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MARCH 2013


the Ce iNterv ieW

By Rez Gopez-Sindac


Scott Anderson started attending eagle Brook Church (eBC) with his family in 1993 and joined the staff in 1997 as the facility manager after 18 years of managing restaurants for the McDonald’s Corporation. he started as a “glorified custodian” with the church and now serves as the executive pastor.


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how one church in the Silicon valley is extrablessed with high-potential volunteers – and how you can be, too.


if operated as a business – with trained staff, best practices and a clear purpose.







By Ronald E. Keener



By David Middlebrook



By Eric Spacek



Participants don’t want to ‘rough it’ as much, look for comforts of home.

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38 Marketplace

“Like” us on churchExecutivemagazine “Follow” us on @churchExecutive Church Executive (Copyright 2013), Volume 12, Issue 3. 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 2013 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.

roN kEENEr

TWO CHALLENGES churches in this country are drifting from their historical and biblical moorings, and many christians abroad are persecuted for their faith.

in the course of writing and editing for 88 months/issues of Church Executive, and as i write my last editor’s letter, there are a couple of themes that remain heavy on my heart for the church, both issues summed up in related books, one of them released 13 years ago, and the other just published. in 2000, Arnold L. Cook wrote in Historical Drift: Must My Church Die? that “throughout history, vision dims, core values shift and passion fades in organizations.” Cook is of the opinion that all Christian organizations should be scrapped every 100 years and started over, except, he says, for the women’s missionary prayer circle. historical drift is “the tendency of churches to move away from their original moorings over time.” he places the blame not on the organizations but on their leaders: “Whether a Christian organization thrives or dies depends on the cali-

ber of its leaders.” Cook’s concern is deeper and wider than we can discuss here, and he discusses in four chapters spiritual revival, in what he calls “historical drift reversed.” he wrote me, “At the root of ‘historical drift’ in denominations and Christian movements is the subtle and not so subtle compromises of Biblical authority, theology and church doctrines and discipline.” While my focus over the years has been on larger and megachurches, i’ve witnessed the decline of denominations and churches of all sizes in the country, and for most i see no way out of it – other than revival. in the larger arena, my heart breaks for the persecuted church, described in wrenching detail, country by country, in the 2012 book, Persecuted: The Global Assault on Christians, written by Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Nina Shea, all engaged with the Center for religious Freedom, hudson institute. the authors say that “an underreported fact” is that “Christians are the single most widely persecuted religious group in the world today.” they explain: “What we mean by the word persecution in this book is that these are Christians in the countries of focus who are tortured, raped, imprisoned, or killed for their faith. their churches may also be attacked or destroyed. their entire communities may be crushed by a variety of deliberately targeted measures that

may or may not entail violence.” in excruciating detail, through 400 pages about 42 countries, the terrors of living the Christian life in an unforgiving environment are shared, and i am sure the worse of their travails are left out. But aside from what the hudson institute, Open Doors, and the voice of the Martyrs are doing, who we might call parachurch groups, how are congregations helping to illuminate the concerns and comfort fellow Christians so terribly afflicted? When they and their families face death for their faith, do they cry out, “i repent of my Christian faith.” No, they cry out to their God and seek his grace and mercy. Would we do the same if similarly challenged in our faith? the authors write: “in the face of our changing and increasingly dangerous world, we are called to help bear the burden of those who are carrying the cross in ways we can hardly imagine.” Drift from historical and biblical foundations, persecution of the church worldwide — these are tasks that pull us to discipleship here and now. here’s praying for revival of hearts and thanking God for seven solid years of growing with you. Farewell.

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Publisher/Editor in chief Steve Kane, ext. 205 Associate Publisher John Adel, ext. 219 Editor ronald e. Keener, ext. 204 Executive Editor rez Gopez-Sindac Phone: 512.904.9007 Director of Sales Sali Williams, ext. 209 Account Executive Maria Galioto, ext. 201 Production Director valerie valtierra, ext. 203 Senior Art Director renée hawkins, ext. 207 EDiToriAL ADviSory PANEL Stephen Briggs

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Chief of Staff Lakeside Church | Folsom, CA

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executive vice President Bank of the West | San ramon, CA

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CeO Building Better Churches | Colorado Springs, CO

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Arizona megachurch buys Historic First Presbyterian City of Grace in Mesa and Scottsdale, AZ, has established a downtown Phoenix venue with the purchase of Historic First Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterian congregation had declined from about 2,800 active members in the 1960s to about 140 members last year, and attendance was less than 100. Senior pastor Terry Crist says “the location will allow us to minister to the downtown community as well as to extend our reach into the West Valley. The beauty, scale and history of the building will foster a sense of presence and permanence in the city.” Services began at the new site at the beginning of the year. The facility, which dates from 1927 and was the first church incorporated in Arizona, has

65,000 square feet that includes a main sanctuary that seats 1,000, a chapel for 250, a commercial kitchen, gymnasium, and some 30 classrooms and offices. City of Grace intends to minister to the professional community downtown, the arts community, and downtown students of Arizona State University, and the underserved who are living on the streets. Downtown Phoenix is in the midst of an economic and cultural resurgence, says Crist, and “now is the time to position City of Grace at our community’s commercial, political and social center.” BC Ziegler provided the financing, and the real estate agent was Earl Shroyer, who focuses his business on the sale of churches. The Presbyterian church was purchased

for $3.52 million and City of Grace immediately invested $250,000 in renovations to the main floor for gathering space, nursery and children’s ministry areas. Crist says the church will spend an additional $400,000 in renovating the building over the next few years. “City of Grace rallies each fall to give an annual ‘Heart of the House’ offering to be used for campus-related capital projects,” Crist says. “This offering typically generates $200,000 to $400,000, but this year we raised a million dollars in cash and short-term (90-day) pledges for the purchase and renovation of Historic Presbyterian.” News reports indicated that Mars Hill Church of Seattle, WA, pastored by Mark Driscoll, had made an offer on the

Former Historic First Presbyterian, now City of Grace Downtown Phoenix.

church and has been planning to expand into the Phoenix area. Separately, it was reported that Mars Hill Church Downtown Seattle has relocated to the former home of the first church congregation in Seattle that opened in 1910. — Ron Keener

Ethnic congregations up 66% for Southern Baptists since 1998 The number of non-Anglo congregations in the Southern Baptist Convention has jumped by more than 66 percent since 1998, according to the North American Mission Board’s Center for Missional Research, Alpharetta, GA. Just over 10,000 congregations (10,049) of 50,768 congregations in the convention identified themselves by an ethnicity other than Anglo in 2011, the most recent year for which detailed data on ethnicity is available from LifeWay Christian Resources’ Annual Church Profile database. In 1998, non-Anglo congregations totaled 6,044. “It’s clear that Southern Bap8 | Church executive | 03/2013

tists have been multi-ethnic and are becoming an even more multiethnic convention of churches,” says Joseph Lee, senior pastor of Connexion Church in Lawrenceville, GA, a mostly Korean Southern Baptist congregation. “The trend is gaining speed week by week. For example, the ethnic churches grew from zero to more than half of the total number of churches in our county in the past 10 years.” The diversification of the convention comes at a time when the United States as a whole is growing more diverse. USA Today, for example, has reported that the number of all-white communities in the

country has plummeted since 1980, according to an analysis of census data by Penn State University’s Population Research Institute. Less than a third of U.S. counties are 90 percent Caucasian. The largest jump in non-Anglo congregations within the SBC from 1998 to 2011 has predominantly come from an 82.7 percent increase in the number of African American congregations. — Tobin Perry writes for the North American Mission Board.


