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It's the same for all ages: we want to be liked. We are not proud of trying to look good. Still, the approval of people around us has its lure.

November 10, 2014 2 0 comments
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I will have the privilege of talking with my younger colleagues. I will remind myself that these are not easy times for our ministers, that they are struggling with plenty of problems of which we didn’t know much in “my day”.

October 24, 2014 2 1 comments
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I once read that we are changed by the people we meet and the books we read. I am a person changed by Pastor Case Admiraal.

October 22, 2014 0 1 comments
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The church is not a group of people who decide to band together. It has a divine origin and important purpose.

October 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Job Description

This sample Church Administrator job description may serve as a sample for larger churches and provide understanding of tasks that need to be covered by volunteers in a smaller church.

October 13, 2014 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

These ideas give brief, clear, helpful guidance for ministering with people affected by disabilities, especially pastors, elders, deacons, and care team members. 

October 13, 2014 0 0 comments
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I can’t tell you how many young adults, as well as older adults, I’ve run across over the years of ministry who have walked away from the church because of the way they were treated when they wanted to ask challenging questions....

October 10, 2014 2 2 comments
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            Have you heard of the Reformed person who says that since Abraham Kuyper said that "every square inch" of this world belongs to Christ,  one must venture boldly into every sphere of life with the light of Christ? At first flush it sounds very good.

            But what happens...

October 8, 2014 1 1 comments
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“A needed gift!” was the resounding refrain from the pastors' wives who gathered in Toronto for the fifth CRC Pastors’ Spouses conference. Our theme was “Face to Face: Becoming Brighter and More Beautiful”.

October 7, 2014 0 2 comments
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Halloween’s not my favorite holiday. But instead of shunning it, I choose to engage it.

October 3, 2014 1 5 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The procedure for handling benevolence requests from non-members.

October 2, 2014 0 0 comments
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I wish there was a great story of the hundreds of thousands of dollars given to us to start this new ministry adventure. There was a promise of $5000 and a pat on the back: "Good luck."

September 25, 2014 1 4 comments
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How many pastors wouldn't love this kind of confirmation of their calling?

September 25, 2014 1 0 comments
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Preachers help us cross that hermeneutical bridge between the text, and what it means for us today.

September 16, 2014 0 1 comments
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I confess--when I had to write down in my sermon log book what I had preached the day or two previous--sometimes it happened I'd find myself with my pen poised over the log book page and I could not recall the sermon...

September 16, 2014 3 6 comments
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Many pastors and churches would like to focus their missionary outreach by concentrating on fewer but deeper missionary support relationships, but currently have a larger number of superficial ones. How do you get from here to there?

September 2, 2014 0 0 comments
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There is no question whether the apostle Paul had the gifts to be a powerful and effective evangelist, but the skills of an evangelist are different from those of a church leader.

August 27, 2014 0 1 comments
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I was away from my church for two weeks. It’s called vacation. I am fortunate to have enjoyed some of God’s beautiful creation. I spent some good time with my family. What I realized I missed, however, was my church...

August 21, 2014 0 1 comments
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Readers of the Network,

Heath King, former Yale Professor and author wrote according to Newsmax, "He (Williams) fit the profile of an entertainer trying to manage-and mask-mental illness with laughter."  I do not think so.  Robin Williams was first a comedian who happened to be suffering...

August 20, 2014 0 1 comments
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
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I am intrigued by the repetitive act in the Old Testament where God’s people would erect stone monuments. They served as a visual way of reminding themselves (and sometimes future generations) about God’s acts of faithfulness.

August 19, 2014 0 1 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

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Here is a response from another blog on the Network by Larry Dornboos.  The response was by   Norman Sennema on May 10, 2014  I thought the whole thing was very relevant and spoke my thoughts well, so I'm including the whole thing.

"Thanks for sharing this, a great topic, one that I have been personally wrestling with. I would avoid the extremes (no need for shepherds at all, calling people only to be 'self-feeders'), but would encourage a rethink of how we think about shepherding. I would like to add to this discussion, and to hear what your responses to my 'rant' might be.

