Registration Quick Links

The Church Organized

An Introduction to Reformed Church Government

In a secondary sentence, the Belgic Confession states: “it is useful and good for those who govern the church to establish a certain order to maintain the body of the church.” With this Reformed churches confess the teaching of Scripture that God is not a God of confusion but of peace, and that all things should be done decently and in order (1Corinthians 14:33,40).

Those who serve in a leadership role in the church, thus need to know what the “certain order” is which the church in which they serve has “established”. That order determines what they can and cannot do, what they ought to do and ought not to do. Just as traffic laws regulate traffic, so the church order regulates church life. If God’s people are to be perfect as their Father is perfect (Matthew 5:48), then it is of the utmost importance that things in the church are done right.

What are the duties and privileges of the various office bearers and of the various church assemblies? If you’re not sure, and realize you ought to know, here is a course for you.

Purpose and Focus of the Course

This course aims to introduce the basic principles and practices of Reformed church government as expressed in the tradition of the Church Order of Dort (1618-1619), known as Dort Polity. The purpose of the course is to equip individuals to fulfil leadership roles in the church, by instructing them in basic Scriptural principles of church government and reviewing in some detail the order established in their church.

The focus of the course will be primarily on the Church Order of the Canadian Reformed Churches (CanRC), with attention also for the Church Order of the United Reformed Churches (URC) and the Proposed Joint Church Order drafted as the CanRC and URC sought to merge.

Summary of the Course

The course consists of 4 sessions.

Session 1: Orientation. This session will cover topics such as deriving an order from Scripture, the history of Reformed polity (in very brief), the hermeneutics of church polity (how to read and apply church law), the character of Dort Polity, resources for the practice of Reformed polity.

Session 2: The Offices. This session covers most of the first section of the Church Order. Among the topics reviewed will be: calling to office, the exercise of the offices of minister, elder, and deacon, and the relationship between the offices.

Session 3: The Assemblies. This session covers the second section of the Church Order. Among the topics reviewed will be: assemblies in general (e.g. use of Robert’s Rules), the local assemblies (consistory, council, deaconry), the regional assemblies (classis, regional synod), and federational matters (general synod, inter church relations including NAPARC and ICRC).

Session 4: Liturgy and Discipline. This session covers the third and fourth sections of the Church Order. (As there are plans for a separate course on discipline, it will cover discipline comparatively briefly.) Among the topics reviewed will be: worship (e.g. regulations pertaining to worship services), growing and persevering in faith (baptism, catechizing, profession of faith, Lord’s Supper), and discipline (concentrating on discipline of office bearers).

Hosts and Instructor

This course is offered by the Word & Spirit Institute (WSI in ON – wsinstitute.ca) and Reformed Bible College (RBC in BC – rbcollege.com), with certification provided by Miami International Seminary (MIntS in FL – mints.edu).

This course will be taught by Rev. Dr. Roelf C. (Karlo) Janssen. Dr. Janssen graduated with a M.Div. from the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary and with a Ph.D. in the fields of church history and church polity from the Theological University of the Reformed Churches (liberated) in The Netherlands. He has served two congregations in The Netherlands, and is currently serving his second charge in Canada, the Willoughby Heights Canadian Reformed Church in BC. Among others he has served as first clerk of three general synods of the CanRC. Since 2016 he has served as convenor of the CanRC Committee on Ecumenical Relations (formerly CRCA). He was recently appointed Corresponding Secretary of the ICRC (International Conference of Reformed Churches).

Course expectations

Individuals can register to participate in the sessions and audit the course.

As this course is being co-hosted by MIntS, individuals can also register for credits towards a Certificate in Church Leadership, or credits towards post-graduate programs with MIntS, such as a bachelors or masters degree. Those seeking credits are required to fulfil certain assessed tasks.

For credits towards the Certificate in Church Leadership, those requirements are:

1)  Student participation (8 hrs) (30 points)– for every 2 hours of class attendance, the student will receive 7.5 points.

2)  Roughly 100 pages of reading (20 points).  The student will write a two page (500 word) reflection paper. Students will be provided with a Guideline on what this reflection paper should look like.

3)  Complete a case study (50 points). The student will be presented with a situation and will be asked to research and describe what course of action is required.

For credits towards a post-secondary degree at Mints: to be determined on a case by case basis, in line with MIntS guidelines.

Resources

Note: the list that follows may yet be expanded. With a view to the certificate, some readings will be compulsory, some will be optional; the total of read pages would have to be roughly 100.

