Church Executive Magazine October, 2012 Digital

Page 1


OcTOBER 2012


PlAN’S imPAcT On ChurCheS | 16 BenevOLenCe:

DO IT RIGHT When aiDinG MeMBerS | 18 SpeCiaL SeCtiOn:


| 22


| 12


Churches usually resort to the dictionary when they must define ‘need.’


today’s carpet may be made from recycled materials, and are readily turned around at the end of their lifespan.


the Ce interv ieW

By Rez Gopez-Sindac

at Griffin First assembly of God, the motto is “One church can change the world.” randy valimont believes that when a church has a big vision with eternal impact, there are people who will want to support it with big money.

Jelly and Randy Valimont


Cover photo and above photo courtesy of Catherine ritchie park,

the urbanization of america calls for congregations that can respond to dramatic demographic shifts.



a good stage and lighting design helps create an engaging worship environment that people can’t resist.


it doesn’t have to be complicated, but if done right it can be extremely effective.


THE HOUSE IS ‘RIGGED’ 30 By Harvey Sweet

Churches require the same caliber of rigging equipment that theaters use.







By Danny Miller



By Mark Mohler

42 Marketplace


Church Executive (Copyright 2012), Volume 11, Issue 10. 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.

4 | ChurCh exeCutive | 10/2012

c h u rc h e xe c u t i ve . c o m









4742 north 24th Street, Suite 340 phoenix, az 85016 | 602.265.7600

Publisher/Editor in chief Steve Kane, ext. 205 Editor ronald e. Keener, ext. 204 Executive Editor rez Gopez-Sindac phone: 512.904.9007 Director of Sales Jennifer Owens ext. 202 Account Executives Julius tiritilli ext. 221 Maria Galioto ext. 201 Production Director valerie valtierra, ext. 203 Art Director renĂŠe hawkins, ext. 207 EDiTORiAl ADViSORY PANEl Stephen Briggs

associate pastor of administration First Baptist Church | hendersonville, nC

Denise Craig

Chief Financial Officer abba’s house | hixson, tn

Mike Klockenbrink

Chief of Staff Lakeside Church | Folsom, Ca

Dan Mikes

executive vice president Bank of the West | San ramon, Ca

John C. Mrazek iii

CeO Building Better Churches | Colorado Springs, CO

Sam S. rainer iii

Senior pastor First Baptist Church | Murray, Ky

Mark Simmons

Business Manager Christ Community Church | Milpitas, Ca

eric Spacek

Senior Manager GuideOne insurance | West Des Moines, ia

volume 11, no. 10


4742 north 24th Street, Suite 340 phoenix, az 85016 | 602.265.7600

Vice President Operations valerie valtierra Accountant Fred valdez

6 | ChurCh exeCutive | 10/2012


THE DEBT TRAP Too much church debt can rob a leader of vision and a church of innovation and creativity. you may not read of it often in the media, but banks have foreclosed on churches that defaulted on their mortgages. One source says that 270 churches were foreclosed on in 2010 and 138 in 2011. the problem is there’s too much church debt. and the outcome, says Joe Sangl, president/CeO of inJOy Stewardship Solutions, is slow growth, stunted outreach and reduced vision. in the early part of the new century, churches were growing and they purchased land and built phenomenal facilities to accommodate this growth. “in many cases this approach consumed every single dollar that the church had available plus a huge financing package – and banks were more than happy to lend,” Sangl says. “the debt trap was set.” then came the recession of 2008, and many churches were trapped with too little financial margin, he says. as members experienced layoffs and income reductions, giving declined. then came staff reductions and ministry budget cutbacks just to keep current with the church’s mortgage. But Sangl notes that too much church debt can rob a leader of vision. “When a church is operating with little to zero margin, it can become virtually impossible for the leadership to consider visionary activities,” he says. time and effort is “consumed with determining spending cuts and managing all financial decisions because of deteriorating cash flow,” Sangl says. “it is difficult to dream big when it is a struggle just to keep the lights on.”

