JAN / FEB • 2016
H E L P I N G L E A D E R S B E C O M E B E T T E R S T E WA R D S .
Taylor Grace under pressure 6 PLUS 4 ways to increase staff participation in your retirement plan 10 Common payroll mistakes — and how to avoid them 19 Background checks: red ﬂags 25
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FROM THE EDITOR
New year, new strategies In this issue of Church Executive, you’ll find the debut of three brandnew series — with experts in the areas of purchasing, legal and space maximization at the helm. Purchasing solutions for faith-based organizations: 101 — When it comes to good stewardship, one of the best opportunities to drive bottom-line savings (and free up funds for ministry) is in the procurement of the items it needs and uses, anyway. On page 9, “Savings in Numbers” Series author Glen Witsaman of entegra Procurement Services outlines (first of all) what a procurement services company is, but also what types of products can be purchased this way — from air filters to safety equipment — and why this approach makes sense for churches. “Whether your staff or volunteers plan large dinner events, your day care center is struggling to achieve its budget, or your facilities need maintenance, outsourcing your purchasing for food, supplies and services frees up church resources to devote to your ministry,” he writes. Dos and don’ts for pastors during an election year — It’s an election year! Regardless of your political views, one thing all church executives have in common is this: high stakes. On page 30, “Legal Realities” Series author and highly regarded church legal expert David O. Middlebrook examines several different ways pastors and churches can (and can’t) be involved in political campaign and legislative activities. “Every election year, we receive lots of questions — in particular, regarding discussing the elections with their congregation, the public, and even their employees and board members,” Middlebrook writes. “Participating in prohibited political campaign activity can result in you church jeopardizing its tax-exempt status, thus harming its reputation, and putting the tax deductibility of every donation at risk.” Arm yourself with some expert advice.
Do you really need to build? — Or, does divvying up the space you’ve already got make more sense? It’s a question “Stewardship of Space” Series author Rich Maas of Screenflex Portable Room Dividers has pondered quite a bit in his long tenure at the company — and not a rhetorical question, either. You might be surprised at the different metrics and costs that can be evaluated specifically as they apply to your space. “When massive growth of 40 percent or more is expected, nuts-and-bolts construction or facility renovation might indeed be in order. After all, you can’t have people stepping over each other,” Maas explains. “On the other hand, projected growth of 10 percent to 30 percent can very often be accommodated with the efficient use of existing space.” Pretty good stuff, huh? There’s plenty more where that came from. Check it out in our January / February 2016 digital issue. As with every editorial offering in Church Executive, we hope these new series — and the experts behind them — will help you be even better stewards of your churches’ resources. All the best,
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EDITORIAL ADVISORY PANEL Stephen Briggs Associate Pastor of Administration First Baptist Church | Hendersonville, NC Denise Craig Chief Financial Officer Abba’s House | Hixson, TN Mike Klockenbrink Chief of Staff Lakeside Church | Folsom, CA Dan Mikes Executive Vice President Bank of the West | San Ramon, CA John C. Mrazek III Executive Pastor Pathways Church | Denver, CO Sam S. Rainer III Senior Pastor West Bradenton Baptist Church | Bradenton, FL Mark Simmons Business Manager Christ Community Church | Milpitas, CA Eric Spacek Senior Manager GuideOne Insurance | West Des Moines, IA
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January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
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Purpose. People. Passion.
CONTENTS January / February 2016
CHURCH FACILITIES: BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION
CREATING A CULTURE OF GENEROSITY
CHURCH ACCOUNTING BASICS
PASTOR-FRIENDLY SOUND SYSTEMS
SCIENCE BEHIND THE SEAT
PROTECTING CHILDREN IN THE CHURCH
NEW! LEGAL REALITIES
NEVER AGAIN: BEYOND INSURANCE
By Rodney James By Beka Johnson
By Eric Spacek, JD, ARM
By Tammy Bunting By Daniel Keller
By Amanda Opdycke By Patricia Carlson
By David O. Middlebrook
By Mike Jones
MISSION: ACCOMPLISHED Lance Taylor — Grace Under Pressure
By Michael J. Bemi
Executive Pastor / Long Hollow Baptist Church / Hendersonville, TN
At Long Hollow, hope is not a strategy. When disaster strikes — as it has, twice — the church has sustained its rapid growth and expansion with preparation and perseverance.
By RaeAnn Slaybaugh
CONTINUING EDUCATION CAN SEMINARIES PREPARE STUDENTS FOR THE REAL WORLD?
IN OUR DIGITAL ISSUE ONLY!
AUTHOR, PASTOR MARK BATTERSON & THE SECRETS OF PURSUING “GOD-SIZED DREAMS”
NEW! STEWARDSHIP OF SPACE
BREAKING BARRIERS: HEARING ACCESSIBILITY
CHURCH COMMUNICATION TOOLS
CHURCH FACILITY STEWARDSHIP
By George M. Hillman
By Regent University’s School of Divinity
churchexecutive.com/digital-edition By Rich Maas
By Maile Keone
By Brooke Temple
By Tim Cool
CONTINUING EDUCATION MANAGEMENT SKILLS FOR MORE EFFECTIVE MINISTRY 34 By the Center for Church Management & Business Ethics at the Villanova School of Business in Villan
KEEPING CONTEXT AT THE FOREFRONT
MULTISITE & PORTABLE CHURCHES
STREAMING MADE SIMPLE
Q&A with Dr. Matthew H. Bevere of Ashland Theological Seminary
NEW! SAVINGS IN NUMBERS
By Scott Cougill
By Glen Witsaman
FINANCES & ADMINISTRATION FOR CHURCH LEADERS By Rev. James R. Cook, CFP®
By Andrew Ng
DEPARTMENTS From the Editor
3 January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
MISSION: ACCOMPLISHED Lance Taylor / Executive Pastor / Long Hollow Baptist Church / Hendersonville, TN
Pastor Lance Taylor convenes with church members after a recent worship service.
By RaeAnn Slaybaugh
At Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, TN, hope is not a strategy. Rather, when disaster strikes — as it has, twice — the church has been able to sustain its rapid growth and expansion with preparation and perseverance. Where the story begins Founded in 1977, Long Hollow originally met in a school, with a handful of attendees. It wasn’t long before the community surrounding the church plant began to build up, and the church attendance grew with it. Long Hollow was given the opportunity to buy land from a retired doctor who owned lots of farmland in Sumner County. He had about 150 acres in one tract and offered the church all it wanted. He was going to sell the rest to a developer for a neighborhood, which he did. The church settled on 33 acres, which at the time was more than they thought they would ever need. It was a bold step of faith for a little church. Though in a remote area at the time (and to some degree still is), the land was strategically located near an intersection of roads that come from four nearby communities. The church was poised for growth. By the early 1980s, the church had built its first building. A few years later, growth drove the construction of a larger worship center, and attendance topped several hundred. So, all this growth — in spite of the odds — was a testament to the ministry the church was doing. Yet, the mid-90s brought a potentially devastating challenge. And it wouldn’t be the first Long Hollow would face. 6
CHURCH EXECUTIVE • January / February 2016
A church divided In 1996, the church went through what it describes as a “friendly separation,” but it still resulted in a split. Competing philosophies divided members and staff into two groups. They decided to go in different directions. This split left Long Hollow with less than 200 attendees and no staff. Additionally, Long Hollow was still paying for its worship center. Enter: Senior Pastor David Landrith, who came onboard in 1996, brought a different kind of vision, and ultimately changed the culture of the church, positioning for growth. One of his most critical (and smart) early decisions was to enlist a student pastor: Lance Taylor. Landrith and Taylor were roommates in college and attended seminary together. They recognized that the expansion Long Hollow was seeing had a lot to do with its appeal for young families and students, and they developed strategies to really engage those demographics. Taylor’s fit with the up-and-coming church was obvious from the start, recalls Derek Hazelet, senior vice president at Dallas-based RSI Stewardship and Long Hollow member since 1999. Since that time, Hazelet has been instrumental at Long Hollow in the area of stewardship development. “They believed Lance would be important in these areas because of the way he does ministry,” Hazelet says. “He’s a process guy and an organizational guy. What he was doing in the student ministry was what [Landrith] wanted done across the board.” For Taylor, Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren’s purpose-driven church model — even before it culminated in The Purpose-Driven Life — was a major influence. Taylor implemented its key tenets into the student ministry, and they were soon adopted church-wide. Within a year, Taylor was made executive pastor. “[Landrith] wanted him to lead that purpose-driven charge,” Hazelet says. “That helped, because it balanced the church’s focus across those purposes.” It worked: By 1999, Long Hollow was hosting five services on a weekend, churchexecutive.com
which was putting incredible strain on the staff and the church’s infrastructure. From 1999 to 2001, the church saw exponential growth of 25 percent — and sometimes more — year-over-year. This journey of steady growth led to explosive growth. The need for a new, even larger worship facility became clear. In 2000, Long Hollow launched its first building campaign.
$3.5 million. Additionally, offerings were put to work right away for a multitude of ministry initiatives. Crazy Love wasn’t a pledge-based effort; rather, members were having yard sales, emptying piggy banks, and kids were collecting money. “Whatever came in for each offering, on that day, was put right to work on different ministry initiatives,” Taylor explains. “A certain percentage was for the student building, another percentage went towards building an orphanage in Haiti, another percentage went to the crisis pregnancy center we support, and so on. So, it was very ministry-minded, but it also helped us put away cash for a new student building. We knew we couldn’t not do all this ministry — but we couldn’t not build the building either.” As Taylor explains, Crazy Love was well suited to the church’s long-term ministry goals. “We’re looking ahead at someday having 15 or 20 campuses and constant expansion all over the Nashville area and Tennessee — in addition to doing ministry work around the world,” he explains. “So, it was (and is) like a 20-year march.” When all was said and done, goal fulfillment for Crazy Love came in at an astounding 97 percent. More important, it ignited a new enthusiasm in the life of the church — and laid the foundation for an entirely new approach to funding the vision.
Recognizing — and meeting — ministry needs Ministering to young families — who continued to drive the growth — remained a guiding priority. Accordingly, staff moved their offices into trailers in order to free up “prime time space” for children’s ministry and a preschool. A dedicated kids’ center came next. “That was pivotal, and part of Lance’s leadership,” Hazelet recalls. “They were definitely looking at who was coming and making ministry decisions based on that. It was intuitive; but, they knew if they could meet these young families that were moving in to the area in droves, they could continue to reach people.” This proved to be the case even when it meant multiple services at odd times, “make-it-work”-style office accommodations for staff, and a lot of other compromises. Traffic congestion to the church necessitated a special bridge and dedicated extra entry / exit onto the campus. Additionally, The importance of “business intelligence” large buses were enlisted to ferry worshipers to and from the church from Fueled by the success of Crazy Love — and with local and global a nearby school parking lot. ministry opportunities emerging in droves — Taylor, Hazelet and “It was a little like a three-ring circus,” Hazelet recalls. “It’s still like consultant Ben Stroup, who is now with the organization RSI Stewardship that, actually.” is a part of, began to really focus on Before long, a new, larger worship intelligent fundraising strategies, and center was needed. Soon after, the church intentional allocation of funds. In doing doubled the size of its children’s space. so, they found that the source of the To keep up with Long Hollow’s church’s impressive growth wasn’t as phenomenal growth, an initial in-house clear as it had once been. building campaign that started in 2000 “Long Hollow began to validate and rolled in to a nine-year effort consisting challenge some assumptions about of three back-to-back, three-year capital itself,” Hazelet explains. Chief among campaigns. It was during this season that them: that its amazing continued Long Hollow began working with RSI growth was still being driven by Stewardship for the first time. As in the young families. beginning, Senior Pastor David Landrith “That’s what it felt like, intuitively,” and Executive Pastor Lance Taylor were at Hazelet recalls. “But when the church the forefront. started to get 5,000 or 6,000 attendees By 2009 — and the commencement on a weekend, it was hard to tell of the third consecutive three-year exactly who we were. There was some capital campaign —fatigue was Executive Pastor Lance Taylor and his family — from left to right: demographic work that needed to evident, not only among members but Reese (15); Sawyer (17); Zac (11, who was adopted from Haiti in 2013); be done.” Bailey (21); wife Wendy; and McKenna (19) also in Landrith. Challenging such assumptions — As Taylor remembers, Landrith didn’t and, in some cases, validating them — like to preach about money, and asking for large pledges was taxing. He set the stage for what would ultimately lead to an entirely new approach observes: “In a lot of ways, we were going back to the same people every to funding ministry. Taylor and Hazelet began with a deep-dive into time. We would joke amongst ourselves that, ‘For the third time, we’re segmentation. Their goal was to understand what was happening at the asking you to give a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ gift.” church in terms of giving and growth. Timing was also a challenge toward the end of this long season of “For a long time, the only metrics [Long Hollow used] were what most campaigns because it fell in the midst of the Great Recession. churches look at, as far as giving is concerned: average giving per unit and Church leaders knew they were in danger of not meeting the pledge giving per week,” Hazelet says. “So, trying to understand what to do with goal, yet they still carried a large amount of debt and lacked much-needed the budget, and how to move forward [with our allocations], required us to student ministry spaces. Meanwhile, new campuses were being launched. get more information than just these normal metrics.” All of this, of course, needed to be funded. The combination of trying to In doing so, the church was able to validate that it was still a young keep up with rapid growth, the Great Recession, and diminishing returns church reaching our families. However, it also discovered its core members forced church leaders to seek different funding solutions. were getting older, and Long Hollow wasn’t seeing as much movement in certain categories as it had assumed. Then, everything changed The church began using analytics, modeling and direct communication What came next was a big departure — something the church had — including regular, one-on-one relational work with members and never tried before: The “Crazy Love Campaign,” an 18-month, five-offering ongoing analysis to monitor progress. campaign initiative. Each day had its own financial goal, for a total of It also implemented a systematic approach to engagement, churchexecutive.com
January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
including consistent engagement of financial leaders; looking at givers by segments; and approaching them uniquely through targeted communication strategies. To make it all work — much like a “giving engine” — systems had to be put in place so that staff would, for example, know when to contact a member, or when to send out a letter, or when and how to acknowledge first-time gifts. “The cool thing is, all of this can be systematized and automated so that the work of the ministers is ministry; not just high-touch, right-touch.” Hazelet points out. “That’s where ministry needs to be, even in the ministry of giving.” “Our deep-dive into segmentation — and the resulting strategies — proved critical as the church moved to out of capital campaign mode,” he adds. With this new, comprehensive ministry plan approach, all giving goes into one budget, or ministry plan, for the year. “The church doesn’t have to do special initiatives where people are giving to two different things — to the general budget and to a campaign,” Hazelet explains. “The budget becomes the campaign, including special projects.” Naturally, the budget approval process at Long Hollow looks very different, too. Gone are the pie charts and spreadsheets, circulated and voted upon. In their place is a comprehensive, compelling picture of the next 12 months — and the ministry the church aims to achieve in that timeframe. “This was revolutionary at our church,” Taylor says. “The point wasn’t the funding; the point is the ministry we want to do – and it requires funding. It gives people a picture they can give toward rather than just saying, ‘These are our giving goals for the year’ without the context of, What is this for? What am I giving to? It has framed the conversation in a much healthier way.” Hazelet agrees, and adds: “What the ministry plan does is say, ‘We’re leading with what we’re going to do. We need you to help partner with us to do this. We’re going to be in this thing together. And along the way, we’re going to tell you what happened.’” In effect, the church no longer has the luxury of building to a campaign crescendo and having a major launch, driving pledges, and then paying that out over three years. “It has become an ongoing thing,” Hazelet points out. “You’d better know what’s happening in each [demographic] pocket, and you’d better have a plan.”
