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Caring for Pastors

Ministry is one of the most demanding professions in the North American environment. It is a profoundly satisfying task because pastors daily have opportunities to impact others for all eternity. Yet, in spite of its eternal implications, it is a wrenching and draining profession as well. 

Pastors
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An Exchange about Membership Transfers

Here's a brief email exchange about some technical issues on membership transfers between congregations and different denominations. I thought this might be helpful for elders, deacons, pastors, members because I think we deal with this at least ten times a year for people either transferring in or out. I think the two notes below are self-explanatory...

Pastors
Discussion Topic
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Passion for disciplemaking

During advisory committee sessions at Synod 2010, delegates will have times of reflection and dialogue based on Bill Hull's The Disciplemaking Pastor. I read it years ago, and now reflecting on going back to a dsicplemaking mode in my life and ministry again. (Been nurtured through a Navigators group in the Philippines in my early years in the faith.) So my series of questions are: has any of you read this book - or perhaps Jesus Disciplemaker, The Disciplemaking Church, Training of the Twelve? But not just having read any of these. Has anyone become passionately convinced that discipling or...
Pastors
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Spouses in Pastoral Ministry: Their Role

When the Christian Reformed Church North America was awarded a Lilly Endowment grant of nearly $2 million in September 2002, the funding provided the momentum for an initiative with the potential to transform local churches and their pastors through “Sustaining Pastoral Excellence.” 

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Q&A
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Is it appropriate to use the tithe for Christian ed tuition?

Crown Financial Ministries says that "when we take a portion of our tithe and divert it to keep our children in Christian schools, it's really a gift in self-interest. Educational costs are your normal responsibility. Therefore, if God wants your children to attend private school, He will provide the funds without your having to divert His tithe for that purpose." Do you agree? Admin Note: This topic has been cross-posted to our Stewardship network. Please add your comments there .
Pastors
Discussion Topic
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Old Testament Challenge?

Greetings All: I've had someone suggest we that our church go through John Oortberg's "Old Testament Challenge" next year. I don't know a lot about it other than the bits and pieces I've gathered online. Anyone have experiences to share, good or bad? Strengths and weaknesses? I'm particularly curious about the hermeneutics applied and what it's like to prepare a sermon on a (presumably) large chunk of scripture. Thanks! Joel
Pastors
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Sustaining Pastoral Excellence

Grants, conferences and learning events are just some of the ways that Sustaining Pastoral Excellence supports and strengthens pastors and helps to build vital congregations.

Pastors
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Welcoming Strange - or Maybe Just Visiting! - Preachers

The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship has assembled a website with a great variety of helps, hints, resources for worship and Christian community. One of the most practical items on CICW site is the "Feature Stories".

Pastors
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CRC Median Age - 52!

I read this on a Classical report from a ROT member: There was an interesting discussion at the last BOT about youth and faith formation. A lot of churches are experiencing a drain of youth from their pews. The BOT will encourage synod to devote time at a future synod to talk about youth ministry and declining membership. There are currently 265,000 members in the denomination. The median age is 52, and that has gone up by about four years, a reflection of the loss of younger members. Over on CRC-Voices, we've been wondering where the statistics come from and whether we could have a deeper...
Pastors
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The Trouble with Jesus' Ascension--and Its Promise

May 13 was the least known, possibly most important Christian holiday—Ascension Day. It should kick off big-time Christian parties, like those after the Prime Minister is sworn in–but bigger. It remembers when Jesus—Immanuel, God-with-Us—returned to heaven after his crucifixion and resurrection. From there he rules the universe at God the Father’s right hand.

Pastors
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Funding for Church Building Accessibility

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

Church Admin & FinanceDisability ConcernsPastors
Q&A
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What are some good study materials for learning about the Holy Spirit?

My staff and I are planning on learning together more about the Holy Spirit...how it moves, works, makes itself available...how it fits into our CRC church culture...how we can better understand and be moved by the Holy Spirit. I'm looking for recommendations on books or articles that we could utilize as we learn together. Does anyone have some suggestions for me? Thanks! Tony Meyer
Pastors
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The Character of a Near Disaster

The Leadership Paper defines “character” as that which generates trust on the part of followers. As you read this article, ask yourself, “How does that definition of character affect the following building project and my own work?”

Pastors
Policy or Guidelines
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Expense Reimbursement Plan

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

Church Admin & FinancePastors
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Defining Success in Ministry

For a landscaper, the growing grass is proof of a job well done.  But how does one define success in ministry? To sustain pastoral excellence, we need a definition of pastoral ministry success that is viable.

Pastors
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How Does a Church Determine Who Gets Paid and Who's a Volunteer?

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. 

