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Loretta, getting to your original question of changing governance, it would be helpful if you identified just what changes are needed and why they are needed.   There is lots of flexibility to adjust governance to allow churches to manage their affairs.   But it seems to me you will need a council and or consistory regardless.   The deaconate work can be delegated to the deacons, and a frame of reference can be developed for the deacons.  The context of their authority would be defined:  how and when can they raise funds, and how they can spend it. 

Then there are committees.  They can be established, given a terms of reference, and a budget, or they can be asked to come back to council with all decisions, or just larger decisions over a certain amount of money. 

There are lots of ways of doing things within the general and over-riding authority of the council, which is ultimately responsible, but can delegate some of that day-today responsibility to others.

Are you only concerned about the internal church matters, or also about the relationship of the church to classis? 


Karl, you asked two questions.  So first, about movers and seconders.   The guidelines I provided are general guidelines.  I think if you have a larger council or a congreg mtg, then they are good to follow.   If you have a small council, say five or less people, then you could assume consensus for many motions if you like, since it will almost always be the same people making and seconding the motions.  This is assuming that the meeting minutes identify who attended the meeting.   It is also important to identify if someone comes later to the meeting, and when they entered.   This will clarify if they were part of the discussion on a particular issue or not.   For some issues, particularly money issues or changing bylaws or annual meeting or other governance issues, the formal motion would be required, especially by the Societies Act.   It verifies that the motion was actually presented properly and voted on. 

Second, yes, adding a who and when is a good procedure, and documenting it in the minutes ensures/encourages that a decision will be acted upon.  The person responsible can be a part of the motion, or can be a consensus agreement after the motion.  We often call them action items.  This ensures accountability.   This is not solely the job of the secretary/clerk to make sure that someone is accountable, but the clerk needs to record it and should remind the meeting that someone should be responsible for an action item.   

For some items, detailing the "when" is essential, so that subsequent events and activities can take place when they need to.  This may involve some timeline planning.   For other items, the timeline planning will be left to the person/persons responsible for the action. 

John, that's a pretty good set of guidelines!  Thanks for it.   It reminds me of the old wisdom that a decision is not really made unless it is accompanied by a WHO and a WHEN.   Clerks and secretaries can often be helpful to the process by asking the mover (or the group)  to include those pieces in a decision so they can be on the record.    What do you think about that?

I've always been curious as to why minutes should include the names of movers and seconders of motions.   Got any thoughts on that?  Is it about accountability?  Thanks.

Thanks for sharing this Dutch.  I'd love to hear more about how the chairman set it up and how it all worked - maybe a topic for the Classis page!  Is this going to become a regular thing for you in Classis Yellowstone?

That makes sense.  I am sure that I will have more questions as things come up.  The book should arrive tomrrow!  (That in itself may generate more!)   Thank you for your thoughts..



It worked! Yes, it appears "mutual censure" worked at our last Classis meeting as we hoped it would; whether it will in the future we will see.

Mutual Censure was put in the Agenda identified as a "time of unity and accountability," and placed as the last item prior to "Closing Remarks and Prayer,"

it was clearly defined by the Chairman as a tool that was designed to allow any comment on the table that would be helpful to bring closure to this session of Classis for the delegate- both if it addressed a problem, or merely praiseworthy.  A "round Table" open discussion format was utilized, starting with the first person to the left of the Chair. If no comment was necessary, a simple "pass" could be used and the opportunity for comment would move on to the next individual.

It was rather interesting, few chose the "pass" option. The comments from the new delegates to Classis were most enlightening and helpful- and rather positive. Oh we had a couple of pointed comments to individual members, some sitting right next to each other- but interestingly enough, reconciliation began- if not flourished between the participants. That is not to say, things were left unsaid; but it was an opportunity to begin a "process" that may have been left undone, and later become unmanageable.

We actually had two sessions of Classis, a shorter one the night before that ended in a "concert of prayer" organized by "prayer and praise" worksheets. All delegates gathered around each church's delegation in succession, laid their hands on their shoulders- and prayed earnestly for each of the church's item(s) of praise or concern. Then throughout the next day session, time was set aside to pray together. Perhaps the atmosphere of group prayer helped "level the plain" for Mutual Censure at the session's end...perhaps not, but it worked this time.

