Church Executive mar/apr 2015

Page 1


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 .

Matt CHANDLER: The Intentional Builder p8


Clergy Housing Allowance


Technology vs. Faith in Giving


Fraud Prevention: Best Practices 28



Drawing from a rich heritage, our heart is to serve pastors, build dreams, impact the world: : : One church : : One community : : One city at a time


Let us rise up and build . . . [Neh. 2:18] 918.872.6006

March /April 2015



The CE Interview


By Rez Gopez-Sindac There’s a sense of newness one can quickly surmise about Matt Chandler: a new urgency to preach the gospel in the aftermath of a victorious but very difficult bout with cancer; a back-to-the-roots commitment to planting healthy churches following his recent appointment as president of Acts 29 Network; and a rising influence as a young church leader.



Church signs showcase


Plus, a Q&A with experts By Steve Kane

A construction comeback!


Time — and, of course, the Great Recession — have altered the ways church building campaigns are done. Here, several stewardship experts weigh in. By RaeAnn Slaybaugh

“All are welcome here”


Inclusion and accessibility represent a largely underserved ministry opportunity.

Engaging Spaces


Finances & Administration for Church Leaders


The clergy housing allowance: get the facts By Rev. Dr. Perry J. Hopper

Designing Worship Areas


All things to all people: examining non-traditional worship venues By Curtiss H. Doss, AIA

Creating a Culture of Generosity


The tension between technology and faith By Derek Gillette

NEW! Church Accounting Basics


The healthy church By Tammy Bunting

NEW! Pastor-Friendly Video NEW! Financial Management Strategies


Fraud prevention: are you doing all you can? By Therese DeGroot

Safety Strategies


Playing it safe By Amy M. Kimmes

Creative & Proven Strategies


Phase 3: The Campaign By Paul Gage


It’s all about integration


Never Again



NEW! Insurance Essentials

By Michael Jordan


LED display walls: 101 By Marty Gregor

Church Management Software (ChMS) Forum Focus on: giving / donation tools

Your ChMS should grow with you


Engaging children’s ministry spaces: 4 essential elements By Allison Parrott and Paul Lodholz, AIA, LEED AP


How to choose the right insurance for your church By Deb Rushenberg


‘Heads up’ safety — a paramount concern By Michael J. Bemi

By Mark Kitts

From the Editor

Pastor-Friendly Sound Systems



System components: knowing your options By Rik Kirby & Daniel Keller


CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

See our story — Jerry Williams, the founder of Williams Sound, created the first FM system to help parishioners at his church who had difficulty hearing the pastor speak. Today, Williams Sound FM listening systems continue to reflect his dedication to quality. Our cutting-edge technology provides hearing assistance and language interpretation, with easy set-up and reliable performance for the most demanding house-ofworship applications.

Tell us your story — Visit us at and tell us about your congregation. How would a listening system from Williams Sound help you spread The Word? Submit your story, and you will automatically be entered in a drawing for a chance to win a new PPA 457 Personal PA® FM Assistive Listening System. I 800.328.6190 I helping people hear


No (wo)man is an island Volume 14, No. 2 4742 N. 24th St., Ste. 340 Phoenix, AZ 85016 • 800.541.2670 Judi Victor CEO

As magazine editors, one of the greatest blessings we can hope for is a cadre of subject matter experts — inthe-trenches professionals who are not only willing, but eager, to share what they know with your readers. In this respect, Church Executive has been exceedingly blessed. Throughout this and all upcoming issues, you’ll find content from experts who share our vision for each series: that they be full of relevant, practical information and a true benefit to church leaders and the life-changing ministries their churches offer. In the past few issues, you’ve seen more than a dozen dedicated series begin to unfold. Each series drills down on an area of management and / or leadership need for our unique audience: finance, administration, architecture, A/V, risk management, generosity, software and more. In this issue, we’re debuting four brand-new, in-depth series created in conjunction with our thought leader partners. Church Accounting Basics — Written by church accounting expert Tammy Bunting, this series revisits basic best practices for church accounting, but it also encourages and presents new approaches to existing (often longstanding) procedures. In the lead-off installment on page 18, Bunting does an excellent job of demonstrating her intimate understanding of what constitutes “church health” as distinct from a secular business perspective. “As church leaders, we walk every day in faith. So, how do we marry faith and facts?” Bunting writes. “The church has been put in our care, and we must be good stewards of what God has given us.” Financial Management Strategies — Series author Therese DeGroot has developed and managed religious lending programs for 25 years for many banks that now specialize in lending to churches, nonprofits and schools. So, she knows a thing or two (or 12) about fraud prevention. On pages 28-29, she helps church leaders mitigate potentially devastating fraud risks — both internal and external — and offers advice for building a culture of accountability.


CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

Publisher Steve Kane, ext. 207 Editor In Chief RaeAnn Slaybaugh, ext. 202 Contributing Editor Rez Gopez-Sindac 602.405.5317

Pastor-Friendly Video — Has your church considered an LED display wall versus a projection system? LED stands for “light emitting diode” — but that’s less important than understanding the enhanced overall image quality (to enhance the worship experience) and lower overall cost of ownership (to ensure good stewardship) that LED display walls offer. On pages 26-27, series author Marty Gregor breaks it down in plain-English. Insurance Essentials — Protecting the church from the multitude of risks it faces every day is a top-of-mind concern for any pastor or business administrator, especially in a litigious society. A church’s open-door culture is its greatest asset, but also perhaps its greatest liability. To that end, series author Deb Rushenberg — an underwriting expert — kicks off this integral series on page 33 by helping you decide, first and foremost, which insurance makes the most sense for your church.

Contributing Editor Robert Erven Brown Art Director Stephen Gamble, ext. 133 Account Executive Jeanette Long, ext. 122

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

As these and every series develops, I encourage you to reach out to the authors directly, or send me an email. Share your concerns. Tell us what’s keeping you awake at night. Moving forward, it will help us shape the most relevant, beneficial content possible.

Sam S. Rainer III Senior Pastor First Baptist Church | Murray, KY Mark Simmons Business Manager Christ Community Church | Milpitas, CA

All the best to you and your ministry,

Eric Spacek Senior Manager GuideOne Insurance | West Des Moines, IA Accountant Fred Valdez A publication of:

LET’S CHAT: Email: Facebook: ChurchExecutiveMagazine Twitter:

CLA Church Executive™ (Copyright 2015), Volume 14, Issue 2. Church Executive is published monthly by Power Trade Media LLC, a subsidiary of Friendship Publications Inc., 4742 N. 24th Street, Ste. 340, Phoenix, AZ 85016. Subscription Rates: United States and Mexico $39 (USD) one year, Canada $42 (USD) one year (GST) included, all other countries $75 one year, single issue United States $5 (USD), all other countries $6 (USD). Reprints: All articles in Church Executive are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher. For reprints of 100 or more, contact Judi Victor at (602) 265-7600 ext. 125. Copyright 2015 by Power Trade Media, LLC. No advertisement or description or reference to a product or service will be deemed as an endorsement, and no warranty is made or implied by Power Trade Media, LLC. Information is obtained from sources the editors believe reliable, accurate and timely, but no warranty is made or implied, and Power Trade Media, LLC is not responsible for errors or omissions.

Happy drivers Panoramic view

Made in U.S.A. Incredible comfort

Versatile chassis to accommodate any body

Outstanding stability

Easy to service Exceptional fuel economy

Heavy-duty reliability

Excellent maneuverability

Unmatched 24/7 factory support | Extensive parts availability | Nationwide service network | Exceptional warranties



Compromising on your needs is never a good place to start. So we don’t make you. Product quality, numerous options, and uncompromising factory and service support. You get everything you need from your chassis and your manufacturer. That’s the peace of mind that comes with owning a Freightliner. | Find out more at

The only 24/7 technical support directly from the manufacturer. 1-800- FTL- HELP (385-4357)

Specifi cations are subject to change without notice. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation is registered to ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 14001:2004. Copyright © 2014 Daimler Trucks North America LLC. All rights reserved. Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America LLC, a Daimler company. Learn more about our products and services on our YouTube channel.


LEAD PASTOR OF TEACHING The Village Church Flower Mound, TX

By Rez Gopez-Sindac


CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

There’s a sense of newness one can quickly surmise about Matt Chandler: a new urgency to preach the gospel in the aftermath of a victorious but very difficult bout with cancer; a back-to-the-roots commitment to planting healthy churches following his recent appointment as president of Acts 29 Network; and a rising influence as a young church leader. Chandler is lead teaching pastor at The Village Church. Now 12 years into his shepherding role, the church is brimming with fresh hopes and new beginnings. Chandler says he feels like “we’re just getting started.”

What practical steps do you take to ensure you give the best of yourself to sermon preparation? God has been gracious to surround me with godly and gifted leaders who take much of the preparation for major meetings off of me. The other two lead pastors of The Village, Josh Patterson and Brian Miller, drive our executive staff meetings and our elder meetings. I have input, but I’m not solely responsible for building out and leading out those meetings. Josh and Brian are real gifts from God to me, giving me the opportunity to spend a lot of time in prayerful preparation to preach. On top of that, I have learned to schedule blocks of study time and stick to it with all the discipline I have. My assistant, Rick, blocks the time out and lets only major pastoral crises through to me during those study blocks. How do you help your staff grow into strong, healthy leaders? We spend a lot of time pouring into our staff. We see them as the greatest gift God has given to us in making disciples. Some practical things we’ve woven into the rhythm of The Village is a monthly gathering called “Restore.” On the second Wednesday of each month, we spend the entire morning worshiping together and praying for one another. This isn’t a time for new initiatives or major announcements, but a time of focused reminder that we’re first and foremost children of God. There are no “strong, healthy leaders” where there’s no confession, repentance, worship and prayer. Restore is our platform to infuse this into the culture of our staff so the “what” doesn’t drive out the “why.” We also provide biblical counseling for our staff. Our hope is that this helps them believe The Village is a safe place for them to confess sin, struggle well and get help for those struggles. We also have a weeklong staff retreat each year that isn’t a “work” retreat but rather a time for us to hang around one another, catch up some and then gather at night for testimonies, worship and the Word. On development, we want to have ongoing, honest dialogue about the roles we play on the team and how we’re fulfilling those roles. This takes the form of consistent feedback, annual reviews and mid-year checkups. Many of our staff build out 90-day maps for the “whats” and the “whys” and work toward those ends. How do you define a successful church leader? I’m assuming the leader is a spiritual person whose prayer life and zeal for the Lord are well-tended and fed. With that assumption in place, a successful church leader plays the part they play in the organization well and doesn’t play in the spaces they haven’t been asked to play. They understand that God’s call on their life is ultimately to make disciples and use their gifts, abilities and available bandwidth to that end. Ultimately, the Holy Spirit transforms people; our job is to shepherd and serve them as He sanctifies. The successful church leader understands this and gives themselves over to that purpose. What do you do to improve your pastoral skills? This might sound like an oversimplification, but I pastor. I visit people in the hospital, do weddings and funerals, counsel where I can and weigh in on church discipline cases. I think I’m known more as a preacher, but I love to preach to the people who I’m in the trenches with, rejoicing and mourning.

