Comment Stream

Colin Vander Ploeg August 21, 2018

I read the sad news as well.  Learnings?  Someone else has said somewhere on this network(?) that it is amazing that persons who do counseling professionally always do so under the supervision of another.  But pastors, who spend part of their work counseling, have no such supervision in place.  Perhaps we need to change this reality, not just voluntarily but professionally, that is, pastors be required to have some kind of supervisory relationship that supports and watches over their interpersonal ministry work or something like that.  Our church polity has the Council or Elders overseeing the pastor, however, most likely there is no expertise on that body to oversee in the ways needed for closer accountability in personal and occupational boundaries and so forth.  


Angela Elliott August 21, 2018

For congregational events like the Fall Kickoff we use sign-up genius. It really works well by listing an individual task, the number of people required, the amount of time required etc. So instead of saying we need help with the kick-off we send an email to everyone and they sign up for a task. Works well.


Jonathan Westra August 21, 2018


1st:  Put up on a big board every single position that the church has, including greeters, lawn mowers, coffee makers, ushers, teachers, students, youth group leaders and youth group, nursery, committee members, elders and deacons, etc. . . .   Some of these positions are filled for a term and are already listed, but most are volunteer positions. 

The congregation will be surprised at how many different things there are to do in the life of the church.  This helps people to see that it is not true that 20% do 80% of the work.   In fact, there are many many people that are doing their part. 

Week ONE:   The First Week of August:  This is the "Keep your hat week".   The pastor or person running the Hat's Game makes a big deal of FIRING EVERYONE.   Thank them for their service.  Talk about what a great job they did and the church could run without them.     But as of Sept. 1, they will no longer hold that position.    However, if this is their joyful place, and they want to wear that hat again for another year, they may sign up that hat.  Only people keeping a hat may sign up on week one.   

What this does:  It sends the strong message that you are not signing up for life.  And it gives you an opportunity to thank people. It also means that no one is kicked out of a position where they enjoy serving.

WEEK TWO:  The second week of August:  This is the "Week of Joy."  The announcement is made to draw attention to all those who signed up last week who are continuing in their position.  But, if there is a position that you would really like to try out!  GO for it.  This is your place of JOY!   Serve where you have passion.  Sign up where ever you want to as many times as you want to. 

WEEK THREE AND FOUR:   These are the "Guilt Weeks".  We have the board 90% filled, but the nursery is still in need, as is the hospitality ministry.   It takes all of us working together.  Everyone should have already picked up at least one hat that you feel called to.  But now is a time to pick up a hat that you do for the sake of service and because you are a part of the family. 

After the HATS game is over, the leader of each ministry or ministry division call those who have signed up and distribute job descriptions and schedules and thank them.  

This has worked for us for many many years.   

Keith Knight August 21, 2018

Several years ago I inherited a position as chair of church council. I discovered that it seemed that several leaders of various ministries weren't that qualified to lead those ministries or committees.

Since it's virtually impossible to fire a volunteer, I called together those various leaders for a meeting. Before doing that, I spoke to a lot of people about the qualifications of those who lead.  In Canada, we have $1 and $2 coins called Loonies and Toonies. I gave each person a Toonie (a $2 coin) and declared: "You are now considered staff." I then proceeded to move those folks around to head up ministries that better suited their gifts.

And every summer, before the new church season begins, the group meets where they go through the "Toonie exercise", recognizing that they are in essence re-applying for their position as ministry/committee leader. If nothing else, it gives them a sense of accountability, and a deeper sense that they can't count on doing that work until they feel that they've done it long enough.

So, even when you appoint individuals to various voluntary tasks within a church, it's important to point out that their appointment is just for one year. They will need to be accountable for the way they lead, and the way they connect with others on their team.  Going through an annual Toonie (or $1.00) exercise reinforces that sense of accountability.

Eric Kas August 18, 2018

Hi Lloyd! I tend to agree that emphasizing the priesthood of the believers here is a good step. It would help the system as whole to realize that the pastor is not above the elders. There should be parity that allows for healthy discussion and hopefully for vulnerability by all the elders as they take on gospel ministry together in our challenging world.

Jason Ellis August 18, 2018

Agreed. Reformed Polity while not a panacea against abuse is certainly one good layer of safeguard. In recent decades too many of our churches have chosen to defer to a more corporate staff model not only opening up potential for abuse, but also putting our Ministers in positions that they may be ill equiped for. 

Lloyd Hemstreet August 18, 2018

Ministers are just teaching Elders within the church. Thus one of the first levels of accountability, should be through the plurality of the Elders that lead the local congregation. We need to actively reduce the distinction between lay elders and ministers, as Scripture knows of no such distinction.

