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SEPT / OCT 2017

GARY HAMRICK & CORNERSTONE CHAPEL: Make yourself at home 8

Step 1 towards your ideal A/V system: dream p 14 How to use your app to prepare for the holidays p 26 4 keys to a successful church café p 34

Russell Carpenter, ASC

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Meeting you where you are Volume 16, Number 5

In this issue, we are launching two new thought leader-driven series — one on A/V and one on health care — each of which speaks to top-of-mind concerns among readers.

4742 N. 24th St., Ste. 340 Phoenix, AZ 85016 • 800.541.2670

Judi Victor

We know this, thanks to the results of our recently completed Church Executive Annual Reader Survey. First, on page 14, the debut of the “Pastor-Friendly A/V Integration” series focuses on Step 1: Dream. As the recent Church Executive Annual Reader Survey results indicate, nearly one in four (24%) of Church Executive readers’ churches operate A/V production facilities. Additionally, on average, 70% of readers consider A/V/L/A important to their churches’ operations. In the first Q&A of several in this top-of-mind new series, Tim Corder — part of the production and solutions team at Mankin Media Systems — helps you determine if the A/V system you’ve chosen is the right fit for your church. Corder talks about the signs a church leader should watch for that signal it’s time for an A/V system upgrade; the intricacies of the “4D” process (Dream, Design, Deploy, Defend) he and his team use to help ensure an engaging A/V setup for church clients; and how to create a budget for a new A/V setup. Thanks to your feedback, we also know that staff benefits – particularly health care – are a major area of concern. According to the Annual Reader Survey, 90% of readers regard employee benefits as a major consideration. Likewise, HR and staff management are on 94% of readers’ minds daily. So, the article on page 18, 5 questions to ask when shopping for group health care, comes at an excellent time. Scott Charbonneau — managing director of Insurance Plans at GuideStone — targets 5 questions to ask when shopping for group health care. “Recently, a ministry leader we were working with told us he viewed choosing the right health coverage as an essential part of caring for and protecting his employees’ calling, while confessing that it was one of the most confusing choices he faced,” he writes. “That’s why [we] encourage ministry leaders to answer five questions to determine which group health plan is best for them.



We’re also covering generosity and giving in a big way — a subject we know is critical to 94% of our readers, every day. You’ll find Creating a generous culture starts with you, pastor — an insightful article on page 20 by Jim Sheppard, principal and CEO of Generis. “Simply put, generous churches are led by generous pastors,” Sheppard writes. “This doesn’t mean a pastor must be the single most generous person in the church — or portray himself as that. It means that a pastor is on a journey of generosity, rather than in a place of stagnant giving, just like his church.” And, on page 26 — How to use your app to prepare for the holidays — author Tobin Perry offers seven tried-and-true ideas for using mobile more effectively during the holiday season. “People are more interested in visiting your church during the holiday season than any other time of the year. You have to make that time count,” he advises. We’d love to hear your thoughts on these new offerings, or on any of the other features in this issue.

CEO, Publisher and Director of Sales

RaeAnn Slaybaugh Editor in Chief

Stephen Gamble Art Director

Joyce Guzowski Assistant Editor

Mitch Larson Business Manager

Blair McCarty Sr. Sales & Marketing Coordinator

Hollie Broadbent Marketing & Sales Associate

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

All the best,

Dan Mikes Executive Vice President Bank of the West | San Ramon, CA

John C. Mrazek III Executive Pastor Pathways Church | Denver, CO

RaeAnn Slaybaugh Editor in Chief

Sam S. Rainer III Senior Pastor West Bradenton Baptist Church | Bradenton, FL

Mark Simmons Business Manager Christ Community Church | Milpitas, CA

> LET’S CHAT: Email: Facebook: Church Executive Magazine

Eric Spacek Senior Manager GuideOne Insurance | West Des Moines, IA



A publication of:

Church Executive™ Magazine is published bi-monthly by Power Trade Media, a division of The Producers, Inc., 4742 N. 24th Street, Ste. 340, Phoenix, AZ 85016. Subscription rates for non-qualified subscribers, single issue prices and pricing for reprints of 100 or more are available from: All articles in Church Executive™ Magazine are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher. Copyright 2016 by Power Trade Media. No advertisement, sponsorship or description or reference to a product or service will be deemed an endorsement by Power Trade Media, and no warranty is made or implied. Information is obtained from sources the editors believe reliable, accurate and timely, but is not guaranteed, and Power Trade Media is not responsible for errors or omissions. Opinions expressed in Church Executive™ Magazine are not necessarily those of the publisher or sponsors or advertisers. Content addressing legal, tax and other technical issues is not intended as professional advice and cannot be relied on as such; readers should consult with their own professional advisors.



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26 > CREATING A CULTURE OF GENEROSITY How to use your app to prepare for the holidays


By Tobin Perry

28 > CHURCH CAFÉS 4 keys to a successful church café By Mike Bacile



How the right phone system can keep church staff connected — even across multiple campuses


Q&A with Keith Goodling

34 > CHURCH FACILITIES: BUILDING & CONSTRUCTION 5 key tenets of an effective church building process By Rodney James

MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME By 1996, Cornerstone Chapel had met in a school for several years. Growth necessitated that Senior Pastor Gary Hamrick and his team look for a permanent church home — either land on which to build on or an existing facility to renovate and call their own. As it turns out, they found both. But their path to their new church home — a 108,000-squarefoot, ski lodge-style church on the outskirts of Washington, DC — wouldn’t be a straight shot or without plenty of bumps in the road.


Moving beyond insurance — hop on board! By Michael J. Bemi


RaeAnn Slaybaugh Editor in Chief

SERIES 12 > CHURCH FINANCIAL WELLNESS Successful interviewing strategies for church leaders By Vincent Schera and Rev. Dr. Perry J. Hopper

14 > NEW! PASTOR-FRIENDLY A/V INTEGRATION Step 1: Dream Q&A with Tim Corder

16 > CAPITAL PLANNING FOR CHURCHES Roadmap to a sound financial future By Matthew Swain, RS

17 > CONTINUING EDUCATION An alumnus of Hood Theological Seminary recalls how she juggled seminary work with the demands of church administration

20 > INTELLIGENT CHURCH GIVING Creating a generous culture starts with you, pastor By Jim Sheppard

22 > FULLY FUNDED, FINALLY 5 factors that drove San Diego Church of Christ’s giving to grow by 23.8% in 18 months 23 > CHURCH FACILITY STEWARDSHIP Preventive maintenance and capital planning: what’s the cost of not investing now? By Donovan Loomis


Caring for your staff runs deeper than ministry basics. You should also consider providing benefits like group health insurance to support them and their families from a physical standpoint. By Scott Charbonneau


An expert in insurance and constitutional law examines the integral role your religious organization plays in your community and how changing laws can affect you and your mission. Featuring Attorney James A. Friedman

DEPARTMENTS 4 > FROM THE EDITOR 37 > CHURCH TRENDS & STATISTICS Factors parents consider when picking a Christian school By Joyce Guzowski





yourself at home By RaeAnn Slaybaugh Editor in Chief

By 1996, Cornerstone Chapel had met in a Leesburg, Va., school for several years. Growth necessitated that Senior Pastor Gary Hamrick and his team look for a permanent church home — either land on which to build on or an existing facility to renovate and call their own. As it turns out, they found both. But their path to their new church home — a 108,000-squarefoot, ski lodge-style church on the outskirts of Washington, DC — wouldn’t be a straight shot or without plenty of bumps in the road.

“This was obviously a God-manufactured thing, because we came across 32 acres of heavily wooded land under foreclosure in Leesburg,” Hamrick begins. “It was the largest undeveloped tract in town, and we bought it on the courthouse steps for a song. “It was an amazing thing,” Hamrick adds — especially considering that land in Leesburg (a bedroom community on the outskirts of Washington, DC) was / is particularly difficult to find, let alone afford. Knowing the challenges, he and his team were nevertheless committed to staying in the area. “Leesburg is one of those great suburban metropolitan towns,” he says. “The town itself is historic; it dates back to 1757. In fact, the first Methodist church in America was planted in Leesburg, so it has a rich heritage of denominational churches. And it’s just a great community. It has a very hometown feel.” Church members felt the same. For them, this historic community — and Cornerstone — is a respite from the high-stress environment of their day-to-day lives.




“We wanted a building that’s reflective of [ our DNA ] — a little more ‘low church’ versus ‘high church.’ We weren’t looking for steeples and stained glass; our DNA is more casual and relaxed.” — Senior Pastor Gary Hamrick

