Resource, Website

Do you want to know more about Insurance Coverage for your church? Church Protection Plus offers more than "inside and out" coverage. 

August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The value of supporting documentation for financial transactions can be measured by the degree of objectivity with which such documentation was compiled.  For example, auditors rely on bank statements to confirm the accuracy bank holdings.  The following document show some definitions and a list...

August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

This Budget Template file is tailored to the user with a form for presenting your church's annual budget. This form also provides a comparative analysis for prior year's budget.

August 19, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

Learn more about the difference between auditing and reviewing.

August 19, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The following link redirects you to the IRS Publications. 

August 19, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

Do you have questions about your Pastor's earnings regarding SECA or FICA, Income Tax withholdings, or Parsonage Allowance?

August 18, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

Income tax, social security tax, and Medicare tax are paid on wages and self-employment income. Social security and Medicare taxes are collected under one of two systems...

August 18, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

This training tool is intended to help church leaders have a fruitful conversation about evaluation in their local setting—and to strengthen the local church by blessing its staff with timely, effective feedback.

August 18, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

The wages scale is based on a number of criteria. This excel spreadsheet (which is a sample from a church) will help you distinguish salary grades based on that criteria.

August 11, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

This publication will help you better understand the tax rules that apply to your 403(b) (tax-sheltered annuity) plan. You will understand and identify excessive contributions, basic rules for claiming the retirement savings, and more.

August 11, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

You can deduct your contributions only if you make them to a qualified organization. IRS Publication 526 discusses the organizations that qualify to receive deductible contributions.

August 8, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

This document explains how to claim a deduction for your charitable contributions. The types of organizations to which you can make deductible charitable contributions are explained in the following link,

August 8, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or Booklet

These books will simplify the accounting process and methods involved.

August 7, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

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

August 6, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Software or Application

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

August 6, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Software or Application

The Church Law and Tax Group has a wide variety of resources to provide financial, legal and administrative support for your ministry.

August 6, 2014 0 0 comments
Q&A

Is there a policy in the CRC for how salary amounts for church staff should be disclosed to the congregation?

April 27, 2014 0 2 comments
Blog

Many congregations rent their facilities to emerging or established Christian congregations in their communities. This seems like a win-win arrangement. But what does Christ think about such an arrangement?

April 24, 2014 0 20 comments
Resource, Job Description

The Assistant Treasurer is accountable to the Administration Team for the proper recording of giving by the congregation. The Assistant Treasurer replaces the Treasurer upon retirement and serves as backup Treasurer when the Treasurer is unavailable.

April 3, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Job Description

The Pastor of Discipleship is accountable to the Senior Pastor for guiding and equipping members to develop and live in relationships of full-orbed discipleship. Full-orbed discipleship includes pastoral care, spiritual growth and outreach. This position will serve as a member of Shepherd Elders and ex officio member of Service Deacons.

April 3, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Does your church contribute to a retirement plan or encourage contributions to a retirement plan through matching contributions? One option you may want to consider for your non-minister church staff is a SIMPLE IRA.

March 14, 2014 0 0 comments
Blog

Many churches rely on paid staff to manage various aspects of ministry, from performing music during worship services to administering outreach programs. Are these paid staff church employees or independent contractors? 

February 3, 2014 0 7 comments
Blog

A ruling in U.S. federal district court this week may impact most ministers serving in the United States who live in their own homes.

December 2, 2013 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

What will be the pension for each if these Pastors when they turn 67 in five years?

October 11, 2013 0 8 comments
Blog

With this calculator, you may estimate impact based on income, family size, and other factors. Remember, you are not eligible for this insurance if you are eligible for insurance from your employer.

October 8, 2013 0 0 comments

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Are you aware of an MOU template that could be used in reaching an agreement with a potential (non-CRC) partner?  Thanks

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.

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?

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. 

 

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.

 

 

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

Edwin Walhout passed away January 1, 2017.  He died a Christian man who truly loved the Lord more than anyone I've ever known, and he loved everyone he ever met or didn't meet, even you all on this thread. His parting words may be found at www.edwinwalhout.com.