1) An important qualifier is that we are under-shepherds, working for the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-4). My fear is that instead of helping the sheep hear His Voice (John 10:27), we are training people to know our voice. They come to rely on us to interpret scripture for them. Or if they don't like our voice, they look for a shepherd who's voice they prefer. The shepherds need to improve their voice to keep their audience, and compete with others in order to satisfy their sheep... or they look for greener pastures. Somehow we need to teach the sheep to hear His Voice whenever scripture is opened, whether the sermon is good or bad, the speaker is dynamic or bland, ordained or not ordained. For me, the Voice of God (Logos, Jesus) is more important than the mouthpiece (which we need too); whether the mouthpiece is a professor, pastor or pew-sitter, a sunday school teacher, a parent, a youth group leader, or a stranger on the street, God's Voice needs to be heard. 

2) I would suggest adding another image to help us explain the shepherding image: a parent (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12). When children are young, they need to be fed. But eventually they need to learn to feed themselves, and eventually even feed others. This does not end the parents role, they still help them get the food, help them prepare it for a time, but the children eat for themselves. And soon they are able to prepare a meal, and maybe even surprise their parents with a meal prepared for them. And one day, they will have opportunity to feed their own children. By feeding themselves, I don't mean 'self-feeding' as you characterized it (independent, individualistic). Eating and feeding should always be communal affairs, but at some point the kids need to grow up and eat... with the support of the community. My experience is that we make 'food preparation' so complicated that you have to have a seminary degree to do it rightly. We not only lead our sheep to the table, we precut the food, we decide on what to eat, when and how, we even make them sit quiet and still while we spoon feed them. This makes sense for babies, but when do they grow up? See Hebrews 5:11-14, where eventually the babes become teachers, who by constant use they have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

3) How many of us have heard those dreaded words, 'I'm not being fed'. They make it sound as if they are deeper than we are, that their maturity level has grown beyond our shepherding skills. But that is not what I hear. I hear baby robbins squawking in the nest, demanding that we give them what they want - feed me, love me, help me, teach me, care for me, comfort me... This is the kind of SELF-feeding that I think we need to address. They have not grown up, they are still in their high chairs, with their clean bibs, waiting for us to spoon feed them. Is this cycnical... maybe? True of everyone... of course not. But it is I fear a common pattern, one that is related to our traditional shepherding/preaching ideas and practices.

4) I am presently serving in a long time 'church plant' setting. We have lots of babes in Christ, and they do not know how to hear God's Voice. But they have learned enough of churchianity to know that some shepherds provide better sermons than others. I have felt the pressure to perform better, to compete with the mega-shepherds. But that is not the way I want to go. I am who I am, and I do the best I can. I need to instill in them a love for God's Voice in scripture, and an ability to feed themselves in community, to grow up and eventually become teachers, who by constant use of Scripture have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. My sermons are not all great, and some of them are pretty bad, but the scripture is always great, and God's Voice can always be heard. 

5) So I am trying something, and praying that it will help. I've adopted a three year bible-reading schedule. I hand out the readings each week, and highlight which reading from that list I will be preaching on next Sunday. The handout has open space for them to answer the question beneath each reading, 'what do you hear God saying?'. I blog my own reflections for each reading, each day, and ask them to post their own thoughts. I email 5-10 members each week and ask them to share their responses to the upcoming Scripture passage, and incorporate their responses into the message (I would love to meet weekly with some, as I've heard other pastors do, but in my busy, commuter culture meeting time is at a premium). On Sunday morning, I attempt a partial 'lectio' by reading the scripture, pausing, then reading it again. Then I ask them to share what they hear God saying in the scripture. Finally, I share some of my own reflections, trying to model how we need to all hear God's Voice in scripture. I am letting them know that one day I may be asking them to publicly share their own reflections in a 'sermon'. So far only two have done so... but in time.

6) I have discouraged them from saying 'good sermon' to me after the service (that was easy, not too many did). Instead I've urged them to share with me if they heard God speaking to them - teaching, rebuking, correcting, training, comforting, blessing, etc. - in the service. Sometimes it was in a prayer, sometimes in a song, sometimes in message. One time a young girl shared with me what God said to her in the passage, and it had nothing to do with my 'sermon'. Thing is, after I heard what she said, I myself heard God differently, through her 'sermon'! I am often surprised and blessed by what others hear God saying in scripture. I realize that all my training and experience gives me tunnel vision, seeing things that others don't see, and missing (obvious) things that others do see. Reading scripture and hearing God is indeed a communal activity - we should stop restricting it to the educated and qualified few. 

