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I'd look into Gordon Fee's work. He has a massive tome in which he exegetes every Pauline passage ("God's Empowering Presence")--but also a shorter, more "user friendly" book called "Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God."

The Leadership booklet is available as a free download at http://www.faithaliveresources.org/Effective-Leadership-in-the-Church. It's a great resource used regularly at Calvin Seminary with students and pastors.

I am a Ministry Associate working as an Active Duty Army Chaplain. I am currently deployed to Iraq, but will be coming home in the next few months. I will have been here 12 months.

I attended College and Seminary with my wife. We both earned a BA in Biblical Studies and she completed an MA in Old Testament and I, an M.Div. I've been ordained through other denominations (or non-denoms) for quite a while. The more I studied and seriously reflected on Scripture and truth, the less Arminian I became. I came into the Reformed movement after a couple of years of cognitive dissonance until I found a CRCNA church and discovered the doctrine was much more like what I had come to believe than any other church. It was a much longer, winding process than that, but suffice it to say, God worked on me. I have had no formal Reformed training, but I hope in the future to earn my Th.M. from Calvin, Westminster or Princeton, in service to the Army Chaplain Corps. Then hopefully a Ph.D.

I'm happy to be a missionary from my local congregation. I've pastored before, but never missionaried. I appreciate the status of MA because it helps me keep in touch with my local congregation more than if I wasn't attached as an associate.

I look forward to discussion of issues facing MAs in general and specifics.

Faith Alive Christian Resources publishes "The Holy Spirit: Under the Influence" in our Discover Life series.

Hey, Tony!

I think that Francis Chan has a pretty good series/DVD on the Holy Spirit based on his book "The Forgotten God". I've heard that it can lead to good discussions on where we as a church do or don't leave "spaces", so to speak, for the Spirit to work. (Not like we tend to be over-planners or anything) Hope it works for you!

Jeff B.

Good stuff, sure. But, like so much of what we do as pastors, Jim's article analyzes the Acts scene...and prescribes this for our churches.

BUT, unless individual people are passionate about seeing their own lives powerfully used by the Spirit in the lives of lost people....our congregations will not be missional, much.

So I would ask all readers of this post: Do you have the names of at least 5 persons in your purse or wallet whom you are pleading with Father to let you move them or lead them to Christ?
When you look at your schedule do you have at least 20% of your weekly labors such that you are networking in the community intentionally....to build relationships with lost people?

How many times in the last 6 months has someone, of the same gender, asked you: "Can I speak to you about how you are doing spiritually?"
Have you asked that question of others?

Until we lead our members of the church God entrusted to our leadership to live this way.....Our churches will not change.

Change starts with me....and then telling stories to the folks of the church

Good stuff. thanks.
When churches/ deacons/ pastors "head out", tension in the fellowship is almost inevitable. Conflict, or fear of it, tends to make us hesitant about the journey outwards. I'd love to hear some stories from around the CRC that help us see how to manage the conflict while we seek to be obedient to the mission of Jesus.

That's a valid question, and I think the answer is "yes." The reality is that we are both -- the New Testament makes it clear of course, that we are "saints" -- God's chosen people, Holy & Dearly loved, the bride of Christ, & many other images that illustrate our nature that has been called & cleansed.

The reality is that we are, at least on this side of heaven, also sinners, as the sinful nature still rages within. Romans 7 attests to this (of course, that raises a whole other issue...! -- before, or after conversion?!).

The best way, I think, is to find a balance. When we do our time of confession, I try to find a way to bring out both the fact that we, as a church are "different" from non-believers; we are the people who have been once and for all forgiven by sin, and thus redeemed, but who also continually need to acknowledge our sinfulness.

So, that's not a very helpful answer, but it reflects the tension of the question.

At Brookside CRC in Grand Rapids where I attend, we also wrestled with payment for staffing. Nothing was formally in writing, but we only paid leadership positions in ministry areas in addition to the lead organist/pianist for services. These positions are 20 hrs/wk or more.

Many people serve the church with enormous amounts of time and they are appreciated. I'm sure there are many people who give 5-10 hours of their time each week and some maybe even more in doing ministry as gifted members.

Pastors, worship leaders, and sound operators are all possible recipients of gratuities at our church for funerals. A fee is set for sound operators with our weddings and other rental events.

As far as I know, the denomination (synod) has never adopted a particular stance on this. But if it tolerated anything less than an honest personal wrestling with the text in its original language and context and with faithful and relevant application to our lives today, I suppose we could close Calvin Theological Seminary for good. There would be no need for biblical studies, for homiletics, for any other theological discipline......... I do know that several classes (I won't say which ones) have taken actions that clearly come down hard on plagiarism. For what it's worth ....

