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HI Bonnie.  Sarah is brand new to the Network (Welcome Sarah!) and asked me for advice on how to handle this situation. I was the one who recommended that she respond as she did. I am still mulling over whether or not it is the right call. I do think that this post could be edited to included gender inclusive pronouns (or no pronouns at all) and would communicate Rob's points as he intended them. (His post isn't about headship, it is about the hardships of being a pastor. The things he describes would also apply to female pastors even if Rob wouldn't attend their churches). My concern was that it would change Rob's "voice" as a writer and that is something we try not to do. Perhaps a good policy going forward would be to flag the concern and then ask the author to consider revising. I will discuss this further with Sarah and others. 

As for a disclaimer, we do already have that on the footer of each page of the Network. It says, "The Network is a collection of content posted by members of our online community. Our hosting of this content does not imply endorsement, nor can we verify the accuracy of user-submitted post". 

Again, thank you for your feedback. It is appreciated. 


Staci, thank you so much for all you've done for the Network over the past 8 years (and your two years in other roles before that). You have been such a blessing, and I will truly miss working with you. The community that is The Network has been formed, in large part, by your gentle leadership and servant-hearted approach to helping others. While you can never be replaced, I am praying that that community will continue to flourish with whomever next steps into the role. And please know that you are welcome to blog here any time :)

Thank you Kyla for your vulnerability in sharing this post. It also reminds me of how much I miss the theatre in these COVID times. I'm praying that it will come back soon, for both the actors and the audience's sake. 

Thanks for your excellent post, Elaine.  As Director of Communications and Marketing for the CRCNA, I'm curious about why discussions about a church's identity led to a decision to get rid of the denominational identification?  This question isn't a judgment.  I think a lot of churches have reached the same conclusion. They feel that getting rid of the "Christian Reformed" part of their name somehow makes them more appealing. I'm just curious what the term "Christian Reformed" seems to communicate to the public that makes us want to avoid it?  Why has it become so appealing to appear non-denominational? 

Thanks Elaine and Herb for your helpful responses.  As I said, I've seen a lot of CRC churches go the same route.  Some have gotten rid of their "Christian Reformed" middle name altogether (many replacing it with a new middle name of "community").  Some have decreased the size and prominence of "Christian Reformed" but continue to add it as a tagline ("a Christian Reformed ministry"). Others exclude it from the name and signage but do nod to their CRC heritage in the "about us" or "what we believe" sections of their website.  

Your explanations about the reasons behind this make a lot of sense. Churches should want to be more inclusive and accessible. If our names are a hurdle that block people from walking through our doors, then we should humble ourselves and change them. 

The flip side, however, is that when more and more churches remove their denominational name, it becomes harder and harder for people to understand what we're all about.  Herb mentioned that people don't understand the term "Christian Reformed" and think that it might be related to prison ministry.  How can we help the term have meaning when we use it less and less?

I'd love for the term "Christian Reformed" to become synonymous in our broad culture with a people called by God to live a life dedicated to faith formation, servant leadership, gospel proclamation, worship, mercy, justice and mission. I wonder how we can better build up that understanding when we downplay the words. 

Then again, maybe we need to humble ourselves and not worry about how well our denominational name is known or understood, but just focus on how well Christ is known and understood. 


Hi Marc. I'm sorry that my post came across as anti-conservative and also that it seemed to be only about critical race theory. That wasn't my intent.  I would love to have conservative people, who are also people of color, post about their experiences with race and how they'd like the church to respond.  The point of my post was more in the spirit of Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 107 - "God wants us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to be patient, peace-loving, gentle, merciful, and friendly toward them, to protect them from harm as much as we can, and to do good even to our enemies."  If online discussion forums are causing harm to some of our community members, and they have made me aware of that, then it is my duty to do what I can to protect them from that harm. If I can remind people to be patient, peace-loving, gentle, merciful and friendly in their online comments, then I should do so. We want discussion and welcome debate, just not at the expense of marginalized people. 

Hi Dan. Thanks for posting. I want to clarify that I don't think that I am more enlightened than anyone else, or that I'm specially gifted to speak on behalf of people of color. You and I have engaged in the past and I think we share a mutual respect. I hope that I have demonstrated that my preference is to allow a variety of posts and opinions and to spark dialogue. Your "Esther and the 2nd Amendment" post is a great example. It may seem controversial to some and certainly expresses a point that not everyone agrees with, but posting it allowed for some interesting dialogue and debate. The intent of my post above was to admit that this approach to Network content has flaws and that I've had blinders to how I have unwittingly allowed hurt to happen in my quest for open and free-flowing dialogue. I now want to correct that. I am not making unilateral decisions about what I think groups of people might be offended by, but I am listening to people and trying to understand their pain and how I can mitigate it. I should also say that there is a diverse group of people helping with decisions about moderation.

Lastly, this really isn't about defending Black Lives Matter. A post that recognized the pain of the black community in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, acknowledged the reality of racism in our societies, and stated that change is needed in our systems - including in our churches - could also criticize the organization of Black Lives Matter and some of their calls to action.  But when we start with that criticism, and when we say things like, "don't all lives matter?  we are all one in Christ," we skip over the important part of seeing our brothers and sisters and recognizing their very real experiences. That's where the hurt has happened. 



Thanks Lubbert.  In response to your points:

1. Sorry for the confusion.  I meant that we'll be reaching out to some specific folks and asking them to write blog posts to ensure that our content is more reflective of our broad CRCNA community. It wasn't about writing comments. I agree with you that most of the Network users are "silent" observers rather than frequent commenters. 

