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Many churches rely on paid staff to manage various aspects of ministry, from performing music during worship services to administering outreach programs. Are these paid staff church employees or independent contractors? 

February 3, 2014 0 7 comments
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A ruling in U.S. federal district court this week may impact most ministers serving in the United States who live in their own homes.

December 2, 2013 0 0 comments
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What will be the pension for each if these Pastors when they turn 67 in five years?

October 11, 2013 0 8 comments
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With this calculator, you may estimate impact based on income, family size, and other factors. Remember, you are not eligible for this insurance if you are eligible for insurance from your employer.

October 8, 2013 0 0 comments
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Today is a big day in the US for health insurance change. Open enrollment for health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace begins Oct. 1 for coverage starting as early as January 1, 2014.

October 1, 2013 0 5 comments
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Your church has decided to hire a part-time Worship Coordinator. The search team thinks this should be a half-time salaried position. However, an accountant at the church talks to one of the team members and questions whether a part-time Worship Coordinator can be a salaried position. What do you think?

August 19, 2013 0 0 comments
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As part of the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, new health insurance marketplaces are being created where anyone can purchase coverage for themselves and their families. 

June 17, 2013 0 7 comments
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Two overtures are coming to Synod next week regarding the current pension system of the denomination.

June 6, 2013 0 8 comments
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Every day we make decisions that draw us near to God or move us away from him. How do we ensure that the choices we may with our finances are ones that honour God and help us to become more like him?

March 19, 2013 0 1 comments
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Today the church is just one of many charitable organizations. With so many specialized charities and dying congregations, is giving to the church really the best option?

March 5, 2013 0 1 comments
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Most of us have debt. Student Loans. Car Loans. Mortgages. Credit cards. Lines of Credit. With all these regular payments our income is quickly depleted.  Giving is not a priority. But should it be?

February 19, 2013 0 2 comments
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When it comes to financial stewardship many of us would like to have a clear answer to the question: "How much should I give?"

February 12, 2013 0 6 comments
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Financial stewardship is a topic we don't touch on frequently in the church, yet we deal with money daily! This week we're starting our journey into the questions related to tithing, giving and money in general.

February 5, 2013 0 8 comments
Q&A

Using Turbo Tax, my housing allowance is placed on line 53 (form 1040) as a tax credit. A year ago, a tax preparer put it on line 21 as negative income (less $xxxx). Which is correct?

March 31, 2012 0 5 comments
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Google has lifted the ban on churches meaning you can now connect your church to great tools Google has to offer.  Here are some reasons why you might consider moving your church to Google.

March 14, 2012 0 7 comments
Resource, Book or eBook

A couple weeks ago a church called and asked for information on what annual filings are required by churches.  In response to that, I referred the church to a great resource from the IRS, "Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations." 

March 5, 2012 0 0 comments
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The Canada Revenue Agency has changed the requirements for the Clergy Residence Deduction (CRD). 

February 9, 2012 0 3 comments
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Every church should have Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation. If you are an administrative leader in your church, do you know where to find a copy of your Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation?

January 23, 2012 0 3 comments
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I want to do something, use my gifts, build on my experiences, and share learned insights. Am I still too concerned about being a pastor and not focusing enough on being a person?

December 15, 2011 0 4 comments
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Much has been written about the clergy residence deduction (CRD) which is available to clergy and other eligible individuals in Canada.  To be eligible, an individual must meet both a status test and a function test. 

December 6, 2011 0 6 comments
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Did you know there are books written on the subject of taxes and ministers?  The annual paperback I most frequently recommend to a U.S. minister or church who is asking questions is Worth's Income Tax Guide for Ministers by B.J. Worth. 

November 28, 2011 0 1 comments
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How about asking a second question, just as real and powerful as how to get rid of a pastor: “Are there ways we could help our pastors grow and flourish in their places of ministry?”

November 17, 2011 0 0 comments
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Every person needs to feel appreciated. Pastors, and their spouses, are no exception. I remember getting movie tickets in the mail. No note, just tickets. It brought tears to my eyes. A small thing? Some would think so, but to us it was huge.

October 4, 2011 0 3 comments
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How do we best get local compensation data for church secretaries, administrative assistants, youth directors, custodians, Kids Hope directors, music directors, and a variety of other very important staff positions at our churches? 

August 8, 2011 0 10 comments
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Some churches like to talk about volunteers serving the church. I would prefer to think of it as members serving the church. My pastor challenged me to think this way.