Thank you for this solid article. For me this is where the rubber meets the road as a church within it's community. It doesn't matter whether you are a large or small church, with this focus churches can be strong and vital participants in God's work where they are placed.

I'm all for nipping! I do it from time to time. My father-in-law is a pastor in the Chicago area and he and I are always "borrowing" each other's ideas. Pastor friends and I also pass back and forth ideas. Sometimes I even quote them. In a preaching class of mine at Fuller, we talked about verbal footnotes. Use what other people say as long as you acknowledge.

Coming back to my original thought, though, I guess with the sermon series put out by Saddleback, Willowcreek, LifeChurch.tv and others, they all state that it is a sermon series based upon this particular book, church, person, etc. Before you begin preaching people know where you are getting it from. But we can't just repeat what was written in the series given. For me personally, I feel like that is cheating. When I've done series based off of programs provided, I've still struggled with the message, wrestled with the text and presented what the Holy Spirit had moved in my heart to say using the program as a stepping board to helping us hear God's word for us. We hear God's Word first and then everything else is gravy in helping us interpret and apply it to our lives.

I know that in many CRCs in the past, people had become upset about pastors using material like this, mainly because they are being paid to write original sermons, not someone else's and use original ideas not already pre-packaged ones. Out of curiosity, what is the denomination's stance on this?

Bert,

Thanks for posting those; that was helpful. I do agree that honorariums are gift offerings, that need not be surrendered to the church, though if that is something a pastor would wish to do, that would certainly be a fine thing to do. Often, weddings or funeral require me to spend extra time away from my wife and kids, so we usally try to spend that extra money on something as a family.

There is another side to that whole money thing though, and that is the way that money can easily taint a ministry. Even subconciously, we can start to think of people in terms of money they have given. For example, it could happen that a couple did/could not give any honorarium, and personally, I know how easy it could be to remember that, and always be seeing that couple as "the ones who were cheap" -- and the opposite is also true; a generous honorarium can easily lead a pastor to think more favorably about a couple. Sad to admit, but last time I checked, pastors have a sinful nature too.

Best, I think, to expect nothing, work on the assumption that nothing will be given, and be grateful for anything beyond that.

Josh Benton wrote a good, thought-provoking response to the plagiarism article and I thought it deserved my own thought and a comment.

The main issue in preaching (or any writing) is not that we should be afraid to use other resources. There hasn't been a totally original thought around for a long while. That means we are, in fact, dependent on all kinds of on-going conversations about Scripture, church life, social issues and so on to keep ourselves up-to-date, interesting (we hope!) and useful as servants who, in the words of a long-time mentor, "always mediate the Word of God in some way or other."

What matters is HOW we use all that information and all those resources "out there"--whether "out there" means internet, books, libraries, newspapers, magazines, commercials or whatnot. It is certainly legitimate to get pushes and nudges from all the sorts of things that Josh mentioned. It equally illegitimate to fob that stuff off as our own work without attribution, acknowledgement, credit.

Funny--a retired preacher buddy read that plagiarism article a few weeks ago and said, "My pastor is always nipping other people's sermons, quoting from them, sometimes saying ahead of time, 'I can't say this any better than so-and-so.' But that's fine. He is scrupulously honest about giving credit to the authors."

I know we can overquote and bore people and even create a certain amount of distrust if ALL we do is quote. What is important is that we own, embrace, chew, digest the Bible passage so that the words of the semons are honest, resting on personal and Holy Spiritual integrity.

Jesus said some pretty strong words about the Father of Lies and his children. We are children of the Father of Truth, or the original and eternal WORD and in our own words are pretty strongly bound to honesty and integrity.

I think there is a lot of truth to this. But my question comes what about those resources such as Purpose Driven Church/Life, Willowcreek and LifeChurch.tv who supply sermon series information, outlines, videos, etc. all aimed at helping churches. Is there a balance between the two. I've used resources like these in the past using the resources as a starting point. Is that good or bad?

I am a self-proclaimed "Facebook junkie" who uses Facebook for both personal and professional connections.

I have used Twitter sporadically, but I don't really use it anymore for the simple reason that I can't see ANYTHING that Twitter does that can't be done on Facebook. When I started "following" people on Twitter, I soon discovered that many of them were simply pushing their Tweets out to Facebook, which meant that I was reading everything twice.

I certainly cannot offer up a biblical defense for my use of Facebook, but Twitter just annoys me, as I am convinced that this application is a true case of the Emperor wearing no clothes.