“When you’re on the Beltway commuting back and forth [to Washington], it’s a pretty stressful life,” Hamrick acknowledges. “That’s the No. 1 thing folks in our area face; people are wound pretty tight. “Just having a beautiful piece of property we could develop to help put people at ease and unload the stress when they come here — that was a big part of what we wanted to accomplish,” he adds. “To really minister to people, and to allow the peace of the Lord to replace the stress in their lives.” But first: making it work (for now) While the land Cornerstone Chapel purchased had huge potential, it also came with some pretty huge zoning issues. Church leaders began to experience them right away. Instead of building on the land immediately after purchase, they opted to buy a nearby strip mall and lease a 10,000-square-foot office building across the street, located on 3.5 acres, wanting to renovate both. While these facilities accommodated the church’s needs for 18 years, Cornerstone eventually became landlocked. With a municipal airport nearby, it couldn’t “build up.” The church couldn’t expand out, either, without sacrificing the necessary parking. (And that’s with some gracious neighbors, whose office spaces sat empty on the weekends, offering up their parking space for church use.) At the tipping point, Hamrick and his team were doing four Sunday morning services to accommodate the growing congregation. “But we had to start so early that it wasn’t worthwhile,” he explains. “So, we nixed the really early service and moved it to Saturday night.” Meanwhile, youth ministry and staff were meeting in the office building across the street. “So, we were kind of having church in two locations,” Hamrick says. “Between that and the parking challenges, and the multiple services — people coming and going — it started to feel like we weren’t even having church, really.” The need for a new home becomes clear In 2008, despite the zoning challenges they knew they’d face, Cornerstone leaders committed to building a brand-new facility on the

beautiful land they’d purchased 12 years earlier. As anticipated, with their increased intention came increased zoning issues — but also a renewed realization of what a blessing this land purchase really was. For one thing, by that time, the acreage had appreciated by 25 times the purchase price in 1996. “We couldn’t have afforded to buy that particular tract of property and then build on it, too,” Hamrick points out. “So, it was one of those God stories.” Second, the property was less than a quarter-mile away from the current facility, meaning members wouldn’t have to make a difficult choice about whether or not to move with the church. And, of course, it’s simply a beautiful piece of land, with lots of room for future expansion — and built-in serenity. Leaders announced they were moving forward with the project, and that plans would need to be drawn up. For that step (the first of many), they enlisted Dallas-based firm HH Architects [ ]. Upon recommendations, Hamrick says he knew the firm was a great fit for a large-church project. In fact, as President & CEO Bruce Woody recalls, he and his team had recently completed an 80-acre master plan for a related church and had begun the first phase of a 170,000-square-foot private school, as well. CHURCH EXECUTIVE.COM | 9


if they should have us proceed with design and documents, but they knew they were continuing to grow on their old site and were running out of options there.” So, Woody and his team continued to modify and adjust over the years. Eventually, a full master plan was developed and adopted by the City. “And we had the same [HH] people for the whole project for the entirety,” Hamrick adds. “They stayed with us throughout that entire process.”



Thoughtful design fuels one-to-one ministry Despite a lot of stops and starts (and recalibrating the project and timeline as commensurate with those), Cornerstone moved into its new home in late 2016. From its position high on a major corner in Leesburg, the church is more visible than it ever was before. Hamrick says some visitors are wide-eyed at first, given the church’s unique, peaceful architecture and setting. However, the overall effect quickly makes this large church feel smaller, more intimate and friendlier. As evidence, attendance at many events has more than doubled, and volunteer sign-ups are on the rise. Meanwhile, the staff — all in the same place, at the same time, for the first time in nearly two decades — is more at ease. “The explosive growth has been a little challenging, but it’s a good challenge,” Hamrick says. Overall, he says the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive: “It has a park-like atmosphere, and people just enjoy having more room to get to know people better.” That last part — getting to know people better — is something Pastor Hamrick has personally enjoyed. Now, with a 2,000-seat sanctuary, instead of moving people in and out and adhering to a tight schedule in a tight space, he can issue invitations at the end of teaching times for people to come to Christ, and for people who need prayer. He also leads three services instead of four. “I like feeling like we can personally minister more. People can linger longer,” he says. “That’s been one of the beauties for me. It’s wonderful to have a facility to accommodate that.”

Photos provided by HH Architects and Cornerstone Chapel

“Cornerstone saw our ability to aide them in our Strategic Positioning Services and the Master Planning Services to plan for a much larger, permanent facility that would go well beyond what they were being able to do on their existing campus,” Woody says. “Our understanding of ministries and how important they are, and their influence on the ultimate building design solution, were a significant influencing factor.” This depth of experience was indeed important to Hamrick. “We hadn’t been down this road before,” he points out. “Remember, we spent the first seven years of our church’s history in a school, and the next 18 years in a renovated strip mall.” Hamrick credits the HH team for coming to the table with a wealth of information, but not pressuring Cornerstone Chapel to immediately adopt the ideas they presented. “They just said, ‘Here’s some options. Here’s QUICK FACTS ABOUT some things we’ve done. CORNERSTONE CHAPEL Take a look.’” Zoning hurdles would Year Established: 1991 further stress-test the Location of main campus: Leesburg, Va. relationship. Number of locations: 1 Although the mayor Number of staff (full-and part-time): 45 / 15 of Leesburg and town Combined weekly attendance: 6,000 council were onboard 2017 Budget: $11 million with the development of the property, an adjoining land owner objected to it. “Virginia is a commonwealth,” Hamrick explains. “No land developer can develop a piece of property without the consent of adjoining landowners; they have to sign off on your application.” Even so, the City of Leesburg voted to approve it without the landowner’s consent; in response, he sued the town and the church. “We actually lost at the Circuit Court level because this had never been tested,” Hamrick recalls. “But, all the developers in the Commonwealth of Virginia were on our side. They didn’t want any more to have to get the signatures of adjoining landowners.” So, the case became a landmark decision when the Virginia Supreme Court voted unanimously to let the project move forward. “It’s OK, because God’s timing is perfect, and we know that we got in here when we were supposed to,” Hamrick says. “But yeah, the zoning issues were a big factor.” Through it all, Hamrick says, the team at HH Architects was patient and kept checking in on the progress of the court case. Woody recalls that time: “We’d go so far, and then we’d have to stop [and recalibrate]. We had to fight for a lot of things, and the zoning battles created a financial and timeline burden for the church. They didn’t know

Serenity … but not without sacrifice Now that the vision is a reality, one thing is clear when looking at the newly finished Cornerstone Chapel: a peaceful atmosphere and personal connection are both top-of-mind. It’s juxtaposition, really: a 108,000-square-foot, ski lodge-style church with ample hospitality spaces, a children’s and youth complex, and an award-winning coffee house, on a heavily wooded piece of land — all within 30 minutes of Washington, DC, one of the busiest cities in America. “I said, ‘I want it to be recognizable as a church, not a lodge,” Hamrick recalls. “I said, ‘I want to see a lot of stone, wood and earth tones. But at the same time, I want it to be a place where people can instantly feel at peace in a serene setting where they can worship the Lord.” These directives are keeping with the church’s DNA. “We’re affiliated with Calvary Chapel, so we’re a bit more casual by nature,” Hamrick says. “We wanted a building that’s reflective of that — a little more ‘low church’ versus ‘high church.’ We weren’t looking for steeples and stained glass; our DNA is more casual and relaxed.” It was a unique set of design objectives — on a uniquely high-potential, but challenging, piece of land — but the HH team rose to the occasion. As Woody recalls, the 32-acre site had 80 feet of fall, which required dynamite blasting into the rock to make it usable. “The church literally sits on the hillside, and we carved [ it out ] in the back so there’s a continuation of the hillside,” he says. “The ultimate master plan will crown the ring of the hill, but it still has a lot of grade that comes down to the parking area. This continuation is part of the project’s features.” Additionally, as he and his team began to develop a master plan, they had to navigate around quite a few archeological digs in the area, since Leesburg is a historic community.

Successful interviewing strategies for church leaders By Vincent Schera and Rev. Dr. Perry J. Hopper Whether it is by phone, in person — either one-on-one or with a search committee — interviewing is one of the most important steps in the hiring process. You can increase the likelihood of hiring the person who is right for the position by thinking ahead about the correct approach. Strategies for interviewing candidates for churches and faith-based organizations and the corporate world are very similar. One big distinction — in the church or church-related organizations, candidates often have a sense of being called to serve with the church or organization. This not only applies to those who are called to serve as pastors or other ministerial positions, but many people want to feel as though their work contributes to the greater good and serves God.



Prior to conducting an interview, you will need to review the résumés closely to formulate questions based upon the candidate’s experience. • What did they learn from past job experiences? Ask about their successes as well as their failures. What, if anything, would they have done differently? • For congregational leaders, ask about their management style. How would your staff and your leadership speak about you? • Also, be sure to ask situational questions that point to how they might handle a specific event or incident. This will help you to determine how the candidate might deal with certain highpressure circumstances and staff issues. • If the candidate has held a number of positions over a brief period of time, you might want to determine why they have moved around so much. One of the first things to do when conducting an interview is to create a relaxed atmosphere that encourages a candidate to open up and speak comfortably about him or herself. It is important to determine why the candidate is interested in the position. • What are some of their core gifts and talents? • In the case of a clergy person, why do they feel spiritually led to seek this position? Think about what qualities and competencies the congregation needs in a pastor. Is it strong preaching and teaching skills, executive and administrative skills, or are you seeking a person with gifts for pastoral care? • Ask why they left their last position. There are many reasons, all of which will help in making the hiring decision. • A sk if they can visualize themselves in this position, doing meaningful work and making an impact. What might that look like? Are they a cultural fit? When speaking with the candidate, you want to determine if he or she will be a cultural fit for your organization. In the corporate setting, cultural fit often involves assessing how the goals and expectations of the candidate compare with that of the company. Churches look for a spiritual and theological connection as well as a cultural fit; they want an understanding of the candidate’s foundational beliefs in areas such as discipleship, mission or stewardship. How do they view their role in the changing landscape of the church today? Is the candidate for senior pastor, associate pastor, youth minister, or music minister able to tell you why they feel called to be a part of your church or organization and what sets it apart from others? Has the candidate researched your church or organization? This demonstrates a high level of interest. Is it somewhere that they would like to be? Typically, in the corporate world, the human resources manager will conduct the initial interview before sending the candidate to meet with the hiring manager or others in the organization. In a church, the person(s) responsible for conducting the interview will depend on the size of the church and whether they are multi-staff or single person (pastor and secretary). There might also be a pulpit search committee made up of key leaders from the church who recommend a pastoral candidate for consideration. Typically, search teams will look to gain a sense of a clergy person’s gifts and skills.