Too often in the past we may have taken ourselves too seriously and become blinded to the "shoes" of another;  walking together in prayer prior to the "path of censure" may have allowed for a different journey. There remain skeptics I am sure to this plan, but this time group mutual censure worked.

May we continue to find ways to build "unity and accountability," and if this works- we will continue our journey together...gracefully.


Thanks Dutch,  That is good to hear in a time of polarization that is becoming too toxic.


"Bringing new members into the body" is covered in Article 59 of the Church Order and you will note the use of the word "consistory" in that article.  That, again, is deliberately chosen because this falls clearly within the responsibility of the minister(s) and the elders, not the deacons.  Conditions of membership are also the responsibility of the consistory, although if this is discussed not with reference to any particular person joining but with reference to membership conditions in general, it would be wise for the consistory to ask for and receive council approval.

Historically, none of our churches that I know of have asked those wanting to be full members to sign anything, but profession of faith, if that's what's done, involves a liturgical form where the person, in a worship service, promises to submit to the government of the church.  Even if such a promise where made in an earlier congregation and the person is now transferring membership to another, that promise made in a public worship remains.



Thanks for the encouraging note about my commentary being helpful to you.

I will assume that the director of your preschool is not ordained to any office in your church, i.e., that he or she is not a minister, elder, or deacon.  Note that I have a response to a similar question about an unordained person attending council meetings as the second Q&A attached to Article 35.

The short answer here is that everything depends on what "sitting in" means in your question.  If it means that he or she attended but just observed, did not participate and did not vote, there is no violation of Article 35 because, in principle, all meetings of council are open to the public.  The only exception is when the council must meet in executive session.  If "sitting in" actually meant that he or she participated in the discussion but did not vote, then there might still be no violation.  Councils are free to grant the "privilege of the floor" to unordained visitors, especially on issues that concern such visitors directly.  If it meant that he or she participated in all discussion on every issue, that would start to be a violation of a sort: it would be a matter of common courtesy to defer to the regular members of council on most issues except where you yourself are definitely involved.  You'd be exceeding the boundaries of just having the "privilege of the floor" for a reason.  If, finally, it meant that he or she voted on issues while not ordained, that would most definitely be a violation of Article 35.  The council, says the Belgic Confession, is made up of ministers, elders and deacons, not the unordained.

Hope that helps a bit.  Blessings in the EPMC program.


Hi Henry,

I am new to the CRC as of 7/2010 and an applicant to the EMPC program.  As a participant in David Koll's "Welcome to the CRC" week, I was encouraged to purchase and read your commentary.  So, I am half way through and finding it to be very helpful!  I appreciate your experience and clear writing style.  I have especially have benefitted from your responses to the questions at the end of each section.  Thank you for investing in this project and the Lord’s work here at Hope Community Church, Flagstaff.

Our previous pastor allowed the director of our preschool to sit in on the entirety of our council meetings on a regular basis.  Is this a violation of Article 35?



Thank you for the responce.   I would be most interested in any oposing views and the support for them if anyone has them.

After reading your responce another question comes to mind, would it be fair to say that bringing new members into the body is solely the job of the Council?  If so, would the Consistory be out of order if they were to require additional steps without Council approval?  For example, as a condition of membership the canidate must sign a form of some sort that they acknowledge the Consistorys (or other)  authority, or some other requirements? 

BTW, the order is in!  Looking forward to reading the book!

Thank you in advanced for any insight anyone can offer..




Looks like there's no "takers" so far.  So I'll respond and see if others want to join in on it.  Indeed, Article 4 provides that the council must provide the names of nominees and then the congregation chooses.  There are models other than election.  My commentary contains quite a number of them, but in all these models it is the council that nominates.  Council means: the minister(s), elders, and deacons combined.  This is confirmed in Art. 35a where approval of nominations is also said to be a part of the common administration of the church to be dealt with by the council.  Neither the consistory (minister and elders only) nor the diaconate has the right to "trump" the council's responsibility in any way.  So eligibility for office is also decided upon by the council (all local officebearers together).  So whether women are eligible in that local church or whether drinking alcohol is tolerated, etc. -- this is all up to the council.  The only thing some councils have done at times is to leave such an issue up to the congregation at a congregational meeting where adult confessing members vote.  They decide that eligibility issues like this is a "major matter" as Article 37 has it so they let the congregation decide it after they've recommended something like this.  Other councils have argued that this should not be decided "democratically" by the congregation (even though there may be an opportunity for members to express themselves on it) but by council that is ultimately responsible for the issue and this, says Article 37 also, is possible because the "authority for making and carrying out final decisions remains with the council as the governing body of the church."

