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This is a public forum to share ideas, ask questions, and reflect on being a pastor in the CRC.
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The book "Studying Congregations:A New Handbook" by Nancy Ammerman may be helpful to you, especially the chapter by Robert Schreiter that speaks about surfacing the "implicit theology" of a congregation. My first thought is that this is the kind of question that lends itself to a qualitative method, not a quantitative "check this box" type. "Ethnography as a Pastoral Practice" by Mary Clark Moschella may also be helpful.
Thanks for the suggestion. We've made the change.
To those who run the network. I would have liked to have this posted under the topic of "Transitional Ministry" or, fitting what we call it in the CRC, "Specialized Transitional Ministry." If that can be done then my intent will have been fully achieved.
August, thanks for your comment.
I agree with you that "a Christian Reformed Church Building is just that - a building which needs resources for the upkeep. Since the local congregation is in charge of the building they can set rules - who to share the building with and how much to charge." I agree that congregations are under no obligation to do otherwise except, I would add, the obligation by which all Christian congregations live: to love God and neighbor as they have been loved. I agree that there are no arbitrary rules by which a church must act except, I would add, the commandment to love God and neighbor as guided by the Word and Spirit.
I regret that you received the impression that I was suggesting a mandate to guide all congregations renting space to other congregations. The relationship between two congregations which prompted my first post was not meant to provide an example of a relationship guided by rules. Rather, just the opposite. It was provided as an alternative to the typical rule-guided relationships between congregations which own property and those to whom they rent their property.
A Christian Reformed Church Building is just that - a building which needs resources for the upkeep. Since the local congregation is in charge of the building they can set rules - who to share the building with and how much to charge.
The "Kingdom of God" encompasses the whole universe and is not limited to a wood and stone structure that is used to worship GOD by a very small group of people.
It is so "unreformed" in my way of thinking to force a structure made by man to some arbitrary rules that are labeled "God's rules". Its the type of thinking that seems to justify paying a very small wage to people working for a church.
That a church MUST share their resources for no charge because they are Christian, while businesses owned by Christians are allowed to charge in order to earn a profit because the businesses are not part of God's Kingdom comes from some Kingdom model that is totally foreign to Reformed way of thinking.
The whole notion of "landlord-tenant" is inappropriate with regard to church facilities. The facilities are not like someone's house or factory or some other real-estate. The facilities belong to the kingdom and the council is to exercise stewardship over those assets. Rent money doesn't become available to the kingdom once it has been collected by the 'landlord'. The money in all our pockets belongs to the lord...if the members of the other congregation use those same 'rent' dollars on other kingdom-expanding causes...the kingdom does advance. I fail to see the stewardship problem in this arrangement.
Interesting topic, thanks Sam. Good food for thought. I believe our church 'rents' space to AA where they hold their meetings in our basement while one day per week we let local homeschoolers hold their music lessons in our sanctuary. Not sure if the home schooling group pays us or not. Where would one draw some kind of line involving who pays and who doesn't? It could be argued that AA does as much to 'advance the kingdom' as some churches while the home schoolers are all predominately from Christian families.
My question relates to our understanding of kingdom, stewardship and space. I simply wonder if Christ affirms of one congregation renting space to another. My concern is that instead of wrestling with that issue we begin with the assumption that the landlord-tenant relationship is the way to go unless we can be shown otherwise. I would love it if we began with the assumption that we share space as partners in ministry. Then see what comes out of such a conversation.
As far as multiple congregations in the same area, I am sure you would agree that it is not always possible for every for every Christian in one geographic area to worship in one space at one time. We would have too many people speaking too many different languages. We will have to wait for heaven to enjoy that privilege.
Still, I grant that in some settings the possibility for organizational unity exists but is not pursued - and that practice should be challenged.
Even sharing the copier? Wow!
I thought I would share this up-date. The folks sharing kingdom space with us are growing rapidly. They started worshipping in our upper room auditorium. They rapidly out-grew that space and moved downstairs to our fellowship room. For a number of weeks now this group has seen 'standing room' crowds and asked to use the sanctuary. The photos from Sunday morning show an almost full house. We couldn't be happier for these dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Their youth group is thriving as is their couples club. God is obviously blessing this group and we rejoice accordingly.
What does the statement mean: "What does Christ think of such an arrangement?"
Certainly the fact that there are two different congregations in the same geographic area must be challenged!
We were supposed to be 'one' to convince the World about the Way!
How many have we become?