March / April 2015 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE



Matt and Lauren Chandler enjoying a stroll with their children.

How do you take care of your own spiritual health? I have worked to establish rhythms of rest where I can see things clearly and take an honest evaluation of my heart and mind. Once a month, I take off a whole day to fast, pray and worship. I don’t take any devices — just my Bible, journal and pen. I spend the day asking the Holy Spirit to search my heart, praying and trying to quiet my soul. On top of this, I’ve invited a small group of men and women to watch me closely for any signs of spiritual stress or fatigue and come to me immediately with it. Few things can help spiritual health like inviting people into helping you keep it. Lastly, I have worked to discipline myself to pay attention to my thoughts. If I don’t feel like preaching or being patient with someone or simply don’t want to extend grace or the benefit of the doubt, those thoughts betray some disconnectedness in my soul that I want to quickly confess to my friends and search my heart for the root. What new strategies have you put in place since becoming president of Acts 29? More than implementing new strategies, we wanted to get back to our roots — church planting. We’re a single-issue network; churches that plant churches. We had drifted from that a bit and we wanted to get back to what was dreamed up from the beginning: an increasingly diverse and increasingly global network of churchplanting churches.


CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

What are the biggest challenges church planters face today? This is a hard question to answer because a lot of challenges are specific to the context of the plant. The most common challenges, regardless of context, are the young men who make up the bulk of church planters. They can lack self-awareness, having no idea who they are as a leader, and can be completely ignorant of their strengths and weaknesses. Many lack pastoral experience and also lack clarity on what they’re trying to build and why. On top of this, most planters are undercapitalized and lack the funds to execute on the call God has given them to plant a church. How is Acts 29 walking with church plants to respond to these challenges? Acts 29 continues to establish residencies and academies to train church planters, both theologically as well as in areas of self-awareness and clarity of purpose. As more and more of our 500+ churches are housing these residencies and internships, we’re making great strides in helping planters train for planting. What changed in you as a leader in the wake of your battle with cancer? Moses prays in Psalm 90 that we might number our days so we would walk in wisdom. I can feel that my days are numbered. I still have to go and get scans, as my doctors wait for the cancer to return. I believe that God has completely healed me, but I still feel time differently than I did in 2009. I’m more urgent, I think.

Quick facts about The Village Year established: 1978 Lead Pastor: Matt Chandler Denomination: Southern Baptist Number of locations: 5 Number of staff: 160 Combined weekly attendance: 14,000 2015 budget: $17.5 Million

In the same regard, have you looked more seriously into your church’s succession plan? If so, how? We have worked hard not to build The Village solely around the gifts God has given me. That being said, we had conversations and plans loosely built out back in 2009 and 2010 about what would happen if I didn’t recover or if I lost my intellectual capabilities.

What are your hopes for the future of The Village Church? After 12 years, I feel like we’re just getting started. We want to continue to do what we’ve been doing for the first 12 years, just with more wisdom and faith. We want to preach the gospel, see the lost saved, make disciples, train leaders and, Lord willing, begin to roll our campuses off into healthy, autonomous churches.

March / April 2015 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE



The clergy housing allowance: get the facts As March and April roll around each year, a collective sigh can be heard as Americans prepare to file their taxes. Much of the groaning comes in response to the complexity of figuring out what regulations apply. The clergy housing allowance is a perfect example. By Rev. Dr. Perry J. Hopper

FACT: Ministers who reside in a church-provided parsonage that is considered to be part of their ministerial compensation are entitled to a parsonage allowance that is designated by the church in advance to cover expenses such as utilities, repairs and furnishings that are not reimbursed by the church. The fair rental value of a parsonage is not taxable for federal taxes but it must be reported on Schedule SE and must be included for Social Security/Medicare tax purposes unless the minister has opted out of Social Security.


CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

First implemented in 1921 and expanded in 1954, the ministerial housing allowance applies to ordained, commissioned and licensed clergy who own or rent their own homes. With 89 percent of all clergy living in their own home (versus a church-owned parsonage), the housing allowance is the most significant tax benefit available to clergy. Simply put, the federal tax code provides clergy with a tax exemption on the portion of their compensation that their church employer designates as a housing allowance. FACT: The amount of the housing allowance must be designated in advance of the tax year to which it will be applied. Clergy and churches have the responsibility to insure that there is an official record of the designated amount. The designation must be taken through “official action” and noted in writing by the trustee board or appropriate body of the church. A sample resolution can be found at: https:// . This designation should be done before the end of each year based on estimated expenses the minister is likely to incur the following year. Church administrators should make sure that the resolution is placed on the agenda of the designating body before the end of the year. FACT: The tax code does not specify a maximum percentage or limit the amount that can be designated. While it is theoretically possible to designate 100 percent of compensation as housing allowance, the church should be mindful that it cannot surpass “reasonable compensation” relative to the services given. In the case of a bi-vocational minister or supply pastor, 100 percent of their compensation might be reasonable. The actual amount that can be excluded from gross income is limited to the lesser of: • The amount designated by the church • The actual amount spent on housing for the year by the minister. This includes rent or mortgage costs, utilities, homeowner’s insurance and maintenance. • The fair rental value of the home, furnished, plus utilities such as gas, electricity, oil, telephone and water. You will probably need to contact a real estate agent for an estimate of the fair rental value of the property. At the end of the tax year, the minister must: • Determine how much he or she actually spent on housing costs • Determine the fair rental value, plus utilities • Review the amount the church authorized • Select the lesser amount as their housing exemption. FACT: Churches are not allowed to designate a housing allowance retroactively. But churches can change the designated housing allowance if a minister’s housing arrangements change, if expenses are more than were initially projected, or if the church was remiss in designating a housing allowance. For example, if a minister moves from a rental property to a condominium, he or she would now need to compute the down payment, mortgage payments, condo fees, property taxes and insurance as allowable housing expenses. As long as the change in the housing allowance is for forthcoming expenses — not past expenses — the change can be made. FACT: Organizations that do not qualify as a “steeple” employer are permitted to designate a part of a minister’s compensation as housing if the employer is an integral part of a religious organization such as a local church, region or denomination. Criteria for determining whether the employer is an integral part of a religious organization can be found at: . Remember: Steer clear of the fictional “truths” surrounding this important tax exemption. Calculating and reporting it accurately are crucial to getting the most benefit you can from the clergy housing allowance. Rev. Dr. Perry J. Hopper serves as the associate executive director and director of denominational relations of MMBB Financial Services . He joined MMBB’s staff in 1987 and is responsible for coordinating special programs that support its mission. Hopper works in various capacities to best serve existing members, to reach prospective members, and to maintain solid relationships between MMBB and its affiliates.

HOUSING ALLOWANCE UPHELD On November 13, 2014, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago vacated the decision by the Federal District Court of Wisconsin declaring the housing allowance unconstitutional and instructed the District Court to dismiss it. The Court of Appeals ruled that the organization bringing the suit, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) lacked the legal right — known as “standing” — to challenge the housing allowance. Standing is a constitutional requirement for anyone bringing a lawsuit in federal court that requires a plaintiff to prove they have sustained or will sustain direct injury. The appeals court refused to base standing on the inference of injury. The Seventh Circuit panel did not address the housing allowance’s constitutionality. “We think it important to allow the IRS and Tax Court to interpret the boundaries of a tax provision before we assess its constitutionality,” their opinion stated. For more information visit: news/legal-challenge-to-clergyhousing-allowance/



ALL THINGS toALL PEOPLE: examining non-traditional worship venues By Curtiss H. Doss, AIA

As we present Part 3 of this seven-part series, we should remind ourselves of a primary concept: Every church is different.

Calvary Baptist Church — Tupelo, MS (Photo courtesy of MNB Architects) 14

CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

WITH THIS PARTICULAR ARTICLE, THAT’S ESPECIALLY TRUE. IN FACT, THE NON-TRADITIONAL WORSHIP SPACE CAN BE ALMOST ANYTHING. So, what does a non-traditional worship space necessarily include? Some elements are universal: a room, a floor, some walls and a roof — sometimes with a ceiling. It includes seats (most likely chairs), which are oriented toward a central focal point in the room, generally a platform. Likely, this platform is elevated a bit and outfitted with musical instruments, singers and a preacher. You’ll typically find technical equipment such as a sound system, lighting, video and — depending on the size of the space — possibly an acoustical treatment on the various room surfaces. And of course, there are people in the room. SO, WHAT MAKES THIS A NON-TRADITIONAL WORSHIP SPACE? That’s a good question — one which is best answered by two overarching elements. #1: The building structure in which the room exists. The structure that houses this kind of worship space can be almost any kind of building, but it won’t likely resemble the traditional church structure we investigated in Part 2 of this series. Rather, non-traditional worship spaces can occupy transitional spaces intended to support a growing church. In an existing church, this might be a multipurpose space. For a new church or a churchon-the-move, it might take the form of a repurposed school, grocery store, “big box” store, strip mall, or a stand-alone building. #2: Worship style. In non-traditional worship spaces, I’m optimistic that the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as presented in the Bible is clearly, concisely relayed by the preacher to those in the seats — typically in a less formal way. Terms such as “progressive” and “contemporary” have been used to differentiate this worship style. Yet, I believe these aren’t entirely effective and can even lead to unnecessary discussions based on personal preferences rather than the worship for which the room was intended, for which the specific church was

founded, and to which even this series is devoted: authentic worship of Jesus. One of these non-traditional room types — the multipurpose room — has gained popularity for its flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Worship spaces, gymnasiums and fellowship halls are found on many church campuses; the combination of these elements can simultaneously support multiple ministry options. Multipurpose rooms can take on the image of any element of its use based on the ultimate, long-term intended use. Or, it can transition from one use to another as dictated by the needs of the church over time. We have found multipurpose worship spaces to be particularly beneficial to church clients undergoing renovation. That’s because these spaces support multiple ministry events while also functioning as worship venues. Even so, the worship area’s aesthetics don’t necessarily need to resemble a gymnasium. Rather, they can be conducive to the acoustical needs of a worship space while supporting the needs of a gymnasium or a fellowship hall. These rooms can even accommodate breakdown into smaller rooms to support conferences and other small group needs. Although there are technical challenges inherent to a multipurpose room which are different than a more traditional worship space, these can be overcome with a qualified technical consultation. For new churches or churches in transition, financial capabilities and stewardship concerns favor a multipurpose format for the worship area compared to a single, dedicated room for this purpose. Most of all, this approach enables ministry dollars to drive ministry, not debt. MANY FORMS, ONE GOAL We have established that worship areas come in many shapes and sizes. Yet, the goal should always be the same, whether this space is traditional or non-traditional, housed in a repurposed grocery store, or a transitional multipurpose room or a multifunctional room for a larger church body. That goal is to worship Jesus. What better purpose can there be? Curtiss H. Doss, AIA is principal of McGehee Nicholson Burke (MNB) Architects in Memphis, TN. Doss has consulted with church clients for more than 20 years, and his architectural practice spans more than 30 years.