Church Admin & FinancePastors
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Doubting Doubt

Thomas is Christianity’s first famous doubter. Odd, since his doubt surfaced on the very day Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. A week later doubt disappeared. What can dispel doubt today? Start by paying attention to how the Gospel of John is built. Its doubters are boxed in by stories of faith. 

Pastors
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Healthy Congregations Head Outwards

What’s to debate? Isn’t it a given that congregations be healthy? The issues are complex and crucial. At stake is not merely survival of local congregations, but also the direction of the CRCNA in the 21st century.

Pastors
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Reimburse Ministerial Expenses Legally

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.

Church Admin & FinancePastors
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Smaller Churches Measure Up Big

Do smaller churches measure up? “Often, size becomes a major diagnostic tool for churches,” says Rev. Paul Van Dyken, pastor of Grace Christian Reformed Church in Burke, Vermont. “People think that if you’re not big, you’re not healthy.”

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"Why I Don't Tweet"

I don't know how many on-line things you subscribe to, but at last count it's at least 30--things like catalogues from bike shops, canoe and paddling outfits, magazines, bargain notices from vendors and on and on.
There are all sorts of pastoral issues involved in this fact. For example, since I have only one email address (honest!) all personal and work stuff comes to the same address. Thus the temptation into which I lead myself: "Read and process personal stuff on church time."

Pastors
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Church Leadership: One Size Doesn't Fit All

Bomhof says he has learned that serving a larger congregation requires different skills than he relied upon in his smaller charges, and he’s intentionally sought out opportunities to hone those much-needed skills. He is not alone in that.

Pastors
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Theology of "Sinners"

Hi there, everyone! Had someone from the congregation call me this morning concerned about using the term "sinners" in reference to Christians. The person felt that we are no longer referred to as sinners in the scriptures of the New Testament, and that therefore we ought not be referred to that way now either. An example of where this might occur would be when we prepare for the Lord's Supper and we invite people to come to the table if the know they are sinners and need Jesus' saving work in their lives, etc. So my question is this: In your opinion, should Christians refer to themselves as...
Pastors
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When Pastors Retire: Intimidating Transitions - Potential Rewards

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. 

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Sorry I didn't get back to you earlier on this; missed it somehow. If you go to my profile, you'll see a "Contact" tab and you can email me from there.

-- Mavis

Hi Annika,

When I started Salesforce I did lots of training with the videos in their Help & Training site, the Learning Center. The ones under Setup and some under Reports and Dashboards gave me the basics  i needed to get things set up. Their help documentation is very thorough. I also used the little "Help on this page" links a lot as I was working inside the program. 

I also used the Answers section to post questions to the community. It's great the way people are willing to help you out. If I really got stuck, I would open a case. You don't get an immediate answer, but they do respond and work with you.

It sounds like you've got a good start already. Hope things go well.

Are there any year long high school catechism curriculums besides What We Believe, HC and Me, and Questions worth asking? 

I will consider looking at Faith Alive's material first, which I usually do.  Unfortunately, I often have to look through a great deal of material before I find something that is both interesting and challenging.  Sometimes I just find it a better use of my time to look at curriculum from other publishers that I know are still Reformed in their thinking but don't water down their material.

Thanks for the article!

We just signed up for the free trial with Salesforce and I am learning how to customize the software to make it work for us. The first thing I came across is the need for funds, like you mentioned in your post. 

Do you have any recommendations for training sites? I was able to create an object "funds" and I linked it to "Donations" but this is my first time doing anything like this and I am very unsure if I did it right and if the data will be usable in reports and searchable, etc. 

Any links to more information on how to customize and use Salesforce for churches would be awesome!

Annika

The last I saw of the material was several years ago. At that time the stories that went with the lesson were not stories that our 4th grade students could relate to. Several of the teachers found the lessons very difficult to teach. As I wrote I am willing to look at the lessons again, but changing material is difficult and once changed difficult to go back. We will be moving to a new Catechism material for the 9th and 10 grades next year. It is my hope that Faith Alive will have materials that we can use.

Royce - What do you mean by "the material had an urban slant"?

Hello Bruce,

 

 

I could see myself as a Turtle Island Rider.

Please keep me on your mailing list.

 

Henk

I would love to order from FaithAlive resources for our church and have ordered the catalogue for next year. When our church stopped ordering from FaithAlive the material had an urban slant that was difficult to teach to our small town and rural children and appeared to us to have lost the reformed foundation. I am hopeful that there is now material that will fit our congregation and its needs. It appears to me that our congregation was not the only one that had problems with the material. Shall we say it appears churches voted with their feet?

First, I'd disagree with the correlation of pastor and prophet, even though it's firmly embedded in our Reformed tradition and tied to the three-fold office of Jesus. The schema of equating the three-fold office of Christ to our three main offices (or are they two, with one being a specialized elder), stretches beyond the breaking-point of good theology. It's a schema that we should hold lightly to, if at all. Certainly the Bible never echoes the schema.

