In discussing and teaching about the Lord’s Supper, we commonly give most attention to the bread and the cup. But let's notice something else about the Lord's Super from I Corinthians. 

October 11, 2016 2 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

Most of us have never experienced the trauma of losing a child. And while we may not be able to show empathy towards someone who has lost a child, we can express sympathy.

August 10, 2016 3 1 comments
Resource, Story or Testimony

I was reading a Worship article in the Calvary CRC newsletter (Edina, MN) when the following headline caught my eye: Blessings in Service: Elder and Deacon Stories. 

May 12, 2016 1 0 comments

"Do not judge, in order that you are not judged." Scott Clark examines Matthew 7:1 as it is the "go to" verse for many people, Christians and non-Christians alike.

March 11, 2016 0 0 comments

Can anyone provide a few compelling reasons to convince "adherents" who regularly attend and participate to become members?

February 15, 2016 0 3 comments
Discussion Topic

Our church leaders are wanting to listen better to the needs of our people in the church community specifically focusing on spiritual growth.

February 10, 2016 2 1 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The National Gathering is being held for the purpose of setting direction for the Christian Reformed Church in Canada.

February 3, 2016 1 1 comments

These models and word pictures have been proposed as ideas as how to strike a healthy balance in the church of being welcoming, being discerning, being a place of embracing brokenness and being a place of deep transformation both individually and corporately.

January 27, 2016 1 0 comments

One of the marks of a true church is _____________. 

If you answered this as:

Being willing to accept and tolerate behaviors and attitudes deemed sinful by the Author of the single Word of God, under the rubric of the "love of Jesus" and justice. Being willing to turn a blind eye to...
January 12, 2016 0 0 comments

In the book of Numbers, sins which were unintentional and those that were intentional were treated differently. Even with some who sinned intentionally there was the option for repentance, but with the flaunting deliberate "high-handed" sin the most severe punishment was meted out. This is why...

January 2, 2016 0 0 comments

In his lecture How the Bible Is Being Challenged in Our World Today, Michael Kruger of Reformed Theological Seminary suggests that behind every issue is the question of: "What is your ultimate authority?" He explores the common use of the critical pair of words "for you" as people no longer talk...

December 30, 2015 0 3 comments

About a month ago, we received an email from our Stated Clerk to discuss the 3 Synodical Study Committee reports. My question is: how do I best lead these discussions?  

December 29, 2015 0 2 comments

At our elders meeting we were discussing the need to provide leadership training for potential elders or deacons that haven't yet felt qualified or inspired to serve. Do materials exist?

December 28, 2015 0 17 comments
Resource, Presentation

Veterans find understanding and encouragement from other vets. Because they have a shared experience, they can offer unique support in the face of adjustment problems. 

November 9, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Checklist

The fall season is upon us and some of our readers will serve as Elders. You will have thought about the task ahead, perhaps with some trepidation. Find below a list of helpful hints! 

October 7, 2015 1 1 comments
Resource, Article

Pornography is a pervasive yet largely unaddressed problem in today’s world, including the church. But, there's help! Check out these resources for leaders addressing pornography. 

September 29, 2015 1 4 comments

A number of years ago a seminary professor made the observation that guilt is resolved on the cross, but shame is healed in relationship. Is your church willing to embrace veterans?

August 20, 2015 1 0 comments


This past week marked the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. As a uniformed member of the American armed forces who has lived in Japan for almost half of the last 15 years, this anniversary churns up...

August 12, 2015 1 0 comments
Resource, Lesson or Study

When life hits us with painful trials, our hearts plead that God tell us why. The Bible teaches there are many reasons God allows suffering. But, like Job, the person suffering might not know why...

August 10, 2015 1 0 comments

Does anyone know of any short but effective ministry evaluation tools? I would appreciate any suggestions you may have.

August 6, 2015 0 7 comments

Veterans from America’s longest war have joined the veterans of earlier wars in our communities and churches. Their perspective has been shaped by their experience. Like everyone else, they have spiritual gifts. They also have needs...

August 4, 2015 1 1 comments

I am the newly elected president and one member has raised a concern that our executive committee includes both of our pastoral staff. What is the appropriate membership?