My church doesn't list all the staff salaries including the pastor on the budget sheet but if someone wants a breakdown of the salaries, they are welcome to request more information from the leadership. This gives leadership an opportunity to address and educate the inquiring person on the process of review prior to setting compensation and benefits.
It must be a "Central Valley thing." I understand that Visalia CRC has been doing the same thing? They even share the church copier....how stewardly is that?
Our church adopted this policy many years ago. As one of the employees of the church, it was an extremely uncomfortable matter that everyone in the church knew what my salary was. It came to a head at one congregational meeting when someone stood up and offered to do the job for a lower amount. Now only Council members, the Personnel Committee, and the Salary committee, know what each person is paid. I think most church employees are acutely aware that their salaries are paid for by member contributions, and therefore work very hard to earn both the dollar value and respect of those on whose behalf they carry out their particular roles of kingdom service. As far as I can determine there is no added benefit to congregational members knowing the individual amounts of staff salaries.
Lambert, thank you for the details regarding your practice of sharing space with another Christian congregation. I hope and pray the relationship continues to be blessed.
What exactly are the 'biblical stewardship' and civil - legislative issues being alluded to in this post? If a local congregation of Jesus Christ decides it wants to share facilities with other brothers and sisters in Christ, is it not free to do so? By the way, how many local congregations in the CRC are bound by the Safe Church guidelines? What exactly is the legally binding relationship between local congregations and the CRCNA in Michigan?
Our relationship with this group of folk is simply our strategy to advance the cause of Christ for the Spanish population in Kings County. Our insurance underwriter is fine with these arrangements. We have enjoyed 4 years of mutual joy and encouragement in advancing the cause of Christ here in Hanford and look forward many more years together as faithful stewards of the resources entrusted to our care.
As I've indicated in previous posts, I can understand the desire to further Kingdom work.
What I don't understand is the avoidance to engage in the notion that these congregations operate within civil and legislation frameworks as two distinct corporate entities.
Framing the matter as purely a monetary / power imbalance ignores both the biblical stewardship relationship between the parties, as well as the civil / legal issues that arise when two parties jointly agree to share in the use of a facility. What Hanford CRC has offered the other church meeting in it's space may "feel good" but may also be problematic in the eyes of the civil authorities, as well as, other parties such as insurance companies, e.g. what binds the other church to abide by CRCNA Safe Church policy.
The article above does not provide a lot of detail on the Hanford CRC relationship, however, the Brian Tebben example is more helpful and moves in the right direction. Harry Boessenkool also alludes to the complexity of legal constraints that exist in Canada, and probably also the United States, on providing services and facilities on the same equity terms to both church members and non-church members.
Not sure I was influenced by the philosopher Foucault. Maybe his writings have seeped into my psyche through someone else since I haven't read him. I will have to check into that.
I do see a recurring thread, however, in some of the comments thus far: an assumption that a church charging another church or ministry rent for the use of space is normative and, hence, exceptions to that norm unusual.
If that be the case, I want to lift up the Hanford (CA) CRC as a model worthy of emulation. By treating the ministry of another congregation on their campus in the same fashion they treat ministries like GEMS, Cadets, and Coffee Break, they provide an admirable model for other congregations. Wouldn't you agree?
Thanks Len, for your enthusiastic support of the weekly celebration of the Lord's Supper.
Of course, in our survey we did not take a particular position on frequency but we did ask the question. Of the Protestant congregations surveyed 20% celebrate the Lord's Supper each week, 67% once a month, 10% less than once per month, and 3% two to three times a month.
I don't know if those stats confirm your assertion of a movement of including the Lord's Supper every week.Perhaps there are other surveys to which we may compare this data?
My reaction to the survey is a resounding "duh." Since reformation churches have been experiencing the "centrality of the sermon" for centuries, it's no wonder that the people on the pew think it's the main event.
The real issue is what we left behind in this historical evolution. What we left behind is the dual foci of word and sacrament that goes all the way back to the New Testament and early church (and was advocated by Calvin himself).
Today there is a remarkable movement across the board, from Reformed to Pentecostal, of balancing the Word with the Eucharist every Lord's Day. For example, check out the number of CRC and RCA church plants that have instituted weekly Eucharist from the start. If you attend a church that has rediscovered this ancient practice, you will realize that the sermon is enriched, embodied, and affirmed when the congregation gathers at the table to receive Christ in the bread and wine.
As Dutch theologian Von Alman put it: ending the service without the Supper is like ending a sentence with a colon rather than a period. Something important and climactic is missing.
