Resource, Policy or Guidelines

Governance issues explain gifts received with donor restrictions. These restrictions must be applied according to the donor's wishes.

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Resource, Form or Template

The vast majority of the gifts that a church receives can be conveniently accounted for within the context of its General Fund operations.

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Resource, Form or Template

The Chart of Accounts show our organization's account number, description, and type.

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Resource, Book or eBook

These books will simplify the accounting process and methods involved.

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Resource, Policy or Guidelines

Evaluating documentation and spending controls.

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Resource, Form or Template

Attached are Microsoft Word documents of the Articles of Incorporation for both a newly formed and already incorporated member church in the state of Michigan.

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Resource, Form or Template

This is a legal document which will be filed within the province to create a corporation.

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Resource, Form or Template

Below is a Microsoft Word version of content for Articles of Incorporation (or Restated Articles of Incorporation) for a member church located in the United States but outside of Michigan. 

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Resource, Law or Legal

Finance and Personnel records that are no longer active are to be retained for a specified number of years.

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Resource, Law or Legal

Finance and Personnel records that are no longer active are to be retained for a specified number of years.

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Resource, Law or Legal

This letter informs Christian Reformed Churches of the Federal income tax IRS code 501 [C] [3].

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Resource, Mandate

The Education Team will be responsible for providing leadership and oversight of Our Church’s Children and Youth Ministries.

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Resource, Mandate

The Stewardship Team will be responsible for leading an intentional process for providing management of God’s resources for God’s purposes.

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Resource, Mandate

God gives his people special gifts to train others in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, until we are all working efficiently and gracefully together in response to God's call to be fully alive like Christ.

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Resource, Mandate

The Personnel Team represents and assists the Administration Team in meeting its oversight responsibility with respect to the human resource functions of the church.

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Resource, Mandate

Learn how members in action find opportunities to serve the church and community in ways that fit their SHAPE.

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Resource, Mandate

The Library Committee will encourage spiritual growth, develop the congregations competence, and captivate the importance of doctrinal standards.

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Resource, Mandate

The Finance Team will be responsible for providing leadership and oversight of the finances of the church.

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Resource, Mandate

The Facility Renovation Team will be responsible to act as the primary contact between Our Church and the architect and builder.

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Resource, Mandate

The Medical Emergency Response Team is responsible for responding to the needs of people with the love of God in times of medical emergency in church ministries.

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Resource, Mandate

As leaders of God’s people it is imperative that elders model, teach, inspire, and reinforce the fear of the Lord and the qualities of Christ-likeness, among believers.

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Resource, Mandate

All church officers (elders and deacons) represent Christ, the Lord, in the corporate life of his people. The office of deacon is designed to administer the mercy of Christ to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

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Resource, Mandate

The Council Mandate consists of a sample list of responsibilities.

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Resource, Mandate

Ever wonder how to build a stronger community in your church? Here are some activities that will engage a large portion of your congregation.

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Resource, Mandate

Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. I John 3:18. Learn how the Christian Ministry Team fulfills this passage within the church.

August 7, 2014 0 0 comments



Great post.  Informative.  Thanks!

Thank you, nonetheless, for helping in providing some focus with your comments.

You're right with respect to your observation above, however, with the data sets available for the research project - this group can be separated out. 

I am more interested in identifying where a ministry needs exists, recruitment to fill those needs, and identifying funding to meet those needs. 

There is a ministry need not only in reaching out to young adults that are drifting out of the church and not coming as was the case 5 - 10 years ago, the pastoral needs of a growing seniors population, but also a growing "active professing member" segment that is disconnecting from active participation in the body of Christ where evangelism/outreach needs need to be explored. 

This is borne out in research literature published by Barna and PEW, or others like Postma, Reimer, Bibby, etc.

I don't really want to continue this conversation... but I will point out  the converse of what you have said, which was that 20% of members may not attend, can also be possible, so that 20 or 30% of contributing attenders may not be "registered members".

Hi John...

I need to separate a number of issues. The research report I am working on, the arguments being made for "good sense" and "reasonableness" with respect to budget development, and that I am drifting off topic. 

I should indicate that I don't have a problem with either the concept of "active professing members" or the Ministry Share rate." 

As I indicated in my response to John Bolt "2. active professing membership rate: can appreciate both the arguments for "adminstrative change" or "reasonableness."

What is problematic is the equal playing field that budget committees at both the local church and at the denominational level require to "reasonablely" plan for the viability of ministries. That equal playing field is currently articulated in MoCRCG, page 248.

Whether regular attending active professing members contribute the widow's mite or as the Lord has gifted them is up to the Lord to move their hearts through their shepherding community. 

What has come out of my inquiries is that it would be beneficial for Synod to revise the MoCRCG so it lines up with the denominational office administrative objectives. 

On a related matter, looking at 5 - 10 years of data I have a feeling that the CRCNA at the local level has yet to come to grips with what most mainline churches have been struggling with over the last 20 - 30 years. There is a real difference between those who regularly attend and the number of individuals that are on the books. That difference can range from 80% attenders vs 20% non-attenders, up to and including, 70% attenders to 30% non-attenders.

When the pulpit, council and stewardship committees encourage giving to meet ministry objectives - I feel they are probably speaking to a dark and deep vacuum when it comes to the 20 - 30% of "active professing members" who are non-attenders. 

Scripturally, both Matthew 18: 12 – 14  & Mark 4: 2 – 20 have some application. 

