Discussion Topic

When a tragedy like the shooting at a Baptist church in Sutherland Springs, TX, occurs, it's normal for church members to wonder what they would do if a similar thing happened to their congregation. Let's talk. 

November 10, 2017 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The following policy provides guidelines for safe travel during ministry use.

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The travel guidelines cover expectations and instruction for the driver and the vehicle, caravanning, and breakdown situations.

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The surveillance camera policy covers requirements for usage that comply with law.

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The Safety Monitor policy and guidelines cover the duties and expectations of safety monitoring.  

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

This policy is intended to serve as a general framework to help create a safe and secure environment for Children and Youth Ministries.  These policies provide guidelines for the screening of staff and volunteers, for preventing harmful behavior, and for properly reporting and responding to such...

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

The following report form is used to describe the details in which an incident occurred.

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Mandate

The Medical Team mandate covers the responsibilities and requirements of the Medical Response Team in times of medical crisis in church ministry.  

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The following procedures cover Sudden, Minor, and Life Threatening Emergencies.  These procedures provide information of who, where, and when to contact during the aforementioned emergencies. 

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

This policy clarifies the expectations of the organization as they relate to the use of computer and telephone systems. 

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

The following form verifies that the intended driver is certified to use the Church Van or other Church provided vehicle for ministry use. 

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

This policy accurately and efficiently communicates information regarding crisis situations.  These policies will direct better management when dealing with the crisis and church communication.

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

The following form verifies the perspective volunteer or staff person is listed on the Children's Protective Services Central Registry System as a perpetrator of abuse / neglect. 

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The following pdf covers questions and situations regarding copyright information for: Music, Print, and Video. 

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

This risk assessment checklist is used to determine whether to undertake a particular venture.  This is a process of determining when the likelihood of a negative event will occur.

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

This guide provides general information on work practices, procedures and technology that can help protect your business and employees.  You should review your particular needs with your own legal counsel. You also may want to consult with a certified security consultant or security integrator...

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

The following template is an outline of coverage available through Brotherhood Mutual, Church Mutual, and other organizations.

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

The following guide provides houses of worship with information regarding emergency operations planning for threats and hazards they may face.  It discusses actions that may be taken before, during, and after an incident in order to reduce the impact on property and any loss of life and it...

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Brochure or Pamphlet

The following summary of coverage is an exhibit of Church Protector​ by Buiten & Associates.  The presented figures are a brief outline of the provided various insurance coverages.

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Form or Template

This insurance coverage sample provides the amounts of risk or liability covered for an individual or entity by way of insurance services.

October 1, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

The following link directs you to Buiten Insurance website.  This website provides you with Insurance products from Business Insurance to Individual Insurance.  Click the link to find out more information. 

August 20, 2014 0 0 comments
Resource, Brochure or Pamphlet

The Christian Reformed Church in North America has partnered with Buiten & Associates, LLC to create a National Insurance Program available to all CRC members in the United States. The purpose of this nationally endorsed relationship is to provide excellent property and liability insurance coverage with significant premium discounts for its members.

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

For more information about Church Protection Plus, please click on the following link for a quote.

August 20, 2014 0 0 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 following information provide some helpful points for any church contending with the implementation of financial policies and procedures.

August 19, 2014 0 0 comments

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Thank you for taking the time to reply.  Helpful!!

 

We're in the state of Washington.  Thanks for the info - very good information!

I don't know where your church is located, but if it is in Canada, you should consider the following article:

http://www.classishamilton.ca/files/ClassisHamilton/7_things_charities_s...

I hope this helps somewhat even if your church is located in the USA.

Safe Church Ministry provides resources regarding background checks. And your local safe church team member can also provide assistance. 

HI Jeff. I serve as the director of communications and marketing for the CRCNA.  I think a short video overview of the denomination's history is a great idea.  I'm not sure I have it in my budget this year, but I'll definitely add it to my "idea file" to see what I can pull together as time and funds allow. Thanks for making the suggestion. 