As for the heart of what it means to hold this office, which is still officially called Minister of the Word, or Minister of Word and Sacrament, I spend time in the pastoral epistles and look for Paul's advice to young Timothy & Titus. I find it interesting that the title "pastor" doesn't occur in the pastorals, nor do the typical duties associated with the shepherd of a flock (visiting the sick, comforting the suffering, etc.) find much traction there - at least not directly. The one thing that gets the most traction is preaching and teaching the Word, watching out for false teaching, and the careful appointment of elders and deacons, as well as some other advice on dealing with certain in-house management issues in their respective churches. That's interesting to me.

The prophetic office (in the O.T.) is certainly not about what the prophets were against, it's not primariy about speaking against injustice, or government corruption. The prophets were individually and specifically commissioned by God to speak His words to those He specifically told them to speak. Those words always called people back to faithfulness to God and His ways (Torah), and warned about what specifically would happen if they did not return to Him and follow His ways. If you have not received specific instruction on what to say, who to say it to, and when to say it; you're not a prophet. If you want to preach the full council of God, your a preacher of the gospel, an evangelist (in the Biblical use of that word). The NT does not use the word "prophet" to describe preaching of the Gospel. To equate the two, is to ignore or violate the NT understanding of both roles (offices?).

As far as hot/controversial topics goes, I stay away from them only because they can't be discussed. To try is to invite anger, opposition and force folks to pick 'sides.' Polarlizing issues tend to polarize.

A better 'strategy' (if that's the right word), is to deal with these matters through the back door. As far as social justice is concerned, we speak first of mercy, of responding to Jesus' call to help those in need, to side with those who have been wronged, etc. Leave the whole matter of how to deal with government out of the discussion (for now), it will come up, as folks find that the system is part of the problem.

BTW, part of the problem with our concept of 'social justice' is that for us the word 'justice' itself brings up the adversarial 'justice' system in our country. No wonder we fight about it, since 'justice' in our heads, is always a fight for my side, or yours. That's just dumb. Biblical justice is about the establishment of shalom, not about who can prove their case with better arguments.

Okay, back on track. I don't speak from the pulpit about politics or what we tend to call 'issues,' Christian day schools, or whether it's proper to have a U.S. flag in the worship space. I speak privately with those who ask me about those things, and then only if I'm sure they want to discuss, rather than rally support for their 'side' and against the other 'side.' I don't like 'sacred cows' but unceremoniously grinding them into hamburger is no way to lead a church to unity (a central value in the NT for churches). Once folks take 'sides' the battle is already lost. If we can't have differences without taking sides, we are a church in need of deep healing.

Who does it help to be right about all the 'issues' and divided with the brothers and sisters with whom we disagree? 'Issues' should never be the center of our discussion; Jesus should be the center of our discussion, the 'issues' are all to be seen as incidental to our mission to go and make disciples. In my limited experience issue oriented churches and issue oriented pastors find division the norm, either within their body, or between their body and bodies of other believers. In such groups, or with such pastors, the emphasis is on the wrong syllable, so to speak, as is always the case when justice outweighs grace as the chief modus operandi of the church. And mentioning this irritates such folks, who (rightly) claim that the two are not opposed to each other, to which I reply that the one (justice) must be subservient to the other (grace) as the main emphasis of the churches message on every occassion.

The bigger issue is to deal with differences with love and understanding. In Phil 4:2 Paul urges "Euodia and Syntyche to agree in the Lord." He says nothing about who is right, or wrong, or even state what the issues were. He simply urges Syzygus (or his 'loyal yokefellow') and Clement to help them resolve their differences. The issue wasn't the issue here, unity was the issue. There are many things that I and other members of the church disagree on where I am. They also disagree with each other. But we do love each other, and that governs how we talk to each other (usually!).

posted in: Don't Mention "it"

First: I agree with Mary’s post.

Second: I wonder if we realize the outcome of what we're doing if we allow for the full theological import of the Catechism. It may well mean that "our guy" will not be elected by following the 9th Commandment. It may well be proven after the election that many people really thought better of the more loving candidate, but those sentimentalities seem to wear out after about 3 years. We should be okay with “our guy” losing in this context, but are we?

Third: Are we allowed to call someone “our guy” if the only choices are unrepentant 9th Commandment breakers? Every remaining candidate in this year’s presidential race has engaged in 9th Commandment-skirting language. How much is tolerable before “our guy” isn’t “ours” anymore?

posted in: The 9th Commandment

I support Paul's comment simply because it's Paul.

posted in: The 9th Commandment

Thanks for the post Mary.  I think your analysis of the 9th commandment is right on target.  It is not surprising that much of the political world doesn't adhere to the commandment, but it is distressing that so many of us Christians just soak up the half-true, out-of-context, and mean-spirited stuff that is dished up. 