The communications that needed to happen with the right people, at the right stage, at the right time, were happening. This consistency kept the church from spinning out of control. Perhaps more important, it let the church family — including interim pastor Kevin Ezell, President of the North American Mission Board for the SBC — who Hazelet calls a “rock star” — to focus on spiritual regrouping instead of financial sustainment as they navigated the journey with Landrith and ultimately grieved his loss. Though Long Hollow did witness a financial plateau in that time, giving never fell below a manageable level for the church. It not only endured during this time of crisis, but sustained all its ministries — and even started to see phenomenal growth once again.
“We’re no longer flying blind. [W]ith the right pieces in place, we will be able to handle the unexpected and keep moving forward.”
The eye of the hurricane Sadly, even the best-laid plans couldn’t predict how pivotal their new ministry funding approach and its components would be … or how suddenly. In the spring of 2013, Landrith — Long Hollow’s beloved longtime senior pastor — was diagnosed with terminal cancer at age 49. Aside from the emotional anguish for the church family, the devastating news also came at a critical time in the church’s growth trajectory: the beginning of a five-year, $100-million ministry plan. The premise of this aggressive campaign was to combine and stack five years’ worth of annual budgets. Intended to culminate in 2017 — the church’s 40th anniversary and Landrith’s 20th anniversary as pastor — the timing had been carefully orchestrated. Though Landrith was in relatively good health when the campaign began in February 2013, he passed away just 20 months later. In that time, the $100-million strategy was suspended and a more stable ministry plan — while still applying the new approach — designed to weather the storm took its place, with Executive Pastor Lance Taylor providing leadership. “It was like we’d been flying a big jet for a while and had a good feel for where we were going — but suddenly, we were flying into a hurricane and all we had to rely on was our instruments,” Hazelet recalls. “Fortunately, they all were working. The engine was running.” 8
CHURCH EXECUTIVE • January / February 2016
Preparation and perseverance In the past two decades, Long Hollow Baptist Church has proven it can navigate the unexpected with stability and confidence. Instead of being sidelined by the tragedy of Landrith’s untimely death, the church — under Executive Pastor Lance Taylor’s determined and steady leadership — was able to call upon a lifeline that sustained it through the difficult days and transition to come. Now, just one year after the tragedy, a new senior pastor — Robby Gallaty — has been able to step in and hit the ground running. The church has engaged RSI Stewardship’s services again to take the next step in developing the right framework and putting the right automation and systems into place to further enhance what’s working at Long Hollow. In church life, a new pastor (and certainly the absence of a beloved pastor) can be an incredibly unstable time; not so for Long Hollow. As of press time, Gallaty has served at the church for just 90 days, and the church has just approved its largest-ever budget: $16.1 million. By all accounts, Long Hollow’s ability to focus on the new senior pastor’s transition — without a huge added burden of meeting the budget — has been a monumental blessing. The focus was able to stay on prayer and ministry. “God’s hand was all over this,” Hazelet says. Taylor agrees. “This [ministry funding approach] is more fulfilling; it feels like a more natural, healthier approach,” he says. “The staff’s ministries are funded, and people have these great opportunities to be generous and to see their generosity in action and in life change. It’s been such a good thing for us.” In the coming months and years, Taylor and the rest of the leadership team at Long Hollow will focus on sustaining what’s been started — and make it better. This will be especially critical as campuses are added and budgets grow exponentially. Fortunately, all the pieces are in place. “With God’s help, we’ve been able to endure some pretty challenging days,” Taylor notes. “But, we know He’s not finished with us and we’re not done here. “We’re no longer flying blind. We know from experience that with the right pieces in place, we will be able to handle the unexpected and keep moving forward.”
QUICK FACTS: LONG HOLLOW BAPTIST CHURCH Lead pastor: Robby Gallaty Number of locations: 5 Number of staff: 80 full-time; expected to grow to 100 within the next several months Combined weekly attendance: 6,800 2016 budget: $16.1 million
Purchasing solutions for faith-based organizations: 101 By Glen Witsaman
Signing on with a procurement services company is an act of stewardship which can save your ministry money on the high-quality products you need. Whether your staff or volunteers plan large dinner events, your day care center is struggling to achieve its budget, or your facilities need maintenance, outsourcing your purchasing for food, supplies and services frees up church resources to devote to your ministry. What is a procurement services company? Any company or group that provides a volume-based system of buying products and services is considered a procurement services company. They go by several names in the industry, including “procurement services group,” “group purchasing organization” and “procurement solutions provider.” These groups and companies work like large-box stores: Because a large number of clients purchase through them across multiple industries, they are able to negotiate deals with suppliers for deep discounts on quality products and services, which they pass on to their customers. The traditional customer base of such groups has been largely multi-location businesses, such as hospital networks or school districts, which need everything from cafeteria food to grounds maintenance to kitchen equipment. Over the past few years, however, church ministries — including their places of worship, day care centers, nursery schools, primary and secondary schools, camps, conference centers, universities and other community outreach programs — have also benefited from joining these procurement services groups, leveraging the larger customer base to achieve savings on quality products their ministries need. What can be purchased through a procurement services company? In general, these companies maintain a portfolio of agreements that cover anything a church ministry might want to buy for their place of worship, as well as their varied outlets. Examples include: • Air filters • Beverages (coffee, hot cocoa, soda, water) • Candles and flowers churchexecutive.com
• Cleaning supplies • Cleaning services • Energy management services • Facilities maintenance services (roofing, heating/cooling) • Food products for cafés and large kitchens, camps, educational programs and other community outreach activities • Floor mats • Furniture • Large kitchen equipment (refrigerators, stoves, grills) • Linens • Office supplies • Paper products (napkins, towels, toilet paper) • Safety equipment (fire extinguishers, first-aid kits) In addition, many name-brand contracted suppliers offer added-value programs if a church ministry buys the suppliers’ products through a procurement services company. Keurig might offer discounted serving station equipment with a certain volume of coffee purchases, or a snack company might offer counter displays and merchandising racks. How do procurement services companies make money if their customers are saving due to discounts? Some purchasing groups — including our own, entegra Procurement Services — are funded by the agreements with their contracted suppliers and the volume of products their clients purchase. In this model, a customer pays no fee to join; it simply signs on with the company and saves money on its purchases that are in alignment with the contracts. Some groups charge fees to the buying members. These fees can be set as a percentage of the purchase or as an annual flat rate. In addition, some groups require mandatory participation levels for their members, while others are completely voluntary. Members participate based on the business needs of their ministry and their level of confidence in (what should be) competitive pricing negotiated by their purchasing group. When working with either model, customers benefit the most when they actively manage their buying practices, making sure they purchase through the contracted programs to realize the discounts and the associated added value How could a procurement services company support your church community and its ministry? For a church organization, the main benefit of buying through a procurement services company is that it will save money, which can then be redirected into outreach and ministry. When signing on with a company like this, the church commits to a tested process that will provide local and national buying options, as well as the ease of consolidated delivery through an established, safe supply chain. The process should also include responsive service representatives to help the church customize its buying and maximize its savings through the programs. This type of company should also offer education on the ever-evolving needs of the church community, as well as information regarding industry trends and occurrences in the form of active websites, expertise from dietitians and chefs, informative webinars and recipes and menu guides. Glen Witsaman is a National Director of Business Development, Leisure & Faith-Based segments at entegra Procurement Services [ www.entegraPS.com ], a nonfee-based purchasing company that provides customized procurement and distribution services for food and related supplies to many industries, including hospitals, schools, restaurants and church groups in the United States and Canada.
January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
By Rev. James R. Cook, CFP ®
A new employee has fulfilled their probationary period and is now eligible to receive the full benefits offered by your organization. Yet, many eligible employees choose not to contribute to their retirement — even if it means leaving matching employer contributions on the table. Access to a retirement plan is a valuable benefit so it’s no wonder that many church employers are asking, “How can we boost enrollment in our retirement plan?”
CHURCH EXECUTIVE • January / February 2016
Here are some things you can do. #1: Offer auto-enrollment and auto-escalation of employee contributions. Auto-enrollment makes a huge change in participation. Behavioral economic research shows that auto-enrollment features can increase employee participation in retirement savings to as high as 90 percent. While employees have the option to opt out of the retirement plan, enrollment is the default option. Staff are automatically enrolled in the retirement plan at a minimum contribution percentage with contributions going into a default investment option. Most plans offer employees the chance to change the fund selection once they’re enrolled. In a Vanguard study published in January 2015, participation rates among new hires more than double — to 91 percent — under automatic enrollment, compared with 42 percent under voluntary enrollment. Auto-escalation assures that staff contributions to their retirement savings increase over time in a way that minimizes the cash flow implications while boosting saving levels. Too often, participants do not increase their contribution rate and develop a false sense of security when they actually might not be saving enough. When auto-escalation is added, employee contributions are increased by a predetermined percentage annually until they reach a predetermined cap. For example, an employee making $50,000 might be enrolled with a 3-percent default annual savings rate of $1,500 that increases by 1 percent each year until they reach a 10-percent annual rate. In some cases, participants can choose their own auto-escalation schedule. #2: Offer a matching contribution or change your current match formula. An employer matching contribution is also a proven incentive towards increased participation. The greater the employer match, the bigger the impact on enrollment. Typically, employees will contribute the amount needed to receive the matching funds because few people will refuse the sense of collecting “free” money in their retirement accounts. Employee matching plans are already quite popular, and 2013 figures indicate that close to 80 percent of employers offer one. If you’ve had the same matching formula for some time, consider modifying it slightly. This might motivate employees who already participate in the plan to increase their own contribution. Changing the match formula doesn’t have to increase the employer’s contribution. Imagine a plan where an employer matches 100 percent of an employee’s contribution up to 3 percent of compensation. churchexecutive.com
Changing the match to 50 perent of an employee’s contribution up to 6 percent of compensation keeps the employer’s cost the same while encouraging employees to double their contribution. #3: Pay attention to how you communicate about your retirement plan. What you say about your plan matters. Pay attention to what you say about your retirement benefits, how you get your message across, and the frequency of your communications. Many employers emphasize the mechanics of their plans — how to enroll, and how the plan works. Employees often tune out communications that focus on the logistics; however, research shows that they respond to communication that’s personalized and connects directly to their retirement goals. Encourage plan participants to envision what their retirement might look like in terms of retirement income and the lifestyle it might allow them to lead. Communication that’s motivational, focuses on positive outcomes, and offers examples of participant success stories will help members appreciate the value of automatic features that can lead to higher contributions and greater retirement readiness. Use a variety of mediums — from web-based and mobile educational tools, to newsletters and statements — to reach out to staff on retirement readiness. #4: Offer one-to-one meetings with professionals. Educational resources are important, but the opportunity to meet face-to-face with a financial planner or advisor provides a chance for participants to review their retirement portfolio and determine if they’re on target to meet their goals. A recent study determined that 71 percent of participants give high marks to meeting with a financial professional and found that those who have met with a financial planner are more likely to build an investment portfolio that balances their investment risk tolerance with a need for returns that meets their retirement needs. All of the above efforts will require a carefully crafted strategy; but, in the long run — separately or together — they will lead to the increased enrollment that you desire. Rev. James R. Cook, CFP®, is a National Outreach Manager at MMBB Financial Services. [ www.mmbb.org ] As a Certified Financial Planner™ professional, Cook is an expert in comprehensive financial and retirement planning. He is also an accomplished speaker and a passionate teacher with 10 years of pastoral experience in several California churches.
