Blog

As an "aging" Pastor of 93, I feel relatively qualified to pass along to you a few suggestions for offsetting those feelings of boredom and non-productivity which we all share once we have lost the allure of "going out to pasture."

June 23, 2011 0 3 comments
Discussion Topic

Can you share an idea your church has used that involved the kids and helped them understand their acts of stewardship?

April 26, 2011 0 1 comments
Blog

Your pastor is retiring later this year and your church members would like to collect money from the congregation as a retirement gift.  Is this gift from the church taxable to the pastor?  Should the members receive a charitable contribution receipt from the church for this gift? 

April 11, 2011 0 2 comments
Q&A

Wondering if a church "opts out" of the Minister's Pension Plan, even temporarily, if it's possible to pick it up again in the future? Or is it a case of once you're out, you're out??

April 2, 2011 0 1 comments
Blog

If you ended your fiscal year on December 31, you probably have your financial reports completed. Did Council review those statements? Did you make them available to the congregation? 

March 7, 2011 0 2 comments
Q&A

I am going to be working on the processes involved in our church's finances. Does anyone have any resources (Internet, books) that they recommend? I'm from a Canadian church. 

February 22, 2011 0 2 comments
Blog

Does your church assist staff other than a Minister of the Word with retirement plan contributions? If we are going to be responsible employers, we should assist all our employees in saving for retirement.  

January 31, 2011 0 1 comments
Q&A

We are a small congregation in rural Canada. We are currently using three different software programs to track our donations and do our accounting. Can anyone suggest a single software package?

January 18, 2011 0 4 comments
Q&A

What steps must a church follow if it can no longer "afford" one of its ordained pastors? Does dismissal require a congregational vote?

January 13, 2011 0 4 comments
Blog

Last week someone requested information on how a church puts together a "package" when calling a minister.  The "Letter of Call" is available on the CRC website... 

November 8, 2010 0 6 comments
Blog

Every church and its employees want to feel confident that their compensation plan is reasonable and fair.  One resource where you can compare your plan with thousands of other  church workers is the 2010-2011 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff.

October 4, 2010 0 4 comments
Blog

Well, in my honest opinion, money might not buy happiness, but it sure can borrow some great times and an enjoyable lifestyle. And the lack of money can sure bring on some pretty unhappy situations.

September 7, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Salesforce, like Google Apps, is available to non-profits for free, so I truly am not selling anything. I am writing this article to tell you about how I've set up Salesforce for our church to track membership and our offerings. 

August 19, 2010 0 12 comments
Resource, Article

Salesforce, like Google Apps, is available to non-profits for free. I am writing this article to tell you about how I've set up Salesforce for our church to track membership and our offerings.

August 10, 2010 0 6 comments
Resource, Article

It’s Sunday morning. Nobody talked much on the way to church today. Mom and Dad had words. But the kids were quiet. They knew better than to speak up when the air was thick with the tension of an argument.

June 22, 2010 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

For building improvements, there are two foundations of which we are aware that will give accessibility grants to churches in specific regions. 

May 24, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

If you don’t have a written policy regarding how expenses are reimbursed, you will have a hard time enforcing accountability for reimbursable expenses.

May 5, 2010 0 0 comments
Q&A

I'm curious what others do as far as letting people accept, or encouraging, gratuities, and also what types of workers in the church are paid and what is done on a volunteer basis. 

April 23, 2010 0 2 comments
Resource, Article

Since ministers are not allowed to deduct church related business expenses from their local church employment as self-employed workers, often ministers and other church employees pay unnecessary income taxes on legitimate business expenses.

April 21, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Careful preparation for retirement brings major advantages for pastors and congregations both before and after the actual farewell event. Many denominations and pastors have studied the matter of retirement with care. 

April 3, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

A pastor’s care can be costly, and the expense is not salary-related. Many pastors simply pay too high a price to practice their profession. It’s a condition common among the helping professionals—sometimes referred to as the “cost of caring.” 

February 22, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38

January 27, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

As stewards, we are in charge of everything God has given to us—our money, our time, our talents, our homes, our families—everything!

January 26, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

As you start your role, you are called to first understand the current situation and develop relationships with those involved in areas of ministry where you will be serving.