June 30, 2011 0 1 comments

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You are taking some logic leaps there Larry but I assume you know that.  In case you don't, I can't imagine how exactly you can make the case that any kind of ban on Syrian refugees by a sovereign nation for a finite period of time for whatever reason is unbiblical.  Too much nuanced knowledge is required, and there are too many variables that potentially come into play, in my view at least, to be able to responsibly declare the scripture will always be violated when such a ban is implemented by a particular sovereign nation.

And I can't follow you when you say you must preach about all the things you list, BUT on the other hand, I think you certainly can preach on topics than involve greedy capitalism, irresponsible socialism, materialism, etc.  It might take some degree of in-depth knowledge about the subject matters to have the sermon come off as "credible" and not a cheap political pitch, but sure, these subjects are, or their component parts at least are, the object of scriptural admonitions.

Doug,

You have greatly relieved my mind.  I thought you and the others did not want me or others to preach or teach that a ban on Syrian Refugees was unbiblical.  Now I understand you as saying the institutional church may preach against all things that are contrary to scripture such as banning refugees, immigrants, racism, sexism, ruthless capitalism, irresponsible socialism, materialism etc.  So we agree ministers in the CRCNA must preach the Word of God on all these matters and let the chips fall where they may. 

Larry

 

But Larry, the CRCNA already opposes "slavery, apartheid, racism and sexism."  No one opposes that institutional "speaking out" because such speaking out is ecclesiastical (CO Art. 28), just as is speaking about about homosexuality or the human obligation to be a steward of creation.

But it would seem you want the CRCNA to be a political lobbyist as well, as if there is no distinction between pronouncing, as an ecclesiastical matter, that racism is sinful and lobbying congress to pass certain legislation that, say, deals with nuances of voter registration requirements.  There is a difference and even the IRS knows the difference.

To plumb the specifics of your posture on this, would you also want the CRCNA to train paramilitary forces just in case a Hitler-like despot takes over, so that the CRCNA can not only oppose this "Hitler" in words but also with deed?  If not, why not?  

Or to ask another way, just what are your jurisdictional limits, if any, for the CRCNA?  What should Church Order Article 28 allow the CRC assemblies to take up beyond "ecclesiastical matters" (the present church order imposed jurisdictional boundary)?

 

It sounds to me like Doug, John, and others would approve, like the church in Germany once did when they refused to speak up against Hitler, of such ethical issues as slavery, apartheid, racism, sexism.  I do not buy it. Do you really mean the institutional church has no obligation to officially speak out against such evils?

Your easy distinction between individual Christians and the church as institute is tidy but it denies the church of being salt and light in the real world of evil.  If fellow Christians cannot accept speaking out against such evils I suggest they should take it up with God.

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

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

Just how much should the Church [in this case the CRC] get involved with anything or everything?

     It appears that a number of comments, including an allusion in my previous post, touch on the fact that a church, in this case the CRC, needs to prioritize its engagements. I wonder at times, if this is one of its greatest challenges, especially when it holds to the idea of "every square inch" is Christ's. It appears that idea, is then taken to mean, that the CRC should get involved in "every square inch" of engagement on this planet. 

    A while ago Palmer Robertson penned an article entitled "Toward a Reformational View of Total Christian Involvement" in two parts, and  suggested the following:

 Sadly the church today has assumed that all the labors of the Messianic kingdom must be funneled through its assemblies. Sadly the church has taken upon itself a role too great for its resources. Sadly the assembled form of Christ's people has lost faith in the working of Christ outside its own assembly halls. The result of this tragic assumption by the church of all that which rightly belongs to the Messianic kingdom is two-fold: first, the most essential task of the church, which is to concern itself with that particular revelation embodied in Christ and incorporated in Scripture has been neglected; and, secondly, by wrestling from the kingdom members their initiative in every realm of human existence, the church has robbed kingdom members of their proper and effective role among the world today......

Receiving its impetus and direction from the church, working individually and in groups as servants of the Lord Christ, the kingdom of Christ assaults every structure and seeks to bring every thought of man into sub-mission to Christ. Christian political organizations direct their efforts toward bringing the secular state into conformity with God's intention for the state. Christian social group strain their efforts to seek social justice among men. Christian educational organizations demand that every philosophy be brought into submission to the lordship of Christ......

So long as the church assumes to itself all the prerogatives which belong to these various ways of God's working in the world, its central task and calling, its unique mission to the world shall be dissipated.