March / April 2015 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE




The tension between technology and faith There’s a tension that exists sometimes when you talk about the relationship between technology and the church. By Derek Gillette

A few months ago, we wrote an article: “How Pastors Can Lead Their Church to Greater Year-End Giving.” One of the reader’s comments stuck out to me: The title of this article shows the sad state of many churches today … I want to vomit when I see articles like this. This commenter continued: When a congregation is walking with the Lord and the Holy Spirit is moving in peoples [sic] hearts and transforming them to be more like Christ, you do not need to ever preach on giving or come up with gimmicks and ideas to increase peoples [sic] giving. They will give because they are moved by the spirit to give. Yes, the tension between technology and faith is very real.


CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

Digging deeper We wanted to dig more into the connection between faith, relevance and technology. So, we put together a short three-question study. We then administered this study to some of the 2,500 attendees of the Nazarene M15 Conference, held in Kansas City, MO, in February. Question 1: On a scale of 1-5, how relevant do you feel your church is to your local community? Church leaders, as a group, rated themselves a 3.5 out of 5 in terms of relevance. This answer speaks to a feeling that their churches are planted firmly in the middle between relevance and being out of touch. Many of the pastors made comments to the effect of, “We’re close, but we’re just not quite there yet.” Question 2: On a scale of 1-5, how big of a role do you feel technology plays in staying relevant? When we asked specifically about the role of technology, 78 percent of church leaders said they believe it plays a crucial or very important role in staying relevant. Question 3: What holds you back from being more relevant and effective in your local community: time, money, technology or people catching the vision? For this final question, we wanted to force church leaders to choose one of four potential lacks. We know that this is a bit of an impossible question, since they all play a part; not surprisingly, many pastors wanted to select all of the above. However, when forced to select one, 67 percent of church leaders chose people catching the vision. And an underwhelming 5 percent chose technology as their primary lack.

What does this tell us? While technology will never replace the importance of catching the vision, it plays a crucial role in helping churches stay relevant. Keeping this in mind, it starts to make sense why some would feel so negative about promoting giving techniques and technology. Technology — in place of a heart and vision connection — is never an acceptable substitute. In fact, when responding to our original commenter, this is what I said: What’s been really cool for [Pushpay] is to see churches who partner with us, and after going live, see the amount of new givers increase by as much as 33 percent. That’s huge! Now, were these people not obedient before, or was their heart not in the right place, or were they spiritually lacking? I’m not sure how to answer that, but I do know that they are giving faithfully now and the church as a whole is benefitting. How to preserve the balance When we talk to churches about giving technology, we use the phrase “Unlocking Generosity.” This refers back to a statistic we mentioned in the first part [ ] of our Creating a Culture of Generosity series: 80 percent of people want to be more generous than they currently are, but 92 percent feel held back by a lack of money. The desire to be generous exists; it’s just waiting to be unlocked. I like to use the analogy of working out. We all know we need to do it. Most of us want to do it. But, the act of signing up for a gym membership, and then driving there multiple times a week — it’s something that very few of us do consistently. However, if a gym existed next door to my house and a personal trainer was the re waiting for me, working out would become a lot more of a regular habit. Some people — probably 20 percent of us — will exercise consistently, no matter the circumstances. For the remaining 80 percent, we might exercise from time to time, but getting that extra boost is what’s needed to develop a healthy and regular routine. We work hard to help churches engage those 80 percent of non-regular

Church leaders, as a group, rated themselves a 3.5 out of 5 in terms of relevance. This answer speaks to a feeling that their churches are planted firmly in the middle between relevance and being out of touch. Many of the pastors made comments to the effect of, “We’re close, but we’re just not quite there yet.” givers. In doing so, we know that the technology is just a tool to make the process easier, resulting in an outcome that gets us all excited: a changed heart and healthy habits that help transform us to be more like Christ. Derek Gillette is Communications Manager for eChurchGiving and Pushpay in Seattle, WA.

March / April 2015 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE



The healthy church By Tammy Bunting

The Bible has a clear definition of faith in Hebrews 11:1 — “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Simply put, the biblical definition of faith is “trusting in something you cannot explicitly prove.” As church leaders, we walk every day in faith. So, how do we marry faith and facts? The church has been put in our care, and we must be good stewards of what God has given us. So how do we care for the church? I sat down with Dennis Richards, executive pastor of Preston Trail Community Church in Frisco, TX, to get his thoughts. When asked his definition of a healthy church, the first thing Richards mentions is spiritual, not financial. Richards says he believes that “doing church” is not about a beautiful building or a large staff (although he understands that neither of those are bad). Rather, a healthy church stays focused on the mission of helping people come to know Christ. “And if we don’t … well, then, we’ve missed the target.” Those of us who are financial managers in the church seem to be more black-and-white. Don’t get me wrong: We, too, have a heart for lost souls. But, we want a very cut-and-dried approach. When I asked Richards if he connects the budget with the vision, he responds with a very non-financial view. “Actually, I see it as the opposite,” he explains. “We don’t connect the budget with the vision — but the mission drives the budget. If we’re not accomplishing our ministry, the budget is irrelevant. The budget may not be as large as we like, we still work within our means, but we stay focused on the strategies laid out by our leadership and make sure every dollar counts.” A “mission-squared” life As the executive pastor at his church, Richards wears many hats. When asked how he ensures programs and ministries are in line with the vision of Preston Trail, he quotes Andy Stanley: “A mission statement is what gets lived out in your halls, not what hangs on your wall.” To this end, Richards is constantly monitoring his church’s mission, as well as its values, strategies and measurements. “It’s those things that propel not only our metrics showing how we are doing, but also drive us to the risky faith of determining our budget dollars.” For Richards, the most difficult metric is life transformation. But by taking attendance — whether in worship (how many people at church on Sunday) or during the week in small groups — he says he can get a good picture. 18

CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

Baptism is also a key indicator of life transformation for Richards, as is the growth of the church’s serving teams and attendance of care and recovery classes. “This validates that we’re truly living out what God has called us to do,” he points out. For Richards, this “missionsquared” life, as he calls it, is not restricted to our country, but reaches beyond our borders to the communities in less fortunate countries. “The generosity of the congregation to support our efforts, which is to engage our world, clearly establishes the unified front of our church and whether we’re getting the message out.” As Dennis and I talked, I decide to throw him a curve ball: I ask if there are elements of the “business” of doing church that concern him. “We have grown as an organization and are faced with new realities,” he replies. “One area is managing to the employment law. The church should be the finest example of how an organization should be run — not only its systems, but also how it manages and treats its employees.” To this end, Richards advocates that church leaders seek wise legal counsel in the areas in which they lack a clear understanding, and reach out to learn about the critical components that ensure compliance with governmental regulations and laws. “Employment law is the most obvious, but we’re being hit with licensing issues — the sharing of pictures, for one In future installments, — that can cost us missionAcctTwo’s accounting experts critical dollars in fines,” he will not only revisit basic best practices for churches, but also poses. “Even though we live offer lesser-known strategies a risky faith, what God has and processes that can called us to be, we must be improve (often long-standing) great stewards of the resources approaches and procedures. we have. One of the greatest resources of any organization is its people. We must pay attention to the rules and regulations so that resource is protected.” As we look at the business of church, we must always be mindful of God’s intent for us,” Richards concludes. “Being a healthy church can mean different things to other leaders; but no matter your definition, know your mission and understand the huge responsibility placed in your care.”


Tammy Bunting is the Director of Not-for-Profit Services at AcctTwo , 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.

Church Management Software (ChMS) Forum

ChMS: maximizing giving management — and potential. Chances are, your church offers its members next-generation giving options. But, making these tools available is only one step; you’ve got to consider integration with your ChMS, too. Our most recent Church Executive Reader Survey shows a large majority of our readers offer next-generation giving tools at their churches: • The largest quotient — 78% — offer giving via the church website • Nearly as many (66%) offer EFT processing and automatic debit • More than one-third — 36% — enable giving by cell phone • Almost one in five churches (18%) has a giving kiosk in place. While this is great news, another important component to the next-generation-giving platform is integration with your church management software, or ChMS. To that end, our “Church Management Software (ChMS) Forum” thought leaders want to make sure you understand the myriad benefits integration provides, both administrative and financial. Among the key takeaways in the next few pages: • Why it’s critical to choose ChMS that’s current with next-generation giving tools • The bottom-line ministry — and monetary — benefits of embracing ChMS-enabled giving •W hy it makes sense to sync your ChMS and your online giving (and the complications you’ll likely face on the back end if they aren’t synced) • How to get started on a ChMS-enabled online giving program • How to introduce and educate members on ChMS-driven giving options • Lesser-known — i.e., less-than-maximized — ChMS-enabled giving functions. As with every installment in this valuable series, we hope you’ll mobilize the practical, howto advice found in the following pages. In future “ChMS Forum” installments, our thought leadership partners will focus on firsttime visitor-engagement functionalities; scheduling and volunteer management applications; and, of course, how to choose the right ChMS to meet your church’s unique needs. Enjoy! We welcome your feedback.

— The Editors

March / April 2015 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE


Focus on: Giving / Donation Tools

Church Management Software (ChMS) Forum

It’s all about integration By Michael Jordan

Step 2: Choose the right settings for the congregation. Once the merchant account has been created and approved, the next step is choosing the online giving settings that best benefit your ministry. The following options will be available: • The ability for churchgoers to use debit cards, credit cards or their bank accounts for giving sources • Allowance for comments on donations • Specific limits for one-time donations • Recurring giving options • When it’s best to activate online giving for congregants. Step 3: Market online giving to your congregation. Once the administrative aspects of online giving have been established, the next step is to show people it’s both easy to use and has a completely secure connection. The key here is getting members connected to your ChMS. Once they have an online account, they have the ability to log in and make donations at any time. This leads to the fourth, final and most important step…

Frankly, many churches have some form of online giving software already in place. So, the point isn’t just about having online giving or donation tools — it’s about maximizing all the benefits online giving can provide. What if there were systems that could be controlled as a database and allow users to seamlessly give online, as well? Churches and organizations miss huge opportunities when they manage two, three or even four or more different sets of data. Keeping online giving records and interaction data separate from your chosen church management software database, or ChMS, creates a missed opportunity and unnecessary work for your staff. Your online giving and ChMS need to interact and integrate so you can more effectively manage your data. It boils down to data issues if your tools don’t sync. Problems without sync: • Double entry • Missing information • Duplicate information • Human error and wasted time from manual entry • Potential theft or incomplete audit trail Benefits if they do sync: • Easier reconciling • Saved time • Automated reporting improves record accuracy • Integrity of audit trail. Get started with online giving via ChMS Online giving is of the utmost importance for the health and vitality of churches in the 21st century. It can promote spiritual growth and improve giving levels for members and non-members alike. It has been determined that with a solid implementation plan in place, any church can make online giving a successful element of its contribution strategy and truly achieve five Sundays worth of giving each month. Here are four steps to doing online giving the right way. Step 1: Sign up for — and set up — a merchant account. It’s imperative to seek guidance to find which options work best for your church. The setup process is very straightforward and only takes three to five business days after completing the application. 20

CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

Step 4: Be proactive — and prepared. When implementing any new online giving solution, it’s understandable for members to have some additional questions. Combat those inquiries by preparing an online FAQ. This can easily be posted on your website. Also, it solves some common issues that users might run into when attempting to give, including: Unclear directions for how to give. When describing online giving to congregants, be as clear as possible so contributors understand how the giving process works. When in doubt, anyone can visit the integrated help desk, which will show any user exactly how to give in case he or she misses a step. Poor fund-naming or organization. During the summer and fall months, for example, remove the Easter fund so users don’t accidentally give to funds that aren’t a priority. Additionally, fund names should be clear and easily understood by anyone. “Church Building Fund” or “Hurricane Disaster Fund” are good choices as they are clear and to the point. If your software allows, re-order the funds according to the particular emphasis of the giving season. For example, during Christmas, make sure that the Christmas offering is the highlighted giving fund. Not making online giving visible to church members. Many online giving solutions allow you to “test” the process prior to going live with your congregation. Churches will elect to limit online giving to staff or leaders, just to get an idea of the user experience and flow of contributor data. When you’re ready to “go live,” make sure you activate online giving for all congregants if you’ve been limiting use during a test phase. In addition, you might even want to add the ability to receive non-cash, in-kind donations. Items that you could process might include: • Cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and RVs • Laptops, cell phones, tablets and other electronics • Gift cards • Precious metals • Business inventory • Real estate • Publicly traded stocks • Business interest Using online giving within your congregation is easier than you think, especially with a solid plan in place. In the end, giving and donations through a ChMS don’t cost — rather, they pay great dividends for your church and its ministry. Michael Jordan is a marketing strategist for ACS Technologies headquartered in Florence, SC, with offices in Phoenix and Seattle.