January 20, 2010 0 2 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

A registered Retirement Savings Plan (RSP) is an investment account designed primarily for saving toward your retirement years. As a retirement savings vehicle, regulated by the Canadian government, RSPs have special tax benefits.

January 18, 2010 0 0 comments

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Good question. I did find this sample Senior Pastor job description but not in conjunction with an Associate Pastor. I'll be on the lookout!

I concur with the last comment by Jason DeVries.  It's time to get the Church Visitors involved in this matter.  A church council can't just dismiss a pastor on its own.  Classis and the Synodical Deputies have to concur with the decision. You can find the relevant information about release from ministry in Article 17 of the Church Order and about Church Visitors in Article 42 at https://www.crcna.org/sites/default/files/church_order_2016.pdf.  Councils tend to think they can hire and fire pastors as they wish, but it's not that easy within our denominational covenant.  It looks to me that in this situation our denominational checks and balances will bring some healthy accountability.  Call the Stated Clerk of your Classis, find out who the Church Visitors are for your congregation, call them and discuss this matter with them.  I'm sad for you and your congregation that it had to go this way.  God bless you.

Church Order has a system of a checks and balances for accountability set-up in order to prevent things like this from happening.  The elders do not have the authority to make such a unilateral decision.  The COUNCIL may suspend a pastor, but that suspension is then reported to classis who will ensure that the suspension is justified and that proper follow-up is taking place to resolve the conflict leading to the suspension.  Church order prohibits our congregations from "firing" a pastor whenever and for whatever reason they want.  If classis hasn't been brought into this yet, that MUST happen ASAP.  The situation is not healthy for the pastor, elders, council, or church.  Get help.  And even as a church member, you can contact classis personal yourself and ensure the ball gets rolling.  My heart breaks for you and the church at this difficult and confusing time.

Hi Bill! Just listened to the sermon and really appreciated many different tactics that you used (i.e. images from 9/11, descriptive words, body language, and just the overall tone that used to tell stories of heartache and loss). Really good stuff and you truly brought me back to the emotion of this day. In addition, I couldn't help but appreciate your love of snow and confidence in tackling the MI roads (even as spin outs happen). Thanks for sharing! 

Thank you, Staci.  Here is the link to the sermon!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppIlNlGY1Q8

Emotions need to be expressed in sermons so that the listener does not conclude that the speaker is not really so sure about this text or teaching. Unemotional preaching leaves you with the feeling that the preacher really believes what he/she is preaching.

On the other hand there needs to be a delicate balance of the emotions of the heart and the thoughts of the mind.  We need to embrace in our preaching.

Lots of excellent thoughts in this comment, William. Thanks for letting us in on the conversations happening at Calvin Seminary. I agree that the word 'performance' can cause many of us to cringe. But to think of performance as being 'the behaviors that bring thought to expression' is completely different. Encouraging to hear that the Seminary is placing value on helping people become better storytellers. 

I'd love to get a link to your sermon on 9/11. It sounds like you sought to be authentic in dealing with tragedy and I'm sure that was conveyed to those listening. 

Thanks again for sharing. 

Hi, Staci.  We were just discussing this topic at Calvin Theological Seminary.  (I am an M.Div. student there, and I am a commissioned pastor in my classis.)  In this semester's Preaching Practicum class, Prof. John Rottman asked us to read an article by Richard F. Ward titled "Performing the Manuscript."  In it, the author advocates for viewing preaching as performing.  He acknowledges the the word "performance" has unfortunately received a pejorative connotation by many Christians today.  But he says that the word should not be used as an epithet indicating sham or pretense.  Instead, he uses the term "perform" to mean "how language written for the sermon comes to life in the preaching event."  Performing includes "all the vocal and physical behaviors a preacher uses to bring thought to expression."  Ward looks to the Old French roots of the word -- par and fournir, which means "to perfect" or "carrying through to completion."