8 | ChurCh 8 | exeCutive ChurCh exeCutive | 10/2012| 10/2012

Sangl shares the experiences of two congregations that were growing, yet finding space without great debt. newSpring Church in anderson, SC, where perry noble pastors, used rented facilities at a local college through its first six years. “even today most of its eight campuses are using rented facilities, allowing the church to invest more money directly into ministry,” Sangl says. element Church in Cheyenne, Wy, where Jeff Maness pastors, leased what was a grocery store, which allowed the ministry to grow substantially without incurring a major debt obligation. “now five years old, element Church has been able to acquire the entire commercial space with more than a dozen leased spaces, allowing the church to grow without having to absorb the full impact of debt,” Sangl says. he counsels churches to clearly define the realities of their current situations. understand the debt payment structure, required payment dates and potential interest rate changes. “a projected monthly cash flow plan looking forward to the next 12 months can be an extremely helpful tool in truly defining reality,” Sangl says. he also advises a church to look at the income and outgo of the budget, with a written plan, action items, defined responsibilities and timing. Sangl suggests teaching stewardship and generosity, and online and digital giving will provide much needed giving consistency. Scarcity is a major driver of

innovation, he says. “While struggling with debt is certainly something all leaders would rather do without, it can unite a ministry team like few other challenges can and foster tremendous innovation,” Sangl says. Debt retirement campaigns may not be sexy, but they do push money to ministry and not to the bank. “people will give generously, cheerfully, obediently, and even sacrificially when they clearly understand that ‘less debt equals more ministry,’” his experience shows. Saving a million dollars in interest payments over 20 years that could have gone into ministry is a huge incentive.

Got a question or comment? email


9th Annual XP-Seminar gathers in Dallas in February

Dr. David Fletcher

Larry Osborne

Rev. Brian Carter

The 9th annual XP-Seminar is scheduled on Feb. 20-21, 2013 in Dallas. Kept intentionally at 200 attendees, the event gives opportunities to executive pastors, senior pastors and church leaders to learn from peers and key speakers. The event is led by Dr. David Fletcher, founder and host of – a free global tool for churches of all sizes. Larry Osborne, senior pastor at North Coast Church, Vista, CA, is the featured speaker. He will speak on “Breaking Through Ceilings of Competency and Complexity.” Osborne says, “Sooner or later, every leader and every organization hits a ceiling of competency and complexity. Those who break through, move on to

10 | Church executive | 10/2012

new heights – those who don’t, flounder and die.” Other keynote messages will be brought by: w Dr. Nathan Baxter, speaking from his experience as both an executive and senior pastor, as well as a noted coach to church teams around the country. w Rev. Brian Carter, senior pastor of African-American Concord Church of Dallas. Carter has revitalized the church, taking it from 3,000 to 6,000 in worship attendance in nine years. w Kason Branch, COO of Concord Church will speak about his responsibilities of leading 40 full-time staff and providing leadership to churchwide initiatives, such as capital campaigns and the facility expansion.

w Matt Anthony and David Middlebrook of the Church Law Group will speak about legal and compensation issues. They will address such topics as the role of compensation studies, forming an independent compensation committee, documentation that is necessary for housing allowances, and legal issues concerning 403(b) plans. There will be 20 workshops led by executive pastors and other church leaders. The workshops feature times for peer interaction, getting the very best of cutting-edge thinking from around the nation. Church Executive is a promotional sponsor for the seminar, among other firms.

WAnteD: A PrAyer miniStry thAt WOrKS If your prayer ministry isn’t revolutionary, it’s possible that your prayer coordinator is spending more time sorting out prayer requests than actually praying for them, mobilizing intercessors and growing the ministry. If that’s your case, there’s a web app that can help turn your prayer ministry from acceptable to amazing. iPrayerworks is an online software that allows intercessors access to prayer requests at any time and from anywhere they have a computer with an Internet connection. The biggest benefit to prayer coordinators is it frees them from cumbersome administrative work so they can focus on

serving and leading. Nancy Sterling, director of praying ministry at Chapelwood United Methodist Church, Houston, TX, says she used to spend 30 hours a week shuffling prayer cards. But with iPrayerworks, she can manage and update prayer

nities to pray. It has dramatically transformed our whole ministry area,” she says. Bob Neely, pastoral care minister at First Baptist Church, Euless, TX, says iPrayerworks “has revolutionized our prayer ministry by giving us the best tool ever.” He says the pro-

requests from her home or office. “It has increased my efficiency, expanded our group of volunteers and has created many more opportu-

gram is so easy to use even for senior adults who may have little or no computer skills. What is extremely helpful, adds Neely, is how easy it is to manage home-

bound visits and hospital visitation lists. Ask Neely about iPrayerworks and he’ll say it works. “Our prayer ministry has grown in the number of prayer requests submitted from 1,230 in January 2011 to 9,873 in July 2012,” Neely says. But Toby Dagenhart, creator of iPrayerworks, points out that the program is just a tool and only as vital as the people already involved in the ministry. “It’s not going to take you from zero prayer ministry to flourishing prayer ministry. It doesn’t work that way.” [] — Rez Gopez-Sindac