7) I fear that our emphasis on ordination and the formal 'preaching of the word' has held back the church. We stress the anointing of the pastor, but scripture also stresses the anointing of the disciples, so that they do not need anyone to teach them (1 John 2:26-27). It is the Spirit that teaches us, it is the scripture that is God-breathed and useful, a double-edged sword. Why is it that so many christians do not know how to proclaim (preach, share) Jesus in the marketplace? Because we've hired that task out to a limited few. When the early church was persecuted, the disciples that scattered preached the word wherever they went (Acts 8:1-4); today they just look for another church to preach it to them. Think of the story of the church in China, when the communist government killed the pastors, burned the bibles and books, sent away the missionaries, scattered the churches, closed the seminaries. The west thought for sure the church was toast; but they (and the Chinese government) forgot about the Holy Spirit, the Chief Shepherd, and the power of God's Voice. When the walls in China finally opened a little, the west found a thriving church. Still to this day ordinary people (without seminary training) are being used by God to speak, and be heard. We need to learn from them!!!

Conclusion. Do we still need shepherds? Yes! But do we need to rethink what shepherds do, and how they do it? YES! Reading scripture for yourself is not the self-feeding that concerns me. I feel the bigger problem is the SELF-FEEDING of baby sheep that never seem to grow up and learn to feed others."

And I would add, that it seems sometimes the shepherds only feed, and do not teach others to feed.  They give the flock a fish, but never a fishing rod.  (mixed metaphor... but you get the idea).

posted in: Gracious Residue

A beautiful, humbly-told true story of church planting. Thank you.

Hmm.  The difficulty with an analogy is that the desire to understand it is key.  I understand your analogy of  food for the body to food for the soul.  But, you should understand my poor analogy of recipe and serving as well.  I understand the Word is not a recipe book... its just an analogy.   You don't have to be a master chef in order to bring some hot dogs, relish, roasting sticks, marshmallows to a picnic.  Its not hard to add some corn and honey dew melons, and presto, you have a meal.  Fairly nourishing, especially if you add some tomatoes and carrots from the garden.   It might not be the only meal you would want, but you wouldn't starve.

Presentation matters?  It probably helps.  But maybe it doesn't.  Presentation that clarifies for one person is a roadblock for another person.  Moses thought he couldn't speak... so he got Aaron to help.  But either way, presentation would not have changed the outcome for someone who had his own agenda.

The problem I sometimes see is that some people are only ever concerned about being fed.  Feeding others is not their concern.  They get spiritually fat and spiritually lazy as a result.

Now I know the Word is not a recipe book;  perhaps more of a plan for building a house on a solid foundation.  But no analogy is perfect.  Our relationship with God is not a house, after all;  yet Jesus used this analogy.  Was it the apostle   that wrote:  leaving aside the milk of the gospel, the elementary things, for the meat is what we should be looking for?  Being fed what?  What's the milk?  what's the meat?  He seems to allude to the "recipe" being the meat... in other words, how do we live?   How do we shape our lives in response to God's grace?   Hebrews 5 and 6.  How do we cook the "meat...?

Ironically, it is only in sharing the "recipe", that we learn more about it.  And if we demonstrate the "recipe" (christian living) or forget certain items in the recipe, our actions speak louder than our words.

posted in: Gracious Residue

Serve it up: Maybe, probably not. Presentation matters and is a skill/craft/gift of it's own.

Deliver the Recipe: No, definitely not.

Share the Recipe: No.

The Word is not a recipe book. To turn it into recipes is a dimunition and a violation in my view.

 

 

 

 

posted in: Gracious Residue

You might not be able to cook all the meals, but certainly you should be able to serve them.

Should not sermons be delivering the recipes?  And should not you then be able to share these recipes with others?

posted in: Gracious Residue

"Could you cook all the meals that have nourished you in your life?" I asked, somewhat defensively, as a rookie preacher, when a man said in a group of people that he had heard enough sermons in his life that he could probably write and present one himself. I think it is a fair analogy, and I hear hints of it in what Scott wrote. Fair, minus the defensiveness.