And "FacebookandTwitter" is NOT a word!

(the views expressed in this post are my own and do not represent the views of my employer.)

posted in: "Why I Don't Tweet"

I think I've read this article before... :) just kidding

During research for a sermon out of Leviticus I found four sermons on the same site for the passage I was interested in. As I read through them I began to notice startling similarities. Through dates posted I was able to determine the the original scholarship. The second sermon borrowed a little and used a different title - no attribution. The third sermon borrowed much of the exegetical work, some of the illustrations, used own application, different title - no attribution. The last sermon, the pastor put his name at the top and submitted it as his own work title and all.

It is of interest to note that the passage was Leviticus 10 - the sons of Aaron bringing strange fire before the altar of the Lord. I used my research experience as my opening illustration for the sermon.

As to using other people's work - always attribute. To do anything else is to defraud your congregation and the God you serve.

Re Mike's comment above re #3:

I wondered if that would generate some reaction. I respectfully disagree with Mike's opinion, however. I do regret using the word "fee" the first time instead of "honorarium," as the latter is really the more appropriate term. Moneys received for conducting either weddings or funerals are "honorariums," which are given as expressions of appreciation for extra work done (often on my days off - Saturdays, as in my case). Regardless of day, however, honorariums are similar to bonuses or tips, and as long as you do not make them mandatory and your council is aware that you receive such honorariums (which mine is) and have no problem with it, accept them gratefully and take your wife out on a nice date or buy yourself that new pair of shoes you - or your kids -have been needing!

One thought in regards to #3: Money received for activities within one's role as a pastor probably ought to be surrendered to the church. A pastor ought not be paid twice for work that he/she is already being paid for in the salary. I think that this would include weddings for non-members (as well as funerals, etc.).

Steve,

Like you I came into full time ministry later in life (late 40’s). I worked in the fields of accounting and administration for 25 years. For 15 of those years I was a volunteer in our youth program.

When my predecessor left, I applied for and was hired for the position of full-time Director of Youth and Education. Because of various life circumstances my educational opportunities up till then had been limited. While working for the church I enrolled in the 3 year program of the leadership network for our classis (sounds like what you are doing). The church paid for most of my tuition. Upon completion of the program my church requested my ordination as an MA. The advantages of the leadership network program was that it allowed me to work full-time while completing the program at my pace. In addition, the curriculum was flexible enough to be adapted to my ministry, and of course, it was financially feasible for a working, single mom.

I was ordained 2½ years ago. For the most part I find people, especially those outside the church, don’t have any hang-ups about whether or not I went to seminary. I also find that my peers, both MA’s and MW’s, don’t draw distinctions in perceived ability or inherent pastoral value, but maybe that’s the nature of our west coast, SF Bay Area region.

As David Koll and others have noted, there are some ambiguities that need to be ironed out between the titles. As one of my colleagues warned “rather than different in ministry, equal in honor (value)” our position can appear “equal in ministry, unequal in honor”. I trust David and his team will continue to work towards correcting this across the denomination.

I’d love to hear where and how God leads you next…
-sue

1) Not usually, nor do I encourage it. I do occasionally conduct weddings of two non-Christians when asked, and I see/use it as an opportunity to present the good news of God's love in Christ Jesus and his gift of and intent for marriage.

2) See answer to 1) above

3) I suggest an average fee of $200 to couples, leaving it up to them to decide if they can only afford to pay less or wish to pay more (that sometimes happens!). For most couples, this is a pittance compared to what is spent on the wedding/honeymoon, and suggesting a fee saves them from wondering what is an appropriate honorarium.

4) Our church has adopted a wedding policy, and I'm copying it here below:

GATEWAY COMMUNITY CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH
Standard Policy & Procedure

Marriage, Pre-Marriage, Divorce & Re-Marriage

This document is intended to be helpful to the pastors, leaders, elders and members of Gateway Community Church as well as to others are becoming a part of the church family in understanding what we believe that the Bible has to say on Marriage, Pre-Marriage, Living Together, Divorce and Re-Marriage. It is not intended to be prescriptive and to cover every potential situation that can occur.

It is our desire to be faithful to God’s Word and to live out our lives in a way that is pleasing to him in the midst of today’s cultural and societal pressures and in the process to be a blessing to one another.

Marriage

GATEWAY Community Christian Reformed church is committed to building God-honoring relationships, strong marriages, and life-affirming homes/families.