In seminary, we also watched an hour-long video about what various body postures and gestures communicate from the Fall Preaching Conference at Calvin.  It's very helpful to remember that communication involves more than words.  The video is worth a watch:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndKWOtnZtig 

Now that I've shared what Calvin Seminary is teaching regarding "performing," let me add to it my personal experience.  The last sermon I had the privilege to share was on 9/11.  I ended with the emotional story of a local woman who lost her life on United Flight 93.  If I had read that part of the sermon with no tenderness, no emotion and no vulnerability, there would have been a profound disconnect.  It would have been inauthentic, and it would have been less than the message deserved.  I made sure not to "put on" fake emotion.  I instead tried to be authentic, as one human talking to another about the reality of death and the fragility of life.  I have a link to that video if anyone is interested.

In summary, I think it is very, very necessary to "perform" and to bring the appropriate amount emotion to the presentation... as long as it serves the right purpose, comes from the right motivation and does not distract.

Really great thoughts, Gary. Especially appreciate your caution to be authentic. Makes me think about how God works through very ordinary people (not just those gifted in public speaking, etc.) in extraordinary ways. 

A good sermon should contain a combination of inspiration and information. The text of the sermon matters, of course; the words, the structure, the exegesis of scripture and the proclamation of the Gospel. The delivery matters, too. Bland monotone delivery can derail a good message, while proper emphasis and variation in tone and cadence helps bring the message to life. A caution would be to remain authentic. We all have times when we're excited or enthusiastic about a topic; our family, our favorite team, even political issues (especially these days). That authentic, genuine interest needs to be present in preaching. It's about bringing our best selves to the message, not about mimicking someone else or using some technique that we wouldn't use otherwise.

The statistics don't surprise me, they seem on trend with the new faces at the seminary and candidacy posting. What is surprising is the lack of women in the top levels of leadership. One of the issues that I have as we move into the 21st century is the insistence of ordained staff for leadership positions. There are many well educated and suitable candidates who have decades of experience in lay or non-ordained ministry of a variety of types but we do not see them as suitable candidates. Without ordination of the Word there is no place beyond congregational ministry in our denomination.

Thanks, Joshua, for the post.  In the past, I felt a sense of guilt at my inability to practice the presence of God for more than a few minutes.  A spiritual guide, farther along in the journey of faith than I was, said, "Think of God the same way that you think of a loving parent with a small child.  The parent finds great joy when the child snuggles up and just quietly sits on the parent's lap.  However, a parent's joy and love aren't diminished in any when the child then runs off to play.  Giving myself the same grace that God extends to me has kept me from feeling guilty and, over time, my ability to be present and just "sit in the Father's lap" has greatly increased. 

posted in: Entering Solitude

 

What pleasantly surprises me is the number of 100 women who have been ordained in the CRC.

Larry Van Essen 

Outstanding Joshua, keep working at it!!!

It was a struggle for me as well, we often live our lives at 100 mph. Trying to put the brakes on long enough to for anything other then ourselves can be seem unnecessary and impossible. I for one have to make my time in the a.m., but my wife and I have a separate time we set aside for prayer together. My personal time is around 3:30 a.m. or as soon as I have my first cup of coffee down. I'm not sure exactly how the progress came about but I started by just reading a verse each morning I am now up to about 30 minutes of prayer. I found that the more I prayed the more I found to pray for. I can only say I believe that to be the Holy Spirit growing in me. Either way I truly enjoyed you post, thank you.   

posted in: Entering Solitude

That's a fascinating insight, Ken, that the form doesn't actually require a confession of faith in Jesus. It's implied, of course, but that's a pretty dangerous leap to equate a living faith in Jesus with a belief that the teachings of the church are true. I do think that most PRC and NRC churches would require such a personal confession in the private conversation with a person prior to public confession, but could easily see that aspect being neglected. 

I came from the Netherlands Reformed Church in 1973 and made a Public Profession of Faith in the CRC at that time.

As I understand, the PRC and NRC are very similar in their professions of faith. They deal with life and doctrine, but not faith in Jesus Christ. I felt the need to profess this new faith in Jesus Christ when I came into the CRC. Here is the form that has been used for Profession in both the PRC and NRC...

1. Do you acknowledge the doctrine contained in the Old and New Testaments and in the Articles of the Christian faith and taught here in this Christian church to be the true and complete doctrine of salvation? 

