How do you and your congregation decide when to say “yes” to out-of-ordinary requests for baptism? Recently a family who live in another country requested our elders to baptize their eight-month old baby.

January 20, 2010 0 0 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
Resource, Article

How do you determine the balance between too much or too little organization? Leaders need to understand their mission and clearly see that the structure and organization assists in accomplishing ministry. 

January 14, 2010 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

OK, you're going to do those visits, because that's what you are called to do. But you are uneasy, scared. This brief guide is intended to be an introductory checklist for pastors, pastoral care workers, elders or deacons when you visit families or individuals.

January 13, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Today more ministers live in their own houses than ever before. But not all. Local situations vary. But where pastors live in church-owned housing, consistories do well to think about their retirement days.

January 11, 2010 0 0 comments

I have never written a blogpost before and had to be told what it was. I'm still not sure. But what I am sure about is that I believe this idea of "Network" is a pretty good one. So I'll learn what it takes to be a guide for this "Pastors" section. I won't be alone, I hope. I am looking forward to other colleagues, interested persons, perhaps aspiring pastors to help make this little website helpful, informative and participatory for our callings as pastors.

January 9, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

A book review on the Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against the Challenges of Postmodernism by Douglas Groothuis.

January 9, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

In all areas of life—from home repair to healthcare—prevention simply makes good sense. Why not put a little effort today into prevention if it means we can avoid big problems—and expensive cures—in the future?

January 9, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

A review of Donald Miller's Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality (Nashville, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2003) and Searching for God Knows What (Nelson Books, 2004)

January 8, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Engage your right brain for about 1250 more words as you read a recently discovered and freely translated verbatim of a meeting of the Central Jerusalem Wannabe Temple Worship Committee.

January 8, 2010 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

There’s nothing wrong with occasionally using another preacher's work when one’s own well is dry. How can preachers give due credit honestly and not awkwardly?

January 8, 2010 0 15 comments
Resource, Book or eBook

This training tool focuses on leadership in the local church. Biblical, theological, and practical information is presented in a user-friendly format. Case studies are used throughout. Four ways in which the material can be used are given complete with worksheets, questions etc.

January 7, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or eBook

Written by pastors and their spouses, this tool is full of practical information for both pastoral couples and church councils. Topics such as expectations, burnout, relationships, and balance are presented in an honest, down-to-earth style. Each chapter is followed by actions for both the pastoral couple and the council.

January 7, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Report

This benchmark survey was undertaken to provide a basis for comparison with the results of a second survey to be conducted at the conclusion of the grant period. The results of the two surveys will facilitate evaluation of the SPE program when the current Lilly Endowment Inc. grant period concludes in 2007. 

January 7, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or eBook

Two questions to start: How do I write an introduction to something that is not really a book but an online document about significant issues facing Christian congregations—members, pastors, boards, councils, leaders, and even broader assemblies? and Who might turn up as readers of this virtual document that is fishing for browsers?

January 7, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Bulletin, Insert or Cover

A bulletin insert to promote the work of Sustaining Pastoral Excellence.

January 7, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

After reviewing a variety of sabbatical policies from Christian Reformed Churches, the attached document offers suggestions to churches that are considering adopting a policy for their pastor. 

January 7, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Churches and pastors together must meet on the dance floor of change and be completely honest with each other there. The change process, big or small, in any church is a dance between the congregation and the pastor.

January 7, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

What are some healthy congregational practices that will help pastors and other leaders to flourish?

January 7, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Book or eBook

This very practical tool walks pastors, their spouses, and church councils through the season all pastors experience as they retire from ministry. 

January 7, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

Leadership Journal offers a constant stream of conversation with both longer and shorter articles. You'll find opportunity to read and respond to regular contributions by Gordon MacDonald, John Ortberg and other less-known, but no less worthy writers.

December 22, 2009 0 0 comments



Hi George and Ken!

I have a keen interest in this topic, an interest which was in place before I had my own personal experience with Article 17.

George it is impossible to answer your questions objectively. My main summary statement of the general subject would be "we do not now how to have open, honest, loving, direct-feedback conversations about how ministry is going" and "when things don't go as hoped or expected, we resort to some of our most un-Christlike behaviours." That's about all it would be fair for me to say now.

