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Begin a new retirement plan with the end in mind.


the Ce iNterv ieW

By Ronald E. Keener

Pastor for eight years at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in the San Francisco Bay Area, John Ortberg observes, “there’s a very strong performance culture out here, but that includes a terrific amount of pressure to maintain an image. the biggest misconception that people have of the Silicon valley is that people have their lives together and don’t really need God.”





Leadership systems tend to reach the outer limits of their effectiveness based on attendance or budget.


yorba Linda Friends Church sees the entertainment business as a mission field ripe for harvest.

By Ronald E. Keener

Some churches may look more like a clinic, but more is often said about salvation than therapy.



Salem, Or church is first to secure yamaha CFx Concert Grand Piano.

By Mary Henry

Church is not always safe for the wife of the pastor.


Coppell, tx Baptist church uses environmental projection to tell visual stories during services.

DE PARTM ENTS 5 ron Keener 7 News update 12 human resources

By Ronald E. Keener

30 Legal Advice

By David Middlebrook and Wendi L. Hodges

33 Marketplace

4 | ChurCh exeCutive | 02/2012


Church Executive (Copyright 2012), Volume 11, Issue 2. Church Executive is published monthly by Power Trade Media LLC, a subsidiary of Friendship Publications Inc., 4742 N. 24th Street, Ste. 340, Phoenix, AZ 85016. ™

Subscription Rates: United States and Mexico $39 (USD) one year, Canada $42 (USD) one year (GST) included, all other countries $75 one year, single issue United States $5 (USD), all other countries $6 (USD). Reprints: All articles in Church Executive are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher. For reprints of 100 or more, contact 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.


CHrISTIAn TrAGEdY More than any other cause, the national recession notwithstanding, the crystal cathedral self-destructed, ending a marvelous ministry. During the thanksgiving weekend i read an article in Vanity Fair magazine, the source of much good journalism, titled on the cover, “inside the Murdoch-family Fortress.” it had all the earmarks of a good thriller: the father patriarch, conniving daughter and spouse, a son aspiring for the father’s media empire, a wife with undue influence, and much money at stake. it might just as well been titled, “inside the Schuller-family Fortress,” that just a week prior saw robert h. Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral sold off by the bankruptcy court to the roman Catholic Archdiocese of Orange to cover some $50 million in debts the 56-year-old ministry owed to vendors and others. the congregation may sustain itself in a diminished way, elsewhere, but the television ministry won’t likely survive. the four daughters and their spouses share the blame for a great congregation’s demise. But interestingly, if there are any bright spots in the sordid mess, it is with the grandchildren, the adult son and daughter of robert Anthony and Donna Schuller. three years ago i interviewed Bobby Schuller and was immediately struck by his character and intelligence; if anyone in the family had a chance of making a success of succeeding his grandfather, it was Bobby, but it wasn’t to be his timing. he formed his own congregation near Garden Grove that continues today. the daughter, Angie Schuller

Wyatt, is an author, motivation speaker, and businesswoman. She brought an incisive intelligence and open mind when she wrote for Christian Post in November about the bankruptcy decision: “i liken my grief of the Crystal Cathedral’s death to grieving a loved one with a terminal illness.” her transparency on the issue is refreshing: “there was nothing i could do to stop my misguided family members. Others in the family seemed to be holding on to ‘a miracle’ that would come just in time. i knew better. Something that defined my life, something i hoped would define my children’s lives, was about to die … “eventually the madness worsened to the point that death itself signaled relief. if you’ve ever held the hand of a dying loved one, you know that death becomes the final blessing. yet, during that final moment, you pause in respect. it’s a holy moment to reflect on what was and to grieve what shall never be again. yesterday [Nov. 17], Crystal Cathedral Ministries died.” Angie wrote: “its problems were not terminal. they could have been solved. My father attempted to fix these problems during his short tenure as senior pastor. he saw the Crystal Cathedral was headed toward bankruptcy. he attempted to restructure the board, cut his siblings’ salaries and establish fiscal responsibility. For these actions, he was fired by the board [July 9, 2008] which consisted of, you guessed it, his siblings.” A daughter’s love for her father aside, there is a ring of truth to her testimony. Sometimes truth skips a generation. there was a book written

some years back about the administration of President Lyndon Johnson, called “the tragedy of Lyndon Johnson.” When challenged on the meaning of the word tragedy, the author said he meant it not as “Oh, how terrible,” but rather as “Oh, what it could have been.” the Crystal Cathedral had a long run and did much good, but oh, how much more it could have been.

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San Diego ministry fills in gaps left in cancer care Anyone who has heard the dreaded word “malignant” understands the battle that inevitably follows. When Tamela Reed was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, she and her family steeled themselves to battle the multiple myeloma, a deadly form of leukemia. Reed, then 35, armed herself with faith and the Bible as her ammunition, but she was totally unprepared for the onslaught of daily responsibilities that still demanded her attention while she fought the disease. Housework. Children. Meals. Errands. It was overwhelming. Reed’s eyes were opened as she experienced the struggles of cancer patients. “Going through this battle with cancer brought me to the realization that there is an increasing need to fill in the gaps of cancer care,” said Reed, a member of Rock Church in San Diego. The church is pastored by Miles McPherson. Shouting from the rooftops Reed watched as her husband valiantly stepped up to do what she could not, and she tried in vain to find additional services to help. When her grapefruitsized tumor miraculously disappeared, she knew she had to “shout it from the rooftops” by giving cancer patients hope and serving them as she needed to be served. Though

she had two MBAs and a dream to be CEO of her own catering business, she set aside her plans, and the Rock Cancer Care ministry (RCC) was born. Reed started RCC in 2008 to provide compassionate support while connecting cancer patients,

it serves.” After years of operating out of the church and volunteers’ homes, RCC opened its new office in January 2011 to serve as a hub for services, and where patients receive one-on-one service and volunteers are trained.

Rock Church pastor Miles McPherson joins Cancer Care Ministry director Tamela Reed (left) and her daughter Sydnie Reed (far left) and cancer patient Benji Valencia (far right) with his mother Cynthia Valencia.

caregivers and survivors to resources to cope with the devastating effects of cancer. Since 2008, RCC has provided more than 4,800 meals, served 4,000 patients, provided more than 4,000 rides to cancer treatment and has garnered 700,000 hours of volunteer service. McPherson says that the mission of RCC exemplifies the true purpose of the church. “The church exists to bring help, hope and healing to the community,” says McPherson. “RCC is doing that with each cancer patient

It’s great to have cancer ministries in the church, Reed says, but with the pervasive effects of cancer, compassionate cancer care services need to extend beyond the church walls into the community. Every year, there are 15,000 new cancer cases in San Diego, and the American Cancer Society projects a whopping 1,596,670 new cancer cases nationwide in 2011. Too often, says Reed, medical insurance is simply not enough to cover medical fees, co-pay-

ments, transportation to treatment, groceries and other basic needs. The gaps in service provide an enormous opportunity for the church to make a difference in their communities, she adds. Meeting daily needs of patients Children are a special focus of the ministry. Stacked high along the walls of their new office space, colorfully wrapped shoeboxes — stuffed with small gifts and donated by children at Rock Church — lay in wait as a “Welcome” box for children with cancer. Visiting church leaders from as far away as Kansas, Florida and Canada have sought Reed and RCC as a model for duplicating similar cancer care ministries in their areas. As CEO of the ministry and its 120 volunteers, Reed relies solely on donations and faithful volunteers to meet patients’ needs. The current financial climate sliced their budget from $16,000 to $8,000 last year, and they have had to limit their patients to 50. Even now, as she struggles with a recurring bout of cancer, Reed remains unshakeable. She recognizes that it is her own struggle with cancer that gave her the vision and compassion to start RCC. — Shawn Maree McCowan is a freelance reporter and member of The Rock Church in San Diego, CA.

