HELPING LEADERS BECOME BETTER STEWARDS
STArT THE YEAr WITH
2012 IS THE YEAr OF
RURal CHURCHES CAN’T GrOW? | 18
KEN WHITTEN KNOWN AS A ‘PEOPLE’S PASTOR’
JANUARY 2012 FE ATU RES FIVE LEADERSHIP RESOLUTIONS FOR 2012 14 By Sam S. Rainer III
Speciﬁc changes with followers in mind can help leaders create a more impactful ministry.
THE CE INTErV IEW
By Ronald E. Keener
Ken Whitten admits that his weakness can be that he allows too many opinions to come to the table. “I am a collective leader, which means I detest making decisions or casting vision from a vacuum.” He sees his church, Idlewild Baptist Church, a 12,000-member church in Lutz, FL, as being pastor-led, deaconserved, ministry-organized and church-approved.
IT’S NO LONGER YOUR FATHER’S CAPITAL CAMPAIGN 26 By Ben Stroup
How technology and communications are changing church fundraising.
NEW YEAR BRINGS RENEWED BIBLE ENGAGEMENT 32 By Ronald E. Keener
Publishing companies and pastors giving attention to ‘Bible engagement vacuum.’
DIGITAL ‘NATIVES’ DIG DEEPER
By Lauren Hunter
The Millennial generation is connecting with the Bible more though digital means than print.
NEW FORMATTING INCREASES BIBLE LITERACY 34
WHO SAYS RURAL CHURCHES CAN’T GROW? NOT SHANNON O’DELL 18
Using the Bible in a small group study is modeled after a book club format instead of a traditional Bible study.
This pastor says a red-hot marriage is a must for being an effective rural pastor.
LANGUAGE CHANGES TRANSLATION 36
By Ronald E. Keener
By Ronald E. Keener
BEST PRACTICES FOR FAMILIES IN THE BUSINESS OF A CHURCH 24
Common English Bible translation keeps pace with changes in society and culture.
By Leslie Dashew
Issues that plague secular family businesses are the same for churches.
TREATING THE BIBLE AS A ‘VARSITY SPORT’ 32
DE PARTM ENTS 7 ron Keener 8 News Update 9 Mail Box 30 Financial Solutions By Dave Briggs
36 Marketplace 38 Business Management By Vonna Laue
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Senior Pastors Jeff Manion and ray Johnston describe how their focus on the Bible helps their preaching and congregants.
S PECIAL S ECTION WHY ONE CHURCH SOLD ITS BUSES AND RENTED 22 By Brad Sullard
When “Old Blue” broke down with students for a fourth time in a year, it was time to make a decision.
Church Executive (Copyright 2012), Volume 11, Issue 1. Church Executive is published monthly by Power Trade Media LLC, a subsidiary of Friendship Publications Inc., 4742 N. 24th Street, Ste. 340, Phoenix, AZ 85016. ™
Subscription Rates: United States and Mexico $39 (USD) one year, Canada $42 (USD) one year (GST) included, all other countries $75 one year, single issue United States $5 (USD), all other countries $6 (USD). Reprints: All articles in Church Executive are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher. For reprints of 100 or more, contact Valerie Valtierra at (602) 265-7600, ext. 203. Copyright 2012 by Power Trade Media, LLC. No advertisement or description or reference to a product or service will be Deemed as an endorsement, and no warranty is made or implied by Power Trade Media, LLC. Information is obtained from sources the editors believe reliable, accurate and timely, but no warranty is made or implied, and Power Trade Media, LLC is not responsible for errors or omissions. Helping Leaders Become Better Stewards.
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PROBLEM GIVING “People don’t have a giving problem; they have a giving to their church problem. Some simply never developed that habit.” People increasingly choose designated giving.
I once attended a Lutheran ELCA church and I still receive The Lutheran magazine, one of the best among denominations. Its editor wrote about the trends in the ELCA’s statistical reports, many of them on a downward line when it comes to funding. It’s not an uncommon story for most denominations. But it was the last sentence that caught my attention, when he spoke of “a decline in undesignated giving represents one of the top challenges facing the entire ELCA.” When you parse those words, it’s a pretty disturbing observation. “Donations sent directly to causes and campaigns,” he also said, “result in less money moving on as mission support to synods and the churchwide organization.” “To say that undesignated giving is under fire is an understatement at best,” says Ben Stroup, an author and writer on stewardship, in commenting to Church Executive. “It seems that church leaders are the last to recognize the shift in giving taking place among the people in the pew. When Passing the Plate (Oxford, 2008) announced that 20 percent of American Christians give nothing to the church, why are we surprised that undesignated giving amounts are falling among regular churchgoers? The church may be losing ground on traditional giving techniques, but people have not stopped giving.” It wasn’t until the Industrial revo-
lution, he says, when people were paid at a predictable frequency, and the New Deal, when labor laws were enacted to protect income and jobs. This created a sustainable income stream for churches who quickly adapted their tactics to match the consistent income streams of their parishioners. Such a change is taking place again. Stroup says, “Given the tumultuous economic realities for everyone, this ‘new normal’ has created a more empowered giver who is asking more questions, expecting more say in how funds are used, and are more demanding of the results. This is the antithesis of the traditional church’s approach to undesignated giving which believes the giver gives to God, while the leader disburses the funds with limited accountability from the person in the pew.” Well, that rather describes my wife and I in our giving pattern. We make up our minds each week whether our offering will go to operating, building, or benevolence. And other weeks we also give to BGEA, Samaritan’s Purse, Open Doors and Voice of the Martyrs. Stroup knocks it out of the ballpark when he observes: “People don’t have a giving problem; they have a giving to their church problem. Some simply never developed that habit. Their parents didn’t do it. They’ve never done it. “The bottom line is this: American Christians see their money as theirs, not God’s. This fundamental shift in perspective moves the decision from a disciplined response informed by principles of stewardship to arbitrary generosity acted upon in the midst of an emotional experience. This
puts churches in direct competition with traditional nonprofits, who are – quite frankly – more skilled at talking about money, connecting dollars to impact, and calling people to action. In the absence of the practice and belief in storehouse tithing, undesignated giving disappears,” says Stroup. “The challenge for church leaders is to borrow the time-tested techniques of the traditional nonprofit world and translate that into the language and practice of the church,” he says. (See Stroup’s article on capital campaigns in this issue too.)
Got a question or comment? Email ron@ChurchExecutive.com
01/2012 | CHUrCH ExECUTIVE | 7
THREE PASTORS BRING NEWEST TECHNOLOGY TO THE PULPIT It is doubtful that Steve Jobs had pastors in mind when developing his iPad product (after all, he was known to favor Buddhism), but at least three pastors are making good use of the device in their ministries — and in weekend messages. “I always thought that the laptop looked so impersonal,” says Marty Macdonald, senior pastor of The City church in Batavia, NY. “The iPad is
like reading off of paper and it seems less intimidating; it has a personal feeling. I still don’t
care for times when someone opens a laptop.” The City is an independent church of 800 members, and is a part of Life Net Ministries International. MacDonald is using the first generation iPad, has bought the iPad2 for his wife on her birthday, and says “I am coveting one immensely.” His sons bought him his iPad for his birthday. Toby Slough, senior pastor of Crosstimbers Church, a nondenominational multisite church of 6,000 people, in Argyle, TX, says he basically uses his iPad as “a reading device.” “My notes are in a Word document format” and the iPad “has taken the place of my Bible and the paper version of my notes.” He observes too that
TAMI HEIM is the new president and CEO of Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA), having begun her new role Jan. 1. Frank Lafaro, who was CEO for five years, left the organization last April to become executive vice president of Prison Fellowship Ministries, where he served for 10 years prior to CLA. Heim was president of Borders Inc., and executive vice president and chief publishing officer of Thomas Nelson Inc. She has also served as a consultant to NavPress,
8 | CHUrCH ExECUTIVE | 01/2012
“because it is in a case that is designed to look like a book, there isn’t the look of a laptop” and he doesn’t get comments from the congregation. Tommy Reid, senior pastor of The Tab church in Orchard Park, NY, uses the iPad differently. “I use the iPad to create my sermon outline, then send the outline by e-mail and transfer it to my laptop, where I turn the notes into a hard copy.” So he doesn’t have the iPad in the pulpit. And maybe his age has something to do with it. “Since our church family is very used to their pastor being on the ‘cutting edge’ in almost every area of his life and ministry, they do make comments to this 79-year-old pastor that they expect me to use an iPad.” His is a congregation of 6,000 on weekends, and is familiar with modern ways. “We use social media for communication. I
Zondervan and other Christian publishers. Prior to CLA, she was a partner and brand strategist with The A Group Brand Development in Brentwood, TN. She serves on boards such as Lead Like Jesus, EQUIP, Growing Leaders, and Christian Women in Media Association. Tami and her husband Dale have a married daughter, Zoe, who is expecting their first grandchild. They are deeply involved in the life of their local church, Long Hollow Baptist Church, Hendersonville,
would say that 60 percent of our people are social media users,” he says, and notes a practical use. “We primarily used social media in our last capital funds campaign that raised about $1 million.” Macdonald says that “I do not subscribe to the notion that just because it’s new, I have to have it.” The greatest app for him is “You Version” Bible that has many translations “at the touch of your finger” for studying. Toby Slough likes the “You Version” Bible app too “when I have a long list of scripture references or if I am preaching from one passage with no additional notes.” He began using the iPad because of his eyesight problems. “I didn’t want to wear reading glasses while I preached, and keep looking through or over them, so I went to my iPad so that I could make the font as large as necessary.” — Ron Keener
TN, including an initiative close to Tami’s heart: leading mission trips to Jeremie, Haiti, to minister to orphans and to teach, disciple and develop them as Christ-centered leaders. Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA) is a national association of approximately 6,500 members from Christian nonprofit ministries across the United States.