In many cases, church by-laws will stipulate the duties and responsibilities for a particular position. More and more, churches are relying on the same interview strategies and hiring practices as the corporate world. The use of employment contracts, a longtime corporate practice, is becoming more common in church organizations, such as the minister/church agreement, a formal agreement for employment over a period of time listing expectations and accountability. Always allow sufficient time for questions at the end of the interview. Be as clear as possible about the next steps. Let the candidate know where they stand — i.e., are they the first person to be interviewed, and are there additional interviews scheduled? In many churches, pastoral candidates will be invited to preach a sermon or teach a Bible study lesson as part of the selection process. They might also be required to meet with the church leadership and the congregation. Most importantly, be sure to be in touch with the candidate regardless of the decision. If the candidate was not selected, you might choose to offer feedback that could be helpful to the candidate as a matter of professional courtesy. Vincent Schera is chief human resources officer at MMBB Financial Services [ ], where he implements and manages all HCM policies and programs for MMBB. Rev. Dr. Perry J. Hopper is associate executive director at MMBB Financial Services, oversees all aspects of denominational relations, and is responsible for coordinating special programs that support MMBB’s mission. CHURCH EXECUTIVE.COM | 13

Step 1: Dream Technology is often one of the biggest line items in your budget — but how do you know if the A/V system you’ve chosen is the right fit, both now and in the future? Tim Corder, part of the production and solutions team at Mankin Media Systems, explains the Mankin process for ensuring that your design best reflects the goals, values and DNA of your church. How do you know if you’re due for an A/V system upgrade? Are there signs a church should be looking out for? Corder: Typically, the functional lifespan of performance technology systems is eight to 12 years. That lifespan can be shorter or longer depending on use, values and goals. When your vision, goals and/ or strategy toward the weekend service experience a change — or there’s a change in multisite or leadership — that’s a signal to reassess. You should also pay attention to any complaints from the congregation concerning sound, video or lighting. If you start hearing a consistent thread of comments about a marked change in, for example, volume, oftentimes there’s something to it. What’s your “4D” process (Dream, Design, Deploy, Defend), and how does it help you ensure an engaging A/V setup for a client? Corder: Technology is typically the largest single line item in a church’s budget for new construction or renovation — and often the least understood. We walk alongside the leadership team and guide them in developing a worship space that best reflects their goals, values and DNA. The 4D Process was birthed and refined from our collective experiences with clients gained over the past 16 years. It’s a defensible, documented and highly collaborative road map for consistent, measurable execution. By engaging in the Mankin 4D Process, we can own the outcome. What can a church expect when they start step one of the 4D process: Dream? Corder: Every church has the same ultimate vision of connecting souls with their creator. However, every church has some measure of unique DNA, mission, values, vision etc. Any of these elements can morph and shift over time. 14


The Dream process is a targeted time when we get to know the client. We ask a lot of questions with the primary goal of developing a roadmap for where they want to be in six months, 10 months, and when the project is completed. We use four stepping stones during this “Dream” period: research and ideation; discover audience needs; clarify goals and priorities; and create a roadmap and budget. What objectives are there for these stepping stones? Corder: Research and ideation: We look to other spaces for inspiration, including auditoriums, music clubs, gathering spaces, other churches, etc. This is all with the goal of exposing a team to what is out there. Discover audience needs: Needs change over time. We ask, “Where is the church now?”, “Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?” We often create a decision triangle when navigating these conversations to help the church balance capability, longevity and investment. Clarify goals and priorities: There will always be more dreams and goals than there are resources to accomplish them. Priorities must be determined and enforced. Vision must be kept at the forefront to ensure goals are accomplished to further the church’s mission. Create a roadmap and budget: All the above must go hand in hand with a budget. The right budget must be deeply rooted in what fits the church’s DNA and will meet their strategic needs. Do you have any tips or ideas when it comes to creating a budget for a new A/V setup/system? Corder: A core part of the dream process will be to work together to look at other spaces and churches to evaluate and establish baselines for a realistic budget. The most dangerous thing that a church can do in the early days of the project is to arbitrarily set numbers that don’t take current technology and its market prices in to account, or that don’t include what their vision, values, strategies and DNA are — these two elements need to be aligned. Editor’s note: In the next issue of Church Executive, Shane Skaggs, Mankin’s Chief Design Officer, will outline steps 2 and 3 in the “4D” process: Design and Deploy. Tim Corder is part of the production and solutions team at Mankin Media Systems []. Mankin Media Systems is an A/V/L integration company who is passionate about leveraging performance technology to help clients better engage their audience.

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Understanding Same-Sex Marriage and Transgender Law” In this timely webinar, Church Executive Magazine, Church Mutual and attorney James Friedman — an expert in insurance and constitutional law — examine the integral role your religious organization plays in your community and how changing laws can affect you and your mission. Important topics you’ll learn about include: • 2015 Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling • Federal interpretation of Title IX • Current political landscape • Key areas of risk for religious organizations Available on-demand now at:


Roadmap to a sound financial future By Matthew Swain, RS

For many years, a congregation in the central valley of California, the breadbasket of America, thrived by serving a cross-section of the American population — from migrant workers to white-collar business professionals and everyone in between. This particular parish was built back in the 1960s, outgrew existing spaces, and added buildings in the 1970s and 1980s, as many congregations did during this time. Renovations of existing spaces were completed as problems were identified, from the occasional new flooring project to volunteer Saturday painting work parties. Through the first few decades of its existence, the church always seemed to get by with no big property surprises.

Leadership engaged the services of an engineering firm to evaluate energy use campus-wide. This survey helped them identify two key elements of high energy use and waste: lighting and HVAC systems. Furthermore, the survey helped identify high-use areas for each of those components; this was helpful, as they knew the funds were not readily available to simply replace old light fixtures and HVAC systems throughout the campus. Armed with this valuable information, leadership changed the church’s financial course and embarked on a major site-wide, multi-year project that will set up the parish with a much stronger financial footing for decades to come. Information drives savings Reducing energy use and maintenance costs gave the parish the buying power to pursue a photovoltaic solar collection system designed around a new energy footprint for the campus (based on planned replacements of all the energy-wasting fixtures and systems throughout the campus). Through installation of the solar system, on-bill financing through the local energy provider, replacement of lighting to more energy-efficient bulbs and fixtures — as well as replacement of high-use HVAC systems — the parish was able to drastically reduce the energy purchased from the electricity grid. Savings from lower energy costs helped fund replacement of moderate-use HVAC systems, further reducing energy use. This energy reduction plan was crafted in tandem with a capital plan from Association Reserves. The capital plan identified not only all the assets involved in the energy reduction project, but all the major, predictable capital projects throughout the site, from roofing to parking lots, carpeting to audio/visual systems. Having this financial plan in place and updated annually gave leadership the confidence to move forward in a way that balances upgrades to the campus, while also setting aside a prudent amount of funds each year to offset deterioration. As a result, future leadership teams will have a source of funds and a plan for keeping the campus lean financially, which makes the most of the funds entrusted to them that support the mission of the church — preaching the gospel and making disciples.

As energy continued to get more expensive, however, the budget became more strained and could not keep up with the levels of use to support the congregation’s Sunday worship and various weekly activities, from Bible studies to day-to-day operations. The Achilles heel of the parish was finally coming to the fore. Systems installed 30-plus years ago simply use a lot more electricity than those available today; but of course, those available today cost money, and the parish had no capital plan in place to prepare for these costly assets’ eventual failure and replacement. The parish was struggling financially to keep up with its 52 separate HVAC units, with only 14 being less than 30 years old. Those that hadn’t been replaced since the buildings were constructed had far outlived their typical useful life, but it would cost at least $350,000 to replace them all at once. Embracing a proactive solution Rather than ignoring the problem, leadership took a step back and looked at the problem from a wider angle. Then, they tackled the issue head-on! Where many parishes would simply “band-aid” indefinitely, or take up a special collection to fund a new unit each time one failed, this group pondered the site as a whole and came up with a very novel approach. 16


While leadership must never become complacent and simply rely on old data, the plan and infrastructure are now in place, allowing the church to move forward on a path that reduces the amount of time and dollars needed to run the campus efficiently, and in a way that truly serves His good work! Matthew Swain, RS, is Worship Facilities Specialist at Calabasas, Calif.-based Association Reserves [ ]. He is a certified Reserve Specialist and has been preparing capital plans for non-profit organizations across the country for more than a decade. Swain currently serves as the national representative for Association Reserves’ worship facility clients.


It was just Rev. Kristina “Kris” Mares M.Div., summa cum laude, 2015 Pastor, Mt. Tabor United Methodist Church, Salisbury, NC Coordinator of Missional Engagement, Uwharrie District of The UMC

What I learned at Hood Theological Seminary that day, and have continued to keep as a practice since then, was to be fully present in the activity I was doing at the time. No more multi-tasking. No more trying to listen in class, while texting a friend, while making a grocery list. No more watching a movie with my kids, while reading for class, while checking social media. When I study for seminary, I study. When I have coffee with someone, I listen.

I remember sitting in a one-week intensive class, watching a video by photographer Dewitt Jones. He talked about his travels for National Geographic and how the scenes he captured and the people he met impacted his perspective on the world. Jones talked about an interview with a life-seasoned woman known for her weaving. When he asked her what she thought about when she was weaving, the five words came. Five words that have stayed with me and changed me.

When I weave, I weave. As a chronic multi-tasker, those words hit me straight in the heart and gut. While attending seminary at full-time status (9 credit hours a semester), I also pastored a small rural church, volunteered with a local moms organization, was married and parented five children. My life as a seminarian was busy. My husband also traveled four days a week for work, so weekend family life was on me. I was a great multi-tasker. But those five words... When I weave, I weave. Here was a woman who had lived life twice as long as I had. She was an “expert” in her field. And at the time of the interview, she was caring for a sick family member. She had a lot going on, too! But those five words… When I weave, I weave.