My sister and I did a highly appreciated skit at a event celebrating our father's x number of years in the ministry, years ago. In the skit, our punchline was that we as kids would watch and test-taste the pan of soup Dad made on Saturday as he was finishing up his sermon. If it was spicy, watch out on Sunday! If it was bland, be ready as well.

I suppose I like food-nutrient analogies for sermons. 

posted in: Gracious Residue

Hebrews 5: 11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

Heb 6 Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death,[a] and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites,[b] the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.

4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen[c] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

posted in: Gracious Residue

Much preaching is pastoral, but not prophetic.   It considers the feelings of people, but not the feeling of God.

posted in: Prophetic Preaching

Verlyn,

Thanks for an interesting post on Paul's pastoral sense and strategy.

It's an interesting thesis: Paul learned gradually that local pastors have more influence than out-of-town experts and therefore shifted his strategy from writing letters to churches to writing letters to local pastors.

It's an interesting thesis, which I will explore with my students the next time I teach NT Survey.

But I think it breaks down at a couple of points.

-Paul's letters to Philippi and Thessalonica seem to have been well-received and accomplished their purpose. So maybe the contrast is not so much letter vs. personal presence as Corinth vs. Macedonia.

-It seems clear that Titus was able to turn the situation around in Corinth. This was likely due to his exceptional ability, more than the force of personal presence. Paul's personal presence in Corinth did not always accomplish his goals, any more than his letters did.

-having served in several locations as a local pastor, and on several occasions as the out-of-town expert (including writing "pastoral letters" from afar),  I do not think there is a clear pattern of local pastors having more influence. I have seen it work sometimes one way, sometimes the other.

Maybe the take-away point is: vary your strategy.  Which is, I guess, just what you say Paul was doing.

Thanks for writing,

Thomas Niehof

 

Thanks Larry!  Your words and example may well be used by the Lord to set other pastors free from this debilitating and dangerous disease!  Ken Van De Griend

Thanks, Paul,

Good read that encourages us. I think Sacramento  is blessed to have you as a pastor in its midst.

Shalom,

George

Good article.  It used to be in the southern part of the Netherlands, which is mostly Catholic, that you would see piles of rocks in the very middle of a farmers field.  Farmers would on purpose place a pile of rocks that were sort of "in the way" when they worked the land with tractors or harvest machinery.  It was said that as they had to make their way around these piles of rocks, it would remind them to pray and to thank the Lord of the Harvest.  As a protestant girl growing up in the Netherlands, I was told that this was superstitious but I am not so sure - it is good to have reminders to pray, to be thankful and to submit daily to our God.  If that is through a pile of rocks, a painting, a cross or whatever - that reminder is very helpful. Enjoy Tiffany Falls and the rocks that point to the Rock.

 

Thanks!  I can't believe 3 years later I am looking for the same resources again :)  If anyone else is interested the group is now called Compass and their website is under review at the moment.  For Canadians I strongly recommend the Canadian Council of Christian Charities www.CCCC.org   Their is a fee based on the size of your church.  I have used it in connection with another charity and it was invaluable.

 

Blessings, Victoria

Preaching should be about bringing the truth, repentance, salvation, and renewal into daily life.  It is not about saying something "nice".  Without condemning sin, there is no need for a Saviour.   Whether obedience is presented from a positive or negative perspective, the implication of disobedience is the same.  And certainly Peter condemned Annanias and Sapphira as deceivers and liars with dire consequences.  Paul certainly told the Corinthians (I Cor 5) to cast out the sexually immoral person (and to forgive based on repentance).  Revelations makes several judgements about the churches.  But, be careful.  Every elder, every christian needs to be careful about judging, because everyone can and will be judged.  Judge with compassion and forgiveness.   But do not think you are more compassionate or forgiving than the apostle Peter or Paul.   Or more compassionate than Jesus, who condemned hypocrisy and impure hearts.  Who told many parables about bearing fruit, or of using talents or minas given by God, who explained what would happen to the weeds, to the bad fish, and to the seed that fell on hard ground or was swallowed by weeds.  