2. Have you resolved by the grace of God to adhere to this doctrine; to reject all heresies repugnant thereto; and to lead a new, godly life? 

3. Will you submit to church government, and in case you should become delinquent (which may God graciously forbid), to church discipline?
Answer. Yes.

I hope that is helpful in guiding your conversations.

Craig,

Article 59-f applies here.  if it were a church in ecclesiastical fellowship with us, it would be 59-e.  Note that 59-f gives the consistory a responsibility to examine the persons concerning doctrine and conduct.  Then the consistory determines whether this be a "direct admission," a public reaffirmation, or a profession of faith.  One of these three that fits most appropriately with the conclusion of the examination.  If they're PRC, I would probably lean towards the first category of direct admission and so advise the consistory (if there's no problem in the conduct area).

 

 

Hi Craig,

Thanks for your question about transfer of members from "other denominations." Confessing members who are transferring from churches in ecclesiastical fellowship (as you noted, the RCA, EPC, and ECO) may be accepted within the membership of the CRC by the consistory upon the presentation of certificates or statements. Church Order Article 59-e goes on to state that the membership is accepted "after the consistory has satisfied itself concerning the doctrine and conduct of the members."

However, if a member wishes to transfer from another denomination (not in ecclesiastical fellowship with the CRCNA), according to Article 59-f, they "shall be admitted as confessing members of the congregation only after the consistory has examined them concerning doctrine and conduct. The consisotory shall determine in each case whether to admit them directly or by public reaffirmation or profession of faith. Their names shall be announced to the congregation for approval."

To answer your question about needing to make a public profession of faith once again, only if the consistory judges that a public commitment to Reformed confessions while testifying to a living faith in Christ is needed. Much depends on communication (if any) from the church that previously held the membership (active/inactive membership?).

Regards,

Dee Recker

Synodical Services Office, CRCNA

 

 

 

I am a former Roman Catholic. When I joined the CRC several years ago there was no hesitation. I knew the Church of Rome taught a different gospel and I had to get out of it.  I simply stopped attending there. There was no transfer process.  There is no official membership to cancel.  The CRC welcomed me in the fold as already baptized.  I did not have to be baptized in the CRC. As far as my Roman Catholic friends and relatives they consider me fallen away from the one true Church. I'm sure some pray that I return to Catholicism - as a prodigal son. 

Hi Adam,

As others have said--thanks for posting the question. 

Jim Dekker mentioned the ongoing Reformed-Catholic dialogue which has resulted in a joint agreement on baptism, as well as much discussion already around the Lord's Supper as practiced and understood by our respective churches.  This is likely the best comparative work that we have on the topic to date if you'd like to dig into it further. 

You can find the written work on this in the Agenda for Synod 2011 (https://www.crcna.org/sites/default/files/2011_agenda.pdf) starting on page 357ff on Baptism and Sacramentality ("These Living Waters"), continuing on page 440ff with a report on Eucharist/Lord's Supper ("This Bread of Life"), and ending with a comparison of Catholic and Reformed Lord's Supper Liturgies on page 492ff. 

If you'd like a quicker reference with a whole lot less reading--I'd direct you to contact Ronald Feenstra at Calvin Seminary, our current member at the Reformed-Catholic Dialogue table (Lyle Bierma has stepped away from this committment).

Blessings as you work through the conversation!

Adam, this is a great question. I suggest you copy it to the Facebook CRC Pastors group as well, of which you are a member.

I'd accept them as members on an appropriate reaffirmation of faith, and baptize their child. I would not make a point of communicating to their Catholic parish that we have done this. Assuming they are faithfully present in your church the communion issue is no big deal, and if they go back to Poland every few years and partake in the mass, that's no big deal either.

This is an interesting situation. Thank you for presenting it here.

First of all, "transfer of membership" is the term used for transferring memberships from one CRC to another. What would be needed for this is a "statement of membership" from their Roman Catholic church parish to the CRC (Brighton, MN, I presume) where they are attending. Yet it seems from your posting that the church/parish from which they're moving is not in the US. It might not be easy to get a "statement of membership," but should be possible. See Ch. Order Article 66 for these general rules. 