Agema, Douwe, Council Handbook (https://officebearers.com/library/council-handbook/)

– Chapter 1.8: The Minister (7 pages)

– Chapter 2.4: Federation (7 pages)

– Chapter 2.8: The Elder (7 pages)

– Chapter 3.2: Finances (11 pages)

– Chapter 3.5: The Council (9 pages)

– Chapter 3.8: The Deacon (5 pages)

Boekestein, William & Swets, Steven, Faithful and Fruitful: Essays for Elders and Deacons (Grandville, MI: Reformed Fellowship, Inc., 2019) – Kindle Book

– Chapter 15: How to Be a Clerk (Mark H. Vander Pol) – 9 pages

– Chapter 16: Navigating the Broader Assemblies: Serving at Classis and Synod (Ronald Scheuers) – 10 pages

Bouwman, Clarence, Spiritual Order for the Church, (Winnipeg, MB: Premier Publishing, 2000)

– Chapter 1: Scripture Principles Forming Reformed Church Polity (30 pages)

– Chapter 5: Assemblies, 1-8 (20 pages)

Brown, Michael, Called to Serve: Essays for Elders and Deacons (Grandville, MI: Reformed Fellowship, Inc., 2010) – Kindle Book

– Chapter 12: Office Bearers and Church Government (Nelson Kloosterman) – 20 pages

– Chapter 13: Surviving Tuesday Night: The Rules and Order of a Meeting (Bradd L. Nymeyer) – 10 pages

Janssen, Roelf C. www.officebearers.com/topics (10 pages)

For more resources, including some that are digitally accessible, see https://officebearers.com/library/commentaries/

Format of the Course

The course will be taught online via Zoom. There will be a combination of lectures (with the use of slide presentation through screen sharing) and class discussion. Experience indicates that church government is a very practical topic and there are always many more questions than answers. Consideration will be given to extending sessions or creating extra sessions for q&a.

The intention is to have 4 2-hr sessions every second week on a Wednesday night. As participants will be scattered across the continent in different time zones, alternative arrangements may be made. For example, if there are enough people in both the west and the east, there could be separate sessions for east and west to avoid an early start for the west or a late end for the east. Another option is to have 8 1-hr sessions on a Wednesday evening for 8 weeks.

Dates of the Course

The four lectures will take place on February 15, March 1, April 5, and April 19. (The gap of several weeks is to avoid the Spring Breaks in the various provinces.)

The course will be taught in the evening. Unless the number of registrants is very small, the course will likely be taught from 7:00-9:00pm EST for Ontario and Manitoba, and 7:00-9:00pm for Saskatchewan, Alberta, and BC.

Benefits of the Course

Completion of this course should mean an individual is better equipped to serve in a leadership role in the church, with a basic knowledge of Reformed church government and the skill to apply the provisions of the church order and other ecclesiastical documents in the church setting. No doubt completion of this course will also alert an individual to how much more there is to know, and seek further courses, such as the one on church discipline.

The Acts

The Gospel according to Luke and the Acts of (Jesus Christ through) the Apostles are companion volumes directed to “the most excellent Theophilus.”  What was Luke’s central message to Theophilus, and in particular, what is Luke’s purpose in preparing the thoroughly researched report which is known to us as the Acts of the Apostles?  Is it merely a history of the apostolic church from the perspective of an eyewitness and sometime companion of the Apostle Paul?  What place does the book of the Acts of the Apostles have in the canon of redemptive history?  Where does this book “fit into” the scheme of God’s purposes in the revelation of Jesus Christ?  What does the book mean for the church of the 21st century?  Develop and deepen your understanding of the message of the Acts of the Apostles with this course presented by Reformed Bible College and taught by Mr. Wayne Chase.

Teachers at our schools can count these lectures towards their pro-development requirements (1 credit per hour of lecture, so 1.5 credits per evening). All lectures will take place via Zoom. The lecturer for this series is Mr. Wayne Chase B.A., a teacher at Cornerstone Christian School in Lynden; he has 37 years of experience teaching Bible. The evenings will run from September 29 to October 27. All evenings begin at 7:30pm PT (8:30pm MT). Registration is required. To register, click here.

Those who attend the course for credit (e.g. pro development) will be asked to pay a fee (some school boards have arrangements in place for reimbursements). For the rest, attendance is free of charge; donations can be made online to cover the costs of the evenings and the work of the Reformed Bible College in general.