2.  Glad we agree. 

4. (Jumping ahead to #4 before #3) You are right. Moderating online conversations does require a lot of discernment. It is probably one of the hardest parts of my job. It is something I pray about, and something I often ask others to pray for me about. I welcome your prayers as well. I try to listen. I start with the premise that everyone has good intentions behind their posts. I also rely on others to help me make final decisions when things are difficult. In the end, I (and we) might still make mistakes, but we'll continue to try our best. 

3. This is another hard one and you are right that we will still need to make some judgment calls.  At the same time, I think that we can often tell when someone is writing about their personal experience. Consider this (albeit facetious) example. 

The Network does not allow posts that explicitly support or denounce political candidates, but if it did, imagine that I - as a Canadian - wrote a post that said something like "Everyone who voted for Trump was clearly a racist. I mean, he clearly hates immigrants and wants to build a wall because of his xenophobia. What's more, his rallies are frequented by neo-nazis and far-right groups. I suspect that Trump supporters also hate women and didn't want to vote for Hillary because they didn't want a woman President." 

Some of these statement could be formed based on observation or what some news commentors have shared as "fact", but the overall post clearly makes assumptions about a group of people that I'm not a part of. It is divisive and not helpful to any sort of dialogue. 

On the flip side, if someone posted "As a Christian, I'm uncomfortable with some of the things Donald Trump has said about women and people with disabilities, but I voted for him in 2016 and plan to vote for him again and here's why.  He's been a strong advocate for the unborn. He supports religious freedom and was an advocate for keeping worship services open during COVID. He was even able to get disenfranchised people interested in politics again.....".  While people might still hold an opposing point of view, this post would help them hear where the other was coming from. Because it starts from someone's lived experience, it can lead to greater understanding. 

Of course, all of this is harder when we are talking about topics such as race, disability, abuse, etc. than politics, but that's a broad picture of what I'm hoping for.  I want us to hear each other and learn from each other. We can't do that if some people feel unseen and unsafe.

Thanks Doug.  I'll take a look at those videos you suggest.  I mentioned in an early comment that my post wasn't intended to be pro Critical Race Theory.  There is nothing sacred about CRT, nor has the CRCNA taken any sort of official stance on it.  You can read all of the official CRCNA positions on race relations here:

My post was simply trying to say that when we talk about issues that have a deep, personal impact on some specific groups of people (e.g. racism), and when we - ourselves - are not part of those groups (e.g. white folks who haven't experienced the negative impacts of racism in our daily lives), we need to tread carefully. If we don't start with a posture of humility, and if we don't recognize the pain and experiences of those most impacted by the issue, we cause pain and end up creating greater division instead of dialogue.

That's why my post says that we will "moderate" comments and posts that make claims outside of someone's lived experience and expertise. It doesn't say that they would all be deleted, just that we will watch them carefully and expect more from them. 

Maybe this isn't a great example, but I've been trying to read up on Critical Race Theory since it first reached my attention a few months ago.  I thought that this writer did a good job.  Yes, she's white.  Yes, she says Black Lives Matter is Marxist in origins and that there are limits to Critical Race Theory, but she also acknowledges the need for system changes, and states that there are parts of her life where she experiences privileges that people of color do not. Those sorts of acknowledgements help to demonstrate that she sees and cares about the people impacted by this issue, and isn't just critiquing the theory.

That's what we'll be looking for. 


Thanks Lubbert.  I appreciate the caution. As I said to Doug above, my comment was not that we would not allow anyone to speak on any topic outside of their lived experience.  Instead, I said that we'd be moderating them.  I simply mean that we'll be watching carefully and holding folks to a higher standard when they write about something that doesn't impact them directly. We want to ensure that we are always starting from a place of love, and that we recognize each other's humanity, experiences, pain and trauma. If that is done well and we still want to gently push back on some ideas, that is fine. When we jump to critique without taking the time to hear and see those most impacted, on the other hand, it is hurtful instead of helpful.

I had seen this piece on Reformed Everyday earlier.  You are right, I'd have trouble with it on the Network and here is why:  I do think the article is well written and I think you raise good points that are worth discussing. However, the critique is all academic without an acknowledgement of the real hurt being felt by people.  In fact, in the section where you talk about the spread of critical theories, it almost comes across as if you are saying that each of these groups is making up the hurdles and challenges they face.  I don't think that's your intent, but that's how this can read. 

Without acknowledging that racism, sexism, ableism, etc are real things that cause real pain, your critique of the theory comes across as a critique of the people who are asking for change and a disregard of their lived experience.

Hi Dan.  I think you misheard what I said.  I didn't say that white people would be prevented from talking about white privilege or systemic racism.  I simply said that when people talk about an issue (e.g. race) and they aren't part of the group that experiences the negative outcomes of that race, that they will be moderated.  By that, I mean that I'll be holding them to a higher standard and making sure that they don't overlook or discount the lived experiences of others in their critique. 

Maybe a good rule of thumb would be to imagine a friend of yours who has been personally impacted by the issue that you want to write about (be it racism, ableism, sexism, etc). Write your post as if you were talking to them specifically. Show care, compassion, and empathy before getting into a debate about specific theories and organizational leaders.

As for the diverse group, it consists of CRCNA staff both on the Network and in the Office of Race Relations (if the issue has to do with race), Disability Concerns (if the issue has to do with ableism), Safe Church (if the issue has to do with abuse), etc. I recognize that we are all human and fallible, so I want to seek advice from those who know the topic best.

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