Lubbert, apology accepted.   The reason to use the most recent membership numbers to work on your budget, is that your budget is based on what will be contributed in the year to come.   If your membership drops drastically between the time you submit your roll numbers to the yearbook, and the time you make your budget, it does not make sense to assume that no membership changes have occurred. 

As I indicated, it is not my intent to show disrepect. My apology.

The intent of the original question was focused on obtaining clarification on the determination of what calendar year to utilize for active professing membership when developing a church budget as it applies Ministry Share rates for the coming calendar year.

I fear the conversation, though interesting, is drifting into areas not directly related to the inquiry - other than to comment that scriptural stewardship also comes with due diligence and fiduciary responsibilities and obligations.

As I indicated earlier, "The recommendation in Acts of Synod 2009 Article 29 I. B 1.a. (page 579) would have benefited with some further clarification on what active professing membership count year is to be applied to the coming calendar year Ministry Share rate. MoCRCG 2008 Revised would therefore still stand with respect to "active professing members" ..."

Secondly, I would also agree with Colin "And one more note: why in todays computer age can we not simply put the yearbook online rather then spending money publishing a book that is out of date by the time it is delivered?"

This revision would achieve the currency objective denominational office is hoping to achieve.

Colin, you have made some excellent points.  


Lubbert, whether you intended disrespect or not, you achieved it.   My suggestion is not fudging anything.  The bottom line is that each church is responsible for its own contribution towards ministry shares, as well as to the percentage of ministry shares it pays, or whether it pays any at all.  Ministry shares are not taxes, they are not an invoice, they are are voluntary contributions made by each church towards denominational efforts.  The denomination makes its suggested ministry share contributions based on overall member numbers, just as a local church makes its own local budget average contribution number based on its membership at the time.   That doesn't mean that each member would contribute exactly a certain amount per member.  Those who have more will contribute more;  those who have less will contribute less, and that's how it should be.   This principle is also true for churches at the denominational level, or should be. 

In addition, a local church is always responsible for where it sends its money, and how much it sends.  It cannot absolve this responsibility by blaming the denomination for its decisions, or pawning off its responsibility to the denomination.  Thus it actually needs to decide on denominational minstry share spending and decide whether that is the best cause, compared to other causes, both local and elsewhere.  I think many ministry share causes are very good, but not necessarily all.   A few causes should be removed from ministry shares and added to recommended causes.   But, regardless, our church cannot absolve itself of its own responsibility to evaluate and decide. 

While there are certain aspects of churches that follow business principles, there are certain aspects which do not.   The church is based primarily on cheerful giving, not on being assessed invoices for services.  If this important point is lost, then we will have transgressed or regressed from ministry and serving God to something entirely different. 

We have wrestled with membership issues and budgets etc in our context.  One of the directions toward which we continue to educate the congregation is that giving is measured from how you have been provided for by the Lord, not on a budget number divided by number of members.  We are Biblically instructed to give in proportion to what we have received in income (Deut. 16, 1Cor 16, etc)  We have, on a local context, tried to steer people away from thinking about a "per member amount" which is inherently unjust and misleading.  It has always given those with wealth excuse to cap their giving and laid undo guilt on those who can not reach the per-member amount.  And that approach has really no basis in Scripture. 

What is strange then is to still have the denomination using an inherently unjust approach to ministry shares.  We say a wealthy congregation can give more and a poorer one can give less, but all communication is really about how we do not meet our ministry share commitments (the latest promotional drive for this still tries to promote the system as wonderful, yet is remains an unjust one).  As efficient as this system is to raise funds (i.e not spending much on fund raising) I believe it is loosing its traction in congregational life because it still does not connect members to the ministries that ministry shares supports.  And a "per member amount" assigned by Synod in a local context that trains about tithing and percentage given simply does not fit any more.  I sense that congregants, when they know anything at all about ministry share amounts asigned by Synod or Classis, see it as an outside arbitrary bill that has not taken into consideration where the congregation is financially.  Yes a congregation can ask Classis to let them give less because of financial circumstances, but the overall budget is not reduced, the rest of the congregations are asked to take up the slack.  I think it is time to change things.

How about the denomination collecting data on each congregation's budget and suggesting a percentage of that amount be set aside for ministry shares?  How about simply a tithe of 10%?  That would be a just way to deal with the differences poor and wealthy congregations and everyone inbetween. Membership numbers do not mean each adult active professing member can all give the same amount.  In fact the number of members a congregation has really has little bearing on its financial ability. What has bearing is the incomes of those members, not the fact that they are members.  For example, my own household has 4 adult active professing members but only one full time income as two are in Christian college.  Yet the yearbook membership counting will count "4" for our house.  How is that helpful in any way? 

I think people can get their hearts and heads around tithing from our overall local budget as it fits the biblical model: just as with an individual, a congregation gives in proportion to how the Lord has supplied their needs.  We ask people here to make yearly intentional planned giving from which we work out a budget (ideally, it is still a work in progress). Then we could tithe from that amount classically and denominationally as we do ministry.  That approach I can present on the basis of financial discipleship drawn from Scripture, but an assigned financial number based on warm bodies, sorry, can't really do much with that.