Overview of the evenings:

  1. Introduction to the Acts of the Apostles: author, intended recipient, structure of the book, and basic themes and concerns for modern readers
  1. Peter, Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria: the call to Apostate Israel, and the creation of the new Israel of God
  1. Paul and Pax Romana: the Gospel of the “Way” of Jesus the Messiah, and the development of the Christian synagogue, and the Great Mystery unfolding
  1. Analysis of several sermon summaries provided by Luke with respect to the apostolic argument and use of sources:  Peter (Acts 2) and Paul (Acts 13, 17, and 28) as well as analysis of Paul’s legal defense in Acts 16 and in chapters  22-26
  1. Towards a New Perspective on the Acts of the Apostles: Acts as fulfillment of Old Testament promises

Click here to see the video recordings

Churchscapes

Note: Due to the pandemic the following course was never completed. As we’re two years further, plans are now to do a re-run of the course in early 2022

Without the church there is no salvation. Hence, the church is a vital part of the life of every Christian believer. The weal and woe of the church hugely impacts the weal and woe of believers. Thus, believers show a keen interest in the wellbeing of the church. The wellbeing of the church is, for a large part, shaped by circumstances of time and place. While the church may be doing well in one time or in one place, that same church may not be doing as well in another. There are lessons to be learned by a church in one time and place from the church in other times and places.

Given our time and circumstances – and interests shown for the topics – the Reformed Bible College is providing a series of 4 lectures on the Dutch and North American churchscapes.

The schedule for these lectures is as follows:

  1. : Dutch Reformed church history (Reformation to today).
  2. : the Dutch Reformed churchscape today and what is shaping it. This lecture will consider, among others, where our former Dutch sister churches are at.
  3. : North American Reformed and Presbyterian church history (Reformation to today)
  4. : The North American Reformed and Presbyterian churchscape today and what is shaping it

The two Friday lectures will have the “flow-chart” approach: when did churches form, split, merge, and what were the issues at play. The two Wednesday lectures will seek to characterize various church groups today and consider why they are such, focussing especially on cultural circumstances.

Teachers at our schools can count these lectures towards their pro-development requirements (1 credit per hour of lecture, so 1.5 credits per evening). All lectures will take place in the Willoughby Heights Canadian Reformed Church (7949 202A street, Langley). The lecturer for this series is Rev. Dr. Karlo Janssen. All evenings begin at 8:00pm.

Those who attend the course for credit (e.g. pro development) will need to register and pay a fee. To register, click here. For the rest, attendance is free of charge; donations will be taken to cover the costs of the evenings and the work of the Reformed Bible College in general.

The Minor Prophets

While Isaiah and Jeremiah might be more well known, the Minor Prophets, the last twelve books of the Old Testament, represent a substantial portion of the words of God’s prophets addressed to the people of Israel, both northern and southern kingdoms, during the tumultuous years following the rise of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires.  Representing a range of personal backgrounds, and speaking to a variety of issues, the Minor Prophets bear witness to the continuing validity of Torah, the Law of God, for the community of God’s people.  These twelve prophets address the people of Israel and Judah prior to the Assyrian and Babylonian exile, as well as the post-exilic community which had returned to rebuild the house of God in Jerusalem.  Learn to understand and appreciate the historical setting of these twelve books, the cultural and theological challenges facing the people of God in those years, and the literary forms which are employed by the authors.  Finally, we will wrestle with the manner in which the respective messages of these books remain instructive and authoritative for the people of God in the 21st century after Christ.

Teachers at our schools can count these lectures towards their pro-development requirements (1 credit per hour of lecture, so 1.5 credits per evening). All lectures will take place via Zoom. The lecturer for this series is Mr. Wayne Chase B.A., a teacher at Cornerstone Christian School in Lynden; he has 36 years of experience teaching Bible. The evenings will run from February 10 to March 10. All evenings begin at 8:00pm. Registration is required. To register, click here.

Those who attend the course for credit (e.g. pro development) will be asked to pay a fee (some school boards have arrangements in place for reimbursements). For the rest, attendance is free of charge; donations can be made online to cover the costs of the evenings and the work of the Reformed Bible College in general.

Overview of the evenings:

  1. Introduction to the Minor Prophets
    1. Historical Background and Chronology 
    2. Reiteration of Torah and Covenant Keeping
  1. Two Perspectives on Yahweh’s Lovingkindness and Faithfulness
    1. Hosea: Israel’s Faithlessness and Yahweh’s Lovingkindness
    2. Jonah: Yahweh’s Lovingkindness and the Prophet’s Unbelief
  1. Rebuilding the House of Yahweh: Two Perspectives
    1. Haggai: Immediate Concerns
    2. Zechariah: Big Picture
  1. The Minor Prophets and the Day of Yahweh: Coming Judgment
    1. Judgment on the Nations
    2. The Coming Judgment of Israel
  1. The Minor Prophets and the Day of Yahweh: The Restoration of Israel
    1. The Restoration of Israel
    2. The Gathering of the Nations

Click here to see the video recordings