Alert leaders crucial in crises BY rONALD e. KeeNer Congregational crises come in all forms and occasions: violence, natural disasters, accidents and medical emergencies, sudden death, money woes, sexual misconduct, community trauma and legal difficulties. Gregory L. hunt writes about these in Leading Congregations Through Crisis (Chalice Press). Dr. hunt is president of Directions inc., Olathe, KS, which he and his wife founded. [] he shared responses to Church Executive’s questions: you mention that six to 18 months after a crisis are times for essential relief, recovery and renewal actions. Describe what you mean. Crises disrupt the normal life of a congregation, but they don’t last forever. Congregations eventually find their way to a “new normal.” For an optimal outcome, leaders need to act decisively, compassionately and ethically to deal with the problems that crises unleash. At the outset, this means helping the congregation

through the initial shock of crisis, rallying members and others toward an orderly, confidence-building reponse. it then means working patiently and systematically toward desirable outcomes, using good project management skills and paying attention to emotional healing processes. effective leaders are opportunistic as they do these things, recognizing that crises, however unfortunate their onset may be, can become occasions for congregational learning and transformation. What was the research behind the book? to begin with, i reflected deeply on my own experiences as a crisis-tested pastor. i also read everything i could get my hands on in the field of crisis management. this meant learning from experts in the fields of business, education, politics and the military, as well as from the few who are writing for congregations. Finally, i surveyed and interviewed dozens of leaders from a variety of faith traditions who have led their congregations through crisis. What sort of crisis has the economic recession produced for churches? the economic recession has put many congregations in a bind, disrupting the charitable giving of members and necessitating cuts to ministry and staff. Few congregations have avoided belt-tightening entirely. Most impressive are those who are managing to live within their means while remaining missionally-focused. For instance, Crosspointe Meadows Church in suburban Detroit, has put building plans on the backburner, reduced its number of paid staff, and at the same time developed a new financial planning ministry to serve those who are struggling with debt. What trauma does a congregation go through in a crisis involving its members? Congregational crisis creates chaos and uncertainty. it brings loss, necessitating grief resolution processes. Some of those impacted by the crisis find themselves experiencing post-traumatic stress, which calls for unique interventions. Conflict can result as well, depending on the precipitating events and the way the crisis itself is managed. in 2008, when a bus accident injured several and claimed the lives of two teenagers in the church i was pastoring, every single one of these things ensued. teams of decisive, caring, and attentive leaders spelled the difference in how the trauma was handled. What other things might church crises bring? Congregational crises bring inevitable change, and not necessarily for the better. Crises threaten us physically, psychologically, relationally and spiritually. they can put us in financial holes out of which it proves difficult to climb. they can harm people. they can leave ministries and relationships seriously damaged. On the other hand, crises can become turning points for good. those who have led well through crisis will tell you that their congregations didn’t just survive; they experienced transformation and ongoing growth toward their full potential in Christ. 03/2013 | ChurCh exeCutive | 9

ThE cE iNTErviEW

ScoTT ANDErSoN executive Pastor | eagle Brook Church | Centerville, MN

Scott Anderson started attending Eagle Brook church (EBc) with his family in 1993 and joined the staff in 1997 as the facility manager after 18 years of managing restaurants for the mcDonald’s corporation. he started as a “glorified custodian,” but he says it was the very best way for him to learn from the ground up.


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As eagle Brook Church grew from 350 people in 1991 to 5,500 on the same property in 2005, to today’s five campuses around the Minneapolis - St. Paul area – each hosting four weekend services and altogether often attracting 18,000 people or more each weekend – Anderson says the leaders and attenders became experts at creative solutions to making room for people who needed to hear the Gospel. Before eagle Brook moved to its “Promised Land,” a 92-acre facility in Lino Lakes, MN, the church was doing seven weekend services and seeing 5,500 people in a 60,000-square-foot facility that seated 800 people. Lots of lessons learned, Anderson admits. On Dec. 6, 2005, eBC held its first service in the new campus that seated 2,100 people at a time. that weekend, more than 8,000 people showed up for services at eagle Brook Lino Lakes, effectively exceeding capacity on the first weekend. As the new campus quickly filled up, eBC reopened its original facility six weeks later for weekend services. thus, the multisite ministry was born, as well as the learning curve – from campus leadership and staffing to technological challenges and funding. Anderson says he’s had the incredible honor of being able to grow with the church. today, he serves as the executive pastor, reporting directly to Bob Merritt, the senior pastor. What attracted you to join Eagle Brook church in 1993 and stay there long enough to get hired on staff? My family and i were looking for a church closer to home. One of my employees at McDonald’s, Chuckie, was always talking to me about her church. So, in some ways, just to get Chuckie off our backs, we decided to give First Baptist Church of White Bear Lake (later to be known as eagle Brook Church) a try. the week following our visit, we each received permanent nametags in the mail with our names on them. We saw a church that clearly was on a mission to reach lost people, and a church body that was willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen. even then, the growth in attendance was stretching the capacity of the building to its limits. One Sunday we came to church, all of the staff offices had been torn out to make more lobby space, which was sorely needed. i had never experienced a church where the right decision could be made and executed in the snap of a finger. how did your work experience at the mcDonald’s corporation prepare you for the facility manager job – and eventually the executive pastor role?


in 18 years of working for McDonald’s, i was trained and given the opportunity to lead in the areas of people, products and systems, each of which is critical to almost any organization. Added to these were years of balancing these elements in a constantly changing and fast-paced environment, giving me the ability to thrive in a world filled with unknowns. ironically, working primarily with teenagers for almost two decades was the perfect preparation for working in the church world. Sometimes church people act like teenagers when they don’t get what they want. it’s natural for people who have a great sense of ownership in the church to want to also have a strong level of influence. Managing those expectations is tricky, delicate and sometimes has to be done with decisiveness. it’s never easy, but always necessary. As eagle Brook has become a multisite ministry, the need for appropriate processes and systems has grown as well. Whereas 10 years ago we all worked with each other day in and day out, today, we work in different campuses and on different parts of the mission. Our people have had to grow in this area, too, so that we can effectively manage more than 200 employees and still hit the mark. What perspective has working from the ground >>

