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Wouldn't it be so much easier if obedience looked the same every time? Easier, yes. Biblical, no. One-size fits all obedience is one of the ways I see Christians creating gaps that distance us from those with whom we belong. It requires much more devotion, stillness, and open-mindedness to discern what God is saying love looks like moment by moment, person by person, opportunity by opportunity. Sadly, I haven't lived this way through most of my moments, people and opportunities. But God is relentless in His pursuit of my heart. Praise be to God! There's a blessed, abundant-life alternative and I'm being woken up to the journey we've been on together for 39 years. Better late than never, right?! Grace abounds. To God be the glory.

Thanks, Louis, for the encouragement. I've only been at this a short while and already the connections that have been made with those in our broader community are a strong motivator in continuing the work of adding resources and creating posts that inspire others to dialog about Leadership Development. Shalom.

Hey Allen, thanks for the post. Your words resonated with my heart and connected with some of the ideas I just expressed ("IN the world, not OF it" (Community Engagement/Evangelism)). A lack of intimate engagement, arms length evangelism...whatever you want to call it, is perhaps the hugest (is that a word?) barrier to the spread of the gospel...It's hard to create meaningful relationship with those you don't 'touch'. And making disciples means building relationships. I'm trying to listen and figure out what that means for me and my family. Prayers for you and yours as you listen and love in your new context. 


Posted in: A Needed Gift

Hi Melissa,
I am so glad you raised that issue! I am currently coaching an ordained, female, CRC chaplain who gave a sigh and said "Why didn't my husband know about this event?" and I felt guilty as I shared that it was a 'girls only' event. The brief discussion that ensued ended with a commitment on my part to follow up on what kind of support SPE offers to the male spouses of pastors in the CRC. With permission, here is a quote from Lis Van Harten, SPE Program Director:
"Pastors' spouses, who are male, are growing in number. In last several years, we've done two surveys of male spouses to determine their interest in getting together in a variety of ways. The first results were basically "thanks but not interested". The second time around there was some interest but not a lot...

There aren't any plans in place at this time for "male spouses". I think it's something we should revisit in 2015. Perhaps another survey would be a good place to start and then see if we can't get something in the works - if, of course, the interest is there...Please assure her that we're not ignoring male spouses."

So, no, there isn't space for them at this particular event. And truly, being a female pastoral spouse is such a unique path to walk, I am not sure that the male spouses would find it as valuable in meeting their unique needs. They face  a very different set of expectations and different ways in which those expectations are expressed by church members and society in general. In a strange way, attending an event such as this may leave them feeling more alone, because they don't relate to the experiences being shared by the women.

SPE shared that they have encountered this even amongst the female pastoral spouses, if they aren't involved in parish ministry (so youth pastor, chaplain, etc.). Those spouses have provided feedback along the lines of "I couldn't relate to what was going on. I'm in a different setting." So it really is tough to meet all the diverse needs and in trying to be more generally supportive, there is a risk of losing the impact for any.

I highly recommend that anyone who wishes to see further development of the support offered to male pastoral spouses be in contact with the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence office: [email protected].







As you rightly say, John, its hard to escape the scriptural importance of 'teaching' as part of leadership. Titus 2 uses the term over and over when describing the leadership role Titus is to play within his context. Being a teacher by nature and nurture I have often heard, "I could never do what you do," from parent volunteers in my classroom, VBS crew leaders, church members after a Children's Message, etc.. And it is true that that I have experienced individuals shying away from leadership opportunities because they felt they weren't 'good enough' at the teaching thing. I could go on and on about how the skills of being a good teacher can be taught and developed among our leaders, but I am more interested in hearing from you about your question. 

I would love you to unpack your question, "Do we agree with Scripture on this?". What has caused you to question our (CRC's?) agreement with this aspect of being a leader, specifically in elders? What have you experienced (or not experienced) with regards to the role of elders as teachers? 

Thanks for your comments, Alex. I agree entirely, as I tried to express in the posting, that these are traits all leaders are in various stages of developing, rather than a benchmark that must be met before being eligible to lead. I would love to see that kind of language seep into the way we talk about leadership opportunities in the church. Eligible candidates for leadership are not perfect, they will make mistakes, and we as a congregation commit to offering them the same grace we have received from our Heavenly Father. We are each on a journey of development as the Spirit forms us into who we were created to be and He uses the Body to support us in that process.