July 8, 2015 0 5 comments

And whoever wants to be first must be your slave. – Matthew 20:27

Our Lord shows us in this passage that those who desire to be great and feel called of the Lord to be leaders need to seek to be servants. The mother of two of the Disciples comes to our Lord and asks if they could sit in...

June 11, 2015 0 0 comments
Resource, Webinar Recording

This webinar explores various aspects of addiction, recovery, and how the church can be a place of healing for individuals and families impacted by alcoholism and addiction.

May 13, 2015 0 0 comments

The following are remembrances of being an elder. I started at age 35 and a large responsibility was family visits. The visits were announced in the bulletin two weeks in advance. The visits were done in the afternoon and evening; three families each time.

The Pastor and I visit an...

April 16, 2015 0 0 comments



Thank you so much for this. I have some dear friends who have recently faced this trauma and I find these ideas to be wise and practical. I especially like how you end: "Remember, the goal of the bereavement process is not to leave grief behind. The lost loved one will never disappear. The goal of the journey is allow the parents to become functional grievers."

Speaking of 'The Elders Handbook', starting today if you attend a CRC you can now read it - and hundreds of other Faith Alive titles - for free in the new CRC Digital Library.

Here's the direct link to the Elder's Handbook page:

...and you can learn more about the Digital Library at this short link:

There's also a Deacon's Handbook, a Church Staff Handbook, and hundreds of other titles. Spread the word about this new library, made possible by Ministry Shares.

Thanks for the thought about the recorded webinars.  I've helped with orientation for elders for decades now... starting in years when I could not be an elder myself.  Now I'm looking for ideas to help a younger generation consider the role and and responsibilities... 

The materials we have seem to present the role of elder as a pastor sees that role, rather than as elders actually experience it.  I'm particularly interested in how good training for council members could help create an environment in which Pastor/Council tensions are resolved without major trauma.  We are in conversation with the Pastor/Church relations folks, too.

I've used "The Elders Handbook" in other years, but it felt like it best served the people who had already served as an elder for a year or more -- which in some years includes all the new elders, so that was good.  

Hi Virginia: 

The Office of Pastor Church Relations would have helpful resources ( or you could check out my book "The Elders Handbook" (available to order here through Faith Alive). 


Hi Virginia--I'd recommend Lester Dekoster's Handbook for Elders

Shepherd Leaders by Tim Witmer is also good, as is Philip Keller's A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

Hi Virginia! Did you check out the recorded webinars for new and/or experienced elders? In addition, the general Elders section is a great starting point. If you are looking for a specific resource or advice, you can always post your question to the Network community. Thanks for sharing!



The comments below suggest that there is a wealth of good training material available for deacons -- but it looks thin when it comes to elders.  Do people have any good resources to suggest for training elders?


The problem I have with membership is that it seems to create two levels of Christians.  I think that it also makes folks who have become members feel like the doctrinal classes which prepare folks to become members are no longer necessary for them.  They have achieved a full kingdom status.

Great post that raises some points to think about.  I have friends who have been together for years in a committed relationship, but remain unmarried because her income would cause him to lose valuable veteran benefits.  They've even made a public commitment in front of their families. I don't consider it my business to tell them what to do or not do, and we certainly can't know what is in a couple's heart or intentions unless we take the time to get acquainted and really listen. 


We haven't specifically done this, Scott. However, it seems to me that a lot of the principles and structure provided by "restorative justice", would possibly be really helpful for what you're talking about doing. 

Daniel, thanks for this. Great nuggets of wisdom here and I can distil from this a short list of compelling reasons. James vH

great resources, thanks!


Have you checked the resources at Faith Alive? 

Give them a call or order online - it's possible that they only take online orders. Also, you may call the classis Pastor for help with resources, or a church visitor - who is usually a pastor in your classis.

Grace, Daniel 

Some other reasons: 

If they participate in activities maybe one could be a study on what it means to be Reformed, and within that framework you take an in depth look at church membership as a faith commitment. One way to emphasize the membership step is by looking at what some liturgical forms used in profession of faith include, such as commitment to the Scriptures, to love, to the church, but also denying of self, renouncing Satan, etc. 