Second, I don't know what dual citizenship would have to do with anything you are describing and asking about--unless you are using the term "dual citizenship" as a synonym for "dual church membership.) My wife and I are dual citizens--US & Canada--but citizenship has nothing to do w/ church membership. (WAIT--we are also citizens of the Kingdom of God, which trumps all!)

Third, your question about participating in the sacraments is well put, but I will make a rather libertarian comment on that, based on experience in several denominations in six nations over 40-plus years. You are correct about baptism; officially the RCC does accept CRC baptism and vice versa. This was agreed upon after years of conversations in which CR and RC theologians and professors studied baptism exhaustively. (I believe Lyle Bierma was on that team and I know he reported on this issue and its conclusion to at least one synod I attended.) The experiential issue of Eucharist/Lord's Supper is significantly more ragged, though Church Order is pretty clear about the right to take part in Communion (C.O. 59). The fact is that more and more congregations in the CRC are opening up Communion more in keeping with the invitation in the Form for Lord's Supper in the grey Psalter Hymnal, which some have said veers away from strict interpretation of the Church Order. As well, I have been in Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and even (Eastern) Orthodox congregations in which the pastor/priest has made it very clear that Christians other than those of their own communion were welcome to participate.

I say that because in the case of the people you describe who evidently would return to Poland to visit family, it would be not merely awkward, but very sad if they could no longer participate in Communion in their homeland. Perhaps they could communicate with their home parish about this. On the other hand--and here is the libertarian comment--not a few have declared that sacraments do not belong to any church, but to God who welcomes believers, forgiven sinners, regardless of denomination. You know the implication of that reading.

Fourth, you ask about the child's baptism. I take it that the child has not been baptized in a Roman Catholic church. In that case, you are right that the should be members of your congregation, according to C.O. Article 56.

I don't know if this is helpful, but it has been enjoyable thinking about it with you. Blessings on your and your congregation's ministry with this family.

 

Adam,

A great question.  I think you identify some of the key issues toward the end of the second paragraph. Also, you are correct about the "dual-citizenship." I'm not sure that any church who recognizes membership within their polity would allow their members to also be members of another church or denomination.

Basically, I think you're on the right track. It's a great teaching opportunity for you and for the couple.  You would also want to have the council involved, endorsing and affirming the faith of the couple.

May I suggest one more thing? There are people much wiser than me and probably some who have had experience ministering in this situation that could find your question here, but are more likely to find you the Facebook group: Pastors of the Christian Reformed Church. It is a a "closed" group, meaning you would have to request to join and the moderators would include you.  It is an active group with close to 700 members of both active and (actively) retired pastors.

Blessings to you as you walk with this couple in their faith!  What a privilege!

Amen. Pray all the way through.

I am reminded of one prof told me was his three-step process for answering test questions.

1. Read the question. (He said it was amazing how many people skip this step.)

2. Think really hard.

3. Write down the answer.

This is a helpful list, especially if you find it difficult to get to a finished presentation. However, I would recommend moving prayer from step 4 to step 1. If we think we need prayer as part of the writing process, but not part of the interpretation process, it might be better for our congregations if the printer does break.

 

 Nice, although saying that David's adultery puts his disability on the same level as someone who uses a wheelchair to get around trivializes genuine disabilities.  I'm not aware that David's adultery prevented him from using a sword or walking, or even caused him to experience hallucinations for that matter.  if this congregation needed to be told about David's adultery, either they aren't even at Disability 101 yet, or the pastor needs to read my blog about chronically normal people.

posted in: Differently Abled

Thanks Larry. I hope that our work is a step toward addressing the concerns you raised in your insightful blog posted last year: Why Denominational Leaders Need to Address Clergy Mental Health Issues

Kudos to Mark Stephenson and the entire team who assembled the guidelines for requesting a leave of absence for pastors with mental health issues.

This document/toolkit will serve Pastors, councils, and churches well.

Thank you immensely,

Larry Van Essen

 

Exactly! Logically, we don't evangelize so that people can be saved (can become regenerate) but to welcome the regenerate into the many benefits of the Church in this world. For years I heard sermons about my neighbors all going to Hell if I didn't pester them about "inviting Jesus into their hearts." One preacher said that we (I) would have to push our neighbors over the edge into Hell if I neglected to "evangelize" them.