‘TIS A MYSTERY:
Why drama got the hook in churches Mark Stoddard holds an MA in Educational Theater from New York University and is an award-winning drama director, Equity actor, scriptwriter and college educator in Phoenix, AZ. He sent this letter to the editor. [ www.phoenixfirstdrama.com ] I was struck by the cover story headline, “Why worship drama got the hook.” (September 2011) As the full-time drama director for the past 10 years at Phoenix First Assembly in Arizona, it naturally caught my attention. My first thought — “Oh no, I’m out of a job!” At Phoenix First, we produce 30 to 50 original theater pieces annually, including worship sketches, one-act plays and musicals, illustrated sermons and huge holiday productions – in total playing to more than 250,000 people per year. Like Willow Creek church, we have experienced the impact that quality drama programming can have on a community and congregation. I completely relate to Willow’s challenges of winning over skeptics; improving creative excellence; fostering skilled leadership; and recognizing that drama works best when it doesn’t preach. However, Sharon Sherbondy’s article (“What happened to drama in churches?”) about the rise and fall of drama at Willow Creek, left me with more questions than answers. I felt like a gumshoe murder mystery detective in an episode of “who killed church drama?” I needed a motive. My interrogation begins: • “Churches”? — is this a nationwide, cross-denominational epidemic? • Have other Willow Creek
“churches” eliminated drama programming? Why would they? • Why has Willow viewed drama as “culturally irrelevant”? What has shifted culturally? • Did “resource issues” play into their decision (i.e., the time and cost to produce live theater)? I can only speculate. Maybe it was budget cuts; after all, arts are cut in public and private education on a regular basis. Maybe it was predictability — maybe drama was overused and left the audience and creative team saturated. Maybe it was out of convenience. Frankly, theater is difficult to produce. So for many churches, simply downloading a pre-made video is a lot easier. But at what cost? The live interaction of actor and audience is a unique and powerful dynamic. Watch out pastors, virtual sermons might replace you! Maybe it’s just a matter of perspective. The article gives credit to Willow as the church “that started it all” (drama programming), but for thousands of years, drama has gone through phases of favor and disapproval by the church (i.e., the heyday of medieval cycle plays and the virtual elimination by Puritan censorship). Willow’s decision is just the latest ebb and flow of a bigger picture. Our pastor, Tommy Barnett, has been utilizing theatrical illustrated sermons for nearly 50 years and his philosophy of “the message is sacred, the method is not” permeates every fiber of our church. As a result, drama and the arts at PFA are not stuck in the past, we continue to evolve and shift with the culture. The arts should provoke us to think and wrestle to keeping the church relevant to our communities.
01/2012 | CHUrCH ExECUTIVE | 9
the ce interview
Senior Pastor | Idlewild Baptist Church | Lutz, FL
Ken Whitten admits that his weakness can be that he allows too many opinions to come to the table. “I am a collective leader, which means I detest making decisions or casting vision from a vacuum.” He sees his church, Idlewild Baptist Church, a 12,000-member church in Lutz, FL, as being pastor-led, deacon-served, ministry-organized and church-approved.
By Ronald E. Keener
10 | Church executive | 01/2012
A growing new campus of 143 acres — in fact, they have relocated twice in 12 years — and 725 new members just last year, it is an exciting time for the congregation. In fact “exciting” is the slogan for the congregation. “’Exciting Idlewild’ was a name I joyfully and gratefully inherited more than 22 years ago,” Whitten, 57, says. “The former pastor and staff coined that phrase because that’s who we are. I have always said jokingly that my fear is being sued for false advertisement. But Idlewild is a body of believers who are excited about loving and serving Jesus.” Who was the pastor of your youth and what is your conversion story? My pastor growing up was my Uncle Archie Grigg, a man who was a soul-winner, loved God’s Word, and taught me to love Jesus. I was saved at age 7, but much like being married, I had so much to learn. It seems back then all the sermons had only five themes. We heard a different sermon each week, but when they were finished, each could fit in any one of these categories: Hell’s Hot – Sin’s Dark – Judgment is Sure – Heaven’s Sweet – and Jesus Saves. At age 7 I knew I was a sinner and in need of a Savior. I gave all I knew of me to all I knew of him. He took me then and has kept me now. What a Savior! Who were your parents, and was there any one thing in your family that made you the person you are today? I was the youngest of six children born to my parents, Casey and Elsie Whitten. If you looked closely, you could tell I was the youngest because my cheeks were pinched more than all my siblings. Dad went home to be with the Lord in 2004 at age 86. Mom is now 93. She’s my greatest prayer warrior. Both my parents were people of humble means. My dad taught me to tithe, and mom taught me to read God’s Word daily. Dad was a deacon, and mom was everything a pastor would want in a church member. I am a man who loves Jesus, loves the church, and loves people because of them. Going back to church on Sunday evening and Wednesday night was never up for a vote. Because the “Wizard of Oz” came on TV on Sunday night, I never saw the entire movie until I was in college. We were poor from the world’s standard, but in heaven’s economy, very, very rich. You appear to be a very approachable, relational man. Is there any one thing that accounts for that today? Perhaps growing up with six siblings and with three older sisters, and at times feeling like I had four moms – may have contributed to me
loving people, wanting to “mother” them a little, and be their friend. My dad was a lot like my grandmother (his mother): humble, friendly, respectful of others, and he knew how to love and get along with people. Obviously, family plays a big part, but faith does as well. God’s grace is overwhelming to me. At the foot of the cross, it’s level. No one struts in his presence. The more I look into God’s Word, the more it looks and lives into me. Paul said it better than me, but it’s how I want to live: “For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Cor. 4:5, NKJV) (Emphasis added.) you’ve been called “sincere, genuine and transparent” and “not a preacher; he’s a people’s pastor.” do you see yourself that way? At this question I feel a little like the man who received a medal for being humble. He wore it so they took it away from him. I try to be those things, but that’s not how I would want to describe myself. It is true – I love people, sometimes too much because I’ll make myself sick to make others well. That’s not good. I can say this: If that’s how people see me it is because they do see Jesus in me because surely he is all of those things. Is there anything that can really make you angry? I always marvel at the emotions of Jesus Christ because he never was angry for himself. He became angry at how poor people were treated, how his Father was not revered and worshipped, how religious rulers became more important than real relationships. He was angry at injustice, prejudice, sin and Satan. I get angry when a goal of mine gets blocked. My anger is not always righteous. When I do not feel respected at home, I get angry. When I see people use the church, but not love the church, I get angry. There’s only one letter different in “anger” and “danger.” I want to be “good and mad.” I want to “be angry and sin not.” But truthfully some days my anger is so selfserving and immature, I’m ashamed when I get angry. I’m a lover, not a fighter, so anger isn’t something you see a whole lot from me. I love life, people and the Lord too much. Life’s too short to be angry. My wife, Ginny, always says, “Dogs get mad, you shouldn’t.” So true. you mention family as being important to you. I know you take a long vacation annually with the entire extended family at Sanibel Island (far right photo). What takes place, other than relaxation, during that time? Each of our four children – two sons, two daughters >>
tHE CE IntERvIEW
– and their spouses are responsible one day for the evening meal, family games and devotions. We laugh a lot, and whether it’s golfing, fishing, shopping or just hanging out at the pool or the beach, one thing is for sure, it’s a sweet week of being with just family. Is there anything you and Ginny have done over the years of your kids’ growing up that has made “family” so special — and apparently so successful? Our children’s walk with God is more of a tribute to their mom than their pastor. As you know in ministry, family time and church time can really be a competition for one’s devotion and heart. Never, and let me say it again, never have I heard Ginny say to the kids, “Well, your dad can’t be there because he has a ‘church thing’ to go to.” Or, “You know your dad, church always comes first.” First of all, she knew that wasn’t true. There have been times my wife has taken second place, and over the years, I’ve learned to repent and change that, but Ginny and I both
WHEN THE CONGREGATION HAS ‘CELEBRITY’ MEMBERS Tony Dungy was very active while he was head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He and Lauren served in our preschool ministry, served ice cream at Vacation Bible School, helped with our recreation ministry, and when we planted a church in central Tampa, they became very active there. Their children are active in our Saturday recreation ministry, and his kids sing in our Children’s Choir programs on Wednesday evenings. Tony and Lauren have never seen themselves as celebrities, only as servants. They are the real deal. I feel a little uncomfortable talking about high profile people who attend Idlewild. James reminds us the ground at the foot of the cross is level. One great characteristic about Idlewild is that even though the Yankees Spring Training is in Tampa and people like Andy Pettitte, Joe Giraldi and Mariano Rivera have attended, and people like Lou Piniella, who is a member and active here, we do not get star struck, and those folks are treated like everyone else. That’s the way the Lord wants it, they want it, and we want it. — KW