Warnings about sin, or about false teaching, are love gifts to God's people, to keep them close to God.   

"Preaching should mostly be about saying something nice, but not at the cost of saying nothing at all in case the soundness of the faith is threatened." Really? Someone should speak to Paul Washer, David Wilkerson or Leonard Ravenhill.

I can't imagine any minister would disagree that sermon preparation is only one part of ministry.  That would be a pretty tough position to defend.

As Joshua Benton has correctly described of Jesus, "He took time to pray, he took time to connect with The Father, he took time to rest."

Regardless of how he used certain private moments, it's easy to picture those moments of Jesus' life as being free from interruption.  

While I have times where I do receive people who appear and phone calls that spontaneously arrive.  My only point is that I need pockets of time that are free from interruption from time to time, too.   Whether it is for another step forward in preparing the sermon or for going to bed for the night.  In the case of emergencies, there are even exceptions to guarding those important moments.  

Guarding certain pockets of time within reason is a necessary part of ministry for me.  It enables me to see certain commitments to the ministry through to completion.  I wouldn't dream of walking out of a board meeting to go work on my sermon; I wouldn't interrupt pastoral counseling with a grieving family to start making phone calls or to receive another parishioner who suddenly appears (again, unless it was an even more urgent emergency).  Why should assembling the gift of a good Sunday sermon warrant any less care?

The author of the article indicates that interruptions are an important reality in ministry.  I completely agree.  

But, never guarding certain pockets of time from interruption would not work for me.  It would be chaotic.  It could open the door to not being dependable.  It would be rude and disrespectful to parishioners who need and deserve a moment with a fully engaged pastor.   

posted in: Work: Interrupted

I appreciate both of your observations and reflections on this post. I agree that preaching the Word is very important to faith formation and it is central to worship. I also agree that careful preparation is needed to faithfully preaching God's Word. It is something exciting and also terrifying to do each Sunday (for some, twice a Sunday). It is a great responsibility to correctly and faithfully preach His word. Yet ministry isn't about just that. It is part of it but not the only part of it. Reading through the Gospels, yes, Jesus took time away from people. He didn't take time to prepare his sermon on the mount though. He took time to pray, he took time to connect with The Father, he took time to rest. Reading through the Gospels, Jesus was about people. He was about the sinners, the tax collectors, those on the fringes. He even calls the pharisees to repentance and invites them into the kingdom.

I find that the word "balance" is tossed around as an excuse to hide away rather than engage; to evade rather than encounter. Reading the Gospels, Jesus lived rhythm not balance. He lived in a rhythm of doing God's work and then rest and prayer (for example, he went to pray before and after important events in the book of Mark). He had a rhythm of work and rest. You're welcome to check out my blog where I look more into this subject of work and rhythm here http://spiritualmusclehead.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/coffee-rest-and-work/ here http://spiritualmusclehead.wordpress.com/2013/11/14/sweet-hour-of-prayer/ here http://spiritualmusclehead.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/the-art-of-not-doing/ here http://spiritualmusclehead.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/the-art-of-silence/ and here http://spiritualmusclehead.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/be-still-2/

Rhythm is important to doing ministry. God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th, not because he had to because he was tired but because he knew rhythm. Jesus lived this rhythm, not balance. Engaging people helps me engage God's word. If I do not know what someone is going through, how I can faithfully speak God's word to them, allowing the Spirit to move in their hearts?

Thank you again for your comments and observations and thoughts. May God bless you in doing his kingdom work

posted in: Work: Interrupted

It's interesting that scripture tells us Jesus would slip away from the crowds to the mountains to pray.  Not even his disciples were around.  It would seem that during those moments Jesus was not interrupted.  Perhaps the Savior valued balance.  Like Doug Bouws has indicated, I find it important to engage people when they appear, guarding their time with me from interruption.  And its necessary to have stretches of concentrated time to prepare for Sundays.  I find it necessary and rewarding to have this type of balance.

posted in: Work: Interrupted

I've been going to the library for years to get sermon work done.  I make little or no progress at the office.  I set aside time to be interrupted (when i'm at home/at the office), and time when I can focus and think without being interrupted.   If I didn't my sermons would never get finished.  You can accomplish ministry by engaging people when they are appear or you can accomplish ministry by being able to think clearly and write a good sermon.  I think both are important.

posted in: Work: Interrupted

Thanks, Ken.  Good stuff.