02/2012 | Church executive | 7

the ce interview

john ortberg

Senior Pastor | Menlo Park Presbyterian Church | Menlo Park, CA

Pastor for eight years at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in the San Francisco Bay Area, John Ortberg observes, “There’s a very strong performance culture out here, but that includes a terrific amount of pressure to maintain an image, and so there are vast amounts of anxiety, addictions, difficulties, emptiness, exhaustion, just about an inch under the surface.” By Ronald E. Keener

02/2012 8 | Church executive | 01/2012

“The biggest misconception that people have of the Silicon Valley is that people have their lives together and don’t really need God,” Ortberg, 54, says. It’s been said that the Bay Area is 90 percent unchurched, de-churched, or anti-church. How does a church engage a culture like that? One of the ways that our church is seeking to reach the Bay Area has been by opening up different venues and sites so that we can try to penetrate more areas. We’re also working very hard on a project called Catalyst, which is looking at how do we unleash rather than bottleneck folks in ministry. We have a terrific team of people who are doing research and looking at the whole area of mission shaped communities, and strategies to tap into the innate motivations, passions, and gifts of people. Who was the pastor of your youth and what is your conversion experience? When I was growing up in Rockford, IL the pastor of our church was Harold Christensen. His wife Evelyn Christensen recently passed away at about the age of 90. She wrote a book called, What Happens When Women Pray. I grew up in a Christian family and accepted Christ when I was a seven-year-old boy, and it’s still a very vivid memory for me. If you had not chosen ministry, what might your profession have been? If I had not gone into pastoral ministry, I probably would have gone into something in the field of psychology. I received my M.Div. from Fuller Seminary and a PhD in Clinical Psychology, but it turns out I’m a really bad therapist. However, I’m very interested in teaching and writing, and I probably would have gone in that direction. What is it like living in such an affluent area? The Bay Area is a very stimulating place. There are lots of things going on educationally with Stanford University next door, in terms of business with Silicon Valley, and a tremendous amount of ethnic diversity. And also there’s a fair amount of spiritual resistance to institutional Christianity, particularly as you get close to the city of San Francisco. What do you think is your calling to address this population? My preaching has probably moved in the direction of being somewhat more oriented towards an intellectual approach to the faith, sim-

ply because education tends to be such a kind of prominent aspect of life out here. Did you ever meet Steve Jobs or interact with his staff? I never did meet with Steve Jobs. Ron Johnson, who reported to Steve and is a guy who launched and led the Apple Store movement, and is now the CEO of JC Penney, attends our church and is a good friend and remarkable leader and great Christian. Your wife Nancy is nearly as well known as you are. Have you ever thought of yourself as a “celebrity” pastor? Nancy Ortberg is a force of nature in her own right. I think that in general our culture tends to be celebrity oriented in ways that are pretty negative and unfortunately the church always wrestles with mirroring its culture too much. Political issues are very important but when the church narrows its appeal or identifies too heavily with one political party or ideology it can make people close the door to Jesus who otherwise would leave it open. I was always confused about the circumstances of your coming to Menlo Park. Were you the senior pastor or was there a transition of sorts? Circumstances of my coming to Menlo Park were a bit complex because of Presbyterian polity. I initially came as a teaching pastor, and there were three or four transitional steps to becoming senior pastor, which is my current role. I’ve been fascinated with what is called nominal Christianity — people who love the label but don’t wish to live the life. What do you make >>

02/2012 | Church executive | 9


of nominal Christians? Nominal Christianity is a great problem in our day and certainly in our area. If you think about the early century of the church, there was no such thing as a nominal Christian because the cost of becoming a Christian was so high. And then, after the conversion of Constantine when Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the cost for becoming a pagan actually became higher than the cost of being a Christian, so then you get a lot of nominal Christianity. That still is a problem in our culture and one of the great challenges is how we clarify the cost of following Jesus without giving into legalism or spiritual elitism. Menlo Park is now multi-site; what have you learned from going with this approach?

SPIRITUAL FORMATION THROUGH MONVEE Monvee is an attempt to leverage technology to do spiritual formation. It’s a way for people to assess what their own spiritual wiring is, their spiritual temperament, pathway, signature sin, learning styles, and so on, so they can know better how to grow spiritually. It really grew out of Heartland Community Church, a group of folks that I know in my old hometown of Rockford, IL. It can be helpful for churches in a single site or multi-site because it’s really geared towards helping people get a roadmap of their individual spiritual lives. I think that spiritual formation and church growth or evangelism are really connected with each other. Jesus is the most spiritually mature person who ever lived and he’s also the most evangelistically effective person who ever lived. I think sometimes we confuse spiritual formation with “churchliness” and sometimes we confuse church growth or evangelism with sheer numbers. Either of those problems will get us off track, but if we’re growing closer to God it will make our lives more winsome to those around us. Of course some people will always be turned off by the actual Gospel itself, but I want to make sure it’s the Gospel that’s turning them off and not me. — JO [ ]

We actually had long conversations this last week about how concretely we move forward as one movement with different expressions, trying to do the dance of independence, autonomy, togetherness, unity, and relational connectedness, which is a very complex one and is a constant learning process. Probably my most recent learning is a re-appreciation for the importance of relational connectedness, particularly for leaders. What is the importance of training leadership? Leadership is hugely important. We were talking about

10 | CHURCH EXECUTIVE | 02/2012

Nancy a moment ago, and developing and training and raising up leaders is one of her great passions. Helping people who have leadership gifts in recognizing their giftedness, and embrace them and use them in the service of Christ, is one of the great needs of our day. I think generally churches are becoming more aware of the need for leadership identification, recruitment and training. How do you get your inspiration for your books? I would say that writing for me flows very much out of doing church ministry. People ask me, from time to time, do you ever think about not working as a pastor at a church and just speaking and writing. For me, the discipline of regular sermon preparation, the creation of fresh material, being part of a community, helps me to stay learning and refreshing myself, and I think that informs my thinking and my communicating. So there’s a close connection between preaching and writing. Preaching also gives me a feedback loop. If I just write something, I might think it’s good, and it’s really only the caffeine. When you have to stand up in front of a group of people and say stuff you find out from their faces and bodies if it’s actually connecting, or if it’s not being helpful at all. That actually helps a lot when it comes to sitting and writing material. I’m actually just in the process of finishing a book about the impact Jesus has had on history. Its been a wonderful project and a different one, kind of a stretch for me. Who are your favorite authors when you read for pleasure? I love to read C.S. Lewis and I love the writings of Frederick Buechner. Dallas Willard has influenced me more than any other single human author or thinker. Richard Foster, Henry Nouwen, Thomas Merton, Ken Bailey and N.T. Wright would also be on that list. How do you manage your time, and discipline your life? Saying “no” is one of the most important disciplines in my life. I have regular meetings with Linda Barker, who works with me administratively, and with my wife, to go over schedule commitments and most of that involves saying “no.” I fight my own optimism when I’m in a good mood and I fight guilt when I say too many “no’s.” What does the near future look like for the Ortbergs? For Nancy and me, the next five to 10 years we hope will involve being right here in Menlo Park and serving at our church, growing in love for God, and each other, and our community, and being able to serve the broader church together. We have also, over this last year, gotten into surfing so we’re hoping to do more of that and not get eaten by a shark. [ ]