When I am with my family, I play. When I weave, I weave. Those five words changed my approach to seminary, pastoring and life. Living with the wise words of the weaver, helped me graduate seminary with honors. The class schedules, with weekday and weekend options, paired well with pastoring and family life. The low tuition rates (and scholarship opportunities) allowed my family to pay cash for the training I needed to be a better pastor and administrator. The professors understood that although students were in seminary to learn and be challenged, we also needed to care for our families and our congregations and ourselves. I remember one instance when I did not “weave” very well. I had a preaching project due, and one of my children became ill. Several doctor appointments invaded my time to study and prepare. I emailed my professor, and he said I would still present on the appointed day. I wasn’t ready, and my mind was with my child, not on preaching for class. I got up and completed the task. Poorly. It was painful. That professor held me accountable for the assignment and kept the class on schedule so that all could have their opportunity to preach. At the end of that class session, he pulled me aside and told me to take another week, perfect the sermon and delivery, and let him know when I was ready to try again. Grace. Accountability and grace permeate the campus of Hood Theological Seminary. It is a place that held me accountable to a higher standard of preaching, pastoral care, theological understanding and ministerial practice. And even though life was busy and hard, Hood was a place where I found a deep sense of grace. But those five words... When I weave, I weave.


questions to ask when shopping for group health care By Scott Charbonneau

Effective ministry leaders are committed to investing in their staff. You nurture their faith and provide the tools they need to carry out the mission. However, caring for your staff runs deeper than ministry basics. You should also consider providing benefits like group health insurance to support them and their families from a physical standpoint.

Recently, a ministry leader we were working with told us he viewed choosing the right health coverage as an essential part of caring for and protecting his employees’ calling, while confessing that it was one of the most confusing choices he faced. With a century of serving churches and ministries, including the past five decades in the health coverage industry, we have learned the secret to choosing a health plan is to focus on the needs of your ministry team before you start shopping for a plan. That’s why our insurance representatives encourage ministry leaders to answer these five questions to determine which group health plan is best for them:

#1: How much coverage do we need? A High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), offering lower monthly premiums in exchange for the employee shouldering a greater portion of the cost of care, can be a good choice for a group of young, healthy adults. Families with children or individuals with complex health issues might prefer to pay higher monthly premiums in exchange for the lower cost-sharing found in a PPO.

#2: Will we be in the right network? Because staying in-network is the best way to access quality care at the lowest price, choosing a plan with a large provider network makes it easier for employees to get the care they need. A geographically constrained network might work for employees all based in one area. However, if your employees are more scattered, or if they are providing coverage for their college-aged children, a plan with a nationwide network of discounted carriers is a better option.

#3: How will we manage prescriptions? Plans that encourage the use of generic drugs and mail-order delivery options for maintenance drugs can result in significant savings for both the participant and your ministry. You should also look for a plan that offers access to brick-and-mortar pharmacies in your community. 18


#4: What are the extras? Look for incentives that help lower the cost of care. Programs such as telemedicine, opportunities to earn cash rewards for using lowercost providers, and coverage for individuals traveling overseas are some possibilities.

#5: What else can we do to support our plan? Consider going the extra mile to provide your employees the tools they need to maximize their benefits. Pair your HDHP with a Health Savings Account so employees can set aside funds to pay their deductible. Offer a Flexible Spending Account so employees in your PPO can set aside pretax dollars to cover out-of-pocket costs. Answering these five questions when considering your plan options can help you choose the best medical coverage for your employees while being a good steward of your resources. Scott Charbonneau is managing director of Insurance Plans at GuideStone, where he has served churches and ministries since 2002. Charbonneau and his team of experienced insurance professionals are dedicated to meeting employee benefit needs by providing ministries with quality, affordable health coverage that reflects their biblical values. Visit to learn how GuideStone can serve your ministry.

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Creating a generous culture starts with you, pastor

By Jim Sheppard

“You all know that my wife and I have given 10 percent of our gross income to this church since day one,” my pastor reminded the congregation one Sunday. “What we haven’t shared is, as our children have moved on, we’ve realized that we have more margin in our lives, and we have increased our giving to 18 percent.”



While this might seem like a simple empty-nester realization, or the commendable efforts of a spiritual leader to motivate his congregation, it’s much more than that — it’s any pastor’s giving story. And it’s a story that you should be able to tell, too. A giving story is the testimony of the transformational work God has done in someone’s heart when it comes to giving — whether it’s moving from obligation to giving cheerfully, or the process of overcoming debt by following godly financial principles. Your giving story, pastor, is where it all begins for your church. Simply put, generous churches are led by generous pastors. This doesn’t mean a pastor must be the single most generous person in the church — or portray himself as that. It means that a pastor is on a journey of generosity, rather than in a place of stagnant giving, just like his church. Talking about how and why the Lord has led you in that journey starts the conversation among your people. The authenticity of a pastor’s giving story and the emphasis that he puts on his generosity journey has a direct correlation to developing a strong body of givers. Before moving on (or losing you here), we must address two excuses: “I don’t have a giving story,” or “I don’t give enough to share about it.” Surprisingly, both are commonly heard but are steps — not barriers — to developing your giving story. For the former, ask yourself how and when God changed or developed your heart toward giving, stewardship and partnering with him in your finances. Addressing the latter is of utmost importance. Resources from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University are a great place to start. Once you overcome financial burdens to give freely, your story is that much more important to share with your congregation. You are a walking example that generosity is the call for every believer, and it is a journey, no matter financial status or position. Extend the conversation to your staff We all know churches are run, and vision is cast and executed, by a team of people including staff, leaders and core members. Like any vision or mission you want your church to embrace, it’s crucial that the pastor is surrounded by a team who advances a culture of generosity. Your leadership team must make generosity a personal priority and share it like you do. They are on the front lines supporting the vision, answering questions, and often times, defending against pushback. Staff members who share their giving stories and encourage the conversation around giving will further weave generosity into the fabric of your church. Intentionally empower your staff to share their stories. This includes identifying generosity, and the conversation around it, as a priority alongside other mission statements and values year-round, not just around capital campaigns or giving seasons. In staff meetings, regularly ask team members to share their stories. It’s great practice, and it emphasizes the conversation around generosity as a priority. This might feel like a pop quiz at first, but it will quickly become a natural way for leaders to reflect on and share how God is using their gifts to advance the Kingdom. Spread the culture to your church Developing generosity in your church starts with you, pastor, and then extends to your staff. But, developing lasting and generous givers is contingent upon your communication with your congregation. For a lot of churches, the information and awareness aspect of financial giving

is an area for massive improvement. We want to see giving coming from a generous heart, and that comes from establishing practices that regularly and intentionally affirm the decisions of members to give to the local church. Even for many mature givers, giving to the church has become a choice, and not “the” choice. It’s just one choice amongst others that one can make to give to the Kingdom rather than the foundation from which all other giving choices flow. Every person in your congregation is bombarded with messages from countless other good organizations about how and why to give to them. Often, the church’s message is implied, nonexistent or laden with “should” and “oughts.” The church is given 52 opportunities throughout the year to put itself on display to its members — to share its priorities and mission, how it stewards its finances, and how it’s winning in the world. In other words, what happens when you give here?

Sharing why and how to give starts with you and your staff and then extends to sermons, transparent reporting and leveraging the giving moment in every service. Here are a few tips: • Share theology that supports giving as the mark of a mature faith. • Use impact stories to connect life transformation to their gifts and offerings. • Leverage every offering moment as a dynamic opportunity to communicate the sanctity of giving as an act of worship and obedience, not a stale, rote time. • Provide varied and up-to-date ways to give, and consistently and clearly communicate how to use them. The bottom line, pastor, is that a generous church is led by a generous pastor. There is no getting around it. Your voice on this important facet of spiritual development matters — it matters for your people, for the health of your church, and for the advancement of the Kingdom in your community. Jim Sheppard, principal and CEO of Generis, has walked alongside hundreds of pastors to develop generous church cultures. To learn more about the consulting services of Generis and how its team can partner with you and your church to fund your Kingdom vision, visit


FULLY FUNDED, FINALLY 5 factors that drove San Diego Church of Christ’s giving to grow by 23.8% in 18 months With humble beginnings, San Diego Church of Christ (SDCOC) was once a small church in Poway, Calif. Now averaging more than 1,700 in attendance on the weekend, this multigenerational church has four locations throughout San Diego. Lead Administrator Ray Schalk recalls a recent change that has helped SDCOC not only meet its monthly budget for 2017, but exceed it. In late 2015, leaders at SDCOC decided it was time to revamp the church’s online giving. Until that point, the church offered an online giving solution that was cumbersome to use and wasn’t designed with a mobile-first giving experience in mind — something that’s expected by members these days due to the influence of Amazon, Apple, Starbucks, Facebook, Uber and many others. After due diligence, the SDCOC team chose as their new digital giving provider. According to Schalk, the ease of giving via mobile devices, direct ChMS integration, simple admin tools, and no setup/monthly costs were all key to the decision. Next, SDCOC leaders designed a launch plan that showcased the new capabilities during their yearly kickoff workshop in January 2016. The path to better giving Since upgrading to a mobile-first, modern giving solution more than a year and a half ago, here are a few of the key metrics the church has been tracking: • 23.8% growth in overall giving (dollars) • 100.2% growth in online giving (dollars) • 5 1% of all giving now comes in online — up 61.7% from the previous system • 23% growth in the total number of givers (i.e., engaging new givers) • 5 5% of online giving is now set up as automated recurring giving • $175 average gift size through online sources Though a big improvement, these results didn’t just “happen” by implementing a new technology solution; SDCOC leaders did five very important things: #1: They created a thorough roll-out plan. A launch date was picked and a plan put in place to inform and educate the entire church. Starting with the yearly kickoff workshop, the leadership team put together a detailed video announcing as the new giving platform. Next, each campus assured the leadership team that an announcement would be placed for the next few weeks to remind members of the new giving options and encourage their use. Finally, during the giving moment in the worship service, a slide was shown that presented the different ways people could give. From cash and checks in the plate, to mobile giving and text giving, members were reminded of their options in the moment of giving. 22