There is a Foucaultian post-modern tendency to view relationships with suspicion when it comes to the matter of power.
Though I can understand that "power" might be an issue, nonetheless a landlord / tenant relationship is usually premised on a contractual relationship with obligations and responsibilities similar to the concept of a covenantal relationship. Secondly, that contractual relationship is regulated by legislation and civil authorities where recourse for remedies can be pursued even though it may not always work effectively.
Moreover, quite apart from the state ensuring that the interests of the respective parties being protected there are also other matters which need to be addressed that are raised by Harry Bossenkool and Brian Tebben.
There is another facet of the landlord-tenant relationship and that is power. Doesn't it seem that the one receiving money (landlord) is in a position of power over the one handing over money? And how do we harmonize that position of power with our unity in Christ?
This is an interesting discussion. Let's assume the renter is a new emerging CRC or church plant (the initial article did not specify a CRC just a "Christian church" and that can be a pretty loose definition!) The rent could be put in a special fund to pay for a new facility at a new location once the emerging or church plant grows. If the church is not affiliated with the CRC a formal rental agreement would still be needed to cover off all the legal issues (and there are many nowadays). The rent fee can often be only a minor part of a lease agreement.
Many churches offer other services in their facilities. How do we define when rent should be charged? Are all funeral services to be free no matter who asks, or marriages if the couple is simply looking for a place with a nice organ or other unique feature? The legal issues regarding the latter are already pretty involved.
Maybe we need a discussion on how a church can protect itself from the use of their building by (unacceptable - however defined) third parties.
I think this article addresses something important but then mischarecterizes churches who 'rent" space to sister congregations. Should a church only be in a Landlord-tenant relationship with another church in which the only thing that happens between them is a writing and cashing of a rental check? No, that would not be a good situation and as Christians we are called to more than that. But does that mean that the only other true "Christian" option is to let another congregation "share" the building without anything being given by them? Our church shares our building with an immigrant African congregation. We do not call it a rental situation. We know that our facilities are from God and we are happy to share them with another congregation. We do have a contract with them about usage and about rental fees. But we also worship together at times, have our councils meet together for times of prayer ,and we hold Vacation bible school together. We see them as our brothers and sisters .And they are happy to contribute to keeping the buildings maintained and the utilities on. We share the buildings so we share some of the costs. I think situations like ours are a bit more complex and probably much more common that the article lets on.
Though I can understand Hamstra and Sikkema's point about furthering the kingdom, I feel they have both missed the point on "stewardship" by focusing purely on the monetary aspect of the transaction. Both congregations in the relationship are involved in tilling the fields of the Lord and contributing to the upkeep of his flock. The landlord church may or may not need the rent, nontheless the hope would be that whatever is collected would go to furthering the Kingdom. Secondly, the tenant church may or may not be able to pay rent, nonetheless we are called to give of our gifts to further the the Kingdom. Should the landlord church decide to forgo the rent to further the Kingdom, that is also a gift.
Once again a very useful suggestion. We need to be careful to encourage pastors to do continuing education, while at the same time not be strapped financially to do so. The costs, as you indicate so gently, should not be part of the taxable compensation package. Accountability will encourage both pastor and those in the congregation responsible. Thanks for your good encouragement.
This sounds like an interesting course! I'll be interested in reading what you share.
In response to Larry: I don't think rehearsing and remembering the story or the cross is exactly a way to live in the thrall of the devil or to do an end-run on the victory of Easter. What do we do each time we come to the Lord's Table but remember: "This is my body . . . my blood." We do remember the cross--we never put it behind us. It is the locus of our salvation that leads us with gratitude to Easter and beyond. And anyway, I don't think the rhythms of the Christian Year per se keep us down or away from Easter. In fact, if you want to see something that really whallops one with a sense of sin and penitence, few things do this as well as the very serious Preparatory Form for the Lord's Supper that the CRCNA traditionally used the week before the sacrament. Just sayin' . . .
I wonder how often Jesus and his disciples shared laughs together. I wonder whether Jesus' sense of humor was more slapstick, or droll, or punny, or ??? I wonder whether they teased each other. If they did, I expect Peter gave and took more of it than anyone: "Hey, Peter, think you can walk all way way across this puddle without sinking?"