January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
CHURCH COMMUNICATION TOOLS
Keeping youth in the loop By Brooke Temple
Millennials are exposed to a bewildering array of social, cultural and commercial influences, each one pulling them in a different direction. Average daily screen time among 18-to 24-year-olds is close to 10 hours, 61 percent of which is spent on desktop and mobile devices. And yet, despite spending all that time interacting with friends, watching videos, researching homework, consuming news media, shopping and countless other activities, a hefty portion of Millennials still describe a ‘fear of missing out’ on updates and events affecting their peer group. How do you make a meaningful connection with a generation overwhelmed by choice? Where do community youth groups fit into the landscape of the so-called “digital native”? Communicating with young people in a way that resonates —using technologies they instinctively understand — will ultimately benefit entire congregations. After all, smartphones have now eclipsed PCs as the primary point of web access for all demographics, and nobody predicts a reversal of the trend. Let’s look at a few ways in which mobile technology can enhance engagement with your youngest congregants: Conveying a clear message Entering a church for the first time should be a welcoming experience. Millennials don’t necessarily want to ask someone for information — they’re used to scoping out items of interest online. Indeed, 56% of practicing Christian Millennials conduct advance research on churches via the internet. A church website doesn’t have to be flashy. It should tell potential members — young and old — what it stands for, and provide a convenient sneak peek of the kinds of activities and sermons to expect. As we’ve noted, mobile web access now exceeds desktop; so, it’s essential that your website is mobile-friendly. Offering an authentic experience Millennials prefer authenticity over desperate attempts to appear hip and “relevant.” Remember, this generation has been subjected to non-stop advertising their entire lives; even their social spaces are infiltrated by commercial interests. If anyone knows when they’re being “marketed at,” it’s a Millennial — and it’s not what they’re looking for in a faith organization. Churches should provide respite from the onslaught of branded content, not feed into it. SMS messaging is ideal for a truly authentic mobile experience because it’s a standardized, text-only format for delivering personalized 12
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messages. To Millennials, this is old-school technology in the best possible sense: trustworthy, spam-free and easily accessible. Multimedia messaging (MMS) allows for more robust interaction through engaging visuals, audio or video messaging. Young congregants can get a creative reminder about an upcoming event, hear an inspirational message, see a full-color flyer on a Sunday service, or share a video of community service. The creativity goes beyond the text — but still to their smartphones — where they have a 95-percent open rate. Which brings us to… Being accessible Mobile apps and websites allow young people to consume and interpret information at their own pace and convenience. Your website should provide downloadable and streamable sermons or videos of recent events. It should also make it easy for potential members to register and donate; 20 percent of Christian Millennials have contributed to charities via SMS, and text-to-donate is fast becoming the most effective fundraising method. Providing mentorship Compared with previous generations, Millennials don’t feel the same sense of obligation about attending church. Mentorship is more important than ever if you want to keep young people involved in the community. According to Barna research, young adults who remain involved with their local church beyond their teens are twice as likely to have a close personal friendship with an older member of the community (who isn’t a pastor or minister). Text messaging and other forms of digital communication help facilitate these vital relationships, especially for more socially reticent congregants. It’s also mutually beneficial: older members of the community can learn a great deal about the nuances of navigating the digital world from Millennials. Effective inter-generational communication is essential for the future of faith organizations, and mobile technology allows it to happen in a way that young people understand — and older members can learn from. Mobile technology is enabling young people to engage with their local faith organizations in the same ways that they engage with friends. They might not go to church every week; however, just as they maintain social relationships largely online, they can do the same with their faith. This flexibility is critical for long-term engagement. By giving young people the freedom to decide when to skirt the edges of a church experience, and when to get deeply involved, you take the pressure off not just the individual but your staff and volunteers, too. Instead of their future engagement hinging on one experience inside a church, Millennials can get a feel for the culture in a piecemeal fashion. Brooke Temple is SVP of Strategic Partnerships for CallFire www.callfire.com in Santa Monica, CA. He has more than 16 years of business development and digital marketing experience, and heads up CallFire’s sales efforts and enterprise-level customer acquisition strategies. churchexecutive.com
Multisite & Portable Churches
Creating the team & establishing the process By Scott Cougill
My team at Portable Church Industries has developed a free e-book that goes into many, many more specifics about volunteer structure, training, set-up strategies and staffing. If you’d like more information, you can download a copy here. of men on your volunteer teams and creating a community for men to serve, and get to know and minister to one another. When established well, this makes it easier to connect new men attenders to other men in the congregation and establish a community where men get plugged in, contribute and grow. There are too many benefits to list in this brief article.
Your volunteer vision, strategy, attitude and approach to launching portable churches and campuses will greatly impact the success, discipleship, spiritual formation, community impact and long-term growth of your church. You’re going to begin life in a rented, secular space like a school, theater or community center. So, is your glass half full or half empty? Your attitude and approach do matter! Attitude. Some church leaders view launching portability as a problem. Others treat it as an opportunity. The difference between a problem and an opportunity is what we do with it, not what it is to begin with. Let me paint two different approaches from my five years of leadership working inside and with portable churches. Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, AL, has 12 church plants / sites, with many more in the pipeline. As their senior pastor, Chris Hodges, shared in the November / December 2015 issue of Church Executive, even though the church has funding to purchase buildings for each launch, they purposefully launch in portable venues to minimize overhead and maximize care for its volunteers and the community. Potential volunteers see that portability is Plan A and can be excited to join into the work that comes with it. A different (unnamed) church plant meets in a school and regularly apologizes to the setup volunteers and thanks them for their hard work and sacrifice. “Someday we will have our own building; we just have to survive until then.” Pleas from stage for volunteers are frequent. New attenders feel guilty if they don’t take their turn at setup. Images of being a martyr and, “It’s thankless work, but we’ll receive our reward in heaven” reflect the attitude at this church. (I wish I were exaggerating …) Churches that treat portability as an opportunity can be in position to have ministry impact that most permanent churches can’t. One huge unique ministry opportunity is capitalizing on engaging a large number churchexecutive.com
Approach. It turns out that the same principles that apply to recruiting and equipping volunteers in the other parts of church apply to the portable church setup and tear-down teams. One unique difference, however, is that — at first — often the Core Launch Team also serves as the Core Setup and Tear-Down Team. It’s a bit like playing both offense and defense in football. Therefore, with portable churches, you need to develop an extra layer of structure, leadership, processes and care specific to setup and tear-down to maximize efficiency and minimize burnout. Just like you wouldn’t try to lead your staff or a company without a defined organizational structure, you shouldn’t expect set-up and tear-down to go well without a clear, well-thought-out volunteer team structure. The best practice in this area is to have a volunteer foreperson who oversees the whole process and ensures your church’s quality and excellence standards are met each week. Likely, this foreperson would oversee other volunteer leaders like a volunteer setup / tear-down Worship Leader, Guest Services Leader, and Children’s / Youth Leader. How many volunteers do you need to effectively staff this area? It depends — on the complexity of your worship setup, the quantity of aesthetic treatments needed, the number of children’s rooms, and whether or not you have invested in a specialized, efficient portable church system to organize everything. As a rule of thumb, if you have a clear structure and you use specialized equipment and systems designed for portable church environments, a setup team of 15 to 20 individuals for a church running 250 to 500 adults is common. Most churches develop a rotating serving schedule so volunteers won’t burn out. One approach I’m seeing more often now with multisite campuses and church plant launches with smaller core teams is that volunteers will serve each week, but there’s a modified service just for the volunteers before the main service. For example, if the main service is at 10:30 a.m., but someday you’d like to also have a 9 a.m. service, the volunteers begin early so they finish by 9 a.m. Then, there’s a modified 9 a.m. service with extra prayer and a shortened sermon just for the volunteers. This way, volunteers don’t miss church, the team is strengthened, and the transition of adding a second service is easier. Scott Cougill is CEO of Portable Church Industries [ www.portablechurch.com ] in Troy, MI, a company that has partnered with more than 2,000 churches. Find Cougill on Twitter @ScottCougill. January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
New-build? How to know what kind of project makes the most sense for your church By Rodney James
When it comes to church design, culture is a rarely evaluated — but critical — element. Some would argue we shouldn’t evaluate the church’s ministries. Even if a church doesn’t invite critique, it takes place every Sunday on an informal level. We know guests make a decision about a church within the first seven minutes of arriving on the campus. Knowing this, your church (and every church) needs a partner to design its facilities — one who understands your ministry. Having the right team to first guide in an effective evaluation, and then begin to create and design a facility that functions for your ministry, helps your church be more effective. Many churches have built new facilities without carefully thinking through the purpose of each building and the needs of the ministries that will be housed within. Naturally, the main purpose of each building should be to advance the kingdom of God — but this won’t happen automatically. Often, new buildings are constructed when existing facilities could possibly be repurposed and renewed to meet the same needs. Case in point: While assisting a church in a recent evaluation, the scope of the project dramatically changed from building a new, 60,000-squarefoot building into renovating 50,000 square feet of existing facility and building only 35,000 square feet of new construction. The end result was a $4.8-million savings and a much more functional facility. 14
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You start your church’s evaluation by defining your ministries, and then fitting your ministries into your facilities so that each building is assured of being used to its maximum potential. There must be clear objectives and goals. Make sure each objective is in line with the others, driving the project forward. Here are several items to include and consider: • Where and when the church started • Average weekly attendance • Annual giving • The church’s vision for its future, with projected growth • Existing and new ministry opportunities • Timeline and process of how to facilitate ministry and growth • Proper space requirements to meet ministry needs. The point is this: the ministry must drive the project. When people see your church’s vision — and know the purpose behind what you’re doing — you’ll be able to garner the greatest financial support and church member buy-in. People want to invest in Kingdom work, not just buildings. When they see how their giving is advancing the Kingdom, not just facilitating a building project, they are moved to give, not motivated by a campaign. Choose your building partner wisely Another item to consider during your evaluation is a good building churchexecutive.com
partner. Every pastor needs someone who can come alongside him or her, the staff and / or building team to educate and lead them toward wise, informed decisions. Every church needs a partner who will be honest about the realities of what the church can and can’t do and what it can and can’t afford. This same partner must be able to walk with the church in faith for what might seem like an impossible goal. That is the kind of partner every church needs. The partner your church chooses can make the difference in the success of your project. It’s important to partner with a team that has been in the ministry, and understands design and ministry function from the church’s point of view. Your building partner should do its own evaluation and understand your church’s and ministry’s culture. The right partner will ask questions about who you are as a church, how you do ministry, and what your mission is in the Kingdom before asking you what you want to build or how much you want to spend. When your vision and missions are molded into the design, plans and phases of a project, you’re building with a purpose — and will end up with a project that advances your ministry into the future. Rodney James is Director of Business and Finance for Churches by Daniels Construction [ www. churchesbydaniels.com ]. Located in Broken Arrow, OK, this construction company specializes in designing and building churches nationwide.
January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
Making mobile giving work for multi-site churches By Beka Johnson
Multi-site churches face unique challenges — and require unique giving solutions. Case in point: Momentum Christian Church, a nineyear-old church plant with locations in McDonough and Stockridge, GA. “Our two campuses are about 10 miles apart, but in some ways they’re worlds apart,” says Executive Pastor David Powers.