....more later...enough said, other than he sketches out three positions in part 2 of his paper, and here he echoes what has been expressed in some of the posts above:

.....the liberal expands the church so that it engulfs the kingdom. As a result, the church is forced into involvements too deep for its competence. The church usurps those areas of concern which belong rightly to Christians in their vocations, and at the same time neglects its distinctive responsibility of expounding Scriptural truth to its people. The result is that kingdom members lack the theological depth necessary for accurate and significant action, while the church issues ineffective decrees on subjects beyond its competence.

Hope that helps.

John

 

 

Hi Larry,

I think in order to answer that question meaningfully, several words need to be parsed.  What exactly is involved in "caring" and which of the "refugees" are we referring to?  Caring can involve anything from prayer, taking of offerings for relief organizations, volunteering in refugee camps overseas, individual sponsorship, offering a job, serving in the armed forces attempting to bring peace and stability to war-torn areas, or if you subscribe to the theory of Cataclysmic Anthropomorphic Climate Change, something as mundane as changing a light bulb, installing weather stripping on windows, or forgoing that spring vacation with your family.  As for refugees, which of the millions of refugees worldwide is this mandate for care referring to?  All of them?  If not all of them, which ones, and how do some get excluded?  If "caring" automatically means advocating for the admittance of a certain number of international refugees, my question is "Why do you hate the rest of the refugees so much?"  Which level of care is mandated in Scripture and how do you arrive at that conclusion?  Do you have the expertise and inside knowledge to dictate a certain level of refugee admittance or a certain protocol for refugee screening to the government? 

Without exploring these types of questions, I don't think we can come to solid conclusions.  Barring that exploration, I would encourage you to individually do what your conscience convicts you to do along that continuum of care of all the people God brings into your life (including refugees).  And likewise, as is preached from many pulpits every Sunday, the rest of God's people should also be exhorted to love their neighbor as themselves.  The particulars of what that love looks like begin in the heart and will look different from person to person and situation to situation.  If we begin to dicatate to one another the only acceptable versions of care and love, I fear we will resemble the Pharisees as they laid heavy burdens on the people with their minute parsings of what it meant to live out a particular command.

 

I don't think you are understanding John's comment correctly, Danielle.  Or maybe I'm not, but here's my take on what John suggests (and Ed for that matter), which would be mine as well.

First, there are two questions here, perhaps three, and if you don't understand the questions to be two (or three), and not one, you won't understand John's comment or what I think.

Question #1 is this: What should government do in terms of setting laws and policies that allow or disallow refugees from entering the country (US or Canada)?

Question #2 is this: What should we, folks in this country (US or Canada) -- whether as individuals or local churches or even denominations -- do when there are refugees that our government's laws and policies will be entering this country?

Here's the possible Question #3:  What should we, folks in this country (US or Canada) -- whether as individuals or local churches or even denomination -- do when there are refugees but in other countries as opposed to ours? 

So the answer to Question #1: As to the institutional church, it should simply allow the government to do its job.  In terms of those of us who hold the "office of voter," we should exercise that office (hopefully with intelligence and discernment) but certainly, it is not the jurisdiction of the pastor of a local church (or its council, or synod, or the executive director of the denomination) to lobby the federal government in behalf of church members in favor or against one possible government policy or another.

My suggested answer to Question #2: As to individuals and the local and denominational institutional church, we should consider what individual ("love mercy") or communal ("deaconal") responsibility we might have to directly act, working with government but not lobbying it, knowing that refugees may be coming to where we live, and then actually act according to that responsibility (e.g., sponsor refugees -- my church did this in the 1970's/1980's, sponsoring Vietnamese and Loation families).

My suggested answer to Question #3: As to individuals and local and denominational institutional church, we should consider what individual ("love mercy") or communal ("deaconal") responsibility we might have to directly act, knowing that refugees that exist in other countries, and then act according to that responsibility, which might take the form of supporting organizations like World Renew, or possibly by (an individual) deciding to physically going to those other countries to help out.

You may be correct in pointing out, Danielle, that if the government isn't letting refugees in, or so many of them, then we (individuals or local churches, etc) can't enfold those refugees.  But there is lots of other work to do it the world.  We could address other issues needing addressing (and we won't run out of issues needing addresses).  And hey, those of us individuals who hold the office of "voter" can get into the politics of it.  But the key point is that it is not the jurisdiction of the institutional church, local or denominational, whether via pastor, council, synod, or ED, to be the political lobbyist for all of us, even if the institutional church, at whatever level, should act in its deaconal role (which does not include being political lobbyist for all member as to government policy).