10/2012 | ChurCh exeCutive | 11

the ce interview

Randy valimont Senior Pastor | Griffin First Assembly of God | Griffin, GA

At Griffin First Assembly of God, the motto is “One church can change the world.” Randy Valimont, lead pastor since 1993, believes that when a church has a big vision with eternal impact, there are people who will want to support it with big money.

By Rez Gopez-Sindac





For more information, go to

12 | Church executive | 10/2012

“People want to make a difference – and when they see that what you’re doing is working – they will be anxious to give to your ministry,” he says. Valimont, who was given up for adoption at three days old – only because the planned abortion didn’t work out – spoke with Church Executive about how God values each person and how churches should fight fear with faith to advance the cause of Christ around the world. Your church’s mission statement talks (in part) about “providing a progressive Pentecostal environment of worship, fellowship, teaching and discipleship.” What do you mean by “progressive” and how is that carried out in practical ways? We look at all the things that are available today. We look at technology and some of the modern ways of presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we use the word “progressive,” it’s kind of like with a guy who is using a hammer to put on a new roof. Well, today there’s a thing called a nail gun that can really make you go a whole lot faster, sometimes more efficiently. What we’re trying to do is use all available tools to move the kingdom of God forward. There are some things that were done 30 years ago that won’t work today, so we want to be sensitive to that, but at the same time to minister to all the cultures and generations. I believe there are too many generational silos in the church today. How did you reach out to the diverse cultures in your area? First of all, I think that it comes through knowing what your community looks like. You can say you want to be a multiethnic church, but if you don’t have a lot of ethnicity in your area, then that’s not going to happen. In our area there is probably 55 percent Caucasian; 35 percent is African-American; 5 percent is Hispanic; and another 5 percent Asian. We decided that we need to make our church reflect as close as possible the racial and ethnic breakdowns in our area. When we needed a music pastor, I intentionally looked for an African-American because I realized that unless people can see diverOCT./NOV. sity on the platform, there will never be diversity in the church. We have staff from India. My background is Persian. We have African-Americans, Hispanics and generations represented on our pastoral staff. In doing that it sends a message – because you can say all you want about being multiethnic and multigenerational, but unless people see it, they really won’t believe it.

What are the other developments you’ve seen at Griffin First Assembly of God since you became the pastor? the biggest thing is we’ve seen almost 30,000 people find Jesus as their Savior. We’ve also seen eight building projects. We’ve started a Christian high school and a counseling center that’s fully accredited. We have a teen Challenge Center that’s closely associated with the church. We have a college on our campus, and we’re getting ready to have an assisted living center; we will be breaking ground on that. We have a radio and tv ministry. We’ve become more than just a local church; we’re a regional church. We have two extension campuses and a hispanic church that meets on our grounds, which we also consider an extension. We also have an internet church. What were some of the challenging transitions your church has faced and how did you handle those changes? When we came here, the average Sunday morning attendance was about 400 – now its 4,500. We’ve grown almost 1,100 percent. if you include everybody who calls this church their home that’s 10,000 people. We started creating layers of administration where people would begin to report to others. When we had grown to about 2,000 people, we kept hitting the lid. We couldn’t get beyond that because all the information was coming to one person and he was trying to give me that information. that’s very difficult because that one person who becomes the funnel of information can choose what type of information the leader gets. i really didn’t like the way that was going. i knew if we were going to grow i had to have more information from a broader perspective. So we brought in a consultant and he walked us through and we came up with five executive pastors. One is over business administration, one is over music and media, one is over pastoral care, one is over missions and outreach, and another one is over Christian education. What do you believe are the biggest barriers churches face today to advance their vision? Obviously, it’s the economy – and it has produced fear in the hearts of americans. i think one of the biggest challenges to a local pastor is how to fight fear with faith. the key is to constantly remind our people who our source is. another thing is money follows ministry. if you minister to people, they will be anxious to give to your ministry. also, money follows vision. the bigger the vision, the bigger the provision. God doesn’t extend a church $1 million if they just need $20 to put a light in the socket. if there’s a vision, God sees that and he provides the needs of the church. Speaking of money and faith, tell us about your participation in the Faith & Fundraising Summit. We are asked to come alongside some of our friends and we’re really excited about it. We feel like we’ve got a really great group of people across denominational lines that are in the faith of fundraising. to be able to get the most out of what they’re doing is exciting; because the reality is most of the nonprofits in this country are having a very, very difficult time right now. We feel like this Summit is going to give people the tools to go the next level to meet the needs in their communities. How would large churches benefit from attending the fundraising summit? >>