02/2012 | Church executive | 11


Employees need appreciation in churches too By rONALD e. KeeNer if there is any group of people who feel unappreciated, it is the staff of a large church, including the pastor. We even have a special month for pastor appreciation (October). Gary Chapman and Paul White has written The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace (Northfield Publishing/Moody Publishers), and Church Executive asked the authors to apply their concepts to the church. Dr. Chapman is the director of Marriage and Family Life Consultants inc. in Winston-Salem, NC, and has served as senior associate pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in that city for 40 years. Dr. White is director of Family Coaching and Personal Development for Navitas Wealth Advisors inc., and is a member and small group leader of river Community Church, Wichita, KS. can you give an example of meaningful commu-

12 | ChurCh exeCutive | 02/2012

nication that will make coworkers feel appreciated? White: to ensure that communication of appreciation is meaningful and impactful, the message sent must be: a) individualized and personal; b) in a language that is valued by the recipient; and c) viewed as authentic and genuine. So, within these broad parameters, there are literally thousands of actions that will help make coworkers feel valued and appreciated. the key is to match the type of communication sent with the style of message desired by the recipient. Conversely, there is no one universal act of appreciation that will be meaningful and valued by everyone; we need to find out what is important to the person we want to encourage. to give a personal example, i value words of affirmation, while tangible gifts are less important to me. So, if someone wants to communicate appreciation in a way that is meaningful to me, i would prefer they tell me how what i did impacted them personally (positively, hopefully!) rather than get me a gift card to go out to dinner. Chapman: One man said to me, “My boss stopped me in the hallway and told me how much he appreciated my hard work on a project i finished two weeks ago. i thanked him, and walked back to my office. i thought about what he said all afternoon. i went home and told my wife, and went to work the next day with a positive attitude. i never realized how much i appreciated ‘words of affirmation.’” his boss definitely spoke his primary language of appreciation. Are church staffs any different when it comes to applying the appreciation principles? White: No and yes. No, in that we have found virtually all individuals, regardless of where they work, desperately want to know that what they do is valued by those with whom they work. We each have a deep need to lead a meaningful life and to feel appreciated by those around us. however, applying the appreciation principles in church settings has some unique challenges. First, you are usually dealing both with paid staff and volunteers – and the dynamics for these two groups differ (we wrote a chapter in the book specifically to deal with communicating appreciation to volunteers). Secondly, there is the aspect of working in the context of ministry and serving God. Sometimes this results in leaders believing that their co-laborers don’t need encouragement or appreciation communicated from humans – that they should be internally motivated or just work for


“treasure in heaven.” unfortunately, as a result, we find that many church staff members are “dying on the vine” because they rarely receive any affirmation for the services they provide. Chapman: “On a scale of 0 – 10 how much appreciation do you feel from your immediate supervisor?” the honest answer to that question may reveal that many staff members do not feel highly appreciated. is transparency with the cEO/pastor important in encouraging coworkers? White: this is a great question, and one that came up recently when i was speaking at a pastors’ conference. Many pastors struggle with how transparent to be with those around them regarding their own personal needs. Let me answer the question with a series of questions. if you were thirsty, would you hesitate to ask someone for a drink? if you were tired and needed to rest, would you balk at asking for a chair or a place to sit? Do you think your colaborers would like to know how best to encourage you – or do they like “shooting in the dark”? Would you be a better pastor if you felt truly valued, appreciated and encouraged by those with whom you work? Or do you minister best when you are discouraged and feel unappreciated? Chapman: When a pastor/CeO appears to be perfect, people begin to withdraw. When a leader shares his own struggles, mistakes, and is honest about his/her humanity, people are more likely to identify and be open to learning. relationship requires a level of transparency. Where there is no relationship, people tend to resist the leaders ideas or respond with apathy. real people respond to real leaders. What one thing will go a long way in improving the workplace in a church? White: if we would stop to take time to find out how to encourage and show appreciation in the ways that are meaningful to the people around us, tremendous changes would occur. And we could really make a difference in communicating the value of each staff and volunteer in ways that impact them significantly. this would lead to better staff relationships, less internal conflict, reduce turnover among both staff and volunteers, and – as research demonstrates – make the workplace a more positive, enjoyable environment. Chapman: Pastors and other staff leaders tend to express appreciation in ways that are meaningful to them. that is, they speak their own appreciation language. then, they often wonder why the person does not feel appreciated. imagine what would happen to the work climate if we all learned how to speak each other’s appreciation language. i believe it would greatly enhance staff relationships.

While the five languages of appreciation are the same (in name) as the five love languages, the ways they are demonstrated in the workplace can differ significantly from personal relationships. Let us explain each: Words of Affirmation. White: Words, both oral and written, can be used to affirm and encourage those around us. Some people prefer personal one-onone communication, while others value being praised in front of others (but it is important to know that relatively few people like to receive public affirmation in front of a large group). Chapman: The words may focus on the person’s performance, but may also focus on his personality, his dedication, or his value to the company. The important thing is to be as specific as possible. Quality Time. White: Personal, focused time and attention with your supervisor is highly affirming for some. But others enjoy different types of time — “hanging out” with their coworkers, working together as a team on a project, or just having someone take the time to listen to them. And the type of time desired can differ significantly depending on whether it is with colleagues or with their supervisor. Chapman: Quality time may not focus on the work, but on family. How is your son doing in college? Did your daughter make the team? Asking such questions and listening to the answer speaks loudly to the person whose language is quality time. Acts of Service. White: Assisting a colleague in getting a task done can be extremely encouraging to them. Helping a teammate “dig out” from being behind, working collaboratively on a project that would be difficult to do alone, or just working alongside of them: are all ways to demonstrate appreciation for their efforts. Chapman: Ask, Is there anything I could do that would lighten your load? Or, Would it be helpful if I took this to the post office for you? Such questions open the door to the possibility of speaking appreciation to the person whose language is Acts of Service. Tangible Gifts. White: The key to an effective gift in the workplace is the “thought,” not the amount of money spent. Taking time to notice what your colleagues enjoy (chocolate, coffee, cashews), observing their hobbies and interests (sports, books, crafts) and buying them a small related gift shows that you are getting to know them as a person and understand what is important to them. Chapman: Often co-workers know what gift would be meaningful to someone with whom they work closely. Appropriate Physical Touch. White: While we acknowledge that physical touch is less important in work-based relationships, and the potential for abuse exists, we still find that appropriate physical touch is meaningful. Usually, it occurs spontaneously and in the context of celebration – a “high five,” fistbump, slap on the back, or congratulatory handshake. To not touch one another at all leads to a cold, impersonal environment. — GC, PW

02/2012 | ChurCh exeCutive | 13


Make sure your has a chance at a dignified

Begin a new retirement plan with the end in mind.

retirement. We all hope one day to do it. As church and ministry executives, you likely want to make sure you can offer your employees a competitive, robust retirement plan at a reasonable cost to your bottom line. But how do you know if your current plan is on the right track, or, if you don’t have one yet, how to choose the right one? “establishing employee benefits is a very important consideration for any church or ministry and its employees,” says Dixie Beard, director of business development at GuideStone Financial resources. “But before rushing into establishing an employee retirement plan, it is important to establish your ministry’s objectives, such as meeting your moral obligation to employees, evaluating your cultural environment and establishing cost parameters.”