Hi John, just to clarify how refugee systems work: it is impossible for individual citizens to sponsor refugees without working with the government. It's not quite as simple as putting the responsibility on individual citizens. As we've seen with the recent mass layoffs at World Relief, government decisions to limit the number of refugees coming into the country directly and immediately affect the ability of churches to welcome refugees. The CRC has a long history of churches welcoming refugees, on both sides of the border, and we can't do that without working with the U.S. and Canadian governments. 

Confusing caring for people with condoning their illegal activities is a non-starter.  We care for people in prison, but do not suggest that the courts were wrong in putting them in prison.  If a nation decides in its interest to delay approval of refugees, or to deny them entrance, or to screen them and put conditions on entry, can a minister legitimately contravene that policy?  Under what conditions?  Is a right for a minister (or any christian) to protest a war, or to protest taxes, or to protest unpaved streets, or to protest global trade?  Is he doing this as a minister, or as an individual private christian with his own opinions on these matters.  

As a minister, he should focus on the gospel unto salvation.  Not put himself into a box of social activism which may end up biting him in the butt when he gets more information in five years.  

Caring for the poor does not mean putting the responsibility on the government, but picking up the task at home with your own hands. 

 

Let me suggest three things that we all must do because we believe that scripture teaches caring for refugees.

1 Recognize that ISIS promised to seed the refugees with hardened terrorists.

2 Put a value on the lives of those who will be blown up when these terrorists strike.

3 Give the President the benefit of the doubt when he asks for a 90 day halt to figure out ways to identify and cull these terrorists before reopening the door to refugees.

This seems to be a responsible and biblical way to balance love for our fellow human beings and their safety with our responsibility to care for the refugees.

What must a minister do when he believes scripture teaches caring for refugees. Period . 

 

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

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

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

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

 

Where this article "gets it very right" is when it divides two questions: (1) what should the institutional church proclaim about government policy on immigration?; and (2) what should "we" do when there are people in need that come to our lives?

As to #1, the answer is nothing.

As to #2, the answer is to show them love, regard them as the Good Samaritan regarded the injured man on the road.

These two answers are not contradictory, and perhaps that is where factions in the CRC disagree.

Where I cringed when reading this article was where the author, after expressing appropriate concern about politicizing the institutional church, then purports to be an expert on this administration's immigration policy, citing a source at an embedded links which did not effectively support his claim of expertise in any way.

I'm not claiming that expertise myself.  What I would suggest, though, is that it is extremely difficult (even impossible) even for persons who very seriously track these issues to formulate meaningful opinions about what governmental policy on these issues should or should not be. Why?  For the simple reason that we lack information.  We don't get the briefings from the CIA or the NSA or Homeland Security or the FBI or from closed door sessions of certain House or Senate committees or subcommittees.  And for good reasons.

Which means the best we can usually do is guess about what good government policy should or should not specifically be.  

In contrast, I can analyze the Ninth Circuit's recent ruling denying a stay on the federal District Court Judge's order granting the State of Washington's motion for a TRO as to the President's recently issued Executive Order.  Why?  Because the District Judge's decision and order are public, the Ninth Circuit's decision and opinion are public, the President's EO is public, and I happen to have the occupational training and experience to meaningfully read them and analyze them.  But with all of that, I still have to say "I frankly don't know" in answer to the question, "was the President's EO wise or at least warranty, and good public policy?," again because I don't know that underlying facts, again because I simply cannot (will not be allowed to) know them.

Nor can the author of this article know these necessary facts, which is why I applaud his suggestion to not politicize the institutional church but then cringe when he suggests he has more ability to conclude about the President's wisdom in creating these executive orders than he possibly can. 

Amen and amen. I have nothing to add except thank you for writing this. 

To address the question in the title, the Christian Reformed Church should not respond at all.

Individual Christians may respond or not as part of their expression of gratitude, but every time one group or another convinces Synod to endorse their point of view on a political or social issue, another schism is created, members leave and communion of the saints is destroyed. There will never be complete consensus on any social or political issue. Failure to see this means we are comfortable ostracizing those whose Christian commitment has lead them to a different conclusion. One has only to look at the divisive public statements of the leadership of our denomination to see that one needs to be a Democrat to enjoy communion of the saints in the CRC. If true, there is no point in local missions efforts until we determine the political leanings of any prospective members. That is wrong.