CRCNA Finance August 16, 2018

Many places of employment only offer benefits for employees regularly scheduled to work 20 hours per week or more.  If you want to consider some benefits, you might want to first consider vacation and holiday pay.  If your normal policy is 2 weeks of vacation a year, part-time employees could be prorated at the % of full time that they work. The same could be true for holiday pay. For example a 20 hr/wk person would receive 4 hours of holiday pay each approved holiday.

Cindy Stover August 16, 2018

This is so great! Thanks for sharing about the journey the CRC has been on for decades, it certainly gives a sense of how much work has been done, and gives impetus to continue towards reconciliation alongside our Indigenous brothers and sisters. 

Roger Gelwicks August 15, 2018

Thanks, Joshua, for your thoughts concerning the different worlds of the churched and unchurched and how the churched (Christians) can bridge the gap between.  Of course there is a fundamental difference between those two worlds (Christ or not), and some would say that difference is reflected in a difference of world and life views as well as life styles.  Beneath your words, your bridge seems more of a bridge for the unchurched to see the value of the Christian world, and not so much for Christians to see the value of their world.  Christians (you) want to bring them fully into the Christian world without fully becoming part of their world, an unfair exchange.  For the most part, non Christians are perfectly happy living in their own world according to their values and world view.  In fact, most would see the Christian world (the church) as a bogus world that depends on a make believe reality that is artificial.  So although the funeral pastor thought he may be bridging a gap, by appealing to their music, I doubt that the hope he offered (his ulterior motive) really made a connection.  Non Christians aren’t that gullible or naive, at least in our culture.

posted in : Bridging the Gap
Banquet Network August 15, 2018


I work for The Banquet Network, a Maryland based organization aimed at helping churches reach, serve, and include marginalized populations--especially people with disabilities. We also provide some small grants (up to $5000) to churches making accessibility efforts. We have a grant application listed on our website here:


Evelyn Oudyk August 15, 2018

A Canada workshop held in Grand Rapids?


Safe Church Ministry August 15, 2018

Thank you Miriam for helping us think through lessons we can all learn from the experiences of Willow Creek. I'm sure the Church will be learning lessons from this experience for many years to come. I'll pray that we, here in the CRC, take these learnings to heart.

Denise Posie August 15, 2018

Thank you for this helpful summary of the CRC in Canada's justice and reconciliation journey with indigenous people.

Adele Konyndyk August 15, 2018

I've heard great things about this one, just published this summer - The Family Bible Devotional: Stories from the Bible to Help Kids and Parents Engage and Love Scripture by Sarah Wells.  

posted in : Family Devotional?
August Guillaume August 15, 2018

When I visit another congregation I like to scan the bulletin to see what is going on.  Yes, many bulletins get discarded,  How many members actually look at the church's web site or other electronic method of distributing information?  Would members appreciate getting an email or a phone call for each item otherwise printed in the bulletin? Today there are numerous methods to distribute and share information. Unfortunately there is not one method which seems to be the best.  Electronic methods requires a phone, tablet or computer. Should churches encourage members to use these tools 24/7 in order to connect to all the organizations and people who are important to them?  Should people look at all web sites to see whether there is something they are interested in?  Compared to the work in publishing paper every week, what is the work required to make a web site attractive and up to date?  Or drafting an effective email? Or making all the work necessary to check who accessed the web site to be sure the information is getting out to members?   - August Guillaume

Hank Visser August 14, 2018

I respectfully disagree with some of the points made in this article. Our weekly bulletins are sent to our congregants via email (if requested) and we also have hard copies available on Sunday mornings. Pre-service announcements are infrequent and short!

Sunday bulletins are a great way to keep the congregation informed.

I don't foresee us ever being 'paperless'.

FYI: Early Bird Pricing has extended through October!

Eric Graef August 13, 2018

Humility. Having a teachable spirit themselves.

MJill H August 11, 2018

How incredibly sad. My heart is aching for this lady and what she suffered, and her children...and all the other women this man abused, because a man like him does not usually stop there...
And God's heart aches and weeps a thousand times more, because He loves us all so and does not want His children to harm anyone.

In my Christian circles there are  women who stayed with abusive spouses because who was going to help them. Especially when they were taught you have to submit, the husband rules, suffering is for your good....

If church is not a safe place where anyone who asks for help will be helped and abusers will be held to account then it is not a church, it it a place of torment.

Fronse Pellebon Smith August 11, 2018

Patience, Prayer and Persistence.

Worship Ministries August 9, 2018

Try it now - I've added a category - No formal training.