 

 

Thank you so much! I look forward to listening later today!

Hi Gillian,

I have three resources that I use for sermons during the week.

The first is the teaching of Alistair Begg at: www.truthforlife.org

The second I try not to miss is Charles Price at; www.livingtruth.ca

The third is when I need a boost is Robbie Symons at: http://www.harvestoakville.ca/teaching/sermon-archives/latest-sermon/

Hope this helps and I'd be interested to know how you find any of these helpful.

Blessings.

 

I watch the Calvin Student Service LOFT Sunday nights. They also livestream and archive the Chapels. Go to https://calvin.edu/studentlife/faith-worship/ to find the links. I am so blessed by seeing college students lead worship and by Pastor Mary Hulst's preaching. Even though it's directed to college students, I always learn or am challenged by something.

 

Here are what I see to be the most disturbing trends:

1. redefinition of the Gospel to be more of a social Gospel along the line of classical liberalism as see in some writings of the leaders of the Emergent Church movement. 

2. removal of God's wrath from the atonement. Substitutionary atonement is divine child abuse. Jesus suffered our wrath to become an example of how to overcome human violence. 

3. universalism replacing the doctrine of limited atonement.

4. there seems to be not enough preaching that fits this description stated by John Piper: " a sermon is is an expository exultation over the glories of God revealed in his word.”

5. the loss of the authority of God's Word. The Bible has become a collection of stories about God which become authoritative as the Spirit applies it. Karl Barth's view seems to have gotten a hold in churches.

6. loss of Christian identity. It is said we are all "broken people now." What about "new creations?" With the loss of Christian identity comes the loss of concepts of mortification and vivification.

When pastors or churches adopt these disturbing trends they do so in the name of being relevant to our culture. However it is these very things that make Christianity irrelevant because its no longer Christianity. No wonder why people are leaving our denomination or others.

 

Iain Murray, in his book, "Revivals & Revivalism" documents how, from about 1740 until the early 1800s, revivals took place. They took place in churches where the pastor preached the word of God fearlessly, at times for many years, and the church had a deep concern for the "lost". The revivals were always instigated by God and not by man's pleading or emotional gatherings.

Do Calvinists have a deep concern for the lost or do we leave it all to God? If so, why did Jesus command his disciples to go into all the world .......?

If those trends are true then the church is on a slippery slope.

"And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:7-8)

 

I think the author is right about these trends and they all seem to focus on the convenience of the worshipers. Sometimes we lose sight of the first priority of worship which is to bring glory to God, our comfort and convenience should be way down the list.

The article is very superficial in its analysis. I agree that we need to move with our changing society, but it's not all about attracting converts or building attendance numbers.

My other gripe is his assertion that less preaching makes for better preaching. Those pastors who wrote 100-150 sermons and messages each year were excellent at exegesis and applying the Word of God. They had lots of practice, and an urgent need to rely on God's guidance every week. I would say they were the better preachers.

This link should bring you right to Prof. Gibson's article. 

Mark,  Thanks for your kind words.  It is my prayer that this is a first step toward some honest dialog on this subject between more than just you and I.  You see I am nearing the end of my career and doing my best to maintain my balance.  My concern is for those who have many years to come and as you cite Gibson's article, which I need to find by the way, the idealized pastor is part our collective history and is not likely to change to quickly, unless we as active clergy find ways to support and encourage that kind of self-differentiation which is not generally rewarded. 

I would also like to offer my help to be part of the solution rather than someone complaining.  I have some theories and ideas I am pondering and hoping to put into practice in the near future.  Once again thanks for the willingness to at least raise the issue.

Rodney, thanks for your comment. Your suggestion that pastors have periodic mental health checkups is intriguing and strikes me as wise. However, you are suggesting something much bigger and even more anxiety-producing than a guide for what congregations and pastors can do once the pastor is dealing with an acute mental illness. In Danjuma Gibson's insightful article, "Trauma: Suffering in Silence" in the Fall 2016 Calvin Seminary Forum, he argues that congregations have a need for their pastor always to be emotionally and spiritually strong, which would get in the way both of pastors getting treatment and of looking for signs of mental illness among pastors before symptoms become acute. Gibson writes,

Th­e congregation’s need for their idealized pastor to “be well” will in many cases compromise the pastor’s actual ability to recover from trauma or loss. ­The reality of their pastor falling victim to a trauma and possibly displaying human weakness and spiritual ambivalence may be too disruptive to the collective psyche of the church.