have always felt our kids belong to the Lord and to us and not to the church. Years ago I made a pact with my kids: You come hear me preach, and I’ll be there at your swim meets, ballet recitals, baseball games, soccer games, and band and choir concerts. They’ve kept their end and still do, and I have as well. Ginny is a great mom, and while they know their parents aren’t perfect (far from it!), we try to be the real deal. My kids are the real deal too – all four of them and their spouses. our october issue carried a story about the difficulties that pastors’ wives have in the shadows of 12 | CHUrCH ExECUTIVE | 01/2012
their husbands’ ministries. Was there anything that you and Ginny talked about or agreed to early in your marriage/ministry that has carried both of you though the strains of ministry that so many other pastors face — not always successfully? Perhaps not consciously, but I can tell you this. Ginny has never seen herself living in anybody’s shadow, especially mine. I am free to be available to meet our church’s needs and our staff’s desires because of her. She makes it easy to do that. We are a team. We are both called. She is my greatest cheerleader and a great prayer warrior. She knows when I’m quiet, I’m thinking – probably about church. She sits in different locations in church, she sings in the choir and is very active in the body, but if faced with the choice to hear her husband preach or watch our son pitch, guess what she’ll choose? A sermon CD only costs $4.00. She’s probably heard that one before, but there’s only one high school baseball career. She’s going with my blessing to represent us both. Only difference is — she won’t yell at the umpire like I might. Oh yeah, that’s another thing that can make me mad. I count 126 deacons of the church in the ministry plan; what functions do so many people carry out? Where are the month to month decisions made? Our deacons play a vital role in this body we call Idlewild. They are not a board – we do not find that in the Bible. In fact, the only board in the Bible is the one Paul floated on in the Mediterranean. They are servants. They serve widows in our fellowship, and they do something else. They give great collective counsel to their pastor. It’s a great marriage when you have a group of men who are close to the church family and serve them; why wouldn’t you want to know their answers to the questions of “Are we going to fast, too slow? Are we okay? Are we clear in communicating the vision? Is there something that needs changed?” We have very few committees, but three very busy committees in our structure — Personnel, Finance and Stewardship, and Missions. Deacons trust staff. Staff trusts committees. Committees trust staff, and the church trusts staff and structure. For a physical plant that large on 143 acres, is there a management structure that you use to get the work done in an orderly fashion? do staff have annual goals to meet? We have 22 pastors and an incredible staff of managers and directors that I have the privilege of doing life with and who are the arms and legs of our ministry. We have a Leadership Team comprised of department heads that meet weekly for two hours. Additionally, we have a weekly two-hour pastoral staff meeting for encouragement, biblical instruction and communication, and a monthly two-hour M2 meeting (ministers and managers) for vision casting,
planning, and settling staff and scheduling conflicts. Then monthly our entire staff gathers for our All Staff Breakfast – we call this meeting our Monthly Rally. We publish the Rally Rag listing birthdays, anniversaries and special recognition for the month. We have door prizes, reward staff with praise and encouraging cards, and sometimes monetary gifts as well. Rally stands for R – Recognition; A – Appreciation; L – Laugh; L – Look Ahead; and Y – Your Pastor. How many direct reports to you have? How close are you to most of the decisions, or are you more engaged with the vision of the church and what is coming on line? My executive pastor, Brian McDougall, reports to me, and I am indirectly responsible for all of our pastoral staff. They know I am available to them, and Brian knows they have access to me any day, any time, and anywhere. One of the things we are getting better at every day is evaluating everything we do after we do it. What worked? What would we do different? What didn’t work? Why did we have the response we had? Who did well? Who did not? You’ve served on the SBC’s International Mission Board and other missions units. Your church budgeted last year for $1,840,070 for missions work.
The Great Commission Resurgence of the SBC has brought recommendations for evangelization. What do you see being accomplished there now that will be meaningful? One of the highlights of my life was serving as a trustee for eight years with our International Mission Board. I was privileged to serve on the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCR). For the GCR to be effective, it has to be more than a byline or a slogan. Churches have to catch the vision for the thousands of people groups without the gospel and sacrifice personal and corporate wealth to get the gospel to penetrate lostness. Two things have always brought Southern Baptists together – missions and evangelism. I see great days ahead for the SBC in those two areas.
01/2012 | Church executive | 13
Five leadership resolutions for
By Sam S. Rainer III
Specific changes with followers in mind can help leaders create a more impactful ministry. New Year’s resolutions are often self-centered; it’s understandable. Successful people often reflect on who they are. They try to be more self-aware. They desire to develop themselves. So, good leaders often make resolutions involving individual goals, desires and objectives. Many leaders have resolve — the determination to see a goal and achieve it. Too often these goals involve what individual leaders can do on their own. By the nature of their roles, however, leaders have people around them - teams, subordinates and followers - who are necessary components of success. Allow me to challenge you to make resolutions this year with followers in mind. Here are five areas to consider in making specific leadership resolutions this year that benefit your followers. Serve first. Everyone in an organization, from the top to the bottom serves the mission. As a leader you cannot serve the mission without also serving others. The best leaders are passionate about a mission, and they are willing to serve others who join them on that mission. These leaders realize organizational goals and individual goals cannot be attained with an attitude of “Me first.” Leaders who show the way by serving others (as opposed to self-serving) help create a culture of sacrifice to a mission. Resolve this year to serve the mission by serving others. Simplify work. Many people look for ways to simplify their lives this time of year. But the mantra to simplify lasts about a month before the complexities of life sneak in by Groundhog Day. Then an endless string of complex days continue until the following year’s resolution. One of the best gifts a leader can give followers is simplicity. Complexity may dominate your followers’ lives in every way, but you can grant them simplicity in the one area in which you have control. Managers who simplify work for their subordinates often create
14 | Church executive | 01/2012
more work for themselves. Resolve this year to simplify for your followers, even if it means more complexity for you. Release problems. Some problems are unsolvable. This creates a dilemma for leaders who have an innate desire to fix everything. Idealistic leaders will often present good solutions to the wrong problems. Sometimes the “best” solution will not work. In certain cases, followers may never grasp the best solution. Let it go. Leaders serve people, not ideals. Resolve this year to release your followers from the burden of idealistic solutions to unsolvable problems. Yield preferences. Most followers have a keen radar for the personal preferences of a leader, especially when these preferences are spun as vision. Leaders have positional authority over followers, and those in charge have more opportunities to voice opinions and vocalize what they like. The best leaders find ways to create a collective vision with input from a variety of followers. They do not champion their preferences as the vision for all. Resolve this year to yield your personal preferences and build a collective vision from a variety of followers. Recognize pride. Humility is the most difficult leadership trait to see in ourselves. The opposite of humility, pride is the most destructive leadership predisposition. Great leaders never stop fighting the battle to recognize pride and remain humble. It’s the quintessential leadership struggle. We stand on a sliding scale somewhere between healthy humility and unhealthy pride. Even at our best, determining where we are on this scale is tough. We rarely recognize our pride until it’s too late. Followers often see it long before leaders become self-aware of arrogance. Great leaders appoint accountability partners at all levels of the organization to call attention to potential problems originated in pride. Resolve this year to put measures in place to recognize prideful tendencies and give key followers permission to call out problems associated with your pride. Leadership is a gift from followers. Graciously accept this gift by resolving to serve followers by putting them first. Make 2012 the year of your followers. CE Sam S. Rainer III is the president of Rainer Research and senior pastor of First Baptist Church Murray, Murray, KY. [www.rainerresearch.com] [www.fbcmurray.org]
Who says small,
rural churches can’t
Not Shannon O’Dell this pastor says a red-hot marriage is a must for being an effective rural pastor.