 

Edward,

Here is something that I think would be a great investment for our denomination, a short video walkthrough of our denomination's history and current ministry. Maybe there is one out there but I haven't run across it.  I tend to do a four or five session class, based upon CS Lewis' image of a house with a foyer and hallways, representing different traditions of the church. I've tried to do it in such a way that we can jump in whereever the person might be in their relationship with Christ. So the first session is Going through the Door, which is essentially a presentation of the gospel using different images.  The next session is about what the biblical contours of the church are and how our church lives into them, with an element that talks about what biblically it means to be a member of a church.  The third session is about the specific "hallway" of the Reformed faith.  Here we talk about the history of the reformation, some of theological emphases of the reformation, and things of that nature.  We also talk about the history of the CRC.  Somewhere around here I also show a video about infant baptism and make this a topic of discussion as well.  In the last session we look at the specific room off the hall that is our own church--our history, vision, values and mission, and some of the ways that we are structured and operate.  In these last sessions I also bring aboard an elder and a deacon to talk about some specifics related to their offices as well.

My question relates to the church council and the Pastor.  We are very new/green in this matter....who is responsible to who as far as decision making?  pastor to council? or council to Pastor?  We never have a treasurer report, Pastor tells treasurer where money goes....all funds were co-mingled in one account (which is been dealt with now)....any guidelines for making reports of the financials and minutes of the meetings??  and should this info be readily to the congregation>??  Right now there is a lot of frustration because nobody knows what is the responsibilities of individuals and council as a whole.

Designing Worship Together by Howard Vanderwell, has some different forms that you can tweek, etc. to fit your context.  

CICW also has some articles on evaluating worship for different reasons: https://worship.calvin.edu/search/?q=evaluation

 

Hi Jim,

Following are a few standard definitions:

Raffle: a lottery in which the prize is won by one of numerous persons buying chances.

Gamble: to play a game for money or property; to bet on an uncertain outcome; to stake something on a contingency.

To the extent that raffles seem to fall squarely within a standard dictionary definition of gambling, the CRCNA position on gambling seems apropos:

Pastors and church councils are urged to expose all destructive influences on people's lives that seek to trivialize or render irrelevant the providence of God. They must also caution against the impact of materialism, take decisive action to combat the evil of gambling, and minister compassionately to persons addicted to or victimized by lotteries.

That statement and some synodical history can be found here: https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/position-statements/gambling

Thanks!!  Every church in town does raffles....wondered what CRC position is...

I can't help you on the church's position, but I would suggest a legal caution.  Depending on your state, a raffle may constitute gambling, which may be disallowed or require a permit (again, depending on the state's laws).

As a practical matter, a small, one-time grocery raffle may never come to the attention of anyone having the responsibility of doing anything about it, but if repeated enough, or if the event was "big enough" or publicized enough, it might.

Thanks for that feedback! Yes, we have updated the header of this article to indicate that this insurance program is only for US churches. I apologize for the confusion. 

Would it help in these types of posts that this insurance program applies only to churches in the USA?

Hi Ken, 

Sheri has now shared sample bylaws in MS Word format.

Thanks!

It looks like both the US and Canada "Letter of Call" samples are now available in a Word format here

posted in: Letter of Call

Hi Ken, thanks for this. I checked with Sheri and these Bylaws are not available in Word format but she is checking with some other churches to see if they have Bylaws that we could turn into a sample that would be available in Word. Stay tuned!  

Our church uses Servant Keeper for our church database/directory and to calculate online giving. It's good for generating reports and keeping track of a lot of stuff, like dates, allergies, membership status, and whatnot.

One question you may want to ask is whether this is something one person is going to use on one computer or if this is something multiple people are going to need to access at different locations. Most church database software programs have local (one computer) or cloud versions or their software that come at different price points.

Do you know what exactly you're trying to do or keep track of with the software?

I was the Ministry Coordinator at CrossRoads when this was developed, and while I don't remember specifics of the results, I thought it was a great tool that ended up providing really helpful feedback. I'm glad to see that it's being shared for others.