The following scriptures concern community, sexuality, and marriage and are the basis for the following affirmations: Genesis 2:20-25; Genesis 1:27; Hebrews 13:4; Ephesians 5:21-33; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20

We believe:
That God lives in eternal community and people were created to live in community. We all have legitimate needs for physical, spiritual, mental and emotional intimacy. These desires are given by God.

That human sexuality is a good gift of God that is enjoyed and expressed by all human beings in the natural course of life.

That sexual intercourse is a life-uniting act that requires a life-uniting intention. Therefore this gift/intimacy is reserved only for those who have entered into the covenant of marriage.

That sexual intercourse outside of marriage goes against God’s plan for human beings and will ultimately lead to pain, brokenness, and alienation in life and relationships. On this basis, all those associated with the Gateway Community CRC community will be encouraged and taught to abstain from sexual relations before marriage. Where this Biblical principle is violated we will gently and humbly seek to correct the people involved.

That sexual immorality is not an unforgivable sin. God can and will restore to wholeness those who have deviated from his plan and who seek restoration through Jesus Christ.

That marriage is an exclusive, life-long, committed relationship of love between a man and a woman. What God intends in marriage is that the husband and wife become one flesh – a unity of body, soul, and spirit.

That it is the role of the church and state to protect and preserve the sanctity of marriage.

Pre Marriage
Key Scripture: 1 Corinthians 6:14-18; Malachi 2:11-12

Gateway Community Church is committed to helping people enter into the marriage relationship prepared for the joys and challenges that they will face. Marriage involves emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical unity. As a couple progresses toward marriage it is important that they be moving into a deeper understanding of each other and of themselves. We affirm the role of both the pastor and the role of pre-marital “counselors” in aiding this journey toward unity. Part of the pastor’s role is to insure that the couple understand God’s role in their lives and will be able to form a spiritual union. Part of the counselor’s role is to insure that people are emotionally, intellectually, and physically prepared to enter this union. Together they guide the couple toward the marriage day and beyond.

On this basis:
For marriages within the Gateway Fellowship, we require that there be sufficient time for the pastor to get to know the couple that is being married. This will allow the pastor to form an ongoing relationship with the couple that will be beneficial for their family in the years ahead. The couple wishing to marry under the auspices of the church should contact the Pastor at least 4 months in advance of their selected date. The pastor is expected to meet with the couple according to the need, seeking to be assured that both parties of the proposed marriage demonstrate a sincere commitment to enter into the marriage and build it on the foundation of Christ and to live in the context of the fellowship of the church. The couple will be expected to seek pre-marital counseling either through Gateway Community Church or a counseling agency.

Should the pastor be uncertain of the couple’s commitment to Christ, he/she will be expected to discuss the matter with the pastoral team (or an elder team) for further discernment. Our pastors will not normally marry couples who are not both committed to Christ.

There are often occasions where our pastors are asked to officiate at weddings where people are not connected with a church and/or maybe just beginning to seek God. We recognize that our church may be able to play a key role in these lives in helping them understand what a God-honoring relationship is and what a Christian foundation to their lives can be. The pastor may consider the possibility of a civil ceremony in some of these situations. Our pastors will avoid allowing our church to become a “wedding service” for people just looking for a church to marry them.

All invitations to officiate at marriages will be discussed with the pastoral team. The Marriage Act of Canada gives pastors the freedom to choose whether or not they will marry any particular couple that requests them to officiate at a wedding.

Living Together
Key Scripture: Ephesians 5:3-6

There are many couples that choose to live together without entering into marriage. Most often this also involves sexual union between them. Our society condones this practice. As a church we cannot.

As a church we affirm that a man and woman living together, without a mutual, permanent and public commitment is a less than an ideal state. It exposes a couple to unnecessary sexual temptation and leaves an impression of sexual impropriety as revealed in scripture. We strongly discourage this practice.

When a couple is living together and engaging in a sexual relationship they are dishonoring each other and God. We will gently and humbly instruct those who are living this way to abstain from sexual intimacy. Our membership covenant is a promise to seek to live in relational integrity.

Sometimes, they bring children from previous relationships and are functioning as “blended” families. Where there are children in these situations there is almost invariably much confusion, pain, and brokenness. Many times these families are also estranged from God and his church. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve them and will:

1. Accept them as they are
2. Try to discern what unity they have achieved in their current living situation
3. Help them build God-honoring relationships
4. Help them work out marriage related issues
5. Help them deal with/settle previous relationships
6. Help them understand and evaluate their current relationship

In general we will counsel them toward:

1. Establishing a sexual boundary until marriage
2. Considering the option of moving apart until such commitment is made.
3. Entering a committed married state or moving away from the relationship

Our purpose is to reinforce the importance of the marriage relationship and to bring every husband/wife relationship under the authority of Christ. As every member of the Christian Community is connected in Christ, it is important to the unity of the body that all husband/wife relationships are understood to be publicly committed in Christ’s name. One option that our pastors and the couple may consider is a private ceremony to establish the marriage relationship.