Ever tempted to think “we’re just a country church of 30 souls, we’ll never grow much larger”? Or you’ve thought, “There’s no way we will ever see our church at 3,000 people.” Don’t tell that to Shannon O’Dell, senior pastor of Brand New Church in the small, rural church of Bergman, Ar. O’Dell tells about his experience of raising up a church of 30 to 3,000 over just six years in Transforming Church in Rural America: Breaking All the Rurals (New Leaf Press, 2010). He talks about “the rules” about the rurals — “the unspoken but clearly understood values that permeate American Christianity’s beliefs about churches in the boonies.” Bottom line, he says, is “forget the rules.” Church Executive shared some questions with Pastor O’Dell: describe the area in which the church is located; what is “rural” about the area? Bergman, Ar, population 407, just got a Dollar General! There are no major employers in this town, but a great school and wonderful people. The Klu Klux Klan is headquartered just a few miles from our campus, but has no impact on slowing down the love of God to every race in our community. you write, “they (the congregation) hired me thinking they wanted change, but they really didn’t. they wanted to be engaged to change and stay married to their tradition.” What event or occasion made that crystal clear to you? We needed space to grow our student ministry and we voted to move the pews if the ministry grew to 60 or more students. It grew, the pews came up, and 11 families left with their pews. you also write, “I began to realize that >>
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BY rONALD E. KEENEr
FOUR NEW RULES ABOUT RURAL • Small doesn’t mean boring. • Rural doesn’t have to mean a lack of innovation. • Excellence is not found in the detail or design of a building. • Success is not found in the building’s size. From Transforming Church in Rural America by Shannon O’Dell (New Leaf Press, 2010)
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many struggling rural churches don’t want a real pastor to lead them; they just want a pacifier to nurse them through the years.” If you were advising a pastor interviewing with a rural church, what would you have him ask to be sure he and the church were on the same wavelength about change? Make sure you understand the bylaws. Be confident that your vision has a chance to fly. What caused the “mass exodus” from South lead Hill [the former name of the church], what you called the “the first real cut of rejection, the shedding of the first drops of the blood of failure?” When we changed the bylaws and removed the pews. What is “sacred cow-tipping” in a church like your own? How can one identify those things in advance, other than through hard experience? Ministry is war and not all is enemy fire
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What is the price one pays to pastor a rural congregation? The cost is great. You don’t have leadership quotients, financial quotients or Outback Steakhouse like most metro areas. What kind of governance should a church have? Is it possible to be too democractic? Biblical governance is key and it’s all found in Acts. God is a Theocracy, not a Democracy. God works through revelation and leadership from the called, appointed and anointed. talk about intentionality in ministry. you’ve said, “If things were to change, we would have to be intentional, and God would have to be faithful.” You move, God moves — Moses to the burning bush. We draw near, God draws near; fisherman to Jesus in Mark 6. All of God’s power awaits us, so go for broke. there are a lot of pastors in churches under 100 members across this country. What
few things should they do today to be intentional about growth? What discussions should they be engaging their board in at the next meeting? Growth is three things: Passionate about winning souls, Essential doctrines, Fluidity. How can we get more to attend our building? What do we need to undo? Look at “real” numbers. Before taking the job you threw out nine fleeces, expecting them to be rejected. Is throwing out a fleece biblically sound; when should it be used? The ultimate fleece is The Word. Fleeces are in the things you cannot answer clearly. What do you mean about the need for “a red-hot marriage” being a must for being an effective rural pastor? The lost, over-churched, and dechurched in rural America do not know what to do with a marriage that is made up of two lovers. Your mar-
riage is a mirror image of your walk with Jesus. If it’s hot, so is your walk with God. Who came up with the name of Brand new Church; it’s “raising a lot of eyebrows.” What were you trying to do with that? We wanted the world to know that you are brand new in Christ every day. Col 3:10: “In its place you have been given a brand new nature that is continually being renewed.” tell me about “conflict as the norm” that seems a part of church life. What is your perspective on conflict in successful ministry? Sharpening takes friction. Change, conflict, then growth is a natural progression in all growing churches. did you always have a majority of your board behind you, or a particular leading layman, and therefore had that insulation against being fired for your moves?
No, growth prevents firing. Also, our bylaws prevent much of what we know as pastoral firings. What’s the “massive drought” you speak of in rural america? What kind of leadership does the church of Christ require that it isn’t getting, in rural america or elsewhere? Leadership drought. Calling drought. We need vision and excellent teaching in this part of the world. Who was the pastor of your youth, and what is your conversion story? At the age of 9, I was regenerated, because a lady named Martha invited my family to church. I have never been the same! What keeps you humble? Who has humbled you in this ministry? In a pastor-led church, what are your touchstones to reality — other than your wife? God’s Spirit is daily challenging me. Failures keep me humble. We have extreme financial checks and
most ministry taking place I have no idea about it. today, what ministries and initiatives are you most pleased about in the church? iCampus, and the like? I’m very pleased with our multisite approach, and our financial infrastructure. I’m very happy with our teaching series topics. a merger with another church made a lot of difference to the growth of your congregation? Merger allowed us to save money and continue to grow. We need to be sensitive to all opportunities to grow. Merger is one of many ways to build. What do you advise about a church’s outreach in the community? reach the poor and the widow. Nothing rings the bell of ministry louder than reaching families with food and clothing. CE www.BrandnewChurch.com
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WHY ONE CHURCH SOLD ITS BUSES AND DECIDED TO By Brad Sullard
When “Old Blue” broke down with students for the fourth time in a year, it was time to make a decision. The call came on a Monday night in July, it was Mark, our student pastor. “Well, it happened again! The bus broke down on the highway, in the middle of rush hour, and I’m not happy. I’m sorry but I will never use this bus for a ministry trip again.” The students were on their way to ministry camp on “Old Blue,” our 1997 Ford diesel school bus. This was about the fourth time the bus had stranded a group in the past 12 months. After each occurrence we invested a few thousand dollars, thinking we fixed the issue only to be surprised again. The frustration was compounded by the fact that our 2001 15-passenger Dodge van had broken down on the last two of three trips out of town that same year. So, after this incident with our students, involving two hours of calling parents and arranging for alternative transportation to camp, towing the bus and thousands of dollars later, it was clear that it was time to evaluate the useful life of our four aging church vehicles.
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After 14 years of owning vehicles, our church has made the decision to sell off our small church fleet and rent as needed for our ministry travel needs. What brought us to this decision was a combination of factors. Some of these factors are unique to our situation, but the process by which we came to this decision is really a pathway that every church has to walk in deciding on how travel will be managed for ministry needs.
Assess costs of owning vs. leasing To lease or to buy? That is the age-old question. Is it cheaper to buy or lease? Well the answer really hasn’t changed. It continues to be less expensive to buy a good used vehicle and keep it for at least 10 years. The repair costs are low early on and then increase over the life of the vehicle. If you have any kind of history of ownership these are easy costs to measure. For us the purchase of gently used vehicles broke down like this: Years 1 to 5 the cost was all in
the purchase price and routine maintenance. Years 6 to 14 the cost was all repair and maintenance. The cost was almost equal in those periods. The cost in the first five years equaled the cost of maintenance in years 6 to 14. The trick? You want to keep a vehicle as long as you can before it starts having problems and requiring cash to repair. It’s harder than it sounds because as you near the 10-year mark or so, you’re saving the most money at this point because it’s paid for and not costing any money. But keeping it too long can catch you with big repair costs and then you’re out the cash to fix it before you can sell it. It’s a gamble. It’s a game we lost. We kept our bus for 14 years. The last five years cost us $30,000. We could have purchased another bus for that amount. Truth is, it’s hard to sell a perfectly good “paid for” vehicle. But selling a perfectly good paid for vehicle is exactly what you must do to win this game.
Remember to measure what I call Leadership Relationship Capital. This is a strange consideration, but an important one nonetheless. I learned it the hard way. After the last bus break down, I spent two weeks fielding conversations from parents about their concern, and some their disgust, with the failure of the bus. Ultimately it led to a perspective that this was a result of church leadership’s poor management. Stranding kids on a bus may become a fun fond memory for kids to carry into high school, but for parents it’s incredibly distressing. They trust us with their kids and we must be careful to show as much concern for their safety and comfort as their parents do. If we blow it, we may not get another chance to minister to their kids. So, depending on the church’s leadership status, this may or may not be a major consideration in your decision.