The CRC seems to have a fear of being honest about it size.  We have some latent pride in ourselves with our "we do more ministry in proportion to our size than most other denominations who do not have ministry share system."  This I believe has left us with the inability to scale back our classical and denominational ministries according to the actual size of the CRC.  Rather than crying the woes of not meeting ministry share targets, how about doing ministry in keeping with our resources.  We can say, the Lord will provide, but as a denomination of about 1/4 million members only, perhaps we have spread ourselves too thin.  Add to this the fact that congregations have to engage their communities in order to survive at all, resources have to be directed to that growth and work and that will mean perhaps a change in focus of CRC ministry.  The mission field is now at home and I believe it is our primary calling right now.  Funds need to be spend in the congregation to staff and tool the congregation for the local challeges we face right now.  What would be the point of paying 100% of a ministry share billed to a congregation every year and not having the resources available to build local ministry?  A congregation can pay 100% based on membership numbers right up to the day they close. 

When the denomination was asked to re-examine the ministry share system ,the result was a back patting that, yup, it's a financially efficient system.  That wasn't very helpful given the North American changes the CRC is facing. 

And one more note: why in todays computer age can we not simply put the yearbook online rather then spending money publishing a book that is out of date by the time it is delivered?  Just put it on line, make the data updateable whenever churches need to update it (secure login etc) and the denominational boards or what not can choose to plan on the most recent data available rather than data that can be a half year or more out of date.

I would also suggest the synod/yearbook drop the membership category of "family" and go with "household", as the synod defined "family" category is no longer helpful to determine giving levels or ministry needs or anything really.  We don't use it locally at all any more.  And a size of a church can not be determined by how many "families" it has nearly as accurately as it can by how many "households" (home addresses) it has.  You can have a lower number of "families" and have a higher number of "households" with one adult as a member and one not (especially as churches connect with newcomers in their community).  A widow, who may have a comfortable or high income, is not counted in "families" designation yet ministry takes just as long with one person in a house as with two.  Let's lose the "family" category from our parlance and use "households" to include singles, one believer households, etc in our ministry size numbers.

Oops I think this went beyond the orginal question!  My applogies, then again, if you are reading this line, thanks for hearing me out.  I would love to hear some more feedback on these matters.



Hi John... 

Pragmatically if I were doing the budget in a dreamy moment, I might consider that a possible option. The Boards which I reported to as a former administrator  would probably think I was acting without due diligence and abrogating my fiduciary responsibilities to them. 

Also, not certain local church budget committees would agree, if they were to consider the potential reaction of congregants.


I'm doing a research project where information on this issue is a small but critical component of the larger picture - to help people grapple with the notion that there may be monies to do ministries both locally and globally. 

Fudging the process is as problematic as getting bogged down in the technicalities. No disrespect intended. 

Lubbert, you are spending too much time on this, methinks.   When you do your budget and approve at the annual meeting, just use however many families you have at the time to set your ministry amounts.  The number may have changed since your yearbook report, but in the end it should balance out, if your transfers in equal someone else's transfers out.  If you have more members, great;  if you have fewer, then your ability to pay the ministry shares will decrease.  If you feel as a church really concerned about the ministry shares, then you can always add ten or twenty percent to your ministry contributions.  Getting lost in the technicalities is a waste of time, which could be better spent on other things, like actually doing minstries. 


An interesting point with some cogency, though not strictly relevant to the question.

Went back and read the Communal Covenantal Commitment Task Force Report in the Agenda for Synod 2009. 

The recommendation in Acts of Synod 2009 Article 29 I. B 1.a. (page 579) would have benefited with some further clarification on what active professing membership count year is to be applied to the coming calendar year Ministry Share rate.

MoCRCG 2008 Revised would therefore still stand with respect to "active professing members", even if it is within the ability of a local congregation to give beyond the set "Ministry Share rate."

Thanks for the input. I did plan on open-ended questions in my "list of questions," and these are very helpful suggestions for phrasing and approach.

If you are looking for a reference to an Act of Synod regarding which year’s membership count to use, I am afraid you will not be satisfied with the answer.  Synod simply does not deal in that level of detail.  Nor should you look to the Manual of Christian Reformed Church Government for definitive statements of administrative process since as the author notes, it is a helpful resource to the user and is a commentary on the actions of synod.  It is not intended to be the detailed documentation of every administrative process.

However, perhaps the best reference to an Act of Synod that will help your question can be found in the Acts of Synod 2009 Article 29 I. B 1.b.(page 580) which states:

"That synod encourage local churches to use the recommended contribution amount as determined by the ministry-share system as a starting point as it evaluates its ability to participate.  A church with extraordinary financial capacity may discern to contribute more than the recommended amount.  Likewise, a church with undue financial circumstances or hardship may discern the need to contribute less than the recommended amount."

So whatever membership count the ministry share system uses, it really is up to the local church to determine what dollar amount of ministry shares they wish to give toward the support of the ministry we have covenanted to do together through the agencies, institutions and ministries of the denomination.  Whether the membership count is the most recent or a year old should not enter into the decision of the church. 

Thank you.

Unfortunately, I am still missing a reference from the Acts of Synod  2008 -  2011 for the grounds on which the administrative change is based.

1. per member Ministry Share rate: understand Synod sets rates in June and Classis in fall for the coming calendar year.

2. active professing membership rate: can appreciate both the arguments for "adminstrative change" or "reasonableness." 

3. MoCRCG on page page 9 indicates the manual incorporates decisions made by synods through to Synod 2007.

4. The question boils down to - when did Synod change the policy decision found in MoCRCG page 248, and what is the content of that decision on which the "administrative change" is based. 