I can answer Ken's first question quite specifically, as the Pastor-Church Relations office has compiled some statistics on the use of Article 17a and b since 1980, based on the "Routes to Ordained CRC Ministry Study Report of 2000) and the Yearbook data. Here are the numbers:
                           1980 to 1989:   24 Art 17a,   7 Art 17c
                           1990 to 1999:   25 Art 17a, 13 Art 17c
                           2000 to 2009: 146 Art 17a, 26 Art 17c

The description says Art 16c's are included in the 17a stats.

In general, my sense is that the increasing number is actually a sign of health. It is a sign both ministers and congregations are admitting there are problems, rather than just sending a problem on to another church or a new pastor coming into a problem congregation.

I'm pleased now to be working as a Specialized Transitonal Minister who is being trained to come in to transition a congregation to a new phase of it's life and maybe clear out some of the things that create difficulties.

Pete - Who had a few good weeks on Ken's brother's "ranch" duing an unplanned wait to cross the border this summer.

First, I was wondering if there are statistics kept on the number of Pastors or churches who go through an article 17.  Second, I realize that not all article 17 applications are negative:  one pastor from our classis used article 17 to return to Seminary to work on a Doctorate: he wants to go into the teaching ministry, either at a college or at a Seminary some where.  He's a young guy.  But the majority of cases are not like his.  But I am interested to know if more pastors are going through article 17 in the last decade or two than in previous decades, and to what factors we might attribute an increase if there is one.  I wonder also if our way of doing things like calling pastors to a church for an indefinate amount of time, or without a regular review of the pastor's work and the congregation's vision/fit, contribute to "surprises". 

I also wonder whether or not unordained staff, like Youth Pastor's or Youth Leaders or Evangelists should be given any kind of opportunity for classical intervention when they are suddenly "terminated". 

Absolutely correct! Well put, Job's world view and subsequent outrage with suffering was most likely tailored by his youthful encounter with Christian teaching. I am actually amazed no one ever pointed this out to him. I mean, he grew up in the Civil Rights era where Christian outrage (MLK) at social injustice and suffering were on the news everyday! His outrage was actually one that Christianity would promote.  Also I love how you present an alternative Darwinian view of morality. Absolutely right on the nose! And the Karma thing, "what comes around, goes around", is a rather merciless way of looking at life. Thanks for the thoughts!

Awesome job, Paul. I was struck by the statement, "The horror young Steve Jobs experienced at seeing the suffering of African children did not prompt him to become a crusader for world justice or economic equity." How often don't we hear people saying, "Someone ought to do something!" without ever realizing that the someone might be them. For Steve, the "someone" was God.

I heard yesterday that his last words were, "Oh, my! Oh, my!" There doubtless is lots of speculation about what he saw (if anything) that caused this reaction. What if those words were expressions of shock as God came to him and said, "At a young age, I had you feel compassion for the poor. Why didn't you do something about it when you were rich?"

Re-reading your original comment/request, I gave it some more thought, David Koll.   And I thought you have provided an excellent synopsis of the difficulties of title. 

So to your proposition 1.:   I looked at scripture.  Typed in "Peter".   And I did not find a case where Peter was addressed as, pastor Peter or apostle Peter.   Sometimes, it was, "Peter, the apostle",  or "Peter, an apostle",  but even this was rare.   I doubt there was less respect because of this lack of title.   Nor would the formalized or reluctant use of it denote respect where it was not due.   I'm reminded where Jesus says to call no one father because God is our Father only.   Implying that title and honor belong to God alone.   

Proposition 2:   It would good to remember that the same difficulties that occur in the use of honorific titles apply to elders and deacons, and indeed to christian brethren.   How often do you hear people call each other "brother Dave" or "brother John" in the christian context?   Do we commonly refer to "elder Jack" or "deacon Jake" when we address each other?   So why would it be surprising that we do not address as often in conversation "pastor Dave" or "preacher Ron" or "servant John"?  

Proposition 3:    If you stop learning, pinch yourself, because you are probably dead.  

Go with the flow, (pun intended).  Church order is a guide and ought to be followed.  Of course, there will be exceptions.  When consultation with council can happen, great, if not then go with the plain reading of scripture.  

I'm thankful to God for having had the recent opportunity to baptise a new member of our church by immersion.  He came from a Mennonite church which teaches believers baptism.  He was not baptised in that church, so he professed his faith and was baptised in ours!  We held the baptism on the last Sunday of September around 1:30 in the afternoon in the McLeod river, north of Peers AB.  Thankfully, we were blessed by an unusually warm fall.  It is not unusual to have snow in September (we've had snow every month of the year).  Though the water was cold, the air was warm, and a majority of members came out to witness the baptism!  It was a great experience.