- Dave Vroege, Halifax

posted in: Life Together

Hi there,

The links to the talks are not working. I would love to listen to these talks, do you have alternative links?

 

Thanks,

Larry, 

A resource you might be interested in is Key Ministry's blog, Church4EveryChild, written by Dr. Steve Grcevich. He regularly writes about how the church can include families and individuals impacted by mental illness. 

Thanks for shedding light on this import topic!

Katie

Hi Chris,

Thank you for this blog post.  I like your angle.  We too "vacate" a bit during the summer, as we love to go camping and visit family.  But like you suggest, I'm trying to take more "Sabbath" during my vacation.  Slowing things down, reading more, spending more time in quiet.  We also spend considerable time in our backyard, working in the garden, but also spending time in solitude and silence, in God's creation.  But as much as we enjoy staying home during summer holiday time, we've also learned to get a way a bit, as you'll know that when a pastor is home, he is "on-call."

May the Lord bless our Summer-Sabbath breaks!

--Leon

I once had a wise spiritual director say words to me that I will never forget and that have helped guide my life ever since: She said, "Consider the things that bring you life; consider the things that bring you death; and don't do violence to yourself." Work for me includes both those things that bring life, and those that bring death; and I can tell when the balance gets shifted and I need to make some changes. The Lord has created us with a need for Sabbath, for rest, for the renewing and refreshing of our souls. This blog is thought-provoking for me. What brings life to my soul? A vacation-day or a holy-day?

This article touches on something I heard recently. John MacArthur (Masters Seminary) made this statement. "There are two large global movements currently in place. One is the Charismatic and the other is Reformed." I wonder why we seem to be in wane here in N.America and yet globally we see a growing influence of Reformed minded. Any thoughts on this obserevation? 

posted in: Supply Management

Thanks Jeff. Those resources are added to my togettoread list.

Appreciate it. Thanks Kim.

Pete,

The book "Studying Congregations:A New Handbook" by Nancy Ammerman may be helpful to you, especially the chapter by Robert Schreiter that speaks about surfacing the "implicit theology" of a congregation. My first thought is that this is the kind of question that lends itself to a qualitative method, not a quantitative "check this box" type. "Ethnography as a Pastoral Practice" by Mary Clark Moschella may also be helpful.

Thanks for the suggestion. We've made the change.

To those who run the network. I would have liked to have this posted under the topic of "Transitional Ministry" or, fitting what we call it in the CRC, "Specialized Transitional Ministry." If that can be done then my intent will have been fully achieved.

August, thanks for your comment.

I agree with you that "a Christian Reformed Church Building is just that - a building which needs resources for the upkeep. Since the local congregation is in charge of the building they can set rules - who to share the building with and how much to charge." I agree that congregations are under no obligation to do otherwise except, I would add, the obligation by which all Christian congregations live: to love God and neighbor as they have been loved. I agree that there are no arbitrary rules by which a church must act except, I would add, the commandment to love God and neighbor as guided by the Word and Spirit.

I regret that you received the impression that I was suggesting a mandate to guide all congregations renting space to other congregations. The relationship between two congregations which prompted my first post was not meant to provide an example of a relationship guided by rules. Rather, just the opposite. It was provided as an alternative to the typical rule-guided relationships between congregations which own property and those to whom they rent their property.  

 

A Christian Reformed Church Building is just that - a building which needs resources for the upkeep. Since the local congregation is in charge of the building they can set rules - who to share the building with and how much to charge.

The "Kingdom of God" encompasses the whole universe and is not limited to a wood and stone structure that is used to worship GOD by a very small group of people.

It is so "unreformed" in my way of thinking to force a structure made by man to some arbitrary rules that are labeled "God's rules". Its the type of thinking that seems to justify paying a very small wage to people working for a church.

That a church MUST share their resources for no charge because they are Christian, while businesses owned by Christians are allowed to charge in order to earn a profit because the businesses are not part of God's Kingdom comes from some Kingdom model that is totally foreign to Reformed way of thinking.