I would guess that unless a pastor has good self-differentiation, he or she will succumb to that need of the congregation and do his/her very best to pretend everything is fine. I hope that this clergy guide, and especially the accompanying materials, will help move the dial just a little for church leaders to acknowledge that pastors, along with everyone else, have struggles, and the whole system is healthier when we acknowledge that and even take preventative steps (as you suggest) to prevent challenges from becoming train wrecks. 

I would second Larry's commendation, it is time we recognize that something is wrong and take steps to address it.  However, like many other things I encounter in both the RCA/CRC and churches in general, we are incredibly slow to recognize a problem.  Over 10 years ago I was tasked with investigating malfeasance by a fellow pastor.  During that investigation I had several conversations with police detectives, and at one point I was asked how often clergy are expected to have a psychological evaluation.  I had to admit, that once we are are ordained that kind of check up is no longer called for.  The detective told me every time he was promoted, a psychological evaluation was required.  Given that one in four clergy suffer from mental illness, maybe it is time we took a look at getting ahead of the problem rather than providing resources at the end.  I also wonder that since 1 in 4 clergy will admit to some sexual indiscretion with someone other than their spouse, if there is a connection? 

My perspective is that of a long term, "old guy" clergy and a licensed therapist.  I hope, that this is just the beginning of the process of looking at clergy health.  A few years ago we decided that most of us were overweight and a physical fitness regimen was encouraged, maybe it is time we looked at mental health the same way, and looked closely at what is negatively impacting a group of men and women who in previous generations would have been some of the healthiest people in the population.

In Greg Ogden's manual, "Discipleship Essentials", the opening lesson starts with, "Discipling is an intentional relationship in which we walk alongside with other disciples in order to encourage, equip and challenge one another in love to grow toward maturity in Christ. this includes equipping the disciple to teach others as well."

One has to take the time to build a relationship with a neighbour, colleague or friend before inviting them to join you on a journey to meet Christ. I don't know if it is apathy on the part of CRC people, but they do not seem overly concerned with the "lost". One  way to build relationships is to invite them to your home for a meal. Again, CRC people like to socialize with CRC people, who they are comfortable with. 

I was blessed to be part of a discipleship group, with a pastor who had previously led 2 other groups on a one year journey. The result was that everyone who took discipleship became a leader in the church, either in council or a ministry. When I tried to engage others in a discipleship group, I was turned down. CRC people don't like to have to share about themselves. I did disciple one inmate in a prison and we completed 22 of the 24 lessons before he got transferred. None of the 15 - 20 people in our church, who took the discipleship course, have discipled anyone else. Perhaps we need to check out what the Baptists are doing. In my area they are planting churches with great success, based on prayer and requiring new members to tithe.

I have a men's group that meets once a week for Bible study and accountability. Most of us are volunteers with Kairos Prison Ministry, which holds weekends in federal prisons and then returns weekly or monthly to meet with weekend participants and their friends. We sing, pray and then meet in small groups to share accountability questions. These meetings are very powerful in growing men's faith. We also encourage them to attend the numerous Bible studies that are available in these institutions.

We have tried to start discipleship classes with released residents, but they are resistant to committing to the 24 weeks required.

 

posted in: Make Disciples

How do you disciple a new believer? We tend to make disciples the way we were discipled but for so many of us that meant coming to sit at church and not learning how to make disciples who make disciples. Jesus recognized that the people He encountered were at different stages of growth and development, and He worked to challenge each of them to the next level. 

Who then should attend the 4 Chair Discipling Seminar?  Anyone who you want to see challenged to be a disciple who makes disciples!  During the 4 Chair Discipling Seminar, we will answer the following questions: 

• What is a disciple?

