all ages. Thanks Karen!
What a wonderful (and fun!) example of being an inclusive family of God. Thanks for sharing, Laura.
I am so thrilled to hear this! I grew up in this church, and 45 years ago it would have changed my life to be in church where they were praying with "eyes open". (In other words, I would have gotten away with a lot less as a 2 year old!)
Now as a church member--still CRC but in another state--I am encouraged by these words and hope to see this kind of prayer fellowship in my church as well!
As your list cynic . . . can't remember back that far.
The CRC does not teach that God can regenerate anyone he chooses? Or refuses to regenerate all those who work hard at loving God and being a good neighbor? IF god can regenerate only "believing in Jesus" Christians then what is the pragmatic difference between the CRC and the dispensationalists? And Billy Graham's teaching?
Love it that the church family is willing to be vulnerable and therefore realize the power of prayer.
Stay Strong David ! Muslims are my friends also !....Dean Koldenhoven Palos Heights, IL
I love this, thank you for sharing. So much power in prayer.
I am repairing some Bibles using white glue following some instructions on the web. Depending on the value of the books (monetary or sentimental) it may be more expensive to have them professionally repaired than the value of the book. Many sites offer solutions based on the type of fix that is required some use tape and some use glue. Just note that when they say "polyvinyl acetate adhesive (PVA)" usually white glue will do.
If found this information was helpful as it was not as exacting as what a professional would use and gives ideas as to the types of supplies you could use: http://www.wikihow.com/Repair-a-Book's-Binding
Hope this helps lead you to a solution!
The church I belong to decided when it started to rent facilities rather than own them. This frees space for others and we only use electricity when we use the building. Of course it is up to the building owner to be a wise steward.
1. I don't see why the CRCNA would be immune to high-handed sin where other denominations aren't. I haven't noticed that human nature was any different in our denomination than elsewhere.
I remember reading in Philip Yancey's book Grace Notes about his meeting with a friend of his in a coffee shop because the other man was planning to leave his wife and family to marry another woman whom he found more exciting, and as this friend asked Yancey if he could be forgiven for this sin he was knowingly planning to commit, Yancey asked him if he would WANT to be forgiven knowing it would involve repentance. Is there ANY man or woman in the CRCNA above lusting for someone else to the point of planning to divorce their present spouse and abandon their kids?
This post on Belonging leads directly to another toolkit from Faith Formation Ministries: Building Blocks of Faith! Belonging is one of the Building Blocks and one of our needs for faith to grow. Connections like this and the interweaving of faith topics are energizing. Thanks, Karen!
My church also uses electronic check in - you may contact Shalom Jaconette at River Terrace Church in E. Lansing, MI if you would like to find out more about how it works there.
I agree with Doug. Spiritually, you are up against and being tempted to run contrary to the Kingdom economy, which inverts the worldly economy of “bigger is greater” (See: the widow’s mite in Luke 21:1-4). Setting a pattern of officially and particularly thanking “generous” givers (where generosity is judged mainly or exclusively by amount) is not a practice with will serve the congregation well spiritually.
Practically, you also run into the problem of where to draw the line if generosity is judged mainly by amount. If you thank the person or family who gave an extra $5,000, do you also thank the person who sent in $1,000? How about $500 or $100? I tend to think the same goes for those who give in other various volunteer roles in the church – personal thanks are great, but singling out people for special institutionally sanctioned thanks who have served in a larger role is dangerous, and brings up this conundrum: It’s not a matter of “who should I thank?”, but rather more a matter of “who should I not thank?”.
In the end, it seems to me that a general thanks to the congregation for their responsiveness is best, coupled with an even more prayerful and joyful thanking of God for his abundant provision. In focusing your most opulent thanks on God, you can remind the congregation that it is God who provides both the means and desire for generosity and so you will reinforce where all of our glory and praise should ultimately be directed.