One of the best pieces of  wisdom ever passed on to me was by a mentor who told me, "When describing an opponent's position, do so with such meticulous honesty and correctness that even your opponent  would have agree that you have accurately stated it."  When I complained that my opponent would then just lie and deny that they actually held such a position, my mentor said, "Then your opponent’s character will be evident to everyone who is paying attention, and you will have won regardless of your opponent's protestations."  Although I realize that this is easier advice to give than to actually follow, I think it remains sound advice and has the added benefit of keeping one within the bounds of the 9th commandment.

posted in: The 9th Commandment

For more information on the Pastors' forum, please see the website.

 

http://allontario.com/pastors/

While some worship format is necessary let's not be wiser than God by adding a flurry of rituals of our own making, for example, believing that directing the congregation in reciting prepared prayer responses flashed on the overhead screen make it an inspiring worship service.

The Old Testament's rituals are irrelevant in this discussion. Christians are under a "better covenant" of grace now. Jesus gave us the Lord's Supper and Baptism. That's grace. What's not grace is legalism.  

 

 

 

Hi Dirk.

All who claim the Clergy Residence Deduction have to follow the same rules.  So, whether one is an ordained minister serving a congregation, a chaplain at a hospital, or a person who in some other way meets the function and status test of the legislation for the CRD, needs to attach a copy of his/her job description, complete with percentages of time spent in each area indicated within it..

Likely it will require adapting the currently held job description.  Contacting the HR office or the person who completes these forms is a good idea, alerting them to the new forms and reporting requirements.

Bruce

Bruce:

Do you know of the impact these modified requirements have on ordained ministers who work in specialized ministry settings such as Canadian Chaplains?

Amen. 

First thing is to stand for something.  Try to be everything to everybody and you end up being nothing to anybody.  Some people won't like what you stand for, but that's OK.  I have no problem with referring folks to other churches (a church is better than no church).

Second thing, emphasize integration.  The purpose of children and youth ministry is to integrate them fully into the body of believers (same thing with evangelism, couples' clubs, etc.).  The "niche" has it's uses in that, which is fine, but if the sub-group, whatever it might be and however it is defined, is kept isolated from the rest of the congregation then what you end up with is two congregations instead of one - congregations too often defined along social science strata and thus far too uniform to be effective.

And avoid instant fixes - problems developed over decades are not fixed in minutes.

I think the last paragraph says it all.  People, including young people, are attracted to churches that mean what they say, that really believe in something and are not just going thru the motions.  They are attracted to churches that look for sacrifice, that are more concerned about serving God than about serving themselves.   For churches that look outward towards God and others, rather than towards a comfortable pew.   For alive people, not for half-dead people.  A church filled with the Spirit, will be able to share that same Spirit.  And the Spirit is irresistable. 

Great post.  Informative.  Thanks!

hmmm. lots of thoughts, here's a few... not sure if you left this out on purpose or why it's you didn't  mention it, but one of the areas I feel like the LORD is opening up to minister to us is through the gift of prophecy, which will use both creation and the Word.  Is the Spirit in us a "3rd book" .  The Word is one, creation or confirmation via the natural is one, and the Spirit in us ministers to us as well, all 3 will point us to God (which the Spirit is of course)  and help us live our lives through daily leading and guidance.

next thought... a few weeks ago, was wrestling with "programs", and a conclusion I came to, was that God is an infinitely creative God.  We (humans) tend to jump on something that worked a few times and then turn it into a program and market it and say how it will "grow" your church or whatever.  What i believe is God wants us to spend time listening to Him every time.   He is so creative and longs for us to spend time with Him.  Sometimes I wonder if using "cut and dried" programs, gives us an out of spending time in "listening" communion with Him, but then we miss out on what He's got planned for us because we are using and "old word" so to speak.

and the last thought I'll share is a confirmation of this insight...  

 boq... Imagine a church filled with people whose every moment is attuned to the presence and glory of God. This would be attractive. This would be meaningful. This would grow God’s church. eoq eoqee

that reminded me of a statement for Mary Geegh's little book "God Guides" p10...  "How wonderful the world will be when everyone is guided by God's Holy Spirit..."  not saying we'll see perfection here on earth, but i think it is a key for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Blessings to you as you pursue the thoughts that the Spirit is stirring up  =)..

John, (Hey Allen & Mark)

Aha...so that's what I've been feeling inside.  I could never in a million years word it like that, but I get it.  Took me three reads, but I got it.  John, you are right on. 

My three pennies worth for making this vision a reality:

1. Praise and adore the Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer, and somedaycomeandfixitallbetter God.  Seek his presence.