The whole notion of "landlord-tenant" is inappropriate with regard to church facilities. The facilities are not like someone's house or factory or some other real-estate. The facilities belong to the kingdom and the council is to exercise stewardship over those assets. Rent money doesn't become available to the kingdom once it has been collected by the 'landlord'. The money in all our pockets belongs to the lord...if the members of the other congregation use those same 'rent' dollars on other kingdom-expanding causes...the kingdom does advance. I fail to see the stewardship problem in this arrangement.

  Interesting topic, thanks Sam. Good food for thought. I believe our church 'rents' space to AA where they hold their meetings in our basement while one day per week we let local homeschoolers hold their music lessons in our sanctuary. Not sure if the home schooling group pays us or not. Where would one draw some kind of line involving who pays and who doesn't? It could be argued that AA does as much to 'advance the kingdom' as some churches while the home schoolers are all predominately from Christian families.  

My question relates to our understanding of kingdom, stewardship and space.  I simply wonder if Christ affirms of one congregation renting space to another. My concern is that instead of wrestling with that issue we begin with the assumption that the landlord-tenant relationship is the way to go unless we can be shown otherwise.  I would love it if we began with the assumption that we share space as partners in ministry. Then see what comes out of such a conversation.

As far as multiple congregations in the same area, I am sure you would agree that it is not always possible for every for every Christian in one geographic area to worship in one space at one time.  We would have too many people speaking too many different languages.  We will have to wait for heaven to enjoy that privilege.

Still, I grant that in some settings the possibility for organizational unity exists but is not pursued - and that practice should be challenged. 

 

 

 

Even sharing the copier?  Wow! 

I thought I would share this up-date. The folks sharing kingdom space with us are growing rapidly. They started worshipping in our upper room auditorium. They rapidly out-grew that space and moved downstairs to our fellowship room. For a number of weeks now this group has seen 'standing room' crowds and asked to use the sanctuary. The photos from Sunday morning show an almost full house. We couldn't be happier for these dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Their youth group is thriving as is their couples club. God is obviously blessing this group and we rejoice accordingly. 

What does the statement mean: "What does Christ think of such an arrangement?"

Certainly the fact that there are two different congregations in the same geographic area must be challenged!

We were supposed to be 'one' to convince the World about the Way!

How many have we become?

 

 

My church doesn't list all the staff salaries including the pastor on the budget sheet but if someone wants a breakdown of the salaries, they are welcome to request more information from the leadership.  This gives leadership an opportunity to address and educate the inquiring person on the process of review prior to setting compensation and benefits.

It must be a "Central Valley thing." I understand that Visalia CRC has been doing the same thing? They even share the church copier....how stewardly is that?

Our church adopted this policy many years ago.  As one of the employees of the church, it was an extremely uncomfortable matter that everyone in the church knew what my salary was.  It came to a head at one congregational meeting when someone stood up and offered to do the job for a lower amount.  Now only Council members, the Personnel Committee, and the Salary committee, know what each person is paid.  I think most church employees are acutely aware that their salaries are paid for by member contributions, and therefore work very hard to earn both the dollar value and respect of those on whose behalf they carry out their particular roles of kingdom service.  As far as I can determine there is no added benefit to congregational members knowing the individual amounts of staff salaries.

Lambert, thank you for the details regarding your practice of sharing space with another Christian congregation.  I hope and pray the relationship continues to be blessed.  

What exactly are the 'biblical stewardship' and civil - legislative issues being alluded to in this post? If a local congregation of Jesus Christ decides it wants to share facilities with other brothers and sisters in Christ, is it not free to do so? By the way, how many local congregations in the CRC are bound by the Safe Church guidelines? What exactly is the legally binding relationship between local congregations and the CRCNA in Michigan?  

Our relationship with this group of folk is simply our strategy to advance the cause of Christ for the Spanish population in Kings County. Our insurance underwriter is fine with these arrangements. We have enjoyed 4 years of mutual joy and encouragement in advancing the cause of Christ here in Hanford and look forward many more years together as faithful stewards of the resources entrusted to our care. 

As I've indicated in previous posts, I can understand the desire to further Kingdom work.

What I don't understand is the avoidance to engage in the notion that these congregations operate within civil and legislation frameworks as two distinct corporate entities.