I am already to discuss the matter if the topic arises but I hate to pester people. If they come to my door . . . .

The purpose of evangelism in Reformed theology is the same as the reason in other branches of Protestantism -- 1) to be obedient to the Great Commission, and 2) because God has set it up so that the preaching/teaching/sharing/what-have-you of the word precedes regeneration.  See Rom. 10:14-15.  Also see Canons of Dort, "First main point", Article 3: "In order that people may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends messengers of this very joyful message to the people and at the time he wills. By this ministry people are called to repentance and faith...".  Even if one limits this to those who were not baptized as infants, it is still a massive call: go, make disciples, and baptize.  We must be looking everywhere, including outside our church walls, to find the elect, since God hasn't told us who they are.

Hello Jerry - Calvin Seminary's Center for Excellence in Preaching also has some sermons available in audio format. You can find them here.

We routinely create DVDs of sermons at Faith Christian Fellowship, a CRC church in Walnut Creek, CA. We use them to give to people who weren't able to make it to church. They are also on our web site at http://faithfellowship.com/media so that you could see in advance what might fit best. My guess is that many other churches do the same - in fact the CRC could maintain an amazing library of sermons this way!

Some suggestions:

  • Insurance should be handled the same for all employees based on full-time (30 or more) or part-time (may be two levels 20+ or under 20 typically)
  • Pension is a covered item for a minister of the Word.  Synod has determined this is how we will take care of our ministers in retirement
  • Housing Allowance is often 35-40% of salary
  • Salary is the most variable option.  Check out the Wage Scales sample in a search on The Network.  This sample from a larger church shows a salary range for a US Pastor Coordinator 1 starting at $49,750/min range/yr to a Senior Pastor max range of $108,340/yr.  This is just a sample from a church but gives you some idea of range.
  • The Ministers' Compensation Survey has variances based on 1st quartile, median, 3rd quartile.
  • "Compensation Handbook for Church Staff" by Richard Hammar
  • If you know of some churches that have a similar position, call them.

Hi Sheri: 

Pardon my digging up an old post. We are considering adding a second full-time staff person. The job does not require ordination, but many of our applicants are ordained. Could you tell us where to look for resources on how to compensate them fairly? We are came up with a base salary using the compensation book you mention here, but that no longer seems to apply if we go the ordained route (does it?)). We are also aware of the ministers compensation survey, but are looking more for information about how an ordained person in a different role should by fairly compensated (especially in comparison to the "lead" pastor with things like Insurance, housing, pension and, of course, salary). Thanks!
 

I too am a preacher of sorts. But my sermons are made of pictures, pauses, and ponderings, rather than words alone. My congregation includes babes and children, Christian sages and curious non-believers. Today's preachers should move away from the endless speeches (made for auditory learners), and bring their congregations into the process of worship. We can and should be learning and exploring together, and from each other. Thank you for making a passing reference to learning styles.

Hi, i need the script of this video 

is there any one to help me?

many thanks

blessing!

Doug -- Three questions:

(1) Why not extend your commentary to include the next two verses, Romans 13:5-7 ?

(2)  Given the vast differences between the cultural context in the First Century and our own, and even more so our cultural context and that of the Old Testament, are we not running the risk of false equivalencies on a large scale ?

(3)  How does the key concept of SHALOM figure in the discussion ?

 

Thanks Jasmine.  I remember one of my seminary professors telling us, “beware of who greets you at the train station.”  In other words beware of those who want to befriend you because they often have an agenda.  They might be the nicest people and the kind of persons that you would want to befriend, but they have a history with the church that you don’t have.  They see the needs of the church differently than you might see them.  So when you aren’t altogether onboard with their agenda, there can be a falling away and hurt feelings.  And, as people can be people, you as the pastor can be painted as unsympathetic or worse.  Another possibility in the pastor/member relationship is that you, as pastor, are expected to hold confidences but it doesn’t always work that way when the tables are turned.  It’s often a feather in the cap of a member to be able to say, the pastor told me such and such, or to say, the pastor did/does this or that.  Choose your friends carefully because you don’t always know who you can trust, and you will be in your position as pastor for a long time.

posted in: Pastor as Friend?