2. Be Pastors and people who are willing to not just write a whole bunch of nice vision stuff, but BE THE ONE who holds the gas pedal down at 5000rpms that keep churches accountable to the original plan... advance the Kingdom.  Lead by example.

3."Don't create, discover, or facilitate a program but rather cultivate an environment of hospitality that animates the whole posture of the community as it relates to its surrounding environment.  When we settle for programs, not only does it relieve the people it seeks to serve from stretching and doing the hard work of building relationships, it also lets the rest of the church off the hook as it relates to embodying the Christian virtue of hospitality-a fundamental aspect of discipleship for people who claim to follow Jesus Christ."  Tim Keel, Intutitive Leadership, page 242.  Do it different.

Count me in.

Bringing Cadillac CRC along, whether they like it or not.

All for God's Glory.

John,

Amen! on recapturing our creational "roots" in exegesis, theology and preaching. As a recent seminary grad with a bachelor's in biology, I find in our congregations too little attention given to those members who spend Mon-Fri in the labratory.

The fear that a capitulation to God's voice in creation might co-opt our view of scriptural authority seems strange in light of the confession's clear statement in Art. 2: that scripture is the way God "makes himself known to us more openly." The implication is that God is openly revealing himself in creation, even if incompletly. The reaction(s) to neo-orthodoxy in the 50's-60's, along with subsequent debates about scriptural authority, seem to have gotten us off track with what Berkhof said regarding the need for general revelation: that it "maintains the connection between nature and grace, between the world and the kingdom of God, between the natural and the moral order, between creation and re-creation." This connection keeps special revelation from being "suspended in the air" and instead shows how scripture "touches the life of the world at every point." (Systematic Theology, Introduction, principium III, B, 1, b.)

This is what I find so many "searches" and "seekers" are truly looking for. Not a church fashioned according to their own interests, but a community which actively uncovers this deep connection between God's work and Word. How exciting it will be if our pulpits continue to be filled with laureates of both of God's books!

Thanks for sharing your heart and vision for the denomination.  I can appreciate a lot of what you are saying especially because I too have been wrestling with the same thing -- preaching, teaching and being the church of the NT in a way that is true and real with a full orbed presentation based in our solid understanding and hermeneutic.  And I know the denomination has all the tools necessary to make it happen.

For me the starting point is, making disciples.  I believe if we're truly doing that, passion and mission driven by the working Holy Spirit will naturally happen.  When our focus is on "programs" or the next great outreach "program" we short change the Great Commission.

Allen

Praise the LORD!  this link to this video of Matthew west's song, my own little world, by Christ Church of the Heartland in Texas is working again.  It is such a powerful video and it was profound timing when I first watched it...

I encourage you to watch this... It's HIS time!!!

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=FJ2F91NU&utm_source=GodTube%20Must-See%20Video&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=01/04/2012 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I am stated clerk in the classis involved.  It should be noted that Coleman offered his resignation from ordained ministry, which classis accepted. 

John, you make a convincing arguement. Classis holds all the cards on the "released from office". They are not obligated to follow the recommendation of counselors, they are not obligated to prove cause, they are not obligated to follow any agreement between the minister and the church the minister is leaving. They must have the approval of synodical deputies, but the way the Church Order is worded, the deputies cannot withhold approval. One would assume that a classis would never do such a thing, but mine did.

Please understand that I made mistakes as a pastor, as did the elders of the church I served. I do not fault the elders, we are human and live in depravity - we make mistakes. This is why establishing sufficient cause is so important to being released from office in Supplement Art. 17a.; and it is why the Bible requires in both the OT and NT that two or more witness are required before disciplining a person for an offense. The arguement that being released from office is an act of grace and not discipline (though discipline should always be  done with grace) is the foundation of the loophole and is a bucket that holds no water.

First, I think that the supplement and the original article 17 ought to be amalgamated, and placed in sequence so that confusion is greatly reduced.   Then it also becomes more obvious how convoluted it is, and how it attempts to do two contradictory things at once, which is hinted at in article 17d.   On the one hand, no blame, just a disharmony of purpose.  On the other hand counseling and therapy.   And possibility of discontinuation of ordination/ministry.  

The essence of ordination is ministry.   This applies to all offices.  If ministry is not engaged in, then offices are not exercised, regardless of title.   The essence of pastoral/preaching ministry is that a church is required to be served.   If such a church does not manifest, and if duties or tasks of office are not exercised/performed then the ministry is absent.   Thus article 17 becomes a process of relatively little significance.   If it releases someone under article 17, then it is possible to request re-instatement, upon the request of a church who wishes to call the individual, since no blame or fault has been assessed. 