Faith Alive Resources would appreciate it if you ran out and bought the commentary or your church decided to buy a copy for anybody to consult.  I don't make any $ on royalty, so this is strictly a matter of charity to your favorite publishing house!

Grace and peace,

The minutes of regular meetings should include:

  • Date and time of meeting
  • Who chaired the meeting and those present
  • All motions with names of mover and seconder
  • Summary of discussion - exact detail is usually not necessary
  • Outline of agenda
  • Any record of business for next meeting
  • Minutes should be approved as read and signed by the president and secretary


  • It is important for the secretary to distribute information to the proper committee or person
  • The secretary does not have to respond to all letters but should direct others to provide a copy of any correspondence written or sent on behalf of the agricultural society, for your records

Agenda preparation

  • The agenda can be presented at the first of the meeting or distributed prior to the meeting
  • The secretary should ensure that any tabled motions or discussion be listed under old business

Facility operating information

  • The secretary should maintain original copies of all legal documents such as land title documents, lease agreements, operating agreements and insurance policies
  • If there is cooperative agreement to operate a facility, all current details should be maintained
  • The operating grant application should be filed annually
  • The secretary should share some of the reading and writing responsibilities with other directors, which will make for a more enjoyable volunteer position

The secretary's position requires a high commitment of time and enthusiasm. In most cases, next to the president, the secretary represents the agricultural society to others.

Ideas on writing and recording minutes
Minutes - Meeting minutes are the only record of a committee, board or organization. They should be considered the history of the group. Without accurate records, the group will not have an official record of decisions, past actions, important dates, events and policies.

  • Minutes should be a reliable reference for the President and Committee Chair. They are essential for continuity and provide information for future committees and executives
  • Encourage all directors to submit written reports which can become part of the minutes
  • Minutes should be accurate and brief; a summary of outcomes

Motions - All motions should be noted and recorded

  • Discussion on the motion does not need to be recorded; the statement "Discussion followed the motion" is enough. If major discussion points are desired, this can be requested by the group. However, it is difficult for the secretary to interpret discussion in general, therefore, it is best left out
  • All motions should be recorded along with the names of the person moving it and the seconder, an underlined notation of either motion carried or motion defeated and the names of those who opposed the motion, if they so desire
  • Following the passing of a motion, the name(s) of the person(s) responsible for the takes or action should be recorded
  • For further references, motions referring to policy and procedure or committee terms of reference should be filed in those sections
  • Motions for By-Law changes should be attached to existing by-laws and the amended by-laws updated yearly

(This is procedure for Ag societies, but would apply quite well.   The only other issue for churches that likely needs elucidation is the issue of recording minutes for confidential issues.   This should be clarified with any new recorder/secretary/clerk when they begin in their first meeting.) 

Just a suggestion, Theresa....  break your comments into paragraphs.  A run-on paragraph is a bit hard to digest.  Lots of good ideas though.

Dragonese, It is definitely is a language to itself. Try talking to your wife after dictating a blog. They just can't understand male humor at times.

Hi Randy , try or goggle. There is a lot of good free info. Hope it helps


Hi, Ken, thanks for the reponse.

I want a good resource so that I, too, know what good minutes are supposed to look like and what are some good principles and tips for taking minutes, from some "governance geeks," as Theresa styles herself. Just because I know what not-so-great minutes look like doesn't mean I know how they should be done; I also want to educate myself. I also want something written down for successive clerks to be able to use as a resource. I have found some (rather limited) resources on the web, including Roberts Rules of Order, which is helpful. But the dragon stuff I don't think will help, because first of all I don't speak Dragonese (sorry, I was just reading How to Train Your Dragon with my kids for bedtime), and more seriously, because minutes are specifically not a blow-by-blow account of everything everyone said. As I found on the website FAQ:

Question 15
Isn't it necessary to summarize matters discussed at a meeting in the minutes of that meeting in order for the minutes to be complete?