This probably applies to many people - thank you for pointing this out.

Andy Smith August 9, 2018

Could you adjust question 7? I have no official training in music or theology so there is no option that applies to me, and it won't let me choose nothing...

Chris Walker August 9, 2018

Worship Arts Director (soon to be ordained as Worship Arts Pastor, Lord willing)

Ruth Ann Schuringa August 8, 2018

Worship Director and Worship Ministry Team Leader

Kevin Soodsma August 8, 2018

Director Of Worship  Arts ^& Music.

Diane Ritzema August 8, 2018

Worship Coordinator


Miriam Spies August 8, 2018

Many thanks Faye.  Look forward to working with you!

Miriam Spies August 8, 2018

Thank you very much!  Look forward to working with you!

Faye Martin August 7, 2018

Hi Miriam, welcome aboard. BC Safe Church looks forward to working with you.  Praying God gives you the wisdom, grace and all you need for the job.  

Faye Martin, BC Safe Church Abuse Prevention & Response Coordinator 


Michele Gyselinck August 7, 2018

 Glad that you learned much, and looking forward to renewed contact.  Our new pastor and his family are moving in this week, so we'll have a more normal congregational life starting in a few weeks.  In the meantime, if I didn't tell you already, I'm working on the transcript of an oral presentation on preventing Alzheimer's Disease, and it seems it can be done through dietary changes.  

David Daye August 7, 2018

Greetings Jack,

     Thanks for reminding us of the value of the life and Power of the Lords supper, which is Lord Jesus Christ, "Christ Alone".

     The life that came to us in the Old Testament was seen in the Tabernacle and all the elements that connects to the Inner court of the Temple was a demonstration and foreshadowed of Lord Jesus Christ.

     That life was also seen on Mount Moriah when He substituted Himself for Isaac. 

     The power of the Lord's supper is that the animal sacrifice was no longer needed and therefore the lamb of God became the man "Lord Jesus Christ" who now dwells on the inside of my flesh and His words abide in me.

      As long as we abide in Him and He indwell us, His grace is sufficient and my weakness becomes His strength and righteousness by the power of the Holy Spirit. 

    We are reminded to partake of the Lord's Supper in memory of His death, burial and resurrection.  For when He died, you lived; when He was resurrected, you were set free; when He ascended to heaven, He gave us His spirit; and when He sat at the right hand of God, you became the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. 

     As we partake of the Lord's Supper we are reflecting on the salvivic grace, life and power of God through Lord Jesus Christ Amen.

Wendy Hammond August 7, 2018

One ministry that could not survive without its faithful retired volunteers is World Renew's Disaster Response Services!

Arthur Bosua August 5, 2018


Thank you for making this available

Safe Church Ministry August 5, 2018

Thanks Mark. Direct, and indirect ministry is a helpful distinction to keep in mind. I often tell our safe church team members that they are the ones "on the front lines" doing the real work of safe church ministry, and it's true - it can't happen any other way. I often miss my time on the "front lines" leading support groups for survivors, doing inner healing prayer ministry and seeing God show up in the most amazing ways. Denominational work can seem a bit boring by comparison. Yet there is rarely a dull moment in my work here either; it often takes more than all my resources, driving me to my knees to wrestle with the Lord in prayer. And thankfully, I've seen God work here too, even in the denominational headquarters! (of all places) It takes all of us working together, in the places where we are called, on many different levels. Then together we can rejoice as we begin to realize to a greater degree God's kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.

Disability Concerns August 4, 2018

Welcome Miriam! I'm looking forward to your being part of a large team of disability advocates in the CRC and RCA (and far beyond our two denominations) doing this important work.

MJill H August 3, 2018

Welcome to this community Miriam

Miriam Spies August 3, 2018

Hi Elizabeth,

Thank you - great to connect!  You can reach me at - please share your info there!

Safe Church Ministry August 3, 2018

Welcome Miriam - so excited to be working with you in Safe Church Ministry.

Elizabeth Schultz August 3, 2018

HI Miriam,

Welcome! I'd like to get to know you.  I, too, have CP., AND dabble in Safe Church and Disability Concerns.

Elizabeth Schultz

Lou Wagenveld August 3, 2018

Thanks, Liam, for a sensitive thought process yet in the end decisive resolution to this dilemma.  Scriptural, and good missiology.

Ground for the kingdom has been lost in the past for lack of what I'll call "staying power."  Witness El Salvador in the 80s.

fraternally, Lou Wagenveld

posted in : But Is It Safe?
Sarah Roelofs August 3, 2018

Thank you so much for allowing us to see into your sabbatical journey. I resonated with much of what you expressed. Thank you for following the call to work through others.