But then we have this whole business about counseling and therapy, implying some kind of problem.   And the article and supplement suggests that classis may simply declare the preacher ineligible for call, and declare him released, without indicating any reasons.  Thus we have a contradictory scenario within this article/supplement, which is not clarified as well as it should be. 

But, the article ought to be eliminated.   If counseling and therapy lead to the determination that the man is unsuitable for office in the opinion of classis, then  this should be mentioned, and should not be so ambiguous.  It should become part of article for deposition. 

In our present society, we so often have people who resign, or are laid off, rather than fired for cause, that the practice has entered the church as well.   I don't know if this practice  is speaking the truth in love, although I admit the intention is to cause the least possible hurt.   

 If article 17 was not voluntarily requested (which might be self-discipline) then certainly it is a form of discipline by others. 

John, thanks for your response. I have spoken of 17a which is an error. It is Supplement, 17a. After all this time we have shortened it to 17a and that can be confussing. 

In 17a.4) the church order states: "If classis does not declare the minister eligible for call, it shall, with concurrance of synodical deputies, release the minister from office." 

Be careful to not that the minister is being released from office - the removal of the ordination - not the same as a release from service where the minister maintains the ordination. This removal of the ordination does not require cause. Where there is cause, Article 82-84 applies, and in this case the minister has the opportunity to address witnessess and the charges as Scripture requires.

How can anyone claim that the removal of a minister's ordination, that required four years of seminary to obtain, is not a form of discipline? Surely the minister did something wrong, surely there were witnesses, and the Bible requires that two or more of these come forward. I am suggesting that Supplement 17a is in violation of Scripture. What do you think?

I should also point out the inconsistency in this article 17 which seems to indicate a release "without cause or fault", and yet leaves a great deal of decision in the hands of classis to determine over the ordination or calling of someone, without identifying a justifiable reason.   In essence, this is a useless article.   If a pastor is let go by a church, then he may remain ordained, but can only operate in any case under the jurisdiction of some local church.   If no local church authorizes him, then his ordination will more or less lapse.   If classis "releases" him, this can easily be revoked by some church calling him and requesting "re-ordination", since he was released "amicably", and not "deposed".   This article largely adds process and protocol without essential and elemental effect.  imho. 

I don't know the details of your case.  But on the face of it classis should not be able to release you from ministerial office before two years have elapsed from the time of release from the congregation.   Unless the process of evaluation and assistance indicated a sooner release was advisable.  

Article 17

a. Ministers who are neither eligible for retirement nor worthy of discipline

may for weighty reasons be released from active ministerial service in

a congregation through action initiated by themselves, by a council, or

jointly. Such release shall be given only with the approval of classis, with

the concurring advice of the synodical deputies, and in accordance with

synodical regulations.

—Cf. Supplement, Article 17-a (process for evaluation and assistance and determination)

b. The council shall provide for the support of a released minister in such a

way and for such a time as shall receive the approval of classis.

c. A minister of the Word who has been released from active ministerial

service in a congregation shall be eligible for call for a period of two years,

after which time the classis, with the concurring advice of the synodical

deputies, shall declare the minister to be released from the ministerial office.

For weighty reasons the classis, with the concurring advice of the synodical

deputies, may extend the eligibility for call on a yearly basis.

d. In some situations, the classis may decide that it cannot declare the

released minister eligible for call after the minister has completed the

process of evaluation and assistance. The classis, with the concurring

advice of the synodical deputies, shall then declare the minister to be

released from ministerial office. 

In 2009 I worked out an amicable separation agreement with the church I pastored. After submitting it to Classis, 17a was administered. I went to a counselor who gave me a clean bill of health after six sessions and recommended that I return to the ministry. It was not what Classis wanted to hear. They removed my ordination at the end of the year without even reporting my counselor's findings. 

Because 17a does not require any due diligence or any hearing or any witness of wrong doing as required by Scripture, I could not defend myself. I asked for what I had done that was worthy of the discipline of removal of my ordination, and I was simply told that I was not being disciplined - that would have required a hearing and charges and witnesses.

I was at a loss. How could our denomination allow for a loop hole that allowed ordination to be removed without "discipline"?

God is so good. I came to understand further the errors I made as a pastor and have grown immeasurably from this process, but it has been over a year now and no one from my Classis has contacted me. There has been no effort made to disciple me or walk along side me. I love the CRC, having come into it through a Home Mission church. I love Calvin Seminary for what it taught me. I love my CRC church and the healing I have found there. But I am confounded by the cold shoulder and lack of love I have experienced from my classis, my brother pastors, and my denomination.

The church is broken, but it is also the bride of Christ. I will not leave the ministry and the calling God placed on me. I love the church and will serve her. If the CRC does not want me as one of its ordained pastors, I can live with that. My only question is why have the pastors of the CRC allowed this loophole for the removal of their ordination without cause to remain in the church order?