• Who is the model for being a disciple?

• What is a disciple's mission?

• What is a disciple's motivation?

• What is the process of becoming a disciple who makes disciples?

• Where am I in the disciple-making process?  What are my next steps?

In 4 Chair Discipling, you’ll get a clear and simple picture of how to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and to do the same thing. Included in the 4 Chair Discipling Seminar:

• A fresh look at Jesus as our model for being a disciple who makes disciples

• An overview of the 4 Chair Discipling process, highlighting Jesus' 4 challenges

• A simple understanding of what we need to know and do to grow to be like Jesus in our character and priorities

• A simple understanding of what we need to know and do to become fishers of men

• A simple understanding of the barriers that keep us from moving to the next chair and how we experience breakthrough

May the Lord bless every CRC church and every believer with the joy of making disciples who make disciples who make disciples…

If you would want more information about the 4 Chair Discipling seminar Contact Sonlife Ministries (https://www.sonlife.com/) or Pastor Jim Halstead is a certified Sonlife 4 Chair Trainer (Community CRC, Fort Wayne, IN) fwcrc@hotmail.com www.fortwaynecrc.com

posted in: Make Disciples

Thanks for the question and good responses. As this is a public thread, please follow the advice above and let's avoid further discussion of the details of what I'm sure is a sensitive and difficult matter.   

Here is a sample job description for an Associate Pastor that assumes there is also a Senior Pastor. Let me know if this helps or if you have any other questions. 

Good question. I did find this sample Senior Pastor job description but not in conjunction with an Associate Pastor. I'll be on the lookout!

I concur with the last comment by Jason DeVries.  It's time to get the Church Visitors involved in this matter.  A church council can't just dismiss a pastor on its own.  Classis and the Synodical Deputies have to concur with the decision. You can find the relevant information about release from ministry in Article 17 of the Church Order and about Church Visitors in Article 42 at https://www.crcna.org/sites/default/files/church_order_2016.pdf.  Councils tend to think they can hire and fire pastors as they wish, but it's not that easy within our denominational covenant.  It looks to me that in this situation our denominational checks and balances will bring some healthy accountability.  Call the Stated Clerk of your Classis, find out who the Church Visitors are for your congregation, call them and discuss this matter with them.  I'm sad for you and your congregation that it had to go this way.  God bless you.

Church Order has a system of a checks and balances for accountability set-up in order to prevent things like this from happening.  The elders do not have the authority to make such a unilateral decision.  The COUNCIL may suspend a pastor, but that suspension is then reported to classis who will ensure that the suspension is justified and that proper follow-up is taking place to resolve the conflict leading to the suspension.  Church order prohibits our congregations from "firing" a pastor whenever and for whatever reason they want.  If classis hasn't been brought into this yet, that MUST happen ASAP.  The situation is not healthy for the pastor, elders, council, or church.  Get help.  And even as a church member, you can contact classis personal yourself and ensure the ball gets rolling.  My heart breaks for you and the church at this difficult and confusing time.

Hi Bill! Just listened to the sermon and really appreciated many different tactics that you used (i.e. images from 9/11, descriptive words, body language, and just the overall tone that used to tell stories of heartache and loss). Really good stuff and you truly brought me back to the emotion of this day. In addition, I couldn't help but appreciate your love of snow and confidence in tackling the MI roads (even as spin outs happen). Thanks for sharing! 

Thank you, Staci.  Here is the link to the sermon!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppIlNlGY1Q8

Emotions need to be expressed in sermons so that the listener does not conclude that the speaker is not really so sure about this text or teaching. Unemotional preaching leaves you with the feeling that the preacher really believes what he/she is preaching.

On the other hand there needs to be a delicate balance of the emotions of the heart and the thoughts of the mind.  We need to embrace in our preaching.

Lots of excellent thoughts in this comment, William. Thanks for letting us in on the conversations happening at Calvin Seminary. I agree that the word 'performance' can cause many of us to cringe. But to think of performance as being 'the behaviors that bring thought to expression' is completely different. Encouraging to hear that the Seminary is placing value on helping people become better storytellers. 