Not only is it not necessary to summarize matters discussed at a meeting in the minutes of that meeting, it is improper to do so. Minutes are a record of what was done at a meeting, not a record of what was said. [RONR (10th ed.), p. 451, l. 25-28; see also p. 146 of RONR In Brief.] {RONR = Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised}

But that's probably not what you had in mind anyway. I'm probably better at typing than I am talking to a computer, so the Dragon software probably wouldn't be that helpful. I do have a writer friend who uses it. I'm going to keep looking and asking.

Randy, Why don't you take the minutes to show them how it should be done? Otherwise you could goggle for resources. They also make Dagonspeak dictation software which could be of use.  They also have minutes documents that are designed specifically for this. Hope that helps.



Theresa, you should write a book: Governance for Dummies. We need all the governance geekiness we can get. People don't understand just how crucial good process is! The refrain is: we should care about people, not the process or policy; but the fact is that having good policy and following good process are the best way to serve people, and ignoring those things ends up creating unnecessary confusion and non-constructive conflict.

Now, here is my real question for you:

Do you have any good resources I can use to help train elders to take minutes? We seem to either get minutes that are too vague to be of any use, or so overly detailed that they are inappropriate. What we need are minutes that are concise, professional, and to the point, recording motions and actions and actions yet to be done, by whom and by what time. Any resources you have would be appreciated! Many thanks.

We hold a two-session orientation to the Lord's Supper for any children who ask to join the congregation in celebrating communion.  We announce the sessions in the bulletin, the parents sign their kids up, we hold the two sessions on concurrent Sunday afternoons and we welcome them to the table the next time we have communion.  We ask them to answer the question, "I want to participate in the Lord's Supper because..." and then we put the answers on an insert which is in the bulletin on the day they are welcomed to the table.  Usually the sessions are made up of kids who are in Grade 4 and older since before that they are in Sunday School and don't experience communion very often.  Once they are in worship for the whole service and experience worship they start asking why they can't join in.  That's when the parents sign them up for the orientation.  We run the orientation at least once per year.  The first session focuses on the church as a family (how you join, what it means to belong, etc), and the second focuses on God's family at the table (where communion comes from, what it means, how it's done, etc.)  Enfolding our children into the life of the congregation this way has been a real blessing for us.

I read the first chapter of your book.   I think technically it was well-written.   However, I suspect your book simply explains and supports the status quo.   Which is okay I suppose for those who enjoy the status quo. 

Where I have problems with the church order are some of its inconsistencies, where it contradicts itself.    For example, it states all the offices are equal in importance and then proceeds to have about 20 articles or more on the office of "minister of the word", and one article shared between elders and deacons.   I get the impression sometimes that the church order is as much a professional document for maintaining the professionalism of "ministering" as it is for order in the church. 

Many of the ideas in the church order seem to be predicated on worldly hierarchies and institutions, rather than on a careful examination of scripture.   This is no less true today than when it was written, although the worldly priorities have changed and have thus affected the church order subsequently. 

The idea of distinguishing ministerial associates from ministers in terms of function, and the underlying impact on retirement, pension funds etc., distort the true roles and significance of pastoring, preaching, leading, teaching.  

The sometimes duplicity in the church order, where for example it identifies "ministers" as leading the sacraments, without any biblical or scriptural warrant for doing so, and yet technically the order does not mandate or forbid elders or deacons from leading these sacraments...., but the impression is left to the point that people think it is another rule. 

The unscriptural, or at least very contrived reasoning, that limits elders from presenting the blessing or benediction....

The regulation upon regulation, precept upon precept, that imposes a hierarchical requirement (rather than a suggestion or an opportunity) for congregations to require the blessing of classis for decisions that ought to be their's alone.   

There is more that could be said, but I find that I had more respect for the church order as a christian document before I studied it closely, than afterwards. 