Focus on: Giving / Donation Tools

Church Management Software (ChMS) Forum l

Your ChMS should grow with you People are already abandoning cash and checks in favor of debit and credit cards. And, the tools they’re using now could be obsolete in 10 years. So, choosing a ChMS that stays current with giving technology is crucial. By Mark Kitts


1 cbcgiv e 20

Thanks ! gave $ You 20 to Comm unity Bible C h We’ve urch. emaile d you a re Text C ceipt. BC EDIT to GIVE u p date your in fo or CBCG IV REFUN E D if th is was an error.

Text to Give is here

Churches that employ alternative giving methods collect more contributions more consistently than those limited to traditional giving only. Many church leaders don’t realize the great impact that technology can have on giving; if they did, they’d be more intentional about pursuing options for their church community. Because people want to give, but the process has to be frictionless.

The Mobile Church:

Online — Through their ChMS, churches should at least provide the capability to make contributions through the convenience of an online portal via ACH, debit card or credit card. Mobile — Incorporating mobile giving tools isn’t just about reaching the younger generation anymore. More than half of American adults now own smartphones, and they expect the church to keep up. Many churches have already found the value in a mobile app that allows their people to access a directory, register for events and catch up on the latest sermon series. But it’s also a great tool for giving. Churches can simplify giving and allow people to access their giving history anytime, anywhere through a mobile app integrated with their ChMS. For guests and those who don’t want to install an app or create an account, text to give is simple, quick and convenient. After setting up initial payment information in under a minute, people can give with a simple text message in a matter of seconds.

Connecting with Community Americans now access the internet more with smartphones and tablets than with PCs. There is a growing demand for an ability to interact with churches via smartphones. Whether watching a sermon, registering for an event, accessing a directory, or making contributions online, church-goers have new expectations for what functionality should be available to them on mobile devices.

The Big Picture


of American Adults own Smartphones

Mark Kitts is Lead Software Architect at Elexio Church Software and lives in North Carolina.

8 out of 10 internet users will access the web via a mobile device in 2014

Kiosks — Because giving is an act of worship, some churches want to keep it within the service. So, they station touchscreen kiosks in the auditorium as a replacement for passing the plate. People can quickly swipe a card to donate, and others will see that giving is active in the church. Online, mobile and kiosk giving can all address a different crowd. Each church community is unique, but providing options that are integrated with the ChMS will boost donations and simplify contribution management. Underused ChMS giving functionalities Churches often see a dip in giving during the summer months — but, they can maintain consistency in contributions year-round with recurring giving. Online giving allows people to schedule contributions, providing convenience for the donor and steady contributions for the church. Having separate accounts for the general fund, mission fund and building fund can cause confusion for donors and extra work for the church. But, allowing people to quickly give from a kiosk or to text in a donation to the fund of their choosing will decrease the reconciliation workload for church staff. Ensuring all these tools are optimized won’t happen organically; churches need to realize that making this change is worth the time investment. For giving technology to have an impact, senior leadership has to commit to changing the system and regularly promoting these tools. Churches will see the best results if the pastor demonstrates on Sunday morning — text in a contribution or give within the mobile app from the pulpit. It only takes seconds to make a difference. They can include an image on the service loop, instructions in the bulletin, an explanation in the newsletter and details on the website. Using these giving tools within the ChMS equates to more resources in the church that allow them to grow more disciples.


Mobile now accounts for 12% of American’s media consumption

55% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices


44% of Online Americans use the internet for religious purposes

of Millennials watch online videos pertaining to faith

In the past 6 months, 19% visited their church websiteand 17% visited the website of a church they were not attending

56% 20%

of practicing Christian Millennials scope out a church online

of US Adults have made a charitable contribution online

1 in 10

have made a charitable contribution using text messaging feature via mobile

2 out of 10

practicing Christian Millennials have contributed using text messaging

The Bottom Line Churches connect with community via mobile apps • • • • •

They provide a convenient “sneak peek” for those who want to check out a church online There’s access to media (e.g. sermons and videos) It allows instant event registration and payment It facilitates charitable contributions It provides directory access and note taking ability

Sources: Pew Internet and & American Life Project, 2013 Digiday 2013 eMarketer 2013

Barna Group 2013 Pew Research Center 2012 Grey Matter Research 2012

Created by Elexio: Church software to help people know Jesus

March / April 2015 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE




System components: knowing your options

In the ongoing quest to create better, more effective worship, the need for good sound is paramount. Whether clearly articulating a meaningful sermon or delivering a praise band’s impactful musical performance, it’s important that every person — in every seat — is treated to the best possible sonic experience. By Rik Kirby & Daniel Keller Assembling a good-quality sound system is rife with complexity and detail. If you’re not well-schooled in matters of audio, it’s a job best left to professionals. Even so, it’s a good idea to have at least a basic understanding of what’s involved to ensure your worship team makes the right decisions. What’s in a system? Sound systems are commonly viewed as a chain of devices that capture, combine, process, route and reproduce audio. Four key components are: #1: Microphones. At the source, microphones capture the sound. While traditional services might only need one or two microphones, contemporary churches — with their larger, often amplified praise bands — can require dozens. While identifying the many microphone options is beyond the scope of this article, here are several helpful resources for those interested in delving in deeper: Microphones: Educational Content, Microphone Basics, A Basic Mic Primer: The fundamentals of microphones and how they work, Microphone Basics, Video: Microphone Basics, How do Microphones Work? #2: Mixers. Mixers combine and control your sound sources and route the signals to processors, power amplifiers, monitor systems, and front-ofhouse speakers. Mixers come in a wide range of sizes and formats. While traditional analog consoles remain popular in smaller installations, today’s digital consoles are much more affordable, powerful and flexible, and they usually offer built-in signal processing. Some also provide recording features. Digital mixers are, therefore, fast becoming ubiquitous in even the most budget-conscious churches. #3: Signal processors / matrix devices. Depending on the complexity of the system, you can route the signal directly from the mixer to the loudspeakers or via a signal processing / matrix device. This device typically allows zone control over multiple loudspeakers; so, for example, you can route the direct signal to the sanctuary while sending a slightly 22

CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

delayed or processed signal to the foyer and the cry room. In modern digital systems, the processing and matrix might also be built into the mixer. #4: Loudspeakers. Loudspeakers are arguably the most critical part of the system, since they’re creating the sound you hear in your room. For this reason, the remainder of this article is devoted to discussing types of loudspeaker systems you might want to consider for your church. Exploring your options As with mixers, loudspeakers come in a wide range of shapes and styles. Many modern loudspeakers are “powered” or “active,” meaning they have onboard power amplifiers. The best choice for your church depends on your space, the type of worship service or other event, and your budget. When selecting and configuring loudspeakers, goals should include: intelligibility for speech and music; even coverage throughout the venue; and aesthetics. To accomplish these goals, it’s crucial to direct the sound from the loudspeakers at the congregation with minimal reflection off of ceilings, floors and walls. If your sanctuary is small and acoustically well-behaved, you can do this with a familiar, point-source-type PA system employing conventional speaker cabinets, positioned on or above the stage. These systems might be arranged in a classic left-right pattern or in a central speaker cluster. Point-source systems are relatively simple and affordable — and in some cases, portable — making them a good choice for small or mobile churches. However, they tend to distribute sound equally in all directions, so some sound reflects off ceilings, floors and walls, causing echoes and reverberation. In a larger room, this creates intelligibility problems, making it difficult (or even impossible) to clearly discern what’s being said. Congregants in the rear hear fewer high frequencies, so the sound is increasingly dull. Since some sound energy is wasted off to the sides, more level is lost further from the loudspeakers. As a result, people in the back of the room get less sound, while those up front get blasted. In mid-sized or odd-shaped rooms, a distributed point-source system can be created that adds satellite speakers, positioned along the side walls and in the rear of the room. A properly set up, distributed system can fill the room with sound more evenly than a single set of front speakers. However, those speakers still are generating broad beams of sound, along with plenty of reflections. In many cases, therefore, you should consider a well-designed distributed system — or better yet, a digitally steered array. Digital beam steering uses digital signal processing (DSP) and custom software that enables the system designer to create multiple beams of sound to very precisely focus the loudspeakers’ output on the audience and away from reflective surfaces. Moreover, most of today’s digitally steered arrays are slim, low-profile speaker enclosures that blend seamlessly into the environment and are relatively easy to install. Many larger, contemporary worship spaces consider concert-style line arrays, mimicking the systems they see on tour. Correctly designed, these line arrays provide consistent coverage and are an excellent solution for deep rooms with single-level seating. However, traditional arrays are large and heavy, often impinging on sightlines and requiring extensive structural work to hang from ceilings and aim correctly. In spaces with one or more balconies, traditional line arrays need to be supplemented with additional speakers to ensure even coverage. With recent innovations in steerable array technology, digitally steered arrays can achieve concert-style performance while also delivering the benefits of tighter pattern control, fewer reflections, and improved intelligibility. Get the good stuff Loudspeakers are the only part of a sound system that generates sound; except for the mics, everything else in the system chases electrons or crunches numbers. To get the results your congregation deserves, be sure to choose only highquality loudspeakers that are appropriate for your space. And, have a professional install and tune the system. Rik Kirby is Vice President, Sales & Marketing at Renkus-Heinz, Inc. Located in Southern California for over 35 years, Renkus-Heinz is a manufacturer of high-end professional loudspeaker systems. Daniel Keller is CEO of Get It In Writing, Inc.® .