1. If they are baptized members, profession of faith is their response to God's promise in baptism. In the Reformation time baptism was a way of clarifying if this baby is a Catholic of a Protestant. Today the infant baptism initiates you into this covenant community and a response to God's promise is expected if the baptism is properly understood. 

2. In membership - which is a profession of faith - they are confessing their faith in a confessional church. The CRCNA is a confessional church and by joining the church publicly and officially they commit to abide by the faith commitments of this denomination. It is a privilege to know where you church stands clearly on a few important faith doctrines, etc. 

3. Becoming church members in a CRCNA also demands a responsibility from them - they make the same promises that the others in the covenant community have made. They will nurture others in faith and they would submit themselves to being nurtured and also held accountable for their faithfulness to God and the Word. 

4. Reading the NT is a great way to look at how the church grows. In Acts the church is exploding and expanding. It happens so quick that in Acts 15 there is an issue the church has to solve, related to doctrine and requirements - and there is a synod gathered in Jerusalem. If they are interested in how the church works as institution, invite them to participate in a classis meeting, or to sit at synod - these are open meetings. Or, invite them to look over some of the CRCNA materials, synodical records, etc. For some these may be boring for others interesting. 

5. Membership in the church in the USA is voluntary. You are a baptized member though, if you were baptized as infant - that's a great start. If not a baptized member, then the emphasis should be on baptism, as a sign of obedience to Christ - that can only be done - in a confessional church - in the worship service of the congregation. And that's another great connecting point. Ecclessiology is something that may be the last thing they want to look at, but that what they are weak in, in my view. Any way you can find to teach them about the church is going to help. Also, most of the former Christians in Western Europe started to doubt and disregard the need for the church. Today they don't go to church, maybe only 4%? and that's in most cases a state church, that is, not a voluntary church (like in the USA) where if you don't go and offer your worship and money the church closes its doors. The Eastern Orthodox Church is mainly the same - struggling with high nominalism - people don't go to church but the church continues to function as an institution. Here is not the same, the US is a voluntary church. If all people would follow their example - you can say that we assume they are right not to join - how would the church look like?

If they have already made profession of faith that should have granted them membership immediately. 

If not - you can revisit their profession of faith. I'm interested to see what happens with them, what moves them. I'm praying for you and for them.

Grace, Daniel 


How did it go? 

We haven't discussed it but we did other things suggested in the email we all received from the CRCNA, regarding clarity of our position on this issue in the bylaws and articles of incorporation.

I wrote a 4 page summary of the report, left many things out, but that was more FYI vs for discussions. 

Grace, Daniel  

A lot of good resources and suggestions have already been shared here. The Network site for deacons itself contains a wealth of information, ideas and resources. Simply type in what you're looking for in the search box on the upper right corner of this page, check the "This Section" button and click the search magnifying glass icon. 

In addition to what has been mentioned thus far, I would be remiss if I didn't also mention the Holland Deacons' Conference (aka HDC) . . . the diaconal ministry of the churches and communities of Classis Holland. We too have a website ( that provides resources and support for deacons including regular blog posts providing timely and relevant information and news that is diaconal in well as a page dedicated to Deacon Resources.

Finally, HDC is available to meet with local diaconates for consultation, planning assistance, training on a variety of diaconal topics such as Community Asset Mapping, Effective Benevolence Practices, Deacon Orientation, and more. 


Thanks, Darren, for this article.  It makes me want to come to your Gathering!  I'm thankful for the many wondering things God is doing through the CRC in Canada and look forward to seeing what is in store.

In addition to my book, Not Just a Soup Kitchen: How Mercy Ministry in the Local Church Transforms Us All, I have a video on The Role of the Deacon  which is broken up into small sections. Go to

ServiceLink's website has a section under the Engage menu with 'Helpful Information and Job Descriptions for Elders and Deacons'

Direct links to the webinars for new elders and deacons can also be found on the same page.