photo courtesy of Catherine ritchie park,

10/2012 | ChurCh exeCutive | 13

the ce interview

Experiencing God in corporate worship is very important, says Randy Valimont, pastor of Griffin First Assembly of God, Griffin, GA. At right is the church’s worship center. Photo courtesy of Danielle Valimont,

They’re going to learn how the culture of giving has shifted, how to ask for large gifts, how to find large gifts within their churches that they don’t know about, how to create a culture of generosity and giving, why major donors give, and the dos and don’ts of fundraising. Most of us in large churches don’t really know what’s there, but there are things that we will share in the conference that will help people find resources for their church. Aside from collecting tithes and offerings, how else can churches get major financial resources? Most church leaders don’t realize that they have major givers sitting in their church who have never been tapped. What we found out is that somebody who is a multimillionaire doesn’t usually tithe to their local church unless there’s been a personal visit or relationship with the pastor. So how do you know who those people are? There are tools that can help churches with that. What compels donors to give substantially to the ministry? A big factor is how you present your vision to them. People give because of two things: the person presenting it and the cause. So what we try to do is help the person presenting to understand some of the ways to connect with people. You can’t ask someone on your first meeting for a million dollars. The real key is this: before you fundraise, you friend-raise. Some of that has been lost. Big 14 | Church executive | 10/2012

gifts come through friend-raising. How can churches remain faithful to biblical truths in their relationships with secular donors? With our Teen Challenge Center, which is a drug and rehab center for juveniles ages 12 to 17, the people who give to this program want to know our success rate – and our success rate is 85 percent of the people who complete our program never again go back to alcohol or drugs. When people hear that and they know that they’re putting their money into something successful, the secular side is not as concerned about how you’re doing it. Occasionally, you’ll run into people who may not like that, but the fact that you’re helping change people’s lives is the message that you have to share. What’s heavy on your heart as a pastor of a megachurch? I am concerned about how the culture is having an impact on the church, instead of the church having an impact on the culture. Also, one thing that we really want is to feel the power and presence of Christ when we come to church to worship together. People need to have an experience with God. Technology is a tool, buildings are a tool – and these are great tools – but if the lights went off, can we still have church and experience God?


However, under transition relief, small employers (employers that filed fewer than 250 Forms W-2 for the preceding calendar year) and churches and church-related employers are exempt from this requirement. This transition relief could change in the future.

Looking ahead

What’s next for health care reform? By Danny Miller The Supreme Court decision on the Obama health care reform legislation has come and gone, and employers are now wondering: What do we do now? There are a few issues that need to be addressed in 2012: employees need to be provided with the new “summary of benefits and coverage” during the open enrollment period for the upcoming plan year. Furthermore, unless your health care plan is a “grandfathered” plan or you (as an employer) are entitled to a religious employer exemption or special temporary enforcement safe harbor, your plan must cover contraceptive services without deductibles, co-pays or cost-sharing; and if you provide your employees with a flexible spending account, the limit on annual contributions to that account cannot exceed $2,500 beginning with the 2013 plan year. (The cost of health care coverage is also required to be included on employee W-2s for the 2012 tax year). 16 | Church executive | 10/2012

But what about 2014? What should employers be doing now to prepare for the new world of health insurance exchanges, premium assistance tax credits and employer “pay or play” excise taxes, which all become effective in 2014? The difficulty with planning for 2014 is that the information that is needed for an employer to decide whether to continue to provide its own health care plan in 2014 and following years is not now available. Pricing of and a description of benefits provided under health care exchange plans will not be available until the spring of 2013, and an employer will not be able to compare benefits provided under its plan with those provided by exchange plans until next year. That said, a couple of points about what will happen beginning in 2014 can be made now. First, it’s important to remember that the employer “pay or play” excise tax (i.e., the penalty an employer will pay if it does not provide a health care plan or provides a plan that is not “affordable” or does not provide “minimum value”) does not apply to any employer with fewer than 50 “full-time equivalent employees.” (For purposes of this determination, part-time employees—those working fewer than 30 hours per week—are turned into a number of FTEEs by dividing the aggregate number of monthly hours of service for all part-time employees by 120.) For purposes of the pay or play penalty, coverage is not “affordable” if its cost requires an employee to pay more than 9.5 percent of the employee’s W-2 income. (The ability of an employer to use W-2 income instead of “household income” for purposes of the “affordability” test is contained in a proposed rule.) A health care plan does not provide “minimum value” unless the employer pays for 60 percent or more of its total cost.