Expectations and culture Business culture. Because we have some leadership who work in the business culture, our church is pretty comfortable with business loans and leasing in the church. We do have some members who I would call our “No Debt Christians” who resist both church debt and paying the new vehicle price tag. Neither is right or wrong as such, but you need to know your church culture and how that will influence the vehicle decision. In our setting we have a pretty good balance between those who are comfortable with leasing and outsourcing and those who believe the church should invest and own its own equipment. Vehicle debt. I normally would not consider debt on a vehicle for a church, but we are in exceptional times where a 2 percent interest rate on a vehicle is cheap money. This makes a vehicle loan for a church quite affordable and something to consider
for the cash-strapped church. Probably the bigger issue here is the church’s philosophy on debt. Most churches see debt as negative and will resist debt on vehicles. (Our church would fit this category.) Another part of the culture we often don’t consider is what kind of vehicles the church body drives. Many will expect to put their kids in a vehicle that is in the condition and age like they drive. Lease options. Our city culture has some great competitive lease options near our church. For us this makes great sense. The availability of this option made it sensible for us. Other churches don’t have access to good lease options so it’s not really part of the equation. We are benefiting from San Antonio’s great corporate vehicle lease market. We are in a unique season in the history of our church. We are rolling into a capital campaign to pay down facility debt. We grew by 30 percent last year and continue to feel the stretch of needing more cash for a growing ministry, yet less cash flow to make it happen. These are just two factors in our church situation that make outlaying large chunks of cash to buy vehicles unattractive. We would prefer to pay as we go for flexibility and keep our cash in the bank. We have sold all but one of our vehicles with one pending sale at auction. So far our staff and volunteers are excited about the plan to rent newer vehicles that someone else will worry about maintaining. We have already earned some credit for this decision. While it appears that selling the church fleet is the best decision for us at this time, it’s an experiment and we are willing to learn a new and better way to do this. CE
We discovered two important costs in our decision: Hard Costs: This is the easy category to measure (purchase price, repair/maintenance, insurance, and government fees). Soft Costs: We tend to look quickly at the hard costs to make our decision. But often it’s the soft costs that can eat your lunch. For us the soft cost factor was the key in our decision to lease rather than own. This involves both actual dollars as well as leadership credit with staff and volunteers. Our facilities manager was spending several hours a month on our vehicles, which led to the need for additional part-time custodial hours to offset his time. We also found a lot of ministry staff frustration having to manage the old bus. When you add in some parents concerned about their child’s safety, you have some soft costs that demand attention. You must measure the importance of costs that are difficult to measure for a church: safety, liability and convenience (comfort of user). Soft costs include staff and volunteer time spent caring for the vehicles. This was a very significant factor in our decision. The time and energy it took for our facilities manager to care for the vehicles has a dollar attached. Every hour he spends on the vehicles costs the church. Those are hours he can’t spend on other duties and may require hiring others to cover the time. Even volunteers’ time comes with a price. The time it takes pastoral staff to organize students or adults to clean and manage the vehicle is time spent on managing church property rather than investing in people. — BS
Brad Sullard is on the ministry team as executive pastor at Northeast Bible Church, Garden Ridge, TX. [ www.nebible.net ]
“Old Blue” gave 14 years service. 01/2012 | Church executive | 23
practices for families in the business of a church
BY LESLIE DASHEW
Issues that plague secular family businesses are greed, entitlement, jealousy and struggles over power and control. the same is true for churches. Most people donâ€™t think of churches as family businesses. Yet, as in most fields of endeavor, we find that young people often follow in their parentsâ€™ footsteps. Typically, this is the field that they know most about since they grew up around it. Most famous church family successions of late are the Schullers, the Falwells, and the Grahams (though a ministry, not a congregation). They are not immune to the issues that plague secular family businesses: greed, entitlement, jealousy and struggles over power and control. (See sidebar on the November sale of the Crystal Cathedral by the bankruptcy court.) So what have we learned about the best practices for family businesses that church leaders might benefit from who have family members in salaried and leadership posts? The following are 12 practices that we have seen help prevent or minimize the destructive conflict. Shared vision: Have you created a vision for the future of the church that is shared by stakeholders? How does your family regard its dreams for the family and how it will connect to the church? This statement assures that everyone in the family is headed in the same direction and 24 | CHUrCH ExECUTIVE | 01/2012
the statement forms the basis of plans, policies and roles. Shared values: Have you documented the values that are most important to the family and that are shared? Even when families have different occupations and paths, there are often a core set of values to which all subscribe and can be the guiding principles for decisions that affect the entire family. Planning: Do you have strategic plans to provide a road map to success to help you reach your vision? Do you have budgets to guide your use of resources that are consistent with your plans? This relates to what the family wants and what other stakeholders think are critical to the future of the institution. Communication: Have you created a family council or had a series of family meetings to explore your vision and values and to develop a set of family polices (and/or a constitution)? Are you comfortable about discussing the undiscussables? Have you created a forum (like the council) to talk about the difficult subjects that must be addressed in families that own businesses and develop the skills to do so? This forum is important to assure that family members feel they have a safe environment to discuss difficult sub-
jects, often in areas where family members have differences. Without this “safe haven” families become fragmented since they feel they can’t discuss differences. Performance management: Do you have clear roles and job descriptions for everyone working in the business? Does each person understand the tasks for which he or she is accountable and the extent to which he or she can make decisions on their own? Is every employee given feedback on a regular, structured basis so that they know what they do well and where they can stand improvement? Is that documented? Have you developed, written down and shared a family employment policy so that all family members (and key employees) understand how family members may be considered for employment? Do you have a policy on compensation that assures that everyone receives “fair market value” for their work? Governance: Do you have documents describing the ownership of the assets of the church with clear description of the roles, rights and responsibilities of owners (e.g. shareholder agreements)? Do shareholders have a regular time and place to learn about what is happening in the business and to share their goals and concerns? Have you read or do you understand the current governance documents of the church? Do they clearly set out the expected course of action in the event of a change in leadership? Churches, by law, are not owned–but issues of ownership and leadership can be similar. Perhaps your church’s governance documents designate an automatic successor (similar to the common “President” and “Vice President.”) Another option is to create a committee of individuals who would come together and search for a successor. For example, your church could amend its governing documents to provide for a selection committee that would collect information on interested applicants and present the best suited applicants to the board or congregation. There is no right or wrong answer; whatever plan fits the dynamic of your church is the best one for your church. Catastrophe planning: Do you have a plan for who would direct the church if the leader died suddenly and documents that are readily accessible to help that person deal with the legal, financial and operation challenges in that crisis? Have you shared the plan with key people so that they will be prepared to implement it at that time (spouse, other church executives, etc.) Succession planning: Have you considered what type of leadership will help achieve the long-term vision for the church and who might be prepared to be a successor to the current church leader? A frequent mistake is to look to someone just like the incumbent or a relative. It is important to start with the goal for the future and look at who has the competencies to help achieve that. Estate planning/insurance: In the event of a death in the leadership, does your organization know and under-
stand who owns the deceased leader’s A bankruptcy judge intellectual property? Can your church awarded the sale of the Crysstill use a pastor’s sermons and teachtal Cathedral in late Noveming material after his death or must ber to the Roman Catholic the church obtain a license from Diocese of Orange in a move that will require his beneficiaries before the church to vacate the being able to do so? cathedral within three On another note, years. The Catholic does your church have church will refashion key man insurance on its the iconic cathedral for use by its own parishprimary leader? Could your ioners. church survive the death The Associated or permanent disability of Press reported that this individual, or would it “the Crystal Catheneed a cushion to survive dral’s troubles run far deeper than the on while it recoups? loss of the campus and stem Building trust: Have you identifrom (Robert H.) Schuller’s fied points of distrust, explored what retirement, an ill-fated is contributing to the distrust and what attempt to hand over the can be done to repair those relationministry to his son (Robert Anthony), and the church’s ships? Are you working to keep trust by failure to adapt to attract honoring each other? Distrust underyounger worshippers.” mines family and church relationships Members of the family had and can be something that is difficult feuded for nearly four years to address: especially if distrust in the over the future direction of the congregation. leader has developed. The diocese’s offer advisors: Do you have advisors was for $57.5 million for who are challenging your thinking and the 40-acre campus. The proactively bringing your attention to cathedral leadership was still issues that will protect you, your family holding out hope for God’s “intentional delaying” for an and your business? Do your advisors intervention that would stop talk to each other to be sure that they the sale to the diocese. are coordinating their efforts on your behalf? Independent directors: Do you have a board of directors or trustees to help you work “on the business of the church” rather than “in the business” with independent perspectives that come from outside the family and the church? It is difficult to find people who are connected to the church and yet independent. If you want to be sure that you are seeing issues that could destroy the family or the church, it is important to engage and empower independent overseers who will “tell the emperor that he isn’t wearing any clothes.” While not every one of these 12 practices may apply to your situation, the key is to be sure that you are using the best practices of organizational leadership and stewardship no matter what the connection is between your family and your church. CE Leslie Dashew is the president of the Human Side of Enterprise LLC, Scottsdale, AZ, and a partner in the Aspen Family Business Group LLC. She is the co-author of the new book The Keys to Family Business Success. [ www.lesliedashew.com ]
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Itâ€™s no longer your capital campaign How technology and communications are changing church fundraising.