Employer needs Beard recommends ministries begin with the end in mind. “establishing – and later managing – an employee retirement plan can be an overwhelming task,” Beard concedes. “you have to determine what an effective retirement plan looks like from your ministry’s perspective, while considering what one looks like from your employees’ perspectives. And you must have a trusted and experienced partner with expertise to assist you.” Six key areas should be addressed from the employer’s perspective. the retirement plan should: • Satisfy the ministry’s moral obligations • Support the ministry’s fiduciary responsibilities • Be cost-effective • Attract, retain and reward staff • Be flexible and easy to administer

14 | ChurCh exeCutive | 02/2012

By rOy hAyhurSt

• Be understood and appreciated by employees. “it’s also important, from the employer’s perspective, that the service from the vendor is aligned with the church or ministry’s needs and values,” Beard says. Before determining the type of retirement plan that best meets your ministry’s objectives, first explore the government regulations that would apply to your church. All retirement plans are subject to certain regulatory and fiduciary standards but some ministries, such as churches and church-related organizations, may have reduced governmental reporting requirements. these plans are known as “Church retirement Plans” and are not subject to the more cumbersome requirements of the employee retirement income Security Act of 1974 (eriSA). For example, church plans are not required to file an annual Form 5500 or file a request for a Determination Letter from the irS. having knowledgeable legal counsel and a retirement plan provider with plan administrative expertise is imperative in understanding whether your ministry is eligible to maintain a church plan, then developing and maintaining the right type of plan for your ministry so your goals for your organization and your employees can be attained.

retirement plans Which is right for your ministry? Defined benefit plans? 403(b)? 401(k)? 401(a)? it can be easy to get lost in the terminology. According to Beard, the two most common types of retirement plans fall into one of two categories: Defined benefit and defined contribution plans. Defined benefit plans are sometimes referred to as

pension plans. in this type of plan, the employer is obligated to pay a certain benefit at retirement based on a formula. the ministry funds the plan based on required funding standards. employee contributions are generally not permitted. Since all investment decisions are made by the plan sponsor, the investment risk is borne completely by the plan sponsor. Depending on whether the ministry is eligible to maintain a church retirement plan, these plans may be church plans or may be subject to eriSA. Defined contribution plans include 403(b), 401(a) and the well-known 401(k). the employer or the employee (or both) can make contributions to the plan, but the employee generally bears all the risk and the responsibility for investment decisions. retirement benefits are based on the participant’s account value at retirement. Defined contribution plans may also be church plans or may be subject to eriSA. 403(b)(9) “Church” retirement plans are the most common type of plan utilized by churches and churchrelated ministries. “regardless of the plan chosen, all plans are subject to certain legal and fiduciary requirements,” Beard explains. “For example, regulations require that employers follow the plan provisions as outlined in the plan documents which means plan administration should align with plan features, contributions must be made on a timely basis and contribution limits must be monitored to ensure contributions don’t exceed legal limits.” however, not all 403(b) retirement plans are created equal. For example, 403(b)(9) church retirement plans are exempt from Form 5500 filing and a Determination Letter is not required, but an employer-contributed 403(b)(7) plan generally requires both. “Many ministries who have worked with a provider that isn’t well-versed in the intricacies of church retirement plans have found themselves in the wrong type of plan and are either inadvertently subjecting themselves to the requirements of eriSA or are not adhering to eriSA requirements that apply to them,” Beard says.

• Is easily understandable • Offers online access to account information and education • Provides a sufficient number of investment options • Provides professional, personalized and courteous service • Puts them in a position to retire with adequate income and with dignity. >>

Employee expectations “Once the employer’s needs are welldefined, ministries should also consider what an effective program looks like from their employees’ perspective,” Beard says. employees generally want a program that:

02/2012 | ChurCh exeCutive | 15

“having an adequate number of solid, diversified investment choices is a must for most employees,” says Beard. “Many churches and ministers also appreciate having Christian-based, socially screened investment options available to them. these types of options frequently screen out companies in which ministers may not want their money invested.” employees also want answers to their investmentrelated questions. those questions can include how much they should

contribute, which investments they should invest in and how to make sure they’re on track with their retirement goals. “Additionally, ministers for tax purposes may be eligible to claim part or all of their retirement distributions as a taxfree housing allowance if they reside in a church plan,” Beard says, “it’s imperative that a retirement plan provider for churches and other ministries is able to facilitate housing allowance on retirement distributions.”

Final considerations Other than the financial stewardship of the organization, the top priority for establishing a retirement plan is to ensure that employees are able to retire successfully and with dignity. “Since most ministers intend to continue to serve in retirement, a retirement plan can be a blessing for employees in that they are able to set aside money to self-fund their future ministry,” Beard says. “it can also be a blessing for ministries and churches as they seek to recruit, reward and retain employees who are dedicated to their ministry and its goals.” CE Roy Hayhurst is editorial services manager at Dallas-based GuideStone Financial Resources. [ ]

16 | ChurCh exeCutive | 02/2012

Church recovery programs are a

safe place for personal growth

By Ronald ronald E. Keener

Some churches may look more like a clinic, but more is often said about salvation than therapy.

Look at your church’s weekend bulletin and you will likely see six, eight, maybe 10 “recovery programs” available, in what may seem more like a clinic than a church, where more is being said about therapy than salvation. But not so, says Liz Swanson and Teresa McBean, authors of a review of such programs in the book Bridges to Grace (Zondervan, 2011). “Recovery programs are absolutely not therapeutically focused,” McBean says. “They are, indeed, often times more about salvation than some of the other areas of the church. A recovery group does not advise, it provides a place for safe storytelling, connecting, and introduction to God. People talk about how God has helped them, and it encourages others. Therapy doesn’t work with recovery — only God can heal these wounds.” Tyndale Publishing has also brought out The Life Recovery Bible and Celebrate Recovery, a program begun by Saddleback Church and now is being used in numerous churches, remains popular. The book by Swanson and McBean describes the recovery programs of nine congregations; McBean responded to questions about the recovery movement as they have seen it: What is a brief summary of the history of recov18 | Church executive | 02/2012

ery in churches? What was going on in churches before there was Celebrate Recovery? Dale Ryan presented a paper at the ISAAC convention in Madrid, Spain in May 2003. One of the historically most accessible ways to speak about Christian recovery within the church context has been for churches to open their doors and allow AA, NA, SAA, and other “anonymous” communities to use their space. This in many ways has proven fruitful. The church has always been vital in the recovery movement. The program of AA has been one of the most successful ways our culture has found to address addiction. Although many quibble over the spirituality of the program (much like Goldilocks looking for just the right porridge, some think it is too God-focused, others think too little emphasis is placed on God), those who participate clearly understand the spirituality of the program if they stick with it. So, if a church doesn’t know how to help a drunk get sober, housing AA meetings where these same drunks can go for a meeting is both an act of hospitality and a way to leverage community resources that are perhaps beyond the scope of what a particular church community feels equipped to handle.