On the matter of mutual censure at council meetings and the "mumbles" that people "have nothing," perhaps the following paragraph taken from my new Commentary on the Church Order (Article 36b) may be of assistance:

"There are ways in which councils could make mutual censure a more edifying experience. Councils could change the emphasis from scrutiny of the individual to communal self-examination.  Doctrine and life still have a bearing, but the focus is on the performance of official duties.  Councils could arrange for regularity of discussion but do away with the link to the Lord's Supper.  Mutual censure is more appropriate, say, after the reading of elders' and deacons' minutes and the pastor's report.  Councils could ask in what ways their fellow officebearers are meeting or not meeting the needs of the congregation.  They could use the time to adjust present goals and objectives, if necessary.  Councils could structure each occasion thematically.  They could focus on, say, evangelism, pastoral care, proclamation, benevolence, political awareness, church education, stewardship, or discipline, and discuss these matters in depth.  In preparing for a classis meeting or for the arrival of church visitors, councils could use the appropriate guides for these events to launch the discussion.  Councils could use this slot on the agenda to discuss needs of the congregation when a pastor leaves and a mandate for the search committee is to be drafted.  In any case, councils should never place the matter toward the end of a meeting.  They should take sufficient time for meaningful dialogue and focus on the positive as well as the negative."

I think you are right in theory - but I'm not so sure it works that well in practice.  Do people really feel comfortable saying something like: "Your comment really cut me..." in a large group setting?  Perhaps there are a few people who might, who are comfortable in speaking in larger groups, but I'm not sure that most of those attending a classis meeting really do.  I've been in council meetings where mutual censure is done and never has anything ever been brought up - mostly the elders and deacons look down at their hands or their agendas and mumble, "I have nothing."  It could be that they really have nothing but I have always wondered if the practice is really accomplishing what it is meant to.  I wonder if it might be easier for most people to say what they are feeling if they are asked, in a more informal setting, well crafted questions in an atmosphere of safety, where people are expected to listen to each other.  

Thanks, Todd.  You're very kind.  And I do love discussion on the contents, so thanks for the critique.

Yes, I'm sorry, I do realize that my commentary on council, consistory and diaconate contradicts the 2008 Manual, first paragraph on Article 52, and that's because that paragraph directly contravenes the Article itself.  This comment was not in any of the Manuals that preceded it.  It suggests that "consistory" is really just an antiquated reference to what we now call council.  But the truth is that Synod 1988 made deliberate decisions on what is "council's" and what is "consistory's" responsibilities so that "consistory" in Article 52 was intentionally chosen.  Note my comments on this development under Article 35.

It remains true, of course, (and perhaps that reduces your "trouble") that consistory and diaconate both report to the council and it is entirely possible and legitimate for a council to weigh in on an issue, including a worship issue, and overturn what the consistory has decided.  It also remains true that some churches have never truly "obeyed" the 1988 decisions and still do not operate with a "consistory" separate from the "council."

posted in: Public Thanks

Elizabeth , your comment is well taken.

At a Classis meeting there should be a time for evaluation of how good a job the assembly is doing- thus your comments perhaps of "What did you enjoy during the day?" Or "what do you plan on sharing..."

Be it as it may, CO Art. 43 in the pre-65 Church Order dealt with "morals of the community," or assembly.  It recognized that we often are not as perfect as the "image we assume to see in the mirror," and on occasion- really act imperfectly.

At Classis meetings, just like any other human gathering, there is potential for "bullying"- now there is a term everyone understands today. Or even "sarcastic humor" to drive home a point- heaven forbid that delegates would stoop to this level!  However, we are all human and live in a culture that puts a high value on "winning;" losing an argument or giving in to someone else's ideas may not be palatable.

The key to this practice is the word "mutual."  No one is driving home a point, or hammering on someone in particular, but anyone would be allowed to say within the rules: "You know, what you said really cut me to the quick because your assessment was wrong."

Articles in the current Church Order point to an action initiated by leadership, or officeholders within the Council. The forgotten CO article in the '65 revision (the foundation of today's CO) dealt with an assembly "together," not specifying who started the process- therefore allowing anyone to speak to the issue in an organized manner.