Thanks, Dave. I don't know how many others participated in similar events, but in St. Catharines I know both Jubilee Fellowship and Covenant CRCs sent email invitations to all on their lists, inviting people to participate in a vigil downtown. We gathered in front of city hall, the imam led prayers for Muslims, who bowed on the ground facing east. The prayers were followed by brief, fitting speeches/comments by several political leaders. From city hall we moved, many carrying candles, with police traffic patrol to the mosque about one kilometre away. There the imam welcomed the marchers, led recited passages from the Quran in Arabic, then translated them to English. Those he recited shared Christian and Jewish moral and spiritual values and principles. As well, three Christian clergypersons made brief speeches, ending with a prayer or blessing. The mosque congregation had several large containers of Tim Hortons coffee and boxes and boxes of Timbits, but there were far too many people--and there was no multiplying of coffee and Timbits, though that would have been a really nice touch. The next day the St. Catharines Standard said about 500 people attended, though I think that was well under, because the column of walkers stretched three blocks, occupying one land of Church Street--with about 10 persons in each row. During and after the ceremony at the mosque, members of the congregation walked through the crowd thanking attendees for showing up. It was a blessed occasion caused by a great wickedeness and hatred. I was very pleased to see at least 15 folks from local CRCs and I might not have seen anywhere near all.
So simple, easily done, and so profound.
My thought: don't send notes. Doing that necessarily sets you up for distinguishing gifts that are "greater" or "more important" than others. These are gifts.
If a particular deacon wants to say a verbal thanks to a contributor, fine, but even that shouldn't be a "planned exercise."
Defined contribution (DC) plans are simply more precise and predictable than defined benefit (DB) plans.
Some simple definitionscan be helpful here. In a DC plan, dollar contributions are made to the person's account, whether from employer or employee, or both. Then at retirement, the total accumulated amount (contributions plus investment income) is precisely known. Sure, it can at the employee's option be annuitized at that point (that is, the large amount exchanged, in whole or in part, can be exchanged for a monthly payment for an unknown remaining life span), but the retirement dollars that are available are precisely known and the employee has control of the entire amount.
In a DB plan, while contributions are also made, the dollar amount of total contributions made at retirement is somewhat irrelevant. What is more relevant is the contractual benefits that were promised years earlier, in exchange for the contributions.
DB plans are somewhat a bundle of guesses, about what future benefits will cost, about what income will be acquired from investing all those contributed dollars before retirement arrives, etc etc etc.
DB plans often favor some retirees over others. For example, because the "defined plan" might have a "benefit feature" that provides income only for as long as one lives, a retiree who dies soon after retirement might leave nothing or little for children even if that retiree's contributions were worth much, much more than the benefits turned out to be. DC plans treats retirees according to their contributions. In other words, in some respects, DB plans can be said to generally be a bit or much more "forced socialism" as to all retirees.
The biggest danger for DB plans is that the guesses made about the costs of the post-retirement benefits, or the assumptions about how much income the pooled contributions would make before retirement, turn out to be wrong. If those guesses or predictions are wrong in one direction, some retirees are given more generous benefits than they "deserved" (but always at the expense of someone), and if they are wrong in another direction, some retirees are given less generous benefits than the "deserved" (which will always benefit someone else).
All other things being equal, I tend to favor defined contribution plans because they are more precise, calculable, and certain in an overall way.
In my state, public employees have in the past received far greater benefits than they "deserved" because their defined benefit plan (PERS) was based on "bad guesses and predictions." It as nice, very nice, for some past employees of course (my wife among them), but counties, cities, and present workers are all paying for it, dearly, today.
I'm now 72 and a retired CRCNA pastor. Early in my career I would come up against the suggestion that I should consider going RCA since that had a better retirement plan for pastors. Of course I never considered doing that but It made me question if the defined pension plan we have is better than the RCA contribution plan. I really never pursued this then nor do I want to now. Our younger pastors however have much more of a stake in this than I. I hope they respond.
Our kids have participated in some summer programs at Harvest. They have an amazing check-in system with tablet kiosks attached to nametag printers. If you gave the church office a call, I'm sure they would tell you what they use. It's very efficient.
And I just noticed that Planning Centre Online has also added this functionality.
Thanks Jul. This is a good practice--to look for awe filled/God filled moments.