I'd love to get a link to your sermon on 9/11. It sounds like you sought to be authentic in dealing with tragedy and I'm sure that was conveyed to those listening. 

Thanks again for sharing. 

Hi, Staci.  We were just discussing this topic at Calvin Theological Seminary.  (I am an M.Div. student there, and I am a commissioned pastor in my classis.)  In this semester's Preaching Practicum class, Prof. John Rottman asked us to read an article by Richard F. Ward titled "Performing the Manuscript."  In it, the author advocates for viewing preaching as performing.  He acknowledges the the word "performance" has unfortunately received a pejorative connotation by many Christians today.  But he says that the word should not be used as an epithet indicating sham or pretense.  Instead, he uses the term "perform" to mean "how language written for the sermon comes to life in the preaching event."  Performing includes "all the vocal and physical behaviors a preacher uses to bring thought to expression."  Ward looks to the Old French roots of the word -- par and fournir, which means "to perfect" or "carrying through to completion."

In seminary, we also watched an hour-long video about what various body postures and gestures communicate from the Fall Preaching Conference at Calvin.  It's very helpful to remember that communication involves more than words.  The video is worth a watch:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndKWOtnZtig 

Now that I've shared what Calvin Seminary is teaching regarding "performing," let me add to it my personal experience.  The last sermon I had the privilege to share was on 9/11.  I ended with the emotional story of a local woman who lost her life on United Flight 93.  If I had read that part of the sermon with no tenderness, no emotion and no vulnerability, there would have been a profound disconnect.  It would have been inauthentic, and it would have been less than the message deserved.  I made sure not to "put on" fake emotion.  I instead tried to be authentic, as one human talking to another about the reality of death and the fragility of life.  I have a link to that video if anyone is interested.

In summary, I think it is very, very necessary to "perform" and to bring the appropriate amount emotion to the presentation... as long as it serves the right purpose, comes from the right motivation and does not distract.

Really great thoughts, Gary. Especially appreciate your caution to be authentic. Makes me think about how God works through very ordinary people (not just those gifted in public speaking, etc.) in extraordinary ways. 

A good sermon should contain a combination of inspiration and information. The text of the sermon matters, of course; the words, the structure, the exegesis of scripture and the proclamation of the Gospel. The delivery matters, too. Bland monotone delivery can derail a good message, while proper emphasis and variation in tone and cadence helps bring the message to life. A caution would be to remain authentic. We all have times when we're excited or enthusiastic about a topic; our family, our favorite team, even political issues (especially these days). That authentic, genuine interest needs to be present in preaching. It's about bringing our best selves to the message, not about mimicking someone else or using some technique that we wouldn't use otherwise.

The statistics don't surprise me, they seem on trend with the new faces at the seminary and candidacy posting. What is surprising is the lack of women in the top levels of leadership. One of the issues that I have as we move into the 21st century is the insistence of ordained staff for leadership positions. There are many well educated and suitable candidates who have decades of experience in lay or non-ordained ministry of a variety of types but we do not see them as suitable candidates. Without ordination of the Word there is no place beyond congregational ministry in our denomination.

Thanks, Joshua, for the post.  In the past, I felt a sense of guilt at my inability to practice the presence of God for more than a few minutes.  A spiritual guide, farther along in the journey of faith than I was, said, "Think of God the same way that you think of a loving parent with a small child.  The parent finds great joy when the child snuggles up and just quietly sits on the parent's lap.  However, a parent's joy and love aren't diminished in any when the child then runs off to play.  Giving myself the same grace that God extends to me has kept me from feeling guilty and, over time, my ability to be present and just "sit in the Father's lap" has greatly increased. 

posted in: Entering Solitude

 

What pleasantly surprises me is the number of 100 women who have been ordained in the CRC.

Larry Van Essen 

Outstanding Joshua, keep working at it!!!