Over the past 20 years, Eagle Brook has grown by an average 20 percent per year, so one of the biggest strategies we have used is to regularly review our staff structure and make needed changes. It has meant that about every two years we have reorganized how our staff is structured. Our structure should answer the question, “Is this the best way to get the work done?” A key concept that we developed early on is that we will plan for 20 percent growth each year, just in case God wants to send it. If it didn’t happen, we wouldn’t complain – but if it wants to happen and we can’t handle it, why would we be blessed with it? Every year, we’d actually look at what we would need to do to accommodate 20 percent more people in the coming ministry year – and then we’ve made adjustments to allow for it to happen. This required us each year to sit down, intentionally look at our current attendance level and ask the hard questions: If we had 20 percent more people in worship, could we fit them all in our current services approach? If we had 20 percent more people coming, will our children’s space be able to handle the increase? If we had 20 percent more people, do we have room in the parking lot to fit the additional cars? Over the years, the answers to these three questions led us to: 1. Add a new worship center onto our building. 2. Add a Saturday night service, then a second Saturday night service, then add a third and a fourth Sunday service in our original worship center space, making seven weekend services before we moved to a new location. 3. Add a second campus, then a third, fourth and fifth. 4. Changed our children’s ministry programming from grade-based classroom teaching to large-group teaching with small-group breakouts. 5. Purchased land so that we could enable more parking, and expanded parking lots at two of our campuses. 6. Purchased houses along our property so that we could create a second entry/exit from the parking lot. Another key concept that we introduced was that we would do whatever it takes to reach people who were far from God. On its face, it doesn’t seem so revolutionary, but in practice, it is harder than one may think! Finally, we decided that we would be a church that was willing and available to do what God calls us to do for Him. Again, it sounds very warm and fuzzy, but over the years it has caused us to do some things that I would have never thought we would do, like: 1. Merge with another church. 2. Launch a campus in a school. 3. Respond to the plight of people in Mozambique, Africa, with more than $2 million per year in support. — Scott Anderson

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the ce interview

Scott Anderson, executive pastor at Eagle Brook Church, likes to envision what the future may look like.

up given you that could be easy to miss in the church world? At Eagle Brook, we look at people through the lenses of character, competence and chemistry, but the biggest indicator of true fit is character – and that is developed over time. I made a lot of mistakes as I worked my way through my career, but at every juncture I had a choice to make – to learn from my mistakes and keep moving, or just stop growing my character. I still have a long ways to go in this area, but what character development I have experienced has been the result of time, relationship and work. For many, it takes a full year or more to become acclimated to our culture and the way we do ministry, and far too many people come into a new role and just go for it without taking the time to understand the world they just entered. Obviously, things have to get done and decisions have to be made, but spending time getting to know the players, understanding where the landmines are, and

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finding out what is most important should be a top priority. What is your most important role as executive pastor? I have to work hard to know what it is that I need to be in the circumstance that I am in. Often, I am convener and discussion leader. More often than I prefer, I am the one who has to lean in on difficult relational conflict between staff or with an attender. Sometimes, I am cheerleader; other times I am critic. Each part of my day calls out something different in me, and I have to be thoughtful about it. Probably the most noticeable impacts that I have had are in futureplanning. I tend to be the guy who starts to percolate on what the future may look like from a logistics standpoint. We decided as a team, for instance, that we were going to be a church of 10,000 by 2005, but it was my responsibility to put the plan together that would get us there. In today’s world, we’ve purposed to add four to five new campuses in the next 10 years, and with a great team, we

identify the stepping stones that will enable us to get there. What lessons have you learned from leading a number of capital campaigns at EBC? I have led five stewardship campaigns at Eagle Brook, starting in 2000. We’ve been in a perpetual campaign without a break since that time. A few things I’ve learned: 1. People want to be part of something that’s important, something that will make a difference in this world. 2. A campaign is a forced reminder to teach about our mission as a church. It refocuses us on what is most important and reminds our people that it’s about more than just us. 3. A campaign is a great on-ramp for people who don’t always see the value in giving to the operating fund. They can use the more inspiring initiatives within a campaign to get excited about, and begin a journey of spiritual growth through giving. 4. The details aren’t as important as you think they are. If people like

who you are and are drawn to your mission, keep it big-picture. Have the details for the major donors and those who ask questions. 5. People will trust you more than they should. Be worthy of that trust. Make sure you can deliver on what you dream about doing together. How do you run a five-campus, 18,000-strong church efficiently? We don’t! One of our organizational distinctives is that doing church in a multisite environment is messy, and we are OK with that. That said, we are a rather high-control environment, meaning that what happens at a campus is thoroughly designed and delivered to the campus for implementation in a way that keeps our core values and desired outcomes at the top of the list. We measure five important outcomes: 1. Are we growing? The only way to

reach new people is to have new people coming through our doors. 2. Are people saying “Yes!” to Christ? If people are not choosing to follow Jesus, we lock ourselves in a room until we have a plan in mind to address the problem. 3. Are people involved in a great small group? We have seen that a transformed life never happens in a vacuum. 4. Are people serving in the church? 5. Are people living a generous financial life? I have the best team anywhere. Passionate, proven leaders who understand our mission and will do whatever it takes to enable it to be achieved. What’s on the horizon for Eagle Brook? We’ll continue to plan for growth, look for seats and do whatever it takes to reach people who are far from God. Today, at 18,000 in average weekend attendance, Eagle Brook has dreams to

keep planning and preparing for aggressive growth, even as the challenges of making it possible get more complex. But looking back reminds us of God’s faithfulness. Over the past 21 years, Eagle Brook has grown at an average rate of 20.3 percent per year (Kind of freaky). To people who come to find out about us more recently, it seems like an overnight story, but I can tell you that idea is far from the truth. One person at a time – one campus at a time – one community at a time, God is doing something. We’re just keeping up. Quick Facts: Eagle Brook Church: [] Senior Pastor: Bob Merritt Five campuses: Lino Lakes White Bear Lake Spring Lake Park Blaine Woodbury

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15 members. Although training is not required by federal or state law for churches, your church should nevertheless train its personnel and volunteers on the prevention of sexual harassment because several Supreme Court cases, federal and state court decisions and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Guidelines make it clear that sexual harassment training is essential and is expected among all employees, including churches.

Impact of training

Training cuts lawsuit impact By David Middlebrook A crucial part of the church’s training program should include the prevention of sexual harassment. Many churches overlook this area of risk because they do not think that it will happen in a church context. Unfortunately, the church is not immune from episodes of sexual harassment from taking place within its walls. It is crucial that churches understand what constitutes sexual harassment, how to prevent it and how to handle it should it occur. Sexual harassment is prohibited at the federal level by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If your church is engaged in interstate commerce (a very, very broad view) and has at least 15 members, then the federal ban on sexual harassment legally applies. Moreover, your state is likely to have its own legal requirements and it will not include the necessity of engaging in interstate commerce and frequently will apply to organizations with fewer than

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For example, in order to raise a defense or avoid punitive damages in sexual harassment lawsuits, employers must show they have provided periodic sexual harassment training to all employees and to regular volunteers. Failure to do so can result in high financial damages assessed against the church in the event a case of sexual harassment was successful. The EEOC regulations define the term “sexual harassment” as follows: Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

RESPONDING TO AN ALLEGATION First, keep the accused and the claimant separated while an investigation is made. Second, notify your insurer, governing church body and legal counsel. Third, interview the parties involved as well as any witnesses. Be sensitive and do not go into a full interrogation. Your goal is to collect facts and document the interviews. Fourth, work with a legal counsel to make an assessment and offer pastoral counseling as appropriate.

The EEOC definition of sexual harassment is generally the same as that used in state and federal courts. In

fact, Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986), marked the United States Supreme Court’s recognition of certain forms of sexual harassment as a violation of Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII, and established the standards for analyzing whether conduct was unlawful and when an employer would be liable. There are at least two forms of sexual harassment that should be discussed in any training that your church may have: 1. Quid Pro Quo: Latin for “this for that” or “something for something,” this type of sexual harassment involves tangible employment action against the victim and generally involves monetary loss or change in job. When instances of sexual harassment of this form occur, training and polices are less likely to mitigate a church’s liability. 2. Hostile Work Environment: This form of sexual harassment involves speech or conduct that is severe and/or pervasive enough to create an abusive or hostile work environment. In the event an employee or volunteer makes a claim for hostile work environment, the focus of the inquiry will be on the organization’s sexual harassment policies, training and how the church responds to the situation once it is brought to the church’s attention. The church’s training will have the most impact in reducing any fines or damages under this form of sexual harassment claim.