When others began to notice the spiritual disciplines that are practiced in the 12-step program of AA and other like-minded groups, other solutions-focused groups popped up in the community and churches began to take a second look at the 12-step process. What many of us found is a deeply spiritual discipleship program. Why do we need recovery programs? isn’t trusting god with our issues enough? i suppose an argument could be made that recovery programs are redundant — if all churches focused on bringing God’s message of hope and healing to their congregants in a way that they could grab hold of and experience as healing in their daily lives. there are some consistent elements necessary for people to recovery that many churches are not set up organizationally to handle. this isn’t an indictment, but it is what it is. recovery requires high intensive time commitment to one individual for whom there is no guarantee of success, the person needs to tell their story in a way that is honest and fully disclosing knowing that their confidentiality will absolutely not be breached, they need a message that is simple and consistent. they need as few barriers >>

nATIOnAL ASSOCIATIOn FOr CHrISTIAn rECOvErY I became executive director of the National Association for Christian Recovery in January 2011. We are re-imagining what the NACR will undertake in the next decade. Led for years by Dr. Dale Ryan, this organization has already served as a steady and innovative presence in the world of Christian recovery— hosting conferences, providing materials, Bible studies, etc., for early adopters of the passion for faith and recovery as a shared journey. In that time we believe that – finally – there are recovery ministries with enough history and traction as a ministry that we can collaborate and help struggling, new and even improve the practices of some of the well established ministries. Our vision: We are passionate about joining the work of Jesus in the world, partnering with, instigating, resourcing, disturbing, advocating and influencing the manifold ways that Christ seeks to transform and liberate those in addiction. It is our way of tearing off a corner of the darkness in the world. Our mission: We provide resources, training and offer consultative services for recovery-sensitive leaders interested in creating safer and healthier recovery environments. We dream of a day when recovery environments are within driving distance of every community. We desire to bring hope to the hurting by supporting the community that helps them. Our key initiatives include consulting, outreach through communication via the Web and social media, conferences (both regional and national), course development that will include online learning, webinar and classroom instruction and the production of other materials. — Teresa McBean, Minister, NorthStar Community, a recovery ministry of BonAir Baptist Church, Richmond, VA. [ ]

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and triggers of shame as possible. Whether we like this or not, the church for many is a shame trigger, not a refuge to run during a storm. I wish there would come a day when recovery programs were unnecessary, but as long as there are men, women and children out there who are not able to access Jesus’ healing, we have a responsibility to take their needs into account as we manage, organize and strategize the kind of churches we want to build. Is it possible that the vast majority of Christians are in denial about their areas of concern? Absolutely. Ask anyone. Do you know someone in recovery or in need of recovery in your family or community? Every hand raises. Why? This affliction is an epidemic. And, this epidemic affects the entire family, not just the identified “problem addict.” Living in community with an addict can actually change (for the worse) the health and well-being of the community. This is where codependency comes in. This lack of understanding with regards to enabling the addicted

and others is one of the reasons why many churches can actually unwittingly do harm in the recovery process. At NSC, we recognize that issue, and that is why we also have family programs, consult regularly with treatment professionals and get outside help for ourselves as pastors and volunteers. Is it possible that faith-based recovery programs are simply God’s way of restoring his people to the original purpose he created for them? Many believe this is true. But it is a complicated restorative process. And that point cannot be missed. Where do churches go wrong when developing a recovery program? Perhaps, sometimes, they underestimate the cost. RM is hard work. People don’t fall apart during office hours. Churches go wrong if they think sobriety is the answer; it’s the first step. So rushing newly sober people in front of the congregation with a cool testimony is risky, and borders on spiritual abuse; providing opportunities for leadership

A FEW STATS THAT WILL BLOW YOU AWAY Addiction is our number one health issue; the third leading cause of death, 4 percent worldwide (more than AIDS). For deaths in the 15 to 29 year age range, the leading cause of death is substance abuse. We spend $400 billion in costs associated with abuse per year in the U.S. – compare that to $107 billion for cancer and $96 billion for heart disease Yes, the vast majority of Christians are in denial. — TMcB

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hastily also causes major meltdowns. Sometimes it is administrative stuff that gets in the way. Coffee gets spilled, smokers hang outside the church door; it is messy business, and some churches are not organizationally suited for all this humanity. When the leaders are not properly supported, provided sufficient downtime or a support network, sometimes a leader crashes and burns, affecting the entire ministry. This is highly stressful, and so a RM leader often suffers from the stress and trauma related to listening to the stories of those that come. So this is a real problem if it isn’t addressed. If Jesus came to seek that which was lost, why is there shame associated with a 12-step program? Because we live in a Western Culture where we give testimonies that go like this: I was lost, now I’m found and since then I’ve been fine. We sugar-coat the long road of sanctification. We pretend that once we’re saved we’re supposed to be shooting toward the heavenlies like a bottle rocket. It’s great testimony, makes a great bit on Sundays, but it is a lousy model of performance that leaves the average person feeling shame, which by the way, is inborn and intractable. So we can feed or starve shame, but we don’t cause it. So it is the human condition to be shame-filled, and when we teach others that becoming a Christian is all about getting fine, then it feels shameful to admit we need recovery.

How important is pastor/elder buy-in to the success of recovery programs? Very, very important. Because issues will arise and without that support, it will be easier to pull the plug than work through the issues. Bon Air, Salem Alliance, Woodcrest Chapel, in fact all the churches in our book have strong, strong senior pastor support. Does the age of a congregation affect the success of a recovery program? Where does a church begin? If a church is fairly rigid, highly organized in its structure with lots of rules and guidelines, if they don’t like ministry getting messy, they probably will have trouble making a safe recovery environment. What have you seen in terms of pastors and church leaders themselves being in need of recovery and therapy? It is so tough, because oftentimes we are so isolated. Addiction is an experience of every family and ministry families don’t get a free pass. Pastors under stress, feeling as if they have no one to confide in, often working too much and too codependently, are especially vulnerable. There are some amazingly horrific stats out there about the number of pastors who use porn as a stress reliever. Yes, this is a huge silent killer of ministry leaders. CE

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Worship Arts



By PhiL hOtSeNPiLLer

yorba linda Friends church sees the entertainment business as a mission field ripe for harvest. By now i’m relatively familiar with hollywood. entertainment’s hub and hometown is just up the i-5 freeway from Friends Church in Orange County, CA where i serve as teaching pastor. in October of 2010 my wife tammy and i began to minister to a group of Christian entertainment professionals. Since founding their group, {l.a.}god, they have been able to disciple an ever-growing collection of people united in filling a void where they saw a “lack of much needed mentorship and protection from the hazards of the entertainment industry.” Out of {l.a.}god’s mass of talent was born a Christian music label, {l.a.}godMusic, whose namesake band released their debut album Shake the Earth in November 2011. Within 24 hours the album jumped into the top-25 on itunes’ Christian genre chart. When successful, professional session and touring musicians take up the challenge to live out their faith in the midst of hollywood, a small mis22 | ChurCh exeCutive | 02/2012

sion is born. When those same musicians write worship songs and now desire to play in churches or

the most influential industry in the world today is the entertainment industry — it is a mission field ripe for harvest. But it’s also a stronghold and will not be influenced by the faint of heart or those who don’t understand the culture. that poses a challenge, as i don’t work in the

the band {l.a.}god released its debut Christian music album last November.

other Christian venues, it becomes a transformational ministry. you’re probably asking yourself, “how on earth does this affect me and my church?”