March / April 2015 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE


Engaging Spaces

Engaging children’s ministry spaces:

essential elements

By Allison Parrott and Paul Lodholz, AIA, LEED AP

My earliest memories of Sunday school involve walking (in very uncomfortable shoes) into an old, dimly lit gymnasium and turning down a white-painted corridor. There, I entered a white-painted classroom. There were no windows and a hodgepodge of furniture. The most memorable thing about my Sunday school room was a small, white plastic bank shaped like a church that sat on a table by the door. Here, everyone dropped in their nickel offerings as they entered class each week. Today, that same church has an entire building devoted to children’s ministry. Like many churches across the country, the church I grew up attending realized that children will invite their friends to church — and that those friends will bring their parents. As such, the last decade has seen an explosion in church design focused on children’s ministry spaces. For generations, Sunday school spaces were plain, simple rooms crammed into any open corner of the church facility. Now, investing in children’s ministries has created a huge growth area for churches — but only if they’re done right. 4 ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS To create truly engaging children’s ministry spaces, consider these four key considerations. #1: Bright, engaging colors! Color is one of the easiest and most transformative elements to incorporate. Children’s spaces are meant to be fun. Colorful, whimsical shapes can be used to denote entrances, sitting areas and teaching nooks. There was a time when churches chose to “theme” their children’s areas with murals depicting biblical stories; however, many churches are now choosing to use color and shape to enliven the space. This way, they have the flexibility to feature different stories or themes throughout the liturgical year. 24

CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

#2: Large-group gathering areas. As children’s ministries have developed and grown, so has the need for a space where children can engage in the act of worship. Large-group gathering areas for children are common today. These rooms often have special entries that use color, or kid-sized features, to make the transition from the adult spaces more interesting. Small stages can be flanked by brightly colored or themed walls built to provide small backstage areas, video screens or puppet stages. Carpet patterns can be planned to create spaces within the space and allow for teachers to easily group children. Giving this space a unique name —and carrying that theme into the design — can also aid children in identifying with this special area designed just for them. #3: Multi-use classrooms. A common challenge many churches face is how to negotiate shared classroom space between the Sunday school classes and the church’s day school classes. Being good stewards of their resources, many congregations choose to double-use children’s classrooms so they function on Sunday for the Sunday school and are used throughout the week by a church school or Mother’s Day Out program.

“For generations, Sunday school spaces were plain, simple rooms crammed into any open corner of the church facility. Now, investing in children’s ministries has created a huge growth area for churches — but only if they’re done right”. Although having two different user groups in classrooms can create competing needs, being aware of these lets you design a space that functions well for both. For example, built-in storage that can be locked and assigned to either teacher group is extremely useful in these spaces. Furniture storage on wheels is another great idea; it can be moved or turned around when not in use. Some churches use tall shelving units filled with day school items. When turned around on Sunday, the Sunday school can display posters, or use dry erase paint, on the back. #4: Indoor playgrounds. As a community outreach tool, prominent indoor playgrounds are becoming increasingly popular. These playgrounds can be open on Sundays for children; but, many churches have found that having their playgrounds open during the week for open play has become a vibrant outreach ministry for parents of young children. Having an indoor playground near the church commons allows for parents to bring their children in for play while they can sit nearby to supervise and have coffee with other parents. Meeting this simple community need has birthed Mom-Bible Study groups and created openings for relationships to develop with individuals who might otherwise have never come to the church. When reaching out and ministering to young families, it’s important to show them your church values their children. By designing spaces that excite and engage kids — with creative color use, special assembly areas, bright classrooms and indoor play — churches can continue to show families how important their children are to the life and longevity of the church. Allison Parrott is the Project Manager for the Worship and Education Studio at Ziegler Cooper Architects in Houston. She is married to a church-planter and pastor and is blessed to be able to serve other churches through her professional work. Paul Lodholz, AIA, LEED AP is the Principal-in-Charge of the Worship and Education Studio at Ziegler Cooper Architects. He has lectured around the country on the changing nature of the church lobby and has been working with churches for more than 35 years.

March / April 2015 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE




LED display walls:

101 By Marty Gregor

To discuss what an LED display wall is — and how it can enhance the worship experience and your church’s financial bottom line — we must first understand what an LED is.

LED is short for “light emitting diode.” It’s a tiny electronic semiconductor that converts electric energy into visible light. Unlike incandescent lamps and projectors, LEDs have no filaments that can burn out or fail, meaning they have an incredibly long lifetime. Manufacturers use several types of LEDs to construct display walls. The two most common are Through-Hole LEDs and Surface Mount Device (SMD) LEDs. Each type has its respective advantages that make them preferable for different applications. When it comes to LED display walls for houses of worship, there are typically two different uses: Indoor (SMD) and Outdoor (Through-Hole).


CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

Indoor displays When we refer to indoor displays for houses of worship, we typically talk about them being used as a video display. The SMD technology (see above) is trending within the display industry as a 3-in-1 design for LEDs — three colors, one LED — using the same color dyes as throughhole LEDs. These SMD LEDs disperse light more evenly than throughhole LEDs across both horizontal and vertical angles, providing for an improved off-angle viewing in both directions. SMD LEDs are an excellent choice for most indoor applications as the smaller LED package allows for a higher resolution and closer viewing distances. Outdoor displays The traditional form of outdoor LED displays is the through-hole design in which LEDs use a reflector cup and an epoxy lens package. The combination of the two elements, as well as the type of dye used, plays a role in determining the elliptical viewing cone produced. Much like a floodlight, a through-hole LED’s reflector cup focuses the light emitted by the dye into a specific viewing area. This area defines the LED’s viewing angle.

LED vs. projection Due to the increasing demand for high-quality visual aids with sustained performance — plus, the prices of LEDs being reduced over the last five to 10 years — many worship venues have switched from projectors to LED displays for their viewing needs. Two main factors in this choice are overall image quality and overall cost of ownership. Although LED displays and projectors use different technology to produce an image, the visual difference in image quality can easily be compared between the two products. Two main contributors to image quality are brightness and contrast.

Image quality / brightness. Many factors contribute to brightness, including innate brightness capability and ambient lighting conditions. An indoor environment can present a variety of unique challenges that require certain brightness capabilities to ensure clear image quality. For example, churches and auditoriums often have mixed ambient lighting conditions, which can be a combination of natural sunlight and overhead lighting. Because image quality partially depends on ambient lighting conditions, the best visual aid in this type of setting is one that performs flawlessly every time regardless of surrounding lighting. Projectors reflect light off a surface. Because of that, their image quality is partially dependent on the surface used. This means that the brightness of the content is reduced if the surface is well-lit. LED displays produce light internally, so content doesn’t have to bounce off a surface before it reaches the audience. This means that LED displays can adjust to surrounding conditions without a complicated setup or additional technology to produce a clear image; a clear image is produced simply by turning on the device. The ability to direct — rather than reflect — light gives the LED display a distinct visual advantage in a variety of ambient lighting conditions. Image quality / contrast. Another factor that affects image quality is contrast — the difference between lightness and darkness in an image. (See image, right) The greater the difference between these two values, the better-quality image on your display. Because projectors need to reflect light off a surface to produce an image, black screens are not an option. This greatly limits capacity to improve contrast. In comparison, LED displays have masks that provide a deep black background for content and can also use louvers and other display face features to create unmatched contrast and superior image quality. Overall cost of ownership. LED displays also have much fewer replacement costs than projectors. Projector maintenance requires frequently changing lamps. These expenses add up over time. An LED display is at half-brightness after 100,000 hours of use. If a projector lamp’s lifetime is 2,500 hours, the lamp would have to be changed about 40 times to reach the equal lifetime of the LED display. Service is also important when choosing to go with an LED display, if you are unfamiliar with the technology. You want to make sure that somebody is close by and replacements parts are easy to get should a situation should arise. With LED displays, your content reaches the entire audience with bright, clear image quality — from the front row to the choir loft.

Marty Gregor is a video products sales expert for Brookings, SD-based Daktronics , a leading digital display manufacturer established in 1968.

March / April 2015 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE



Fraud prevention: are you doing all you can? By Therese DeGroot

Banks are in the business of risk management — so, who better to help your ministry manage fraud and the onslaught of cybercrime making news almost every day? Ministries are very familiar with the value of insuring their physical property and assets against potential loss. But, they don’t often think about their bank accounts. Losses due to payment fraud can be so significant that it might take years for the ministry to recover. Fraud risk can be both external and internal. The management of this risk is a key issue as current estimates place payment fraud in the billions of dollars. The 2013 Association of Financial Professional’s Fraud Prevention Survey reveals: • 6 0 percent of surveyed respondents experienced payment fraud or attempted payment fraud. - 82 percent experienced actual or attempted check fraud. - 42 percent experienced actual or attempted credit / debit card fraud. • $23,100 was the typical loss due to payment fraud. Fraudsters attack from both inside and outside the organization. Ministry leadership can mitigate fraud by implementing improved controls in tandem with strategic Treasury Management services offered by banks. EXTERNAL FRAUD • Payment fraud: check fraud • Online attacks: account takeover, social engineering, database breach External parties continue to prey on ministries. When you pay a business partner with a check, you are providing two key pieces of information (route & transit and account number) that could allow for unauthorized access to the ministry’s checkbook. Check fraud is still the No. 1 way in which payment fraud is attempted. Although check volume is declining, ministries continue to use checks as the primary payment mechanism. The 2013 Federal Reserve Payment System Report states that business-to-business checks represented 28 percent of the 21 billion checks cleared in 2013. Check fraud can occur in a variety of ways, including stealing account numbers and bank routing numbers to create fraudulent checks and check washing, which involves changing payee name and / or amount written. Ministries can protect themselves from check fraud by considering alternate payment methods such as ACH, which reduces the number of checks written. A daily review of transactional activity through the bank’s online banking portal will quickly catch a fraudulent item that clears the account. To stop fraud before it occurs, ministries can use services provided by banks, such as Positive Pay and ACH Block / Filter. These services allow ministries to review certain clearing items to determine if they are valid. If items are not valid, the ministry rejects the item and stops the fraud before it can occur. 28

CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

Online security attacks are an ongoing challenge. Ministries must constantly educate their staff and volunteers to be on their guard for attempts to gather confidential information which might lead to account takeover or data breaches. Fraudsters develop sophisticated techniques in an effort to gain access to secure logon information from ministry staff, such as phishing, spearing, smishing and social engineering. Ministries must establish online protocols to block staff and volunteer access to certain websites and invest in robust anti-virus software to protect company systems from external attacks. Staff and volunteer education is also a critical component to protect the ministry’s network. Ministries should consider a dedicated PC used only for access to the bank portal, which is a step to keeping this PC safe from unintended viruses. INTERNAL FRAUD • Fraudulent vendors • Expense reimbursement • Check tampering • Cash theft One of the most devastating types of fraud occurs from within. Ministries trust staff to manage payments and conduct themselves in the best interest of the ministry. Unfortunately, an employee sometimes takes advantage of that trust and misuses his or her access to defraud the ministry. Fraud perpetrated by trusted — often long-term — employees is devastating to the morale of the ministry, as well as its reputation. With cash being such an important part of any ministry (large or small), controls must be established and monitored around cash handling.