Consent not a defense Regardless of the type of sexual harassment that may occur, it is important to recognize that even the ultimate consent to the act of intercourse is not a defense, according to the Supreme Court, because the relevant question for the court is whether the victim by his or her conduct indicated the sexual advances themselves were unwelcome and not whether there was eventual consent to the act. Also, it should be noted in training that the parties who can be involved in a sexual harassment suit can include not only the perpetrator but also direct victims, bystanders and witnesses. Again, this is why training is so important: sexual harassment is an organization’s problem and not just the problem of the individuals directly involved. Accordingly, it is important for a church to periodically conduct sexual harassment training and to keep a record of the training as the combination of training and evidence of such can help a church prevent or mitigate damages, especially as to a hostile work environment

claim where the focus will be on the organization’s policies, training and response to the situation. In addition to communicating the legal information to your church’s employees and volunteers through training, you should make sure to review and disseminate your organization’s sexual harassment policy.

Required to report In your training, it is important that the church emphasize to employees/volunteers knowledge of the sexual harassment policy and reporting procedure, the fact that all employees/volunteers are required to report any incidents that an individual may experience directly or may be a witness to, the need to cooperate with investigations, the organization’s desire to support victims and the organization’s lack of tolerance for sexual harassment. The training should emphasize to supervisors that, in addition to the above, all supervisors have a duty to immediately report any complaint that they receive from their employees or incidents that they witness. Supervisors should be trained that they should demonstrate a willingness to hear and objectively discuss complaints and understand the importance of telling the alleged victim that confidentiality will be respected as much as possible but may not be completely assured in order to investigate fully and properly – though no retaliation against them will be tolerated. Further, supervisors should not object if the employee prefers to or actually does bypass the “chain of command.” Lastly, it is important to seek the advice and involvement of experienced legal counsel when any formal complaint is made because this area has so much potential legal liability and public relations implications to the organization. David Middlebrook is a partner with Anthony and Middlebrook of The Church Law Group, Grapevine, TX. []

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SPEciAL SEcTioN retreAtS

a good place to meet God

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Participants don’t want to ‘rough it’ as much, look for comforts of home. By Ronald E. Keener

The idea of taking some time to walk away from the pressures of everyday life to reconnect on a deeper level with God is as old as Christianity itself. The practice is still going strong today, and for those who set aside the time for this experience, the rewards are many. “We see more community type retreats for men, women or couples,” says Tim Beardon, senior manager of the Tennessee Baptist Conference Center. “Our Carson Springs camp has a retreat for senior adults.” “I would say about 80 percent of our guests are repeat visitors,” adds Beardon. Tennessee Baptist Conference Centers runs two camps in the state, Linden Valley and Carson Springs. They are typical of many facilities that offer youth and family camping activities during the summer and then focus on conferences and retreats from Labor Day to Memorial Day. That is the pattern at Young Life’s Trail West Lodge in Buena Vista, CO. The summers are dedicated to full weeks of familyoriented, all-inclusive fun woven with Young Life’s renowned presentation of the Gospel. The rest of the year the facility welcomes church, parachurch and other groups for a retreat experience set against the backdrop of spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery. Brian Phillips, marketing manager for Young Life’s cluster of Colorado camps, recalls the impression Trail West made on a first-time visitor, who felt the spirituality of the place was “palpable.” Phillips says the guest told him he could feel, “ … the Kingdom’s work being done.” Young Life operates 26 camps and conference centers across the continent catering strictly to groups. “We typically don’t do the programming,” says Phillips. “Every organization is different, and they organize their own programming.” In addition to inspirational settings, comfortable accommodations and quality food services, Young Life can offer these amenities at reasonable prices. “As a non-profit,” Phillips points out, “we charge no use tax and accept no gratuities. That’s where being a Christian camp offers an advantage.” Trail West hosts some special guests every year — a group of freshmen from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. “There is a chaplain’s retreat for the freshmen, the ‘doolies’ they call them,” Phillips says. “It’s their first opportunity to get off campus, and the chaplain always has 100 percent attendance.” You can’t find a television set at any Young Life camp, nor could you at the Tennessee Baptist facilities. Getting away from that sort of distraction is part of the point. But what about smart phones and tablets and such? Phillips says the groups themselves have to set those rules. >>

Michigan Christian Retreat Center

03/2013 | Church executive | 17




By Tim Spivey

Not all retreats happen in a group setting. there are facilities catering to individuals and others offering the right ingredients for either personal or group retreats. that is certainly the case at the Keeter Center’s Mabee Lodge, a facility located on the campus of the College of the Ozarks, just a short ride down the road from Branson, MO. the historic 15-room lodge offers meeting rooms, a 350-seat conference center and suites accommodating up to six people, all nestled amidst Ozark Mountain scenery. there are peaceful walking paths and opportunities for quiet contemplation for visitors seeking respite from their daily lives. Guests at the lodge certainly won’t be roughing it. Operated and staffed by students at the college, the Keeter Center earns rave reviews for its service and cuisine.

Comfortable and appealing facilities in May of last year the Presbyterian Church (uSA) surveyed 2,100 of their people and discovered that “a substantial majority are very or somewhat likely to attend a retreat or camp activity that their congregation organizes or publicizes.” Presbyterians are also looking for facilities that are comfortable and appealing. the survey says they expect indoor sleeping facilities, central heating, private baths, air conditioning, and meals provided by the host facility. Joel Winchip, executive director of the denomination’s Camp and Conference Association, says “where some centers might have offered hall or shared bathrooms 10 or 20 years ago, most retreat guests are now seeking private bath bedrooms.” Presbyterians have 150 camps and conference centers across the Continued on page 22

Keeter Center’s Mabee Lodge

One of the questions I’m asked whenever I talk about a personal retreat is, “What do you actually do there?” Some of you might be asking the same thing. Read on before you walk into your next elder’s meeting to ask for the time off. You can structure your week/month in a way that fits where you are. I’ve always used it holistically – as a time to pay attention to the personal, spiritual and “professional” aspects of my life. Here’s what a retreat isn’t: • A monastic retreat • A work camp • A spa • A vacation It’s a personal retreat. The reason we have so much difficulty figuring it out is because it’s a concept largely foreign to us. While it’s none of the aforementioned things exclusively, it contains elements of work, rest, spiritual renewal and intense reflection. Some years, certain things need to be emphasized more than others. Allow me to sketch what I try to do over a week: Rest: No alarm clock. I go to bed when I’m done for the day, and get up when I’m ready. Ironically, I can’t recall ever sleeping more than eight hours in any given day. However, I have three young children and a busy schedule, so eight uninterrupted hours feels like 16. For the first time in at least a couple of years, I saw no dark circles under my eyes when I looked in the mirror. Sleep changes all sorts of things. I also choose serene environments with inclement weather. I usually go to Princeton in late November or early December. It’s freezing and boring from an entertainment perspective. I do it so it will help me focus. I stay in the seminary dorms. The accommodations are adequate, but quite Spartan. It’s also finals time and the only stuff going on is Advent/Christmas related. So, it’s spiritually nourishing, but keeps me indoors and free from distraction. Reflection: I probably average three hours a day thinking and praying about my walk with God, life at home and emotional well-being. I try to be as brutally honest before God and the mirror as I can. How is my purity? How is my relationship with each of my daughters? How is my prayer life? How are we doing with money? Do I have emotional needs that aren’t being met? I then write observations and action steps (if they exist) to help improve things or continue the positive things. Then, I spend time in prayer. One word of encouragement: spend at least half of your time counting blessings and thanking God for what he’s doing in and through you. If you don’t, you can find yourself kind of depressed. That’s not the point. The point is self-honesty and unearthing what’s really inside you while reflecting on God’s activity in and around you. Research: For me, the work portion of the Continued on page 22