The Compensation Handbook for Church Staff does not have info on IT positions.  If you go to and search "Church Finance and Administration Resources" you can look at one church sample wage scale that includes "Network Administrator."  Check under Employment Issues/Compensation. 

Do any of these resources have information about hours and compensation for Information Technology positions? (Computer help!)

Timely question: The context of our conversation surrounding baptism is regarding adult baptism. Our form and our tradition connect adult baptism to profession of faith. In many situations that may be appropriate but we have an opportunity with a new believer, who is attending our church regularly and witnessed an infant baptism, heard the teaching and asked, not unlike the Ethiopian, why shouldnt I be baptized? My sense is to separate the baptism from the profession of faith and to treat the new believer as a true 'babe in Christ" and then engage them in a discipleship process, walking alongside to an eventual profession of faith. Does that resonate with you?  Frank 

I really appreciate the network, and the opportunity to share and sharpen ideas/test thoughts that might be from the LORD, or whatever might be on your heart, with other believers that come from a similar perspective (mainly reformed)...

I have to laugh, last fall, about this time, I mentioned to a crc leader in the area, that I had some concerns about our denomination, and some of our position statements, etc.  The response was basically, no one locally cares (i'm in the pnw), and it won't make any difference at the denominational level.   So i thought, well LORD, I know I won't make a difference on my own, but I know You can, and You can use me if You want to.

When I first learned about the network in Febr. this year, I joined.    I have been blessed by the many thoughtful, honest posts, seeking God's way of doing His Church.  I have been encouraged by the expression of others, seeking better understanding of what it means to listen to and be led by the Holy Spirit.   I have seen answers to prayers, that i believe the LORD put on my heart about His Church, and seeing posts that start to bring up some of the concepts.  Other posts give insight on how to pray on behalf of His Bride, and some specifically for the crc denomination.

I too wish more people would share their thoughts here, and I encourage everyone to do so, because that helps the Body/Bride of Christ work together better for the common good, and we are much healthier.






 I know you this better than I probably do but, where did John the Baptist perform his baptisms on people? What litirgy did he follow? Jesus didnt have a problem with John doing this did he?  That is the way I see it. Your "tension" I believe is correct on this one. Thanks for the service to the Lord.

Thank you for these poignant and encouraging reflections! ~Stan

Hi Rick,

Great discussion starter question!

A few years ago a (Reorganized) LDS family joined our church.  In addition to having received the living Christ of Scripture, they also embraced a reformed understanding of God's covenant. their request, we baptized their two infant children--by immersion.  Before you picture me dunking babies in the font by the heel, as I understand some church communions do, I should explain that the "infants" were 3 and 7 years old.  The family owned a swimming pool, so immersing these young children in the "infant" category (i.e. without a personal profession of faith) went "swimmingly."

I've never heard of a situation like this one before.  Anyone else seen or done this?

Dave Hornor

Peace Community CRC
Houston, TX

Thanks Keith, for an excellent statement(s).  I know of too many cases where PJ's situation is repeated over and over, mainly due to the 10/25 statement by Keith.

Just a follow up to this blog post. Here are two sites that examine geeks in the pew. and

both are good sites about being a geek in the pew.

posted in: The Geek in the Pew

It is unfortunate that Article 17 has received such a 'bad rap'. It is increasingly being used by churches as a valid and reasonably painless way for congregation and pastor to part ways without pointing blame at anyone.


Much of the discontent within churches today comes from our involvement in, and flirtation with, the corporate world. We have some ministers who view themselves as CEOs, bent on imposing their vision for the church upon a church council. We also have some church councils who view themselves as the corporate boardroom and the parishioners as shareholders. If they don't like what their pastor -- viewed as employee -- is doing, he is first of all given some time to shape up but invariably told to ship out.

Many CRCs -- both congregation and pastor -- have lost that sense of calling. Churches don't often view their pastor as 'a man of God, called to lead this flock', rightly or wrongly. He is often called to fill a position for a period of time.

I think it's also important to raise the issue of Article 17 here. The chair of our classical ministry team has what he calls his "PIT" list, "Pastors In Transition". When a church and/or a pastor want a separation, and it can't be done soon enough or quietly enough, or the pastor won't or can't take a call away, a lot of things start to happen, few of them positive. 