#2: They kept the communications rolling. Once the big push was done, SDCOC leaders continued to inform the church about the new ways to give via email, weekly print bulletins and the website. Each communication channel kept the messaging in front of the church for a prolonged period of time. This ensured that regardless of attendance or if people “heard it the first time,” eventually every member of the church would know their options to give. #3: The gave it a personal touch. The transition from one digital giving system to another brings about unique challenges, one of which is transitioning individuals who set up recurring giving on the old system, to the new system. The leadership team at SDCOC took a very personal approach to this by sending individualized emails, making phone calls, and even walking up to people on Sunday to let them know about the switch and what it meant for them to convert to the new giving system. It took some time, but the effort was well worth it — they converted nearly every person to the new system. Now, more than 55% of the church’s online giving comes in through automated recurring gifts. #4: They reported out on financials. Although not a new practice, the leadership team continued in full financial transparency by reporting weekly giving in the bulletin. Doing this helps everyone in the church stay current on where the church stands financially. #5: They continued teaching on sacrificial, joyful giving. Again, this is not a new practice; it has been a vital part of the church’s growth in giving. Continuing to teach the heart of Jesus to give sacrificially has been at the heart and core of it all. SDCOC has been teaching on generosity and sacrificial giving for years. Most recently, they taught a series based on The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. Increased giving = increased ministry Now, SDCOC is able to bring on more full-time and intern youth and campus ministry staff, which helps them maintain a focus on these important ministries. The church can also participate in supporting church plants around the Southwest and in new areas of San Diego. SDCOC has big dreams for reaching San Diego for Christ and making an impact in its community. Finally, the church has a huge heart for missions. The increase in funds gives leaders and members the ability to do more work in nearby Mexico. Since implementing a more robust online giving solution, there’s definitely excitement about the consistent increase in giving SDCOC has seen. There’s even more excitement and faithfulness about how God intends to use the funds for His glory.


Preventive maintenance and capital planning What’s the cost of not investing now? By Donovan Loomis

Thom Rainer recently shared a list of the top 10 questions pastors ask him, and No. 2 was, What do I do about our aging facilities? Every church will inevitably have to ask this question. Preventive maintenance (PM) and capital planning will help ensure that time doesn’t come prematurely — and when it does come, you have the funding to take the needed steps. As I pointed out in a recent article, a well-managed PM program and capital plan can have one of the biggest effects on good facility stewardship. Unfortunately, with so many responsibilities to juggle, church facility managers often have little time to do preventive maintenance, and even less time to provide thorough documentation to assist with decisionmaking. This forces them to rely on guesswork and breakdowns for allocating funds. Patrick Scriven, in his article on, says it perfectly: “The problem with deferred maintenance is that it is borrowing upon the promise of the future for the sake of the present. A broken physical plant is a terrible thing to gift upon the next generation.” If we truly believe God has entrusted these gifts to us, shouldn’t we take great care over them? Passive leadership has no place in the secular world, and certainly no place in stewarding God-given gifts. A weak preventive maintenance program typically coincides with a weak capital plan. If we don’t have a healthy reserve fund, how do we plan for big expenses? This is a dangerous way to operate, which is why we need a two-pronged approach with both PM and capital planning at the forefront. Preventive maintenance The goal of a PM plan is to ensure equipment is operating at maximum efficiency, preserving your assets while eliminating potential safety hazards. As you become more proactive, your day-to-day becomes less chaotic with less disruptions, and you become future-focused and can effectively prioritize your time and resources. The return on investment long-term is remarkable. A facility without preventive maintenance deteriorates about twice as quickly as one that gets regular PM. For deferred maintenance, a repair that is put off until next year will cost on average twice what it costs to fix today. How do you become more proactive with limited resources? First, leadership and operations must understand the long-term consequences of staying the same. You will need to document the amount of deferred maintenance, and time spent on reactive maintenance. From there, the data might tell you that, for example, you don’t currently have the human resources to catch up. You can then ask for volunteers or contract more out during the catch-up period.

When you’re taking on a PM plan, start by prioritizing items that relate to safety and security (i.e., keep bushes trimmed back from gradelevel and basement windows, check windows and exit doors daily, etc.). This includes items such as ensuring that you’re within code. (i.e., Are emergency exits unobstructed? When was the last time you tested or serviced emergency lighting and fire extinguishers?) Next, you can execute on items that will help extend the life of your facilities (i.e., investigate any leaks or unusual noises, keep roof drains free of debris, periodically inspect energy efficiency settings, etc.). Now that you have a PM plan in place, it’s important to ensure your budget and assets align for the future with capital planning. There are three parts to a capital plan: 1) Component List — Outlining your assets and a schedule of all major predictable repair and replacement projects. To make an informed decision on when it will need to be replaced, you should have visibility into all work orders and how many of them were breakdowns versus PM. 2) Reserve Fund Strength — Compares how much money has already been set aside in reserve to how much deterioration has occurred 3) A Funding Plan — Identifies how much money needs to be put into your reserve fund each year to prepare for the replacement of the asset. The goal is to be more than 80-percent funded. For an older asset with deferred maintenance, you can use the Facility Condition Index (FCI) to decide if it makes sense to repair or replace. Take the needed repair costs, divided by the replacement cost, to get a percentage form. From there, refer to the table below:

How do we tie our PM program into our capital plan? If you don’t have good documentation of asset history, getting a facility condition assessment (FCA) will provide you with a capital plan. Implementing a computerized maintenance management program (CMMS) will help you track your maintenance after the assessment and turn the assessment information into a living, breathing document. A CMMS will also help integrate your PM and capital planning program by giving you full insight into your asset’s work order history and providing a snapshot that tells the asset’s full story around how much it is worth, and how much it is costing you to maintain. When you begin to have a healthy and cohesive preventive maintenance and capital planning program, you create a controlled and manageable process that will help you plan ahead so you can minimize surprises and run the facilities instead of letting them run you. Most importantly, you are choosing to intentionally care for the gifts God has entrusted to you. Donovan Loomis has more than three years of experience in church facility management, collaborating with more than 200 churches. He serves as Dude Solutions’ [ ] Industry Specialist focusing on religious organizations. He graduated with a BS degree in 2012 from East Carolina University.




A God-sized vision,


(and then some!) In 2009, after leading churches in Oklahoma and Texas — and spending time overseas as missionaries — Senior Pastor Bill Langley and his wife, Sheri, found themselves called back home to Severns Valley Baptist Church (SVBC) in Elizabethtown, Ky.

Bill Langley Senior Pastor Severns Valley Baptist Church

Born and raised in the church, it was a true homecoming. Langley’s late father served as a deacon. His mother still lives there; so do his brother, sister and their families. When Langley visited, he was invited to preach.

Yet, when SVBC’s pastor resigned, Bill and Sheri made the move only after prayerful consideration. Blessings awaited … but so did challenges. “Coming home — well, that can be a disaster,” Langley says. “It’s a prophetic statement: ‘A prophet is not without welcome, except in his own hometown.’” However, when the church voted unanimously to bring him on as senior pastor, it was an affirmation. In 2009, he and Sheri headed home to Elizabethtown. When Langley took up the reins, the church’s 70 acres of land had been paid off, but had significant debt on the current facilities. Though $9 million remained on a 30-year mortgage, SVBC retired the debt within 10 years of his arrival. “’The burning of the note’ tied the past to the present and future,” Langley recalls. “We could say, ‘The Lord did lead us. We followed. We’ll do that again.” “Let’s do it again” The next phase at SVBC is a God-sized project — including a new worship center, spacious welcome center and outdoor plaza that will cost $16.5 million. Even so, Langley and his team aimed to raise $7 million over three years, and were prepared to finance the rest. With a building project of this magnitude, they knew they needed help, so they interviewed numerous potential capital campaign partners, and met face-to-face with four. Paul Gage, president and founder of The Gage Group, was among them. His was a familiar face; Gage and Langley worked together when Langley led a growing church in Oklahoma. Their campaign was a great success. So, it was natural that Langley and his team sensed Gage would be the right fit again. “It was his creative and confident rapport,” Langley says. “It was the integrity and his extraordinary track record of successful campaigns with dynamic churches”.

The elements of success First and foremost, the campaign involved 21 days of intensive prayer. Prayer journals and daily devotionals were prepared for families. On Sundays, small groups took time to talk about what the Lord had taught them that week, followed by group prayer. “It helped people understand that this is a God-sized project,” Langley says. “For a church to vote unanimously for a new building project and spend $16.5 million, that’s a work of God. And if God is for us, who can be against us?” From the beginning, Gage embraced this vision — and offered strategic expertise, including a focus on team building, church-wide participation and connecting with high-potential donors. It was a new approach for Langley, who chooses not to know what individuals or families give to the church. As such, Gage’s partnership and coaching was key. “We locked shields together, for sure,” Langley recalls. “I didn’t feel like I was inventing the wheel.” SVBC’s financial administrator identified key givers, and Langley met with them in groups. He led, of course, with prayer: “All I did was say, ‘You’re here tonight because you care about this church. We know you’ve invested in its ministry. We’re going to ask you to really pray and seek God and see what he leads you to do.” Above and beyond expectations As the campaign concluded, the results (like the goal) were God-sized: $12.2 million — more than $5 million beyond the goal. Now, although Langley and his team were prepared to finance the remaining $4 million, they’re confident that — with Gage’s help — they can raise that $4 million over the next few years. It speaks to a question they asked every firm in the beginning: How do you maintain momentum? “Paul has strategies in place that I feel are stronger,” Langley says. “Some candidates had no answer, but he had several.” In pursuit of that goal, they’ll mobilize those strategies, keeping the vision at the forefront (and celebrating victories along the way), together. Paul Gage President and Founder The Gage Group


How to use your app to prepare for the holidays By Tobin Perry

Only two teams in the history of Major League Baseball have won at least 116 games: the 2001 Seattle Mariners and the 1906 Chicago Cubs. Both teams dominated the regular seasons, quickly dispatching with opponents through good pitching, timely hitting, and stellar defense. But neither team won the World Series. Effective baseball teams and effective churches have something in common: they excel when the stakes are highest.