We do not belong in global warming, open borders, tax reform, health care, advocacy of candidates or any of a hundred other social issues as a denomination. We have a much higher calling around which we can and must unify. And if, as a result of that higher calling, individuals feel the need to advocate on behalf of one issue or another, they should join with others who are like minded outside of the church structure and endorsement. In fact, it is in this environment that they may find a greater opportunity to witness to the joy of our salvation.

Please stop this divisive social advocacy before there is another split and a Republican Christian Reformed Church emerges.

Kent. I read your Think Christian article and commented (negatively) on it.  I pretty much agreed with most points in this article.  I didn't see the articles as similar.

Please see my blog on this subject in the Back to God Ministries' "Think Christian."  Commentary.  I stand with you on this subject, but most of the readers of that blog have responded negatively. 

 

Very Good Matthew.  While it may not be appropriate or wise to allow immigration and refugee conversation in the pulpit we need to also affirm that it is not illegal nor should other evangelical Christians have to carry the water while CRC clergy play it cool.  Many evangelical pastors have spoken against the present ban on certain immigrants and refugees.  Imagine how the story of Ruth in the bible would be changed if Israel had a ban on refugees and immigrants especially the Moabites. 

It would be fantastic if every new member was encouraged to make a brief public testimony of their faith, rather than simply answering three formula questions.  The questions are okay, but just as faith without works is dead, so agreement without spirit is dead.  These testimonies can often have a greater impact on the life of the people in the pews than the greatest sermon ever preached. 

Well said, Matthew.  And John Span's response is also a good response.  I think what this proposed ban will do is to illuminate us more about what the real facts are.  Many people have the same idea as Trump, which is why he implimented it.  Searching out the real and relative risks is an important process, as well as becoming more aware of the vetting process that already exists.  I think comparing terrorist damage to typical murders etc often forgets the apparent randomness of the terrorist violence.  Most murders are domestic, or drug related, or crime related, so many people feel quite secure that they will not be victims.  They do not feel secure when it comes to terrorism.... such as a soldier suddenly randomly shooting other soldiers, or a couple in California planning a bombing or shooting scenario.  Nevertheless, the risk must be put into perspective, and into the context of what is already being done to examine potential refugee immigrants.  

Greetings:

      Matthew you raise many important points. Here are a few areas in which I can wholeheartedly agree:

1. Governments should be allowed to set policies.

2. Christians should be charitable.

3. Christians should utilise prophetic voices in the face of injustice.

4. When one part of the body suffers, then the rest suffers.

Each of these, categories can be subject to category confusion and manipulation, if not treated with discernment. Let me explain.

1. I lived in North Africa. A new president with a lot of resolve came into power. He worked hard to ensure that the day to day lives of people had a sense of security and stability. This was accomplished in part by jailing people who were implicated in causing insecurity, but not necessarily guilty. From the local people's stance, they saw this as the cost of having a largely stable country. That is to say, there was a certain amount of collateral damage. Sounds cold, but they saw this as part of the cost of being at war against the forces that would cause instabillty. Guess what the reaction of some journalists from the West was? They cried injustice, unfair, heavy-handedness and the like. What they were doing was imposing a certain idealistic view on a situation that was not their lived experience. Thus, it would have been convenient for even churches who expressed a lot of sentimental humanitarianism to join forces with the Western journalists and call for the ousting of the president. It would have made good press, but some of the realities on the ground called for other responses.

2. Christians should be charitable. Absolutely. But that needs to be with eyes wide open. That is to say, we need to understand the motivations and means of any group according to their own statements, their own declared intents and their own actions. If a talking snake says that it has a declared intent to topple all of the values and Judeo-Christian ethic in a hen-house, then one must ask if it is prudent to invite the snake into the henhouse under the guise of charity.henhouse under the guise of charity.

To focus Christian charity on Christian refugees and groups that are systemically targeted i.e. the Yazidis, is, as you mentioned, a necessary duty. Just yesterday, I signed a petition asking the government to help with those Pakistani refugees stuck in Thailand, and between a rock and a hard place. In some way their plight is more pitiful yet than some from the Middle-East. They don't get much press, because the press is highly selective especially with stories that can invoke an emotional reaction, such as drowned children etc. Of course, one can be accused of being hard-hearted here, but we need to avoid both sentimental humanitarianism and indifference to the fate of others--both of which are questionable.