Mission field A missional church is one that identifies a need, sees an opportunity and launches a strategy to affect culture for Christ. Probably

entertainment industry: i am a pastor and that is my calling. rather, tammy and i partner with people who know hollywood’s nuances and share a desire to advance Christ’s kingdom. {l.a.}god and its offshoot music label are examples of what can happen when churches begin to seek out and implement strategic partnerships. this can be with

the wealth of creative talent that is present, but often untapped, amongst their attendees or via other partnerships outside of their own membership. the early church was noted for its willingness to take risks and partner with believers in other cities and regions: all with the ultimate goal of advancing his kingdom. We would be wise to follow their example. Strategic partnerships involve identifying and mobilizing individuals with unique gifts that can manifest themselves for Christ through myriad media and collaborative projects. Every church has a “hidden” opportunity waiting to be discovered. those opportunities may require that we form alliances outside of our denominations and comfort zones, but the holy Spirit is always birthing wonderful new ideas and dreams of what is possible with God. it behooves us all

to seek the leadership of the Spirit to discern the right cultural fit for our unique congregations.

Congregation did film take some of the projects at Friends Church. recently it completed post-production on a film, Not Today. Making a movie. Being a church. they don’t really seem to go together and yet a few churches have started breaking out and making films. What resulted was a movie that utilized people within the church (Brent Martz, producer; Jon van Dyke, writer/director) placed in a strategic partnership with people from without (Mark Clayman, executive producer). it took the church being able to say, “Let’s partner up with people from outside ourselves to make this project happen.” Friends actively sought out and partnered with like-minded

Singer and songwriter Caitlin Crosby released the single “FLAWZ.”

individuals who weren’t members and the result was a film that not only entertains, but also reflects Christ’s love and how it can be shown in the context of india’s Dalits. the film looks at the social realities of the caste system in india and their implications for the people who live under them: not in an airy, theoretical way but in a gritty, in-your->>

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SPECIAL SECTION face manner. Now there is a product that raises both social and spiritual awareness. And it wasn’t just people who were “in the know” who got involved around the church — many non-industry churchgoers acted as extras, runners, assistants and donated various props and locales to make the film happen. Suddenly there’s a product

that raises both social and spiritual awareness and incorporates members from the church both with specific talents and who just want to be a part of the project. In the end, all of this culminates in a cinematic ministry for Christ that allows the entire church body to be involved and is driven by strategic partnerships. Another way Friends Church

implemented strategic partnerships was music. Singer/songwriter Caitlin Crosby released a single recently entitled “FLAWZ.” The music video for the song features various people being interviewed about their flaws while Caitlin sings about God’s love in spite of our humanity.

Using music strategically When Caitlin came to speak at the church about the song as part of a message series, she played it live. Afterwards, she asked the entire congregation to write their flaws on sheets of paper provided and hold them up for a picture. They did. What resulted was a beautiful moment of vulnerability and togetherness. The congregation wasn’t necessarily involved in the artistry, but they were a part of its movement. Friends Church partnered with Caitlin and made that moment — a moment where everyone stepped out and came together as the body of Christ, flaws and all. No small feat at a place like Friends with more than 4,000 weekly attendees. Friends Church may be a bit of an anomaly – it’s admittedly huge – but at the same time there’s no telling how much of a wealth of talent is in the pews every Sunday until you look. It would be impossible for me, {l.a.}god, or Friends Church to do any of what’s been done by themselves. It’s the strategic partnerships we’ve sought out and fostered, with a lot of prayer and faith to boot, which have made any of it possible. Until a church is willing to step out, look around and give partnering outside itself a shot, there can only be conjecture as to how far its ministry can reach. CE Phil Hotsenpiller is lead pastor at Yorba Linda Friends Church, Yorba Linda, CA. [ ]. Contributing to this article was freelance writer Andrew Young.

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Worship Arts SPEciAl SEcTiON


By rONALD e. KeeNer St. Paul’s episcopal Church, Salem, Or, has become the first church and the third institution in the united States to purchase the acclaimed yamaha CFx Concert Grand Piano. the church last fall took delivery of the 9-foot state-of-the-art instrument. Dr. Paul Klemme, director of Music Ministries, says “We had an overflow crowd at both services. the instrument was extremely well-received.” the purchase culminated Klemme’s quest to replace a smaller, aging grand piano in the church’s nave. Parishioners Lester and Marylou Green offered to buy a fine piano in recognition of the church’s rich musical heritage, which includes concerts by visiting artists from all over the world, including Chanticleer, Canadian Brass, Worcester Cathedral Men and Boys Choir and the St. thomas episcopal Church Men and Boys Choir. Looking to the significance of the piano in the future, Klemme believes that the yamaha will allow the church to attract major recitalists. “We did not have an adequate concert piano to bring major artists to play recitals,” Klemme said, but “now we do. introduced in January 2010 in the united States, the nine-foot CFx concert grand is yamaha’s flagship concert grand model.

Church Executive, in this age of praise music and keyboards, asked Dr. Klemme about the significance of the new piano: What makes the yamaha cFX concert grand Piano so grand, state of the art? the thing that separates the CFx from other yamaha and other concert grands is its true perfection and even scale of sound from bottom to top. it has a rich bass but a mellower top and middle. the overall sound for the listener is quite a bit louder and fuller than any other grand piano. it was the goal of the company to build a piano that can play above a symphony orchestra. Finally the touch is fantastic, very comfortable and even. What is the extent of the church’s music ministries, especially in a church of 400 people)? the music ministry at St. Paul’s include two grand pianos, two tracker organs, seven singing choirs, two bell choirs, two guitar ensembles, brass ensemble and a concert series that bring artists from local, regional, national and international locations. We have one full time music minister, plus six part-time. is there an organ in the church too? the piano will be used mostly for

special concerts and worship services along with four hand piano music. the church blends many different styles of music into the four services held on Sundays including “contemporary Christian.” the organ is used Dr. Klemme every Sunday. it is a Gabriel Kney — neo baroque tracker action instrument of 22 stops from 1975. For people who know pianos, what is it that they listen for when comparing them? i listened for richness of sound and an even spectrum from top to bottom. it is certainly a taste issue but in my research i found almost every piano i tried to have some inconsistency in this arena. the CFx, however, did not. this piano has the strength and carrying power to lead a full congregation in singing without the aid of microphone. What was the purchase price of the piano? i prefer not to reveal the purchase price, but the suggested MSrP is $150,000. CE

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Worship Arts

Use video to paint your

sanctuary walls Coppell, TX Baptist church uses environmental projection to tell visual stories during services.