Greetings Andrew:

  In no particular order, here are a few pointers for reading a report.

a. Have a few people read the same report.

b. Have them compare notes.

c. As they read they should ask, with dependance on the Spirit of truth:

    1. What is the report trying to help us decide, or predispose us to accept? Is that good, bad, or indifferent?

    2. What are the author's trying to address, change, or reveal? Is that good, bad or indifferent?

    3. How do the authors view the Lord of the Church, His Word, and His world? [the hints might be subtle and this takes close and careful reading]

    4. Ask how much the author's are influenced by historical Reformed confessions and global orthodox theological positions, and how much are they influenced by the spirit of the age?

   5. Ask if they are proposing a trajectory that will bring the church closer to Reformed interpretations of the Bible, or are they leading the church away from it?

   6. Ask if they are actually representing all points of view with intellectual integrity.

   7. Ask why a minority report might have been created, and what is it saying?

   8. Are there smokescreens or Trojan horses embedded in the report that might not be seen at first flush?

   9. Is the report out of balance either in the material covered, the suggestions it is making, or what it is not saying?

 d. Have the readers compare notes with other readers of reports. For instance it is possible to find two responses from the Young Adults Leadership Taskforce to a current Synodical report at the following link. They are not Gospel, but they might help to form an informed opinion.


Hope that helps.





Thanks John for the reply.  I did look at Kruger’s talks from the Gospel Coalition, but not in their entirety.  I haven’t got the time to read everything a blogger or author suggests needs to be read.  But I did notice a basic flaw in Kruger’s arguments.  He’s assuming that whoever he is addressing in his Biblical arguments also believes that the Bible is true.  But if he’s arguing with anyone outside of the Christian persuasion, then his argument carries no weight because this other person doesn’t believe the Bible to begin with, so why would he give any credence to a book most people put in the same category as the Koran or the Book of Mormon or the Hindu Scriptures.  They all make the same claim to be God’s inspired word and all endorse teachings that cannot be objectively verified.  Whether it’s the Bible, the Koran, or the book of Mormon, the teachings of each are acknowledged by faith, apart from verifiable evidence or objectivity.

To most people it is not logical to claim that Jesus is very God come down from heaven to earth and was born in human form as a human baby, who grew up sinless to the age of 33, was crucified, died and buried but rose from the dead in three days and now has ascended to heaven from which he will come to earth once again to set up his finalized kingdom.  That’s not logical teaching but is a teaching that can only be acknowledged by faith.  The Bible’s teachings are no more logical than that of other religions.  So Kruger’s teaching at the Coalition may have made sense to you because you recognize the Bible’s authority, but to anyone else his argument carries no weight.  Just because the Bible claims to be true, doesn’t make it so.  All religions make the same claim.  So Kruger’s arguments may have made sense to you and other Christians at the Coalition, but not to others.  His argument (or apologetic) is meaningless to most people.

Kruger’s argument, in regard to God swearing by his name as opposed to the Muslim God swearing by created things like mountains or stars, makes no logical sense either.  If God is truly God, it doesn’t matter what he swears by.  What he swears by doesn’t invalidate whether he is God or not.  If the God of the Bible (the Christian God) swears by his name, or a star, or a mountain, it doesn’t change the fact that God is God.  Nor does it change the reality that the Muslim God is truly God for the Muslim.  Is Kruger trying to say our God is a better God because he swears by bigger and better things?  His argument falls short of proving anything.  And, of course, Islamic theologians will propose their own arguments to demonstrate why their God (Allah) is the one true God.

Then you suggest, John, that the Bible is the voice of the Living God.  Muslims and Hindu’s make the same claim.  They would never entertain the ridiculous suggestion that the God whom they worship is dead, and would just as persuasively suggest that the Koran or the Book of Mormon is the very voice of the living God.

Greetings Roger:

              I hope you listen to both of Kruger's talks as they are very enlightening, esp. his talk at the Gospel Coalition. One area he talks about is the idea that the Triune God of the Bible swears on his own name, that what He says He will do, what he does He has said. Compare that to Allah of Islam who swears 27x in the Koran. Each time it is on a created thing like a star or a mountain or even a pen. Bring both before a judge and try to find out whose word is more trustworthy and I think you would agree with me that the one who swears on his own head or his own name is the one to be believed.

