Resource, Website

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.

May 26, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Website

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".

May 26, 2010 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic
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...
May 26, 2010 0 2 comments
Resource, Article

Looking Back
In a previous article recently posted on the Pastors Network, we explored “character,” the first of four traits of leadership articulated by the Christian Reformed Church’s “Leadership Development Team” several years ago. I described a real past near-disaster in fictional “...

May 26, 2010 0 0 comments

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.

May 26, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

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

May 24, 2010 0 0 comments

My staff and I are planning on learning together more about the Holy it moves, works, makes itself it fits into our CRC church we can better understand and be moved by the Holy Spirit. I'm looking for recommendations on books or articles that we could...

May 17, 2010 0 8 comments
Resource, Article

Birth of a Project
Psalm 19 exultingly reminds us: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” In one of God’s blessed whimsies, a quiet setting next to a Michigan lake under those heavens helped frame a far-reaching conversation about Christian...

May 11, 2010 0 1 comments
Resource, Policy or Guidelines

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

May 5, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

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.

April 26, 2010 0 0 comments

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

April 23, 2010 0 2 comments

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. 

April 23, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article
After a lively debate in June, 2004 the Christian Reformed Church Synod approved a denominational priority for the next years: to maintain or develop healthy local congregations. What’s to debate? Isn’t it a given that congregations be healthy? The issues are complex and crucial. At stake is not...
April 21, 2010 0 3 comments
Resource, Article

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

April 21, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

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.”

April 16, 2010 0 0 comments

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."

April 13, 2010 0 4 comments
Resource, Article

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.

April 8, 2010 0 0 comments
Discussion Topic

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...

April 6, 2010 0 1 comments
Resource, Article

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

April 3, 2010 0 0 comments

Over the course of the past year, I was introduced to a series of YouTube videos entitled “Shift Happens.” According to the video’s wiki page this video series originally started out as a PowerPoint presentation for a faculty meeting in August 2006 at Arapahoe High School in Centennial, Colorado. The presentation hit the web in February 2007 and, as of June 2007, had been seen by at least 5 million online viewers.

March 25, 2010 0 1 comments

I'm not sure that this is the best place to post this -- probably, it would qualify for a few places. I'm trying to update our church guidelines for weddings in our church, and I'm wondering how other pastors and churches have gone about having policies or guidelines in place. w Here are a...

March 20, 2010 0 8 comments
Discussion Topic
I have a dream for our church. It comes from how hard it is to live out my faith in the workplace, and an understanding of the power and significance of the Church in the world. I was created by God, gifted with abilities and experiences, and sent by Him to partner in the work He is already doing...
March 17, 2010 0 2 comments

One Saturday last July my son-in-law Jason and I took a bike ride outside Ottawa. The country road was mostly flat, almost without traffic. As we were beating up that morning’s only serious hill, out of nowhere a Dodge Ram pick-up blasted by well over the 80 km/h limit, nearly clipping my handlebars and, arguably, shortening my life expectancy by several hours.

March 11, 2010 0 0 comments
Resource, Article

Do small churches suffer from inferiority complexes? Elzo Tenyenhuis, pastor of a small Christian Reformed church in Kincardine, Ontario, admits that small churches often struggle with issues of self-perception. 

March 7, 2010 0 0 comments

Last week I attended the funeral service of a 54 year old nurse, daughter of an elderly couple in our congregation. Diane was a lovely person, giving care and love to patients, nieces, nephews, parents, siblings. As I was driving the two hours to the funeral with several friends, I became starkly aware again of the pain that invades even the most carefully ordered and disciplined lives. All my travelling companions are good, content folk, who love the Lord. Yet all had lost children many years ago.

March 1, 2010 0 0 comments



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.



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


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) 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.


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.


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!!! 

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... 

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


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


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"... 

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 :) 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. 

Thanks Pastor Jim and Pastor Colin for sharing your experience!

Colin, you are correct that "housing allowance" is not really relevant in Canada in terms of employment, tax, and the Clergy Residence Deduction.  However, the concept lives on and it is still very much a part of the CRC vernacular.  The formal Letter of Call used by the CRC throughout North America references "housing allowance" to the extent that it is relevant in the USA and may be considered by Canadian churches in how the total compensation (salary) is determined.  Similarly, the term and concept is also found in the annual Ministers' Compensation Survey.  Doing so provides some bases for comparison between classes and regions and even between churches within a Classis.

It is clear though that "housing allowance" and the Clergy Residence Deduction are not one and the same and are not simply interchangeable.