Both churches and pastors try to avoid the stigma of Article 17, which is too bad, because it was developed to address the stigma. I don't know what can be done about that, unless we all decide simply to use it more. 

Good advice I heard once was "don't wait too long to call church visitors" when you see a conflict develop between council and pastor. Wise church visitors and a good regional pastor make up a team that can care for both the pastor and the church in conflict. 

Also don't wait to long to engage Article 17 if differences appear irreconcilable. Having a pastor dismissed quietly and then lingering often doesn't help a lot either. 

Nobodies listening. This isn't about our words. People that are turning away because they don;t see love. They judge us by our actions. Let's stay true to the word of God. Anything without love is nothing.

posted in: What Will It Take?

In order to continue to receive the Lord's blessing we as a denomination need to be true to what God's word, the bible is teaching us. When we start messing around with questions, "Were Adam and Eve real people?" next," what do we do with original sin?", then "What did Jesus really come to do?"...................... As an example, in the Gereformeerde Kerk in the Netherlands, a Professor Harry Kuitert, about 50 years ago, started expressing his doubt of the creation story, 10 years ago did not beleive in Christs atoning work, 5 years ago that denominaton ceased to exsist.

posted in: What Will It Take?

Thanks for this article.  I think Peacemaker Ministries has good materials to help with such conflicts too

Might sound a bit simplistic, but I think councils would save themselves  a lot of unnecessary conflict if they would just follow Matt. 18.  While this doesn't solve all the problems, it would a majority of them.  I had a council go to the church visitors instead of to me.  Despite the council never having talked to me directly, the council met privately with the church visitors.  You can imagine how hurt I was.  Hard to work through an issue when it gets to this point.  I no longer trusted my council and it wasn't long after this that I left.  Since coming to my last charge 7 years ago, it's been wonderful.  Can see now how God allowed me to go through that wilderness in order to bring me to green pastures and still waters.  Sadly, it almost seems after the way that council treated me, God  removed his hand of blessing from them.  In hindsight,  I don't claim to have handled everything perfectly, but I also believe God doesn't look kindly upon his servants being mistreated. 

Why did you want to be a church leader?


Hello.  I'm retired now in Bothell, WA.  I appreciate the above comments of Scott, Dirk and Rich.  I just recently returned from a 50th Church Anniversary of their beginnings in a town in NW  Iowa.  We had a great time at the Anniversary.  My ministry there had been difficult about 45 years ago,  with a mix of "old guard" ultraconservative folk and more moderate ones and the pressures of trying to turn out 2 respectable sermons/Sunday.    By now the congregation has grown in grace and in numbers and the loyalty, like still attending both services faithfully, was good to see.  I endured the stresses of the time, in retrospect, partly from having had a quarter of CPE right after Seminary (as Dirk recommends), commaraderie of like-minded minister colleagues of RCA and CRC ministers, (as Rich experiences) and some more progressive members of the congregation.  So, as a common expression goes nowadays,  Take heart:  "It gets better."   Gratefully, Don Klompeen

Here in Skagit County in western Washington (state) a group of us have been meeting weekly for breakfast for a very long time (since before the denomination started calling them peer groups, or peer learning groups).

It has been such a help to me in my ministry that I would have a difficult time overestimating its value. I doubt very much that I would still be in ministry, if it weren't for the encouragement and prayers of fellow pastors through some rough spots. Really.

One of the conclusions I've come to is this: no one can pastor a pastor but a pastor. Only another pastor knows what it is to be one, what the calling is like, etc. There is no other profession that can really compare to it. One example: a pastor never 'clocks out' he is always a pastor, even at the restaurant. We are known for who we are and what we do everywhere we go, and we represent not only ourselves but the Church of Jesus Christ and Jesus Himself! When we 'mess up' the Church and Christianity itself gets a black eye. That burden is hard to bear, and neither the medical doctor nor the hospital chaplain bears it as we do (though they have their own, unique burdens too).

So, how do we handle the ornery sheep in a way that is both pastoral and effective? How do we lead without dominating? How do we keep our calling central when they conflict the demands and expectations of (some of?) the members? To whom do we go to talk about our secret sin, our marital difficulties, our crisis of faith? What does it mean to be a pastor anyway? What do you do when someone writes a "letter" (you know what I mean) to all the members?