            Kruger also mentions that the Bible is the voice of the Living God. Not some dead deity who is a creation of someone's over-heated imagination, but a living One. It is this Living God who speaks today through a living Word. This makes it a different genus and species from all the religious texts that you cited.

             It seems that you are having a hard time with this authority thing. As Christians we care about the Bible's authority as we care about the authority of its Author. See the Grudem article for a lot more on that. 

            Blessed New Year.


Thanks John for an interesting article that addresses the issue of authority, especially the authority of the Bible.

Is the Bible as authoritative as Kruger or you make it out to be?  The only people who recognize the authority of the Bible are Christians, and by their commitment it is doubtful if many of them really recognize its authority either.  You must recognize that there are a multitude of religions and sects that have their own sources of authority, just like Christians.  For instance Muslims believe the Koran was given to Mohamad by God through the angel Gabriel. Therefore the Koran is the absolute authoritative word of God.  Like Christians, Muslims believed that their Scriptures are absolutely inspired of God and are without error.  Mormons, likewise, believe the book of Mormon (initially the twelve golden plates) was given to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni, and therefore is also the inspired word of God and capable of giving correct interpretation to the Bible.  All religions have their so-called inspired and authoritative Scriptures that represent ultimate authority.  

And yet we, as Christians, discount the authority and validity of their Bibles, just as the adherents of other religions discount the authority of our Bible.  So which Scriptures are really authoritative or are any?  When reading a history book of recorded events, historians may record the actual existence of Jesus.  But history books do not record his miraculous birth and ascent from heaven to earth, nor do they record his miraculous resurrection from the dead and ascent back into heaven as historical fact.  Nor do historians record any of the miracles of other religions as historical fact.  Such miracles, whether found in the Bible, Koran, the book of Mormon or any other Scriptures are considered “faith knowledge” and not historical fact. They are subjective truth rather than objective truth or empirical truth.  It is only Christians who recognize the Bible as carrying any authority. What are the grounds by which we discount other religions and their authoritative Scriptures?  It’s the same grounds by which they discount the Bible.  So what makes Kruger or any Christian think that only the Bible is authoritative?

The person who is not a Christian looks at the account of Jesus in the Bible as an embellished account of history, much in the same way that Santa Claus is an embellished account of Saint Nicolas. The same could be said of the key characters found in the Scriptures of other religions, an embellishment of a historical character (such as Mohamad) or historical facts.  So when so few people, worldwide, recognize the Bible’s authority, over the authority of their own religions (or no religion) why would anyone acknowledge Kruger’s comment in regard to the Bible’s authority?

Beyond all this, recognize that there are thousands of Christian denominations today.  All may claim the authority of the Bible but all interpret it differently, even on key issues.  When the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit will lead his church in all truth, it makes me wonder what has happened to the Spirit’s leading.  When churches and individuals can make the Bible say almost anything they want it to say, who is to say who has the final and authoritative word on any issue?

Thanks John for making us think.

Other resources should include Tim Keller's Ministries of Mercy and Resources for Deacons, Randy Nabors' Merciful, Chris Sicks' Tangible, and my Not Just a Soup Kitchen: How Mercy Ministry Transforms Us All. The latter includes excerpts from a CRC out of print resource Servant Leaders.

Try Diaconal Ministries in Burlington.

Volunteers In Service coaches and trains deacons. They facilitate a deacon orientation training annually in August and has had very positive feedback on that training. VIS also is taking a more active role in facilitating council retreats. VIS staff meets with deacons to actively listen to what deacons are facing in today's world and responds in helpful and supportive ways. VIS works with deacons from the CRC church as well as other denominations. On the VIS website are blog positing on topics requested by deacons. For more information check the VIS website at or email Bernita Tuinenga at  We welcome the opportunity to hear from you!

Good suggestions here!  I'd like to add The Deacons' Handbook, by Lori Wiersma and Connie Kuiper VanDyke, available from Faith Alive.