Going back to the top, about pastors' reports to elders, I'll just share what I do for comparison.  I give a one-page bullet-point outlined report.  I fill in the points by going through my "brain book" (journal) putting in dates etc. of my various activities.  I don't organize it all that much yet (how many sermons I preached and classes I taught and visits I made top the list).  I go through it quickly and hand the written copy to my clerk.  My council right now seems happy with that procedure.  

Looking for Biblical support for message writing and music? Look at 2 Kings 3, especially verse 15. 

 argh.. looks like the video got pulled.  probably for copyright stuff..  too bad... I'm sorry, I thought  it was way better than the official one!   It was done by Christ Church of Heartland, and at the beginning the "man in the mirror" had the writing "It's my time" on the mirror, and at the end, he erases the "my" and replaces it with "His"...  It's His time... it was profound, and God used it as a powerful confirmation for me yesterday!!    matthew west sings it, don't know if he wrote it...

here's the link to the official one... again, the other video was far more profound at least for me for a variety of reasons, including the timing, so I'm not near as excited about this one!!  and btw, the Matthew scripture is one of  the verses He's been putting on my heart as well...

http://www.vevo.com/watch/matthew-west/my-own-little-world/US82Y1000065 

my own little world it hardly ever rains
I’ve never gone hungry, always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket, shoes on my feet
In my own little world
population me

I try to stay awake during Sunday morning Church
I throw a twenty in the plate, but I never give ’til it hurts
And I turn off the news when I don’t like what I see
Yeah, it’s easy to do when it’s
Population: me

What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now?
Outside my own little world oooh

Stopped at a red light, looked out my window
I saw a cardboard sign, said “Help this homeless widow”
And just above that sign was the face of a human
I thought to myself, “God, what have I been doing?”
So I rolled down the window and I looked her in the eye
Oh how many times have I just passed her by?
I gave her some money then I drove on through
And my own little world reached
Population two

Oh

What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose
That I could be living right now
Outside my own little world oooh, ooh
My own little world oooh

Wooah woooah woooah
yeeah yeeah

Father break my heart for what breaks Yours
Give me open hands and open doors
Put Your Light in my eyes and let me see
That my own little world is not about me

What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose
That I could be living right now
I don't want to miss what matters
I wanna be reaching out
Show me the greater purpose
So I can start living right now
Outside my own little world yeeeaah yeeeah
My own little world ooooh
Woooaah
Wooah
Wooah

http://www.sweetslyrics.com/789128.Matthew%20West%20-%20My%20Own%20Little%20World.html 

 

thank you for sharing!

that is exactly the reason God led me into healing prayer ministry.  We get to see Him, when we minister to the poor, the struggling, those who are hurting.   I got to see His face through one of those "underprivileged"  just yesterday when He led me to a neighborhood of shacks in our area.   I left in tears.

I was there for only a few moments, but during those moments, we rec'd this video via email... It was a beautiful confirmation of what is on God's heart.  Based on Matthew West's song "My own little world"...

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=FJ2F91NU&utm_source=GodTube%20Must-See%20Video&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=01/04/2012 

Ah yes. Stories like these. This is one of the glories of ministry in urban areas and other areas of poverty and neglect. For even more stories like these (shameless plug for my father's book) check out http://www.amazon.com/Chains-of-Grace-ebook/dp/B0051AUE3M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325788813&sr=8-1 :) pvk

Excellent comments, Keith (and Rod too.)! 

Just recently, with the advent of Google+ (G+), this "friend"-only classification has changed. G+ pioneered the use of "circles" to identify your relationship to people, so now you can group people by how you know them and control more easily which social group of yours sees what. Facebook followed suit with its "lists" because G+ was getting all the buzz about being the next big thing. This allows a more "authentic" grouping of the people you know, and it allows you to post just to that self-defined social grouping, say, relatives, or old college buddies, or church members, or whatever "circles" you create. So the majority of your argument may go away. It will depend on FB users adopting the new system, which most will be reticent to do, in my opinion, because they are so used to posting publicly, and it's an inconvenience (no matter how small) to post to a list. G+ is a little less inconvenient because it's built around the circles architecture, rather than having it thrown in as an afterthought.

I share Holtvlüwer's trepidation about being friends with those in authority over me (though it's more rigidly delineated for me by the the US Army), but he failed to mention an important flip-side to this argument. What about "friending" young, single ladies college age) from my home church, for example? I'm married with two kids, and am a Ministry Associate operating as a US Army Chaplain. I have avoided the creation of a "fan page" for myself (I'm not THAT important) so that people can follow my ministry, and just use personal FB & G+ pages.

