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Kevin, great topic!  Some of us are creatures of habit and defend our repetitions as faithfulness.  Others of us are not less creatures of habit who are habitually changing things up out of a constant need for something new.  There's room for both faithful tradition and thoughtful creativity in planning Lord's Supper services.  The key is not to keep tradition for tradition's sake, nor to institute change for novelty's sake.  There are good theological reasons that should undergird our decisions about our practices in worship--especially in the Lord's Supper.

Several years ago, Reformed Worship Journal asked me to write an article about incorporating variety in our Lord's Supper services. Hopefully, some of these ideas are still appropriate for readers who are asking the same questions.  You can find it here:


Sorry I didn't see your question until today and since we are on a snow day here in Denver, I can't easily get to our Child Protection Files.  In it, I have an application for Ministry Volunteers that includes some of what you are asking.  We also have a policy statement that they are asked to sign.  (I'll try to send it to you tomorrow.)  

In our training session each fall, I mention the "promises" that the Council makes to the volunteers and then ask them to make promises of their own.  That way, volunteers know that there is a two-way covenental nature to this document.  For instance, Council promises to provide the resources necesary for them to do their work and promises to pray for them.  (Your document uses the word covenant, but it doesn't say what the Council's role in that covenant is.)

I'm happy to share our documents with you as we received help from others in writing them and it's a good thing to share! 

I'd also like permission to borrow from you as you've done a great job in being both clear and kind in setting your expectations.  

You may want to clarify the word "may" in the last sentence of "personal lifestyle."  I agree that you should retain that right to ask someone to step aside, but the Council (or Consistory) should consider ahead of time what situations would warrant a restriction in ministry leadership and what situations would get a "pass."  Ironically, the folks in these situations who don't think they need to take a break are often the ones who do need to step back and the ones who think they are going to cut out of the life of the church are the ones who might need to be re-affirmed in their roles in church life. 

We recently encountered this situation when a Ministry Leader went through a divorce.  This person came to me in tears because they assumed that--in addition to all the other losses that accompany divorce, they had also lost the privilege of participating in a ministry that they loved.  In this case, the Elders were unanimous that the person be affirmed in lthe ministry role--knowing that pastoral care and mutual discipleship was happening within the other leaders of the group.  

Our church also has different standards for Ministry Leaders and Ministry Volunteers.  We require church membership for Leaders, but not for Volunteers.  In recent years, God has sent people to our church family who have gifts and willingness to serve, but who do not come from a tradition where church "membership" is a high value.  We invite them into service (under the supervision of Ministry Leaders) while we continue conversations and classes toward the goal of membership. 

Good work on your draft and I hope it helps in fostering health and spiritual growth among your volunteers!

P.S.  Are Council members also required to sign the document? 

Here's a five-year  old Prayer Coordinator Job Description.  We no longer have this position and there are several things in the job description that we'd change to fit our current church life, but hope it helps you think about your own needs. 



Job Description


The Prayer Coordinator at First CRC is a part time, volunteer position.  This person will interact with staff and congregation, encouraging and enabling growth in prayer.  As a result of the work of this person, First Church will grow in maturity and practice of prayer.



·        Prays regularly

·        Attends worship regularly

·        Organized

·        Administrative skills

·        Communicates well with others in verbal and written forms

·        Knowledgeable about prayer in its various forms

·        Humble and gentle (perhaps through personal “brokenness” experience)

·        Encourager

·        Discerner of needs and of the Spirit



  1. Congregational Prayer Requests
    1. Collect Prayer Needs

                                                               i.      Via notes, phone calls and emails from staff and members

                                                             ii.      From missionary care team

                                                            iii.      Through personal discernment re: life of the church

  1. Communicate Prayer Needs

                                                               i.      Prayer Phone Line (updated twice weekly)

                                                             ii.      Prayer Page on the Web site (updated twice weekly)

                                                            iii.      To the Pastors and Worship leaders for public prayer

                                                           iv.      To prayer teams as needed

  1. Resource Center for Prayer
    1. Research prayer studies or books and recommend

                                                               i.      For library

                                                             ii.      For small groups

                                                            iii.      For Sunday School

                                                           iv.      For family devotions

  1. Teach prayer lessons as needed (or organize others to teach)

                                                               i.      Sunday School

                                                             ii.      Wednesday night

                                                            iii.      Small Groups

                                                           iv.      Evening Worship

  1. Prayer Partners
    1. Research prayer partner options
    2. Recruit as needed
    3. Through the MCD, connect with various ministries utilizing partner methods
    4. Regularly check with both partners to help them connect about the prayer needs and the prayer that is happening.
    5. Organize partner systems in desired places
    6. Keep record of all those who sign up to pray and encourage them periodically.
  2. Initiate new ideas for encouraging increase of prayer and maturity of prayer at First CRC. 



We currently have a Worship Coordinator.  (Job Description available if you email me.)   Her job is to "coordinate" the myriad of tasks and teams related to worship.  E.g. She organizes the music team, but does not regularly play or sing.  She finds readings/prayers/litanies AND finds a variety of people in the congregation to do them.  She gathers the trumpters, violins, flutes when various songs demand those sounds.  She schedules the regular musicians, e.g. band, piano, organ.  She makes the weekly powerpoint.  She lays out the worship order.  She leaps tall buildings in a single bounce!  You get the idea.

The Worship Coordinator is an integral part of our small staff (6 total).  She meets regularly with the Pastors to understand the needs of the congregation and the upcoming plans for preaching.  She meets and emails several times each week with the preacher of the week to coordinate the details of the service.  Song choices are essentially up to her, but are often made in collaboration with preacher and musicians. 