I think we have all experienced (either personally or through observation) the negative comment in the heat of discussion; or unfair phrase that perhaps swayed the outcome of a legitimate request.  Frankly, mutual censure would be an opportunity for Classis as an assembly to take a "time out;" an opportunity to begin a restorative journey- not necessarily the end result.

It also would perhaps be also bit preventative in nature by allowing the possibility of calling an unfair or harmful comment on to the floor for "censure." Perhaps even more importantly, not allowing something to fester on into a "Classis 19th hole" discussion, only to reoccur at subsequent meetings.

Even more importantly, it would allow the Classis leadership to look deeply into the hearts and minds of delegates who feel harmed or hurt- perhaps to begin devising a way to begin a process of restoration if needed.  Quick restoration perhaps would result from dialogue that puts everyone in context.  If not, then the issue would be laid bare- and open for appropriate action.

You know, a checklist item forces the majority to look over their shoulders at times to see if someone or a minority has been run over, and perhaps, with the proper amount of coaching- requires them to stop and be a Good Samaritan. 



I agree with Ken that the word "censure" has negative conotations and that really isn't a good way to go about ending a meeting now.  I do think feedback and assessment of a classis and synod is important and written feedback forms are not usually a good way to go about getting the feedback as most people do not fill them out (especially after a long day) and so the feedback is rather limited. 

I think a better way of getting this feedback would be to use small group settings where good questions are asked and everyone gets a chance to respond (perhaps by going around the circle) with someone facilitating and recording in each group.  Questions like: What did you enjoy about the day?  What was the most difficult part of the day for you?  What do you plan on sharing with your council and congregation when you report on this meeting?  If after the small groups meet perhaps there should be a few minutes for each group to share something that they talked about.  These types of questions and a chance to share will hopefully bring out any issues that need to be addressed and help those planning the next classis meetiing.

I do not think it would be particularly helpful for this to be made into a church order item - it then becomes one more thing to check off the list of things to do for the day.  Perhaps classes can try this out and then share how it went on the Classis Network site and so it becomes a "best practice" and others want to try it out too.  Sometimes for things to be most effective they need to come from a group and work its way through the organization rather than from the organization down to the groups.

This idea came to me with some reflecting on Restorative Practices - I'll be blogging on that later today on the Classis Network.  Take a look later today and reflect there too.

Maybe the wording should be brought up to date. Censure has negative connotations and reflects judgement from people not God. What we need to recognize is our disagreements that lead to malice or hate are a sin against God( I.E. Love your brother.). To settle disagreements that evolve to this point, should be settled with a act contrition  to God in  the form of prayer and reconciliation  between  each party for forgiveness.  So however we word or reword rules of the synod should be made very simple on the purpose for the article and encouraging  to the offending parties.

 I know you guys know this and that is what the Article 43 is  essentially  trying to accomplish. From the logical point of view, to be objective about your opinions you have to realize your never completely objective. So there is another reason to be forgiving and realistic about your opinions.

 This is common sense if you understand the Bible.

Thanks guys for listening to a rambling man. Hopefully you can decipher my point.


The idea that assemblies should conduct some form of mutual censure regarding the conduct of delegates at their meetings is indeed praiseworthy.  i commend "dutchoven" for raising it.  I would love to hear from a variety of folk how this could be accomplished on a regular basis.  So, by all means, let us hear your opinions.

I will now only address the factual question as to why this pre-1965 Art. 43 was dropped.  When the first draft of the proposed revised Church Order was presented in the denominational publications and in the Agenda of Synod, 1957, this article was omitted and these Agenda do not indicate why it was now omitted.  At least, I can't find it addressed there.

So "dutchoven" has answered the question well.  The only clue comes from Van Dellen and Monsma's commentary (note: it is the third edition of 1954 that has this, not their Revised Church Order Commentary of 1965): "We may note with gratitude that we have really outgrown the need of Article 43, at least as far as its first provision is concerned.  Yet the article does no harm in our Church Order ...."  This observation comes after they relate some narratives about the kinds of "atrocious behaviors" that occurred in this respect in the sixteenth century.

Frankly, I think officers of classis and officers of synod have a pretty good handle on the continued need for this when we occasionally still bend in that direction and often urge assemblies in closing exercises to find unity in the Lord and to encourage the same when they return to their home congregations.  But if there's a good way to reinstate this more formally, I doubt anyone would truly object.