Now, from my early days as a young (I'm 37 now) Bible College student, it was hammered into my brain to never put myself in a situation that even hinted at sexual compromise, but on FB & G+ I have these "friends" who are young ladies from my home church that I have accepted as friends because I was acquainted with them and their families, they requested to be friends with me, and I make the assumption that they just want to keep up with the ministry that I'm doing. (For the record, I have never had any inappropriate requests or posts from any of them).

A few points on this; in real life, were I a local Pastor, I would never have relationships with young ladies in which I would be constantly privy to their daily social interactions because that would more than hint of inappropriateness, I think. I worked out my discomfort long ago, by assuring that my wife is my "friend" and always has full access to anything on my FB page. I have never requested a "friending" with a female unless my wife was aware of it, never with anyone who might appear to be a compromise (old girlfriends, say) or anyone else whose friendship might give even the appearance of inappropriateness. I have once or twice, unfriended other females (not from my church) who have written inappropriate(unchristian) posts, but all in all, I haven't had a bad experience with FB or G+.

As a Pastor, what is your view on this?

An intriguing discussion. Here is a variation on the theme: It seems to me that we are increasingly training ministers to become CEOs rather than pastors. It would be interesting to find out how many second-career pastors have that entrepreneurial or CEO bent.

It seems to me that CTS should be training ministers to be pastors: a solid theological education and a passion for visiting people and preaching. I am coming across an increasing number of ministers who fancy themselves as CEOs. They want to run the show, call the shots, set the church's vision, take a few intriguing courses, and preach a wonderfully generic sermon.

We need ministers who preach well. That happens when they have oratorical gifts, a theological education, and a heart to listen to his/her parishioners.

 

Do we need ministers who posess an entrepreneurial spirit to plant churches? Perhaps. There is a sense of adventure and risk in planting a church. More importantly, we need theologically trained men and women who have extraordinary people skills, a strong sense of humility, and compassion for the community.

 

Rod, you speak of the 'professionalization of ministry'. I cringe somewhat when I read that. You're right; ministry has become a profession, a career with wonderful job security (unless you fall victim to Article 17). The Christian Reformed Church is the highest paid denomination (at least in Canada) when it comes to ministers' salaries. There is a sense of pride that we take care of our own. But there is something to be said for those denominations where salaries are one-half of what the CRC pays, where 'salary' is called a 'stipend', where the stipend is paid at the beginning of the month as a church council's indication of good faith, rather than a salary paid at the end of the month as a reward for work done. Have we lost the sense of servanthood by paying our ministers extremely well? Is the minister's salary and related job security attracting those to the ministry who perhaps shouldn't be?

Okay. Call these questions a digression. It's all related to the kinds of men and women who are entering the CRC ministry in the 21st century, church plant, chaplaincy, regular parish.

I discovered a few years ago that Handel has 20+ oratorios besides the Messiah, which I used to listen to (religiously?), many on such biblical characters as Saul, Nabal, Gideon, Sampson, Athalia, as well as ones on Judas Maccabeus and Israel in Egypt.   I find them very helpful in getting my head in the right place when writing.

That's an interesting observation, Mavis.  I myself haven't used the expression "Facebook friend" probably because I know all my "friends" irl, whether they're bio family, church family, colleagues, acquaintances, "real friends," etc.  So perhaps Facebook isn't redefining friendship so much as it is creating a new type of friendship that didn't exist prior to social media. ...Although pen pals do come to mind as something similar. ~Stanley

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

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

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

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

Actually, my observation is that Facebook has added a new term for its unique type of relationship: "Facebook Friend." When I'm talking about someone's post on Facebook, or someone with whom I have little other contact than via Facebook, or perhaps someone who is more of an acquaintance or co-worker than what I'd call a true friend, I will call him or her a Facebook Friend. I've heard many others do the same. 

By using the term Facebook Friend, we differentiate between others we'd refer to just as "friend." It conveys a different meaning, one that conveys the lighter, less deep relationship than friend.

I don't see that there will be a problem with lessening the meaning of friendship with this usage. It just adds a new type of friendship to the others.

I listen to itunes - radio - religious.

It has 300+ religious stations.

I switch between Christian Acappella 2, purpose driven radio, the faithful road and others. 

I have throughout my preaching career, but it started in Bible college and Seminary. I like the "background noise." It helps me focus. I mostly listen to Christian hardcore music, which has had recent 'reformation' of sorts, beginning to focus on content again, rather than just vaguely Christian lyrics. The energetic presentation of Gospel messages stirs my soul. I find, though, as the Spirit begins to move in my prep, that I am less aware of the music and more aware of His presence (and I mean this in a deeper way than the triteness of the phrasing allows). I feel a real connection to God, through His word, which is partially facilitated by the music, just like worship in church.

Thanks for sharing. Not sure I"ve ever heard of Dino before. I'll have to look him up.

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

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