The opportunity for internal fraud can be deterred by establishing best practices, including: · Perform exhaustive reviews of budget reports — review journal entries, cash disbursement activity and a budget to actual analysis · Invest in the services of a CPA to prepare an audit or review of your financial statements and perform a In future installments, review of your accounting practices experts from First Bank’s • Separation of duties — Account Receivable and Community First Financial Accounts Payable should be handled by Resources Division will separate employees. present best practices for solid stewardship of your • Random checking of vendors and invoices for legitimacy church’s financial resources. • Bank account reconcilement services • Payroll audits • Securing and restricting access to check stock • Establishing dual control for all online payments — including initiation, approval and validation of payments.


A CULTURE OF ACCOUNTABILITY As important as it is to establish strong policies and controls, it is equally important to audit adherence to those polices. Doing so is a key factor in the ability to provide an environment of autonomy and manage risk. A ministry can thwart the efforts of fraudsters trying to profit from illegal payment activities by creating an environment of awareness, vigilance and by establishing controls within the ministry. A well-organized financial team with defined roles and responsibilities, meaningful policies and consistent audits of policies and financial statements — as well as ongoing employee education — are the keys to creating a climate where everyone is aware of fraud and knows the proper steps to protect the ministry. Therese DeGroot has developed and managed religious lending programs for 25 years for many banks that now specialize in lending to churches, nonprofits and schools. She is Managing Director of First Bank’s Community First Financial Resources Division in Lake Forest, CA.

March / April 2015 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE



Playing it safe By Amy M. Kimmes

Metal jungle gyms held together by rusty bolts. Tall slides that burned to the touch on hot, summer days. Merry-go-rounds anchored in a sea of black asphalt. These are playground images that might come to mind for adults who grew up in the decades that scroll back into the 1940s, even the 1930s. Accidents and injuries were almost a given, accepted as an inevitable part of life. Even during a span of eight years of the 21st century, more than 200,000 children were treated in emergency rooms each year for playground-related injuries. But these times, they are a changin’ — and passively accepting that kids are destined to get hurt on a playground no longer should be the case. The jungle gyms and merry-go-rounds from yesteryear have been replaced with equipment that has been built with safety in mind. And while injuries and accidents cannot be completely prevented, there is much one can do to help keep playgrounds as safe as possible. Make them age-appropriate To start, playgrounds should be built for two age groups: 2- to 5-year-olds and 5- to 12-yearolds. If both age groups will be served, the playground should be divided by a buffer zone. Think shrubs or benches. Appropriate playgrounds for kids ages 2 to 5 include areas to crawl, low platforms, short slides and ramps with handles attached for grasping. Appropriate playgrounds for kids ages 5 to 12 include climbing pieces, horizontal bars, seesaws, sliding poles and spiral slides. What’s on the surface counts Falls from equipment account for more than 70 percent of playground injuries, and 80 percent of those occur at playgrounds with unsuitable surfaces. There is no such thing as a “perfect” playground surface, but there are some materials that will help reduce the risk of injury — sand, pea gravel, shredded tires, wood chips, mulch, rubber mats and poured-in-place rubber, to name a few. Asphalt, concrete, dirt and grass are not suitable surface materials for playgrounds.

Playground safety checklist • Ensure surfaces around playground equipment have a minimum of 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand or pea gravel, or safety-tested rubber mats or rubberlike materials. • Extend protective surfaces at least 6 feet in all directions from the play equipment. For swings, be sure the surface extends, in front and back, twice the height of the suspending bar. • Space play structures that are more than 30 inches high at least 9 feet apart. • Check for and eliminate dangerous hardware, such as “S” hooks and protruding bolt ends. • Ensure spaces that could trap children — openings in guardrails and spaces between ladder rungs, for example — measure fewer than 3.5 inches or more than 9 inches. • Check for sharp points and edges on equipment. • Look for tripping hazards, such as exposed concrete footings, tree stumps and rocks. • Install guardrails on elevated surfaces — i.e., platforms and ramps — to prevent falls. • Check equipment and surfacing regularly for proper conditions. • Diligently supervise kids.

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Keep an eye out Proper supervision is key at playgrounds. More than 40 percent of playground injuries at schools are related to inadequate supervision. Always have a minimum of two adult supervisors. Add one supervisor for every 20 additional children. Supervisors also can perform routine inspections on the equipment, complete simple maintenance tasks and report hazards. Safety first Many playground injuries could have been avoided with some safety precautions. For example, strangulation is the leading cause of playground fatalities. In many cases, drawstrings in clothing become entangled in the equipment. The best way to avoid the hazard is to close gaps in equipment, eliminate protruding nuts and bolts and eliminate V-shaped openings where material or body parts can become stuck. Entrapment also is a safety hazard, but can be avoided by keeping openings in equipment smaller than 3.5 inches or larger than 9 inches. Maintenance matters More than 30 percent of playground injuries are related to inadequate or inappropriate maintenance, so be sure to inspect equipment regularly. Each playground should have its own comprehensive maintenance plan and designated personnel to follow it and update records. Have a plan in place for reporting a problem, a process to fix the problem, and a system to keep proper records. 30

CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

Learn how to keep your playground a fun, safe place for children to play at Amy M. Kimmes is editor of Church Mutual Insurance Company’s Risk Reporter newsletters for religious organizations, schools, camps and conference centers and senior living facilities.

Insightful Our experts don’t just work on claims, they share unique insights that help the claims process go more smoothly. When Senior Property Claims Adjuster Mark Moravec works with policyholders, he provides a unique perspective that helps them quickly recover from a mishap. That’s because prior to joining Church Mutual, Mark worked for a contractor, giving him the experience necessary to provide accurate advice and information. Mark knows, for instance, that the sooner policyholders get started with repairs, the better, and he’s ready to do whatever it takes to help them get on their feet. It’s just one example of how our staff helps make it easy to do business with us. Church Mutual has received consistently high ratings from industry analyst A.M. Best every year since 1952.

Listening. Learning. Leading. is a registered trademark of Church Mutual Insurance Company. © 2015 Church Mutual Insurance Company

To learn more, call us at (800) 554-2642 or visit

Creative & Proven


PHASE 3: The Campaign

In this series installment, Paul Gage spotlights the public phase of the process: the Campaign itself. It’s a critical time — and it requires plenty of prep work to get right. What are the overarching aims and characteristics of the Campaign phase? The bottom line is that the Campaign phase is when we bring people to the point of decision. It’s the public phase. The Campaign is a spiritual journey — a three- or four-week process involving preaching, prayer, preaching and information-sharing. It’s a culmination; by this time, we will have spent weeks (if not months) preparing and organizing for this phase, when we bring people to that point of decision. It’s like Billy Graham coming to a big stadium in your town. There’s an agreement for him to come which was put into motion about two years in advance. All the planning, preparation and promotion make it possible for him to be in town for three or four nights, preaching the Gospel. Everything is in place for him to bring people to a point of decision during that time. In the past 15 to 20 years, how has the Campaign phase — i.e., the public phase — changed in terms of its typical duration? Over a period of years, the feedback we’ve received from church leaders is that the Campaign lasted a long time, which has the potential to generate negative responses among their people. The pastor is always preaching about money! It’s been going on for five, six, seven weeks — enough is enough. It’s hard to invite friends, family or lost people to church because we know the pastor is trying to raise money for a building program. Aside from the sermons, Sunday school classes and small groups were geared toward finances. Many churches just prefer not to do that. Today, the public phase of the campaign is shorter — maybe 3 or 4 weeks of preaching — involving more vision casting and conveying information to people. Now, during the previous phase of the campaign — Organization — we’re meeting with people in different environments, including major donors and small groups. This will take place for three or four weeks before the Campaign begins. With regard to the pastor sermons component of the Campaign, you mentioned that pastors were previously compelled to preach about stewardship and sacrificial giving five to six Sundays in a row. Is that still the case? I would say that Campaign preaching series for two or four Sundays is more common, but the focus today is different. The message isn’t just about money matters, generosity, sacrifice or contentment; it’s really more about vision, serving people, and changed lives — things that are more missional and inspirational.


CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

You have said that Bible study groups aren’t always receptive to entire sessions spent on money matters during the Campaign phase. What are some alternatives? We want the lead pastor to maintain as much visibility and leadership as possible, and we don’t want to disrupt the curriculum already in place. So, instead of having four to six weeks of Bible studies or small groups devoted to finances, we’ll show a three- to four-minute video of the pastor speaking to the group, or a testimonial by people in the church speaking about ministry impact or a personal story about life change. With this approach, we can actually show the areas and ministries we’re going to be influencing and impacting through the generosity of our people. We’re seeing a lot more of that today than, “OK, everybody bring your Bibles and we’re going to talk about generosity tonight.” What has changed about the consultant’s role in the public phase of the capital campaign compared to 15 to 20 years ago? The role of the consultant in today’s modern church is less visible than it has been in days past. We might not have any presence to the congregation. We might not be up on the stage. Sometimes, we’re not even in meetings or presentations where the information is getting conveyed to the people to get them excited about the campaign; usually, that’s headed up by the pastor, campaign chairman or building committee representative. One reason people give to capital programs is because of the trust and confidence in their pastor and church leaders. Our role as consultant is to put the pastor and the church in the best position to succeed. — Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh Paul Gage is founder and president of The Gage Group in Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX.


CHOOSE WISELY How to choose the right insurance for your church By Deb Rushenberg

The one constant when purchasing insurance is uncertainty. A few days of unexpected rain can carry in its wake a flood of unwelcome expenses and stress. Thankfully, insurance minimizes the havoc that can occur from such an event. Choosing the right insurance, however, is oftentimes a stressful task. And although insuring a church is similar to that of a traditional business, it does differ in some respects. These differences make choosing the right insurance company rather unique. A common practice is choosing a company or policy based on price. However, it’s also important to consider your needs and values when weighing different insurance options. So, how does a church know it’s selecting the insurance company with the proper coverages to fit its needs? The following tips will help. Research Generally speaking, most insurance companies are in excellent financial health; however, doing some homework beforehand is a good idea. A church wants to ensure it can rely on the insurance company it selects. To help aid this process, researching a few topics is typically the best way to get started. • Does the company have the right background in providing the adequate insurance for your church needs? This can include property, liability, professional, business auto, health, travel, workers’ compensation and more. • Will it insure church assets? While general liability insurance will provide the kind of protection a church needs, the organization still has assets that are at risk. A comprehensive package protects against property damage, stolen goods and other threats to the things the church owns. Examples of this include crime coverage, equipment breakdown and sexual misconduct liability. • Will it grow with your church? Take into consideration the long term. Will your insurance provider help to accomplish the church’s future goals and aspirations? What kinds of additional value-added products and services are offered? Examples of things to look for include risk management tools, assessments, training videos, endorsements and discounts to vendors. Rating The best way to check an insurance company’s economic well-being is by looking at its rating. Most privately held companies conduct financial analysis reports and make them available online, in a local library or via

the phone. Two of the most popular rating systems are Moody’s and A.M. Best. Although similar in structure, keep in mind that not all agencies use the same rating systems. For example, the best rating at Moody’s is Aaa, but A++ is the top at A.M. Best. Additionally, remember that the rating is comprised of several factors. So, when evaluating two different companies, don’t automatically assume the one with the higher rating is the best choice. Size Does size of the insurance company matter? It depends. When a large insurance organization has been around for several decades, customers can be fairly certain that it has a history of meeting longterm obligations, understands the complexities of the business and knows how to manage risk. However, this doesn’t mean a church shouldn’t consider small-tomedium sized companies. Many have been around for just as long as their competition and are considered experts in the field. Check complaints Insurance companies are held to a certain standard and are regulated to prevent mishaps. Throughout the regulation process, complaints from customers are tracked and are available to view. To look up complaints against a particular organization, visit the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ database at . Use an agent Typically, most people buy insurance through agents or brokers; churches are no different in this respect. Determining how much and what kind of insurance to buy is one of the most important financial decisions the church will make — and it’s also one of the most complicated. A qualified insurance agent will provide the church with policy recommendations based on a thorough needs analysis. Working with the right insurance company, with the right policy, can make all the difference in fully protecting a church facility. If the unthinkable were ever to happen, a church should ensure it has the right insurance company to support its values and needs — one that provides the appropriate products and services, has excellent customer service, and has the financial capacity to meet the church’s needs when necessary. Asking the right questions, doing some homework, and being satisfied that the right decision has been made will help ease fear among the church and its members. Deb Rushenberg is Director of Commercial Lines Underwriting at GuideOne Insurance in West Des Moines, IA, where she is responsible for the overall vision, direction and oversight of underwriting for the Church niche. Rushenberg has been with GuideOne for more than two decades. March / April 2015 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE


How important is the main sign at a church? A: Critically important. In most cases, it is the best marketing tool the church has — after its reputation and word-of-mouth.