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SPEciAL SEcTioN retreAtS Continued from page 18

country, and Winchip says that “some centers offer activities like mission work experiences that give retreat participants an opportunity to serve God by helping others. You don’t have to plan a trip to another country to help people in need.” Conference and retreat centers are reaching out more to congregations, says Kevin Witt, who heads the program for the united Methodist Church. “A growing number of retreat centers are now broadening their service to local churches by planning retreats with them that meet their specific need, rather than simply providing facilities or planning a more generic retreat program,” he reports. “this connection with a congregation’s specific strategic plan for growth in Christian discipleship, closeness to God, the development of spiritual leaders, renewal, community building, outreach, and implementation of other ministry goals through retreats brings the unparalleled benefits of retreats into the core faith forming process of a congregation,” Witt says. he says that nearly all centers see local churches as partners in ministry rather than simply as a guest group using the facilities, which is very different from many hotel settings. “Over the next five years, there is likely to be more retreats involving leaders of new church starts and >>

College of the Ozarks

Continued from page 18

retreat is built around two things: (1) preaching/writing and (2) long-range planning for the church. By the time I leave, I like to have the next year’s sermon calendar planned so I know where we’re going theologically for the next year. This helps me work on the longer-range stuff more productively. The sermon calendar will have the series, sermon title, text and the “big idea” of that sermon. I also plug in time away, and do the background reading for the first sermon series of the year. When I get back, I have a huge running start on the year. I do the background reading (commentaries, history, theology, topical) for the next series while I’m preaching a particular series. To do this well can take up most of the week on its own. However, the staff will thank you as well as your church. This preaching practice has helped my preaching more than any other approach. Know where you’re going before you get there. Resolve: Lastly, I look at various goals personally, professionally and spiritually and sketch out steps I need to take. I do what’s called a “Weekly Review” every week, and I will stare at these once a week until next year. A sample day may look like this: • 8 a.m. – Devotional and breakfast • 9:30 a.m. – Sermon planning • 12:00 noon – Lunch, reflection and light reading • 3 p.m. – Reading and research • 5 pm – Evening devotional • 6 p.m. – Dinner • 7 p.m. – Every other night: reading, research, or sermon planning or something fun (movie, etc.) • 9 p.m. – Done for the evening. On this year’s retreat, I finished the entire year’s sermon planning, did substantial background reading for the second series of the year on Romans 1-8, read three books, honed a life plan, renewed my walk with God, rested, and re-centered my personal life. That was in five days last year (that’s all I could find time for in 2012). One thing I would recommend is you take a Sunday off on the front or back side, so you don’t have to spend this valuable time preparing that Sunday’s sermon. Make time for it however you can. It may not be this way specifically, but do whatever you must to stay healthy and on top of your ministry. CE Tim Spivey is lead planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, CA. Spivey is also an adjunct professor of religion at Pepperdine University and purveyor of New Vintage Leadership, a blog offering cutting-edge insights on leadership and theology. He is the author of numerous articles and the book Jesus, the Powerful Servant, and is a blogger on

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SPEciAL SEcTioN retreAtS

Young Life’s trail West Lodge

churches involved in the church vitalization movement, now a major priority of many denominations,” he says. Witt also sees the need to reach out to that part of society that are spiritual but not religious. “Some retreat ministries,” he admits, “are thriving and others are struggling to make the needed transitions.” Larger churches are engaged in a model that develop retreats and open them up as a program of the denomination in the region in which they live “by working in concert with judicatory leaders and camp and retreat ministry teams.” the most effective models, he notes, “draw people together for specific purposes based on life stages, situations they may be facing, common activities or interests College of the Ozarks they enjoy, Christian growth based on specific spiritual practices or topics, education and leader training, renewal and fellowship, planning, strengthening relationships and families, and more.” he says that the large church provides the core planning team and then invites other churches in the area or the camp and retreat ministry staff to join them in co-planning an event that will have broader appeal. Not only are smaller churches engaged when they could not do it alone, but they

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are trained in retreat leadership. “Many large churches probably have the talent and resources to do retreats on their own, but their involvement with other congregations and the wider denomination becomes a powerful outreach ministry.” Witt says. the Methodists have 223 camp and retreat centers in the u.S. and more in other countries, all regionally or locally owned. they serve nearly a million guests and participants in adult retreats and camp programs for all ages. Presbyterian Church’s Winchip observes that often the first program of a congregation to be cut when the budget gets tight are church retreats. Yet, he says, “the retreat experience may be the most powerful tool the church has for creating real and lasting connections between old and new members of the congregation. the bonds that are formed during a retreat bring a church closer together and allows the participants to focus on the message.” Winchip says the denomination has created the search engine that allows retreat planners to search the country for the best facility based on location and lodging needs. CE


risk of liability for property damage or personal injury. For example, a 29-year-old employee of a contractor fell from scaffolding during renovation work at a church, sustaining multiple broken bones, leaving him permanently unable to return to his work. The contract for the work failed to adequately protect the church and, as a result, the church was liable for the worker’s injuries. The total cost was more than $650,000. In another example, a new church under construction was destroyed when an uninsured roofing contractor accidentally set the roof on fire. Damages in that case exceeded $1 million.

Choosing a church volunteer to do the work may seem like the fiscally responsible thing to do, but one bad slip or poorly performed job could mean a major heartache for your church.

Keys to hiring contractors By Eric Spacek When doing a project on your church property, hiring the right contractor is an important step to getting the job done well. Choosing a church volunteer to do the work may seem like the fiscally responsible thing to do, but one bad slip or poorly performed job could mean a major heartache for your church. Hiring a trained professional may cost more upfront, but it will definitely provide you peace of mind and help ensure your job is finished correctly. The key with an outside contractor is finding one that is trained, licensed and has good references. Projects that may require an outside contractor include higher-risk activities such as roof work, tree trimming, HVAC or electrical work, and major projects such as construction, renovation or demolition projects. It is important these workers are adequately insured while they are performing work on your property. Not only are they bringing along their tools, but they also bring with them the

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To help protect your church from having a similar situation, consider taking the following precautions. Obtain multiple bids. To ensure you are receiving the best price and highest quality of work, obtain several bids before selecting a contractor. Keep in mind that the lowest bid is not always the best bid, as it can indicate a lower quality of materials being used or less extensive work being performed. Also, don’t skip this step just because the proposed contractor is a congregation member. Check references. It is important to research your short list of contractors to find out which is the best fit for your project. Talk to other places where the contractor has performed work and ask questions like: Did they finish the project on time? On budget? Were there any issues? Were you pleased with the final result? It is especially important to determine if they have performed similar work before, and to check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if they have any registered complaints. Check online court and government records to learn what you can about the contractor’s history and to verify they are properly licensed. Have a written contract. Set out the scope of the work, price for the job, payment terms, anticipated start and completion dates, and other terms in your contract. Other items to consider include payment obligations, fees, warranty information and dispute resolution. To fully protect your church, ensure the contract includes a hold harmless clause and an insurance clause requiring that

they be fully insured. Don’t enter into a contract agreement with someone who is not willing to back up their work financially. Make Sure they’re insured. Don’t put your church’s claims history – and potentially premiums – on the line when hiring a contract worker. Instead, the contractor’s insurance should be at risk if an incident were to occur.