Your church likely needs loads of new volunteers during the holiday season. You’ve got choirs to fill up, greeters to enlist, parking attendants to find, etc. Your mobile app should be a key part of your enlistment strategy. For churches, that’s the holiday season. People are more interested in visiting your church during the holiday season than any other time of the year. You have to make that time count. Mobile can help your church multiply its ministry effectiveness during this important upcoming holiday season. The people you want to reach already spend three hours of every day on their mobile devices. They’re on their phones even more during this season — balancing their calendars, purchasing gifts, and texting loved ones.

So, how can your church use mobile to be more effective during the holiday season? These seven ideas will get you started: #1: Make it easy for new people to download your app. You’ll likely have more guests during the holidays than at any other time of the year. Nothing will drive these new guests into engaging deeper with your congregation better than an effective mobile app strategy. #2: You want to make it as easy as possible for new guests to get your app. That’s what makes a text-to-download feature so critical for you church. It allows guests to text a predetermined keyword to a specific number and receive a link to download the app. You could then put these very simple instructions on any of your holiday promotional items (invites, bulletins, etc.). #3: Provide a mobile invite for people to invite friends and family. No amount of marketing your church will do over the holidays will beat word-of-mouth. A 2014 LifeWay Research study showed most people would be “very interested” in attending a worship service if invited by family, friends or neighbors. Your mobile app can be a great tool to help your people do this more effectively by allowing them to share information about your holiday services through your app. #4: Get new people connected to church events. If your church is typical, you probably have more events during the holidays than any other time of the year — from special worship services, to cantatas, to New Year’s Eve watch parties.

Plus, your attendees have full schedules themselves during this season. It’s easy for your events to get lost in the mix. An effective calendar that allows congregants to easily find events and register for them through your mobile app will help your church cut through the noise. #5: Turn-year-end givers into mobile users. People love to donate in the last few weeks of the year in order to maximize their tax savings. Network for Good’s 2015 Digital Giving Index said that 11% of the annual giving of the 45,000 nonprofits surveyed came in the last three days of the year. Use all these additional gifts to drive people to your mobile app by following up the gifts (through either email or text, depending upon how the person gave) with an invitation to download it. #6: Use notifications to enlist new volunteers. Your church likely needs loads of new volunteers during the holiday season. You’ve got choirs to fill up, greeters to enlist, parking attendants to find, etc. Your mobile app should be a key part of your enlistment strategy. Use notifications to let church attendees know about the opportunities. Link those notifications to forms where volunteers can sign up to help from wherever they are. #7: Create a mobile advent devotional to prepare your people for Christmas. It’s easy for even committed Christians to commercialize the holiday season and obscure the reason we celebrate the birth of Jesus. A scripture reading and short devotional thought from your pastors (or even lay leaders) can help people focus on what matters most during the season. Put the devotional on your app, and set a consistent mobile notification schedule to remind users of their presence. For more information about how to develop a mobile strategy this holiday season, visit to schedule a demo. Tobin Perry has written about ministry and church topics for Saddleback Church, Baptist Press, the North American Mission Board and more for almost 20 years. He and his family live in Evansville, Ind.


4 keys to a successful church café By Mike Bacile As church cafés have developed over the years, so has the basic formula for creating a café that meets the needs and purpose of the community. Fading are the days when a church could just serve drip coffee and still be able to create the community and needed revenue for ministries. But along with the new wave of cafés comes a stark reality: if the café isn’t set up and run correctly, it can be more burden than blessing.

About 10 years ago, when the first big wave of church cafés started, there was a logical thought that if you set it up like the local Starbucks, you’d be successful. For the most part, this theory has been proven wrong time and time again. Four key lessons from these early pioneers make today’s church cafés much more likely to succeed.

#1: You can’t set up a church café’s flow like a local coffee house We work with both art (high-end) cafés and church cafés, which we’ve dubbed “quick-hit” cafés. We could never set up the two entities the same way, because the volume of people a quick-hit café receives per hour is 10X that of a typical café. Equally important is the fact that almost all church cafés are run by volunteers who practice their barista skills only once a week. The correct layout of the café — as well as the type of equipment, products and menu — are essential to quick, consistent drinks being made to handle the crowds.

#2: Your café needs a purpose As mentioned in our previous article [], a purpose for your café is a must. A clear purpose supports your volunteers and your community. Your vision is what inspires customers to wait in a line of 30 to 50-plus people to get a drink instead of going to the local Starbucks. Starbucks is a business for profit; your café is a business for purpose. If your community understands and supports your purpose, then your café is much more likely to succeed. 28


Recently, a church we worked with strongly supported a mission trip to Central America. They promoted to the community that all proceeds from the café would go to clothe children on the mission trip. The more money the community could raise, the more children they could clothe. Each week, they let the community know how many children would be taken care of because of the success of the café. This generous spirit drove longer lines, because everyone wanted to do their part. When people understand the why, then the reason is no longer about the coffee; it’s about the purpose.

#3: Know who you are … and who you’re not If your purpose is to clothe children with the proceeds made from the café, then the more people you can get through the café, the more children you can help. Of course, the same can be said for creating fellowship — also a very important reason to build a café. But fellowship and revenue only happen if you have efficient, consistent serves. Recently, I had a church customer who wanted his church’s café to be just like a local art café. Two of the staff went through an extensive two-day training on making the perfect latte. They cleaned the portafilter between each drink, weighed the grounds to the exact gram, did an intensive packing procedure, tamped, and finally pulled the shot. Each drink was taking about 3 minutes to make. Multiple that by 20 people, and the person in the back of the line was waiting a full hour to get a drink! Obviously, the church’s café didn’t take off like leaders thought it would. They forgot who they were. I often open a training session by telling the volunteers: “You might think you‘ll be volunteering in a café. In reality, you’re making a difference in your community and the ministries through coffee. Each time you serve one cup, you’ll raise money for something that truly matters. Along the way, you’ll be creating a community spirit that brings people together.”

#4: Work with the right people Finally, it’s important to work with people who know how to build and run a church café, uniquely. There are many who might have

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To RSVP, visit: worked with a local coffee house; but again, no local café — or even Starbucks — will ever experience the volume your church ought to have, if it’s set up and run correctly. Once the café is set up and your people are properly trained, volunteers should be able to succeed, and your community will flourish. Remember: a church café is more than just a place to get a good latte or cup of coffee. It should be the meeting point for fellowship and an opportunity for everyone in your community to give back and make a difference in the world. Mike Bacile is owner of The Daily Java [], a wholesale coffee equipment and product provider for more than 21 years. He speaks at many conventions around the country about the 25 steps for setting up a successful café. Over the past decade, Bacile’s company has focused on making church cafés a successful part of their communities, and The Daily Java has been labelled the “church coffee house experts.”

Cloud-Based, Cost-Effective Church Communications

Growing pains? As your church expands to multiple locations and campuses, your communications platforms should grow, too — particularly your phone system. Unfortunately, however, this is often an afterthought. Here, Keith Goodling, Chief Strategy Officer at Intulse, walks you through the process.

When multisite churches expand, do they typically reestablish their current phone system, or do they opt for a different system?

How the right phone system can keep church staff connected — even across multiple campuses

and troubleshoot the on-premise phone system. Otherwise, the church will need to purchase an expensive service contract from the reseller of the system. Since hosted and cloud options almost always come with some type of software application for administrators and users, the learning curve is smaller, especially for those end users.

What are the benefits of a cloud-based phone system? Goodling: All extensions are connected and part of the same system, regardless of location. At the same time, each campus can have its own local phone number that people can call. When that number is called, the call is delivered to the central campus while retaining the caller ID. Much like how call centers function, the call can then be transferred to

Goodling: The new site for acquisition is typically looked at as its own business unit that needs specific local utilities, including internet, a phone service, and possibly a phone system. The exception to that rule are the churches already using the cloud — especially with regards to a phone system. These folks are in great shape to simply add the necessary quantity of handsets and/or phones to their current solution. The new campus simply becomes an extension of the main campus.

What are some common struggles churches might face with their existing phone systems when they decide to add new locations and/or campuses? Goodling: Those using a traditional model of phone service delivered via copper wires, or those using an expensive on-premise PBX solution, end up with redundant costs. They also might have an expensive hardware investment with the new campus, and no ability to transfer calls or communicate efficiently between the locations. Each campus becomes a unique and isolated unit.

Cost-wise, if a church is planning on expansion in the future, what phone system provides the best stewardship of their funds? Goodling: The hosted cloud VoIP solution is the strongest candidate, in my experience and opinion. Initial setup costs are much lower for not only the expansion campus, but the main location as well. The monthly recurring fees for the system, service and support are fixed and predictable. Expansion is as easy as adding users, and this cost is known in advance.

What is the learning curve like for adding any new systems? Is there a correlation between cost and ease-of-use? Goodling: An expensive-capital-investment, on-premise solution will require someone on staff to know how to configure, manage, maintain

the correct person(s) at the right campus location. The system can even deliver auto-attendant greetings specific to the number/location the caller was trying to reach, including options for reaching staff members that can best serve them.

What options should churches be looking for within their cloud-based VoIP phone solution? Goodling: A good cloud-based VoIP offering is going to include some level of unified communications, or ‘UC’ as it’s often referred to. With that, there will be options to collaborate, communicate via texting, messaging and easy conferencing from both inside and outside the confines of the system. It will also include an app or dashboard that shows, in real time, the presence of users such as if they’re on do not disturb (DND) or are away from their desks. This can provide valuable insight into a person’s availability to meet a need quickly — especially in situations where timing is critical. Keith Goodling is Chief Strategy Officer at Intulse [ markets/churches ] in Elizabethtown, Pa. He has been involved with technology and software applications since Y2K and has served as a cross-cultural missionary, church elder, and currently as a small group leader and coach. Every member of the team at Intulse is a small group leader or ministry worker and highly involved in their local church. Additionally, most of the core team spent 12 to 15 years building and selling a leading ChMS system.