Yes Scott I can identify. I grew up in the CRC of the 1950's and 60's in Leota MN. I never heard about the liturgical year until way after Seminary. I had a hard time accepting it mainly becasue I did not think it proper to relive the history of redemption in our personal lives. "It is finished" seemed to me to mean enough with the sin problem. The cross is behind us. I still have trouble with this business of repeating the story of redemption to be honest. Why can we not live in the power of the resurrection every Sunday and every day? Is this not a waste of time? A tyrranical hold of the evil one to keep us in the defeat of our sin rather than in the once for all victory of our Lord? Is this not pretending that we live in Romans 7 and have not yet moved on to Romans 8? I do not think our Pentecostal brothers and sisters practice this, I doubt whether more conservative Reformation churches do such as the Protestant Reformed, URC, or even PCA? Also Advent has been turned into a mini-lenten season. Sometimes I long for the good ole Leota days when we liturically sinned with a passion.
Thank you for this article. I also grew up in a non-liturgical ("free") church tradition, which I appreciate. But in recent years, I've been wanting more--more beauty, more ritual, more depth. And like you, I'm finding it in the pattern and practices of the Christian year. The ongoing challenge I have is how to engage my people in these practices. I'm doing it slowly, trusting that, as James K. A. Smith teaches, they will form us all into more devoted students of Christ.
Have a blessed Lenten journey!
If we truly believe that Jesus lives in us by his Holy Spirit, we don't need such annual, ritual reminders of Calvary's cross derived from Roman Catholicism. If we need such a reminder, no amount of organized Lenten activities will make a difference.
Thank you for your summary of this book. Some CRC pastors are implementing the seven dynamics of being led by Holy Spirit. They are also facilitating the training.
There is a one day overview, of the 4 day workshop, in Guelph on March 22/14. I am asking a number of people from our church to attend. As one pastor said, "this must be a grassroots initiative and the leadership must be fully invested".
John A. Algera, in his book, "Signs & Wonders - page 97", states, "In reformed circles, an underemphasis on the work and power of Holy Spirit has tradionally existed, along with a fear of any manifestationof Holy Spirit that cannot be controlled or predicted".
As if we could control God.
Thanks for reminding me to work on the book I am writing regarding my mom and dad's story.
Finding acceptance in a local body can lead a person to Christ. It may take a while, but everyone desires acceptance and what better place than a body of believers who truly love God. Some people have never felt accepted whether inside or outside the church. So, therefore, they have trouble feeling accepted anywhere. Those that we don't like, love them anyway. Those who are quiet and shy, shake their hand and say "Hi" everytime the church doors are open and you see them in the grocery store, etc, even if we think they are wierd. This is where Godly discernment is needed. Love is the greatest gift.
Jim, how good to hear from you again. I remember when we often talked before or after worship in our University days before I used the commoon lectionary in preaching. This is what I learned since then.
In 1983, 26 years after ordination, I was allowed a six-month sabbatical for study and writing. Three months were spent at Princeton Seminaray. For the final 15 years of my ministry I preached from the lectionary in the morning service and mostly taught from the Confessions in the evening.
I experienced freedom and discipline in a new way. Each week I started with the four texts given by the ecumenical church instead of my choices of the "right texts." That plunged me into the discipline of preparing to preach from less than familiar texts than I would have chosen. I also learned the discipline of taking "contemporary situations" or congregational tragedies and setting them in the context of the text(s) for the day to listen for the Word. And, knowing my own limitations and the "light" that a given text yields. I also learned when and how to "punt," meaning, when to depart from the lectionary as a servant for the day.
I also enjoyed hearing a parishioner who, having missed worship in our church on a Sunday, report that "We heard a sermon in Georgia on Sunday from your lectionary text."
Thanks, Jim. How abouat lunch on High Street Again?
There are benefits to lectionary preaching. However, I find lectionary preaching insufficient if we truly want to preach the whole Bible to all of God's People. The lectionary leaves out significant and important chunks of Scripture (notice how few passages there are from Revelation) and its pericope divisions don't always make sense. Furthermore, follwing the church seasons/calendar makes much more sense in a rural setting than in most urban settings. For a banker or a single mom there isn't much difference between December 18, March 18 or October 18. The rhythms of the lectionary are beautiful for people who relate to them, but it was written for a different time and place.
Since we must preach a text in its context, following the lectionary is additionally hard because it necessitates significantly more background study week after week.
My practice that has worked very well is to follow John Stott's pattern in "Between Two Worlds." Preach through a book of the Bible. Alternate between an Old Testament book and a New Testament Book. Then on the last Sunday of each month take a break and preach from God's word about a contemporary issue. It's amazing how many life issues are addressed in the pages of scripture when we simply let the Bible speak to us as it was written.