Regarding the reduction of income tax in consideration of the Clergy Residence Deduction, the onus is rightly on the employee, as the taxpayer.  CRA requires the submission of a Request to Reduce Tax Deductions At Source (see link below),  by which an eligible person would request recognition of the CRD and possibly, other recurring and substantiated deductions ie charitable donations.  If successful, CRA will issue an approval to be provided to the employer which permits the employer to effectively reduce the amount of tax deducted at source.  This avoids the "worst case scenario" of penalties, etc as mentioned by Colin. 

Colin, I don't think this means that you're out to lunch, although if you're ever in Ontario or would consider a call to the East, lunch is on me.

Terry V

And let's not forget Articles 11 and 12 of the CRC Church Order (:-).

Yes, I listen to mucis while working on sermons, I listen to Christian paino music, particularly to  Dino.

Hi George,

Thanks for thinking out loud with us.  "God calls me now to walk with him, first as a person, a husband, a father, grandfather and friend. Then as a…what?" 

Testimony, witness, elder statesman, encourager?  Those of us who have spent any time in pastoral ministry know how tough it can be.  People who reach that far shore of retirement with their integrity, sense of humour and capacity for growth, not to mention faith, are a testimony to those of us still in the thick of things, that ministry does not need to kill you.  Don't read too much into this, I love the life Jesus has called me to live and the work he has called me to do.  My family is enjoying our life too.  So that's all good.  But some days or weeks are just plain hard, and to see someone who has 'run the race well' is encouraging.   Blessings on this open road you are travelling George, and if Shirley suggests you read something, it's likely worthwhile. 

Grace to you both,


Great reflections!

Like mothers who find they have no identity when the nest has emptied, many pastors have invested so much of themselves in their pastoral 'role' that the person underneath the 'robe' gets lost. Or, sometimes that person would be 'more lost' at the end because a person without a clear self-identity who is in search of one when the robe and its role are put upon them, is likely to not know where one's true self ends and when the role begins.

Sadly, in my years of observing firsthand, I have seen a number that find nothing behind or underneath the role and it's work when their time of serving officially ends. Troubling in a different way were the one or two I've encountered who planned to burn the robe and all artifacts related to it and dance and whoop in freedom and joy. Neither are healthy in my understanding today.

So, I would add this to what George says: Such a process of reflection should be perpetual and ongoing from the day one accepts their 'calledness.' If one is on a journey of "becoming more authentically me" already when the call is recognized, maybe there is less chance of encountering this jolt at the retiremement transition.

That said, the qualities of person that qualify them technically for the role, such as pastoral heart, or ability to explain - and so on - remain part of them throughout and have not disappeared upon hanging up the robe. So they can be very useful to the Kingdom work if they chose to continue to use those in various places.

The most consistent struggle I've heard in the words of newly retired ministers has been the sudden loss of power. Be careful, I would say, not to chase finding that power back... I've seen too much damage done in that persuit.


Thanks Jay,

I appreciate your response. I agree that the church has the ability to do far more for this woman than we think given the resources God has poured out on us. Since she was gone by the time I heard she wouldn't be getting the job, I had no opportunity to approach her and see what I could do to help her out of my church community. Sometimes when I read things such as you wrote I confess I feel guilty. I have been given much and can offer much. I think I violate the law of love toward my neighbor all the time. I remember addressing a class of students at the local community college and one of the students asked if he could shake my hand. He made quite a spectacle of coming in front of the students and shaking my hand and then turned to his classmates and said, "As you know I am a nurse at the mental health hospital and this pastor's church is an amazing place that cares for and helps mentally ill people. They are amazing! I wish all churches were like theirs where it is safe to be mentally ill and where those who struggle are loved and cared for and I wish their church could do even more because the need is so great." I was taken aback and a bit embarrassed because I didn't think we do all that much. We do work with folks who suffer from such diseases as bipolar disorders and depression and interact often with the psychiatric community, and we do try to love well the folks God brings into our purview, but it doesn't quite have the feel this man portrayed. The nurse chatted with me more after class and I asked him what specefic things we did that were helpful. He said, "Look, I am not a believer and I don't go to church, but your church treats those who are mentally ill with dignity and respect. Several times when you or your church members have brought folks to us, you have asked to stay and help and see if there is anything else you can do. You have called and followed up and asked good questions. You have come to visit. You have arranged to have folks picked up and you have even found places in your community where folks can live. That is awesome. Most people just call the cops when there is someone disrupting their worship service, but you gently love the people that most people avoid and despise. The thing is, I still dwell on the statement 'I wish your church could do even more since the need is so great'. What does more look like for me and my community?