David Powers, Executive Pastor, Momentum Christian Church 16
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Momentum launched its second (Stockbridge) location in December 2012 when it ran out of room to expand in McDonough. Both sites are situated off the same major freeway, and Powers says the cultures and demographics of each location are unique. However, the challenges they face are shared. For one thing, the multi-site church model can be difficult from a funding perspective. First, there was a financial emphasis on getting a building set up and ready to do church in another community. The second challenge is more ongoing: “We have two buildings and therefore a much larger staff than we’d normally have in a church with 800 in attendance — 500 at one site and 300 at the other,” Powers says. Additionally, with a multi-site church model, he and his team must ensure both campuses feel unified (though attendance figures differ) and keep the messaging consistent — not just the teaching message and vision, but also the way the church presents giving and generosity. At Momentum’s two locations, offering plates have been replaced with tables set up around the room. During communion, everyone gets up and moves around the worship space to give — that is, if they’re giving by cash or check. As Powers has observed, that’s a lot less common these days. Still, Momentum is a debt-averse church; the idea of giving by debit and credit card wasn’t exactly embraced. “There was a kind of stigma attached to swiping a card,” Powers recalls. This aversion, coupled with a bit of admitted hesitation on Powers’ part, kept the church from offering electronic giving sooner. It took him some time — and a pivotal conversation with his daughter, who was in 6th grade at the time — to warm to the idea. “She was talking about how one of her teachers wasn’t allowed to teach check-writing and check-balancing as a part of the life skills curriculum anymore,” Powers remembers. “It was one of those ‘God-smacks-you-inthe-forehead’ kinds of moments.” He ultimately concluded that a bigger issue was at play: The church wasn’t giving everyone an opportunity to participate in the offering. “There’s a huge segment of the population that doesn’t have a checkbook and never will. Though they might carry a little bit of cash, what they usually do is swipe their debit or credit card,” he acknowledges. “So, for us, it became about removing barriers.” About three years ago, Momentum began to offer mobile and online giving via Pushpay, a 10-second mobile giving solution. churchexecutive.com
Rolling out the program Momentum’s adoption of electronic giving began by gathering a group of several dozen staff members and elders of all ages. Powers asked that everyone with a smartphone hold it up. “I was really shocked!” he says. “I bet eighty percent of the people in the room had one — even 75- and 85-year-old folks.” Actually, Powers says, these more senior members of the congregation are now among the most avid users of mobile giving. “It’s surprising, because they were some of the ones who pushed back hardest at first.” This type of methodical roll-out — beginning with staff and elders, then to leadership teams, and finally to the church-at-large — comes highly recommended by Powers. “It creates a cascading effect so you’re building momentum [for the tool] and getting some people on your side.” And, how! Today, about 30 percent of Momentum’s giving is done via Pushpay … and not just on Sunday. For example, Momentum doesn’t offer worship services on the last weekend of the year. Even so, according to Powers — who gets a notification every time a gift is given — gifts come in regularly during that time. Week-to-week, the case is the same. “At our church, giving has become a thing that happens with the rhythm of a person’s life,” he says. “I think that’s really cool. It’s not simply a Sunday morning thing. “Also, throughout the summer, a lot of people’s giving is set up as recurring,” Powers adds. “So, we don’t see a significant drop just because it’s vacation season.” Though a blessing, these results aren’t uncommon. Research shows 45 percent of gifts given through Pushpay happen on days other than Sunday. The immediacy factor Aside from the obvious ministry benefits of mobile giving, Powers says he also appreciates that the funds are automatically deposited into the church’s account, and that the tool offers a virtually seamless interface with Momentum’s church management system (ChMS). This means less staff time is spent processing and recording gifts, and that giving statements — facilitated by the ChMS — are available to church members by logging in to their own profiles. “That’s helpful not only at the beginning of the year, when people are preparing for taxes, but at any point in the year,” he points out. “Midyear and throughout the year, we notice a lot of people logging in to find out where they are with their giving and adjusting as they see fit.”
The ability to conduct special benevolences — recently, for example, to benefit a family in need — is also a plus. “When we did that, we were just flooded with giving.” For these and a lot of other reasons, Powers is no longer hesitant when he thinks about mobile giving. In fact, he’s a big proponent. “Some folks feel that if you’re not putting a pen to a check and writing it out, that somehow you’ve lost intentionality,” he says. “But at some point, people made a choice to no longer take their goats to the priest. They don’t drop gold coins in a bucket anymore. Our currency changes and we’ve got to adjust with it. “In reality, a smartphone is something everyone has now,” he adds. “We finally understood electronic giving was something we needed to do. It’s just the way so many people are used to transacting business these days.” Beka Johnson is the Inbound Marketing Coordinator at eChurch [ http://echurchgiving.com ], the principal supplier of Pushpay [ https://pushpay.com ] to churches. With a background in Christian education, fundraising, marketing, tech startups and theological studies, Johnson is thrilled to now spend her days helping churches increase generosity. churchexecutive.com
January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
What to do if your church is subject to a liability claim By Eric Spacek, JD, ARM Accidents happen; it’s inevitable. And when those accidents occur, it can be a scary time for both the injured party and the church. When such events take place and the injured party files a claim against the church, it’s called a liability claim. “Liability” is the legal term for “fault.” A liability claim is a demand for money to compensate someone for his or her injuries or damages. Often, these claims are presented by the injured or damaged party to the potential party at fault in the form of a lawsuit. An organization (church) is responsible for such injuries if it is proven negligent. Example: Jane enters a church building and slips on the floor leading to the stairway. Jane lands on her hip and is unable to walk for an extended period of time. She believes the church is at fault and wants compensation for her injuries. Jane is advised by her attorney to file a liability claim against the church. Jane’s legal counsel must prove the church was responsible, or negligent, to receive compensation. Outcome: In this example, the floor upon entering the building was wet from the winter weather, and there were no “wet floor” signs or other means of communication warning members as they entered. The church was negligent in providing proper care to its attendees and must compensate Jane for her damages. The example above is one of the most common liability claims churches face. What happens when this (or any) type of claim is filed against your church? Before you react, consider the tips below. Make no admissions of liability. Do not acknowledge or deny responsibility when an accident occurs. Tell the injured party that your church will report the incident to its insurance company, and the insurance company will be contact with them directly. This avoids taking responsibility for something that may not be the church’s fault. Gather all relevant facts. Capture names and contact information for all parties involved, or who might have information on what occurred (especially witnesses). Immediately take photos of the scene of the incident, if applicable. Lastly, complete an incident report to record the event. Leave the scene untouched. Ensure the area is properly blocked off and left alone until you have spoken with an adjuster. Secure equipment. Any items or equipment involved in the accident should be placed in a locked area once you have spoken with your adjuster and kept there until they can be inspected (ladders, chairs and so on). 18
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Report the loss. Immediately report the incident to your church’s insurance company and / or agent. If the claim involves issues that are potentially criminal in nature (allegations of physical or sexual abuse), immediately report it to the proper authorities. If the claim involves minors, be sure to avoid disclosing names or details to other parties. In scenarios such as the one previously mentioned, it’s easy to overreact and try to make up for the situation that just occurred. The most common mistake churches make in these types of incidents is admitting liability or making offers of assistance that they are not authorized to make. It’s important to note that just because someone initially says they are not injured or that they aren’t filing a claim, doesn’t mean they won’t change their mind at some point in the future. Ensure all accident-related information is documented and reported immediately to avoid a much larger issue later on. Church liability claims can prove to be very costly to settle. As a church facility that is liable for more than just the building itself, it’s important to have proper maintenance procedures and be proactive in loss prevention. This will help to reduce the risk of a liability claim against your church, and make for happy and safe congregants. Eric Spacek, JD, ARM is the Director of Risk Management and Loss Control at GuideOne Insurance [ www.guideone.com ] in West Des Moines, IA. Before joining GuideOne, Spacek served as Minister of Operations for a large Methodist church in Raleigh, N.C., and was a liability litigation trial attorney in Washington, D.C. churchexecutive.com
CHURCH ACCOUNTING BASICS
Payroll: Do you have your ducks in a row? By Tammy Bunting
One definition of “dread” is managing payroll without qualified staff. For those churches with limited resources, ministerial staffing positions must be filled first. A common sentiment among pastoral leadership regarding payroll is, How hard can it be? Well, it is hard. And, some mistakes could lead to serious consequences. The relationship between the employee and employer has its challenges. First, it’s highly regulated at both the federal and state levels. There are countless rules you need to know, and some can open the door to costly mistakes. On the flip side, we value our employees — and paying them is not only our responsibility, but our privilege. So, how can we safeguard one of our greatest assets in fulfilling our mission: our employees? Let’s start with Luke 20:25: “And He said to them, ‘Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” Making sure the government gets what it’s due is a fact of life that existed even in Jesus’s day, so I think it warrants a discussion. Are your ducks in a row? Compliance to IRS rules and regulations can be an arduous task at the best of times. Add in the ever-changing rules by which we operate and manage our payroll, and you’ve got enough confusion to pretty easily find yourself in some hot water with the IRS. Case in point: In 2010, the IRS initiated the Employment Tax Research Project (ETRP). The purpose was to review payroll practices in four main areas: worker misclassification, fringe benefits, executive compensation, and payroll taxes. The reason was to find weaknesses and open the door for audits and penalties. Employment tax continues to be a hot button for the IRS. The goal is to collect more taxes and assess penalties for those in violation. Misclassification of workers The misclassification of workers has recently been a topic of discussion among many accounting and tax professionals. The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed new regulations designed to expand overtime protection for workers. Taking the time to review your employee classification will help you understand if these new regulations put you at risk or will impact your organization. #1: Review worker classifications of employees to ensure that exempt versus non-exempt determinations are accurate. churchexecutive.com
#2: Review worker classifications of employees to ensure that exempt versus non-exempt determination are accurate. It’s always a good practice to review job descriptions and make sure the job functions and descriptions are in line with each other. This also holds true for those who fall under the ministerial exception. You must be able to clearly identify a worker’s classification and — in the minister’s case — defend the non-employee status. Churches that incorrectly treat paid workers as ministers could violate federal payroll reporting obligations, possibly leading to IRS penalties. Fringe benefits How you value fringe benefits for income tax purposes can be complicated. Presenting gift cards to staff is a common practice in churches. Gift cards are often viewed as non-taxable by church staff, but they’re equivalent to cash and must be included on the W2. Just because a certain fringe benefit is taxable doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to offer it. Go ahead and give gift cards. Just remember to add the value to the employee’s taxable wages. Another example of a taxable fringe benefit is covering the cost for spouses of senior leadership to accompany the employee when traveling on church business. Just because these benefits are taxable doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be offered. Just remember: It’s the church’s responsibility to include the benefit as taxable on the W2. Executive compensation The IRS is charged with enforcing the Federal Private Inurement Prohibition, which strictly forbids a tax-exempt organization’s decisionmakers from receiving unreasonable benefits from the nonprofit’s income or assets. Excessive compensation could be in violation of the IRS ruling and can potentially result in fines and penalties. Without going into specific detail on the regulations governing executive compensation, I recommend you ensure that your compensation policy is in compliance with the IRS rules and be prepared to defend to the IRS that the compensation is appropriate. It’s always a good idea to connect with a consultant to perform a compensation study that can provide you with a report documenting your policies and proof that you’re operating within the proper guidelines. Payroll taxes For those of us working in the back office of a church, there’s nothing worse than being on hold with the IRS. If you mess up your payroll taxes, it can take years of conversations and letters going back and forth to get it corrected. If you’re processing your own payroll, be sure to file your tax deposits on time. When preparing the W2s at year’s-end, make sure the information is correct. Mismatching names and Social Security numbers is one of the most common W2 filing errors, resulting in earnings not being properly credited to employees and problems with Social Security payments. Ignoring other taxable items — including the fringe benefits mentioned above — can also cause issues when reconciling your taxable wages. How hard can it be … right? Churches aren’t exempt from following and executing proper payrollrelated procedures every time. Be informed. Ignorance isn’t bliss — and it’s not an excuse! There are professionals available to help you set up, manage and audit all things relating to payroll in your organization. Take advantage of their expertise, and get all your ducks in a row. Tammy Bunting is the Director of Not-for-Profit Services at AcctTwo [ www.accttwo.com ], which provides cloud-based financial management software and outsourced accounting for churches. AcctTwo’s solutions help churches automate processes, increase accuracy, and provide a complete financial picture.
January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
By Daniel Keller
An upgraded, more intelligent sound system “steers” Ohio’s Grove City Church — The Naz — in the right direction Grove City Church of the Nazarene — known to congregants and locals as “The Naz” — has built a large and diverse congregation in the Columbus, OH area. It offers a mix of contemporary and classic worship services, as well as hosts many conferences and concerts from national touring Christian artists. The Naz’s 2,800-seat sanctuary has long struggled with sonic issues, including poor intelligibility and uneven coverage. As Technical Director Matt Groves explains, part of the problem is the space’s wide, cavernous, fan-shaped orientation.
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“Because of that, we have extreme angles,” Groves says. “With our previous system, we were basically just ‘praying and spraying’ — putting the cabinets up there and hoping for the best.” As the church’s sound equipment (which wasn’t ideal to begin with) started to age and need repair, it became clear to Groves and his team that an upgrade was in order. “We were putting money into a system that really wasn’t doing what we needed it to,” he recalls. “So, we had to take a step back and say, ‘OK, let’s put good money after good and reevaluate the system.’” The evolution of the church’s worship style further dictated this upgrade. “Our church was 51 years old this past July. A few years ago, we decided to transition to an edgier type of worship, while also keeping the classic form for people who prefer that. So now, we run two different types of services — a classic service and a more contemporary one. While The Naz’s old point-source system was adequate for the classic service, according to Groves, the church needed something more powerful for the contemporary service. “That point-source system basically just provided sound reinforcement,” he says. “So, it was very hard to differentiate voices versus instruments.” Groves and front-of-house sound engineer Doug McLaughlin undertook the job of researching possible solutions. “We looked at several major loudspeaker brands and invited several in to do demos for us,” he recalls. “They all sounded fine, but the Renkus-Heinz IC2 really stood out. They demonstrated the beam steering by putting us up in the balcony with the IC2 cabinet on stage. We could hear it just fine. Then he opens his laptop and says, ‘Watch this,’ and steers the speaker digitally so it’s hitting us directly upstairs. All of a sudden, boom, there it was, with unbelievable clarity. I looked at my front of house engineer and we both said, ‘That’s the one.’ It was the coolest thing.” The system, installed by Tech Art Production of Columbus, comprises a left-center-right, dead-hung configuration, with three IC2-FR modules in the center flanked by five more on either side. Each full-range IC2-FR module contains four 8-inch speakers and four vertically aligned 1-inch high-frequency drivers. To deliver the bass needed for the church’s powerful contemporary presentation, the arrays are supplemented by six DR18-2R powered subwoofers, hung in two groups of three between the main IC2 arrays.