We've dealt with all of those questions, as well as some intriguing theological themes, some fascinating and some irritating books, all with ministry to the people in our churches in mind. Great stuff.

But beyond all the learning stuff, we've come to be great friends. That's just as important in ministry and goes more toward dealing with the loneliness issue than just talking about books, problems and theology. It wasn't good that the man was alone in the garden before sin, and it certainly isn't any better for a pastor to be alone in the context of a less than sinless church and this plain old sinful world. In fact, I'd say making friends is probably more important than the other 'professional-looking' stuff.

It's been and continues to be the best hour and a half I spend each week, in terms of payback in ministry.

I'll go farther than my brother Dirk above and say it this way: If you're not in a peer group you're robbing yourself and your church of the benefit of peer support. Every pastor should be in one, and every church council should insist their pastor is in one. Pastors, if there's not one close by, start one. If you have to drive an hour to get to one, make the time for it. If you have to, put it in your job description, or list of weekly tasks. We can't give what we don't have, so make sure your spiritual tank is full, and keep it full.

How sad that the institution that is suppose to train leaders and pastors in "formation for ministry" graduates candidates that have not been mentored in the practice of ministry.  This is why I believe, at minimum, one unit of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) should be required for every Calvin Seminary Graduate.   This experience-based action / reflection model is a place were students are challenged to form their pastoral identity, face their fears, weakness and short-comings and under the supervision of a spiritual director who sets a clear direction to engage their talents, gifts and abilities to work for clear personally -tailored learning goal & outcomes.  In the CPE context one also learns the value of peer groups and mutual accountability & encouragement.  Others can shed light on our blind spots.

I am part of a professional interfaith chaplain peer group and I count it among one of the most valuable supports in ministry.   These are our ground rules:

  1. Must be a professional board certified chaplain and have done at minimum 4 units of CPE.
  2. None of the members can be working in the same institution or related work environment (all come from different work contexts –no work relationship outside the group
  3. When new members are added each member has veto power and can say “no” for any reason, no questions asked or justification needed.   Members are added by 100% yes group vote.
  4. What is shared in the room stays in the room.

We meet quarterly, do check in and any member can bring any issue to the group as they please. –we never lack for volunteers.  Currently we have about 8 chaplains/spiritual care providers in our group.

Every pastor should be part of a peer support group.

Thanks Scott, fine piece.  Loneliness and isolation are indeed killers.  And, geographical distance is only one small factor that may or may not contribute to it.  Those who live in an area where there are many CRCs may know the loneliness and isolation of being in an unspoken competitive relationship with peers and churches.

My own experience?  Coming out of seminary, I had no idea what I didn't know.  About myself, about being a pastor, about what really matters and what does not.  I reached out to colleagues because the suffering of loneliness was greater than the embarassment of actually admitting that I needed help, advice and sometimes consolation.  To anyone who wants out of the lonely pastoral life I would say 'it might not click with the first colleague or group you reach out to, but don't give up'.  Peer learning groups have been a real highlight of my time in ministry.

I also want to touch on your comment about the kind of preaching we need to be doing.  I've found myself wondering about the popularity of TED talks.  They are engaging, informative, creative, often compelling.  For our preaching to have those qualities, as well as deep faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ takes fellowship, encouragement and strength, from and with peers as well as our congregations.

Great points.   To go from the theoretical to the practical....   of course you can make friends of people from all colors and backgrounds.   But sometimes that is difficult, and does not always or even often lead to a change in your actual church body, since other people have as much a tendency to congregate with people of like backgrounds as we do.   More practical is to be foster parents or adoptive parents.   You will find that color thing changing more rapidly.  

And, it's not all about color.   There are people of quite different backgrounds who also can join in and become part of the local church, including former presbyterians, united, methodist, lutherans, rom cath., etc., as well as people from a whole host of different countries where color would not be noticed, such as ireland, france, switzerland, poland, sweden, norway, australia, south africa, eastern europe, and all the stans:  kurgistan, kazahkstan, etc., and russia, hungary, czechoslovakia,....    Immigrants from all over....  

The more attention you pay to color, the more difficult it will be.   The more attention you pay to the person, to the people, and to their needs,  the easier it will become. 

Judging from the posts above it's not just you, and writing from the Canadian maritimes, I understand the feeling of being a long ways away from "HQ."  It affects us on a classical level too, since the majority of our classis is in Ontario.  I really regret that the fall meeting of Classis Eastern Canada cannot be hosted in Fredericton CRC because of financial limitations.  We wanted the privilege of hosting them in the year of our 50th anniversary.    

