Neil Carlson

About Me: 

Update Spring 2022: After almost 18 years at the Center for Social Research at Calvin College / University, my team and I formed DataWise Consulting, LLC, an independent social-scientific consultancy in data collection, analysis, visualization, and interpretation.

My wife LaVonne works in IT for the CRCNA here in Grand Rapids and serves as Elder for Education and Discipleship at Shawnee Park CRC, a role I inaugurated a decade ago. My boys Jay (19) and Colin (almost 17) are frequently involved in leading worship or providing audio-visual technical support. I have served for over a decade as part of an evolving Shawnee Park team that provides rides and breakfast for Calvin students.

We are eager, hyper-active members of the church and love the Reformed tradition, but do not hesitate to remind our brothers and sisters that the church is bigger than the CRC and that Christian education is bigger than CRC schools. If we want to Reform the world, we have to engage it, including the many other expressions of Christian faith.


Politics, especially the politics of Jesus as Lord and all human beings, including kings and presidents and CEOs, as his humble and gentle servants.

Books, especially historical fiction (especially Patrick O'Brian), fantasy (especially Tolkien) and science fiction (especially Neal Stephenson and Dan Simmons).

Computers, especially digital graphics and data visualization.

Science and technology, especially things that make life better and more fun.

Travel, especially to beaches (Michigan and Superior, Carolina Outer Banks, California, Dominican Republic).

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Pastoral Excellence in an Impatient Age

Survey evidence suggests too few congregations supply pastors with the time, encouragement and financial means to sustain the quiet devotional life and deep expertise that the ministry requires.

  • Thanks for the constructive engagement, Rev. Snapper. I have enjoyed our past conversations.

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    This is a good story! I don't have strong positive examples in mind, but I do know that I've appreciated times when pastors have addressed small children warmly and personnally,...