Church capital campaigns are hardly a new concept. For nearly half a century, pastors and their congregations have depended on opportunities for special giving to help them build buildings, pay off debt and fund their God-inspired vision. But the landscape is changing quickly â€” so fast that your father may soon not even recognize the process he perfected during his tenure. Two things have dramatically influenced how churches approach capital campaigns: the economic crash of 2008 and the adoption of technology by the person in the pew. Both have provided opportunities to deviate from what have become hallmarks of the traditional campaign â€” one defined by a predetermined process, a large number of enlisted lay volunteers,
By Ben Stroup
and heavily dependent on paper-based communications. The transition to digital communications and its impact on ministry initiatives such as capital fundraising projects was already in full swing prior to the economic collapse of 2008. The challenging circumstances, however, accelerated the rate at which churches adopted new ways of communicating and connecting with their members and even the community at large. The seismic changes altering the way churches conduct capital campaigns are revitalizing the function and effectiveness of this proven and very effective ministry venture.
A tale of two churches Two churches that have significantly benefited from this shift
Granger Community Church created an infograph to help tell a story through numbers.
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are Eagle Brook Church (www.eagle brookchurch.com) and Granger Community Church (www.gccwired.com). Eagle Brook is located in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota while Granger Community Church is in northern Indiana, just miles from the Michigan state line and close to the South Bend area. Eagle Brook averages about 15,000 on any given weekend, and Granger averages 4,700 attendance. Both tend to have demographics that find the median age to be in the 30s with a blend of professional and blue collar workers. Each church was already dependent upon technology and digital communications. When it was time to embark on another capital funds project, both turned to RSI Church >>
Stewardship, Dallas, Tx, knowing that they not only could get the help to raise the money but also to incorporate the technology in the campaign. “People are much more connected technologically than we think they are, and they expect churches to honor their preferences,” says Joel Mikell, president. Scott Anderson, executive pastor at Eagle Brook, says “We needed help with a unique approach. Our goal was really big, and the economy was really bad.” Anderson says that self-led campaigns had been their chosen path
prior to their most recent campaign, but they didn’t want to go it alone this time. When they set out in late 2009 to begin the Not Without You campaign (www.notwithoutyou.org) with a $30 million dollar need, Anderson knew it was time to partner with people who they believed understood their church and could get them to their goal. Tim Stevens, executive pastor at Granger says, “The New Normal Project (www.thenewnormalproject.com) was descriptive of the time in which the initiative was birthed. Everything
we were certain of was being challenged.” In the midst of a community that reached 20 percent unemployment at the peak of the recession, Stevens wanted some perspective about how to approach capital campaigns in ways that were very different from how they had in the past.
Integrating technology “risky ventures often lead to innovative, breakthrough experiences,” says Bill McMillan, executive vice president at rSI Church Stewardship.
DIGITAL CHANNELS FOR YOUR NEXT CAMPAIGN 1. E-newsletters. Create a separate e-mail list of subscribers specifically for the campaign. Most people still manage their lives through their inbox. 2. Micro-sites. Digital real estate provides a central place for people to come, learn, commit and
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get involved in the work your church is doing. 3. Video messaging. YouTube has dramatically changed our expectations about video messaging. Few people need to book time in a TV studio anymore. People want to hear your voice and observe
your posture. It’s never been easier to do that. 4. Intranet. Separate from your external microsite, create an internal digital launching pad where every leader can go to get the materials they need, make comments and ask questions and mark their
progress. 5. Online pledging and giving. Not everyone is on your campus every week. Not everyone carries cash or writes checks. Make it easy for people to pledge and give online and perhaps even through mobile technology.
follow up with pledges made.” Stevens feels the same way. He believes the micro-site that housed all critical information for their campaign became an online gathering place where people could learn more, get involved, and spread the word both during and after the defined campaign season. Neither Anderson nor Stevens believe that technology and digital communications are the only two
keys to capital campaign success. They both recognize that clear vision, effective strategy, and personal relationships were critical to campaign success. CE Ben Stroup is a freelance writer on church leadership and blogger, working from Greenbriar, TN. He posts regularly on The Content Matrix [ www.thecontentmatrix.com ].
Campaign theme and brochure for Eagle Brook Church.
Both Stevens and Anderson agreed that their respective campaigns were both innovative and breakthrough compared to past experiences, especially in the midst of challenging economic realities. Stevens believes e-mail communication strategy was a catalyst for the success for his campaign. “I’d never heard of a ‘drip campaign’ before rSI introduced it to us. This is where we divided the information we wanted to send out and shared it in small, regular installments throughout the campaign rather than all at one time.” Stevens doesn’t remember a campaign when more average, regular attendees and marginal members were engaged and knowledgeable about what was taking place than during this most recent experience. “Our people were really ‘leaning in,’” he says. “We felt like we had an empowered base of supporters who believed in what we were doing. Primarily sending communications digitally also made it easy for members to share details with others in their own spheres of influence.” “Post-campaign, our investments in digital communication strategy continued to pay off through new online pledges,” says Anderson, “giving to the campaign that wasn’t pledged, and email communication as a way to
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FINANCIAL SOLUTIONS wisely as the owner himself would. Giving is the portion you manage that you give away, stewardship is the responsibility you have to wisely manage the total amount, most of which you keep.
Pastors need educating
Know the true meaning of stewardship By Dave Briggs
As a stewardship pastor I have often been asked why so few churches are investing in a comprehensive stewardship ministry. It’s a great question considering the emphasis the Bible places on stewardship, money and possessions. It comes as a surprise to many that the Bible speaks about money and possessions more than any other topic except love. More than 2,400 verses address our relationship to wealth, the dangers of mishandling it and the barriers money can present to our relationship to God and others. So why has stewardship not been emphasized more in our churches? The last 25 years of involvement in stewardship ministry have led me to several thoughts in response to that important question. One, as a church body, we have misunderstood the fundamental meaning of stewardship. I believe the great majority of our church leaders have defined stewardship incorrectly. Stewardship is not just another term for giving money to support church ministries. Stewardship is simply the act of being a steward. A biblical steward is one who has been entrusted with the property of the owner and expected to manage it
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Two, many church leaders have not been taught the true meaning of stewardship and therefore are not in a strong position to teach others. The formal education most of our pastors and senior leaders receive rarely includes a serious study of stewardship and the biblical perspective of money. When the topic is discussed, it is mostly in response to the significant pressure felt by senior leaders to raise funds to keep ministries supported. Three, as churches, we frequently get the biblical message reversed. The vast majority of scriptural references to money and possessions address the responsibilities of the individual rather than the needs of the church. Stewardship is important because individuals cannot be fully aligned with God’s desire for them if they get the “money thing” wrong. Funding church ministries is not the primary reason the Bible speaks so frequently about this topic. Yet, it has been my observation that the majority of messages about money from senior church leaders primarily emphasize giving. What we should be doing is teaching individuals to recognize their calling to be faithful stewards of what God has entrusted to them. When we do that, the giving follows; not because we made it the goal but because that is the result as we grow mature stewards. Four, church leaders often miss seeing money biblically as a discipleship issue rather than a financial issue. As Atlanta pastor Andy Stanley so eloquently stated it, “Biblical teaching about money should focus on what we can do for you rather than what we can get from you.”
Not just for hurting Five, churches frequently associate a stewardship ministry with helping those who are hurting financially or have become overwhelmed with debt. We should be seeking to help those people, absolutely, but that should never be the main focus of a stewardship ministry. We are all called to be stewards, and building a ministry around people in financial trouble will actually hurt the stewardship effort, since those doing well financially will assume they are exempt from learning to live as stewards. It is interesting to note that most of the time the Bible speaks about money it is directed toward those who had money but were using it or relating to it in a way that was spiritually damaging and contrary to God’s design. A healthy stewardship ministry addresses every person and seeks to provide opportunities for growth regardless of their financial condition. Six, we have not presented the teaching and training of money in our churches comprehensively. Money impacts
us in three major ways, all of which are dealt with in great depth in the Bible. The first is the practical aspect of money â€“ how specifically we are to wisely manage and account for what has been entrusted to us. The second area is the spiritual aspect. How our relationship to money and possessions impacts our relationship to God. The third is the emotional aspect of money. It is here that we often find our greatest struggles since emotions drive us to make poor and often harmful decisions about wealth and possessions. An attempt to address the stewardship topic without diving into each of these areas will leave major holes in our understanding of what it means to live as a true biblical steward.