Sheri, thanks for all the helpful posts that you've provided on various CRC web pages. I'm a member of a Michigan CRC congregation. We're in the process of creating both Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. Under Synod Resources it appears that we can get a running start by filling out the fields in the Michigan Articles of Incorporation Filing Form pdf file, and then append the Attachment to the Articles of Incorporation Filing Form MS-Word document, which can be modified by anyone having MS-Word on their PC (very helpful!).  So I think we have a clear path ahead for Articles of Incorporation.  But what about Bylaws?  The sample on the CRC website is quite long; we've seen another actual set of Bylaws that is both sides of one sheet of paper (three paragraphs).  Is the CRC sample available in MS-Word format?  That would help a lot!  Thanks.

The Dispatch CRC in Kansas has a Foundation Scholarship for those attending Christian higher education. Contact the pastor there for more information.

I've posted the Offer Letters for Non-Ordained Church Staff for anyone who is interested. Thanks!

Joel - I have some samples of offer letters which are often used when hiring non-ordained church staff.  You are welcome to connect with me at jkallemeyn@crcna.org and I'll send them your way.

Whenever the question "may we do this" is asked, it really needs to be accompanied by saying also, "as far as _____________ is concerned."

By my view, there are a number of possible problems with doing this, but none of those possibilities are actually a problem.  For example, it could perhaps be a problem with the IRS (from several angles), but I think it clearly is not.  And it could be a problem with the workers compensation insurer, but I think that unlikely as well.  Etc.

Last but not least on the least is whether this would be OK with the congregation (a political question really), but I expect it would be.  (They could be asked/informed).

So bottom line: I can't imagine how this would be other than permissible, and beyond that, appropriate.

Victoria,

I see no problem with this arrangement. The purpose of the church is to promote prayer and for Christian ministries to meet and serve the neighbourhood would appear to fall within the purpose of promoting the Christian religion.

Just got a question from someone wondering if the membership transfer form can also be used for CRC to RCA transfers. Any advice? Thanks!

posted in: Membership Transfer

The question about the longevity of digital records is very real for archivists.  First there is the question of ongoing software changes, after several new generations of softwares, files generally became unreadable.  This problem now is being resolved, but another question is longevity of digital media.  It seems to be accepted that digital files can be stored for about 10 years without degradation, although it may be longer, there is no way to know until the time passes. Copies can of course be made, but with each copy a little bit of the original is lost.  Related to this is that all digital systems rely on mechanical devices, which can physically fail, so backups are necessary.  

In short, paper-based records will last much longer than digital files. But many files now only exist in digital format, so we have to deal with storing digital files, indexing them, and accessing them.  I would not recommend converting existing paper records to digital as a means for preservation.

Hi Kathy!

We distribute a monthly serving calendar and on the back of it we have a list of those who have a birthday that month, as well as the couples that are celebrating a wedding anniversary. We indicate if it is a milestone number with a happy face next to the date and a note under the list that says ":-) = "Special" Birthdays (1, 5, 18, 21, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100+)" And then the highlighted anniversaries are 1, 10, 25, 50, 75+

Hope that helps!

Very interesting an important work. Recently, in dealing with some old historical records, an archivist told me that there may some doubt about whether digital records could be kept 500 years. No one seemed to know. The Dead Sea scrolls lasted some 2500 years (I think) and are still kept in a "safe place". 

Is this something we need to be concerned about?   Just wondering!

As part of the Yearbook staff, I have sought Dick's help numerous times, asking him to search the archives for that last little piece of the puzzle we were missing.  Dick was always happy to help and did so on a very timely basis.  I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to tour the archives and it is truly amazing!  It is so well-organized and it impressed me that with all the records stored there, how fast he could find what we needed.  And, you could see how much he enjoyed his work.  We will miss him, but I wish him much happiness in his retirement!

Karen Kosters

Always efficient, knowledgeable and thorough. Thank you for your faithful service to the CRC. Blessings on your retirement!

Unless you see the real statements of the Defined Contribution plan you can never know if its better than what you have in teh CRCNA plan. The variations in a DC plan are enormous and folks can contribute more or less tha what the CRCNA put into your DB plan. It is almost impossible to compare.  DBs are based on the assumption that the employer will always pay the "Defined Benefit".  As you know from the city of Detroit and some other places this is not always the case.