3. Christians should speak prophetically against injustice. Absolutely. I agree with you, that should be even when it is politically incorrect. However, recall liberation theology and its advocacy for the poor. On the surface this was great. What actually happened though, was the inclusion of Marxist-Leninist views into this so-called 'prophetic speaking' and it became a tool for socialist leaning governments to co-opt the church. The same can be said of the temporary ban on visas issue to certain passport holders. The church could get co-opted. Not saying it will, but the tendency is easy, especially when righteous anger with a touch of sanctimony sells sermons and print. Sounds callous, but most of the work of Old Testament prophets came with a lot of weeping in quiet for injustice and wrestling with God. Didn't seem to be the stuff of "look how prophetic I am, and look at what a wonderful advocate against injustice I am.' Should concerned Christians address the authorities? Absolutely. With eyes wide open.

4. When one part of the body suffers the rest suffers. Absolutely. Yet, we need to tease apart a few categories. America is not paradise. All Christians in the world are not called to come to the Americas. Some will remain in countries where their witness is vital. They might be abused, be poor, and even die. I have seen this first hand in another country in Africa where I lived. Guess what? Many would not trade in all of the trinkets from the West for the ability and privilege to suffer. They taught me how to pray. Let's drop the notion that we are the solution.

 Secondly, some suffering is more newsworthy than others. It is more 'sexy' to highlight the suffering of someone in the West Bank--perhaps with a political agenda behind it--than someone from, say NGoroland. That is why it is prudent for the church to do her homework, as to which sufferings are the most un-noticed, and which should and could be alleviated. Anything that causes the church to receive undue good press for its noble efforts, might be looked at carefully. It might also cause us to ask serious questions about our motivations. 

In conclusion:

   A while back, we met with what we called "the most powerful woman in __________" Eyes lit up. You met with the First Lady? Actually not. She was the second wife of her husband, now taking care of her five children while he had his fling with his new wife. She walked to work. Sang all day. Came to work tired sometimes because she had been at an all-night prayer meeting. She knows the Living God. For her. Trump? Who is that? 

 

Blessings in Christ

JS   

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

Thanks Doug for your expanded explanation regarding Pension Plans.

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

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

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

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

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

As your list cynic . . . can't remember back that far. 

The CRC does not teach that God can regenerate anyone he chooses? Or refuses to regenerate all  those who work hard at loving God and being a good neighbor? IF god can regenerate only "believing in Jesus" Christians then what is the pragmatic difference between the CRC and the dispensationalists?  And Billy Graham's teaching?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thanks Jul.  This is a good practice--to look for awe filled/God filled moments.

Thanks for this terrific article Jill! How wonderful that your church allows you to be you and to choose which gifts you'll share in its ministry. From my work with pastors' spouses over the past ten years, I can say that what you have is quite rare. Too many churches still have a mold into which pastor's wives are expected to fit. The same isn't true for pastor's husbands - which is great for them!

Hopefully more congregations will make a shift in what they expect of a pastor's wife, and will be much more aware of the demands put on the pastor which impacts his/her life in significant ways - not all of which are good nor healthy.

 

Lis Van Harten

Pastor Church Resources

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

 

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

 

 

Go and Tell is an easy way to equip you to share the gospel. Go and Tell is free online at www.fortwaynecrc.com Testimonial: "Go and Tell has impacted me in different ways. First is a great tool to tell others about God and guide them trough the process of receiving Christ as their Savior.  But also made me recognized how selfish we can be sometimes when we don't share God's love and mercy with others." From Dorian River's Edge Church 
El Paso TX

Edwin Walhout passed away January 1, 2017.  He died a Christian man who truly loved the Lord more than anyone I've ever known, and he loved everyone he ever met or didn't meet, even you all on this thread. His parting words may be found at www.edwinwalhout.com.

 

 

Thank you so much! I look forward to listening later today!

Hi Gillian,

I have three resources that I use for sermons during the week.

The first is the teaching of Alistair Begg at: www.truthforlife.org

The second I try not to miss is Charles Price at; www.livingtruth.ca

The third is when I need a boost is Robbie Symons at: http://www.harvestoakville.ca/teaching/sermon-archives/latest-sermon/

Hope this helps and I'd be interested to know how you find any of these helpful.

Blessings.

 

I watch the Calvin Student Service LOFT Sunday nights. They also livestream and archive the Chapels. Go to https://calvin.edu/studentlife/faith-worship/ to find the links. I am so blessed by seeing college students lead worship and by Pastor Mary Hulst's preaching. Even though it's directed to college students, I always learn or am challenged by something.