Membership/baptism for these couples and families will wait until after these issues are resolved.

In all situations our first instinct will be to listen, discern, encourage, and help people move toward God-honoring relationships and life-affirming families.

Divorce
Key Scriptures: Malachi 2:13-16; Matthew 19:3-8

We have already affirmed that God intended marriage to be a life-long union. The Bible states clearly: “Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together.” God also clearly states: “I hate divorce. So guard yourself; remain loyal to the wife of your youth”. Jesus strongly admonished the people of his day for their quick and easy approach to divorce.

We believe God is calling us to stand against the tide of divorce in our society. We will hold people to and encourage them to fulfill the vows they have made. Understanding that all marriages face issues of sin, hurt, and alienation we will help people build into their relationships repentance, confession, forgiveness, reconciliation, and fresh starts. We believe that God can heal and reach and restore even the most broken of marriages if both parties are truly open to his work, his desires, and his power.

All of this being said, because of the deep fallenness of human beings, the Bible does recognize that the marriage relationship can be virtually shattered by the sinful actions of human beings. The Bible acknowledges immorality and desertion (desertion being defined as behavior equivalent to the abandonment of the marriage relationship) as two ways this can happen. We also recognize that other issues such as addiction and abuse can break down a relationship to a point that reconciliation of the marriage becomes overwhelmingly difficult. Hard-heartedness (the unwillingness to try/forgive), cold-heartedness (the inability/unwillingness to love), and spiritual incompatibility can also effectively end a relationship.

We reject quick and easy divorce as a way to end a relationship. We uphold the current law of the state for a one year of separation if divorcing. This law is meant to protect vulnerable persons and couples from taking quick and precipitous action that they will later regret. It also allows for a cooling off period. During separation we will consistently work for reconciliation between parties in a marriage, even if it may not lead to marital reconciliation.

We recommend people avail themselves of professional personal, marital, and family counseling as they seek to work through difficult issues.

We believe that dating another person while still legally married is sinful and often extremely offensive to the families involved and the community at large. It also does not allow the time needed to deal with the issues that led to the break-up of the previous marriage. We will not lend support to these relationships and will urge people to stay away from dating relationships at least until their marriage contract has ended.

Re-Marriage
Key Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 7

Scripture encourages those who have struggled deeply with previous marriages to consider remaining single and devote themselves in body and spirit to the Lord. The Bible also counsels that in regard to these issues one should not quickly move to change one’s status. Thus, for those seeking re-marriage we recommend a period of at least one year after divorce before even entering a new relationship or seeking marriage. This time should be focused on dealing with issues that caused the break-up of the first marriage, receiving healing, and establishing equilibrium in relationship to God, family, friends, and the former spouse.

We strongly recommend Divorce Care and personal counseling before entering any new relationship.

The Bible affirms that divorced people, like all who have failed in life, can find forgiveness, fresh starts, healing and intimacy by the grace of God. Under some circumstances the possibility of remarriage is left open in scripture following the dissolution of a previous marriage.

The remarriage of believers may not be approved when:

1. Divorce is being used as a vehicle to seek a different mate, since such pre-intent makes the divorce adulterous.
2. There is no evidence of repentance and brokenness over the circumstances that caused the divorce.
3. Restoration of the original marriage remains a viable option.

Each case of divorce or remarriage has to be dealt with on an individual basis from the perspective of God’s inexhaustible capacity to forgive human sin and to restore broken lives.

I use two programs together. For my language work, I use Bibleworks; the bit attraction here is that I have the text (in just about any language) and while I scroll my cursor over the words, the window below automatically parses & translates the words for me. This also has the ability to do searches (and I usually only use the most basic search functions; it has the capability to do very complex searches). It can also give me a breakdown of the occurences of words in a given text (how many times each word occurs; how many times a word occurs in a given book of the bible, or in all of hte bible, or in all of Paul's writings, etc.)

For study work, I use a very little known program, published by Zondervan, called "Pradis." This has dozens of reference works, commentaries, dictionaries, encyclopedias and just about everything I need. I can cross-link materials too, so that I can pull up a text, and automatically all the commentaries and bibles and reference materials will automatically turn to hte same text. Handy.

