FAQ for Pastor Church Resources

Crossing the border?

Forms, documents, visas, green cards, health care---Help!! Questions concerning documents and process related to serving outside your nation of citizenship may be directed to Michelle DeBie, Director of Human Resources (mdebie@crcna.org).

How do we determine appropriate compensation?

If you have questions concerning salary range and benefits for ministerial positions, the CRC publishes an annual Minister Compensation Survey, describing salary ranges and benefits for all the different geographical areas represented by the CRC in North America. A copy of this survey can be found on the CRCNA research page.

Resources for non-ordained positions are also available. Contact Jeanne Kallemeyn at jkallemeyn@crcna.org.

Specialized Transitional Ministers—Where can we find one?

Contact the Pastor Church Resources office to speak with Jeanne Kallemeyn at 616-726-1152. There is a cadre of these specially trained pastors (about 15, currently) endorsed by our office, and engaged around the denomination. We will be happy to speak with you about your particular situation and try to assist in connecting you to one or more of these pastors. For more information, click here. Timing can be a bit of a challenge!

Can you help us with an evaluation process for our pastor and other church leaders?

Evaluations require careful attention in terms of who evaluates, when, where, what and even why. How this is done is paramount. We do have some sample evaluation forms, but would encourage you to read and make use of a training tool which we have developed in conjunction with the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence initiative of our denomination. This is intended to benefit in the evaluation of both ordained and non-ordained persons. You can view a copy of this training tool by clicking on Resources, and scrolling down, and clicking on Evaluation Essentials for Congregational Leaders. If you would then still like further assistance, please contact Jeanne Kallemeyn at jkallemeyn@crcna.org or by phone at 616-726-1152.

Are there sample job descriptions which we could look at for our pastor and staff?

We do have a few of these available, though their usefulness is limited. Ministry settings, personnel and particulars are such that generic templates have only a moderate value. Crafting a job description is a wonderful opportunity for collaborative conversation and creative ways to use God’s gifts in a given moment and situation –in ways which resonate with your aims as a congregation. Please contact Jeanne Kallemeyn (jkallemeyn@crcna.org) in the office for further conversation and for available samples.

Does your office provide leadership training in non-crisis situations?

Yes, we do. Our work often includes leading workshops for church councils and congregations. We also are asked to provide leadership training at classis meetings, at area-wide Days of Encouragement, and at retreats and conferences sponsored by the Sustaining Pastoral/Congregational Excellence initiatives. We provide such training as schedule allows. Sample themes/topics as follows:

  • Dealing with our differences (establishing a biblical framework, and exploring dynamics of conflict)
  • Conversations we want to have, but don’t know how to start
  • Team-building by sharing our stories
  • Exploring hospitality as a biblical theme and core to the DNA of being the church of Jesus
  • A problem to be solved?? Or a polarity to be managed?? Exploring the difference.
  • Viewing through different lenses to reframe and enhance our perceptions.
  • Navigating the transitions of life and ministry
  • All work and no play…

How long should a pastor stay?

That’s one of the great questions in ministry! It’s a challenge for a pastor to be aware of self and of the ministry setting—so that the matter of “fit” between pastor and congregation is sufficiently considered. And, it’s not always a simple matter to resolve. If you’ve got questions related to the length of pastoral tenure, please call the office and speak to either Norm Thomasma (616-224-0764) or Cecil VanNiejenhuis (616-224-0746).

Are there rules and protocols to follow when a pastor and congregation part ways?

In fact, there are. The Church Order has a number of stipulations which we do well to follow. This is particularly important in situations which include a relationship breakdown and conflict. It can be helpful to consult a book such as Manual of Christian Reformed Church Government (2008 revision) by Peter Borgdorff. This book walks through each of the articles of our Church Order and the supplements to various articles. The articles which specifically address this question and related issues are #12-18. You can view the articles of our Church Order by clicking on the following link.

You may also find it helpful to refer to a new resource authored by Henry DeMoor entitled Christian Reformed Church Order Commentary, and available from Faith Alive.

What are Church Order Article 17 procedures?

These are the protocols set out for pastors and churches to follow when it is deemed necessary by the pastor, the council or by pastor and council jointly, to part ways. There are important provisions in place which seek to ensure that pastors and councils are diligent in caring for each other, and in taking steps towards healing and wholeness, so that as a pastor and as a church, there will be opportunity to flourish once again. There is an important role that the broader church, through church visitors, classis delegates and synodical deputies fulfills. Altogether, the procedures outlined in article 17 honor the reality of the church as a system in which every member impacts and is impacted by the others. This reality is especially dynamic in the relationship between churches and pastors.

Who are church visitors, and what do they do? Can we invite them to our church?

Every classis appoint teams of church visitors: experienced pastors and/or elders whose responsibility it is to visit church councils each year. Typically, these visits happen less frequently, but they are intended to assure a healthy accountability for churches and foster a sense of mutuality and community. A helpful and detailed Guide for Conducting Church Visiting was approved by Synod 2000, and can be viewed by following this link. Relevant details with respect to church visiting are found in article 42 of the Church Order. Church councils are always free to invite such visitors because of a specific need, and there are protocols which allow individual members of a congregation to speak to church visitors as well. Church visitors provide written reports to their classis.