It was a struggle for me as well, we often live our lives at 100 mph. Trying to put the brakes on long enough to for anything other then ourselves can be seem unnecessary and impossible. I for one have to make my time in the a.m., but my wife and I have a separate time we set aside for prayer together. My personal time is around 3:30 a.m. or as soon as I have my first cup of coffee down. I'm not sure exactly how the progress came about but I started by just reading a verse each morning I am now up to about 30 minutes of prayer. I found that the more I prayed the more I found to pray for. I can only say I believe that to be the Holy Spirit growing in me. Either way I truly enjoyed you post, thank you.   

posted in: Entering Solitude

That's a fascinating insight, Ken, that the form doesn't actually require a confession of faith in Jesus. It's implied, of course, but that's a pretty dangerous leap to equate a living faith in Jesus with a belief that the teachings of the church are true. I do think that most PRC and NRC churches would require such a personal confession in the private conversation with a person prior to public confession, but could easily see that aspect being neglected. 

I came from the Netherlands Reformed Church in 1973 and made a Public Profession of Faith in the CRC at that time.

As I understand, the PRC and NRC are very similar in their professions of faith. They deal with life and doctrine, but not faith in Jesus Christ. I felt the need to profess this new faith in Jesus Christ when I came into the CRC. Here is the form that has been used for Profession in both the PRC and NRC...

1. Do you acknowledge the doctrine contained in the Old and New Testaments and in the Articles of the Christian faith and taught here in this Christian church to be the true and complete doctrine of salvation? 

2. Have you resolved by the grace of God to adhere to this doctrine; to reject all heresies repugnant thereto; and to lead a new, godly life? 

3. Will you submit to church government, and in case you should become delinquent (which may God graciously forbid), to church discipline?
Answer. Yes.

I hope that is helpful in guiding your conversations.

Craig,

Article 59-f applies here.  if it were a church in ecclesiastical fellowship with us, it would be 59-e.  Note that 59-f gives the consistory a responsibility to examine the persons concerning doctrine and conduct.  Then the consistory determines whether this be a "direct admission," a public reaffirmation, or a profession of faith.  One of these three that fits most appropriately with the conclusion of the examination.  If they're PRC, I would probably lean towards the first category of direct admission and so advise the consistory (if there's no problem in the conduct area).

 

 

Hi Craig,

Thanks for your question about transfer of members from "other denominations." Confessing members who are transferring from churches in ecclesiastical fellowship (as you noted, the RCA, EPC, and ECO) may be accepted within the membership of the CRC by the consistory upon the presentation of certificates or statements. Church Order Article 59-e goes on to state that the membership is accepted "after the consistory has satisfied itself concerning the doctrine and conduct of the members."

However, if a member wishes to transfer from another denomination (not in ecclesiastical fellowship with the CRCNA), according to Article 59-f, they "shall be admitted as confessing members of the congregation only after the consistory has examined them concerning doctrine and conduct. The consisotory shall determine in each case whether to admit them directly or by public reaffirmation or profession of faith. Their names shall be announced to the congregation for approval."

To answer your question about needing to make a public profession of faith once again, only if the consistory judges that a public commitment to Reformed confessions while testifying to a living faith in Christ is needed. Much depends on communication (if any) from the church that previously held the membership (active/inactive membership?).

Regards,

Dee Recker

Synodical Services Office, CRCNA

 

 

 

I am a former Roman Catholic. When I joined the CRC several years ago there was no hesitation. I knew the Church of Rome taught a different gospel and I had to get out of it.  I simply stopped attending there. There was no transfer process.  There is no official membership to cancel.  The CRC welcomed me in the fold as already baptized.  I did not have to be baptized in the CRC. As far as my Roman Catholic friends and relatives they consider me fallen away from the one true Church. I'm sure some pray that I return to Catholicism - as a prodigal son. 

Hi Adam,

As others have said--thanks for posting the question. 

Jim Dekker mentioned the ongoing Reformed-Catholic dialogue which has resulted in a joint agreement on baptism, as well as much discussion already around the Lord's Supper as practiced and understood by our respective churches.  This is likely the best comparative work that we have on the topic to date if you'd like to dig into it further. 

