Promising Practices: Learning Together

Regional Pastors

General

  • Learn about different personality types as it’ll enable better regional pastoring.
  • Join or form a peer group of Regional Pastors to better share resources, advice, best practices, and mutual support.
  • Seek accountability for your work as an Regional Pastor with someone—perhaps even at classis.
  • Be proactive when things that need attention are made known.
  • Attend classis meetings—even if you’re retired and aren’t required to attend – and keep an ear to the ground for things that need to be followed up on with certain pastors in your care.
  • Ask your classis to strongly consider allocating funds to cover mileage and meals for Regional Pastors.
  • Work with your classis to consider developing a “healthy church team” that includes Regional Pastors, Church Visitors and others to help address the many issues that often one or two classical functionaries have to take on alone.
  • Connect with Pastor Church Resources when dealing with difficult situations. There are resources available that can help!

Connecting and Building Relationships with Pastors

  • Gather several pastoral couples at the Regional Pastor’s home for a meal and time together. Several Regional Pastors spoke of the relationship building that happens at these type of events.
  • Meet with a pastor (and spouse) on Saturday and then preach for him/her on Sunday. This can provide a great way to get time with the pastor and then get time with the congregation, all while helping provide the pastor with some much needed time off.
  • Consider forming a peer group of pastors within the your Regional Pastor region. (Note: you can request a Pastor Peer Learning Grant for this.) Many pastors have found peer groups be life-giving.
  • Have “face-to-face” visits with pastors who are geographically distant. This can be in- person or via Skype/Google Hangout.
  • Engage in regular and frequent contact with pastors in challenging situations. Phone calls and coffees can go a long way in helping them feel supported.
  • Use a personal touch such as a phone call or personal note rather than a mass email to all pastors saying, “I’m here if you need me.”
  • Ask the pastor if it is ok for you to communicate on his or her behalf with the church’s Church Visitors and possibly even the church council when a pastor is going through a challenging time. Sometimes making others aware of the challenge can lead to a healthy team approach.
  • Attend the biennial Regional Pastor Conference hosted by Pastor Church Resources . It’s a great opportunity for both training and for collegial support.

For Classis

  • Allocating funds to cover mileage and meals expenses for Regional Pastors.
  • Set up a system for contacting Regional Pastors when potential pastor/church tensions first arise in classical communications or at classis meeting. Early interventions are key to avoiding escalating conflicts.
  • Educate councils/churches about the differences between the role of a Regional Pastor and role of the Church Visitor. Helpful summaries of both positions can be found here
  • Develop a “healthy church team” that includes Regional Pastors, Church Visitors and others to help address the many issues that often one or two classical functionaries have to take on alone.

Do you have a promising practice for Regional Pastors you’d like to share? Email Al Postma - [email protected]

Church Visitors

General

  • Gather regularly with other Church Visitors from your classes to share best practices, wisdom, and learning.
  • Ask your classis to structure church visiting so that Church Visitors are assigned the same churches to work with over time. This helps stronger relationships form between Visitors and councils.
  • Foster relationships with churches by doing more than just visiting once a year. Perhaps contact the Chair of Council in-between official visits for coffee or another informal get-together.
  • Draw on the experience of being part of a church visit (as the pastor) when fulfilling the role of Church Visitor.
  • Focus on the relationship aspect of church visiting rather than the question and answer aspect of the visit. A strong relational base can make the questions and answers flow more freely and honestly.
  • Educate councils/churches about the differences between the role of a Regional Pastor and role of the Church Visitor. (Need help? A Brief Guide to Church Visiting is a good place to start.)
  • Be proactive when things that need attention are made known.
  • Work with your classis to consider developing a “healthy church team” that includes Regional Pastors, Church Visitors and others to help address the many issues that often one or two classical functionaries have to take on alone.