Making choices The point: If an employer employs fewer than 50 FTEEs, it is free to make its decisions about whether to have a plan or the level and cost of coverage it will provide without having to be concerned that its decision will cause it to have to pay the excise tax/penalty. Even if an employer does have 50 or more FTEES, it still will not have to pay the penalty if it has 30 or fewer full-time employees because of the way the penalties are calculated – and, even if it is subject to the penalty, the economic analysis that will have to be done in the future may still demonstrate that it will be less costly to

pay the employer penalty and send its employees to the exchanges for health care coverage. (If you participate in a denominational health care plan, note that efforts are underway to secure premium assistance tax credits for pastors and lay workers without having to go to the state exchanges.)

done, both by states and the federal government, before the exchanges can officially come online. If the current 2014 effective date holds – and most seem to think it will – then you may want to keep your current coverage in 2014 and give the new exchange world a chance to settle down a bit before making

a decision on what to do about your workers’ health care coverage. Danny Miller is a partner attorney in the law firm of Conner & Winters LLP, Washington, DC. []

Tax credits The premium assistance tax credits can be significant. These tax credits are only available to individuals whose household income is between 100 percent and 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. (In 2012, 400 percent of the FPL for a family of four is $92,200 – and clergy housing allowance reduces household income for purposes of determining premium assistance tax credit availability. Those credits will thus be available to some degree for individuals who are considered to have high compensation in the church community.) For example, based on calculations made on a calculator available on the Kaiser Family Foundation’s website, a family of four living in a high-cost health care area whose household income is $45,000 could expect to pay $14,556 per year for “silver” level health care coverage in 2014. However, if the family purchases such “silver” level coverage on an exchange, its out-of-pocket premium cost would only be $2,672 per year – its premium assistance tax credit would be $11,885.

Doing the math So, once the exchange plan information becomes available, get out your calculators, sharpen your pencils and get ready to “do the math.” Doing that math can be daunting, but some enterprising soul will no doubt develop software to use in making the necessary calculations. And one final thought: There is much to be 10/2012 | Church executive | 17

Benevolence: The right help given the right way By Frank Sommerville

Churches usually resort to the dictionary when they must define ‘need.’ Churches are in the charity business. They are commanded by God to help the poor, the sick and the wounded. But the church also must abide by tax rules designed to prevent abuse. This article will help churches design their benevolence programs to fulfill both the scriptural mandate and the tax rules. Benevolence is identifying and meeting the needs of individuals that they cannot meet themselves. Individuals often call upon churches when they are broke. The most common requests include food, utilities, rent, medical expenses and transportation. But they can range from the compelling to the absurd. For example, one individual asked the church to provide school supplies so their children could attend school, while another asked the church to provide a Lexus automobile so he could land an outside sales job. From a stewardship perspective, the church should separate the reasonable from the unreasonable. Here I will restrict benevolence to financial needs, since the IRS is most concerned about the money. Financial

18 | Church executive | 10/2012

need may be met with cash or in-kind helps. This definition is broken into two requirements: needs and recipient resources. The church must document in writing that all benevolent expenditures meet both requirements.

The issue of need The term “need” remains undefined in the tax authorities. So, churches usually resort to the dictionary when they must define “need.” Webster’s dictionary says that “need” equals “necessity.” Necessity usually includes food, shelter, clothing, transportation and health care expenses. For example, assume a single mom approaches the church about her need — her unpaid electric bill. Since electricity is needed in most residences, the church may consider this a need. Of course, need is subjective. A church should not consider a request for $200 sneakers a need, though it fits the clothing category. On the other hand, providing modestly priced shoes would clearly fit within the defini-

tion of a “need.” Needs get more complicated because some needs do not fit neatly into any category. For example, a child “needs” to participate in sports, but the family lacks the resources to buy the equipment. Another example: a welfare mom “needs” childcare to work. The church may adopt a written policy that gives guidance to the staff administering the programs. The church should document that the request represents an unmet need. For example, the church could call the landlord and verify that last month’s rent is still unpaid. The church’s employee should prepare a memo to the file to reflect the conversation. Benevolence gets more complicated when talking about a business need. The IRS has opined that a business can never receive

church benevolence. Regardless whether this is confirmed later in court, every church should consult with competent legal counsel before giving a business any benevolence payment.