5. If Synod did not make a change in policy, then however "reasonable" the above proposal seems - the "administrative change" is invalid as the directive 2. b. 2). a) on page 248 in the MoCRCG is still in force.

6. The policy directive is of long standing origin, as it also exists in the MoCRCG of 1987.

7. If there is such a change to be found in the Acts of Synod, it would be helpful. From your response above I would suppose it does not.

I think we are talking about two different Ministry Shares here.  There is the Classis Ministry Shares that are set at the classis level and administered by the classis treasurer.  And there are the denominational ministry shares, which are set by synod and administered at the denominational level.  It should be noted that the administration of the denominational ministry shares has changed within the last several years from what is published in the MoCRG on page 248.

The denominational ministry share per member rate is set each year by synod.  In the Acts of Synod, the new per member rates are published including the regional college amounts.  These are used for the coming calendar year.  In other words, the 2012 ministry share rate was published in the summer of 2011.  The requested ministry share contributions are then calculated based on the new membership information that is received by the denominational offices for inclusion in the Year Book for the upcoming year.  It would not be reasonable to expect the membership counts from the prior Year Book submission (reported in 2010 for the 2011 Year Book) to be used for the calculation.  If we consider a church that has had a significant change in its membership levels, especially a downturn in the membership counts, the church would be asked to contribute based on gifts from a population that is very different from that reported.

The Acts of Synod are silent on the details of the exact calculation, but simply indicate that the requested amount is based on the per member rate times the number of active adult professing members.  It is appropriate that the most accurated membership count be used for this calculation, and that would seem to require the most recent data used for the upcoming Year Book.


I wanted to add that I really like the idea of "exit interviews" even happening at all.  Too often dissatisfied members leave a church for another church and no one contacts them at all.  It appears then that the church could care less whether those people left.   I think people would appreciate the opportunity to share the positive and the discouraging moments of their church life.


What a great post Doug. Thanks for educating the network guide and participants reading this blog. Educating each other through comments will help us serve our churches.

I can see why a more or less standard list of questions could be helpful for comparing and consolidating results.   Building on Bill Vis' statement about the value of open ended questions, I'm wondering if you could borrow some "appreciative inquiry" type of open ended questions.

For example, Tell me a story (the more detail the better) about a time when you were especially excited to be part of this church, when you felt energized and vital.   What was going on?  What contributed to your excitement?  Who was contributing to that time and what were they doing?

    LIkewise, a question like this: Tell me a story about a time (the most specific the better) when you felt discouraged, and your energy was drained away.  What was going on in the life of the church, and in your own life?  What specifically happened and how did that affect you?   

     Questions like these can set the table for "story telling" and lots of opportunity to listen, and ask more questions, seeking to understand, and drawing out the messages in the stories that may lie hidden until a really caring listener comes along.

Good subject for discussion.  Permit me to add a few thoughts.

It is important to distinguish between Articles of Incorporation (aka "Articles") and Bylaws.  In fact, there is more that is different between the two than the same.  Articles of Incorporation are the church corporation's "constitution" (analogize to the US Constitution).  Though typically short, they have key provisions in them that will be incredibly important if "push comes to shove" in a church (eg., church split).  Almost always, the Articles of Incorporation can NOT be changed without a certain percentage of consent by the church (corporation) members.

Bylaws are (usually) merely a set of housekeeping rules created by the board of directors (BOD, aka council) (analogize to a set of statutes passed by Congress).  In a very real sense, Bylaws are of really no greater "power" than any other resolution (like a Statute) passed by the BOD (council) because the Bylaws (usually) can, unlike Articles of Incorporation, be changed by the BOD (council) whenever it wants to change them, without consent from the church's members.

This lead post says "legal counsel should be involved in any rewriting of your bylaws or articles of incorporation."  Absolutely.  Especially as to Articles of Incorporation (not so much Bylaws; maybe not at all).  Legal counsel is not legally required of course, but badly drafted (including "under drafted") Articles of Incorporation can result in a nightmare if division occurs in a church.  The issues involved can be complicated, involving sometimes a tricky interplay between CRC Church Order and your state's law concerning non-profit corporations.

I would also emphasize the denomination's suggested Articles of Incorporation are just "suggested."  They don't necessarily take your state's laws into account.  And you may not agree with some of the key provisions in the model CRC form.

It is also important to know that not all lawyers are "good at doing this."  In fact, relatively few lawyers have extensive experience with non-profit corporation law.  And only a relatively few among those have experience with the particularities of CRC church order and tradition.

Finally, I would suggest this: while a periodic review of Articles of Incorporation may be good, amending the Articles of Incorporation is not a simple thing to do (for a number of reasons). It is not likely that your church will ever amend its Articles of Incorportion. And if Synod puts out a "new model Articles of Incorporation," that is not necessarily a reason (or a mandate) for a church to change its Articles. Thus, it is important for churches to get those Articles right the first time.

Hi Sheri...

I'm looking at the 2008 Revision edition of the Manual of CR Church Government on page 248 where 2) a. reads " The classical treasurer informs the church of its [ministry-share] allocation on the basis of the [membership] count as reported in the CRC Yearbook." As churches and classical treasurers only have the 2011 Yearbook in hand, and not the 2012 Yearbook, they would be using active membership data from the former.

This is not to say that a church couldn't possibly develop their 2012 budgets on the basis of the 2011 active membership count. 