 

Here are what I see to be the most disturbing trends:

1. redefinition of the Gospel to be more of a social Gospel along the line of classical liberalism as see in some writings of the leaders of the Emergent Church movement. 

2. removal of God's wrath from the atonement. Substitutionary atonement is divine child abuse. Jesus suffered our wrath to become an example of how to overcome human violence. 

3. universalism replacing the doctrine of limited atonement.

4. there seems to be not enough preaching that fits this description stated by John Piper: " a sermon is is an expository exultation over the glories of God revealed in his word.”

5. the loss of the authority of God's Word. The Bible has become a collection of stories about God which become authoritative as the Spirit applies it. Karl Barth's view seems to have gotten a hold in churches.

6. loss of Christian identity. It is said we are all "broken people now." What about "new creations?" With the loss of Christian identity comes the loss of concepts of mortification and vivification.

When pastors or churches adopt these disturbing trends they do so in the name of being relevant to our culture. However it is these very things that make Christianity irrelevant because its no longer Christianity. No wonder why people are leaving our denomination or others.

 

Iain Murray, in his book, "Revivals & Revivalism" documents how, from about 1740 until the early 1800s, revivals took place. They took place in churches where the pastor preached the word of God fearlessly, at times for many years, and the church had a deep concern for the "lost". The revivals were always instigated by God and not by man's pleading or emotional gatherings.

Do Calvinists have a deep concern for the lost or do we leave it all to God? If so, why did Jesus command his disciples to go into all the world .......?

If those trends are true then the church is on a slippery slope.

"And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:7-8)

 

I think the author is right about these trends and they all seem to focus on the convenience of the worshipers. Sometimes we lose sight of the first priority of worship which is to bring glory to God, our comfort and convenience should be way down the list.

The article is very superficial in its analysis. I agree that we need to move with our changing society, but it's not all about attracting converts or building attendance numbers.

My other gripe is his assertion that less preaching makes for better preaching. Those pastors who wrote 100-150 sermons and messages each year were excellent at exegesis and applying the Word of God. They had lots of practice, and an urgent need to rely on God's guidance every week. I would say they were the better preachers.

This link should bring you right to Prof. Gibson's article. 

Mark,  Thanks for your kind words.  It is my prayer that this is a first step toward some honest dialog on this subject between more than just you and I.  You see I am nearing the end of my career and doing my best to maintain my balance.  My concern is for those who have many years to come and as you cite Gibson's article, which I need to find by the way, the idealized pastor is part our collective history and is not likely to change to quickly, unless we as active clergy find ways to support and encourage that kind of self-differentiation which is not generally rewarded. 

I would also like to offer my help to be part of the solution rather than someone complaining.  I have some theories and ideas I am pondering and hoping to put into practice in the near future.  Once again thanks for the willingness to at least raise the issue.

Rodney, thanks for your comment. Your suggestion that pastors have periodic mental health checkups is intriguing and strikes me as wise. However, you are suggesting something much bigger and even more anxiety-producing than a guide for what congregations and pastors can do once the pastor is dealing with an acute mental illness. In Danjuma Gibson's insightful article, "Trauma: Suffering in Silence" in the Fall 2016 Calvin Seminary Forum, he argues that congregations have a need for their pastor always to be emotionally and spiritually strong, which would get in the way both of pastors getting treatment and of looking for signs of mental illness among pastors before symptoms become acute. Gibson writes,

Th­e congregation’s need for their idealized pastor to “be well” will in many cases compromise the pastor’s actual ability to recover from trauma or loss. ­The reality of their pastor falling victim to a trauma and possibly displaying human weakness and spiritual ambivalence may be too disruptive to the collective psyche of the church.

I would guess that unless a pastor has good self-differentiation, he or she will succumb to that need of the congregation and do his/her very best to pretend everything is fine. I hope that this clergy guide, and especially the accompanying materials, will help move the dial just a little for church leaders to acknowledge that pastors, along with everyone else, have struggles, and the whole system is healthier when we acknowledge that and even take preventative steps (as you suggest) to prevent challenges from becoming train wrecks. 