Money is never neutral The foundational principle behind developing a solid theology of money and stewardship is that our relationship to money will always impact our relationship to God. Money is never neutral. It will either draw you closer to God or drive you farther away. As scripture tells us, we canâ€™t serve two masters. Jesus tells us clearly that there is a battle going on for our affection and loyalty between the God of the Universe and the god of money. Each one is trying to win our hearts and minds but only one will prevail. Dave Briggs is the director of the Stewardship Ministry at Central Christian Church in greater Phoenix, AZ. He held a similar position for seven years at Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL. Previously, he spent 27 years as a finance manager with General Electric. [ www.CentralAZ.com ]
WHERE STEWARDSHIP LEADERS GATHER Christian Stewardship Network is an organization of stewardship leaders serving in local churches throughout the country. CSN has launched a two-day workshop designed for church leaders and decision makers who are interested in starting or strengthening a stewardship ministry in their local church. Dave Briggs co-teaches the seminar with Chris Goulard, the stewardship pastor from Saddleback Church in Southern California. Workshop topics: Benefits of a Healthy Stewardship Ministry, Developing a Biblical Theology of Money, How to Structure the Ministry, Elements of Success in Stewardship, Recruiting and Empowering Volunteers, and Creating an Implementation Roadmap for Success. Registration for the next event in Dallas, February 9-10, 2012, can be done by e-mailing Dave.Briggs@CentralAZ.com. For more information about CSN go to www.ChristianSteward shipNetwork.com.
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New year brings renewed
Publishing companies and pastors giving attention to ‘Bible engagement vacuum.’ There’s a renewed focus on the Bible in churches these days, as biblical literacy is making a comeback in congregations and publishing houses in the U.S. “What’s really encouraging to me is that deep Bible engagement within the congregation is eminently doable,” says Paul Caminiti, vice president of church and Bible engagement for the publishing firm Biblica. “But people today realize that we’re in trouble and that we’ve not given the Bible its due,” says Caminiti, himself an expert in this area.“There really is a Bible engagement
By Ronald E. Keener
vacuum in the church. I’ve watched lives transformed when pastors treat Bible engagement like a varsity sport. I’ve watched congregations transformed when instead of little camp fires, a big Bible engagement bonfire is built in the middle of the church. “We are living in an interesting time. The Spirit seems to be doing a unique work. The soil seems to be unusually receptive to the seed. God help us take full advantage of this season,” says Caminiti. In several ways, 2012 seems the “year of the Bible.”
TREATING THE BIBLE AS A ‘VARSITY SPORT’ Senior Pastor Jeff Manion: In my preaching ministry at Ada Bible Church (Grand Rapids, MI) I have a twofold desire. My first aspiration is to present the biblical narrative in a way that explores the richness of the context and people involved. Where did they live? What were there 32 | Church executive | 01/2012
hopes and fears? What personal tragedies and dilemmas were they experiencing? My second desire is to bridge the biblical narrative to my congregation exploring the implications for our lives. For our fall series the last several years I have taken filming trips to
Israel and Turkey in order to bring the land of the Bible to our people. Last fall, to prepare for a series from Ephesians, I traveled with a photographer, rented a car and the two of us zipped around the region filming the ruins of Ephesus and other archeological cites in the area.
We then played three to five minute clips in each of the sermons in this series. This time and effort was really appreciated and gave our people a better understanding of the world that Paul was writing to. Senior Pastor Ray Johnston: I’ve been known for preaching bib-
DIGITAL ‘NATIVES’ DIG DEEPER
Caminiti was the Bible publisher at Zondervan when his team in 2005 created The Story. Last year randy Frazee brought out The Heart of The Story and Max Lucado released God’s Story, Your Story, both now at Oak Hills Church, San Antonio, Tx. Saddleback’s rick Warren is bringing out a 40 Days in the Word Bible study this month, and American Bible Society has its The Essential 100, all looking to fill the vacuum. “There does seem to be a new zeitgeist in the church for deeper Bible engagement,” says Caminiti. “In the reveal study (Willow Creek), when 80,000 church attenders were asked, what do you need most from your church?, 87 percent responded: Help me understand the Bible in depth,” he reports. Caminiti says: “The Story (Zondervan), The Bible in 90 Days (Zondervan) and Community Bible Experience (Biblica) have something in common: they help the reader see the Bible through a telescopic lens whereas most Bible studies look through a microscope, so we see what randy Frazee calls the Bible’s ‘upper story.’” Church Executive interviewed Paul Caminiti about the concern for biblical literacy and what publishers are doing about it. are you able to summarize or document the state of biblical knowledge generally in america today? What does research tell us about Bible reading? At Biblica we do watch the research carefully, and for the most part, researchers agree that we are losing ground at an alarming rate (something pastors would tell you without studying the research data). recently we extrapolated some data that shows 700 people in North America quit reading the Bible every day. If we were in any other industry and saw that kind of drop-off, we would be alarmed. are we worse off in knowing scriptures than >>
lical sermons at Bayside Church (Granite Bay, CA) that featured the themes of encouragement and hope. Even though this style of preaching has been enormously successful, I became convicted that it was time to unpack Jeff Manion each book of the New Testament in a systematic way. After announcing this new course for preaching, Bayside experienced record-breaking attendance throughout the 27-week series on the New Testament books. CE
The Millennial generation is connecting with the Bible more through digital means than print, which means if a bible publisher is going to make it, offering digital options is extremely important. With foresight into the bible market, Broadman & Holman Publishing released MyStudyBible.com last year aimed at pastors, lay leaders and especially at digital natives. “We wanted to provide a way for digital natives who have grown up on the Web to actively engage in biblical study, beyond just reading the printed Bible,” explains Aaron Linne, executive producer and digital marketing manager for B&H Publishing. “We came up with the idea to create a digital Bible portal with every resource needed to study God’s Word in-depth right at your fingertips in one spot.” Filling the need is MyStudyBible. com, created for people who rely on technology to do everything; as people are reading the biblical text, additional tools dynamically populate with rich content to provide the reader with opportunities for deeper learning and understanding. The publisher decided to make the HCSB Study Bible notes completely free online through this service, so that people engaging in biblical study would have a great tool right there for them, at no cost. “The key for digital biblical study is deep integration,” Linne says. “With this digital study tool, the platform actively brings relevant content to you based on the text you’re reading. For instance, if you are reading a commentary on John 3:16, the platform knows you’re at John 3:16 and can present to you appropriate content to your topic—both content you own and other content in the system that you should be made aware of.” That’s the benefit that digital resources bring to the world of biblical study: the ability to offer multiple resources, all in one place online, with the ability to add commentaries, dictionaries such as Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, devotionals, and other books into a reader’s online profile. While some content is paid, MyStudyBible.com offers a plethora of content at no cost so that many people can benefit from using MyStudyBible.com even if they never login. Bottom line: digital natives will feel at home using this site to strengthen their faith and walk closer with God. “This integrated study can even take place beyond the screen and back into the text, like we have done with integrating 1,500 videos into the print edition of the Life Essentials Study Bible,” notes Linne. “We are moving towards a place will all kinds of Biblical content will be fully integrated with one another.” MyStudyBible.com features the Holman Christian Standard Bible that was written by 100 scholars and English stylists from 17 denominations, and is considered one of the most significant Bible translations available. CE — Lauren Hunter [ www.ChurchTechToday.com ]
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a decade ago? your own literature says: “the number of people who think the Bible is a fairy tale has doubled in the last 30 years. Bible reading has stagnated.” I would say yes. There are numerous societal shifts that the church has been slow to respond to. Information technology has exploded. In the 1970s we were members of the “Baskin and robbins generation.” Think about the number of choices today. Added to the explosion of the Information Age is the diminishing face-time the average pastor has with parishioners. A decade ago people might be at church on average three or four hours a week. Now with the diminishing Sunday evening services and adult education, if parishioners show up three times a month, we consider them to be faithful attenders. We’ve never really adjusted to these cultural realities, and we’re paying for it in diminishing Bible engagement. any telling examples of the low level of bible engagement today? What are the “hard questions” we should be asking? I think we have to own up to the reality that the modern church has created a culture of a “Bible McNuggets” and assumed they are nutritious. So people who read at all, usually read verse-a-day devotionals, or a chapter a day — pretty much a “Bible vitamin” approach. Few “read big.” Not to be irreverent, but reading fragments is boring. read any book one page a day and it will be the worst read of your life. Yet that’s how we’ve been trained to read the Bible. Little wonder that 700 give up reading every day. are there ways that pastors might preach the
Bible that improves retention and application of life? Better preaching is a big topic, but if I had to choose one thing I’d go with N.T. Wright’s challenge: We have to teach people to read the Bible with 1st century eyes and ask 21st century questions. I think pastors, in attempting to be “relevant,” end up teaching the Bible as though it were a modern book. But the richness, intrigue and complexity – the stuff that makes the Bible and God really interesting – really comes to light when we are serious about the history behind the text. I also think we’d preach better if we were less focused on the application of the text and more focused on the implications of the text. Randy Frazee said in our october 2011 interview with him, “Many Christians don’t know what they believe or why. our faith is not rooted in Scripture. We revere the Bible but don’t read it.” Harsh words after all these centuries and today’s huge Bible publishing industry? I agree with randy. Church people will spill blood to defend the orthodoxy of the Bible but they’re just not that into it. But I believe the problem runs deeper than Bible literacy. Literacy might make us better at Bible Jeopardy. What we really need is more Bible lovers. It seems an uphill battle in relating biblical lessons to the world we live in. What is at stake here; how can the church stay ahead of culture? I think research has firmly established that Christians live almost as badly as those outside the church. I don’t want to sound like a broken record, but I believe our failure to thrive goes back to our failure to engage people deeply in the Bible.