However, based on what is set out in the MoCRCG and what I have seen in practice - churches are more likely to base their budgets on the current printed Yearbook as per the directive set out in the MoCRG, as do classical treasurers when setting the ministry share allocations for each church.

The result in practice is that local church and classical 2012 Budgets are probably based on the 2010 active membership count.

Could you clarify why it is difficult for churches to submit Ministry Shares based on their 2011 active professing member count?  For example, our church would submit their membership count in September 2011, be working on their budget that fall, and then the 2012 budget including the ministry share amount would be approved later in the year or early new year.

Also, I tried to follow your reference to MoCRCG in Article 2 b. 2). a). and did not find an Article 2b.

Hopefully another network participant can assist with your questions and comments.


Richard, perhaps developing a detailed list of questions isn't the best approach.  I would suggest asking a couple of open ended questions and listening.  Such as:

What areas in the ministry of Second Church do you see as strengths we can build on?

Do you have any suggestions on things that Second Church should consider adding or doing differently?

And, perhaps, what are the primary considerations that led you to decide to leave Second Church?

Thank you.

I understand the process and practice, but do not see where the warrant is coming from, i.e. a directive from the Acts of Synod. Moreover, the Manual of CRC Government in Article 2 b. 2). a) would appear to speak against the practice articulated above.

Based on MoCRCG in Article 2 b. 2). a) one might assume that Classical Treasurers throughout the CRCNA are utilizing the 2010 active membership counts from the published Yearbook 2011 to assign Ministry Share assessments for 2012 to local congregations, and local congregations are doing the same when establishing their 2012 budgets.

This variance in practice could do with some clarification, especially where warrant has been established in MoCRCG in Article 2 b. 2). a). as to what ought to happen.

It is difficult to ask churches to submit Ministry Shares based on their 2011 active professing member count when Yearbook 2012 does not exist, or there is not warrant established in the Acts of Synod.

I apologize, if I appear to be somewhat difficult on this matter.

The ministry share request is based on the professing member information submitted for the yearbook that coincides with the year of the ministry share.  In other words, the 2012 ministry share request was approved by Synod in June 2011 and is based on the information that appears in the yearbook dated 2012. 
The budgets of the institutions, agencies and ministries of the denomination operate on a fiscal year July 1 through June 30.  As such, the ministry share revenue that is included in these budgets is based on an estimate of funds coming from two ministry share years.  For example, the fiscal 2012 budget we are now working under assumes revenue related to the 2011 ministry share request received after June 30, 2011 and revenue from the 2012 ministry share request received before July 1, 2012. 

Thank you.

Is the process identified in your last sentence referenced anywhere in the Acts of Synod?

The reason I ask is that I have reviewed Church Order and Its Supplements [2011] & the Manual of CRC Government [2008] and cannot find any reference to this process. The only reference pertinent to the question that I can find is located in the MoCRCG in Article 2 b. 2). a).

If "The classical treasurer informs the church of its [ministry share] allocation on the basis of the [membership] count as reported in the CRC Yearbook," then the 2012 assessment would have to be based on the active membership count as of 2010, as Yearbook 2012 with the 2011 count would not yet be published.

Though I can understand that local churches could use their 2011 membership count to develop their 2012 budget and/or the CRCNA has the 2011 membership count in hand for budget expectations [the CRCNA's budget would have been drafted on the basis of the 2010 membership count], it would be helpful for the purpose of clarity if there is a reference to the Acts of Synod for the process.

The Ministry Shares assessment approved by Synod in June 2011 and reported in the July Financial Summary is effective starting January 1, 2012.   The 2012 assessment will be based on the active membership count of each church as reported for the 2012 Yearbook.

Hi John,

I've compiled what we've come to call an Officerbearer Handbook for the deacons and elders of Telkwa CRC. It includes policies and documents such as...
   :: safe church policy
   :: profession of faith procedures
   :: facilities usage standards
   :: rental policy
   :: privacy policy
   :: society act

But that's just the tail end of the booklet. It begins with leadership roles/responsibilities, followed with the mandates of our various committees, and then various resources for elders (e.g. family visit helps, rules of order, sermon evaluation form, worship resources) and deacons (e.g. "Servant Leaders" brochure from Diaconal Ministries Canada).  I'll look up your email address in the Yearbook and email it to you.

Blessings to you!

Thanks--I've added the "US" to the post.  We appreciate your insight on how Canadian law is handling these issues.

Shari - 

I just got an email from the pastor of a church plant my church is "parenting" in East Harlem (New York City) called Open Door Fellowship.

An excerpt from that email:

"The New York State Appellate Court has ruled that churches are no longer allowed to rent space from public schools. This decision has now also impacted all churches like ourselves that have been renting from public housing community centers. We have been curtly and abruptly denied access to our community center space without any explanation."

I know there are many churches that have been affected by this and can only hope that this appeals process can continue.

John Van Buiten
Covenant CRC, North Haledon, NJ

1) We have received information from CRA that the  value of the housing allowance is also to be included in calculating EI premiums. This is especially so for Youth pastors who may be part time and get a partial housing allowance and their salary alone is below the EI cut off.