Yet I think on the whole we're greatly blessed by being part of this denomination.  The gifts we've received in the past as a "home  missions church" when this congregation began 50 years ago have created a strong foundation.  And the gift from Sustaining Pastoral Excellence to allow me to meet regularly with other pastors from the Canadian Maritime CRCs (full disclosure, I'm on the implementation team for SPE) is a really big support.  

I appreciate the fact that the Executive Director of the CRCNA and the Direcctor of Canadian ministries came a year and a half ago and paid our congregation a pastoral visit - sitting in a circle with us, fielding questions, listening to concerns, leading us in devotions, and praying for us and with us - it reminded us that we're not forgotten nor ignored.  Reps from Diaconal Ministries Canada, CRWorld Missions, Back to God Ministries International, Dort College, and Redeemer University College show up regularly.  CRWRC was active in our neighbourhood when flooding occured in our province last December just a 20 minute drive from our church building.

No, not every mailing is tailor-made for our congregation, but overall, I thank God that we're part of the CRC.  It makes it easier to think globally and act locally.

When I get a denominational or Calvin College or Seminary invite to some Thursday night guest speaker or some one day conference I always look in the envelope for the plane tickets ... so far I haven't found any ;)  Yes ... a west coaster as well.  I think the mountains make us feel we are in another part of the world. 

So who would it matter to if the CRC denomination disolved right now?  Not to most of the members of the congegation I serve.  There is so much Christian resources out there, lots much better produced that the CRC can afford, CRC mail is just one in the pile I get each week.

Just attended a D6 conference in Texas (google D6) on faith at home and what that means to youth ministry and church ministry as a whole.  There were dozens and dozens of booths with great curriculum for families and youth and childrens ministries and more.  Did not see Faith Alive there and if I have to implement cradle to grave discipleship, the material and plans and processes are all available.  I hope the CRC is checking out what is out there before trying to sell me another set of booklets to teach as we try to implement some of Synod's latest decisions.

This is one thing I struggle with, that there is no place/table, if you will, in the crc structure for the gift of prophecy to be tested/shared in a safe way.  I call this cessationist residue.   The council might be a place, but if you are a woman, and there are no women on the council, we are potentially missing 1/2 of the prophetic gifting available to the church.  This is totally separate from women in office.  It is about the prophetic gifting.

Sam, I would like to know of these scriptures... do you have a link or document or something as a resource on this?  Thx. 

Hey James KA Smith... I remember reading your article in 2008 or 2009 and contacting you back then, because the few "reformed charismatics" seemed to be fairly isolated, and so was thankful that i wasn't the only one, or so it seemed... 

just curious what you have experienced in the last 3 years since you wrote that article, but maybe I'll just have to get a copy of the thinking in tongues book.

One of the things that's on my heart, that when i re-read the dancing article, i was reminded of, is "high praise".   For some reason, which I have yet to discover the why of it, the niv omitted the adjective "high" which I understand was a very specific Hebrew word "rowmemah" in Ps. 149:6.   There are a few other instances where it seems the intensity was decreased in this translation, ie.  Jude 3 contend for the faith, vs. earnestly contend found in the NKJV... 

As someone pointed out, I think it was in one of these replies, we have been practically "binitarian' therefore minimizing"/quenching the Spirit.  I hope that finally, after 40  years of not embracing the Holy Spirit, even though we had confessionally refuted cessationism in 1973 (Thank God! we did at least do that), I hope and pray that  "now is the time of God's favor..."

Rich, rich, rich discussions... somehow missed this one last month =), but that 's ok... It was immensely encouraging to read it now!   Wonderful stuff!! 

one comment on hearing the "Voice" within.  a year or so ago, I was driving out in the county, and passed a farm, that I knew the family that lived there like 25-30 years ago.  As i drove past, i thought about them, but then I kept thinking about them, which made me think, "LORD, do you want me to pray for them?"  Well, I thought, if it's the LORD, or if it's me, it doesn't matter, because prayer is almost always a good thing, and definitely lines up with scripture, and in this situation it definitely won't hurt.  So I spent a few minutes praying for that family, it was very vague because i hadn't seen them in over 20 years.  and then forgot about it when I got to my destination.