“Across the board, every pastor I’ve ever talked to has told me pretty much the same thing: they want to hear the voices.” — Matt Groves
“With this system, because of the 120-degree angle of each beam, we can actually steer sound digitally in to certain places in the room,” Groves explains. “So, if we wanted to go 10 degrees up and 5 degrees over, we can tell it to do that. Now, everywhere you sit in the sanctuary, you get good sound. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the far right or up in the balcony or down in the front; it’s all the same.” Even laymen who know nothing about sound can hear everything very clearly — and they comment on that. “People nowadays are so used to listening to good sound systems in their cars and so on,” Groves says. “So, whenever they walk into a room with an old system — like the one we had — it’s jarring. They think, I don’t know why I’m not hearing what I’m used to hearing, but I know it doesn’t sound good. Now it’s more like, I don’t know why this sounds fantastic — but it sounds fantastic.” The Word must be heard Like most contemporary houses of worship, musicality and intelligibility were both primary concerns for The Naz in selecting a sound system — full-spectrum fidelity for powerful musical performance and the clarity in spoken word that’s so critical in delivering the message. Groves says the IC2 system delivers on both counts. “Across the board, every pastor I’ve ever talked to has told me pretty much the same thing: they want to hear the voices,” Groves explains. In his experience, this isn’t so critical in a concert setting where, if someone’s voice gets somewhat eclipsed by an electric guitar, it’s not a big deal. In the church world, however, every single word — spoken or sung — is a priority. “Intelligibility was probably our pastor’s biggest request,” Groves recalls. “We didn’t really sit down and talk about specific system components. “The senior pastor is immensely pleased with it,” he adds. “It’s easy to differentiate everything in the mix, the sermon is perfectly clear, and we have plenty of power to get that rock concert feel when we need it. We couldn’t be more pleased with the system.” Indeed, by all accounts, the difference between the new system’s performance and the old one’s is night and day. “The music sounds amazing, and the spoken word is crystal clear in every seat, even under the balcony,” Groves says. “The IC2’s digital steering enabled us to aim a beam down to hit the front rows and another to cover beneath the balcony. And we have totally eliminated the slap-back echo from sound bouncing off the balcony facing.” churchexecutive.com
Worship style matters The early Sunday service is the classic presentation, with an 80-voice choir, 20-piece orchestra, plus a rhythm section. Thirty minutes after that service ends, the room is reset for the contemporary service, with the choir loft walled off and the stage reconfigured. There is also a hybrid service on Saturday. The system’s advanced RHAON control software can instantly recall multiple configurations for each service’s different demands. “The contemporary service is a pretty high-octane and an edgier presentation that includes a rhythm section, six vocalists, a whole lot of bass, and is very guitar-driven,” Groves says. “The traditional service needs less bass reinforcement, which we have set up in the RHAON software as a preset. Both sound fantastic from every seat in the house.” The Renkus-Heinz IC2 has proven to be a perfect fit for the Grove City Church of the Nazarene. “From the first service onward, we’ve gotten nothing but compliments on the system,” says Groves. “The worship team hears great feedback from attendees.” Moreover, The Naz is host to quite a few national musical acts, including Michael W. Smith and Chris Tomlin. “We’ve had a lot of artists come in and use the system, and they all just love it,” Groves says. Rik Kirby is Vice President, Sales & Marketing at Renkus-Heinz, Inc. [ www.renkus-heinz.com ]. Located in Southern California for more than 35 years, Renkus-Heinz is a manufacturer of high-end professional loudspeaker systems. Daniel Keller is CEO of Get It In Writing, Inc.® [ www.getitinwriting.net ]. January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
Streaming Made Simple
Maximizing ministry Examining all your streaming applications By Andrew Ng
The Cube is the multi-tool of encoders allowing you to stream to the web for online campus, point-to-point locally to additionally rooms, or offsite to satellite locations.
Having worked with many churches — often to build streaming setups from the ground up — we’ve been amazed at how their reach is expanded by the addition of an online campus. This extended reach isn’t just local, either; it can be global. We’ve also been surprised that the churches with the most successful streaming components aren’t necessarily the ones that have spent the most on the “latest and greatest” equipment. Yet, while cost and investment isn’t a prerequisite for streaming greatness, effort certainly is. The most successful streaming setups in churches are the result of a concerted, dedicated effort to ensure that the streaming component of a church’s ministry comes to fruition. This takes a team. First and foremost, an effective streaming production team requires a leader willing to understand the technology. He or she must know the streaming workflow from start to finish, and take the initiative to research some of the most popular workflows. Because there are many out there, it’s important that this individual chooses the one that’s most appropriate for that unique facility. This ensures the investment in technology is spent wisely on products that will work together seamlessly and meet the church’s specific needs. Doing this research takes a bit of time, but it can be as easy as calling up the manufacturer to understand what the right product looks like. The team should also include a few volunteers who share a passion for audiovisual; a few volunteers at every worship service to operate basic functions; and, finally, support from the entire congregation. To this end, at Teradek, we especially enjoy helping teams and team leaders really understand and suggest the most appropriate streaming products, including the Teradek Cube and VidiU Pro. Interaction: a key ingredient for maximized streaming Interaction is a unique benefit of the streaming medium — one that’s visually captivating, but also available online within a community. 22
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Teradek’s VidiU Pro is bringing broadcast technology to the masses — at an affordable price point. As an all-in-one streaming solution, VidiU featues enhanced WiFi, built-in recording, several new streaming options and simplified workﬂows.
Interaction can take the form of comments, a forum or even a live chat. To evoke this kind of interaction requires careful consideration of (and ongoing focus on) the content being streamed. Consider adding some variety into a broadcast lineup. For example, although services are set and follow a more traditional schedule, it would be excellent to share some live content from a mission trip or a remote outreach location. That way, members can truly be a part of the ministry that’s happening well outside the church’s four walls. Fortunately, technology is ready to equip this kind of variety! You might be familiar with Teradek’s live streaming appliances, such as the Cube and VidiU, which are typically in the room alongside a complete live production setup. These devices are actually designed to be camera-top, so they can easily be mounted to a camera and taken outside. Of course, this introduces an extended conversation regarding mobile internet connectivity; but, products like the VidiU Pro aim to solve this by using data you already have via your cell phone. With regard to creating variety, we suggest empowering your church’s youth to be part of these applications. It’s hard to believe digital media has transformed so rapidly in the past 10 years. We’re at a stage where our youth has been raised alongside digital media, as opposed the generations which approach social media as a new medium. To really explore the creativity and potential of streaming, they need the right tools. Teradek’s Live:Air and Live:Air Solo app are free programs available for iPads and iPhones that let your church broadcast live to its own channel. Because these programs are accessible via iPad and iPhone, it’s a very interactive process and has proven to have a small learning curve. These tools enable your organization to capture a variety of content, whether it’s at your church or out in the field. Ultimately, however, it comes down to telling a complete story about your community and sharing a variety of activities and outreach — all of which can promote interaction within online campuses. Achieving the next level of streaming excellence What if your church is already at the top of its streaming game? Truth is, there’s no such thing; but, if you’re close, consider VidiU Pro, including ShareLink™ technology — a tool which, until recently, was only available to professional broadcasters. Today, it’s accessible to (and affordable for) all streamers. Consider the times you’ve arrived at a venue and your cellular connection isn’t good enough for a high-quality stream. Or, even the idea that WiFi and Ethernet can be unstable in certain environments. ShareLink combines the power of multiple Internet connections to create a robust, reliable Internet connection. Whether it be four iPhones, WiFi, Ethernet and USB Modem, ShareLink enables you to “go live” from virtually anywhere. For expert-level church streaming setups, Live:Air is also a great option. In the field, this app can be deployed as its own, self-contained mobile production unit. It lets you take a professional workflow on the road — a great benefit for streaming offsite. Andrew Ng is Director of Marketing at Teradek in Irvine, CA. www.teradek.com churchexecutive.com
Pastor Tim Mengle of Crystal Lake Vinyard Church (Crystal Lake, IL) talks how his congregation maximizes its partitions
Do you really need to build? When divvying up your existing space makes more sense By Rich Maas As your church finds itself in need of more ministry space, a new building might seem like a logical solution. But, in the interest of stewardship, it pays to consider whether or not an existing space can be reimagined instead. Many churches have opted to divide the facilities they have to accommodate growth — but, how can you know that will be sufficient at your own church? Start with the growth outlook Knowing how to move forward is really a function of the amount of additional ministry space needed and the amount of space available to accommodate anticipated growth. When massive growth of 40 percent or more is expected, nuts-andbolts construction or facility renovation might indeed be in order. After all, you can’t have people stepping over each other. So, while the good news is that the ministry is growing, your church probably does need to get out the shovels. On the other hand, projected growth of 10 percent to 30 percent can very often be accommodated with the efficient use of existing space. Cost savings potential Having spent considerable time in the church marketplace — and based on some general church construction marketplace statistics — our company can offer some ballpark figures for traditional construction or expansion projects based on scope and size: Sanctuary Capacity
Probable Construction Cost
100-seat 500-seat 1,250-seat 2,000-seat 5,000-seat
2,000 square feet 12,000 square feet 24,000 square feet 42,000 square feet 90,000 square feet
$290,000 $1.48 million $2.6 million $4.2 million $8.8 million
Take, for example, Canaan Baptist Church in St. Louis, MO. This 20-classroom project — in a 7,800-square-foot space — was completed by our team about 10 years ago, predominantly with dividers from our Portable Classroom line [ screenﬂex.com/products/portableclassroom/ ]. A project architect actually referred church leaders to our company. Most clients would simply require the necessary linear footage of acoustical portable dividers to create the 20 classrooms. This could be accomplished at the time for an investment of roughly only $30,000. However, not only did this church need to create 20 Sunday school classroom areas, but it also needed some other furnishings common to a classroom — storage space for teaching material, a marker board and, of course, a work surface area for the teacher. These features made the necessary dividers more useful (but also a bit more expensive) than a more basic model. Even so, the investment paled in comparison to the cost of traditional construction, which church leaders also considered. churchexecutive.com
Canaan Baptist Church in St. Louis, MO, needed 20 Sunday school classrooms. Portable room dividers delivered the outcome the church wanted, at a fraction of the cost of traditional construction.
In this case, the classrooms would only be used part-time; so nuts-andbolts construction didn’t make the best financial sense. Instead, church leaders invested $50,000 in room dividers. So, they not only saved money but made more efficient use of their space, all while achieving their ministry objective of 20 classrooms. Another financial consideration is future expansion. When the time does come for a new facility, these same dividers can be rolled over to the new building. Surveying your space — does division make sense? Over the years, our team has learned that certain facilities on a church campus are more “divisible” than others. Large, open spaces such as gymnasiums, as well as fellowship halls / family life centers, are usually excellent candidates. Churches often outgrow their original worship space — but, they certainly won’t knock them down. Instead, they’ll repurpose them. Ceiling height is also important. Many gymnasiums have high or sloped ceilings; in these spaces, floor-to-ceiling room dividers simply won’t work. In spaces like these, portable room dividers represent a more flexible, cost-effective solution. Don’t get me wrong: Floor-to-ceiling room dividers can work wonderfully in spaces with 8- or 10-foot ceilings. Here, they create honest-to-goodness “walls.” Plus, the church also enjoys better sound absorbency. The downside is that they’re very expensive and not very flexible. You can move them one way or another, but you can’t move them to be useful in another part of the church — or even three feet this way or that way — because they’re built into the building. Ministry happens here From small group classes, to Sunday school spaces, to nurseries and childcare areas, thoughtfully dividing an existing space is just good stewardship — good ministry and use of funds. Many of our thoughtful customers use the same portable dividers for Sunday school classrooms on Sunday; childcare during weekdays; and bible study and other programs in the evenings and on Saturdays. Dividing up the space you have creates smaller, more intimate areas for private ceremonies, including baby showers, wedding showers, funerals, or even private areas for nursing mothers. It’s also a good option for churches meeting in adaptive reuse settings — former retail stores or warehouses, for example. (And really, what other practical ways exist to easily subdivide these types of areas? Answer: none!) Thoughtful division is truly “stewardship of space.” Rich Maas is vice president at Screenﬂex Portable Room Dividers [ www.screenﬂex.com ] in Lake Zurich, IL.
January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
The care & keeping of your big investment By Amanda Opdycke The facility manager is the shepherd of the church grounds, which might include a range of duties — from landscaping, to building maintenance, to basic maintenance of the seating. It’s important for this individual to have thorough knowledge of how to properly clean upholstery and how often to tighten bolts on the seating.