You can find the written work on this in the Agenda for Synod 2011 (https://www.crcna.org/sites/default/files/2011_agenda.pdf) starting on page 357ff on Baptism and Sacramentality ("These Living Waters"), continuing on page 440ff with a report on Eucharist/Lord's Supper ("This Bread of Life"), and ending with a comparison of Catholic and Reformed Lord's Supper Liturgies on page 492ff. 

If you'd like a quicker reference with a whole lot less reading--I'd direct you to contact Ronald Feenstra at Calvin Seminary, our current member at the Reformed-Catholic Dialogue table (Lyle Bierma has stepped away from this committment).

Blessings as you work through the conversation!

Adam, this is a great question. I suggest you copy it to the Facebook CRC Pastors group as well, of which you are a member.

I'd accept them as members on an appropriate reaffirmation of faith, and baptize their child. I would not make a point of communicating to their Catholic parish that we have done this. Assuming they are faithfully present in your church the communion issue is no big deal, and if they go back to Poland every few years and partake in the mass, that's no big deal either.

This is an interesting situation. Thank you for presenting it here.

First of all, "transfer of membership" is the term used for transferring memberships from one CRC to another. What would be needed for this is a "statement of membership" from their Roman Catholic church parish to the CRC (Brighton, MN, I presume) where they are attending. Yet it seems from your posting that the church/parish from which they're moving is not in the US. It might not be easy to get a "statement of membership," but should be possible. See Ch. Order Article 66 for these general rules. 

Second, I don't know what dual citizenship would have to do with anything you are describing and asking about--unless you are using the term "dual citizenship" as a synonym for "dual church membership.) My wife and I are dual citizens--US & Canada--but citizenship has nothing to do w/ church membership. (WAIT--we are also citizens of the Kingdom of God, which trumps all!)

Third, your question about participating in the sacraments is well put, but I will make a rather libertarian comment on that, based on experience in several denominations in six nations over 40-plus years. You are correct about baptism; officially the RCC does accept CRC baptism and vice versa. This was agreed upon after years of conversations in which CR and RC theologians and professors studied baptism exhaustively. (I believe Lyle Bierma was on that team and I know he reported on this issue and its conclusion to at least one synod I attended.) The experiential issue of Eucharist/Lord's Supper is significantly more ragged, though Church Order is pretty clear about the right to take part in Communion (C.O. 59). The fact is that more and more congregations in the CRC are opening up Communion more in keeping with the invitation in the Form for Lord's Supper in the grey Psalter Hymnal, which some have said veers away from strict interpretation of the Church Order. As well, I have been in Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and even (Eastern) Orthodox congregations in which the pastor/priest has made it very clear that Christians other than those of their own communion were welcome to participate.

I say that because in the case of the people you describe who evidently would return to Poland to visit family, it would be not merely awkward, but very sad if they could no longer participate in Communion in their homeland. Perhaps they could communicate with their home parish about this. On the other hand--and here is the libertarian comment--not a few have declared that sacraments do not belong to any church, but to God who welcomes believers, forgiven sinners, regardless of denomination. You know the implication of that reading.

Fourth, you ask about the child's baptism. I take it that the child has not been baptized in a Roman Catholic church. In that case, you are right that the should be members of your congregation, according to C.O. Article 56.

I don't know if this is helpful, but it has been enjoyable thinking about it with you. Blessings on your and your congregation's ministry with this family.

 

Adam,

A great question.  I think you identify some of the key issues toward the end of the second paragraph. Also, you are correct about the "dual-citizenship." I'm not sure that any church who recognizes membership within their polity would allow their members to also be members of another church or denomination.

Basically, I think you're on the right track. It's a great teaching opportunity for you and for the couple.  You would also want to have the council involved, endorsing and affirming the faith of the couple.

May I suggest one more thing? There are people much wiser than me and probably some who have had experience ministering in this situation that could find your question here, but are more likely to find you the Facebook group: Pastors of the Christian Reformed Church. It is a a "closed" group, meaning you would have to request to join and the moderators would include you.  It is an active group with close to 700 members of both active and (actively) retired pastors.

Blessings to you as you walk with this couple in their faith!  What a privilege!

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