Harry Boessenkool August 2, 2018


This is a critical discussion in almost all denominations and many charities. In our culture of "selfies" it is difficult to find common pursuits. As the article mentions if it "touches me" I can support it.

In the area of religion, with its ever widening (in my view) liberalization this is a real challenge. I can only speak for my knowledge of the CRCNA.  It had an issue with “women in office” and lost some 20% of its members in the mid ‘90’s. As mentioned in synod (2018) this issue, mentioning just one, from a human resources, point of view was not well managed. There are now other issues on the horizon that give (me) pause….. Uncertainty.

The slide to more liberal interpretation of scripture is well under way. Those of us with more conservative (or narrow minded biblical views in the eyes of some) feel some pressure.

In government the secular (often liberal) always wins. What was illegal 20 years ago is now celebrated. The celebration is not a problem for me except I have very little room to object to participate. 

When this manifests itself in church denominations the easiest thing to do is say nothing but stop contributing or direct donations only to those parts that affect you personally.

In some discipline an Italian professor came up with a truism. It is called the “Pareto Rule”. It posits, among others, that 20% of people do 80% of the work; same with donations to any cause. Even in taxes this is true I believe.

This means that churches should try and understand this phenomenon in their own congregations.  If their ratio is in fact 20/80 they are in a danger zone should a major controversy arise. In economics uncertainty is a very tricky thing. It can cause unforeseen situations and very quickly.

Like the article I am responding to the diagnoses is much easier than the cure! Our prayer is for wisdom.

Ben Meyer August 2, 2018

Thank you, Liam! Well said! We continue to pray for Nicaragua.

posted in : But Is It Safe?
Miriam Spies August 2, 2018

Thanks very much for your reflections, Mark.  It strikes me as an important question for all peoples, living with or without a disability.  Instead of displaying our credentials/titles which the world seems to value/uplift, how might we display our holy living as a follower of Jesus - responding to what God calls us to be.  Often, it is tempting to identify myself as ordained/in a particular role/where I've attended school so folks treat me "well" and not make assumptions about my dis/abilities - but it is much more effective if they have time to see how I strive to live (listening with compassion, joking with humour, supporting with love) as well as the nouns I hold!  Thank you.

Paula Coldagelli August 1, 2018

I attended this when it was offered before. I can't say enough about how it impacted my role in the church. It helps clarify ministry positions by helping you write effective (and visionary) job descriptions. It empowers you to be a better recruiter. It is so biblically-based and well-done.  I highly recommend!

Paula Coldagelli

Executive Director of Ministries

Brookfield CRC (Wisconsin)

Keith Knight August 1, 2018

While I like Elizabeth's definition of a leader, it is a rather generic definition. It could apply equally to a leader at Amway, a football coach or a school principal.

But what sets a Christian leader apart? Like Paul's mentoring role in Timothy's life, Christian leaders need to consistently point emerging leaders to Christ. We need to consistently remind others of the importance to depend on God ... for wisdom, for direction, for the right things to say and do in a specific situation.

Want to be a strong Christian leader? Pray. A lot. Consistently.

I spoke a while back to a conference of senior pastors of mega-churches. They invariably referred to themselves as their church's "CEO". I spoke on "Whose Kingdom Are You Building: Yours or God's?"

Christian leaders are doing God's work ... whether that's in the church, in business, in education, in the home, in retirement. This isn't about us.

J. A. Durieux August 1, 2018

i have always been told that the handshake is part of the "one speaks, and the others check" principle of 1 Corinthians 14.

The elders give their prior approval, knowing the intent of the sermon, and (if appropriate) their posterior approval after having heard the delivery.

Likewise, each adult member of the congregation indicates at the end of the service whether he agrees with the message by shaking or not shaking the preacher's hand.  Often those handshakes would be deferred till after some additional questioning or discussion ("Pastor, you said this and this, but what about that verse?"  "When you said X, you surely didn't mean to imply that..") has clarified the intention of the preacher.

It is an important part of preventing the preacher to grow into a "mini-pope", and the congregation into passive consumers - each member has to declare, and if necessary defend, his stance on the subjects preached.

Safe Church Ministry July 31, 2018

Thank you for sharing a comment and supporting Amy. Sometimes we don't know how to come alongside someone who has suffered abuse. We're afraid that we might say the wrong thing. "I'm so sorry that happened to you" is never the wrong thing to say. And listening, all by itself, without saying anything at all, is very valuable. So, another thank you to the many people who have read this post, Amy's Story - thank you for "listening".

posted in : S.O.S. Amy's Story