Sauder Worship Seating installation at Apex Baptist Church (Apex, NC) — a combination of radial and mitered pews, along with Clarity auditorium seating
Sauder Worship Seating installation of straight and Radiance curved pews in Saint Francis of Assisi in Triangle, VA
GENERAL INFORMATION There are certain precautions that need to be used when it comes to all wood products. It’s recommended not to expose furniture to direct sunlight, as this can cause the wood product color to change and might cause the finish to deteriorate from prolonged exposure. It is also suggested that the interior maintain a constant temperature and humidity. Excess heat or cold can cause cracking, warping and checking of wood in furniture. For consistency, consider a humidifier that’s specifically engineered to service an entire building. If direct wetting or moisture is allowed to sit on the wood products, the finish will deteriorate much faster than what should be expected. WOOD SURFACES Improper care and cleaning of wood products can cause some unsightly problems. The purpose of any cleaning and polishing is to provide protection from excessive wear to the finish but should only be done when needed. Often, cleaning wood components every other month with a damp rag in warm, soapy water or lemon oil will suffice. Furniture polish can be used every five years, unless it’s used to repair a simple scratch or blemish that hasn’t penetrated the finish. If a deeper scratch or gouge is made to the wood product, additional steps will be needed to remedy the problem. 24
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UPHOLSTERY Proper upholstery care is crucial in maintaining the life and longevity of the fabric. Fabric upholstery wears much faster if it’s improperly maintained. Dust and gritty particles — such as food crumbs — can become embedded into the upholstery, resulting in excessive wear. It’s important not to use a vacuum with a rolling brush directly on the upholstery. The bristles on the brush in the main head of a vacuum are far too harsh to use directly on the cushion. Upholstery stains on the cushion can be another big problem. It’s important to refer to the cleaning code on the back of your fabric card or direct from the fabric vendor. The cleaning codes will provide the information needed to remove the stain. Once the cleaning code is determined, the next step is to remove the stain. Any time a cleaning agent is used, it’s best to test a small hidden area to ensure it will work as expected. Once the test area is complete, you can proceed with the stain. We suggest cleaning the entire cushion — whether it’s the length of the pew or the entire seat of the chair or auditorium seat — to avoid cleaning circles. ADDITIONAL MAINTENANCE Over time, minor changes can occur to the way the furniture functions. Sometimes, components can become loose or even break from heavy use. Any of these can be remedied by the facility manager or building maintenance department. An annual check of any moving parts will help locate loose parts that might simply need to be tightened. If fi xed seating — such as auditorium seating or pews — are used in the church, an annual check of the anchoring system is also recommended. As carpet and padding settles, it’s common for the anchoring to feel loose or create a slight rocking feeling. Tightening the anchoring system will take care of this problem and is easily done. The first line of defense in maintenance is having a facility manager or maintenance person who openly communicates with the manufacturer. The warranty department can be reached to order replacement parts or assist with procedural assistance when needed. They’re also able to provide further assistance with warranty problems should they arise. Amanda Opdycke is Worship Market Manager at Sauder Worship Seating in Archbold, OH. [ www.sauderworship.com ] churchexecutive.com
Protecting Children in the Church
Background check red flags What to watch for, what they indicate — and what to do if they arise By Patricia Carlson
There are many hurdles when trying to land a job. Passing a background check shouldn’t be one of them. Background checks are often the final litmus test before receiving a job offer. They are — rightly so — an increasingly common requirement in churches’ hiring procedures and vetting policies for volunteers. A thorough background investigation conducted by a nationally accredited screening agency can deliver information on a person’s criminal record, credit history, drug test record, education verification and reference checks. Many ministry background checks also mandate a candidate pass a child safety training course. There is no such thing as perfect It’s unlawful to run a background check on a candidate without his or her consent. It’s also totally normal to have some reservations about agreeing to a background investigation. With so many misconceptions about background checks (see our article — Background check myths: Debunking the 4 most dangerous misconceptions — in the September / October 2015 issue of Church Executive), it’s hard to know what information is being gathered about you, how it’s being assessed, and why it can affect your employability. Ministries need to be aware that even the best applicant on paper might not seem so squeaky clean after a background check. It’s important that church leaders have a standardized policy when it comes to identifying “red flags” that will disqualify someone from employment or volunteer positions. Even red flags such as behavior or character traits need to be thoughtfully weighed as they could expose the church to increased risk. 4 common red ﬂags Having completed millions of background checks for ministries, our team can pinpoint several common red flags that might eliminate candidates from consideration. Here are four of the more common ones, and what they could indicate for your religious organization. #1: A violent criminal record. Any candidate with convictions for crimes against a person — especially a sex crime — isn’t someone you would want working with or near children. Ministries should also be wary of individuals with convictions for child abuse or who have had a court order to remove children from their home issued against them. churchexecutive.com
Drug-related convictions also warrant additional vetting; it might be in the church’s best interest to partner that person with a clergy member or counselor for a discipleship program. #2: Fraud or theft convictions. Applicants with financial crimes — bankruptcies, thefts and identity theft — on their records should not be considered for any position that handles church money. Even something as simple as receiving the offering can leave the church exposed. Find another job opportunity or volunteer position for this person. #3: A criminal conviction that occurred more than 10 years ago. These results often turn up in court records searches. Before allowing an individual to serve your church, it’s important to consider how much time has passed since the crime(s) occurred, as well as current character references, steady employment, and whether or not the person has permanent housing. #4: Poor credit history. Credit history might not be of utmost concern for most jobs within a ministry; but, if you’re considering an applicant for any sort of financial or security position, it’s something you might want cleared up before green-lighting an offer. Keep in mind, however, that several states have enacted laws on the use and restrictions on using credit reports for employment purposes. Remember to check with your background check provider on what’s allowed. Best practices Implementing background checks is one thing. Knowing what to do with the results is another. If your church doesn’t already have an established policy in place that defines what red flags will disqualify an applicant, then it’s in your best interest to treat everyone the same. That means that if a candidate for employment — or for a volunteer position — can’t pass a background check, he or she should only serve in limited roles. Although strict, this approach makes the most sense. It protects the people of your congregation and demonstrates smart stewardship by church leaders. Patricia Carlson is a Florida-based freelance writer for Protect My Ministry in Tampa, FL. www.protectmyministry.com
January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
Best practices: integrating hearing accessibility into your church culture By Maile Keone Like a beautiful painting or a touching melody, the spoken word has the power to move us in profound ways. It can give comfort in times of need or spark the imagination with new ideas. But, for too many —due to hearing loss — the spoken word is often beyond reach. More so than ever before, we are fortunate now to have tools and technology that allow those affected by hearing impairment to participate fully in the activities they love, from taking classes, to attending performances, to joining together in worship. Assistive listening devices reopen doors that not long ago were closed. Still, many organizations lack systems and equipment that could open their doors to countless scores of underserved individuals. Assistive listening systems are a key component in the effort to provide everyone with equal opportunities to commune and worship, regardless of their respective hearing abilities. Connecting each person with the inspirational messages they seek is a critical mission for every church and house of worship. Connecting everyone The Centers for Disease Control estimate that nearly 15 percent of adults experience some degree of hearing impairment. That percentage equates to more than 37 million Americans 18 and older who have some difficulty with hearing fully or at all. Hearing aids and cochlear implants are terrific for helping individuals with hearing impairments to participate fully in day-to-day activities, but often they are not sufficient for larger settings, such as worship services. By contrast, assistive listening devices do more than simply amplify sounds; they provide clean, filtered, focused audio directly to each listener, allowing them to fully experience sermons, verses and passages. This ensures that every congregant can partake in the services. Fortunately, the difficult task of creating a culture that welcomes and provides for any worshipper is already done. Churches work each day to spread the message far and wide, and they welcome all to hear the stirring words of every service. Putting those aspirations into practice calls for a commitment to accessibility among both church leaders and parishioners. Incorporating assistive listening into any house of worship, regardless of its size, demonstrates such a commitment and allows congregants of every age and ability to be welcomed fully into your church. Sounds, simple The latest assistive listening systems are as unobtrusive as they are effective. A microphone (which is likely already in use), a transmitter, and receivers for those individuals using the equipment are the basic elements of any setup. With these three features in place, your house of worship becomes more inclusive and more accessible to everyone. 26
CHURCH EXECUTIVE • January / February 2016
Display signage to indicate that your church is equipped with an assistive listening system.
The other critical part is communication — let your current and future congregants know that your church offers the accommodations they need, and expand your reach to welcome all who wish to call your church home. Start here Begin with the simplest task first: Ask your parishioners about their assistive listening needs and how they can be better served by your church. A simple survey can go a long way, and can be distributed in person or completed online — whichever is most convenient for your members. Regardless of the chosen method, the end goal is the same: understanding the specific needs of your congregation to help you choose the best-suited equipment and installation. Whether formal or informal, the results of these might surprise you. There might be several members who would benefit from assistive listening of whom you were unaware. What will likely not come as a surprise, though, is the desire among all members to ensure a supportive, inclusive and inviting worship space for all. Providing such a space is already one of the central tenets in any house of worship. Take time to consider what would be most beneficial to your churchgoers, and explore the many options available for sharing your message. Assistive listening systems are certain to play an integral part in bringing the congregation together and sharing in the joy of each service. Maile Keone is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Listen Technologies [ www.listentech.com ] in Bluffdale, UT. She is an advocate for people with hearing loss and a spokesperson on mandatory assistive listening compliance worldwide. churchexecutive.com
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CHURCH FACILITY STEWARDSHIP
Proactive, preventive maintenance is the
way to go Preventive maintenance isn’t rocket science! By Tim Cool As I’ve studied the facilities management field and researched the cause and effect of the decay of everything we build, I’m more confused about why we, as God’s stewards, do such a poor job of fulfilling those duties. We would rather put off today what we can go into debt for tomorrow. Hmm. Is that good stewardship? Sounds like many government officials. I have great respect for Kevin Folsom, director of facilities and plant operations at Dallas Theological Seminary. He “gets” the need to be proactive. He wrote a white paper entitled, Sustainable facilities vs. Sustainable Facilities. (Download it here) It’s an excellent resource; and frankly, some of it is over my head — Kevin is one smart dude! Here’s a quote: There are numerous levels that can be used to go about this, but to start we have to remember our early physics lessons in high school about the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Everything we build will decay, but it may last longer if properly maintained. So, here’s a puzzling question… If we build facilities that the natural law causes them to decay at fairly predictable rates throughout its birth to burial, why do we not plan for it? According to a research project conducted a few years ago, facilities — any facility — will deteriorate at a rate of 1 percent to 2 percent per year, assuming regular preventive maintenance. However, in most cases, this rate of deterioration more than doubles if the regular, systematic preventive maintenance is not performed. Why, as church leaders, do we avoid addressing and planning for the inevitable? Would you drive your new car and never change the oil until the engine seizes up, and then cough over a huge amount of money for a new engine? That doesn’t make any sense to me. 28
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“Why, as church leaders, do we avoid addressing and planning for the inevitable? Would you drive your new car and never change the oil until the engine seizes up, and then cough over a huge amount of money for a new engine? That doesn’t make any sense to me.” But what about the day-to-day stuff? What does it mean to be proactive versus reactive? In the second chapter of this series, we explored the significant differences between management and maintenance. Now we need to drill down another layer and look at the differences between proactive and reactive maintenance. Recently, I was tracking a LinkedIn conversation with a Facility Management (FM) “group” of which I’m a member. I found the discussion very interesting; I think you will, too. Keep in mind these are people providing facility management services in the “secular” arena (for example, complex commercial buildings — but wait: our ministry facilities are also complex commercial buildings. Hmm.) As you read these takeaways, substitute the word “company” with “church” or “ministry.” Here’s the sequence of discussions: You missed a critical part of the equation to switching from reactive to proactive. FMs need time to analyze information, develop a strategy, and implement things that are proactive. Unfortunately, they’re often too busy with the day-to-day issues and headaches. Many of them also are very hands-on, get-things-done kinds of people who don’t think they’re earning their pay if they spend time in the office (or somewhere else, preferably) simply thinking and planning.