So let's hear from you on the way we do our business at classis and synod and how we mutually keep each other accountable.

I just got my shiny new copy!

Got mine in the mail today!  Woo hoo!

I've got my order in ....


Come on....that was barely half a toot.

A full toot of the horn should really include a link so we can read the sample chapter and, of course, buy! Let me help you out:

This may not reach mass-market status with an interview by Oprah, distribution through Costco, and the rest. Not to shatter any dreams, of course.

But Christian Reformed pastors, elders, and entire congregations are in debt to you for putting this all down. And to Faith Alive for publishing it. Thank you.

Sorry.  That first sentence should say CRC Church Order COMMENTARY.  Newly writing a Church Order is not really my style!  Only a synod could do that.

Great point Kathy- none of this has yet been adopted by Synod.

One more note to this conversation....

Since the Faith Formation Committee's proposal has not yet been acted upon (it will go to Synod 2011), the current Church Order article 59b is in effect.  It says:


b. Confessing members who have reached the age of eighteen and who have made a commitment to the creeds of the Christian Reformed Church and the responsibilities of adult membership in the church shall be accordedthe full rights and privileges of such membership.



Thanks for the info and links

Your question raised a valid concern to me- the legality.  I did a little research and found this:

Section 436.1703, paragraph 11 of Michigan law states:

(11) The consumption by a minor of sacramental wine in connection with religious services at a church, synagogue, or temple is not prohibited by this act.

So, it would be perfectly legal under Michigan law.  

As for your question about the age of voting in church, the faith formation committee has this proposed change:

(Proposed Article 59c and supplement):

c. Confessing members receive all the

privileges and responsibilities of suchmembership. Privileges include but arenot limited to presentation of childrenfor infant baptism, the right to vote atcongregational meetings, and eligibilityto hold office. Responsibilities includefull participation in the work, life, andmutual discipline of the local congregationand the universal body of Christ.(supplement):Each congregation shall determine theappropriate age at which a confessingmember shall receive such privileges andresponsibilities.  I hope this helps!  The full report can be found here:

Thank you all for your comments, our church will have a meeting about this issue in a few weeks, it is a difficult thing, or is it? Just a small thing that popped into my mind, we are drinking wine (well, we use grape juice to avoid problems if a recovering alcoholic should be with us), are we breaking the law of the land if a young child drinks it, even the little bit we use? Another point, when one does profession they are full members of the church and allowed to vote, we sailed around that one by stipulating that the child was not able to vote until age 16, is this something that should be addressed?

Amen, Glory be to God

[quote=Jan Klaassen]Taking part of the Lord's Supper is a confession "the bread that we break is a communion of the body of Christ.Take,eat,remember and believe that the body of our Lord Jesus Christ was given for a complete remission of all our sins." see also "the cup of thanksgiving......" Also:Cathechism:" ---that I,with body and soul,both in life and death,am not my own,but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ,who with his precious blood------" This is confessing;can this be seperated from :"Confession of Faith"? At what age can we really, totally,deep in us, comprehend this and take this on as our personal acceptance?[/quote]


I see I didn't really address this on Jan, although Ken did.  To that point, I agree that children can just as readily confess this point- do we need a "deeper" understanding of these issues to make the confession "real"?  I used to be of the mindset that a young person couldn't really make profession of faith, since they hadn't been "tried" or really "tested" in life yet.  I thought it should wait until later- once they have matured.  However, later it struck me that there are many older confessing believers out there that have not really been "tested", and even if, what constitutes that point?  After all, it's not an age issue, but really a spiritual maturity issue.  In that case, the discussion should be about what constitutes spiritual maturity?  I found myself at a loss there- the Bible tells us that confessing Jesus as our Lord and Savior is what it takes- and to me that makes sense- and can be done at nearly any age- and sometimes, as Ken pointed out, the simplest, most real confessions can come from those children.