By Camron Ware

Between Dallas and Ft. Worth, TX sits First Baptist Church of Coppell, where a long-time standing building and congregation wanted to modernize the inside of their sanctuary to stay in tune with the local community. After seeing a demo and realizing the cost-benefits, the church implemented an environmental pro-

PROJECT • Gear involved: Five Hitachi Pro-grade projectors, Apple computers, ProPresenter Presentation Software • Project cost: $25,000 • Project designer: Visual Worshiper

jection system, originally developed by local company Visual Worshiper, in order to transform the look and feel of their entire sanctuary with a simple click of a button. Environmental projection uses video projectors to project images

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and video onto the walls and architecture of an existing sanctuary, taking its roots from ancient cathedrals and churches where stained glass was used to tell stories. Now it is done digitally, right from a computer. This allows the church to tell visual stories during worship, the message and any other time they want to transform the worship space into something other than four white walls. Three projectors cast a seamless image around the front of the room, controlled from one computer by a volunteer, with an additional two projectors filling in the extreme side walls for special events which creates a 180-degree visual canvas. This setup allows the church to project not only still imagery, but also seamless motion video to tell a story or enhance the worship. The church did not have to modify its existing walls or textures. It utilized the existing architecture in the room and mapped the environmental projection to key areas on the walls and ceiling, and at the same time, kept the light out of unwanted areas, such as the eyes of the people on stage and the congregation. The visual media content is

key in a system like this. Most standard images and videos won’t look correct being stretched around a room, but First Baptist received a sample library of content so they were able to use the system right away, with the ability to add more. The church uses the environmental projection system as a way to foster a mood for worship; projecting images of crosses, stained glass, creation scenes, and anything else that is an enhancement to the worship and message. Motion videos are used as well, but very sparingly as they can be very quick to distract. A favorite among the congregation is a subtle video of snowfall around the room during a Christmas service, or white names of God slowly fading in around the congregation can serve as a powerful reminder. Using the system First Baptist of Coppell is able to completely transform their worship space for a fraction of the cost and effort than with lighting or with anything physical, such as stained glass. CE Camron Ware is founder of Visual Worshipper, Coppell, TX, which produces powerful atmospheres in churches. [ ]


Ask any

pastor’s wife

what her life is like in the church

By MAry heNry church is not always safe for the wife of the pastor.

The October 2011 issue of Church executive carried an article on “Pastors’ wives under pressure in husbands’ ministries.” One response to the article came from Mary Henry, a pastor’s wife from Lamoine, ME, who describes herself as a mother, spiritual director, mentor and writer. From the latter perspective, Henry is researching a book about pastors’ wives and welcomes comments to Here she shares her own experiences as a pastor’s wife, which weren’t always friendly — or Christian. Church life. i’m sure many people think of it as being a nurturing environment, safe, transparent and honest. there may be some churches out there that are this way. however, it seems to me many churches present themselves this way, and act quite another way behind closed doors. Ask any pastor’s wife. First, there is the pressure applied by other pastors’ wives who feel they are co-pastoring the church with their husband, for free of course. Shortly after i got engaged to my husband, a pastor, we attended an associationof-churches meeting. i was taken by surprise when one after the other the pastors’ wives asked me if i was nervous about becoming a pastor’s wife. they all offered me advice. One woman said she kept a file for each type of note she needed to write; thank you notes, sympathy, holiday, birthday, births, baptisms; you name it, she had a file for it. Another told me it would be good if i taught Sunday school. And, the one i remember the most vividly, told me all i had to do to be a good pastor’s wife was to memorize the Bible, back to front, front to back.

Left feeling inadequate By the time we left the gathering, i felt totally inadequate, even though i had a great business background, had a great job, was active in my community, and had a jail ministry i absolutely loved. i wanted to scream and run the other way. My husband was a 47-year-old bachelor in a small town church. When we started dating, one of the women in church who thought she would be his wife, treated me like dirt. For the 12 years i was a member of this church, this woman never talked to me, ignored me when i tried to talk to her, and went out of her way to alienate me. Did i mention she was married? Another woman at church told me i was the worse minister’s wife she had ever known. She told me i should be on every committee, involved with all aspects of Christian ed, and should be providing child care every Sunday. She tried to get my husband fired, and when that didn’t work, she and her husband left the church. Another member of our church yelled and screamed at every annual

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business meeting. Every year it was the same thing, “Why should you get a 3 percent raise when I only got a 2 percent raise? And you only work one day a week.” My husband has a Ph.D. in systematic theology, this man had a high school diploma. Congregants sat in silence and let him rage. I was appalled to have 20 to 25 people talk over whether or not my husband should get a raise.

and thinking takes the power out of it, and brings into the light the darkness that builds as we try to be what others want us to be, or, as we try to desperately hold onto to our authentic lives within a church. I am encouraged by Trudy Johnson’s Colorado retreats (www.anesisretreats. com), the websites that allow pastors’ wives to share their stories with other pastors’ wives all over the country, and

Vision New England’s new Pastors’ Spouses’ mentoring ministry (www. It is good to know secrets are being exposed to the light. CE

Church takes toll on family Life in a church can take a tremendous toll on the pastor and his family. The young woman who told me I just needed to memorize the Bible to be a good pastor’s wife, admitted to her church, several years later, she had an eating disorder. She had hoped the church would support and pray for her. Instead church members wouldn’t let their children go to her house to play with her children, nor would church members invite the wife, her husband (the pastor) or their children, to their homes anymore. This pastor’s wife had nowhere to turn, no one to talk to, not even God, who she felt had betrayed her in her own church. I visited her in a psychiatric hospital where I found her devastated by the church’s treatment of her. The church asked the husband to resign. While he was waiting to decide how to handle this, his wife committed suicide, leaving her five children and her husband behind. Churches are families, and every family has its secrets, its dysfunction. When these secrets are kept in the dark, they grow powerful, they breed discontent, jealousy, anger and resentment — and they destroy. The secrets and dysfunction hold us hostage in an environment we thought was safe. Pastors’ wives struggle with alienation, loneliness, betrayal, judgment, fear and the demands of church and pastor. To whom do we turn to tell our secrets without getting our spouses fired? Who in our community is a safe person? Who can save us from the selfdestructing thoughts that come when we are being abused in a church? Women heal in community with each other. Confessing what we are feeling

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however, the teacher did not abide with the policies of the denomination regarding dispute resolution, but rather sued the church and school in secular court under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), claiming her termination was due to her disability (which, of course, is not a permissible action by employers under the ADA).

Religious reasons

Under fire: The ‘ministerial exception’ By David Middlebrook and Wendi L. Hodges There is a blockbuster religious freedom case that is currently pending before the United States Supreme Court. Courts have generally believed that federal employment discrimination statutes do not apply to church employees performing religious functions. However, in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, the question has been raised as to whether the “ministerial exception” applies not simply to religious leaders, but also to teachers at religious schools – particularly someone who teaches the full secular curriculum, but also teaches daily religion classes, is a commissioned minister and regularly leads students in prayer and worship. Specifically, the case revolves around a teacher in a religious elementary school in Michigan who was diagnosed with narcolepsy and eventually fired. The religious tenants of the school’s sponsoring denomination – the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) – required any disputes be handled by the church tribunal;

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The church and school insist that the terminated employee was a “commissioned minister” and that her termination was for religious reasons; therefore, that the case is subject to the ministerial exception (i.e., dismissal from the secular courts). As described in the petition for certiorari filed with the Supreme Court: “The ‘ministerial exception’ bars lawsuits that interfere in the relationship between a religious organization and employees who perform religious functions — most obviously, lawsuits seeking to compel a religious organization to reinstate such an employee or seeking to impose monetary liability for the selection of such employees. As the first court adopting the ministerial exception explained: ‘The relationship between an organized church and its ministers is its lifeblood’; allowing the state to interfere in that relationship — effectively allowing judges and juries to pick ministers — would produce ‘the very opposite of that separation of church and State contemplated by the First Amendment.’ McClure v. Salvation Army, 460 F.2d 553, 558, 560 (5th Cir. 1972). “Based on this principle, every circuit has agreed that the ministerial exception bars most lawsuits between a religious organization and its leaders. Every circuit has also agreed that the ministerial exception extends beyond formally designated ‘ministers’ to include other employees who play an important religious role in the organization.”