There are several webinar recordings designed to help get deacons get off to a good start that are posted here on The Network. You'll also find a variety of recorded webinars suitable for new and/or experienced elders. Several of the recordings include slide handouts and/or additional helps for training purposes.

Diaconal Ministries Canada has many helpful resources for deacons. Check out their website at

I also recommend the following books for training deacons:

  • When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. Online video lessons to accompany the book are available at
  • Helping Without Hurting in Church Benevolence by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert
  • Live from the Micah Challenge. World Renew's version of this book is available from Faith Alive Resources.

 We, in the Western world, need to get rid of the notion that health, wealth and merit are somehow related.  Those who preach the Health and Wealth Gospel would have us believe that they are, and that if you're a Christian AND sick or poor it's your own fault because you lack faith or you have unconfessed sins you need to get rid of.  That is BULL.... When I began to have symptoms I confessed a host of sins, both real and imagined, and the symptoms NEVER went away.  Job's friends believed he was guilty of some evil, and they harassed him about it to the point that God demanded they offer sacrifices before Job could pray for them to be forgiven.  The Lord NEVER promised we would enjoy health and wealth in this life, so let's stop assuming there is a connection between health--mental or otherwise--and being a faithful servant of the Lord.  I was not given ANY guarantees when I made profession of faith in the Montreal CRC at the age of 18 other than to expect suffering.  Nor was I told in what form it would come.  Apparently, the devil doesn't scorn causing believers to become mentally ill if it can add to their suffering through the lack of compassion of other Christians.  That way he gets a bigger bang for his trouble.

These look great! 

I would add: Know and follow the Safe Church Policies of your church.

posted in: Hints for Elders

Thanks, Bonnie! Clay Olsen also gave a high-school-appropriate talk at GRCHS. The video is on their website   

We are adding this website and video resource to the resources on the Safe Church Ministry webpage dedicated to pornography. Thanks for the information!

Fight The New Drug is an excellent organization for education and resources on this topic See a talk given recently at Calvin by their founder, Clay Olsen 

Thanks so much Darren for bringing to light a topic that really needs to come out of the darkness. No problem will ever be solved by ignoring it. The problem of pornography must be addressed, yes, in our churches too. 

One question in my mind is, where can pastors or ministry leaders who struggle with this go for help? How do we create a culture where it's OK to share our struggles? At the same time we don't want to tolerate this evil, and it is evil, we have to be able to talk about it, and allow for people to seek help. Hiding it, or pretending it doesn't exist is the worst response.

Pornography was the topic of Abuse Awareness Sunday in 2012. Safe Church ministry supported, as we were able, a group of people who rode motorcycles to help increase awareness about this topic. We also had a powerful workshop at our bi-annual conference that year, which featured a couple who openly and courageously shared their own struggle with pornography addiction. We salute them! And we're so grateful for the insights they were able to share with us. I know that they are not alone. Find out more  here.  


Thank you for the recommendation.  I just saved and copied this tool and will explore it further.  It looks helpful.

Grace & peace,



Thank you for the recommendation.  I checked my resources and I have this tool!  So, now I will explore it.

May the Lord continue to empower you for a life of ministry,



Thanks for the reply.  I'm thinking of an evaluation tool for specific ministries of the church.  It would be also helpful if the tool could help the team vision for the future, but maybe that's asking too much? :)

Thank you kindly and God bless,


Hi Leon -- toward the bottom of this page:

there is a downloadable Ministry Evaluation form that a CRC congregation has shared with us.  You can also use this document as a template and modify to suit your congregation's needs/circumstances,

Amen! Well articulated and a necessary reminder.

Hi Leon,

We have a great resource for that. "Evaluation Essentials for Congregational Leaders" You can find a PDF of it here or, if you'd like hard copies (for only the cost of shipping), you can get them from Faith Alive 800-333-8300 or  

Hope that helps!


By 'ministry evaluation tool' do you mean for evaluating specific ministry programs of your church, or the overall collective ministry impact?

Thank you everyone for your helpful and enlightening comments. I can now provide clarity and direction to our Council and staff on this matter of executive committee membership and appropriate functioning.