The issue of resources The recipient of benevolence must lack the resources to meet the need. This test is related to the type of need being considered. For example, if a tornado destroyed an

individual’s house today, the test would be whether that individual had the resources to find a room for the night. On the other hand, if the individual’s house was destroyed weeks ago, then the test is whether that individual can afford substitute housing until his home is rebuilt. In the first instance, the availability of insurance is not relevant, while in the second instance, the availability of insurance is very important. Most churches accept a tax return or paycheck stub as proof of resources. Sometimes a copy of a bank statement is required. Again, many times the church will also require the recipient to sign a statement where the recipient represents that they lack the resources to pay the need. Discretionary accounts. Many churches maintain a minister’s discretionary fund for benevolence. If the minister does not account for this fund or is the sole signer on the account, then all amounts placed in the account are taxable income to the minister. To prevent the minister being taxed on this account, the account should require at least two signatures and the minister should account for the expenditures just like the church’s other benevolence expenditures. Repeat requests. Nearly every church has at least one person who is continually in need, or at least continually requests assistance. The IRS grows concerned when the benevolence assistance is regular and continuous. If the person also volunteers at the church, the IRS will likely claim that the payments were wages. If the payment is substantial, the IRS will likely claim that the person is receiving a private benefit, jeopardizing the church’s tax-exempt status. Every church should use extreme caution when the benevolence payment is substantial or regular. In one case that I handled, the IRS claimed that the church’s monthly payments to a widow for the last three years constituted taxable compensation due her deceased minister/husband. In another case, the IRS claimed that $20,000 exceeded any possible needs. The IRS takes a very hard line in these circumstances, so the church should consult with competent legal counsel if either circumstance arises. Employee benevolence. For better or worse, churches seem to attract needy employees. They may need their car repaired or have serious uninsured medical expenses. The Internal Revenue Code requires all benevolence payments provided to employees be taxed. The church must add the amount of the benevolent payments to the employee’s Form W-2, and if nonclergy, withhold all payroll taxes like the payment was wages. It makes no difference if >>

10/2012 | Church executive | 19

Benevolence: the payment is direct or indirect, like to the employee’s doctor. As a result, “love offerings,” pastoral appreciation gifts, Christmas gifts, anniversary gifts and birthday gifts that flow from the church to the church employee are always taxable. Even retirement gifts are taxable to the recipient. No exceptions to this rule exist.

If the church pays a benevolence payment to a “control person,” then the tax consequences get more complicated. If the IRS decides that the payment did not represent a true “need,” then the payment may represent an excess benefit transaction, subjecting the control person and the board or committee to an excise tax that can range from 10 percent

to 200 percent, plus requiring the control person to repay the benevolent payment. A control person is generally someone having substantial authority within the church. It’s clear that the senior minister, the treasurer, the business administrator or executive minister is treated as a control party. The ministers on staff that have substantial authority over a significant part of the church are likely to be control parties. Volunteer board members, finance committee members, benevolence committee members and personnel committee members may become control parties subject to the excise taxes.

Suggested procedures I suggest that the church adopt a written policy spelling out limits of the church’s benevolence. The policy should require a written application from the proposed recipient. The application should require a copy of an identifying document, such as a driver’s license. The application should also include a copy of the unpaid bill, if the bill is the source of the need. At least two unrelated individuals should make all decisions regarding the request. The church should retain the application and related documents, plus the decision document at least three calendar years after the decision was made. Also, the policy should require a separate application for each need. The church should have its policy reviewed by competent legal counsel. Finally, when faced with borderline requests, the church should consult with competent legal counsel before making the gift. By following this procedure, the church can fearlessly face any IRS inquiry about its benevolence. CE Frank Sommerville, JD, CPA, is a partner in the law firm of Weycer, Kaplan, Pulaski & Zuber, P.C., Dallas and Houston, TX. []

20 | Church executive | 10/2012


Stagecraft & Rigging

Setting the stage for


A good stage and lighting design helps create an engaging worship environment that people can’t resist.