The question I had is the salary that this DB plan is based on. In Canada they subtract the housing allowance which can be up to 1/3 of a Pastor's income. To not include that allowance in the salary calculation will greatly reduce the pension. ON the other side it would greatly increase the cost of the DB plan.

 

In the US, DB plans in Detroit and in some places in California have had to severely reduce benefits. This risk in DB plan is not always properly understood.

I heard a piece on the radio recently that members of Defined Benefit plans should consider options of opting out of these plans. I wonder if Pastors in our churches could do that and the church would stop paying the ministry shares for that Pastor. Those funds would then be provided to the Pastor to create his own plan. The church could even double that. That process would lead to elimination of the DB plan in the CRC and weaken it significantly. Jerry Hoytema's comment should be a warning sign that our Minister's Pension Plan needs a serious review.

I LOVE this idea, Felix. How cool to have a prayer of blessing from your church family as you enter a new year. 

We keep it simple in Miami.  We have a birthday cake available in our fellowship hall on the first Sunday of the month.  We invite those who have a birthday in that particular month to gather around the birthday cake for a special prayer of blessing for the new year by a Council member and then they get first dibs on a slice of cake.  If we missed anyone's birthday from our printed list, that's the time for us to update our directory.  Works like a charm and it incorporates anyone who wants to be recongized regardless of age. 

Hi Kathy - no, we don't list ages. I don't think everyone would be happy about that. :-) 

Thank you for the response and it sounds like the names for the birthday listings are solicitated...each member needs to give his or her approval to be included.  Do you list the ages as well?

Hi Kathy - our church has a prayer calendar in which each day (Mon - Fri) we list a person/family that members of our congregation can pray for. On the other side of this calendar, we print a second calendar with names of those who are celebrating a birthday and the specific date. Not everyone submits their names for the birthday calendar, but many do. 

Hello Kathy,

Our church regularly publishes the names of those members of our congregation over a specific age who are celebrating their birthdays. One of our members receives that list through our church software and looks after the postings in our newsletter. On occasion, there is a special announcement for a member, for example, someone who is celebrating their 100th birthday.

I appreciate the reference to "financial issues for long term pastors who have lived in church supplied houses." Not so long ago I received a notice from the CRC Minister's Fund (which pays a certain sum of money towards the funeral costs of pastors who have contributed to this fund), if we please could pay our assessment as soon as possible since some of the widows were unable to pay the funeral costs.

Churches with parsonages reaped the rewards of higher housing prices and many of the pastors upon retirement ended up in an apartment since housing was out of reach, particularly in many cities in Canada. 

Thanks, Harry! You can definitely add a comment that links to this article on your post Let's Talk About Pastor Compensation. Let me know if you need help adding the comment with a link. 

Hi Harry! Thanks for the note. You can certainly add a new comment to the discussion Let's Talk About Pastor Compensation that directs readers to this conversation. Simply use the linking tool or copy and paste the URL. Thanks for connecting these! 

Sheri my discussion in feb 2017 centered around how the CRC determines the salary amount when calculating pensions. My point was that it should be using total compensation not just base salary excluding housing allowance. In Canada the latter is simply a benefit bestowed on clergy  by our tax regime and IMHO  has nothing to do with pension calculations. I agree that expense allowance etc. should be excluded from the pension calculations.

My response to John B was if we included the Housing Allowance calculation, our pensions funds, I suspect both in Canadians the USA, would be significantly underfunded. 

Network manager...Sheri's comments should be include in the new discussion forum if possible.

 

This is a great addition to my post of Feb 2017. It clearly shows the separation between salary and housing allowance. Even if it is USA info the separation of income is telling. If the CRC in the US does the same to calculating pensions as the CRC dies in Canada then my point is even more valid. 

Network manager...We should tie these compensation topics together because each comment adds value.

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

Thanks Doug for your expanded explanation regarding Pension Plans.

I was a sole bread winner for many years and have a defined benefit plan. I have had one small (1%) permanent raise in the last 14 years and three independent payments of about 1,000 dollars. My plan gives 60% of my pension to my spouse should I pass away. I am not complaining these are just the facts on my DB plan.