I very much agree that our churches contain the resources we need to exercise the gospel of good works. We can very practically love our neighbor. We don't share because we are greedy or we don't share because we think it is someone else's job or we don't share because we are too terrified. After all, one of our bi-polar members threatened to shoot my co-pastor's family and pulled a knife on me. It is sometimes very hard to love because it takes us out of our demand to live in comfort and without threat. That, too, is a mistrust of God's largess, me thinks. When I am facing a man who is off his meds and who is holding a knife, I have to trust God's providential care in very real ways.

On the other hand, I also remember Jesus famous question: Do you want to be healed? Sometimes in my sin I have been pitied and that has felt like love and has hindered me from becoming whole. I like being dragged to the water's edge and waiting for it to ripple. I like the attention it affords me. In this sin twisted world I like to manipulte others to do those things I could do for myself. I have studied those rippling waters for so many years I know I could roll in at just the right time, but I don't dare. I don't want to be healed. Healing means I have to be responsible and become generous and a giver and a dragger of others to the water. It is easier to stay where I am.

I also have a responsibility to make my need known. This is also hard to do. I am ashamed to acknowledge my neediness. I know what it is like to be unemployed and I refused to let people know my family was suffering because I was too proud to admit I needed help. I bless still those who 'saw' and offered to me generously.

My brother taught me a beautiful lesson once. We were having coffee and the server kept ignoring us and treated us rather meanly. We finally went and got our own refills while she pretended we didn't exist. When I picked up the check (older brothers always do) he offered to leave the tip. He put a twenty on the table and I said, "Are you insane? The check is only two and a half bucks. Besides, that is the worst service I've ever had anywhere!" Mark said, "I know. I want to give her grace. Unmeritted favor. I want her to experience the spectacular goodness of God. I want to blow her mind." We left the diner and she came out after us waving the twenty and saying, "You forgot this." I'll not forget the look on her face when Mark said, "You can keep it." I often think how that outrageous act of generosity might have changed her life.

Uncle John told me many, many years ago that they grew enough corn in Iowa to feed the world. I must have looked at him a bit skeptically so he added, "The soil is good, the seeds are good, the production methods are good, and the water is good. We can harvest it and we can store it. The problems come in the distribution, because that is where our sin shows up." He was a pretty wise man.

Thanks all!  Your comments and questions need to be asked by us pastors way before retirement.  Authentic living and being who you really are needs to be the journey into ministry and through it.  I agree, this needs a lot more thought and discussion and practice in the CRC context.  It seems to be one of the qualities the middle and younger generations in our churches are longing for in their leaders (not just pastors either). 



Well George, I hope you find more time to write in your retirement. :) 

In the Article 17 conversation in the Classis section we got into the question of calling and Al Mulder (also retired) made some good observations. 

We have this employment layer to our existence right now in this particular cultural/political/economic context that most of the church in the world and throughout the centuries hasn't really had. It's appropriate to explore it, especially as it intersects with the question of calling. 

A necessary element of the call is always the relationship one has with a particular community. Calling is fundamentally a relational kind of thing. It is created by the relationship between us and our author, and expressed in the relationship between us and this multitude called "Christ" by the apostle Paul that he declares we are "in". 

Most of the pastors I've known and respected, including my father of course, like you have to do some theological reflection on this employment context in which we live. There is a shifting that has to be done, a transition that has to take place. How is your relationship with the church, or a congregation now different? Those are hard questions. 

In many ways you can't send a pastor out to pasture because that is of course the location of the flock. :) 

Thanks for your pondering George. Bundle up while you're out east! :) pvk

A wonderful post. I too am interested in those findings. In my opinion, church planting requires an additional set of skills to the average seminary graduate. Perhaps this is why Home Missions encourages (i.e. "requires") candidates for new church development to participate in an "Assessment Center" somewhere around North America.

Another question you may be interested in is, why aren't more pastors naturally entrepenurial? You'd think that with a GREAT Commission of "Going and making disciples of all nations," we would find more people willing to invest the risk in exchange for a reward of a more fulfilled commission.

Although, I suppose I, too, have my biases being a CTS M.Div grad and New Church Developer. 


Several resources that apply widely are:

the letter of call:

the charge to the minister in the ordination/installation form in the Psalter Hymnal p. 995

and of course anything your Council has established to guide your pastor in the work they do.

Thanks a lot. These were very helpful comments!!

The "Letter of Call" refers to "the use of the parsonage (or a housing allowance of $_____ annually)."  Some churches pay a cash salary and cash compensation for housing.  My understanding is that this statement on the Letter of Call refers only to these instances.  It is not intended to be used for entering housing allowance or the clergy residence deduction for tax purposes.

Here is a Pastor's Job Description that our church uses.





The Pastor is to serve God and the church by:

  1. Providing biblical, spiritual, pastoral and visionary leadership within the framework of the church’s overall vision, mission and purpose.
  2. Promoting the spiritual health, growth and well-being of the congregation through preaching, teaching, prayer and administration of the sacraments.