The very next day, I ran into one of the daughters that I had gone to school with.  and then had the opportunity to pray with her.   Hmmm... somehow God was preparing me to meet her the very next day...  haven't seen any of the family since.

Love the additional insight of "listening" with other believers...  That is so what we're missing... because we haven't been "taught" how to hear, how to discern, how to test and how to confirm.

Love the addition of experience.  I often share with people, that the Holy Spirit is an experience. 

Love the comment about our emotions.  King David was the most emotional guy there was, and the only person in the Bible called a man "after God's heart"!   brings up our fear of "emotionalism" which is something we need to better understand the difference between experienceing our emotions and "emotionalism.  Fervency is ok in at sporting events and concerts, but not in worship =( 

Looking forward to and praying for the day, when we are more enthusiastic about worshipping the Sovereign, the Almighty, the  LORD of Hosts, and our high praises ring out, and the sound will be "heard a long way off" (Ezra 3:13)






Richard, I fully identify with what you are saying.  On the one hand you feel obligated to read the stuff.   On the other hand, its like the local hardware store advertising flyer... should you read it if you don't feel like it?   If you are busy with other things?   If you don't recall any need for hardware items?  

There is a lot of struggle with this as well in the rural churches in Iowa, South Dakota and Minnesota. For many, there is the feeling of being ignored and their views not even being heard. When I receive items from the denomination, I take it as information, pass on to my elders these items and let them decide.

Here's my experience the last several years:  YES, to sermon series.  And they seem to be WELL received.  I don't think they need to be only several weeks long...I think people like sinking their teeth into topics/books a bit.  But then you can be flexible in allowing for variety/breaking a series up as you go.  In the last number of years I've done some of the following that seemed to go well from my perspective, and on these I also received good feedback from leadership and the congregation:  24 sermons going through Ephesians (this one spread over mornings and evenings), 16 sermon series on Joshua (mornings only, following senior pastor transition at church), just finished 22 sermon series on 2 Corinthians in the mornings from January through August (allowing for flexibility through Lent/Easter as well as guests in the summer), a 6 part morning series on Ruth, 4 part evening on Jonah, 5 or 6 part TULIP series on the Canons of Dort during the evenings.  Future plans that I'm excited about:  Prayer series for the AM going through the Lord's Prayer using Lord's Days 45-52 as the guide), plus tagging on at least two sermons on Jesus' HIgh Priestly Prayer.  Daniel for the mornings, including doing a number of "End Times" sermons to cover the last chapters (people just seem to always desire more End Times' stuff, no matter how much I think I've covered it--and we Reformed leaders DO have some great stuff to teach here and offer!!  Let's give it to them!  Also, a 10 part morning "Faith Foundations" morning series that covered our mission statement-stuff (our church's name is Faith).

the sermon series at our church tend to be as long as season of the church year we're looking at: fall series, advent, lent, summer, and few in between, so some are much longer series than others, which is kind of nice for variety.

There are also two of us here and I think the variety in style helps during longer series.   For example, last fall our other pastor preached on the stories about David and I preached (once or twice a month) on a psalm of David.  

We've really enjoyed preaching through series together because it's more interesting and gets better depth to have someone else to collaborate with.

I do sermon series much like Richard DeRuiter. It took about thrity weeks to get through the book of 1 Thessalonians. I heard no complaints and people were appreciattve to go in depth through a book. I did a series in Ruth that took eight weeks. I always preach in series and each sermon is expository. I did a ten week sermon series on prayer, each on a different passage. This long series was received well.  For our evening services this year I took topic suggestions from the congregation. This has gone very well also.

It is interesting that Mark Driscoll, in a church that targets 20s-30s group, many single, preaches expository sermons one hour in length. It took two years to go through the book of Luke this way. I am not sure if he is still in it.

If people are hungry and thristy for the word then expository preaching lexio continua style seems to still capture many people's attention.

Perhaps the sermon series length is more of our fear than the congregation's fear.

Bless your heart for being honest and still manage to be gracious as well.  I would have ranted a whole lot more!  Guess I need a lot more sanctification =/ 

Yes, what you share resonates (I'm on the west coast as well)....disconnect...resentment...frustration.    so that's all I'll say before I say things I probably shouldn't...  God's working on me to honor the crc as part of His Bride. and some days I really struggle for various reasons...

fyi, Rich, Dennis Fuqua will be in B'ham for a 4 hour pastors prayer summit on Monday, Oct. 3 from 8-12 if you are interested/available... 