As to the the issue of leaders exiting a church, or even the denomination, and why they do that...That sounds like a great Discussion Topic to start here on The Network :-). I know that I have heard both praise of our strong 'denominational focus' from those who only have experience leading in other contexts, as well as hearing the burden of that 'interference' from those from inside and outside. At least two sides to every coin. Ah, what will it take to be one big happy family of God? Sigh.


Hi Larry,

As the Section Administrator for Leadership Development, I wanted to say "Thanks!" for your posting. It's great to see a name other than my own in this neck of the woods. Traffic is growing and I am excited for the dialog that is happening on and off the site about this incredibly important topic. 

This is a fantastic post that gives us lots to think about in our own ministry context, whether we're are a leader or not. As a pastor's wife I know how this list will resonate with the desires of my husband's heart when it comes to the church he yearns to lead. And as a Mission Developer working with a steering team to plant a new hybrid of church plant/campus ministry, this list gives them an opportunity to ensure priorities like these are front and centre when hiring the new ministry leader and establishing a launch team. Anything that causes us to stop and reflect on present realities, challenges them and then motivates us to adjust to the newly discovered 'desires of our heart' is time well spent. Thank you for passing this on to us.

I want to add to the question you posed. So, with the established church as the context, I'd love to hear feedback on which items from this list of leadership wisdom have the greatest potential for church culture transformation? And second to that is the question of where within the church should the locus of change begin for permeating and lasting change? The pastor? A small group of passionate individuals outside of the leadership? Both?

The list is the relatively easy part...but determining (agreeing on) the place to start and starting are two much more difficult tasks it seems. Or do we just make them difficult by seeing the traffic jam and not the destination? One simple, possible, immediate "Yes!" at a time, I guess.  

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the encouragement! You're absolutely right about there being scriptural examples of 'leadership development' that can speak into the formation of a spiraling process. And I am looking forward to diving deeper into those examples to see what Truth we can take from them for today's context. It's going to be a slow and steady study that will, hopefully, also include gleaning stories from those who have been 'developed' through a similar spiraling process and lots of general conversations about the realities of leadership development in our churches. 

I won't get very far on this adventure without the support of interested parties joining the conversation, so please feel warmly welcomed into a continuing dialog. As this is an 'on the side' endeavour, I try to limit my Network time to Thursdays and Fridays, so if you don't get a response, I'm not ignoring you. 


My favourite (and least favourite!) part about the new Network is how easy it is to lose several hours just moving from one post to another of really relevant ministry stuff...almost no matter who you are. This stuff affects and effects us all! Thanks for all the hard work.

Ooo, Christy, thanks for your post! As a Praise & Worship Band instructor at our local Christian high school, these questions just ring out as wonderful ones to get my students thinking critically about instrumentation. The development of a pyramid, or other helpful tool to assist leaders in making these tough choices would be a great Independent Study Project. 

For myself, while I have not stopped to formally articulate a set of prioritizing questions/principals, I think that practically I do function with a few. As I poke around a bit to explore what those guiding ideas may be, I am becoming aware that I take a pretty 'big picture' view and then narrow the focus as the bigger questions get answered- kind of like that marble that spins around and around getting closer to the hole each time and then disappears. 

What are we being called to do? Who are we being called to serve? How can our musical offerings be an act of love?...What musicians are available? How do the individual musicians feel called to serve at this time?...(spinning, spinning) What is the theme of the service? Given the theme and the people we are serving, which songs are available?...How familiar is this song to the congregation? What impact will losing the drum have on our ability to lead well? ...(down the hole it goes) Have I/we chosen songs and instrumentation that will allow both leading musicians and congregation members to feel invited and included as they seek to offer a 'pleasing aroma' to their Heavenly Father? 

As one moves through that kind of thinking process, I think we can avoid trying to pop the marble through the hole at the bottom, hoping it will spin its way up the vessel. What do I mean? Well, the practical realities of short timelines and long lists of responsibilities mean that we too often deal with the immediate need first: a list of songs for Sunday morning. And then we work at making those songs happen with whomever we've got. We end up having to choose in the midst of rehearsal whether to go guitar or drums, keyboard or harmony vocal, etc. Rarely fun and often leads to dissatisfaction, or 'settling'. So, when it is possible, after answering the bigger questions, I try to pick my song list based on the instrumental support I know I will have vs. fitting the musicians into the song list. I have found it a much less frustrating process that leaves both musicians and congregation members feeling more supported and freer to engage in meaningful worship.

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