All this to say I do have some biases in favor of defined plans. Several years ago I was involved in a merger of two Christian schools and a big discussion arose around this topic. DC or DB? We hired Hewitt and Associates to help us thru the discussion. They had full access to the CSI pension plan (the Canada version). The committee of teachers and community reps decided in favor of the CSI plan after a full review and presentation by Hewitt.

As far as costs go I believe John B is not quite correct. If the CRC Canada Pension plan were to properly value income paid to Pastors the DB plan would probably need a lot more money to be fully funded.

This is why I would still like some feedback on the method in arriving at the average salary for Pensions for CRC Pastors in Canada. The fact that it leaves out the housing allowance is  major flaw. In Canada Clergy have a special deduction from income involving the value of their housing. In my view this has nothing to to with their income and is simply a CRA/Clergy issue. Given the hunt for cash by the (all) governments, this deduction may disappear in the nex few years. Best to fix this issue now. The cost of that fix to the DB pension fund would be enormous. I hope this one of the things that the Lily Foundation money will be used to research. And of course I recommend professionals like Hewitt or Mercer be consulted.

While they are at it they could probably also solve the salary scale issues that we so badly need across Canada to take the guess work out of Pastor's salaries.

Defined contribution (DC) plans are simply more precise and predictable than defined benefit (DB) plans.

Some simple definitionscan be helpful here.  In a DC plan, dollar contributions are made to the person's account, whether from employer or employee, or both.  Then at retirement, the total accumulated amount (contributions plus investment income) is precisely known.  Sure, it can at the employee's option be annuitized at that point (that is, the large amount exchanged, in whole or in part, can be exchanged for a monthly payment for an unknown remaining life span), but the retirement dollars that are available are precisely known and the employee has control of the entire amount.

In a DB plan, while contributions are also made, the dollar amount of total contributions made at retirement is somewhat irrelevant.  What is more relevant is the contractual benefits that were promised years earlier, in exchange for the contributions.

DB plans are somewhat a bundle of guesses, about what future benefits will cost, about what income will be acquired from investing all those contributed dollars before retirement arrives, etc etc etc.

DB plans often favor some retirees over others. For example, because the "defined plan" might have a "benefit feature" that provides income only for as long as one lives, a retiree who dies soon after retirement might leave nothing or little for children even if that retiree's contributions were worth much, much more than the benefits turned out to be.  DC plans treats retirees according to their contributions.  In other words, in some respects, DB plans can be said to generally be a bit or much more "forced socialism" as to all retirees.

The biggest danger for DB plans is that the guesses made about the costs of the post-retirement benefits, or the assumptions about how much income the pooled contributions would make before retirement, turn out to be wrong.  If those guesses or predictions are wrong in one direction, some retirees are given more generous benefits than they "deserved" (but always at the expense of someone), and if they are wrong in another direction, some retirees are given less generous benefits than the "deserved" (which will always benefit someone else).

All other things being equal, I tend to favor defined contribution plans because they are more precise, calculable, and certain in an overall way.  

In my state, public employees have in the past received far greater benefits than they "deserved" because their defined benefit plan (PERS) was based on "bad guesses and predictions."  It as nice, very nice, for some past employees of course (my wife among them), but counties, cities, and present workers are all paying for it, dearly, today.

I'm now 72 and a retired CRCNA pastor.  Early in my career I would come up against the suggestion that I should consider going RCA since that had a better retirement plan for pastors.  Of course I never considered doing that but It made me question if the defined pension plan we have is better than the RCA contribution plan. I really never pursued this then nor do I want to now.  Our younger pastors however have much more of a stake in this than I.  I hope they respond. 

 

The Lilly Endowment has provided the CRCNA with a $1 million grant to not only understand the financial issues facing pastors, but to do something about it as well.  

 

As to the issue of a defined benefit plan like our current Ministers Pension Plan that is provided in both the US and Canada or a defined contribution plan...I strongly support the defined benefit plan design for our ministers of the Word.  Not only does it provide a benefit that a minister can not outlive, in the long run it is less expensive for the denomination to make sure a life time benefit is provided than using a defined contribution plan.

 

 

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