2) We use a payroll service and have asked them to include all allowances ((study, car, hospitality etc.) as tax free. We leave it up to the Pastors to keep receipts for those expenses related to these items to at least the amount they receive. If they have more receipts they can claim the excess only.  We have been challanged on this procedure by the payroll service. They also said these amounts must be included in the EI  premium calculation

3) One commenter noted we should simply pay a Pastor a total wage and let him/her be responsible for filing the taxes. I like this approach but living in the greater Vancouver area I suspect we would have trouble determinening what this wage should be if no house is being provided. Maybe we should add that as a seperate discussion. 

3) When I read all the comments it appears churches may want to have some consistent advice and what we should do in regard to the allowance situation for Pastors.

Geepers, Terry, you've never invited ME for lunch and I live real close, slightly east of you. 

Thanks Pastor Jim and Pastor Colin for sharing your experience!

Colin, you are correct that "housing allowance" is not really relevant in Canada in terms of employment, tax, and the Clergy Residence Deduction.  However, the concept lives on and it is still very much a part of the CRC vernacular.  The formal Letter of Call used by the CRC throughout North America references "housing allowance" to the extent that it is relevant in the USA and may be considered by Canadian churches in how the total compensation (salary) is determined.  Similarly, the term and concept is also found in the annual Ministers' Compensation Survey.  Doing so provides some bases for comparison between classes and regions and even between churches within a Classis.

It is clear though that "housing allowance" and the Clergy Residence Deduction are not one and the same and are not simply interchangeable.

Regarding the reduction of income tax in consideration of the Clergy Residence Deduction, the onus is rightly on the employee, as the taxpayer.  CRA requires the submission of a Request to Reduce Tax Deductions At Source (see link below),  by which an eligible person would request recognition of the CRD and possibly, other recurring and substantiated deductions ie charitable donations.  If successful, CRA will issue an approval to be provided to the employer which permits the employer to effectively reduce the amount of tax deducted at source.  This avoids the "worst case scenario" of penalties, etc as mentioned by Colin. 

Colin, I don't think this means that you're out to lunch, although if you're ever in Ontario or would consider a call to the East, lunch is on me.

Terry V

I completely agree. I have participated in such meetings, and have also led them for mission committees at churches where I've been asked to recommend new partnerships. It's surprising that so many churches have not had the opportunity for open, safe discussion before. It's so important for building community.

our church has had what the elders called "congregational conversations", and they went very well, even over some issues that had a lot of potential for division.  These "conversations" were well led, and far more informal than a congregational mtg.  We did break into smaller groups, and I believe it was a very positive experience for the congregation.  Open communication is so important.  Once people perceive that something might being brushed aside (even if that's not the case), to avoid discussion, that generally makes things worse.   Mis perceptions and misunderstandings are one of the enemy's key ways of bringing division, so when we can openly and lovingly discuss potential issues, it is huge in helping prevent strife.  The presence/leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit is of course key.  I know we know that and we pray that He does, but so often when we get into the discussion we can tend to end up leaning on our own understanding.

@ George Vander Weit


You ask if a simple majority would be sufficient to depose an elder or in the case of a single nominee.

Yes, the majority, not the minority, should determine these matters.


Interesting answer, given that in almost all non-profit organizations that I've seen or helped create, their articles or bylaws almost always require a two-thirds votes to remove a director. I rarely see otherwise and would never advise my clients to use less than a supermajority rule for that.

It has been said in this thread about a greater than 50% vote requirement,

"It makes people, who live in a society where majority decisions are implemented, believe the council is pulling a fast one [by requiring a supermajority] to maintain the status quo or to resist change."

I don't think the premise is true at all -- that we "live in a society where majority decisions are implemented."  If, for example, one wants to amend the US Constitution, one have have a two-thirds majority assent from the House, from the Senate, and from all states.  Wow. That's a lot more than a simple majority from one body.

In sharp contrast, adding a fourth confession ("form of unity") to the CRCNA requires only the assent of only a simple majority of a body of representatives who sit in authority for only one week, during which it takes up dozens of of other matter as well. It we take the pattern of the "society we live in," we'd require a two-thirds assent by Synod, plus a two-thirds assent of all classes.

More examples in daily life.  In most business agreements, many provisions are subject to 2/3's (or other supermajority) vote.  Why?  In large part, to maintain unity. (I write these sorts of agreements). Indeed, in society around us, we have lots and lots of examples of super-majority requirements.  Most of them have "peace and unity" as a root motivation.

Within the church, it has been a very long time since I've seen a pastor called with less than a substantial supermajority vote requirement -- thankfully.

Finally, consider the tradition of the Friends (Quakers). I've had cause to provide legal counsel to some of their congregations (and greater bodies) in my area. Their tradition is to do things by full consensus. Thus, if a motion passes by a majority, they will further discuss and revote until there is consensus. Yes, that would be by 100%. Certainly, those who vote in the minority have a tradition based "obligation" to give serious thought about whether they should continue that vote in subsequent ballots, but I think that tradition could teach us a lot.

The "Letter of Call" refers to "the use of the parsonage (or a housing allowance of $_____ annually)."  Some churches pay a cash salary and cash compensation for housing.  My understanding is that this statement on the Letter of Call refers only to these instances.  It is not intended to be used for entering housing allowance or the clergy residence deduction for tax purposes.

I have finally got our treasurer/bookeeper to understand what the real situation is in Canada as well.  According to Revenue Canada, there is no category called "housing allowance" that is set by the church.  There is a tax break called "clergy residence deduction" which is entirely dependant on what sort of housing you live in and the limits of 1/3 of your income.  So my church pays me a salary not a salary + housing allowance.  From that salary I secure a place to live, in my case, owning my own home.   I think the use of the term "housing allowance" is misleading for a congregation and still has people thinking that the church gives the pastor "free housing" alongside a full salary, which is never the case. 