I still do prefer good old fashioned books though. Computers are great, and handy, and timesavers, but I like the old books best.

posted in: Study Software

Go ahead Daniel. I think I heard that from a mentor a very long time ago. I think it's public domain now.

"tyranny of the urgent" - brilliant! May I borrow that? Full footnotes and attributions of course!

Excellent article. I wonder, though: Is it really that hard to attribute a source during a sermon? I find it quite easy to weave a good quote or story in while letting people know where it comes from and if I've found myself inspired by someone else's line of thought, I find that a direct quote is a good homage, reference, and lead in for that part of the discussion.

Passing off someone else's work as your own though...definitely not cool...and...everyone in the pews have the same internet we do...some of them have it on their phones too!

Rob,

Good questions. The first one I think of is 3. I don't charge a set fee, but leave it up to the individual situation. Sometimes I receive some sort of payment, sometimes a gift from the family, sometimes a card.

James, what a fantastic article. I have seen this on the increase. Just a few years ago in Northern Alberta classis someone was caught ripping off a sermon for his article 23 exam. Not a good scene.

I can understand the temptation, especially if you are feeling pressed and not working on your own academic endeavors or at least challenging your own thinking on a regular basis. I always give credit where credit is due. Even if my whole preaching series was inspired by a book I read, I make sure people know it. I'll even promote the book. Maybe it's just me, but I don't like much of what I see on the web. I don't find it suits my preaching style. However, I may use a quote from time to time or mention that a "writer" or "commentator" says such and such and then site it in my manuscript even if I'm just using an outline to preach. Any quotes I mention that go on power point are always sited so everyone can see.

It is a challenge to all of us who preach to be organized enough to give ample time to work with a text. I think much too often pastors get stuck in the tyranny of the urgent and find themselves behind the eight ball much too often. In that case, burn out is probably around the corner and the temptation to pilfer is much too easy.

Thank you for writing this (and whoever tweeted this). In my opinion this is one (among others of course) areas of the church where we have significantly failed. As Reformed people we've long asserted that the calling to serve the institutional church is no "higher calling" that every other honorable vocation present amidst our congregations. Every time I assert this publicly I get mostly skeptical looks and contradictory comments. Where have people picked up this skewed perspective? From the pastors.

It also comes from our implicit gnosticism of "heaven" and a deficient appreciation for the value of history. One of the reasons the church has spent so little time encouraging the cruciform and resurrection oriented development of the rest of the vocational spectrum is because a lot of alien theological and missiological packages we've grabbed hold of. History is not a soul-sorting apparatus that leads to either ethereal reward or fiery punishment, it is redemptive pursuit of celebrating the generosity of God embedded in creation and culminating in renewed creation. The wedding banquet of the lamb will celebrate the harvest of God-seeded culture from stories and cultures we've imagined to be lost.

As preachers we are called as part of Gospel proclamation to excite the participation of all vocations in preparation of this celebration. The banquet of the lamb will not be some poofed up turkish delight by a magic wand, that is the way of the white witch. The sitting at the table will be the final celebration of the chefs of God who cook, the farmers of God who supply the food, the engineers of God who design the farm equipment, the architects God who design the room, the carpenters of God who build the tables and the chairs, the designers of God who design the table settings, the composures of God who write the music, the musicians of God who play and sing, etc. etc. etc. pvk

James, thanks for the review. I read this at the beginning of my ministry about four years ago and it was incredibly insightful and "necessary" reading for entering the ministry. It is so easy to give into the temptations to feel needed, to thrive on that, and to ultimately sell our souls to be necessary. As John the Baptist so truthfully stated, "I must become less, he must become more." May this be true of all our ministries, that Christ is the necessary one and not us.
Blessings,
Ben

Hi Guys and Gals,

Both my husband and I are MA. We are in Las Vegas as church planters. We have had a long path to where we are. Steve graduated from Calvin Sem in the early 90's with an Masters in Missions. He was Ordained as a MA in Zeeland Classis while we were in a church plant there. After moving to Las Vegas he was reordained as a MA in CA-South Classis.

I have been a youth pastor for over 25 years. I was mostly volunteer but a few places paid staff. I have a Bachelars in Religious Education from RBC (Now Kuyper). And two years ago I finished my Master in Missions on-line through Calvin Sem. I was not ordained as a MA until I finished my Masters and Synod changed the wording in the church order for women. Prior to that I was not advised to push it in the classis I was in. But I must say when a did go through the process I was wholeheartedly thoroughly embrassed.

Both my husband and I pastor at the church.