This is a very, very important article - thanks for posting it. The power differential between a pastor and a parishioner must always be taken into consideration in any ministry relationship. And it is ALWAYS the responsibility of the pastor to maintain healthy boundaries in ministry relationships. Therefore, when sexual misconduct occurs, it is not an "affair". An affair implies a relationship of equality and mutuality - that does not accurately describe the relationship between pastor and parishioner. A pastor and parishioner are not on equal footing. When sexual misconduct occurs in this relationship, it is an abuse of power and abuse of the office. Referring to this as an "affair" causes additional harm to the one whose been victimized by it. 

Healthy ministry boundaries are complex and it's important to spend some time carefully considering them. It's not a matter of a creating a list of do this and don't do that. Rather it's considering how a relationship is perceived and paying attention to the power differential involved. Healthy boundaries create a container for good ministry. Many denominations require ongoing boundary or ethics training for clergy and ordained leaders. Ministry leaders, and especially ordained ministers, must remain cognizant of the great power inherent in their position, and the sacred trust that they hold. Seeking additional training in this area is a very wise move.

This webinar provides a quick introduction to some of the topics to consider in maintaining healthy ministry boundaries, 

posted in: Pastor as Friend?

I appreciate the relief you found in the parable, but the "long leash" and go-to-church-to-show pastors-you-appreciate-them is both very bad advice. 

Scripture says much about membership to a body...not a person...

posted in: Perfect Attendance

There is a liturgy that is found in both Sing! A New Creation (#240), and Lift Up Your Hearts (#848) that you can use as is or adapt for your context.  I cannot find it online but if you don't have a copy of either hymnal send an email to worship@crcna.org and we will see how we can help get you a copy of the litany. 

....or the visitors could listen to the pain felt by all parties involved, and encourage dialogue and mutual understanding,  which may, in the end, bear witness to the hope that is within us,  that reconciliation is possible, and love wins...

You are right on.  I just learned of a situation where a pastor spent six months working behind the back of the leadership on his departure. I concur that mentoring and visitation could help. Perhaps those practices could speak to the deceit and duplicity in the heart of those who sow dissension and divide the church. 

It is not likely that the departing pastor woke up one day, and said to himself: "I think I'll start a new church down the street". If we want to be proactive about this problem, perhaps we have to look into new ways to mentor pastors, or recapture the intent behind an old concept: classical church visitation. Creating safe spaces for people to talk together may help prevent the sort of divorces of which you speak.

"In God We Trust." "Money" is the god of the USA. 

I like the idea in many ways.  Ecclesiastical piracy is a problem in the United States (Canada too?).  However, I suppose that every pastor that splits a congregation in order to plant a "better" church will say "I'm just like Martin Luther!  Those curmudgeons and lagards in the old church were harming the gospel by insisting on their own way and threw me and others out!  Etc."  I can't imagine one saying "Well, the truth is, I'm an egomaniac and I can't stand dissent and I really, really, wanted to see a church bring the gospel the right way--MY WAY".  Can we discern the Martin Luthers from the Jim Jones'?  Maybe, but even if we could, what are our options?  I like your suggestion at the end, about prayer.  I would ad "warning" as well.  Even if we can't judge the pastors present in every church split, one day the Chief Shepherd will judge.  And woe to any of us pastors who have been "shepherding" out of our own needs and desires rather than those of Christ!  

Another thing we can do is with the help of the Candidacy Committee encourage the righteousness of candidates for ministry (and screen out those who how obvious tendencies to break up and dominate groups) and we could possibly help search committees develop some criteria to avoid calling "that kind of pastor".  

Thankfully, Christ still governs His church and those who lead from unholy motives will only get so far!  Thanks for the article!

But trying to find a way to address a significant problem in the American Protestant Church.  How do we encourage pastors to be faithful to their promises and committed to unity?  Perhaps one way is to talk about it.  Hence, my post.

But trying to find a way to address a significant problem in the American Protestant Church.  How do we encourage pastors to be faithfil to their promises and committed to unity?  Perhaps one way is to talk about it.  Hence, my post.

Tongue in cheak, for sure.  

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