Photo: Karen Huttenga for The Banner

Rules for Commissioned Pastors Clarified

Commissioned pastors in the Christian Reformed Church become pastors by special assignment rather than by completing an accredited theological education. Previously they were known as “ministry associates” and, before that, “evangelists.”

As more and more people enter ministry by alternate routes, leaders want to better establish procedures for commissioned pastors in the CRC.

Not all current situations are addressed by current rules. For example, some Christian Reformed churches have begun to hire commissioned pastors with the agreement that they will pursue ordination.

In answer to the growing number of commissioned pastors, Synod 2018 took several measures. Synod

  • required background checks and psychological assessments for commissioned pastors serving in solo or senior roles.
  • initiated a reformat of the Commissioned Pastor Handbook for final consideration by Synod 2019.
  • took steps toward requiring that solo/senior commissioned pastors develop and complete a “contextualized learning plan.”

The report before synod stated that “though not expected in all circumstances of persons serving as commissioned pastors, a plan toward candidacy may be beneficial for the pastor and the church.”

Because the report recommends significant changes to the Church Order, it will go before Synod 2019.

Rod Hugen, Classis Arizona, said that adding requirements can be burdensome to commissioned pastors, especially without corresponding funds. “At some point we need to figure out what we are we offering them as well as what are we expecting of them,” said Hugen, himself a commissioned pastor.

Melissa Van Dyk, Classis B.C. North-West, asked, “Why not require all commissioned pastors [not just those in solo/senior roles] to have background checks?” to ensure safe churches. David Koll, director of the CRC Candidacy Committee, responded that the CRC has recommended background checks for all commissioned pastors but has not required them. Such a requirement could come before a future synod, he added.


Synod 2018 is meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., from June 7-14. For continuous coverage while synod is in session, download the Banner app on your mobile device or follow The Banner Magazine on Facebook or @crcbanner on Twitter. You can find more tweeting by following hashtag #crcsynod. News stories will be posted at thebanner.org several times daily. For CRC Communications releases and the webcast, please visit crcna.org.

About the Author

Roxanne Van Farowe is a freelance writer.

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