I gave a seminar at the IIDEX / Neocon conference in Toronto last year about selling FM in your company. I talked about this issue as one of the reasons the profession isn’t as respected as those of the finance, HR, law, engineering and other roles in their company. (TIM COOL INSERT: … or the “pastoral staff,” or the ministry initiatives.) FMs need to step off the treadmill every now and then in order to switch from being reactive to proactive and strategic. All the above are excellent points and critical to running a professional FM department. I think the difference between being considered a low-paid “necessary evil” for the company and a respected, higher-paid professional is the strategic planning and value-driven dynamic. In summary, I feel that a balanced approach works best with different service levels depending on what’s being maintained. There’s no right or wrong answer in the planned-versus-reactive debate, but one thing is certain — any FM strategy needs to be underpinned by accurate and comprehensive asset data and a detailed understanding of the underlying business need. So, how are you doing in developing a professional, proactive and strategic facility management department (or plan) for your church and ministry? Are the facility management efforts at your church the proverbial “redheaded stepchild” of the ministry? Is FM only a necessary evil, or is it a critical part of your overall stewardship initiative? If it’s the latter, I congratulate you and would covet your input on how you’re accomplishing that. churchexecutive.com
I believe you’re on the right track if you’ve embraced a facility stewardship perspective. Tim Cool @TLCool is founder of Cool Solutions Group, and has assisted nearly 400 U.S. churches (equating to more than 4 million square feet) with their facility needs. He has collaborated with churches in the areas of facility needs analysis, design coordination, pre-construction and construction management, as well as life cycle planning / facility management. Cool Solutions Group is also the developer of eSPACE software products, including Event Scheduler, Work Order Management and HVAC integration. Cool has written three books: Successful Master Planning: More Than Pretty Pictures; Why Church Buildings Matter: The Story of Your Space; and Church Locality, which is co-written by Jim Tomberlin, as well as a manual series entitled “Intentional Church.” January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
Dos and don’ts for pastors during an election year By David O. Middlebrook Since 1954, churches — and other nonprofits in America — have been prohibited from engaging in certain kinds of political activity. While these limitations might be an affront to the moral conscience of many pastors across America, it has become a way of life for 501(c) (3) organizations. Specifically, Congress prohibited nonprofits — including churches — from participating or intervening “in (including the publishing or distributing of statements) any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”1 These prohibited activities are known as “Political Campaign Activity” and occur when a church — or any 501(c)(3) organization — directly or indirectly participates or intervenes in “any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for elective public office.” 2 It’s very important for all churches to understand that this prohibition is for campaign activity regarding candidates; churches may, however, engage in some legislative activity — lobbying and advocacy for issues, for example. Every election year, we receive lots of questions asking what’s permissible and impermissible for churches and church leaders when it comes to political campaigns and legislative activities — in particular, regarding discussing the elections with their congregation, the public, and even their employees and board members. Participating in prohibited political campaign activity can result in your church jeopardizing its tax exempt status, thus harming its reputation, and putting the tax deductibility of every donation at risk. So, as we kick off this election year, here are some different ways pastors and churches can (and can’t) be involved in political campaign and legislative activities. Personal endorsements The most common question we hear from church clients regarding elections and candidates is: As long as I say I’m supporting a candidate personally — and not in my position as the church’s pastor — am I OK? Personal endorsements are permitted; however, unless they’re done correctly, the surrounding facts and circumstances might lead the IRS to determine that a pastor was acting in his or her official capacity. The IRS looks at the conditions surrounding the endorsement. If an endorsement was made during a church’s official event — a Sunday morning service, for example — or in an official publication, such as a church newsletter (regardless of who pays for it), the endorsement won’t be considered “personal.” Asking a congregation to vote for a candidate during a church service will likely be viewed as a prohibited political campaign activity. On the other hand, a local newspaper advertisement depicting a candidate with his or her supporters — including the name of a pastor and the church where he or she is employed — does not run afoul of IRS regulations. This is because the pastor didn’t endorse the candidate in his or her position during an official church activity. Rather, identifying the pastor and the church where the pastor is employed is only identifying one of the candidate’s supporters. 30
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https://www.irs.gov/uac/Charities,-Churches-and-Politics https://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profi ts/Charitable-Organizations/Political-and-Lobbying-Activities
Public appear ances It’s not uncommon for churches to invite candidates or current public officials to speak to their congregations during regularly scheduled worship services or at special events open to the public (“public forums”). However, each opportunity for a candidate or public official to speak must be handled in a way that doesn’t interfere with elections. For instance, a church can hold a public forum — and invite all the candidates seeking election to an office — to address the attendees. However, the church may not ask questions that lead the attendees toward one candidate, or a group of candidates. Typically, when churches host public forums, it’s advisable to ask all the candidates the same slate of questions and give each candidate equal time to speak. Cutting some candidate off early might be seen by the IRS as an indirect intervention into a campaign. If your church invites public officials to speak, the timing of the upcoming election is considered in determining whether or not your church is endorsing a candidate for office. If the mayor of your city is invited to preach, pray or otherwise address the congregation on the Sunday morning before an election the following Tuesday, and the mayor is running for reelection — and the mayor encourages those in attendance to vote — this can easily be seen as a tacit endorsement by your church. This is especially likely if other candidates aren’t given the same opportunity. Like all members of the general public, elected officials are welcome to attend church events. A pastor can acknowledge his or her presence, or even honor the elected official for non-political activity, such as a distinguished military career. Voter guides and drives For those who want to inform their congregants of the upcoming issues to be voted on, a voter guide — one which factually shows where candidates stand on issues — can be helpful. Here again, these tools must be neutral toward the candidates, fact-based and neither supportive nor dismissive towards any candidate.
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Helping your congregants register to vote (without ties to any candidate) is also a great way to involve your members. Recently, some states have adopted specific regulations about how voter registration events must be conducted. If you don’t know the rules in your state, consult an attorney to make sure you’re in compliance. 3 Issue advocacy Sometimes, issues themselves can identify a candidate — particularly in smaller elections with only two or three candidates. If you promote an issue that leaves only one choice of candidate, you run the risk of prohibited political campaign activity. Issues are important, and they should be discussed by pastors. But, if the issue promotion activity leaves only one available choice, then those activities are likely intervening with the election. Voter rules are a difficult dynamic. Often, pastors feel prohibited from speaking out on topics on which our society is voting. Being able to navigate the legal dos and don’ts helps churches engage society at the voter booth. The materials in this article are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. This article is intended, but not promised or guaranteed to be current, complete or up-to-date and should in no way be taken as an indication of future results. Transmission of the information in this article is not intended to create — and the receipt does not constitute — an attorney-client relationship between sender and receiver. David O. Middlebrook is a founding shareholder of Anthony & Middlebrook and the Church Law Group [ www.churchlawgroup.com ] in Grapevine, TX. His clients include high-profile charitable and religious organizations, both domestic and international. 3
Texas recently adopted new voter photo ID rules.
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MSCM.Villanova.edu January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
Can seminaries prepare students for the real world? By George M. Hillman
Is the purpose of the seminary to train theologians or practitioners? For the last 50 years, theologians, pastors and congregations have been debating this very question. Indeed, higher education at-large is questioning the relationship between theoretical knowledge and practical experience. Is the purpose of education to help the student to think critically or to function practically? To be effective, a seminary has to do both.
Part of the role of theological education is to prepare students to think biblically and critically. Too much ministry today lacks strong theological roots. At the same time, the theological school needs to prepare students to take the vast theological knowledge from the classroom and translate it for the cultures and modern contexts into which they’ve been called. Moving from theory to the real world The seminary classroom equips students with essential foundational truth, but it can only take them so far. More than ever, students need practical ministry experiences that link theory and practice. Instead of learning only in the isolation of the classroom, field-based education (sometimes called internships or residencies) happens within the “normative worshiping community of faith.” The student gets a chance to 32
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work in a real-world ministry setting and then reflects on that experience with a mentor. This isn’t just busy work or cheap labor; it’s a fundamental element of intentionally developing of a future leader. A great internship or residency experience places a student in an environment where God can work through him or her in the lives of other people and — more importantly in some ways — where God can work in the student’s own life to develop calling, character and competencies. The church as a lab for learning Generally, the more practical the lessons a student needs to learn, the more integrated into real life the educational experience needs to be. Some of the most important things a minister does are best learned on the job. Congregations and other ministry settings become a laboratory for ministry, making them vital collaborators with seminaries in developing leaders. Understanding organizational culture, learning leadership and management skills, sharpening people skills, identifying personal strengths and assets, and identifying potential areas of character downfall are all practical lessons learned in an internship or residency. The seminary and the church in partnership Field-based education helps to overcome the classroom teacher’s inability to create real-world learning experiences in the formal classroom setting. The academics of theological education can help to lay the foundation for a biblical worldview and the basic tools of the ministry trade, but the theoretical needs to be married with the practical in the leadership laboratory in the field. God calls students to schools to learn, but a school’s values and curriculum need to reflect this balance between theory and practice. When seminaries continue to collaborate with the local church and ministry organizations in developing the next generation of leaders, they develop leaders who are sound — doctrinally and practically. To this end, my own institution offers a year-long Ministry Residency [ www.dts.edu/ministryresidency ] that enables ministry leaders who are already in full-time vocational ministry an opportunity to earn up to 12 credit hours in their current ministry context. Bookended by a weeklong campus experience in the fall and the spring, the learning includes work in a ministry context with on-site mentoring and real-time video cohort meetings with other ministry leaders. Instead of coming to the classroom to learn, we help students learn in the “real world classroom” they’re already in. This way, we don’t rely on the church or the seminary, the theologian or the pastor. Instead, a good internship offers a safe place for future ministry leaders to grow, develop and learn in — and for — the church. George M. Hillman is Chair of Educational Ministries and Leadership; Professor of Educational Ministries and Leadership at Dallas Theological Seminary [ www.dts.edu ]. churchexecutive.com
Author, Pastor Mark Batterson & the secrets of pursuing
“God-sized dreams” New York Times best-selling author and Regent alumnus Mark Batterson ’12 (Divinity) believes in dreaming big and praying bold prayers. It is a principle that he explored in his popular book The Circle Maker, and one that has guided his ministry for the last 18 years. As lead pastor of National Community Church (NCC) in Washington, D.C., his God-sized dreams have resulted in a vast ministry reaching thousands.
Mark Batterson, New York Times best-selling author, lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, D.C., and Regent alumnus
atterson’s journey to becoming pastor of the D.C. ministry was one he says he never expected. After attempting a failed church plant in Chicago as a seminary student, Batterson says he felt called to move his family to D.C., where they connected with a small group already meeting regularly. “When I started pastoring NCC, we had 19 people,” Batterson recalls. “We started very small, but we had a big dream. We dreamed of reaching thousands of people. The Lord has blessed us, and we are now one church with seven locations.” The congregation continued to dream big when they started praying about purchasing an abandoned building — a former crack house — one block from Union Station so they could convert it into a coffeehouse. The $1 million price tag made the project seem impossible. Today, Ebenezers Coffeehouse is a reality. It sells fair trade coffee with all the proceeds going to local and international mission projects.
“People will ask me, ‘Why would a church build a coffeehouse?’” Batterson says. “Simply put, Jesus didn’t just hang out in the synagogue; He hung out at wells. I think coffeehouses are postmodern wells. We wanted to be in a place where the church and the community could cross paths.” Missions is at the heart of NCC’s ministry In 2013, the church gave $1.8 million to mission projects around the world, and it plans to increase its giving to $2 million annually by 2020. The church also wants to mobilize to make an impact locally. In summer 2012, NCC acquired an abandoned apartment building which it plans to convert into the D.C. Dream Center, a facility that will serve the poor and destitute in an area of the city known for high rates of poverty, unemployment and teen pregnancy. With all of these huge endeavors, what does it take to oversee a ministry the size of NCC? Batterson says it requires the willingness to ask God for big things and the flexibility to follow His leading. “Nothing keeps me on my knees like a God-sized dream,” he says. “Those dreams help me rely on Him and operate in faith.” Honing leadership gifts Directing NCC also requires strong leadership skills — something the pastor honed during his studies in Regent’s Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program. He says he chose Regent because he greatly respected the faculty — several have become lifelong friends — and he was drawn to the university’s theological perspective. “It was the beginning stages of the D.Min. program that really helped define my leadership gift and lay a foundation for what the Lord’s done. It gave me the practical tools that I needed,” he says. “We now have 55 staff members with seven locations, and our vision is to have 20 locations by the year 2020. The only way to get from here to there is as I keep growing as a leader. I knew the program at Regent would be a catalyst for that, and it has been.” Regent’s School of Divinity is a transdenominational seminary located in Virginia Beach, VA. The school offers a spectrum of course-delivery options — completely on campus, completely online, online with minimal residency, and blended structures — to put students in the driver’s seat as they earn their degree. Recently, Regent’s Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Practical Theology was approved by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) to be offered completely online, with no residency. Other Regent programs include the Master of Theological Studies, Doctor of Ministry, and Ph.D. in Theological Studies. “At Regent, no matter which format you choose, you will receive an affordable, streamlined, high-quality education,” says the school’s interim dean, Dr. Joseph Umidi. “More than that, you’ll receive a biblically based education that emphasizes the vital role of the Holy Spirit in transforming lives. And you’ll connect with professors who care deeply about you and your God-sized dreams.” This article is provided by Regent University’s School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, VA. www.regent.edu/divinity
January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
Management skills for more effective ministry How the Villanova University Master of Science in Church Management Degree is building capacity for leadership The popular myth says that leaders are born, not made. Not so, according to the Very Reverend John P. Bambrick, V.F., pastor of St. Aloysius Church in Jackson, NJ, and a graduate of Villanova School of Business’ Master of Science in Church Management (MSCM) program. “The MSCM program quickly dispels this notion effectively making leaders for the Church of the 21st Century,” Bambrick says. For the past eight years, the Villanova School of Business has been offering a Charles Zech, PhD Master of Science in Church Management to church leaders, both clergy and laity. This unique program aims to build leadership capacity and practical management skills for the leaders of the church of the future. While classes might focus largely on practical subjects — such as pastoral planning, financial reporting and human resources — each course is imbued with the theology necessary for the proper stewardship of the church. According to Charles Zech, PhD, professor of Economics — the program’s founder and faculty director — the MSCM program provides clergy with practical skills to lead the church, as well as engage the laity in a form of management that’s beneficial to church leaders. The goal, according to Zech, is to remove some of the temporal burden of the church from the clergy, while being mindful of their role as leaders in the church, and to empower the laity to take more of a leadership role within their congregations. Zech also mentions that some people are surprised that a church management program would be housed in a business school; however, he asserts, it’s important that church leaders receive the practical management skills similar to an MBA program while grounding those skills in theology and ethics. “In an MBA course, you learn about Wall Street,” Zech explains. “That’s not helpful to a church leader, but some of the practical lessons you would learn in a business program are important for church leaders to learn.” Of course, it can be difficult for busy church leaders to take time out of their schedules to attend classes. Villanova’s MSCM program helps accommodate this by offering its program almost completely online. With the exception of a one-week residency on the beautiful and scenic Villanova campus, the classes are taken online. Students are able to log in and communicate with their classmates during live, synchronous class sessions. However, they’re also able to access the class at their convenience to catch up on course materials, pre-recorded lectures and archived live sessions. The program is built — with flexibility in mind — for busy church leaders. The first course focuses specifically on leadership for religious organizations, and is team-taught by professors in business, ethics and 34
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theology. It is designed to be clear from the very start that this unique program teaches practical business management skills with a strong foundation of theology and ethics. Other courses in the MSCM curriculum also aim to build capacity in church leaders. Throughout the program — which is typically completed in two years — students will study human resources, civil law, financial reporting, church technology, stewardship and development, and strategic planning. “The MSCM program provides church workers with a ‘tool box’ filled with leadership techniques and tools to navigate the increasingly complex realities of emerging church work,” says Bambrick. “The church is not a business,” Zech points out. “But it does have a responsibility to be a good steward of its resources.” The MSCM program hopes to develop church leaders of the future, grounded in theology and possessing the tools necessary to strengthen the church in a changing world. This article is provided by the Center for Church Management & Business Ethics at the Villanova School of Business in Villanova, PA.