Thanks for this terrific article Jill! How wonderful that your church allows you to be you and to choose which gifts you'll share in its ministry. From my work with pastors' spouses over the past ten years, I can say that what you have is quite rare. Too many churches still have a mold into which pastor's wives are expected to fit. The same isn't true for pastor's husbands - which is great for them!
Hopefully more congregations will make a shift in what they expect of a pastor's wife, and will be much more aware of the demands put on the pastor which impacts his/her life in significant ways - not all of which are good nor healthy.
Lis Van Harten
Pastor Church Resources
The Lilly Endowment has provided the CRCNA with a $1 million grant to not only understand the financial issues facing pastors, but to do something about it as well.
As to the issue of a defined benefit plan like our current Ministers Pension Plan that is provided in both the US and Canada or a defined contribution plan...I strongly support the defined benefit plan design for our ministers of the Word. Not only does it provide a benefit that a minister can not outlive, in the long run it is less expensive for the denomination to make sure a life time benefit is provided than using a defined contribution plan.
Great idea to post about PCO, Adom! We started using Planning Centre Online at Faith Church in Burlington about 4 years ago. Here are some notes based on our experience.
I highly recommend PCO for any church team, especially where you have one or two technology champions who can assist others with the rollout. There is a huge range of options -- many of which we don't use -- and for those comfortable with using software, it is very intuitive.PCO is an amazing worship planning tool (and more), especially used in conjunction with CCLI. I use a lot of SAAS (Software as a Service) tools in my line of work and PCO is better than most from a user design perspective (not to say there weren't some growing pains from less tech savvy users). They continue to make improvements over time.
Planning Centre Online has been branching into other areas such as volunteer management and online giving. Based on my experience with PCO to date, I suspect those tools would also be great.
Here are some highlights of the features we use most:
- Scheduling - team members (including pastors and AV volunteers) can block out their dates in advance so that our scheduler knows who is available when.
- Email Notifications - A reminder is automatically sent a week in advance to anyone who is scheduled for the next Sunday.
- Planning - we have a general service template so that all of the regular pieces of the order of worship are there. Then you simply drag and drop your songs into the template. The planning matrix view allows you to see past Sunday plans alongside your current plan so that you can avoid repeating songs too often. Our pastor has started to pre-populate the plans in advance with his sermon themes and Bible passages, so that worship leaders can get started planning their services as early as possible.
- Worship Plans/Cue Sheets - Once a service is planned, a one-page PDF of the plan can be sent to all of the team members who are scheduled, along with a note where you can provide special instructions or additional information about the service.
- Reporting - PCO keeps track of when and how often you use songs and allows you to generate reports.
- Music Stand App - I am the only team member who has taken advantage of the Music Stand app but for me it has been a huge game changer. I use my iPad to lead worship. I see the chord sheet in the key of my choice and I advance the page or backtrack using a bluetooth foot pedal. - I am also able to attach prepared notes such as introductory words and prayers and include that on my screen. There are some cool built-in features, including a metronome, and notation and highlighting tools. While the rest of the team sorts through paper file folders to gather their music, I just put my iPad in it's holder and open the app.
I haven't heard of concerns about this before. What part of the user agreement are you concerned about? Google Drive is widely used, and if they didn't take data privacy/confidentiality seriously it would undermine their entire business.
There are many articles online about the security of data with Google, and here's one that explains some of the wording in the user agreement. Personally, I'd trust Google Drive more than most other online tools because it's in their best interest to keep their customer data secure and private. And they're big enough to do it well.
Thanks Tim! That sounds like a straightforward and simple procedure.
I am still hung up on Google's access to the content of what we would write. Maybe Google wouldn't actually use the contents of our database as indicated in the user agreement, but I'd have to give them permission to do so if I want to use the Google platform. Any thoughts about this confidentiality factor?
Go and Tell is an easy way to equip you to share the gospel. Go and Tell is free online at www.fortwaynecrc.com Testimonial: "Go and Tell has impacted me in different ways. First is a great tool to tell others about God and guide them trough the process of receiving Christ as their Savior. But also made me recognized how selfish we can be sometimes when we don't share God's love and mercy with others." From Dorian River's Edge Church
El Paso TX
Hello Josh and company:
The survey lacks the ability to suggest other names than the ones presented. Sure, one can comment on them, but it has the feel of being corralled somewhat.