NEW FORMATTING INCREASES BIBLE LITERACY Biblica’s Community Bible Experience: The Books of the Bible “soft launched” with 50 churches last fall. Paul Caminiti explains the approach: Four years in the making, The Books of the Bible removes modern formatting like chapters and verses and creatively re-orders the books. For example, the New Testament begins with Luke and Acts, which gives the reader a framework for what God does in the first century. The rest of the books are in a better historical order. The Books of the
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Bible is designed to be read from cover to cover. In a Community Bible Experience, the congregation reads The Books of the Bible New Testament in eight weeks. There are five readings a week, with two “grace days” if you need to catch up. Then the church comes together in small groups, once a week, to talk about their questions and discoveries. Because people are reading about 10 to 12 pages a day (about a half hour for the average reader), they are full, and the observa-
tions and insights are breathtaking. We deliberately modeled the small group experience after a book club instead of a traditional Bible study. In my opinion, questions in the participant’s guide often get in the way of a full and rich reading of the text. In our postcampaign interviews, we’ve discovered that people love The Books of the Bible, they love reading the entire New Testament, and Caminiti they love it that their whole church is doing it together! CE [ www.biblica.com/CBE ]
If there’s to be step change, we need to confess that status-quo Bible engagement is no longer working. Let’s be honest about our current strategy. For years we’ve given people reading plans (usually near the beginning of the new year) and challenged them to go home and read the Bible. Somehow (although it’s seldom measured) we’ve assumed that this methodology is successful. A few succeed, but the overall truth is that the reading plan strategy has been a colossal failure. There’s loads of shame and self deprecation from failing again and again. What can bible publishers do to enable people to read and learn from the Bible? For starters, I think Bible publishers have to be more worried and focused on whether consumers are actually engaging the Bibles they produce and sell. When I was the Bible publisher at Zondervan, I had a consultant tell me I was lazy and that if I were a doctor, I’d be sued for malpractice, because the medicine I was distributing clearly wasn’t working, but we kept dispensing it anyway. It was only when we started feeling some responsibility for declining Bible reading that our publishing got creative. Bibles like The Message (NavPress) and The Archeological Study Bible (Zondervan) were birthed out of a sense that we needed better Bibles, not more Bibles. you’ve spoken about the need to “shift the way we think and use the Bible.” Explain. The modern church has unintentionally developed some bad habits in the way we think about and use the Bible. First, we read the Bible in fragments – a verse or two here and a chapter there. The Bible wasn’t given to us in sound bites, but that’s how we consume it. Second, we read the Bible outside its original context. The average reader never gets into a historical mindset. Third, we read the Bible in isolation. The Bible wasn’t written to individuals, it was written primarily to communities of faith. But most of us read as lone rangers. reading begins and ends with “me.” In the aggregate, these three bad habits have negatively impacted Bible engagement. What we need is The Complete Bible, Understood in Context, Experienced in Community. That’s the DNA in a Community Bible Experience. How can congregations help their people better in gaining knowledge of the Bible and how it applies to their lives? The greatest need, as I see it, is for churches to have a serious plan for engaging the congregation in the Bible. Simply having people come to hear sermons is not a serious plan. read the online journals for pastors, and the most common topic is: how to be a better preacher. Virtually nothing is written about a serious plan for engaging the congregation in the Word. I really believe the future lies with senior leaders who will be multidimensional, who will go beyond preaching and adopt or develop Bible engagement plans for the laity. any other thoughts about churches engaging the Bible? What’s really encouraging to me is that deep Bible engagement within the congregation is eminently doable. It’s true that people are crazy busy, and that we’re drowning in information, and that Google is making us stupid. But people today realize that we’re in trouble and that we’ve not given the Bible its due. There really is a Bible engagement vacuum in the church. Over the last eight years I’ve watched what happens when that vacuum is filled. I’ve watched lives transformed when pastors treat Bible engagement like a varsity sport. I’ve watched whole congregations transformed when instead of little camp fires, a big Bible engagement bonfire is built the middle of the church. We are living in an interesting time. The Spirit seems to be doing a unique work. The soil seems to be unusually receptive to the seed. God help us take full advantage of this season. CE
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LANGUAGE CHANGES TRANSLATIONS Why so many bible translations? It is a question many ask, and Paul Franklyn has a response: “Every generation needs to go back to the source and put the Bible in the English idiom for themselves.” [ www. commonenglishbible.com ] Franklyn is the associate publisher for the Common English Bible and led the translation team on the project. “Our language has changed a lot in the past 30 years,” he says, “due to a digital revolution, the replacement of institutions in our society, and the mingling of cultures around the globe. That’s what we did with the CEB — for the whole church of Jesus Christ.” Franklyn responded to questions from Church Executive.
Among all the contemporary translations, how is the Common English Bible (CEB) different and fills a felt need? What is uncommon about it? The CEB is unusual in several respects. First, it takes into account the past 30 years of accurate biblical scholarship, since the major best selling translations (NIV and NKJV) appeared. It does so without depending on the King James vocabulary that is still so dominant in current translations such as the RSV (which is the source of the ESV) or the NRSV. Second, women constituted 34 percent of the CEB translation teams. This is the first major Bible translation to include women on the translation teams. Third, the translators and editors came from 24 denominations, which is much larger than
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earlier projects. This participation helps guard against bias in the translation. Fourth, the use of contractions in the translation is evidence of how we actually speak the English language. As a subtle touch, notice how dialogue is set in paragraphs, rather than combining spoken parts in a single paragraph. This helps with readability. Do we understand that at least six other editions will be released in August? Go to the website where there are 20 editions available for personal use and in church settings. The CEB Deep Blue Kid’s Bible: Dive Deep Into God’s Word is coming in August 2012, and the CEB Study Bible will follow in fall 2013 — Ron Keener
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When to change your auditor By Vonna Laue
Should you change audit firms? If so, when? Neither not-for-profit nor public companies are required to change firms at set intervals. Also, while there are times when it may be appropriate to switch, it is not a decision to be made lightly. Studies have shown that changing audit firms can result in higher audit fees, because firms will not be able to recover all of the costs they typically treat as an investment in the business relationship and absorb over time. Switching firms can also result in a lower quality audit. An auditor who works with your organization over consecutive years gains substantial understanding of your operations and is able to look more closely at areas of risk as well as processes over time. One way to gain new perspective on your organizationâ€™s finances and accounting practices without the cost and difficulty of changing audit firms is to work with a firm that can rotate key partners and engagement team mem-
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bers. There are valid reasons for considering a complete switch, however. Itâ€™s important to work with an audit firm that is well versed in church financial management, accounting and financial reporting issues. If you are not currently working with a firm with these qualifications, it may be beneficial to think about a change. If you decide to select another firm, take these steps to make the process efficient and effective: Begin by determining the criteria you will use to compare competing firms. This may include expertise, staffing, price, and timing. Each is important, but you will seldom make the decision on one criterion alone. Send a request for proposal to firms you believe are qualified to provide excellent service to your church. You may choose to include your current firm in the proposal process. Consider each proposal carefully against the criteria you set, and follow up on references provided. Even if vendors only provide a list of satisfied clients, you can still learn a lot from these references. For example, another church may mention that they really appreciate the service they receive from the audit team, but that the firmâ€™s tax department is unfamiliar with nonprofits and churches in particular. After narrowing the field to two or three prospective firms, schedule a time for each to present their proposal to you and the finance committee. This will give you the opportunity to clarify differences between the firms, meet the firm leadership, and get a better understanding of who each firm is and how they operate. When the interviews are complete, you should have enough information to make an informed decision. If you select a new firm, you need to send a letter to your former firm informing them of the switch and giving them permission to share information with the new firm. While this formality is required, out of respect for the business relationship, you may choose to initially notify them with a personal phone call. Start off on the right foot with the new firm. Prepare all the requested information, and ask questions whenever something is unclear. You should also feel free to ask if information can be provided in a different format. The new firm will probably need information that is similar to what your prior firm requested. If you already have items in a particular format, ask the new firm if they can use that, rather than taking the time to recreate it. Vonna Laue is a partner in the California offices of the CPA firm of Capin Crouse LLP. [ www.CapinCrouse.com ]