James van Hemert

In terms of this question, it is probably relevant to note that there is an ecclesiastical and civil law component to the question.

Church Order, Article 37 "...Although full consideration shall be given to the judgment expressed by the congregation, the authority for making and carrying out final decisions remains with the council as the governing body of the church, except in those matters stipulated otherwise in the articles of incorporation or by law" indicates that councils are also bound by civil and criminal law. (see also Church Order, Article 32, Supplement, Article 32-d) Since Duncan CRC is in British Columbia, the Society Act, etc. is applicable in this instance, and in particular Duncan CRC's Constitution & Bylaws. 

The elders and deacons are the directors of the corporation under civil law, and form the council under Church Order. The executive committee which may include elders and deacons constitute the officers of the Board under civil law. As noted below, the pastor may be part of the executive committee as an elder, but has ex-officio status being an employee, i.e. an non-voting member under civil law.

There may be occasions where the executive committee and/or board/council need to go into executive session which would require the staff/employees, i.e. pastors, etc. (non-voting members) to leave the room. Executive session is not the same thing as mutual censure. 


Our church uses a three level structure that seems to work well.  Full council consists of all elders and deacons, about 30 that meets 3 times per year to approve and deal with major items that need full council approval to present to congregation.  

Just as deacons are a "ministry" our elders are also assigned into ministry areas based on their gifts (Care, Youth, Worship, Adult, Seniors, Outreach, Admin).  Each have their own meetings and pastors attend them or not at their own discretion. The Admin ministry is effectively our Executive Committee (Chair, Vice-Chair and Clerk) plus our bookkeeper and our office admin person and meets monthly - no other staff.  The bookkeeper and office admin provide input, all Exec level decisions are made by the three council members.

We also have a Leadership group that consists of 2 deacons plus one elder from each ministry area plus pastors that meets monthly and does most of the business of the church - so about 12 in total.  The Admin/Exec team also prepares the agenda for the Leadership meetings, etc. and decides when items are small enough for them to handle on their own and when things should be referred to leadership. 

The goal here is that our pastors provide extremely valuable input but we want them to not focus on administration - so they don't run anything and in terms of voting they are 3 out of 12 at Leadership, they do not attend Exec/Admin meetings.

Lastly (to give the whole picture) consistory meets 4 times per year to look at teh "bigger picture" of the spiritual well-being of the church, overall direction, bigger ministry questions etc.

I would like to affirm Tim's comments and add our own experience. 

We have 2 Pastors (one Min of the Word and one commissioned) both are "ex-officio" (there is your term Tim) aka non-voting.

We have a Chair, Vice-chair, Clerk, Vice-All (all elders) the Chair of the Deacons and Chair of Administration comm (who is not an office-bearer).  We also have a recording clerk also ex-officio who handles the minutes and some communication. We have given the Executive a mandate with some limited decision capacity and minor spending ability. The significant decisions remain with council and they receive reports of each Exec meeting and they are asked to approve the work done. We, like Tim, operate on a consensus basis with open discussion. It has worked out fairly well with the key elements being trust and good communication. 

We meet with Executive each month, and the Elders each month and Council about 5 times a year. 


In our church we have a full council (elders and deacons) as well as a small 'Administrative Council'. I'm assuming your 'Executive Committee' is analogous to that.

Our Admin Council is similar to yours in that it normally includes the chair of council, vice, and clerk as well as the senior pastor and our part-time operations manager. I don't see any problem with a non-pastor/elder/deacon being on the admin team, but I suppose a legitimate point could be raised about whether staff (pastor or not) should be voting or non-voting (what's the fancy name for that again? can't recall).

In our case, voting power never really seemed to be an issue we thought about. Our small admin team operated on a consensus basis, and most of what we did seemed to be either monitoring implementation or making recommendations to the full council which was the vote that really counted anyway. Our administrative council was more of a working group; the real decision-making power is with the full council.

I'm sure others can give a much better church order explanation of how it should work (Henry DeMoor's excellent Church Order Commentary likely covers this) but hopefully this perspective helps a bit in the meantime.

Thoughts from others?

The RCA book of worship has a short "Order for Second Service" that might work well.



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