Taking extra precautions to ensure your facility is properly protected is another way to practice good stewardship over the people, property and financials entrusted to your care.

Eric Spacek is senior risk manager at GuideOne Insurance, West Des Moines, IA. []

They should have the following coverages: • General liability • Property damage • Workers’ compensation • Excess or umbrella liability • Insurance limits equal to or greater than what the church has. In addition, it’s a good idea to require them to add the church as an additional insured on their insurance policy. If the contractor is not insured, you may want to reconsider hiring them to do any work on your property. Necessary protection. Performing these steps can seem a bit overwhelming when trying to hire an outside worker, especially if the job appears to be small. This leads to wondering if following these procedures is always necessary. Ideally, these precautions would always be taken before anyone was hired, but at a minimum, they are vital in the following situations: • When work is significant, such as new construction, renovation or demolition; • Where work is high-risk, such as involving roofs, electrical sys tems, trees, scaffolds or ladders; • Where work is regularly under taken on church premises, such as regular cleaning and lawn service.

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hiGh-cAPAciTy leaders well how one church in the Silicon valley is extra-blessed with high-potential volunteers — and how you can be, too. BY rONALD e. KeeNer

Not all church volunteers are the same. One can argue that a volunteer can serve in most any capacity: in the nursery, directing traffic or counting Sunday’s receipts. the other side of that argument is that a banker by profession is better used on the finance team than cooing a baby to sleep in the nursery. Churches have what is called high-potential or highcapacity leaders, but often don’t know how to use them or engage them. Often these people give many hours of their time, without salary, and are in a position financially and family-wise that permits their being used in this way. take this commentary from a woman whose name appears on the website staff listing of a megachurch in California:

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“i do not receive pay for my work at the church, but volunteer my time. i own, along with my husband, two businesses which we started more than 25 years ago. “i am, however, a licensed ordained minister and have served as a missionary, youth minister, Christian education director, as well as adjunct professor at LiFe Pacific College. i earned a master’s degree in Christian education from talbot Seminary. “God has blessed our businesses with a level of success that affords me the time to serve and i am impassioned by giving my time to a ministry that i believe in and want to be able to impact with any level of expertise that i might bring,” she writes.

One congregation with several high-capacity members is Christ Community Church in Milpitas (CCCM), CA, with 1,500 congregants and growing nearly 10 percent a year, says business manager Mark Simmons. “From a pretty much all-white natural-born citizen population to a congregation made up of people from most of the nations of the world,” Simmons describes the church. “A church others think has ‘arrived.’ But we think is only starting to learn how to be the people God wants us to be.” in researching for this story, a couple of obstacles arose: People don’t mark Simmons

see themselves as anything special over and above other volunteers in the church, and being in the category of highcapacity never occurred to them before. But still, they bring skills and background to the church from their secular careers, and the additional hours to make a huge impact on the management and outreach of the congregation.

Church is ‘second home’ One of those high-capacity and culturally diverse people is tuan trinh, with medical training, but an entrepreneur by passion and choice. he developed an electronics company, specializing in liquidation of consumer electronics such >>

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as Wi-Fi components, X-Box, PDA, and GPS for companies such as Diamond, Microsoft, Palm and Garmin. That was then, but today he switched from consumer electronics to self-sustaining products like LED and solar energy. “My LED concept is to bring a light solution to facilities and homes at a low cost and short return of investment,” he says. Among his customers are Costco, Google Tuan Trinh and YouTube, and churches in his area, such as Salinas Presbyterian, Abundant Life, and United Methodist Church. And to his own Christ Community Church as well: “I have donated and installed many LEDs, saving us on the

electricity bill by the hundreds of dollars each month,” he reports. “Business is growing and I have incorporated SoLED Energy Inc.” For such a high-energy, high-capacity guy, Trinh says “church is my second home and I would take care of the material and people of our congregation as my own family. Volunteerism is a strange concept to me since everything that I do is as if I am at home,” he says. “I believe the key to having successful volunteers in the church requires the individual to realize their passion for the church, fearless initiative to try a few given tasks, and loving encouragement from a mentor or staff member,” he says. “We just expect the trial can be long and with many attempts.”

how willow creek attracts high-capacity leaders In the early years of Willow Creek Community Church, Warren Beach served in several capacities, including a term on the board of directors of the South Barrington, IL, church. He proved his mettle as a high-capacity staff member while taking no salary from the church. Later he directed Willow’s Good Sense ministry to help congregation members learn to handle their personal financial responsibilities. After that he served with a Warren Beach small team to assist the design and launch of satellite church sites. Finally, after serving on the advisory board of the Global Compassion and Justice ministry, he stepped into the director’s role for seven years.

How churches can do it Warren has advice for other churches who want to approach members who might fulfill a high-capacity function, often demanding a lot of hours but without salary. Looking back he saw that Willow developed a culture that invited entrepreneurial ideas to complement what ministries the leaders of the church sought to establish. In other words, there was an environment that invited ideas on how to serve people. This environment led to high-capacity people who didn’t just wait for someone to tell them how they can help; it also opened the doors for solution-oriented, highcapacity types to engage. 30 | Church executive | 03/2013

“I think Willow’s value for excellence in ministry also attracts highcapacity people, Beach says. “When a church sets the bar high, they will attract high-capacity volunteers in professions that demand excellence and don’t want to invest their precious time in mediocre endeavors.” This means church leaders need to come alongside those high-capacity people with sufficient resources to get the job done well. “This can also mean access to the church leadership team’s time to maintain sufficient communication with regards to ministry design and implementation. High-capacity types must be given an opportunity to take a big bite of the apple – a bite that is commensurate with their skill set and capacity is very important,” he says. “Once high-capacity types get involved in roles that challenge them and they have a good experience, it attracts other such individuals to get off the bench and into the game,” Beach says. “It would be a huge missed opportunity for the church not to take advantage of this window of human potential.”