Duane, I fully agree with you that most parishioners don't believe their pastors understand their concerns. That doesn't mean however, the author of scripture doesn't understand their concerns. Our challenging task is to understand the text in its context and help our audiences grasp that while we as preachers may not understand - God understands. I love the illustration from Haddon Robinson who related the following story. His son was just ordained as a pastor. He said to his son. "What does a young guy like you have to say to an old guy like me that I don't already know." His son responded, "Nothing dad. I don't have anything to say to you - but Scripture does, that's why I preach from the Text." AMEN!
Yes, I see. The data you cite is heart breaking. It make a giant leap in my mind to the question of why the increasing numbers of article 17s.... could it be that the loving relationship between pastor and flock gets weakened by preaching that seems disconnected, and then flaws take center stage and resentment follows....
It certainly can. I just think we overestimate how much our preaching connects with people's lives. I thought it was interesting that the post begins with her cry of the heart and then all of a sudden we're talking about lectionary instead of what she might have to teach us about preaching that engages (or doesn't engage) people where they are. I have no strong opinions about lectionary. I have very strong opinions that we need to listen to that 40 year old mom a lot more. I can't put my finger on the data right now, but there has been plenty of survey data over the years to support the assertion that most people do not believe their preacher really understands their life. That's my concern.
DK, I want to think that competent preaching using the lectionaries would in fact speak to the 40 year old mom's heart. Would you agree?
I'd rather talk about the 40 year old mom's cry of the heart.
Good points all, Jim and Todd. Thanks for a thoughtful discussion!
I appreciate the post. While I have not followed the lectionary through an entire liturgical year, I have found it particularly helpful during the seasons of Advent and Lent. The collection of texts: OT, Psalm, Gospel, and Epistle follows the moves weaves together the texts that lead us from God's promise to the Incarnation, from ministry in Galillee to the empty tomb on Resurrection Sunday.
What I have particularly appreciated about the lectionary is that it is a faithful guide to lead preacher and congregation through the major themes of God's salvation plan.
I point the finger at myself as I share that the lectionary also keeps me from what I perceive to be the tempation of putting together the gimmick sermon series all done with the intent of keeping things "fresh." As one parishoner shared with me during this past Christmas season, "Sometimes we forget, but it is is the 'old, old story' that we need to hear. Everything else is tinsel and ornaments. It's nice for a while, but after a few weeks, we put it back in a box and forget about it for another year."
While I am glad that I am not bound to the lectionary as some other religious traditions might be, I am thankful that I have the lectionary as a resource to enrich my preaching.
I do not know where to start. Most of what you say is beyond dispute. Thanks for such a well thought out response. However I do not know who are what you are speaking of when you refer to the "gospel according to today's evangelism." Is this a reference to ministers in the CRC, perhaps a specific group of CRC pastors? I do know that the greek (euangelizo) from which we get the word evangelism is used nearly synomously with the greek word for preach (parakaleo) I know that the angel "evangelized" the shepherds (Luke 2:10), that Jesus proclaimed the evangel ( Mk1: 15) and Paul was not ashamed of the evangel and was eager to evangelize (preach) to the people in Rome. This leads me to think that we could call all our preachers evangelists and that our task is to evangelize the world. I have a very high regard for evangelism as well as preaching because they are one and the same. But the audiences change. Not the gospel. Paul makes this clear in 1 Corinthians 9: 19-23. It seems then that the preacher must adapt his message for the benefit of his audience so that "by all means we/I might save some."
Let me rephrase the question. If evangelism is the essence and/or the primary function of the church, why did Paul not appoint evangelism committees instead of consistories? Evangelism as popularly understood deals with only opening the door to Christ. To make that the primary task of the church is like saying that the primary task of marriage is conceiving children. The actual conception, the joining of sperm and egg takes only a very few seconds: then follows 9 months of gestation and 20 years of parenting. Apparently the primary task of the church is door keeping.
As far as the gospels and Acts being filled with evangelism, that fact is that the great majority of the preaching of Jesus was to the Old Testament Church, to both the faithful and the fallen. The same is true in the first part of Acts. Jesus preached in synagogues and Paul, immediately after his conversion began preaching in synagogues.