Faith &Law

Understanding same-sex marriage and transgender Law An expert in insurance and constitutional law examines the integral role your religious organization plays in your community and how changing laws can affect you and your mission. James A. Friedman Attorney Leader of Insurance and Reinsurance Working Group Co-Leader of Litigation Team Godfrey & Kahn, S.C.



How do cases on same-sex marriage and gender identity make it to the U.S. Supreme Court? Friedman: The Court tends to look at how things are playing out politically and socially in the states before it takes up an issue. It tends to wait until lower courts — whether the state supreme courts or federal circuit courts — have looked at an issue, and have come out on opposite sides of that issue. Once a state Supreme Court and a federal court disagree, or when two federal circuit courts disagree, then the Court looks at an issue.

What case determined the same-sex marriage ruling? Friedman: On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which declared that same-sex couples can marry nationwide. The Court also said that any law limiting that right is unconstitutional and void. There were 13 states that had recently enacted legislation that defined marriage solely as a union between one man and one woman that were directly affected.

What subjects were addressed — and what subjects were not addressed — with this ruling? Friedman: The Court decided that states are required to license marriages of same-sex couples. Furthermore, states are required to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples that were licensed in other states. Any laws to the contrary are unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution.

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“The right of same-sex couples to marry is the law in the United States. It is unsettled whether same-sex couples have a right to religious marriage ceremony. Finally, it is unsettled whether same-sex couples have a right to use facilities and services for their weddings if the vendors or the owners of the facilities object on religious grounds.” — James A. Friedman The Court did not address whether members of the clergy are required to perform same-sex marriages. It has not yet looked at whether the Obergefell decision has a direct impact on existing anti-discrimination or public accommodation laws, and it hasn’t looked at any impact Obergefell may have on existing insurance coverages and claims under insurance.

Some jurisdictions have gone the other direction. They not only are comfortable with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell, but they have made a decision that they will incorporate protections of same-sex marriage in their own laws. The state of Nevada has passed legislation to that effect.

What is the likelihood of a change in the law?

In conclusion, what are some established knowns about same-sex marriage?

Friedman: Obergefell is likely to be the law for quite some time. The President, for example, has no ability to change the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, and neither can Congress. The Supreme Court is the final arbiter on the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. It would take either a constitutional amendment through a Constitutional Convention, or an amendment when it comes to the states, to change the law at this time. Changes in the membership of the Supreme Court can have an influence on decisions of constitutional magnitude, but it’s unlikely any change in the near future would affect Obergefell.

What areas of risk or potential claims exist for churches? Friedman: A claim could certainly arise from a request to perform a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple. While they may have Obergefell on their side, if the officiant — a minister for example — refused to perform that ceremony, he or she certainly would have protections under the free exercise clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or under federal law, particularly the Religious Freedom Reformation Act, or RFRA. So, while there could be a claim, there certainly are some strong defenses. On the flip side, it’s also possible that a minister who was to perform a ceremony for a same-sex couple may face a potential breach of fiduciary duty claim if his or her congregation felt that the decision of the minister were contrary to church doctrine. It’s also possible that claims could arise out of either the permission or refusal to permit the use of the facilities of a religious organization for a same-sex marriage ceremony or reception. Whether that’s a valid claim or not, is probably based on whether the organization’s property is considered a place of public accommodation. Finally, religious organizations could potentially face claims — or, at least, face some risk — when they make decisions about whether to provide employment benefits for a same-sex spouse of an employee of the religious organization.

Friedman: The right of same-sex couples to marry is the law in the United States. It is unsettled whether same-sex couples have a right to a religious marriage ceremony. Finally, it is unsettled whether same-sex couples have a right to use facilities and services for their weddings if the vendors or the owners of the facilities object on religious grounds.

What occurred in the case surrounding transgender law? Friedman: First, there are the federal laws. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, passed by Congress, signed by the President, prohibits gender discrimination in education. President Obama — in particular, his Department of Justice and Department

Your Vision. Our Experience.

How have states responded to these potential risks and claims? Friedman: Some states have actually tried to challenge at the state level the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, claiming they have a right to do so under federalism or states’ rights. There is legislation pending in Mississippi called the “Religious Liberty Bill” that would not go quite so far as to try to overturn Obergefell, but it would provide protections against liability for discrimination based on religious beliefs. For example, if a minister chose not to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony, or if a florist chose not to sell flowers for a same-sex wedding, this legislation would protect those individuals who are exercising their religious beliefs. 32


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of Education — issued written interpretations of Title IX that prohibit discrimination based on a student’s gender identity. That started quite a ruckus. A transgender student in Virginia, who in his court pleadings goes by the initials GG, sued his school board for the right to use the school bathrooms that aligned with his gender identity rather than those which aligned with his birth certificate gender. Subsequently, several states sued the federal government, challenging the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX for not only gender but also gender identity.

How did states respond to this? Friedman: On the state and local level, a number of states and municipalities have passed laws or ordinances that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. In North Carolina, there was HB 2, a statute that required people to use bathrooms consistent with the sex identified on the birth certificate as opposed to their gender identity. The U.S. Justice Department sued North Carolina when President Obama was in office.

What is the current state of Title IX? Friedman: The Trump administration — again, the Department of Justice and Education — issued a new written interpretation of Title IX, withdrawing the support of transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity. The Justice Department also withdrew its lawsuit against the state of North Carolina challenging HB 2. Based on the new administration’s interpretation of Title IX, the states that had challenged it dropped their lawsuits. Most recently, North Carolina partially repealed HB 2, the bathroom law.

What was the response from businesses and corporations? Friedman: More than 50 large corporations — including some very conservative companies like Walmart — filed a brief supporting GG’s challenge to his Virginia school district. Some of these companies have publicly stated their support their transgender employees and customers. The state of North Carolina has reported that it lost almost $200 million in revenue from canceled conventions, concerts and sporting events in 2016 alone based on HB 2. A number of states started to follow North Carolina’s lead and pursued legislation against transgender people using the bathroom of their choice. Those states saw the repercussions in North Carolina and backed off. Many businesses are trying to find a solution to this concern. They’re beginning to move to single-occupancy and unisex bathrooms to avoid issues on both sides of the transgender bathroom question.

What types of risks within religious organizations could this law pose? Friedman: Permitting a transgender person to use the bathroom of his or her choosing could create problems for people who are against that concept. Similarly, prohibiting transgender persons from using the bathroom of his or her choosing could lead to claims. Hiring, firing and disciplining employees based on transgender status could be a problem. There is no U.S. Supreme Court decision at this time saying that that is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, but it’s certainly possible that somebody could challenge it, either under the U.S. Constitution or under state and local laws. Refusing to permit the

use of facilities outside of the educational institutions by transgender persons could lead to challenges, not based on Title IX but based on other federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws.

How can you avoid potential risks and claims? Friedman: It’s important that religious organizations are familiar with not only the federal constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions, but also with state and local anti-discrimination laws. You have an obligation to follow all federal, state and local laws. With respect to potential defenses, the 1st Amendment Free Exercise Clause is a very strong protection for religious organizations and people of faith, as is the federal statute I mentioned earlier: RFRA, the Religious Freedom Reformation Act. A church also needs to understand whether it is likely to be considered a place of public accommodation. If all that religious organization does is have religious ceremonies and other religious gatherings, then it is unlikely that it is considered a place of public accommodation. However, if members of the public hold meetings there, or weddings, etc., then it’s possible that a church or other religious organization could be considered a place of public accommodation and could be subject to certain anti-discrimination laws. Religious organizations should make sure that their bylaws and policies and other rules are consistent with church doctrine, and that they are enforced. Make sure to align the use of any facilities by members and/ or non-members to these rules, bylaws and policies.

What should you do if you are faced with a question regarding same-sex marriage or transgender law? Friedman: Document your decision-making, and the reasons you had for making the decision. You may want to consult with your attorney for difficult decisions. Consult with your insurance professionals to see whether potential claims would be covered. Insurance coverage is always a very solid risk mitigation strategy. Make sure you understand the coverage that you do have. Understand that every claim and every coverage decision is unique, and each claim is based on the facts, and every coverage decision is based on the specific policy language applied to those facts.

What kind of coverage is available that can possibly mitigate these risks? Friedman: Some policies provide coverage for legal defense only. Some of the claims that we’ve discussed would not create significant damages for the person who is potentially aggrieved, but they may seek injunctive relief or declaratory relief from a court. You may not be asked to pay much indemnity, but you will be forced to defend the lawsuit. There are insurance policies and riders for insurance policies that will provide defense coverage even if they do not indemnify against certain types of liability. Take a look at any umbrella or excess policies. They don’t always just protect on a higher layer of coverage; sometimes they fill in gaps as well. Make sure you understand what you have in that regard. Again, insurance coverage is critical, but there are many ways to potentially manage and mitigate risk. — Reporting by Joyce Guzowski


5 KEY TENETS of an effective church building process By Rodney James

It’s important for church leaders to know the fundamentals of the church building process. Our team is made up of experienced ministry facility design experts who desire to help educate them on the process in an effort to ensure critical steps aren’t missed.

#1: Carefully think through the purpose of each area of your ministry facilities Define the needs of the ministry in each of those areas. Naturally, the main purpose of each building will be to advance the kingdom of God and fulfill the mission of the church — but this won’t happen automatically.

#2: Share the vision Once you understand the purpose, sharing the vision for any facility renovation or expansion will have greater impact. The vision and future ministry opportunities will help greatly in garnering the greatest financial support and church member buy-in. People need to know the “why” of what they are giving to. How their money is being used is important, but the impact it will make on the Kingdom is what motivates the heart to give. When they understand the vision, their giving becomes based on advancing the kingdom, not just facilitating a building project.