Framing the matter as purely a monetary / power imbalance ignores both the biblical stewardship relationship between the parties, as well as the civil / legal issues that arise when two parties jointly agree to share in the use of a facility. What Hanford CRC has offered the other church meeting in it's space may "feel good" but may also be problematic in the eyes of the civil authorities, as well as, other parties such as insurance companies, e.g. what binds the other church to abide by CRCNA Safe Church policy.

The article above does not provide a lot of detail on the Hanford CRC relationship, however, the Brian Tebben example is more helpful and moves in the right direction. Harry Boessenkool also alludes to the complexity of legal constraints that exist in Canada, and probably also the United States, on providing services and facilities on the same equity terms to both church members and non-church members. 

 

 

 

Not sure I was influenced by the philosopher Foucault. Maybe his writings have seeped into my psyche through someone else since I haven't read him.  I will have to check into that.

I do see a recurring thread, however, in some of the comments thus far: an assumption that a church charging another church or ministry rent for the use of space is normative and, hence, exceptions to that norm unusual.

If that be the case, I want to lift up the Hanford (CA) CRC as a model worthy of emulation. By treating the ministry of another congregation on their campus in the same fashion they treat ministries like GEMS, Cadets, and Coffee Break, they provide an admirable model for other congregations.  Wouldn't you agree?
 

Thanks Len, for your enthusiastic support of the weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper. 

Of course, in our survey we did not take a particular position on frequency but we did ask the question. Of the Protestant congregations surveyed 20% celebrate the Lord's Supper each week, 67% once a month, 10% less than once per month, and 3% two to three times a month.

I don't know if those stats confirm your assertion of a movement of including the Lord's Supper every week.Perhaps there are other surveys to which we may compare this data?   

My reaction to the survey is a resounding "duh."  Since reformation churches have been experiencing the "centrality of the sermon" for centuries, it's no wonder that the people on the pew think it's the main event. 

The real issue is what we left behind in this historical evolution. What we left behind is the dual foci of word and sacrament that goes all the way back to the New Testament and early church (and was advocated by Calvin himself). 

Today there is a remarkable movement across the board, from Reformed to Pentecostal, of balancing the Word with the Eucharist every Lord's Day. For example, check out the number of CRC and RCA church plants that have instituted weekly Eucharist from the start. If you attend a church that has rediscovered this ancient practice, you will realize that the sermon is enriched, embodied, and affirmed when the congregation gathers at the table to receive Christ in the bread and wine. 

As Dutch theologian Von Alman put it: ending the service without the Supper is like ending a sentence with a colon rather than a period.  Something important and climactic is missing. 

 

There is a Foucaultian post-modern tendency to view relationships with suspicion when it comes to the matter of power. 

Though I can understand that "power" might be an issue, nonetheless a landlord / tenant relationship is usually premised on a contractual relationship with obligations and responsibilities similar to the concept of a covenantal relationship. Secondly, that contractual relationship is regulated by legislation and civil authorities where recourse for remedies can be pursued even though it may not always work effectively.

Moreover, quite apart from the state ensuring that the interests of the respective parties being protected there are also other matters which need to be addressed that are raised by Harry Bossenkool and Brian Tebben.

 

There is another facet of the landlord-tenant relationship and that is power.  Doesn't it seem that the one receiving money (landlord) is in a position of power over the one handing over money? And how do we harmonize that position of power with our unity in Christ? 

This is an interesting discussion. Let's assume the renter is a new emerging CRC or church plant (the initial article did not specify a CRC just a "Christian church" and that can be a pretty loose definition!) The rent could be put in a special fund to pay for a new facility at a new location once the emerging or church plant grows. If the church is not affiliated with the CRC a formal rental agreement would still be needed to cover off all the legal issues (and there are many nowadays). The rent fee can often be only a minor part of a lease agreement.

Many churches offer other services in their facilities. How do we define when rent should be charged? Are all funeral services to be free no matter who asks, or marriages if the couple is simply looking for a place with a nice organ or other unique feature? The legal issues regarding the latter are already pretty involved.

Maybe we need a discussion on how a church can protect itself from the use of their building by (unacceptable - however defined) third parties.

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