       1.   Be a committed Christian, speaking freely about a personal relationship with the Lord.

       2.   Be a person of prayer, a student of the Bible, and be committed to personal spiritual growth and

              is convinced of the doctrines of the Reformed faith.

  1. Exhibit the qualifications of elder as stated in 1Timothy 3, Titus 1 and the Form for the

Ordination of Ministers. (pg. 995 CRC Hymnal)

  1. Be gifted in building relationships and fostering the building of relationships among others.
  2. Demonstrate a personal lifestyle which serves as a model for the congregation, balancing

commitments to church, self and family, has a sense of humour.

  1. Have a love for the Christian Reformed Church, submitting to accountability, acknowledging the authority of the Body of Christ



  1. Possess excellent communications skills with a love for communicating God’s Word through

             preaching and teaching.

       2.   Have a strong conviction, combined with training, to help the church reach the lost for Christ.

       3.   Possess strong pastoral care skills, trained in the art of listening and spiritual counsel.   

       4.   Possess management skills in cooperative leadership, combined with an ability to multi-task.

       5.   Possess the education and academic training required of Christian Reformed ministers in order to           

             serve in the denomination – engaging in on-going professional education.





1.  Plan and lead worship services in conjunction with the worship committee and worship planners.

2.  Administer the sacraments.

3.  Lead four worship services per month, plus special services such as Christmas, Good Friday,   

     Thanksgiving, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, etc.

4 . Assess his workload and to arrange pulpit exchanges with the approval of the council executive.

5.  Attend worship committee meetings.



1.      Support and encourage church members to join and support local and distant mission trips and


2.      Encourage all members to make guests and strangers feel welcomed in worship and ministry    


3.      Stimulate the development of materials and resources to be distributed to newcomers.  



1.  Visit, or arrange for a visit, to new families or individuals who have been attending regularly a few    

      times. Provide a church brochure and other pertinent materials.

2Develops with Welcome and Enfolding Coordinator and church administrator, any plans and events to

     encourage the reception of newcomers. 



The pastor provides leadership in the church’s ministry by:

1. Overseeing the administration of the church office, and working in partnership with council and   

    consistory in overseeing the work of various committees and staff.

2. Supporting and assisting the worship planners and pastoral care teams in their responsibilities.

3. Supporting and encouraging all ministry committees.

4. Providing, or arranging for leadership development and training for church officers and staff.

5. Encouraging members with leadership potential to use their gifts in church ministry.

6. Engaging in visioning: Providing direction and new ideas for all church ministries, encourage new  

    outreach ministries, promote faithful stewardship and financial giving, and participate in council




1. Is the first contact for primary responsible pastoral care.

2. Delegates and shares pastoral care work with the district elder, deacon and pastoral care workers.

3. Makes routine hospital visits (especially in emergencies and crisis visits).

4. Makes periodic visits to seniors (75 years and older) and the shut-ins.

5. Makes baptism preparation visits when deemed appropriate.

6. Makes pastoral visits as requested by the elders.

7. Notifies the congregation of pastoral needs through church call/email links and church bulletin.



1. Provide spiritual/biblical instruction to high school’ers and above, leading to public profession

    of faith

2. Teach a class on “Reformed faith and life” essentials to those from non-Reformed church backgrounds.



    The position requires considerable flexibility in hours available for work including evenings and     

    weekends. The church will provide an office, and equipment, with secretarial assistance.



1. Regularly attend Executive, Elder and Council meetings, and at least one Deacon meeting

    per year.

2. Provide leadership for weddings, funerals, when requested, for church members. Requests

    for such services from non-CRC members should be first cleared with Consistory Executive.

3. Secure marriage preparation sessions for engaged couples.

4. Attend continuing education courses, workshops, seminars, retreats etc,

5. Attend Classis meetings as requested by Council.

6. Establish a Pastor Relations Committee as a personal support for self and family.



1. Serves under the supervision of Council for administrative matters and under the supervision of    

    Consistory for spiritual and pastoral care matters.

2. Presents oral and written reports of all visits and meetings to each Consistory meeting.

3. This job description may be reviewed at the request of the Pastor, Consistory or Council.

You can find a couple sample job descriptions under Church Finance and Administration Resources.  If you go to and search on church finance, you will find the page.  Look under the "Employment Issues" section called "Job Descriptions." You will see samples for a Pastor of Discipleship and Senior Pastor. Hpefully you have looked at the "Evaluation Essentials for Congregational Leaders" from Sustaining Pastoral Excellence. You can google search on and also find this excellent resource published in 2010.