#3: Determine what you can afford This step — determining what your church can afford to build — is a big one. Before you design even one square foot of your new building, this is where you must begin. Staggeringly, 82 percent of projects that begin without a budget, never get completed. So, the most important step you’ll take is to insure you can afford the entire project before you begin design.

#4: Execute a thorough due diligence process This step is critical! If you’re doing new construction, you must determine what it will take to develop your site before you design the buildings that are to be constructed. You must consider the financial impact of developing every piece of your land. Finding a partner to help you with the due diligence process will save you time, money and potential heartache in the long run. Some of the items to consider: • Will you need a stop light or turn lane? • Where are the connection points for all utilities? • How much parking is required? • How will you manage the storm water? • Are there any wetlands identified that must be managed? These are just some of a host of items that have costs attached to them.



#5: Choose the right partner This will require contemplation and study on your part. A few things to look for: First and foremost: do they understand ministry? It’s impossible for a team of people to design a functional ministry facility if they don’t first understand the ministry that will take place in that facility. How many church projects has a potential partner been involved with? Do they understand how today’s culture has affected ministry facility design? Have they completed recent projects under budget? Do you have a heart connection with their team? Are they concerned that you’re working within safe and realistic budget parameters? How do they determine the cost of the building as they design? Can they provide real references from pastors who they have completed projects for, without hesitation? You will be working with your church facility designer and builder for many months. It’s very important that you’re comfortable asking questions and that you feel you’re given honest information to help you make the right decisions. Once you understand your purpose for facilities, lay out your vision for ministry within current and future facilities, and then determine what you can afford, the next steps will be the beginning of the journey to help you turn that vision into reality. A trusted partner to lead you through the due diligence, design and building process will be a pastor’s greatest asset to ensure the information provided to the congregation is accurate from beginning to end. Rodney James served as executive pastor, then senior pastor, at Sequoyah Hills Baptist Church in Tulsa, OK, for 20 years. In that time, he led and completed multiple building and renovation projects. In 2012, James joined Churches by Daniels, Inc., in Broken Arrow, OK [] as Director of Business and Finance. He is now a Business Partner and Vice President of Business and Design. The company specializes in designing and building churches nationwide. CHURCH EXECUTIVE.COM | 35


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Factors parents consider when picking a Christian school Barna, in partnership with the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), recently conducted a study on what parents look for when making decisions about Christian schools. Both parents of current ACSI students and prospective students were surveyed. The parents were first asked to choose the top five purposes of education; both prospective and current parents selected to instill strong principles and values as their top priority (69% for current parents, 53% for prospective). Findings showed differences, however, between the focuses of prospective parents and current parents, as well. For example, prospective parents ranked “practical life skills” (51% to current parents’ 31%) along with “increased opportunities in life” (45% to current parents’ 29%) and a “fulfilling career” (38% to 22%” as objectives for sending their children to ACSI schools. Barna referred to these categories as “objectives related to personal achievement

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and social skills.” Current parents of ACSI students valued objectives related to spiritual and character growth, with the focus on raising the child’s socioeconomic status being far less important. Five goals that parents of current students noted as priorities are: “love for God and other people” (65% of current parents vs. 33% of prospective parents), “ability to apply knowledge (wisdom)” (60% to 44%), “faithfulness and obedience to God” (54% vs. 21%), and “leadership skills” (52% to 46%). Parents were asked to rate 23 characteristics of a school from “essential” to “nice to have” to “not necessary.” The top 4 that were most important to parents were: Safety; Quality Teachers; Academic Excellence; Character Development & Spirituality. Current parents (98%) and prospective parents (94%) rated Safety as essential when choosing a Christian school. Providing a safe environment can cover various topics in regard to the physical space, such as a playground or building, but it also covers what is referred to as “cultural safety,” which means an ability to ask questions or have doubt without fear, or having a feeling of belonging/respect. Prospective parents tend to think of physical and emotional safety for their children in a Christian school – as it applies to how other students are treating them. Current parents think about the ability to ask questions, including those pertaining to faith. Current parents of ACSI students rate their current school a 10 out of 10 at a 47% rate for providing a safe environment. 42% of prospective parents give a 10 out of 10 to Christian schools for providing safety, while they rated charter schools a 10 out of 10 at 35%, and public schools at a 21% rate. In comparison, current parents of ACSI students rated public or charter schools a 10 out of 10 at only 4%. Quality Teachers are also very important and essential to parents, especially “teachers who really care about their students” at 98% for ASCI parents. “Accessible teachers,” at 94%, is also important. 91% of prospective parents think that caring teachers are essential, while 80% are concerned about accessibility. Current parents would like small classes (63%) with prospective parents at 49%. Among parents who currently have children in private Christian schools, 59% give the current school 10 out of 10 when it comes to teachers (“teachers who really care about their students”). 52% say that they would give their school a 10 out of 10 for accessibility to teachers. At a rate of 38%, prospective parents gave a 10 out of 10 for “teachers who really care about their students” and 34% gave the same rating to “accessible teachers.” 95% of current Christian school parents rate academic excellence as a top priority, or “essential,” with 88% of prospective parents agreeing on this point. 38% of current parents give their schools a 10 out of 10 in academic excellence, with 86% rating the school a seven or above. More than two-thirds say that attending a private Christian school “fosters excellence.” Prospective parents rate private Christian schools at 29% when it comes to academics; this difference in opinion can only note that the perception may be attributed to a personal experience with an ACSI. is important to both current and prospective parents; 94% of current parents say that “intentionally developing children’s character” is a priority, and 73% of prospective parents agree that this is a priority. However, current parents also focus on spiritual development as well. 82% of current parents of Christian school students believe it is essential to consider this when thinking about different schools to attend. Prospective students consider this essential at 26%. Current parents give Christian schools a 10 out of 10 at 59% for being deliberate about developing children’s character, and for developing spirituality, at 66%. 35% of prospective parents gave a 10 out of 10 on character development to Christian schools, and 42% for a 10 out of 10 in spiritual development. 97% of current parents gave both topics a six out of 10 or above compared to three-quarters of prospective parents, ranking the combined topics a six out 10 or above. — Reporting by Joyce Guzowski CHURCH EXECUTIVE.COM | 37


Moving beyond insurance — hop on board! By Michael J. Bemi

Our series on moving “beyond insurance” has identified and examined all the critical elements and related processes to enable an insured entity to “move beyond” insurance. However, we have not yet discussed and described the options available to your entity to retain risk. These options exist as methods of alternative risk financing and themselves are alternative risk mechanisms.


isk retention and alternative risk financing tend to “flow” along a relative continuum. That continuum usually begins with an organization individually selfinsuring some portion of the losses generated by its insurable exposures/operations/ activities. When closely related entities — such as a presbytery, district, diocese, synod, etc. — recognize the commonality of their exposures/operations/activities, they might form a self-insured pool. As the alternative financing experience and expertise of a related group increases over time, it might be attracted to a more sophisticated method of risk financing. Typically, this would involve moving toward establishment of its own insurance company. Note that for taxable entities, this transition to insurance company status can provide two tax advantages: 1) Acceleration of the deductibility of established loss reserves; and 2) Provision of greater certainty regarding the deductibility of premium payments. Even this process of establishing an actual insurance company can itself follow a continuum, somewhat akin to children crawling before they walk and walking before they run. Smaller entities might choose to elect IRC (Internal Revenue Code) 831(b) status, which provides that an insurer may be taxed only on its investment income — and not its underwriting income/profits — if its net written premium (or, if greater, direct written premium) does not exceed $2.2 million and certain ownership and diversity of control requirements are met. Note that electing this option should be done with great prudence and caution, as abuse of this tax provision (via its



use for estate planning purposes and gift tax avoidance) has led to significant scrutiny by the IRS to ensure that the entity created does not constitute a “transaction of interest.” Alternatively, “baby steps” can be taken via establishment of a “cell” captive within a “sponsor” insurance organization. Larger and more experienced groups of entities might form a group “captive.” Simply put, a “captive” insurer is an insurance company subsidiary of a non-insurance entity; for our purposes, the non-insurance entity is a church group. If the needs of the group revolve around liability insurance issues, they might choose to form a Risk Retention Group (a liability only captive enabled under Federal authorizing legislation). In all these instances — and with all these mechanisms — the professional assistance of actuaries, attorneys, consultants and specialty brokers should be sought, to maximize the probability of successful risk financing that will “stand the test of time.” Here are two caveats that can never be ignored or discounted if you choose to “go down this path.” First, you shouldn’t even initiate this process without being able to identify several welldefined needs that suggest you should retain your own risk. What are some of these needs? They include: •Y  ou can’t obtain insurance in the commercial market to protect a ministry or ministries that you believe are essential to your religious mission. •T  he insurance you can obtain is inadequate based upon an analysis of its coverage terms and provisions. In other words, it excludes coverage for activities/operations/ministries that are critical to the practice and profession of your faith. •T  he insurance you can obtain is adequate in regard to what it protects, but the available limit of coverage is not adequate when compared to the potential for damaging losses you might experience. •T  he insurance you can obtain is generally adequate to your needs, but is egregiously overpriced based upon your excellent long-term loss history. •A  ny combination of the above creates a well-defined need. Finally, keep reminding yourself that successfully operating an insurance company “over the long haul” is, in fact, an extremely difficult task. Michael J. Bemi (retired) is former 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

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WALK INTO ANY CHURCH THAT PARTNERS WITH MMBB AND YOU CAN FEEL THE DIFFERENCE. Congregations grow stronger with employee benefit plans from MMBB Financial Services. You’ll gain a partner that works exclusively with churches and faith-based organizations— we understand all the financial, tax, retirement, and legal issues you face. And your most valued messengers will know you care about their future. Let us serve you, so you can focus on serving the highest purpose of all: connecting your community to God.

MMBB is your partner in this journey. Join us. 800.986.6222


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Church Executive Sept-Oct 2017 digital  

Helping Leaders Become Better Stewards.