In the great commission Jesus sent old covenant believers, now new covenant believers into the world to make, not converts, but disciples. He sent Israel into the world to gather the nations into Israel. But they were first sent to Jerusalem, then to Judea and Samaria, and finally to the ends of the earth. Transitioning from unbelief to faith usually doesn’t take long. Making disciples takes a lifetime: thus consistories instead of evangelism committees.
There really are not two E’s, one for joining Christ and the other for living in him. There is the common perception that the “gospel” is for the unchurched and a different message is for the church. This suggests that there is one gospel for being joined to Christ and another gospel for remaining in Christ: one gospel for baptism and a second gospel for the Lord’s Supper.
Paul knew only one “evangel”, one gospel. His primary task was not converting people and changing their lives, but rather preaching Christ. “We preach not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord. “ Paul’s commission was to “bear the name of Christ to the nations. Whether he was in the synagogue, the town square or the newly formed churches – he had only one message – Christ. I am determined to know nothing amongst you except (the bodily risen) Christ and him crucified. The one GOSPEL is God’s power to give the gift of faith and to maintain the life of faith. Note also that Paul spent a great deal of is time and energy building up the churches.
Furthermore, the “gospel” of today’s evangelism is not gospel at all. The witnessing today takes basically two forms. The first is “God love you and has a wonderful plan for your life” and the second is “I want to tell the world that I am a Christian”. The first concentrates on the person needing change and the second on the person trying to effect change.
The first is not biblically accurate – think of those drowned in the flood or the Red Sea. The risen Lord’s plan for Paul was to experience a great deal of suffering and Paul later says that all who would life godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution ( II Tim 3:12). How many apostles were martyred? The second is essentially talking about yourself and your marvelous spiritual experiences: in doing so the believer replaces Christ with himself. This is forbidden by the first and second commandments.
Furthermore, these are exactly the two methods used in modern advertising. Buy our product and your life will be changed. Drink our beer or use our cosmetics and you will enjoy the good life. The second is the personal testimony – I have used this product and it has changed my life – and it could change yours also.
Our life of faith cannot even begin to approach the sinless perfection and flawless faith and obedience of the Lord Jesus. The gospel is always about the risen Christ once crucified and his personal redemptive experiences. His life of faith and obedience has reconciled us to the Father and continues to sustain and nurture us. This is the heart of the one gospel. Paul had one passion – I want to know Christ, the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings. He had one goal in life – make this Christ known. The apostles didn’t talk much about themselves – they had a great deal to say about Christ and for good reason.
To split the church’s task into two, I would suggest, seriously distorts the biblical message. We need to return to the singularity of the biblical gospel and learn to share Paul’s passion for Christ.
Thanks so much for your responses and sharing how this issue applies within the Canadian context. The web link to CRA guidelines is most helpful. It is nice to see there is some common logic shared by both Canada and USA tax authorities as it pertains to the criteria for classifying paid staff between employees and independent contractors. The US Internal Revenue Service also offers the option to solicit a determination by filing form SS-8. The US government web link to this form is http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fss8.pdf . However, the USA Internal Revenue Service makes no promises for providing a timely determination.
The post has been edited to add US! Thanks for Canadian info. If individuals would like to post blogs pertinent to Canada, let me know!
In Canadian tax law, the same issue exists, and in this case you cannot determine yourself whether you are classified as an employee or self-employed; it is determined by CRA, the Canada Revenue Agency, according to similar rules that the US IRS uses. The Canadian publicationon this is RC4110, available at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/E/pub/tg/rc4110/.
Thanks for this.
Every January our church takes a break from regular adult Sunday school classes and we meet all together and hear people share testimonies. Two or three people are selected to share each week - they know ahead of time so can prepare. Some share how they first came to faith, some share a more recent experience of how God has met them in various life circumstances. The stories have been inspirational over the years and I look forward to every January to see how God is working among us. An added benefit is connecting with people that I might not otherwise, and getting to know them, even a little bit, on a different level. I had the privilege of sharing a few years ago - my story of meeting Christ at a Young Life camp when I was in high school and having the trajectory of my life completely changed. A few weeks ago my husband shared his very different story of growing up in a Christian home, going to church, and to Christian schools - and yet something in his mid-50s led him to seek a renewed relationship with the Lord. It was a beautiful testimony. And my husband was affirmed as people came up afterward to talk with him about how they could relate to his story and benefitted from hearing it. God is glorfied as we share how He meets us, even and maybe especially in our own failure and weakness. It takes a willingness to be vulnerable, to be honest, and to take a risk. And I believe the Lord will honor that.