Sorry for the mistakes I  haven't figured out spell check on this site. Poor mind to hand cordination(it's pretty funny sometimes) My family gives a hard time on this(I deserve it because I dish out my share of pranks on them)

Thanks Clay,

You are better at this than I am, it took illness to humble me so I could look and listen to that "hunch" . I found the Lord convicting me in those spaces. A good kind of conviction that allows you to see more of God's kindom right around us at every moment. You blessed me today

I've been gone for a long time, but I'm back.  Ken, I think you nailed it- many of these things are *our* concepts, not those of our Savior.  I really like some of the reasoning in the new report.  Christianity is not a complex thing- at its heart it is very basic- and I *do* think a child can grasp it.

I would have no problem with a 5 year old participating as long as they understand what we are doing.  Through baptism they are members.

Thanks Henry, that was very helpful. We do mess things up pretty easily.

No problem, Ken.  This clarifies what you're after well enough.  My immediate response to you would be to say that in I Corinthians 11:17-34 Paul gives the early church specific instructions to celebrate the supper in remembrance of Jesus' sacrifice and as a proclamation of his life-giving death.  This is being done already, in the early church throughout Palestine and Asia Minor, and also in Corinth, and this same Scripture passage makes it very clear that early Christians were already "abusing" the sacrament, eating and drinking, as Paul says, "in an unworthy manner."  So the need for some rules is evident there already.  Paul's rule is: examine yourself before you eat and drink.  Exercise some self-discipline.  And know who you are as a church: one united body of Christ in which there should be no divisions.  There are other such passages in the New Testament.

And then comes the "history lesson" in the years beyond the times of the Bible being written.  This lesson comes in many forms of how people misused the celebration of the Supper that was soon recognized as an official sacrament, one of the two prescribed by Jesus himself (the other, of course, being baptism in his name).  Church officials were to supervise the celebration in public worship.  Sometimes they didn't do this and things got out of hand.  At other times they did, but did it wrongly, so that the plain truth of the sacrament as an assurance of our salvation was not being experienced any longer.

That's why the Reformers spent much time with the sacrament.  You could read in our Belgic Confession of Faith and in the Heidelberg Catechism the sections on the sacrament, and you would soon see how the sixteenth-century Reformation sought to restore the sacrament to its rightful place in the worship of the church.  What these Reformers tried to accomplish in this way was also incorporated in the rules for worship: what we now call the Church Order.  Since then, we have from time to time added some rules, subtracted some rules, revised some rules, but always and only to keep the church celebrating the Lord's Supper with dignity and in true biblical fashion.

Like you, I think from what you have written, I sometimes wish that we could start it all over again, reset history, as it were, but that is futile.  We need now always to examine what Christians are doing and whether their practices are in keeping with the Scriptures.  That's the point of our rules: an ongoing Reformation, if you will.

Sorry Henry, I'm pretty messed up with MS and makes my thoughts disjointed and spelling ,sentence structure even worse. That being said , I agree it doesn't make sense. What I trying find out is how the Lords Supper became our communion sacrament and how the rules governing how its performed were established. The reasoning of where we are today with this sacrament.  Thanks for response and the understanding.

Hi Ken,

Thanks for your comment.  I appreciate it when folks chime in.  I need you to explain what you write just a bit more.  You seem to indicate that you would want the Lord's Supper to be "more open" than what I have advocated in this thread but then you give the example of Jesus celebrating the Passover with his disciples "in a closed room," as you put it.  I'm having difficulty understanding what you mean.  Are you saying that Jesus actually had an "open door policy" that night before his crucifixion or do you really mean a "closed room"?  I am not arguing -- just wanting to make sure what you're suggesting here.

We, of course, need also to consider over 2000 years of history.  How the Western Church eventually "corrupted the celebration and practices of the Lord's Supper" so that Reformers had to get back to biblical practices not polluted with idolatry of any kind.  But I'm certainly curious as to exactly what you mean.  Perhaps you'd be willing to write just a bit more to help us understand.


I know alot of young people who have a better grasp of what being a Chrstian means than alot of the adults in our church. Why do we seek more laws when Jesus simplified and fullfilled them? Why do we feel the need to be gatekeepers of what we consider true faith and understanding? God chose David to slay the giant as adults cowardly complained and doudted. Public declaration of faith can happen at many ages according to His will. I think we need a case by case examination of younger people more than a church law. I do agree that to participate in communion should be treated as sacred when being performed accorrding to Scriptures.