What I liked about doing sermons based upon the congregations suggestions is that I had a grade school boy suggest the beheading of John the Baptist. I jumped on that one and not only made a young kid happy but was told later that no one really had heard a sermon on that one before. It went really well.

Hey Josh.....

I'll answer 2 questions I heard you pose.......yes, I do use series (religiously?). We put quite a bit into each series (set design, video production, graphic design, website design, etc.) so doing anything less than 5 weeks gets my creative team ticked due to the pure workload requirements. Also, our people tend to show up every 2-3 weeks, so most only get 3-5 messages out of the series, anyway.......I usually go 5-7.  I'd say 7 is where I/they lose interest. I also alternate between topical and book-driven series (Ruth, Jude, Amos, etc.).

In reference to letting the congregation pick, they LOVE what we're doing right now. We're calling at "interactive" series - we've lined the sanctuary with whiteboards and I have voluntarily committed to only speaking on the questions they pose with answers from Scripture. Its led us into lots of discussions of sometimes-difficult topics like the problem of evil and homosexuality, etc.

I would defintely say that series are the way to go.....

A couple of years ago, I did 30 sermons on the Minor Prophets.  I've preached through the Catechism twice, the Belgic once, and now I'm going in great detail through the Sermon on the Mount.  These were all PM services, where I am able to go in greater depth, and in a bit more detail, just based on the audience.


In the morning, I usually do series as well (I almost never do sermons apart from a series/theme of some sort).  Am series would be things like "HOw does the gospel change me?"  Or, as we are doing now, we're using the misison statement of our church to guide the preaching.


I usually don't let the congregation pick series.  I often will talk with the elders about their perception of the needs of the church.  I'm not rigid on this point, but I think that it's one of my tasks as a shepherd to discern needs of teh church (along with the elders).

I've learned that when I go longer than 5 weeks I not only run out of material but I also lose people's attention. I've tried hard to keep them at a certain spacing and giving where I'm going. I did a three part series on Habakkuk last year and did a 5 part series on the book of Acts. I even try to break up the Catechism in the evening to 5 or so weeks. This Sumer I did do a series called favorite stories of Jesus and had the congregation give their favorite stories and then I picked the top 5 and did a series from those. That was fun. They also enjoyed the Favorite Stories of the Old Testament I did back in Janurary.

That brings another question: How often do you let the congregation pick sermons/sermon topics. I was a bit amazed at some of the suggestions people gave. It really showed their interst and pastoral needs.

Hi Josh,

I'm just finishing an 18 part series on 1Peter. Most folks have liked going in depth like that, though I suspect I'm not hearing all the opinions. I've enjoyed it and it has forced me to deal with some things I might not otherwise. I strongly perfer to do series, like these, though when circumstances demand, I'm fine with take a break for a Sunday to deal with something else. Once or twice I took a break for an entire Advent.

I rarely do topical series, though I did one last year on the fruit of the Spirit that was enjoyable.

A good word, John S.   Good to bring us back to who God really is.   And yes, you can experience that fear... in faith and trust. 

Sorry for taking so long to reply.

I've greatly apprecaited the blog list that the CRC's been posting on their google reader and on the newsletter. I'm just wondering if there are more pastors or even elders, deacons, church leaders who keep a blog who aren't on the list.

By the way, I'm working on switching my blog over to wordpress now.

Thanks Sam for the article.  It has helped me in my discussions with area pastors as we together try to work out our faith with fear and trembling.  I love the gifts of the Spirit and seek to experience all I can in God.  

Grace and Peace.

My church did this on Sunday and it was GREAT! Over 150 people of all ages participated.

After the morning service we all walked over to the nearby park for a picnic, and then divided up into groups:
- praying (a prayerwalk around the neighborhood)
- visiting (at a facility for seniors)
- painting and yard cleanup (at our church's new community house)
- creating (duct tape wallets (!) and coloring lunch bags for a local shelter)
- picking up trash (in the neighborhood school playground)

The week before, our pastor gave 'permission' for everyone to show up to church in clothes suitable for painting/cleaning/etc. The worship service was very meaningful and challenging, with a message that tied right into the afternoon of service. 

Thanks to ServiceLink for initiating this. Our church found it so great that we're wondering about doing it again next year.


Thank-you, Bruce, for this challenge!