I would second Larry's commendation, it is time we recognize that something is wrong and take steps to address it.  However, like many other things I encounter in both the RCA/CRC and churches in general, we are incredibly slow to recognize a problem.  Over 10 years ago I was tasked with investigating malfeasance by a fellow pastor.  During that investigation I had several conversations with police detectives, and at one point I was asked how often clergy are expected to have a psychological evaluation.  I had to admit, that once we are are ordained that kind of check up is no longer called for.  The detective told me every time he was promoted, a psychological evaluation was required.  Given that one in four clergy suffer from mental illness, maybe it is time we took a look at getting ahead of the problem rather than providing resources at the end.  I also wonder that since 1 in 4 clergy will admit to some sexual indiscretion with someone other than their spouse, if there is a connection? 

My perspective is that of a long term, "old guy" clergy and a licensed therapist.  I hope, that this is just the beginning of the process of looking at clergy health.  A few years ago we decided that most of us were overweight and a physical fitness regimen was encouraged, maybe it is time we looked at mental health the same way, and looked closely at what is negatively impacting a group of men and women who in previous generations would have been some of the healthiest people in the population.

In Greg Ogden's manual, "Discipleship Essentials", the opening lesson starts with, "Discipling is an intentional relationship in which we walk alongside with other disciples in order to encourage, equip and challenge one another in love to grow toward maturity in Christ. this includes equipping the disciple to teach others as well."

One has to take the time to build a relationship with a neighbour, colleague or friend before inviting them to join you on a journey to meet Christ. I don't know if it is apathy on the part of CRC people, but they do not seem overly concerned with the "lost". One  way to build relationships is to invite them to your home for a meal. Again, CRC people like to socialize with CRC people, who they are comfortable with. 

I was blessed to be part of a discipleship group, with a pastor who had previously led 2 other groups on a one year journey. The result was that everyone who took discipleship became a leader in the church, either in council or a ministry. When I tried to engage others in a discipleship group, I was turned down. CRC people don't like to have to share about themselves. I did disciple one inmate in a prison and we completed 22 of the 24 lessons before he got transferred. None of the 15 - 20 people in our church, who took the discipleship course, have discipled anyone else. Perhaps we need to check out what the Baptists are doing. In my area they are planting churches with great success, based on prayer and requiring new members to tithe.

I have a men's group that meets once a week for Bible study and accountability. Most of us are volunteers with Kairos Prison Ministry, which holds weekends in federal prisons and then returns weekly or monthly to meet with weekend participants and their friends. We sing, pray and then meet in small groups to share accountability questions. These meetings are very powerful in growing men's faith. We also encourage them to attend the numerous Bible studies that are available in these institutions.

We have tried to start discipleship classes with released residents, but they are resistant to committing to the 24 weeks required.

 

posted in: Make Disciples

How do you disciple a new believer? We tend to make disciples the way we were discipled but for so many of us that meant coming to sit at church and not learning how to make disciples who make disciples. Jesus recognized that the people He encountered were at different stages of growth and development, and He worked to challenge each of them to the next level. 

Who then should attend the 4 Chair Discipling Seminar?  Anyone who you want to see challenged to be a disciple who makes disciples!  During the 4 Chair Discipling Seminar, we will answer the following questions: 

• What is a disciple?

• Who is the model for being a disciple?

• What is a disciple's mission?

• What is a disciple's motivation?

• What is the process of becoming a disciple who makes disciples?

• Where am I in the disciple-making process?  What are my next steps?

In 4 Chair Discipling, you’ll get a clear and simple picture of how to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and to do the same thing. Included in the 4 Chair Discipling Seminar:

• A fresh look at Jesus as our model for being a disciple who makes disciples

• An overview of the 4 Chair Discipling process, highlighting Jesus' 4 challenges

• A simple understanding of what we need to know and do to grow to be like Jesus in our character and priorities

• A simple understanding of what we need to know and do to become fishers of men

• A simple understanding of the barriers that keep us from moving to the next chair and how we experience breakthrough

May the Lord bless every CRC church and every believer with the joy of making disciples who make disciples who make disciples…

If you would want more information about the 4 Chair Discipling seminar Contact Sonlife Ministries (https://www.sonlife.com/) or Pastor Jim Halstead is a certified Sonlife 4 Chair Trainer (Community CRC, Fort Wayne, IN) fwcrc@hotmail.com www.fortwaynecrc.com

posted in: Make Disciples

Thanks for the question and good responses. As this is a public thread, please follow the advice above and let's avoid further discussion of the details of what I'm sure is a sensitive and difficult matter.   

Here is a sample job description for an Associate Pastor that assumes there is also a Senior Pastor. Let me know if this helps or if you have any other questions. 

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