Why it worked for Beach “Certainly having a career that provided the income and flexibility — to be available to step into roles at church that required significant time demands — was essential. “Having several consistently profitable trading years enabled me to

reserve resources that allowed me to serve and not seek a church salary for daily needs,” Beach notes. Warren is married to Nancy Beach, who worked for the church and now in the Willow Creek Association. “That helped with the income piece,” he acknowledges. “Having the flexibility to hit the pause button on trading and investing to invest more energy into my volunteer assignments – when required – made serving at the leadership level possible. These leadership roles often required a great deal of time especially with ministries that were at a formative or expansionary phase. Beach says he is wired with a gift of ideation and finds himself attracted to new ministry design or developing a vision for an existing ministry. But other high-capacity types may be wired differently. Beach says they may be limited as to the time they can consistently stay involved in a leadership role due to their career or family demands, which may require them to pull back from full-time service. “I think it is important for church leaders to fully understand the reality of each high-capacity individual and not place them in roles requiring longevity that may not be consistent with the volunteer’s expectations. It is up to the volunteer to provide a clear definition to the church leadership regarding what they feel they are able to do and for how long.” — Ronald E. Keener

Trinh presently works with the facilities and business managers at the church in “overseeing our church material well-being,” as he calls it. “I work on numbers and designs, putting ideas on paper and bringing them to realization.” The church work engages him some 30 hours a month. Engaging people like himself as high-potential members takes a certain understanding of the pastor, Trinh

Simmons describes himself as the ‘Swiss army knife’ for the church.

says. “A very wise pastor would recognize these gifts and passions from high-capacity people, encourage and empower them, and trust them enough to give them full power to do their job. Rather than monitor or control these individuals, full freedom and range in their jobs will give a better than expected result.” One reason Christ Community is attracting high-capacity people might be that it is located in the Silicon Valley. Another member of the congregation, Don Chin, says, “Silicon Valley is an epicenter of international culture and hosts a variety of technology companies, bringing many people from around the world to be part of this community.” The

international expression of the church is seen too, he says, in the fact that the church is the forerunner of church sponsorship for Compassion International, and provides many opportunities for service abroad as well as locally. Chin is a senior business and engineering staff operations director for Ericsson, that sells telecom equipment to 180-plus countries in the world. He manages the functions of more than 1,400 engineers in worldwide locations. Before joining Ericsson, he worked in various startup companies located in the Silicon Valley. He says that he has a common theme to his career choices: “risk and adventure – to make a difference.” So when he carries his background into his church, it is no surprise that it includes technology leadership at CCCM. His Don Chin engineering degree has taken him into new technology development, product management, product marketing, program management, business development, consulting services, and what he calls his current favorite, media productions. That last area may explain his membership since 1994 in Screen Actors Guild. At Ericsson he produces movie, TV, commercial and industrial pieces.

Building better communities In his church, Chin is engaged in small group


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ministry, on the foundation board where he is the current president, in men’s ministry leadership, and leads vocals for Sunday morning services and theater productions, among other engagements that can total some 20 hours a month of his time on behalf of his church. Chin sees volunteerism as being “organic” left to individuals. “Not only am I fully supportive of individuals answering God’s calling to serve in ministry areas of their choice, I am also convinced that there is an ‘anointing and affirmation’ from church leadership to ask individuals to serve in specific areas of church missional direction,” Chin says. He says that leadership must personally invite people to serve and volunteer. “Being of Chinese descent, it’s common in our culture to ‘not stand out.’ But if directly asked by leadership to help serve in the church, many would answer the call,” Chin says. “Serving in the church can be more than leading a small group. It’s using skills in finance, funding, operations, technology, etc., to help build better community.” Volunteerism is simply doing what God has gifted individuals to do, he says, and that “we need to remind the church that God performs extraordinary miracles through ordinary people every day.” Somewhat similar, he was asked by his pastor to serve in a special interest group to help understand and define the needs of Asian American families within CCCM.

Church of expatriates

Abbott Smith

Abbott Smith, another church member, retired from Hewitt Packard after 40 years in the workforce, 27 of those with HP. For five of those years he lived in Europe, near the World Court in the Hague, Netherlands, and attended a small church of predominantly expatriates from some 28 nations. It was a time that gave him a call to serve in ministry. Back in the U.S., he felt God’s call for his ministry in the workplace, but in 2007 God provided an unparalleled early retirement option from HP. At that company “I was a director of market development for one of the product groups, but the main focus for many of my years in business was change management as the speed of technological evolution increased. I had the privilege to work at the most senior levels of large companies, and in some cases governments, all over the world dealing with technological innovations and their impact on business and culture. “So creative and innovative thinking you might say was in my DNA,” he believes. Smith served on a seminary board and on the board of Mount Hermon Christian Camps and Conference Center. He then was on the church and foundation boards, on the pastoral transition committee, and then chair of the pastoral search process following the previous pastor’s

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Charlie Faas

37 years in the pulpit. The church called Mark Tumney to lead the church in March 2012. Smith was among those who saw the recession in 2008 and believed “we were heading in turbulent financial waters.” He went to Nashville to learn the Financial Peace University model of Dave Ramsey and began counseling individuals and couples in the church. He believes that through the classes and counseling sessions the church saw the reduction of personal unsecured debt by more than $2 million since 2009.

Ebb and flow of life Smith, being retired, can put in as much as 40 hours of service to his church each month. “High-capacity servant leadership comes out of a humble servant’s heart and not out of the need to be in the foreground of church visibility. Each person has a God-shaped volunteer service that can bless both them and the recipients of the service. They just need to be encouraged to find it, and embrace what God is doing.” Mark Simmons sees high-capacity service from a distinct vantage point — as business manager of the congregation, and with a business and consulting career as well. Like the others, he worked in the high-tech industry for 30 years as an engineer and executive before coming on staff. He says he was one of those high-capacity people interviewed for this article before joining staff: “You’d be hard pressed to name a church position that I did not do as a volunteer somewhere during that time.” In both his past work and current assignments, he describes

himself as the “Swiss army knife” for the church. “I can and do a lot of different things on staff and volunteer for many others.” Consequently, he spends 200-plus hours between staff and volunteer work each month and “considers it a privilege, loving every minute of it.” Making “the ask” can be the most difficult part of engaging volunteers. “We tell people God has a plan for their life. Well, let’s act like it, and help people discover and explore their giftedness. Teach people how to discern God’s will. Let them explore volunteer opportunities without feeling like they are signing up for a lifetime commitment,” Simmons says. “Anyone in our congregation can start a new ministry – and many do. In today’s vernacular we have many serial entrepreneurs at our church. Many ministries and businesses have been started in this way and many other ‘Barnabas’ types have come alongside in these undertakings. I don’t want to leave the impression that there is a free-for-all. There is a process, there is discernment. But it is one thing to discern God’s will and another to fear what you can’t control,” Simmons says.

of finances and teaching in serving his church. “It’s easier to be involved in things when areas of my expertise are needed and utilized,” he says. “These areas come naturally for me and I can help the church with insights – and I also get to grow personally.” Says Faas: “I believe that God has blessed everyone with different talents. Sometimes it takes people time to figure out what their talents

are. Our church seems to do a good job encouraging people to step up and find their talents.” Many churches have high-capacity, high-potential volunteers, many still employed and many retired and available to give generously of their time and abilities to their congregations. Engaging them can often depend on how they are asked, supported and encouraged. CE

‘Raise your hand’ believer Charlie Faas, an elder and the treasurer in the church, says he’s a huge proponent of saying “Raise your hand” in being engaged. “All of us need to give our talents to support others in need. By simply raising your hand and volunteering, you can greatly improve your self-confidence, skills, networking, and you are doing God’s work in our church and the community.” Faas says everyone should do skills assessment – for their sake and that of the church. His own strengths include being executive vice president and CFO for Sharks Sports & Entertainment, which includes a number of sports businesses, including the NHL San Jose Sharks team. He also teaches in sports management at the University of San Francisco. He sees the common elements

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Retail can be a viable source of

church income

If operated as a business — with trained staff, best practices and a clear purpose.