Hi, I'd like to bring a new perspective to this post. I just began the process in January of studying to become ordained as a ministry associate. I'm taking the classes through Classis Greater Los Angeles. I spent the first 50+ years of my life growing up, getting married and raising a family. Our youngest is now in her first year of college on the opposite side of the country. I've been working at the same job for almost 25 years. My wife and I started praying, asking God what He wants us to do in the second half of our lives and this is the answer we received. I hope to be done with my classes within 3 years.
Even though I'm confident God is calling me into ministry I'm not sure what specifically he's calling me to do yet. It would help me if those of you who are already ordained can share your stories of how you developed your ministries. Did you know from the beginning what you would be doing or were you like me, not knowing right away. What are your age ranges? If you're older like me what has it been like for you to enter the ministry later in life? Did you keep your first job, work part time at both jobs, or did you quit and go full time into ministry? What has it been like getting funding for your ministry? Are you on staff at your church, does your Classis or Home Missions chip in financially, or have you gone after other sources? What has been the general reaction from friends and others to your ministry associate ordination? What about traditional ministers of the Word?
As you can tell, I have lots of questions. I'm sure in due time God will give me the answers I need. I do know that I am excited and nervous about the future. I also know I have a lot of learning to do. This forum is a good way for us to share and express what's on our minds. I look forward to hearing from you seasoned ministry associates. May God bless you in whatever your ministry is. Steve Nyenhuis

Hi gang! In thought I'd enter the brave new network world and check out the network conversations. This Ministry Associate page is one I'm very interested in, and I'm hoping it will help build some bridges and bring some encouragement and even lead toward some improvement in the system.

I know a few of you who have entered comments -- greetings! I currently work as the Director of Candidacy -- after a lot of years as a local pastor I accepted this new position in the CRC, beginning in Jan 2008. My hope and prayer is we can take some good steps together in our ordination processes.

One of these is the working out of Ministry Associate ordination. Synod 2007 committed to "more use, more status and more support" of this office. I hope that is happening, and will happen in the future. You can check the Candidacy Committee report to Synod 2009 (Agenda for Synod 2009, p. 215 ff) to see some of the initial steps that have been taken, including an address to the comment re "insurance and pension". There IS a plan, and in the mind of some Ministers of the Word, the plan available to ministry associates is a better plan than the plan offered to ministers of the word. The problem (potential offense) is that the plan is called "the unordained staff" plan. Maybe an overture to synod or a few letters to the pension committee would help them consider adopting a better name for the plan.

Also, re the issue of "ordination concluding" when the task concludes. Maybe an overture or a conversation with the Candidacy Committee could help address this. Truth is, Ministers of the Word also have their "ordination concluded" if they leave a ministry and do not enter another ministry. Yet for them, they are given a time (1-2 years, and then renewable time) to look and be considered without the ordination status being dropped. Ministry Associates do not currently have this "in between ministries period" -- I wonder how that could be instituted? (Again, a discussion here can help....)

Finally, the issue of "re-examiniation" when moving from one classis to another or from one ministry to another has been mentioned -- it is addressed also in the 2009 report to synod referred to above.

I want to bless each of you who are doing ministry via Ministry Associate ordination. I hope we can find more and more ways to support and encourage you!

Now, I hope I haven't broken any network rules by writing too much....

David Koll

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

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

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

Bob Felton
Ellsworth Christian Reformed Church
www.ministry-tech.net

posted in: Study Software

Welcome, I'm hoping more people get on this to make it really worthwhile checking on a regular basis.

Thanks for your reply. I think we help each other in this way! We think about our conversations, write them up, ask questions, promote discussion. I STILL want to know how to keep helping my own kids (WHEN they ask!), but they help me keep my head screwed on straight too. In a perfect world, "career" and "vocation" would overlap significantly. Sometimes, though, that doesn't happen. But even a partial overlap can be God-pleasing and not personally wearying.

Great post! I was thinking that all of us, not just "career counselors" or "pastors", are called to help people with what they want to do in life. My college-aged daughter wants to know, and frankly, sometimes so do I. How do we help each other?

I too finished at CTS not that long ago (EPMC), but before that I was at Tyndale for my M.Div. When at Tyndale I was introduced to Accordance Bible Software for the Mac, Logos, eSword, the Christian Classics Etherial Library (from Calvin), BibleReader for Palm, etc., etc., etc. --there are a tonne of resources out there.

However, I ended up with Accordance. I've found that Accordance has more flexibility and power than Logos, has better attention to detail with the texts and modules, has a better layout in terms of usability, and pretty competitive pricing. I doesn't have as many modules as Logos, but I haven't felt any lack either. I used Accordance to write my original language exercises at Calvin and I was done substantially faster than most of the other students and was very please with how well the results turned out from the test. I found myself waiting for everyone else during most of the class sessions too.