Tenets of faith The ministerial exception to employment law was established to give religious groups the freedom to hire and fire people performing religious functions, in order to uphold the tenets of their particular faith. The rationale is that the ministerial exception lets religious organizations practice their religion and convey their beliefs without being subject to employment discrimination laws. For example, the Catholic Church does not permit women to serve as priests; however, the church is free from a discrimination claim due to the ministerial exception to federal employment laws. In a common employment claim scenario, a church employs a minister and then that minister sues the church alleging some violation of either Title VII (such as retalia-

tion, racial discrimination, gender discrimination, or sexual harassment), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), or the ADA. In such a scenario, the majority of courts will apply the ministerial exception, which results in the case being dismissed. However, in the Hosanna-Tabor case, the issue at hand is whether the ministerial exception can be extended to an employee who, though a commissioned minister who taught religious studies and lead children in prayer, mostly taught secular subjects such as math and English. In this case, the teacher filed a discrimination claim, and the church filed a motion to dismiss based on the ministerial exception. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit sided with the teacher, and the church appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Freedom of religion Generally, courts feel that they cannot get involved in such issues without coming into conflict with the freedom of religion clauses in the First Amendment. Many commentators argue that the ministerial exception is wrong and should not be applicable based on the fact that it does not matter whether the church had a religious basis for making its decision; rather, the mere fact that a church and a minister are involved are enough to warrant dismissal of the case. These same commentators argue that, instead of being applied as a blanket rule, the ministerial exception should only be applied when the employees claim is grounded in a religious context (rather than a strictly employment-related context, such as sexual harassment for example). Some who argue in favor of doing away with the ministerial exception concede (albeit grudgingly) that there may be instances of exception for certain employees who perform “exclusively” religious function. However, this “exception” would be fairly difficult to implement considering that most church employees, including the ministers, perform at least some nonreligious administrative duties on a regular, if not daily, basis.

duties should be considered a “ministerial” employee, such that the school is largely free to make decisions about her employment without running afoul of employment laws. However, for many this is a vitally important case dealing with the separation of church and state. Supporting the school’s decision to invoke the ministerial exception are multiple and various groups, including Roman Catholics, Mormons, Presbyterians, United Methodists, Seventh-day Adventists, Hindus, United Sikhs, Muslims, Episcopalians, Reform Jews and Orthodox Jews. These groups hope the high court will hold that the ministerial exception applies not only to religious leaders but also to others within a religious organization, which would provide religious organizations with a broad-based protection from discrimination lawsuits. A ruling is not expected until next spring or summer. David Middlebrook is a partner and Wendi L. Hodges is an attorney of Anthony and Middlebrook, The Church Law Group, Grapeville, TX. [ ]

Religious enough? If the government’s argument is accepted, the courts would be involved in disputes about the selection and termination of clergy at all levels and in every denomination. Basically, this would mean that, in every future case, a court – and not the church itself – could decide whether the church’s reasons for firing or not hiring a minister were good (i.e., religious) enough. As you can see, based on the facts alone, this is a case about whether a teacher in a faith-based school who teaches a non-religious subject but who has some religious

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hosts 850 in weekend worship. Or a staff team that was humming along eliminates a few parttime staff members due to a budget decrease, and suddenly the overall department structure of the church no longer works. the staff team maintains momentum but notices how much more energy it suddenly takes to function well across departments.

reaching the outer limits

Leadership systems are in


in large churches By SuSAN BeAuMONt

leadership systems tend to reach the outer limits of their effectiveness based on attendance or budget. the large church is managed through five interdependent leadership systems. When change occurs in one system, it tends to produce change in the others. these systems include: • Clergy Leadership Roles • Staff Team Design and Function • Governance and Board Function • Acculturation and the Role of the Laity • The Formation and Execution of Strategy As daily changes occur in the life of the congregation, these systems adjust but remain relatively stable. Leaders come and go, policies are formed and adapted, groups form and dissolve, but the basic interaction of the five systems remains constant. however, every leadership system has a capacity limit, a point beyond which it can no longer effectively function. When the activity level of the congregation significantly increases or decreases, leadership systems hit their limits. A senior clergyperson assumes a particular leadership role that is highly effective in a church with weekend worship attendance of 700. the clergyperson is surprised to discover that the leadership role begins losing its effectiveness when the church adds an additional worship service and now

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One of the remarkable things about leadership systems is that they tend to reach the outer limits of their effectiveness at predictable moments, based on worship attendance or budget size. We often refer to the period of time that a congregation approaches or moves through these limits as a transition zone. Some refer to transition zones as “attendance ceilings,” because they observe that a congregation’s weekend attendance repeatedly climbs to a predictable level and then drops back down. When a congregation hits one of these transition zones, it must intentionally adapt all of the five leadership systems, or the congregation won’t be able to accommodate added complexity. the systems have reached their effectiveness limits and cannot accommodate additional growth without being repurposed. in the large church there are natural attendance and budget zones where the five leadership systems stabilize and accommodate complexity and growth without shifting. each of these zones operates with a basic organizing principle and with predictable characteristics in the five leadership systems. Congregations occupy a stable size zone when they operate with an annual budget of between $1 million and $2 million or when weekly worship attendance remains between 400 and 800. i refer to this size zone as the professional congregation, because most of leadership behavior is driven by the

need to professionalize operations. the congregation realizes that the church’s programming has outgrown the managerial capacity of its lay leaders to sustain excellence, so demand for a staff team of specialists emerges.

Affected by budget capacity the growth of this size church is related to budget capacity, which impacts the ability to add staff. the pastor is learning to let go of a purely relational style of leadership and adopt a more managerial focus. the staff team is moving away from a generalist orientation and toward a specialist orientation. the strategic congregation emerges as the stabilizing zone once a congregation is operating with a budget between $2 million and $4 million or maintaining average weekly attendance between 800 and 1,200. this congregation requires a more intentional orientation towards strategy, growth, and alignment.

in this size congregation there are so many decision-making groups at work that it is easy for the church to drift out of alignment and for tremendous energies to be wasted. the pastor is learning to maintain strategic focus. the staff team is learning to function in aligned departmental structures, with the oversight of an executive team. the church that worships with an average weekend community of 1,200 to 1,800, or with a budget of more than $4 million, is known as a matrix congregation. [the author has not developed the typology beyond 1,800 at this time.] the presenting organizational challenge of this size category is decentralization. the careful work that was done to align church structures in the previous size category suddenly gets in the way of the more organic leadership style needed to function in this very large category. Growth in the matrix-sized church emerges and is managed everywhere,


all at the same time. the senior clergy leader focuses primarily on the overall strategy of the congregation, teaching, preaching, and fund-raising. She has fully delegated the management of the staff team to one or more executive ministers. the staff is learning new ways to coordinate its decentralized decision making. A congregation approaching the upper or lower limits of any one of these stabilizing zones will experience leadership stress. rightsizing the systems requires a fundamental paradigm shift in how the church functions. the congregation that tries to avoid the difficult work of adapting its leadership systems risks stagnation in growth and/or the ineffective use of congregational resources. CE Susan Beaumont is a senior consultant with the Alban Institute. Her practice specializes in the unique leadership dynamics of large congregations.

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Church Executive February 2012 Digital