I agree with some contributors below that it is very useful to affirm the fact that we are Christian, Reformed and we believe in missions. I also do agree that a shorter acronym is easier to handle.
As well, I would suggest that this agency does not need a name that says, "we only speak English" or understand the world from a very limited North American context. This could put some of the names suggested in the survey in a new light.
It seems the name has to depict its core value, or its core business and should be explicitly theological.
Here are a couple of other suggestions:
NChristos --sure it sounds like a Greek island, but it does say that what we do is because we are "in" Christ. Sure doesn't sound overly English or North American either. Anyone in the world who partners with CRCNA mission agencies, and knows some Greek likely will understand it.
Crossland(s) --slightly plagarized, this is a place in Kansas and New Mexico and the name of a church in Newmarket Canada. It does, however, give the idea of the cross at its center, it crosses lands, ie. builds bridges between peoples, and it is easy to say. It could also read, Crosslands Reformed Mission or CRM.
Vidalogos. Something that communicates life, is found in the living word of God. Might be close to Galapagos, but then who is counting? Certainly, has a global feel to it.
All the best with the process.
I've used PCO also as a volunteer at my church. I really enjoyed having the option to review the sheet music or listen to the music at home.
Thanks for posting this, Adom. Looks like a pretty great tool (and built with a very modern interface). I'd be curious to hear how other churches are using it as well.
I thought it would be helpful to add a link to their website: planning.center
You could have them rebound. Call 519-627-3552. This is a bindery in Ontario, Canada. They come into Michigan to pick up books. If you are not in Michigan, you could ship them here, and they could pick them up.
Depending on the repair, there are folks who can do this. Vern Wiering is the best near Grand Rapids. But book repairs by experts can be expensive. If it is simple repair, like replacing a hinge or shoulder, we do that here at Calvin College Archives (though I am retiring in April and am not sure who will do repairs after that).
I agree that "Christian Reformed Missions" is simple direct. But let's translate that name into the 20 or more languages that it will be communicated in. I have been in countries like China, Iran, Japan etc. where the translations would not work well in print, on buildings or any public places.
If memory serves me right World Renew did a lot of research into that and maybe we could learn from what they did. BTGMi also has a lot of experience with non English language use in their media outreach.
Consensus may not be as important as ensuring a name that "will work" in all the languages the church uses. So maybe full circle and call it World Missions!
I know that this article had a focus on Sunday School, however, as a school teacher, I was encouraged by the simple wisdom.
Here's another interesting CRC response to this crisis. This one was written by CRC pastor, Bruce Adema, and first appeared in the Hamilton Spectator:
Providing a safe space to talk, and to be able to share authentically without fear of judgment and shame, goes a long way toward building community. And deep community is the context designed by our Lord for faith development. It doesn't happen sitting in pews on a Sunday morning. It needs to be built in to other church venues, for example small groups and adult classes. It seems very important to me that the Church lead the way in being able to discuss differences honestly and respectfully, as different parts of one body, especially in the divisive culture in which we live.
Have you considered a Google Spreadsheet, Jack?
You can give access only to those who are authorized to see it. Those that are authorized can enter their contact as a new row. Having it in a spreadsheet allows it to be sorted, grouped, etc. People use their Google Account to log in (note that they do NOT have to use Gmail, a Google Account is simply a login and can be created with any email address).
When the elder's term is up, you can take them off the permission list and add the new elder to the permission list.
It does mean that all elders could see all contacts. If that's not OK, you could get fancier with a separate tab for each district, and then configure permissions so that elders can only see the tab that applies to them. But to do that you'd need to dig into the Google Spreadsheets help to get it set up correctly. It's a little more complicated, but still fairly easy once you figure it out.
That's just one option that comes to mind. Hopefully others can weigh in with thoughts about this approach, and other alternatives. I'm sure other churches have faced the same question.
Sorry this article is 4 years old. They have changed their info since it was written. It is worth the money for us