Keeping context at the forefront An in-depth look at Ashland Theological Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program in Transformational Leadership with Dr. Matthew H. Bevere In recent years, have pastors shown greater interest in leadership and management education? Bevere: Yes, I believe so; but it goes beyond that. We’re seeing a lot of interest [in these types of offerings] among Christian leaders of all types, not just pastors. As the landscape of ministry changes, there’s interest among Christian leaders who aren’t necessarily in full-time pastoral ministry positions. Although we certainly have those in full-time pastoral ministry in the program — they’re probably the majority — we also have Christians who lead in nontraditional ministry roles who are quite interested in leadership training. The landscape of the culture and the church has changed. Because of that, Christian leaders are trying to navigate what it means to be in that role within the modern context. They’re looking for ways to help them do that. What are some of the most valuable leadership skills church executives can develop today? Bevere: In leadership, we talk a lot about skills. What are those leadership skills? One thing we really need to help students understand is that so much of leadership comes out of wisdom. There’s certainly a body of skills which church leaders need to possess, and we can talk about those — listening skills, for example. Time management skills. People skills necessary to manage staff. Those are all very, very important. Yet, all of those stem from leaders having the wisdom to know how to work in different situations. By this, I mean a leader must consider the context of his or her leadership — not simply as individual problems to be solved, but seeing their organization as an organic reality that’s very complex. It’s a more holistic view. So, for example, one of the things we examine is understanding leadership from a family systems perspective. Does Ashland Theological Seminary offer advanced-level training to help pastors fill voids in their leadership acumen? Bevere: We have a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) program in Transformational Leadership that’s designed to address several different, critical areas in Christian leadership. It’s for pastors, but not exclusively. In this program, we look at foundational issues — how scripture is applied in leadership situations, for example. We also look at things like how leaders can address issues of power; that’s something that often goes unaddressed in many leadership materials. Again, I’d say the most important aspect of the DMin program in Transformational Leadership is that it’s designed to help guide students through leadership within their own ministry contexts. It’s not just a matter of learning principles of leadership or a theology of leadership; we churchexecutive.com
Dr. Matthew H. Bevere, Associate Dean for the Doctor of Ministry Program at Ashland Theological Seminary (Ashland, OH); Assistant Professor of Christian Ministry
want to help students integrate their understanding of leadership from a biblical and theological point of view; we want those students to know how this is done within the context of ministry. One of the words we use often in the DMin program is “integration.” How do you integrate your theology with the practical realities of your own leadership context? In what ways has Ashland tried to make leadership and management training work for busy church executives? We offer six courses over two years, each as a one-week intensive. We understand our DMin students to be a community of learners, so we want to put them in a focused, intensive experience. Obviously, they’re learning from faculty members, but they’re also learning from each other’s unique leadership experiences. The assumption we have is that the Christian leaders who join the program are busy people. They’re all involved in ministry in some way — and actually, we want them to be involved in ministry! The main goal of the DMin program is for students to develop, implement, and then assess a leadership project within their own ministry context. To do that, they need to be in ministry leadership in some capacity. Students can be pastors, teachers, counselors, or Christian leaders in the marketplace. — Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh
January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
Financing your church bus fleet: common questions By Mike Jones When it comes to buying a church bus, the first question is always: Buy or lease? Obviously, a church needs to assess its needs and weigh the costs of buying or leasing a bus and what works best for its congregation. But I will say this: Buying a bus outright has its drawbacks, because a large amount of money is taken out of operating expenses. As such, leasing has become a much more popular option in recent years among many churches because it frees up money for ministry! Here are 10 reasons why a lease might work best for your church. 1) Uncertainty of future needs. Leasing provides a church the chance to use a vehicle for a few years to see if the capacity, mileage, amenities, etc., are what best meets its particular needs. 2) F lexibility in your ministry! Your church’s needs might change in a few years. Pastors come and go. Staff changes. Youth groups grow. The list goes on. Leasing allows a church to reevaluate its transportation needs after the lease term is up — generally, three to five years. 3) Major items are generally covered under warranty for the length of lease. Most manufacturer warranties are 5 years / 60,000 miles on the power train and 3 years / 36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper. 4) The first five years a vehicle is in service is typically when a bus’s maintenance costs are lowest, by a significant margin. The bus is new; therefore, you shouldn’t have any issues. If you do have a problem, the majority of items are under warranty, so you don’t have any money out of pocket. Proper maintenance of the vehicle — including periodic washing — is key to having the bus preform the way it’s designed to perform. 5) Y ears 6-14 of owning / operating a bus can actually cost a church as much (or more) in maintenance and repair costs than when it was making finance payments the first six years while paying off the bus. Also, having a bus break down in your ministry regularly isn’t safe or fun for anyone involved. Time and money spent maintaining a bus could be spent doing ministry. 6) Lower monthly payments to improve cash flow. All churches can use improved cash flow, and the lower monthly payment of a lease is very attractive. 7) N ew equipment is up-to-date with new industry and federal standards. New buses are a safe, reliable way for your congregation to travel. They will want to be comfortable and safe as they travel in your church’s care. 8) B uses are not an investment. They’re a ministry tool — but they don’t increase in value over the years. Many church leaders believe they’ll purchase a bus because they’ll have trade value in eight to 10 years. A monthly payment for a three-year lease is less than half of what the church will pay each month when financing one. Plus, your leased church bus is under warranty the whole time. Laying out less money — and having full warranty — is being a good steward of church funds. 9) The church could lease for two three-year periods (two new buses), and it will cost less than financing a bus — and again, they will be under full warranty. You read that correctly: The church can lease a new bus for three years, and then turn it in for another new bus for three more years, and still pay less than financing the same bus. Additionally, the church has a chance the second time to get a differentsize bus, or something with a wheelchair lift, or whatever fits its needs at the time. 36
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10) A five-year lease saves more than $20,000 versus financing. If your church leases for five years, it’s still saving money. And, the power train warranty applies for the full length of the lease term. It’s all about being a good steward of the money God has entrusted to the church. Here are some other vehicle financing questions churches often ask: “Is it better to pay cash?” A church might have the money in savings but might prefer not to deplete the operating funds or savings in case a need arises. However, if a church has enough cash on hand to purchase a bus outright — and still have enough left over in its operating budget to meet the rest of its needs — paying cash for a bus can certainly be a great option. “When securing financing, how can we ensure our financials are in the best possible shape?” Although a church’s financials are important, a lender will be more interested in previous comparable financing and cash balances on hand. If a church has financed items in its past and satisfactorily paid its debts (and the lender reported it), or has significant cash balances (carrying five-digit figures month-to-month), it is more likely to get approvals. Also, the lender might require a church that’s incorporated (the lender can find it in the state’s Secretary of State website) to provide a copy of its by-laws to show legal existence. Many times, churches don’t have any credit history at all because they pay everything in cash. Although it’s a wonderful thing to pay in cash, lenders want to see some credit history. If a church can purchase a few things and pay them off on time, it will build a good credit history for when it needs to get a loan. “What do lenders look for?” • Total annual contributions • Does the church have a mortgage on its property or building? • Size of congregation • History (how long the church has been established) • Although rare, is there a personal guarantor available? “How big of a loan can we afford?” The quick answer is: How much can the church afford if it sees a decrease in contributions? To this end, the amount of cash reserves plays a significant role in determining a church’s credit-worthiness. As they would any time they take on debt, church leaders must sit down, look at the finances and be sure the church is financially stable enough to take on another debt. Mike Jones is National Sales Manager at ChurchBus.com. www.churchbus.com churchexecutive.com
NEVER AGAIN: BEYOND INSURANCE
The most expensive form of labor – volunteer labor
By Michael J. Bemi Not infrequently, pastors and their parish / congregational administrators, board and / or committee members are inclined to avail themselves of “donated” labor in the form of volunteers who purport to have the appropriate experience, expertise and equipment required to perform some necessary project work on or within parish buildings. At “ﬁrst blush,” such an offer of volunteered labor can appear to be an opportunity to accomplish needed maintenance, upkeep or improvements in the most cost-effective manner – usually (though not always) entailing only reimbursement for supplies and maybe equipment. What could represent better stewardship than to enhance church physical resources with a minimal outlay of the congregation’s relatively scarce ﬁnancial resources? In such circumstances, the temptation to pursue this course of action is great – but the actual outcome is often negative and occasionally tragic. It really can (and does) happen Some actual examples will demonstrate that “taking advantage of” volunteer labor often represents the worst – rather than the best – stewardship. Consider: The church roof was leaking. Following visual inspection with binoculars, a member of the congregation with years of experience as a roofer suggested that the likely “culprit” was a portion of raised flashing, most probably damaged in a recent severe hail storm. The pastor and board were grateful for this gentleman’s offer of free labor to effect what he had described to them as a simple repair. Sadly, in his visual inspection, he failed to note a few loose roof tiles. Upon traversing the roof to repair the flashing, these tiles separated and dropped the man to the ground. He landed on his feet, crushing his heels, ankles and lower leg bones. His medical coverage was insufficient to cover the many thousands of dollars of necessary emergency care, surgeries and rehabilitation, and he was forced to sue the parish for damages to cover these unreimbursed medical expenses. Additionally, his ankles had to be surgically fused, which prohibited him from ever again working as a roofer – his family’s sole source of income. Consider: A long-standing congregation member who was an HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) expert agreed to replace two churchexecutive.com
air-conditioning units on the parish school’s roof. Just as in the prior example, the pastor and board were grateful and relieved that they would only have to pay for the air-conditioning units and not for any work. The expert brought his less-experienced assistant along on a weekend to accomplish this task. Note that the assistant was not going to receive any compensation; he was simply going to be able to “take advantage” of a new work experience, outside of the stress of a normal workday. The assistant improperly secured some critical rigging, causing one of the units to fall from a scaffold onto the head of the expert below. After weeks in a coma and months of treatment and rehabilitation, it was clear that this poor man would never again be the same. Litigation against the parish continues to this day. Look beyond the surface appeal Often, donated labor produces a less than truly satisfactory result, while also exposing the congregation to extensive costs never contemplated. Even worse, the pastor, board and congregation must live with the guilt of being associated with irreversible tragedies of pain and suffering like those recounted here. Before engaging volunteers in any activity that entails significant physical labor, the use of potentially dangerous tools and / or the existence of perilous working conditions (examples: activity above ground or floor level; involving lifting of heavy weighted objects; involving heavy machinery; using hazardous compounds or substances; working with electricity), the congregation is very well served to “shop around” for the best-priced proposal from a professional firm that has a great reputation, skilled staff, proper equipment, appropriate licenses / permits, professional certifications, high-quality insurance and a contract with terms that protect the congregation. This is the best stewardship. Michael J. Bemi is president & CEO of The National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc. (Lisle, IL) — a recognized leader in risk management. To learn more about available coverage — and to get valuable tools, facts and statistics — visit www.tncrrg.org
January / February 2016 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE
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We hear it all the time. “We’re a ministry, not a business. We just don’t have the money to offer financial benefits.” But the truth is, affordable financial benefits are not out of reach. MMBB Financial Services thoroughly understands the needs of faith-based organizations. And as benefits consultants, we will tailor an affordable plan so that everyone in your organization will enjoy retirement, disability and life insurance benefits that are sensible and secure. To find out more, visit us at MMBB.org/affordablebenefits. Or call 1-800-986-6222. We may just have some very good news for you and your employees.
A Financial Services Ministry
Real Planning, Real Solutions. That’s Our Calling.