By Rez Gopez-Sindac If you are the senior pastor of a church that has a bookstore, its rise or fall also depends on you, so says Lorena Allen, manager of Harvest, a bookstore owned by Eastview Christian Church in Normal, IL. In the early stage of a bookstore’s life, church staff may be a bit skeptical, according to Allen. It is during this time, she argues, that the support of the senior pastor is most helpful in getting everyone on board. “The senior pastor must be an advocate of providing resources to his sheep,” Allen adds. “When the senior pastor makes recommendations, people buy it.” Indeed, Allen says the only marketing tactics Harvest uses are the pastors’ recommendations and the fact that its location is right next to the main auditorium. It’s also a fact that Eastview’s former pastor, Gary York, and volunteers Jim and Bonnie Carroll started Harvest store in November 1992 after learning from an article that a high percentage of Christians had never been into a Christian bookstore.

Start small, grow profitable Harvest bookstore started in the church’s hallway, in time for Christmas. Allen says it was so successful that the church continued doing it every week on a consignment basis with Provident Bookstore, a local retail outlet. Eventually, the church had to take a $100,000 loan to start a bigger store in a classroom. Around this time, Eastview was averaging 1,000 people every weekend. “Our bookstore has made money over the years,” says Allen. “My predecessors did a good job of building a solid base.” Six years ago, the church remodeled the store and purchased all-new fixtures and furniture without a loan. Since that time, Allen says the bookstore has been profitable and has built the revenue back to nearly what it was before the remodel. Ted Terry, Lakewood Church Bookstore in Houston, TX, >>

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Harvest bookstore after the remodel: organized, modern-looking and well-stocked.

Resources in this article:


5 keys to bookstore success

Harvest bookstore before the remodel: cramped and outdated.

manager for nearly nine years, says his church’s store also started as a small, 400-square-foot lending library operated completely by volunteers. “Today, we are a full-service, 10,000-square-foot retail store open seven days a week with 18 employees and more than 40 volunteers,” he adds. When asked how profitable Lakewood Bookstore is, Terry declines to share the revenue numbers, but says, “The bookstore is profitable, and we are able to bless many other ministries, charities and mission organizations outside of Lakewood Church because of our success.”

How to make it work The success of a bookstore, Terry says, is a direct result of the experience, dedication and passion of those who are put in charge of operating and maintaining the bookstore. He points out that “although Lakewood Bookstore is a ministry first, it is a business, and must be maintained and operated as such.” A good staff is critical, Terry adds. “I have been involved in the Christian bookstore industry for more than 25 years, and the best stores are always managed with a team mentality. A good team of dedicated, well-trained staff that truly believes in what they are doing will make a difference in the lives of others.”

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For Geni Hulsey, president of The Church Bookstore Network, a good store manager who is paid and a part of the church staff is key to making a church store successful. “Recent trends in how people get information, read books and listen to music have greatly affected how bookstores are managed,” she shares. “A good manager will follow these trends and react to them in such a way as to safeguard the financial standing of the bookstore.” One example she cites is that according to recent statistics, the most downloaded category of books is fiction. She argues that a good manager will reduce the amount of fiction she carries. “Staying current and techsavvy is vital in managing a store.”

Not for every church Hulsey says the most likely churches to start bookstores are the megachurches, those who see a steady weekly attendance of 2,000 people or more. Another factor that seems to play a huge part in the decision is if the pastor has written any books or study materials. Whether a church has the capacity to pay a salary is an important consideration as well. Hulsey believes one paid person, either part-time or full-time, needs to be a priority at the onset. “This gets back to accountabil-

In 2007, Lakewood Church Bookstore was named “Bookstore of the Year” by the Church Bookstore Network. Ted Terry, Lakewood Church Bookstore manager, says the national award was based on votes by other church bookstore managers, Christian publishers, music and gift companies, and other industry leaders. “It was based on the bookstore’s contribution, innovation and reputation within our industry,” he adds. When asked what advice he would give church store managers who are either starting or looking to take the bookstore operation into a new level, Terry cites the following: 1. Begin slowly. Do not try to get too big too quick. Build your customer base and learn what it is they are expecting and needing from their church bookstore. It is better to have a small store that is wellstocked, properly laid out and designed correctly, than to have a large space full of unattractive displays and products that are not relevant for your church. 2. Depend on the knowledge of good salespeople. If you find a sales rep you trust, pick their brain for information. Let them help and guide you. They are some of the best teachers you will find. Be careful though – several good ones are out there, but there are also plenty who will take advantage. 3. Train your staff and volunteers well. Have weekly contests, take-home tests, training “parties” any other inventive, fun ways to educate the staff on customer service issues and the products that they’re selling. Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, and Zondervan offer free in-store seminars, DVD training and other valuable resources on how to sell Bibles, books and other resources. They even offer free Bibles to your staff who complete the training. 4. Make sure you have a clear purpose for your bookstore. Write down everything the pastor and board expects of you. If you ever start to fall away from that vision, you might be doing something wrong, or perhaps it is time to redefine the goal for your bookstore. 5. Visit other church bookstores and similar businesses. Look at what they are doing that you like. Take notes on display ideas, products, anything that you think you might be able to use in your store. Encourage your staff to do the same. You will be surprised at how much you can learn from your competition.

ity and being involved in decision making regarding the store,” she says. “It becomes critical if the store is open more than the four to six hours surrounding services and/or if the store begins to grow beyond the table on which it was started.” Before venturing into a retail business in your church’s property, Terri M. Williams, bookstore director at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, TX, says to consider three things: First, is God calling the church to open a store? Second, is there is a viable need for a store – or should the focus be on supporting your local bookstore? Finally, do you have the appropriate size of membership to support the store? Williams says the OCBF Bookstore started because the church leaders saw the need to provide Christian resources to the congregation. It opened in October 1988 with an inventory of $10,000. Today, it occupies 1,400 square feet of space with an inventory of $85,000.

Ongoing challenges The legal and tax implications of own-

ing and managing a church store is “huge and getting to be bigger every year” as the IRS takes notice of the proliferation of retail sales inside nonprofits but especially churches, says Hulsey. To protect your nonprofit status and your exemption from property taxes, Hulsey advises bookstore managers to “know your state’s sales tax rules and the federal government’s rules.” This is not anything to be afraid of, she says, “just be sure you know and understand the rules and play by them. “Having a good tax attorney that understands this kind of business practice is vital for the church with any kind of retail income.” For Lakewood Church Bookstore’s Ted Terry, competition from online retailers and big box retailers like Target, Walmart and Costco is a concern, as they “compete very heavily in our marketplace now.” Also, e-books, iTunes and other websites with downloadable content offer competition. On the other hand, lending a voice to publishers and suppliers who sell to church

stores, Eric Grimm, strategic partnerships manager at Christian Booksellers Association, says, “Over the past several years, church buying has been more decentralized as volunteers buy for educational or missional projects based on their personal buying habits, which may include Internet purchasing, using favorite secular stores, or other avenues that don’t always go through a church purchasing process.” In addition, Grimm says larger churches often create their own materials and resources and don’t purchase from outside sources. “Many larger churches with stores attend our summer event, the International Christian Retail Show, to see and purchase Christian materials and resources from about 300 exhibitors including Christian publishers, music companies, gift and specialty companies, church-supply vendors, and more. The event also provides specialized retail training to help improve operations, profitability and sales.” Grimm says there are more than 260 church stores that are CBA members. CE

03/2013 | Church executive | 37

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