Preparing for the Visit

  •  Introduce yourself to a church council via a letter or an email upon getting a new church visiting assignment. This can help start the relationship the right way, right away.
  • Send a questionnaire to the church before the visit. This will help identify what needs to be talked about at the church visit.
  • Send the questions that you’ll be asking the council about a month before the church visit to help them prepare for a meaningful discussion.

During the Visit

  • Begin a church visit by focusing on the positive and asking a question like, “What are you doing really well?” or, “Where have you seen God most at work in the past year?”
  • Engage the council in a real conversation. Don’t just have a question and answer session.
  •  Ask open-ended questions when visiting a church, not ones that result in a yes/no answer. (See the Brief Guide to Church Visiting for some useful open-ended questions.)
  • Ask for time to visit with just the council (without the pastor present) so they can be open and honest.
  • Take good notes during the visit. This is good for your own records and it shows churches you’re engaged in the conversation and process.
  • Be an encourager to the council.
  • Review the visit after it is over with the elder or someone on the council you’ve built a relationship with. Often, others will see and hear things you didn’t.

For Classis

  • Develop a way for your Church Visitors to gather regularly to share best practices, wisdom, and learning.
  • Structure church visiting so that Church Visitors are assigned the same churches to work with over time. This helps stronger relationships form between Visitors and councils.
  • Be sensitive to churches that would not be comfortable with a female Church Visitor.
  • Educate councils/churches about the differences between the role of a Regional Pastor and role of the Church Visitor. Helpful summaries of both positions that can help can be found here.
  • Develop a “healthy church team” that includes Regional Pastors, Church Visitors and others to help address the many issues that often one or two classical functionaries have to take on alone.

Do you have a promising practice for Church Visitors you’d like to share? Email Al Postma - [email protected]

Mentors and Mentees

For Mentees

  • Click here for a full description of the Christian Reformed Church's mentoring ministry for newly ordained ministers.
  • Check out the “Toward Effective Pastoral Mentoring” manual to learn more about pastoral mentoring and to find topics and materials for discussion.
  • Try to choose your own mentor. Ask someone you already have a relationship with and that you think would be a good fit. Typically your mentor should be from within your classis, but there can be exceptions.
  • Make it a priority to connect with and build a relationship with your mentor right away.
  • Check out the “Toward Effective Pastoral Mentoring” manual. 
  • Consider continuing the mentoring relationship after the initial five years if the relationship is going well.

For Mentors

  • Click here for a full description of the Christian Reformed Church's mentoring ministry for newly ordained ministers.
  • Review “Toward Effective Pastoral Mentoring” to learn more about pastoral mentoring and to find topics and materials for discussion.
  • Tell stories of your own challenges and failures in ministry. This can be both amusing (light-hearted) and comforting.
  • Help mentees walk through the messiness of ministry, going beyond the theories learned in the classroom.
  • Spend time on topics such as listening, self-awareness, and conflict management.
  • Be prepared to be flexible. Your relationship may include providing companionship, thinking through new issues, helping the new pastor develop identity, serving as an accountability partner, and keeping the pastor balanced in tough times.

Do you have a promising practice you’d like to share? Email Cecil Van Niejenhuis - [email protected]

Classical Counselors

For Counselors

  • Review and refer to resources such as the CRC Church Order, the Manual of Christian Reformed Church Government, the Christian Reformed Church Commentary, and More Than A Search Committee. Many Classical Counselors have found these to be useful.
  • Consult with experienced Classical Counselors or Pastor Church Resources if you need guidance dealing with unique or unfamiliar situations.
  • Invest in relationship building with the leaders of the church. The more you understand the congregation’s context and culture, the better you will be able to serve them.
  • Consider keeping up with what’s going on at the church by reading their bulletins or newsletters, which are often online.
  • Connect with the congregation’s Church Visitor to learn more about the backstory of the congregation. This can help you better frame your work within the history of that particular congregation.

For Classis

Do you have a promising practice for Classical Counselors you’d like to share? Email Al Postma - [email protected]