We used to have 3-4 teams of worship planners who met with the preaching pastor every 6 weeks to get a sense of upcoming services.  Then they divied up the services among the teams.  Each team was responsible for selecting songs and other worship parts.  This had the benefit of using more people in leadership, but the problem of no consistency and no one to look after the ongoing administration of worship, e.g. CCLI licensing, piano tuning, worship bulletin, etc.

Seven years ago, the church made an overhaul of the entire leadership system and, as part of those changes, they decided to hire a part-time Worship Coordinator.   My opinion is that we have the best of both worlds:  a single point person for many of the tasks of worship planning, but a person who invites communal participation and honors the ideas of others in the planning process. 

I've been part of five different churches worship systems and this is by far the best experience.  Trouble is, it's only partly due to the system.  It is mostly due to the integrity, intelligence, abilities and spiritual maturity of the person God provided to be our Worship Coordinator.  (P.S.  She is NOT available for hire!)  

Joy Engelsman on September 12, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Our church has two pastors who both lead pieces and parts of worship.  My co-pastor is the primary preacher and so I do many of the other pieces, although after 5 years we've learned how to toss the baton back and forth pretty smoothly.  Our Worship Coordinator is also good at transitions, but she isn't always up front.

When the band plays, we have a few options.  I am the musical leader and in charge at rehearsal.  However, we also have some of our vocalists who do the intros and verbal leadership--we rehearse some of these so that they can learn before having to just do it in worship.  

While I do value using the gifts of many people, I've also learned that worship leadership is not just a learned skill that anyone can pick up if they try hard enough.  The various pieces of music, planning and presenting are also precious gifts from God.  I believe that the church should celebrate and invest in developing those gifts, being careful not to overload the worship person with so many expectations that there is no possible chance of success. 

Our Worship Coordinator is paid for 20 hours per week.

There are sample job descriptions on the CRCNA site.  Connect here and go down about 2/3 to the section "Employment Issues: Job Descriptions."  There are two specifically for Worship staff positions.  

It is great to hear from churches that are working with what they have and bringing new sounds out of "old" instruments.  It seems like a unique form of stewardship to reimagine what we can do with what we already have!

It's hard to say a definite "yes" or "no" on whether or not to use the organ for some of the more contemporary sounds because each organ is so different and, more importantly, (as Jeremy has already noted) the organ players differ so much.

At our church we have a old Wurlitzer.  As the story goes, it once accompanied silent films!  It sounds pretty good as "bed" of chords for other instruments, ie, keyboard, guitars and the rest of the band.  We also like including our trumpets or violin or flute or other "band" instruments when available.

Several things to consider.

1.  The most instruments that are playing, the less each has to play.  Aim for a total of 100%, not having each instrument playing 100%.  Recently, I heard an organist accompanying a trumpet playing the melody line.  The organist also played the solo line, disrupting the solo.  Like a good jazz combo, all the players need to learn to listen to each other and know when they featured and when they are the back up to someone else.

2. Rhythm.  I think it is really important for the instruments to feel and communicate a clear beat and rhythm together.  Typically, organists (and some pianists) rely on melody and a strict silent beat to keep everyone together.  But playing with more instruments requires a more obvious beat.  And in my opinion, a rhythm (from a djembe, shaker, bass, piano or many other choices) is a great way to help the congregation sing well.

Posted in: Dress Code

Comforting to read that some guy pastors think about their wardrobe as much as we women pastors have to . . . are these earrings too long?  can I wear open toe shoes for preaching?  how about the pink suit?!

As noted elsewhere . . .geeky is IN!!  Long live the bow tie. 

Inspiration and Administration seem to be two qualities needed in leadership.  Inspiration involves personality and presence, the ability to assess and articulate the setting, the need, the hoped for outcomes and the preferred path toward the future.  Administration is far broader than this simple suggestion, but in some regards, administration is the ability to demonstrate competence in the actual activities that move an organization along.  Without some competencies, the inspirational leader becomes just another "talking head." 

Joy Engelsman on August 24, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Thanks, Daniel and others.  You are right on target with ideas for leadership in the CRC.  Our congregation has appreciated help from two sources.  First,  the Leadership Development Network, also known as Leadership Development Institute in some places.  Several of our staff members and other ministry leaders received training and discipleship from the Denver LDI (which unfortunately is no longer in existence.)  I don't know where the rest of the LDNs are located, but if there is one near you, check it out. 

The other resource is a program called Ascending Leaders, developed by CRC pastor Mike Johnson.  It presumes that every person has a sphere of influence, and thus is a "leader" of sorts.   The program provides detailed discipleship training in groups and in more intimate triads.  Our church has had over 60 people participate in one or more of the Ascending Leader modules and the result is many more trained and mature leaders for ministries of outreach, worship and discipleship.

Does anyone know more about the Leadership Exchange?  It is a ministry of the CRC whose mission states, in part, "To catalyze and create environments that nurture and grow a culture of Christ-centered, Kingdom-minded leadership in the Christian Reformed Church and beyond."  Target groups are youth, ethnic leaders and marketplace leaders.  Seems to be related to the LDNs mentioned above, but to be honest, I'd never heard of this CRCNA ministry until poking around the web looking for a URL to connect y'all to LDN.   

Joy Engelsman on August 24, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Great article.  Wish I had written it.  Funny--while you were able to find that article, I was wondering what the Leadership Exchange was all about.  Did I miss something?  You called it "our" web site?  

Joy Engelsman on August 24, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

oops.  Egg on face!  You ARE Leadership Exchange.  I guess you know a bit about it, eh?

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