Our full time Youth Pastor also claims the clergy residence deduction but the congregation never used the term housing allowance for him.  That just highlights the need to remove that term from our parlance.  If you live in a parsonage, and you are not charged rent for it, your salary has been reduced by that factor, so in fact you do pay rent by having salary withheld.  I believe it is healthier for a congregation with their pastor in a parsonage to pay a full salary and then have the pastor pay rent to them.  That clarifies the status of that housing (and the responsibilities of both the landlord and tennant). 

So what my pay stub has is a salary and then a designated portion that is "tax exempt" so that the bookeeper does not take off that tax and then I wait until tax return time to get it all back.  Technically, to do this the employer has to ask Revenue Canada permission to do so, but given its longevitiy in our society, it is passively premitted so long as the amount is reasonable.  Worse case scenario for the church is that they receive a penaltly from Revenue Canada for improper bookeeping practices or something like that (I discussed this with Revenue Canada and that is what they told me). 

So I say, pay your pastor a full salary, and let them pay for their housing like every other employed homeowner in the congregation.  If they choose to rent the parsonage, fine.  What is claimed as clergy residence deduction is not relevant to the church, but to the clergy.  It is based on the actual living situation, not on what the church says that situation is. 

Realtors, property managers, rental ads should be used to find the market rental value of any home you own to determine what you can claim no matter what the church says about housing allowance.  I would like our form letters of call also changed to correct for this misleading terminology. 

Feel free to correct me here if I am out to lunch :)



Thanks to Terry and Shari for posting this. Everything Terry writes is accurate, but I believe it's important to make a few comments about details in filing for the clergy housing allowance in Canada.

I have been taking advantage of this "Constantinian" allowance since entering parish ministry in Canada in 1986. During our stays in our first two churches we lived in parsonages and thus were granted "free living." Since buying a house in St. Catharines where we have lived and worked for the last 8 1/2 years, filing for the allowance has become a bit different. My church treasurer every year indicates what the allowance should be, as determined by the finanance committee. This is not, in my case at least, even a third of my cash compensation. Rather, it is determined in conjunction with real estate values (for "fair rental market value") and rough estimates of utility costs (heating fuel, water & sewer, hydro [aka "electricity" in the US]).

When, however, I come to filing my taxes, I do my own using a computer tax program. (I probably shouldn't advertize, but it rhymes with "quick fax" or, more recently, "burpo slax.") I follow the detailed "step-by-step" option the program offers at start-up--though I can always go to the forms themselves. So far, though, this step-by-step option has proved relatively simple and accurate, since it asks questions that direct the user to opening and filling in the proper forms for his/her situation. Thus there is always a question: "Are you clergy?" to which I answer "yes." Then the program asks for costs for all of those exempt items: fair rental value (for which I ask a local realtor friend to give me a letter with an annual range estimate) and utility costs. I calculate all those and enter them on the indicated form, which then factors that into the rest of the tax return.

As I said above, so far this amount has not amounted to either 1/3 of my paid compensation or even the somewhat lower amount determined by our finance committee. (Ironically, after we put a new furnace, windows, doors, insulated and renovated the basement family room, our heating costs dropped by about 38%. So, we ended up spending money to save money! But the house is much more efficient and comfortable after those renovations.) One year I was asked by the tax department to prove the costs, which was simple to do, because I had kept all utility bills and then sent copies to the tax people.

My main point in this is to caution clergy merely not to estimate, but to report actual costs and to keep records accordingly. I always love April, b/c we get a good whopping bit of cash back from tax contributions through the year--even though the gov't used it for all that time. But it sure beats living in other places I've worked and lived!





Excellent post Sheri!  Thanks for the reminder, challenge, etc.

Hi Brad

We have been using PowerChurch Plus, which not only keeps track of the membership, their ministries and skills and services, but the finances, payroll and contributions as well. More than one person can have access to the program, with limits set. Our chair of council can see the membership, but not the finances without the correct password, while our treasurer has access to all accounting programs, but not the membership. I have used it for five years and am very happy with it. They also have a great support team that will walk you through any questions or frustrations.


Oh yes, clergy taxes -- the bane of the profession.  While there are lots of tax claims we are eligible for, they are also IRS audit detectors.  I recently got together with our deacons and we watched a webinar by the Clergy Advantage people of about the church setting up a Pastor's Accountable Expense Plan.  It's a great plan which helps pastors get the full benefit of every tax dollar not only a percentage.  Our deacons are going to make a proposal to our council that we adopt this.  Under this plan the pastor is responsible with their spending to the church not the IRS.  That way you don't have to put any business expense on your taxes, your takehome looks right and probably less (for tax purposes).  The plan covers ever expense out of your pocket from the regular tax claim clergy can make for people in their home to potlucks and coffees.  It makes a ton of sense and I recommend every church watch it.  

I also have some techy tips for pastors about how to keep track of all your receipts, mileage and expenditures.  I use Evernote and Expensify to track everything and it works like a charm.  In fact I just went out for coffee today and took a picture of the reciept with my phone in Evernote which is synced with my Expensify so when I have to pull everything up I even have a visual record with no paper.

posted in: Ministers and Taxes


Thanks for the posting on this.  I started testing this out.  I was able to import my old database without too much trouble.  This is still geared more towards a web admin with SQL experience, but I like the idea of having the data managed securely available via the web.  This would allow others who need to see or modify the data access, without it being locked up on a single computer in the church office.