That being said, I haven't worked with Logos 4, and I understand it's quite a new thing. Also, Accordance is only available on the Mac (or in emulation on a PC), whereas Logos is now available for both.

My advice (not that anyone asked) is to go with Accordance if you have a Mac, or if you're thinking of switching to one, UNLESS you're just entering CTS--then you should get Logos, because they're heavily invested in that software. Both are great pieces of software--I prefer one over the other for (I think) good reasons, but the difference between them in power and capability is really quite minimal, IMHO.

What about others? What do you use?

Dan.

posted in: Study Software

I'd be interested in getting more information about this. Thanks.

Hello All,

I've been an ordained Ministry Associate in the role of Youth Pastor at Harderwyk Ministries in Classis Holland. I was ordained as an "Evangelist" in October of 2001 and since then the title changed to Ministry Associate.

The ordination has allowed me some wonderful opportunities in my calling as youth pastor in preaching on a regular basis, performing wedding ceremonies, communion and baptizing my own daughter. They have brought a much different and dynamic aspect to my ministry.

The difficulties have been that once I leave Holland I will have to re-ordain in another classis if I want to keep doing those acts of ministry and there has been absolutely not one peep from the CRC or Classis Holland since my ordination. On one hand you could say that I've had complete freedom in my ministry under the care of my consistory to do as I feel called to do. On the other hand, there has been no contact or care whatsoever from Classis or the CRC in my role as an ordained Ministry Associate. There are times when I wonder if they are aware of my ordination and that I even exist.

I'm not looking for more hoops to jump through, pats on the back or red tape to fumble with, but the silence at times regarding Ministry Associates, our roles and legitimacy has been disappointing. I'm very grateful for the encouragement of the pastors that I work with and my church council, they have played a key roll in keeping me continuing on as a Ministry Associate along with the blessings I've revived from having the ability to offer the additional "services" to my students and congregation by being able to preach, administer sacraments and perform weddings. It definitely rounds out my role as a youth pastor.

Blessings,

Ty Hogue
Harderwyk Ministries
Holland, Michigan

Don, I'm currently working as an Administrative Assistant to the Director of Canadian Ministries in the Canada CRCNA office in Burlington, Ontario. I'm still seeking where God wants me to serve Him next in His Kingdom--whether that's in an official, formal ministry role, or doing ministry in an unofficial capacity.

Hi Alida!

Yes, I understand what you are saying. Sometimes I feel there is a double standard. Seminary grads who are ordained pastors don't loose their ordination if they resign, but ministry associates do. It's the same with the pension funds. There is the "ordained" and the "unordained" pension funds. We are ordained. I am doing the very same work that a seminary grad does, but when it comes to the pension fund, I am not ordained.

What are you doing now?

Blessings!

Don Jabaay
Green Meadow CRC

Hi there. Is there room in this discussion forum for an ex-Ministry Associate in the CRC? I was ordained as a Ministry Associate from 2006-2008, but when I resigned from my position as Ministry Director at Covenant CRC, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada as of June 20, 2008, on June 21, 2008 I ceased to be ordained as a Ministry Associate. This is one of the quirks of our denomination and the ordained office of Ministry Associate.

Having recently studied at CTS, I am a Logos fan. I use Logos 4 because of it's versatility, extensive resources, notes and handouts ability. I find that it keeps me fresh in the languages too especially with its visual markup capability. They made it even easier to work with since Libronix 3.

posted in: Study Software

Hi Mark and Angela,

I have been a ministry associate since 1994 but have done ministry since 1969. Hi Angela! I just moved in July from serving at the Bravo CRC in classis Holland. I miss all of you back in Michigan. I am serving as the only pastor in a small church in the Helena Valley, just north of the City of Helena, in the "Big Sky" state of Montana. Please share what kind of ministry you both are doing.

Blessings!

Don Jabaay

This is a good start and the reason i responded so quickly was the opportunity to share ministry with other colleagues. I would like to be a part of raising the bar for the ministry associate. I am completely affirmed in the work that i do as Pastor of Reconciliation. I look forward to encouraging other saints and being encouraged by them. What a wonderful and powerful use of our high tech.
on the journey with ya!
Rev. Angela Taylor Perry

Good thoughts, Sheri. To take a page from design fields, "form follows function." If function (ministry) starts following form (organization), we have a problem.
~ Sharon Ellens

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