Church signs: expert advice, from selection to operation 34

CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

What is the first thing a church should do when considering a new church sign? A: They need to figure out what they want and why they want it. Everyone already in the church knows what’s going on, so your sign gives you the opportunity for more outreach, or to evangelize, or to communicate any type of message. And it will do it 24/7. But if you want to say more than just the time of services, you’re going to need more space for the message. Four lines with 18 to 21 characters on a line will allow you to express a complete thought. After a church determines what it wants from a sign, what’s next? A: The physical attributes of the location will determine the best sign. The traffic, the speed limit, the number of lanes — all have to be considered. A hill or a curve in the road could be significant. What about zoning laws? A: That is important. It’s critical to learn what the local zoning regulations are before you invest in a sign. There will probably be minimum setbacks and perhaps height restrictions. There might even be some cosmetic requirements, but it’s imperative to know what the limitations are. Ask for help from your supplier or architect. Is a double-sided sign necessary? A: Almost always, yes. You can’t have a sign that’s parallel to the street and expect people driving by to be able to read it. They will only have a couple of seconds to see it as they approach, depending on the speed limit; and once they’re even with the sign, the readability stops. People need five to seven seconds minimum to read a sign, so unless you’re on a one-way street, you’re going to need a double-sided sign. Should the sign be electronic, or is a manual sign OK? A: Both will work for basic messaging. Most seem to be going electronic these days because that’s when the sign turns into a powerful marketing tool. Many commercial businesses have seen their activity jump anywhere from 15 percent to 150 percent directly traceable to a new LED sign. What are the advantages of an LED sign? A: It is easier and safer to change the message, and it’s a great way to create a landmark in your community with fresh and dynamic messages, plus advertising local events. Know the demographics of your target audience. It might help your church appeal to younger people, because it’s 21st-Century technology and shows you are more up-to-date.


Golden Rule Signs is a national retailer of sign systems. As we like to say, “Quality can be affordable!”

Are all LED signs basically the same? A: Are all cars basically the same? Not exactly. They have four wheels and an engine, but everything else is determined by what fits for the driver. With LED signs, there are two basic factors that determine the right one for an organization: pitch (resolution) and matrix (size). The pitch determines the resolution; how clear the image will be; the lower the pitch, the clearer the image. Typically, LED signs viewed at a long distance can use a higher pitch (example: 25mm) and signs viewed closer will need a lower pitch (example: 10mm). The matrix determines how big the sign will be. Factors that determine size are the type of messages and how far away it needs to be viewed. An expert vendor will work with a client to determine the best fit for the location as it can be tricky.

In a market full of imported subpar products, it is nearly impossible to be the cheapest brand - but we CAN offer the best value. That’s how we’ve always done it. From design to manufacturing and installation, GRS is a turnkey provider of church marquee signs. Given our name, you shouldn’t be surprised to know that we go the extra mile to give you quality components and finishes you might not receive elsewhere.

Find out what those differences are by calling us at... 800.732.9886.

And a high-resolution sign will be more expensive? A: Yes, if you compare two LED signs with the same physical dimensions. The higher-resolution sign will cost more. A lower and tighter pitch (better resolution) is typically driven by the client’s type of business. Sometimes, making sure a picture is clear and understood is very important.

Will a church need a technician to operate an animated sign? A: Not at all. Someone is going to have to program the message, but talk with your vendor. Good signs will come equipped with good content management systems that have plenty of preprogrammed art, so you don’t have to be a creative genius to operate one. Some systems even come with access to professional designers who can create the content for you. Furthermore, many of these systems allow you to program your sign from a remote location. What’s the most common regret among church sign buyers? A: They wish they had bought a full-color or a larger sign. At the time of purchase, there might have been budgetary considerations or other compromises made. But if they had to do it over, they would choose a bigger, better sign. They also wish they hadn’t performed the installation themselves. Some vendors state how easy installing your sign can be, but be careful of the liability or voiding your warranty, and make sure you consider all the costs involved before moving forward. — Reporting by Steve Kane


What about electronic signs with pictures on them? Are they very expensive? A: When compared to electronic signs that only do text, certainly, they will cost more. They can display text, graphics, animations and pictures. Pretty much anything you can do on a computer screen you can do on an LED sign. First, you have to check if the zoning allows them. Then, there are some technical questions regarding the brightness of the lights and the density of pixels on the screen that all relate to the readability of the sign under various conditions. | 800.732.9886

The right church sign is the ultimate outreach tool, allowing you to get your message out to everyone who passes by your church — 24/7.

Signs Plus offers a vast selection of church signs, ranging from traditional outdoor changeable-copy message signs to LED electronic message center display signs.

We invite you to browse our website and contact us with any questions: 800.848.4262. | 800.848.4262 March / April 2015 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE


construction comeback! By RaeAnn Slaybaugh

Time — and, of course, the Great Recession — have altered the ways church building campaigns are done. Here, several stewardship experts weigh in.


CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

RSI Stewardship Senior Vice President Morgan Boardman, CFRE, and his team felt the Great Recession firsthand — and adjusted accordingly. Between 2008 and 2011, in the midst of the recession, his firm’s construction campaigns fell from 74 percent of the business (2004-2007) to 61 percent. During this same period, RSI’s debt campaigns grew to represent 28 percent of the business, compared to just 16 percent from 2004 to 2007. Then, from 2012 and 2014, RSI saw a rebound in construction campaigns: 67 percent. Simultaneously, demand for debt reduction campaigns decreased to 20 percent. Given these figures*, a rebound in church construction campaigns is clear. Meanwhile, at The Charis Group, most (if not all) of the firm’s campaigns were for debt reduction after the crash of 2008, according to President Mark Brooks. “Churches either couldn’t get loans for new construction, or they simply put it off given the economic climate,” he explains. “That has changed, especially in the last year.” Today, Brooks estimates 70 percent of his firm’s campaigns are for some type of construction. “There’s a feeling that — although our economy is still not 100-percent back — we’re nonetheless in a better position.” Chuck Klein, president of Impact Stewardship Resources, Inc., has experienced a similar bounce-back. Immediately following the economic meltdown of 2008 and 2009, as much as 80 percent of the campaigns his firm led were for debt retirement. “A lot of people had balloon notes and excessive debt, so campaigns were a necessity.” Now — thanks to a more reliable economy — about 75 percent of the campaigns he and his team lead are for new construction. “Churches went into a wait-and-see mode,” he recalls. “Many put off construction for as much as six years.” Some things change ... Now that construction campaigns are back on the radar, it’s a good time to evaluate how they’ve adapted — not only post-Recession, but over the past few decades. For example ... The “right time” might not be obvious. Joel Mikell, president of RSI Stewardship, points out that some of his firm’s most successful giving campaigns were conducted between 2009 and 2011, in the midst of the Recession. To this end, he cautions church leaders against waiting for “a better time” to start a campaign. “There will always be reasons to wait,” he acknowledges. “However, if the project is ‘right vision’-driven, God will provide the resources. Resources follow vision.” The cost of construction is managed better, now. Mikell says debt avoidance is a driving factor in today’s church construction campaign. “There will always be an element of faith and trust when it comes to church finances,” he acknowledges. “But the hard lessons learned in 2008, 2009 and 2010 have not been forgotten.” Consultants are more behind-the-scenes. According to Paul Gage, president of The Gage Group, the role of a capital campaign consultant is far less visible to the church body than it once was. “Today, campaigns are designed for the senior pastor to be most visible person to lead church in prayer, presentations and preaching,” he explains. And in larger churches, church staff — not laypeople — are taking on key campaign positions, Gage adds. Technology and social media are on the scene. For Brooks, technology is the most prominent change affecting today’s church construction campaigns. “We’re now a smartphone-driven society,” he points out. “Givers want to know, ‘Can I make a pledge to your capital campaign on my smartphone?’” Even so, in Klein’s experience, few church leaders take full advantage of social media in a campaign context. That’s why his team began several years ago to make the web, Facebook and Twitter a centerpiece of its campaign communication strategies. “Now, mobile technology is huge,” he adds. “You can reach your people with a simple mission / vision message with a click of a button.” Churches are seeking and embracing new capital funding strategies. According to Gage, capital campaigns have primarily been associated with

larger building projects; however, with the five-year slowdown in new construction, churches are looking for alternative approaches to raise funds. “We’re experiencing more one- and two-year giving programs with the focus on bundling smaller expansion projects, with local and global compassion initiatives,” he explains. “Instead of using the term ‘capital campaign,’ churches have embraced newer branding, such as Generosity Initiatives and Heart for the Kingdom. Some things stay the same … While stewardship experts have adjusted their approaches accordingly over the past few decades, they agree some tried-and-true drivers of construction campaign success remain — regardless of what’s happening with the economy or technology. A clear purpose. “The vision and purpose for the project should be focused on ministry impact and life change as opposed to bricks and mortar,” Mikell explains. “The call to give is more about investing in people than in a campaign goal.” Brooks echoes this sentiment. In his experience, the most successful construction campaigns link the project back to the church’s vision. To this end, he says a church executive must always be prepared to answer two questions at the forefront of donors’ minds: the “heart question” —

Does this project make sense? — and the “head question”: Can you pull it off? “They’re asking what your plans are,” he explains. “They want to know those plans are well-thought-out and won’t harm the missions and ministry budgets of the church.” A well-informed — and united — church body. Though it can be difficult to measure such intangibles as these, Gage has a benchmark in mind: when 70 percent of qualified church donors make a financial commitment to the campaign. “This will position the church to achieve its spiritual and financial goals,” he says. To ensure these levels of buy-in, Brooks says time is of the essence. “The best campaigns are those that start early and stay on task through the end.” A diversified communication strategy. For Mikell, including all demographics in the campaign experience has proven very successful. “Different age groups consume information differently,” he says. “There can be no-one-size-fits-all.” March / April 2015 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE


Generally, he says, older church members still want something they can hold in their hands and read. Younger members will want campaign information primarily in a digital format. Despite differing delivery mechanisms, he urges church executives to follow up and create a conversation with these groups. “Once information has been communicated, people of all ages will want an opportunity to interact and give their feedback.” Large gifts make a large impact — but church-wide engagement is critical. Experts agree that large-lead gifts will comprise a substantial portion of the campaign gifts. To this end, engaging financial leaders requires church executives to addressing this group’s unique questions and insights. “In the local church, people with resources want to give — and give generously — to the vision, especially if the focus is on life change and ministry impact,” Mikell says. “However, neither a colorful communication piece nor a beautifully designed website will be enough to inspire them to invest significantly. They respond best to a meaningful conversation.” Yet, as Klein points out, this is just one aspect of a healthy construction campaign. “A successful campaign needs to maximize key donor potential and engage, inform and challenge the entire church,” he advises. “Gone are the days of just reaching out to a handful of key supporters or making a simple broad sweeping appeal to everyone.” Results still matter! Gage asserts that with new construction on the rise, capital campaigns are “without question the most effective approach to raising maximum funds.” Although generosity initiatives and capital campaigns are organized the same way, he says, the goals and financial results are different. “When a major building project is introduced, a church will raise more money,” he explains. “For decades, churches have communicated vision, ministry impact and change lives; however, when a campaign is connected to a new building project, we see larger gifts and better participation, resulting in more money for buildings and ministry.” *The balance of these figures (2004-2014) is represented by capital campaigns for renovation projects.

S ur vivin g to

th r i v i n g “At Saddleback we’ve shared leadership from the beginning. While it’s not always been easy, it’s absolutely been worth it. This insightful book, with its strong research, real-life stories and practical how-tos, makes it easier for you to build a strong, thriving senior leadership team.”

Rick WaRRen


CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015 Church Executive Team #11105 1 2/26/15 9:25:09 AM

500+ Administrative Professionals. 70+ Workshops. 100+ Exhibitors. 4 Keynote Speakers. 5 Social Events. 4 Days to Learn, Network and Recharge. The Church Network • 59th National Conference • Nashville, Tennessee • July 13–16, 2015 Learn. Education through up-to-date, relevant training and information is always the heart of the conference. More than 70 workshops will be presented by experts in their fields—accounting and auditing, risk management, tax and legal issues, staff development, and more. At the Trade Show, more than 100 resources to the church world will provide information on innovations and developments in their products and services. Four keynote speakers—innovative, knowledgable and creative leaders—will share their wisdom and expertise. Network. Connect with other administrative professionals throughout the conference. Imagine the knowledge to be gained from the insights and experience of more than 500 administrative leaders just like you. Whether in the corridors, in the trade show, or in the minutes before or after the sessions, treasured insights are gained in informal conversations. Recharge. Need a break from the rigors of ministry? Recharging may just begin with a beautiful location and a significant change of routine. Celebrate Music City and explore the Gaylord Opryland’s nine acres of shopping, entertainment, dining, indoor gardens, waterfalls, and indoor river with a Delta flatboat. Each day will bring opportunities to relax with your colleagues and family, and many say they return year after year because of the friendships made at conference.

4 Days to Learn, Network and Recharge. The professional growth and knowledge that will be gained can make your job easier and prepare you to meet the challenges you face on a daily basis. The concepts, approaches, and new ideas gathered at conference will have value long after the conference. Early registration discounts are available until May 14! Call 800-898-8085 or get online at The Church Network Don’t go it alone! TCN is your resource for every aspect of your work. Stay connected to professionals just like you through local chapters and national conferences. Enhance your professional growth and knowledge through education and our professional certification. Research products and services for the church through our comprehensive guide and access a wide range of resources such as, the most comprehensive and current church salary source available. The list goes on and on. Details are available online at Come examine all that TCN offers.

The Church Network • 100 North Central Expy. • Suite 914 • Richardson, Texas 75050-5326 • 972-699-7617 • 800-898-8085 •

“We all talk about attendance dropping off; but, I really think it’s more complex an equation. If a church is growing, it might not even know it’s losing those people. So, a church is at risk just by not understanding its membership and their needs, especially related to hearing accessibility.” — Maile Keone VP of Marketing, Listen Technologies


are welcome here “Obviously, a church is a community that wants to be inclusive, whether it’s for people with hearing loss or any other kind of disability.” — Janet Beckman VP of Marketing, Williams Sound

“We’re supplying several automatic door openers every week to churches who are proactively pursuing accessibility. More often than not, they’re installed by church members because they’re easy to retrofit and install. All this represents a significant cost savings compared to incorporating these tools reactively.” — Dan McCormack President, Power Access Corporation

For churches, inclusivity and accessibility are built into the DNA. Yet, they represent a largely underserved area of opportunity for ministry. Consider the fact that people attend worship services more regularly as they age — and, conversely, as they develop hearing, vision and accessibility challenges. Statistics show this to be true, and probably not a surprise. However, this is by no means the only demographic who needs you to prioritize accessibility at your facilities. You might be surprised to learn that younger generations (including returning veterans) are nearly as likely to develop these same kinds of challenges. Another commonality is these individuals’ reluctance to speak up about their needs. In fact, they’re far more likely to start attending another, more welcoming church — or stop going to worship services altogether — than they are to make their needs known. The mandate is clear For all these reasons, Church Executive places a premium on covering the topic of accessible, inclusive churches. In addition to feature articles in our magazine, recognizing hearing-accessible churches with “Good Steward” Awards, and even a cooperative giveaway of two assistive listening systems to two deserving churches, we’ve also produced an in-depth eBook on the topic: Inclusive, Accessible Worship: A Guide [ ]. In this unique, highly sought-after eBook, subject matter experts and assistive listening professionals help you ensure everyone can hear the Word on Sunday. And we’re just getting started … “Achieving Accessible, Inclusive Churches” — a live panel discussion. Church Executive is thrilled to announce we’ve been selected to present a live panel discussion at the 2015 The Church Network (formerly The National Association of Church Business Administration) Annual Conference at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville on Tuesday, July 14, 2015! This conference is one of the most significant


CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

“Our soft research says people can miss anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent of what’s said at worship services. So, a significant number start cutting back, or going to church less often.”

meetings Church Executive participates in each year, and we’re honored to be a part of its educational and training offerings. We have asked Dr. Joseph Montano, Associate Professor of Audiology in Clinical Otolaryngology and Director of Hearing and Speech at Weill Cornell — Edward F. Ogiba, Director of Medical College, New York Presbyterian Hospital, to Chapter Development, Hearing Loss moderate the panel. Association of America (HLAA) Please keep an eye out for details of this panel discussion as they unfold. And by all means, if you’re planning to attend the conference, join us for this unique, insightful conversation! If you can’t be there in person, look for follow-up articles in our September / October and November / December digital issues of Church Executive, where we’ll offer discussion highlights and takeaways you won’t want to miss. The “Breaking Barriers” editorial series. Beginning with the July / August 2015 issue, the new Church Executive “Breaking Barriers” series will offer thought leadership and practical strategies in the realm of hearingaccessible houses of worship. Expect case studies of churches that have truly made accessibility part of their cultures, as well as how to identify the hearing accessibility challenge in your own church; what assistive listening technology is (and your options); and best practices for achieving inclusivity. Each series installment will be added to a cumulative “Breaking Barriers” eBook. With all these efforts, we hope you take away the knowledge and strategies you need to make your own churches as welcoming and inclusive as possible. As ever, we welcome your feedback along the way. — The Editors

THE ANSWER TO YOUR CALLING. Get your Master of Science in Church Management. Villanova School of Business offers the only curriculum that addresses complex management issues from a faith-based perspective and in a convenient on-line format.

Discover new ways to serve the church with a MASTER OF SCIENCE IN CHURCH MANAGEMENT.

March / April 2015 • CHURCH EXECUTIVE



‘HEADS UP’ SAFETY — a paramount concern

The Christian high school had much to be proud of: a history of academic excellence; a great reputation for community service; and also, as a much respected perennial contender for state football champion. By Michael J. Bemi Critically, the school’s head injury prevention and care program was in many regards enviable and a model to be emulated. For example, this high school invested in only the finest athletic equipment and ensured that all equipment was certified to meet the safety standards promulgated by the National Organization for Care and Safety of Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE). Further, an excellent Concussion Management Protocol (CMP) was in place and enforced. The school employed a certified athletic trainer and engaged a board-certified sports medicine specialist as school physician. All coaches, physical education teachers, the certified athletic trainer and the school nurse were trained on concussion management and care, and each repeated this training every two years. Prior to the beginning of each season, every student athlete participating in contact sports had to be evaluated via a baseline Standardized Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) or Impact Assessment Tool. Parents were given materials to educate them on the issue of head injuries / concussion and were required to sign a document each season acknowledging the inherent risks of contact sports and authorizing their child to participate. The certified athletic trainer was required to be present for all training, practice and actual events, and arrangements were made for an emergency care vehicle / team to be present at all games, even though state law did not require this. Finally, when an injury did occur, the school employed the Zurich Progressive Exertion Protocol as a minimum return to activity plan, plus insisted that the student’s personal physician approve in writing the return to activity. The high school’s star (and All State) wide receiver experienced a concussion following a hit early in the season. Employing the CMP, he was immediately assessed by the certified athletic trainer and coaching staff and pulled from the game. He was restricted from training, practice or play until his personal physician released him to resume activity. Ten days later, he returned to practice. The following weekend, he started the game and played well. In the third quarter, he was blind-sided in a vicious hit. He walked to the sideline and immediately collapsed. He then experienced a rare, frequently fatal (and medically controversial) phenomenon referred to as Second Impact Syndrome (SIS), in which the brain cannot control its blood volume, leading to cerebral hemorrhaging and possible herniation — with devastating results. He received immediate emergency care, due to the presence of the pre-arranged emergency vehicle / team, but he nevertheless suffered massive brain trauma with resultant life-long, very major physical and cognitive deficiencies.


CHURCH EXECUTIVE • March / April 2015

COULD ANYTHING ELSE HAVE BEEN DONE? Yes, according to the post-incident investigation and analysis, several additional preventive measures could have been taken. For example, interviews with fellow players indicated that several had noticed during practice that week that the young star seemed at times disoriented and confused. They simply attributed this to him being “rusty” after missing a week’s practice and a Friday night game. The school should have required all athletes participating in contact sports to be educated on the signs / symptoms of concussion. Also, the school’s CMP suggested — but didn’t require — performance of a new SCAT assessment before return to practice and play. The suggestion in the protocol should have been a requirement. Finally, the school failed to wait for their physician specialist’s assessment of the personal physician’s release report, with which the specialist, in fact, took issue. The school medical specialist should be the source of final approval for return to training, practice and play. Most schools value the benefits of physical activity and athletic participation. They need to remember that when it comes to head injury prevention — whether on the field or the playground — you can never do too much. 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 .


FINANCIAL BENEFITS. I wish we could afford them.”

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 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.