Thanks for this questions.  Please look at the Code of Ethics for volunteers from Community Reformed Church.  I wrote about it for the Network here.  Maybe you can find it useful.


In some ways, it's a moot point.  As long as it includes a statement to the effect that we affirm the Contemporary Testimony, I cannot in conscience sign it.

I do not affirm article 38, or articles 47-54 (revised version of CT), the first because it contradicts the Catechism and the Belgic Confession in its teaching concerning the Lord's Supper and affirms in effect a consubstantiationist view of the sacrament; the rest because they bind us to a political agenda I do not share and, even if I did share it, would believe inappropriate as a condition for holding office in the Church.  In addition, certain statements in those articles undermine the doctrine of total depravity and indicate a solidly unreformed view of the task, capabilities, and role of civil government.

As for your own question, if the CT is affirmed, we would have to sign the "covenant" frequently - the CT is designed to change with the times, so there's no guarantee that what you signed up for the first time is what's on the books the next time.

Sorry posted same message twice.

We at Terrace CRC are using Churchinfo, currently we only use it to track membership,  small group lists and elder lists and most important printing the church directory with or without photos.

Churchinfo is a free web based solution. It has many features that we are not currently using including:


  • group membership
  • contact lists
  • reports on groups and roles
  • Members Directory: Printable directory of all members, grouped by family where assigned
  • Letters and Mailing Labels
  • Birthdays: Members with birthdays in a particular month
  • Family Member Count: Returns each family and the total number of people assigned to them.
  • Membership anniversaries: Members who joined in a particular month
  • Person by Age: Returns any person records with ages between two given ages.
  • Person by properties: Returns person records which are assigned the given property.
  • Person by Role and Gender: Selects person records with the family role and gender specified.
  • Person Count
  • Recent friends: Friends who signed up in previous months
  • Select all members: People who are members
  • Select database users: People who are registered as database users
  • Total By Gender: Total of records matching a given gender.
  • Volunteers: Find volunteers for a particular opportunity
  • Volunteers: Find volunteers for who match two specific opportunity codes
  • Advanced Search: Search by any part of Name, City, State, Zip, or Home Phone.
  • Families to canvass: People in families that are ok to canvass. 

I recently "made" a covenant with Neerlandia CRC when I volunteered to be their Parish Nurse. I became familiar with the idea of covenanting during a course I took from Concordia University College in Edmonton, Ab which prepared me to be a PN. I had to read Improving your Multiple Staff Ministry by Anne Marie Nuechterlein.She says that one of the reasons for a covenant is that ". . . loyalty, trust, and open communication can be more easily established and staff members can experience what it means to relate with each other as a faithful, forgiven, Christ-centered staff." (p. 21)  I liked those words -- faithful, forgiven, Christ-centered. They are a powerful affirmation of who I am and can be.  And so, when  I wrote my own covenant for my "inaguration" as parish nurse I promised to be confidential, accountable and trustworthy, relying on God's guidance through his Holy Spirit and Word.  And from that day on I covenanted to bring the compassionate presence of God in my ministry of parish nurse.  



Here is the "Individual Leadership Covenant" that all ministry leaders in our church must sign:


Leadership/Service Covenant


There are different kinds of gift, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit

 is given for the common good.

1 Corinthians 12:4-7


Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10


We thank you for your willingness to serve.  At Our Church, we believe that all God’s people have gifts for ministry and we give thanks for yours.  As a leader in the teaching ministry, we ask that you covenant with us by embracing this document.


I, _________________________________________, believe that:

                          (please print name)


·        Jesus Christ is the Son of God sent to redeem the world, and love and trust him as the one who saves me from my sin, and I with repentance and joy embrace him as Lord of my life.


·        the Bible is the Word of God revealing Christ and his redemption.



In my capacity as ______________________________________, I will:

                                   (name of Ministry and Role)


·        lead/teach/serve in accordance to what is taught in the Bible and as is faithfully reflected in the creeds and confessions of Our Church.*


·        submit to and respect the leadership and direction of my ministry by the elder(s), deacon(s) and pastor of Our Church.


·        also fulfill my role in accordance with the Guidelines for the Prevention of Abuse for Our Church.**


Signed: ______________________________           Date:__________________


*Creeds and confessions refer to the Apostle's Creed, Nicene Creed, Athanasian Creed, Belgic Confession, Heidelberg Catechism and the Canons of Dort.

**A copy of our Abuse Prevention Policy is available at the church office.  All participants, volunteer or salaried, are required to have read the sections that pertain to their ministry.

Wonderful article! Thanks for shedding light on an important topic. As the economy recovers and as expectations for church space continually rise, new churches will be moving into public schools more and more. As a planter of a church-in-a-school, I love that our message to the community is one of affirmation of existing structures (both literal and institutional). I'd like to briefly draw light on the fact that because our system has a church as a tenant, the school system could recover a small amount of the massive budget shortcoming that all schools face. Also, the school custodians, people who are not typically paid a great deal, could receive overtime pay for 16 hours a month. The overwhelming response I've received from those who had to "sacrifice" for us to meet there, is "I don't know what I would have done had this opportunity not come when it did!" 

This all begs the question, "Should schools look to churches to diversify their revenue stream?"