Can you provide information on sabbaticals and sabbatical policies?

We believe that sabbaticals and sabbatical policies are essential for the long-term health and well-being of pastors and the congregations they serve. There is a wealth of information which can be accessed on the Sustaining Pastoral Excellence website. Simply follow this link: http://crcna.org/pages/spe_sabbaticals.cfm

Are there any funds available to support continuing education for pastors? What about church staff?

Yes there are funds available for pastors, and for church staff who work 20 hours per week or more. Our office administers a fund to support this valuable exercise. We are able to offer grants of up to $750.00 per year to pastors and non-ordained church staff who qualify, and as funding allows. Simply download the application form here, fill it in and submit. Deadlines for application are April 1, August 1, and November 1 each year. For more information, please see the Guidelines for Continuing Education Grants.

Does my pastor have a mentor?

Only your pastor can answer that question. But we can tell you this much: every first-time pastor in the CRC is expected to have a mentor for the first five years of ministry. The initiative for identifying such a person rests with the pastor. However, if finding a mentor is a challenge, the regional pastor may be of assistance in identifying a suitable person. The regional pastor is responsible for passing along the names of proposed mentors to Pastor Church Resources for approval. Once approved, our office sends the pastor and mentor a copy of Towards Effective Mentoring, a training tool prepared in conjunction with Sustaining Pastoral Excellence.

Although only first-time pastors are required to have mentors, we think that across all the years of ministry, pastors would benefit from being mentors, and being mentored. Does your pastor have a mentor? Perhaps you might want to encourage, by asking!

How do we begin the search for a new pastor?

Huge question! When a pastor leaves, there are so many dimensions: a sense of loss—ranging from sadness to relief. There’s a sense of wondering about where we’ve been as a church, where and who we are right now, and what next? This is a time to be still for a moment, and to gain awareness about who we are, and what kind of gifts our next leader might have to offer. In short, this is a time for prayerfulness, and a time for reflection and conversation as a church.

The whole process may likely take a while—a year or more is not uncommon. But it is an adventure of faith and hope and love! Things you can do? Pray together. Reflect together. Prepare a church profile which can be downloaded directly. Once the profile is complete, our office will be happy to provide a list of ministerial profiles suggested by a computer database basic matching process. But the serious work of vetting potential pastors really does belong to you! Check references and engage in conversations and then, after doing all you can, keep in mind that God’s hand and Spirit move in mysterious ways. There just isn’t any possible way to guarantee that a perfect fit will result. Relationships are dynamic and fluid and utterly human, for better and for worse!

A new training tool called More Than a Search Committee, designed for use by search committees, councils, and pastors, is now available. An electronic copy of the tool is available here. Hard copies are available through Faith Alive Christian Resources. The tool identifies helpful protocols, healthy etiquette, and significant resources.

Is there a list of available pastoral positions in the CRC?

At present, we have a list of available senior pastor positions in the CRC. It can be viewed by clicking on this link: Download List of Opportunities for Ministerial Placement. What it does not include is a list of other available ordained staff ministry positions. These can be found in The Banner, under "Church Positions Available" either in print or online.

Is there a list of available pastors?

No. All ordained pastors are potentially available for call. Sometimes pastors decide they are unavailable for a variety of reasons. But the fact remains that a church is free to extend a call to any ordained CRC pastor in good standing—even if a pastor claims to be unavailable. And a pastor is always free to do either: accept or decline.

How do we go about adding staff?

While there is no one way for every church to follow, there are some basics that should be considered before adding staff. Being aware of and attending to these basic concepts will set the stage for a healthy search, hire and relationship between the staff person and the church. We would be happy to have a conversation with you as you begin this process. (Jeanne is willing to have these conversations; jkallemeyn@crcna.org or 616-726-1152.)

As a non-ordained church staff member, I’m disconnected from the council. What are some things that can be done to remedy that?

Your situation is not unique. Many non-ordained church staff experience this disconnect. It’s important for the lay leadership( council) of your church to understand what it is you do, and to know you as a person. In addition to preparing written report on your activities, being present at council meetings on a regular basis is a great way to connect. This is an opportunity for you to answer and ask questions. Meeting with a liaison from the council, one on one, is also helpful. Or having regular contact with a member of the Personnel Team.

How can staff ministry thrive when the senior/lead pastor doesn’t have administrative/supervisory skills, or is not interested in this?

Not all senior/lead pastors are familiar with or have experience with staff ministry. It’s important that a church set the stage well before staff ministry is initiated. This includes having a well-defined organizational structure in which each person and group (council, committees, etc.) understand their role and their place in the ministry picture. If indeed the senior/lead pastor does not have the skills or desire to lead the staff, another person must take on that role, with the understanding and “blessing” of the lay leadership.