Designed by Denny Weinman for Sugar Creek Baptist Church, Sugar Land, TX. (Photo courtesy of Denny Weinman.)

By Jonathan Malm

Many modern churches are making the leap to a more theatrical approach to ministry. Instead of using flowers and ficus to decorate their stages, they are creating environments that more closely match Broadway musicals or U2 concerts. This trend seems to be growing; in fact, many churches are creating job positions for this type of artist. The position requirements usually involve lighting, scenic design and even graphic design. Many churches have found that stage design helps their congregations more easily engage with the services. Church workers are seeing stage design as an opportunity to create a visual atmosphere that mirrors what happens with the music and message on the church platform. is the leading repository for church staging from congregations all over the world. When you look at the stage designs displayed on the site, you’ll notice two trends in modern church stage design. The first is scenic or literal design. The second is atmospheric or abstract design.

Scenic design Scenic design is largely influenced by the theater. When you go to

22 | Church executive | 10/2012

a play or musical, you see literal sets. These sets are intended to transport you to a physical location. This might be a forest or a pirate ship. Many churches are using styrofoam, fabrics and lumber to create these literal scenes. The literal scene is intended to transport the congregation to a location that typically ties in with a sermon series or special event at the church.

tiple times during a church service. Atmospheric or abstract stage design is often the less expensive and less involved option for churches. Instead of pouring time and money into elaborate sets, churches are using inexpensive materials to create their abstract structures. Some of the inexpensive materials churches use includes packing tape, bubble wrap, newspaper, aluminum screening material, Styrofoam and lumber.

Atmospheric design While many churches are inspired by the theater, others (and a growing number) are inspired by U2 and Coldplay concerts. These sorts of stage designs are more about the light show and digital projection. Instead of a literal scene, these types of stages use lighting colors and projected images to create an environment that can be changed dynamically to match the mood or emotions on the stage. Churches are using things like shapes made from corrugated plastic, towers of painted wood, or even string sculptures to create these abstract designs. Then they use lighting or digital projection to “paint” these structures dynamically. Instead of one scene like a forest or pirate ship, the atmospheric stage designer can change the look of the stage mul-

Churches leading the way South Hills Church in Corona, CA, has created some very innovative designs using newspaper and bubble wrap. Van Metschke, the church’s technical director, describes stage design in the church like this: “We want to draw our audience’s eyes to the stage to help focus on what we are presenting. Like God, we are creative beings – not only creating, but responding to creativity. It can help show that we care about what we are presenting and who we are presenting to.” Andrew Hunt from Blue Ridge Community Church in Forest, VA, sees stage design as an opportunity to help their congregation “lower their guard” and engage with the service. Hunt uses materials like foam insula-

Designed by Andrew Hunt for Blue Ridge Community Church, Forest, VA. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Hunt.)

tion and corrugated plastic – the material used for real estate signage. Finally, Denny Weinman at Seacoast Church in Mount Pleasant, SC, uses stage design as a way to accomplish what architects accomplished in old cathedrals – add an aesthetic element to buildings. Denny has used materials like string sculptures, small bits of lumber, and even paper mache

Designed by Van Metschke for South Hills Church, Corona, CA. (Photo courtesy of Marvin Sinson.)

in his stage designs. Because modern church stage design is a somewhat new art, there aren’t many classes or degree plans to help you start. But the leading churches employ construction workers, graphic designers and lighting designers who are willing to experiment with materials to create the stage designs. It’s an exciting new field, and though there may

be very few “rules” to this new trend, all churches agree with these two: be creative and be safe. CE Jonathan Malm writes and speaks about the creative process. He created and edits and Sunday magazine [], a free online magazine about the creative side of Sunday mornings at church.

10/2012 | Church executive | 23


Stagecraft & Rigging

How to create an


worship space

It doesn’t have to be complicated, but if done right it can be extremely effective.

By Duke DeJong For years we’ve known that good sound is critical to creating an atmosphere for worship. But in the past 15 years, the technological age has come along and developed our need for multisensory engagement. We’ve not only been conditioned to crave multisensory engagement, but people are actually picky about what they see. The popularity of stores like IKEA and Pier 1 reminds us that people care about good design. Cable networks like HGTV, TLC and DIY let us know that good design matters. So what does this mean for churches? It’s not enough anymore that the paint in your church isn’t peeling; people actually expect some thought, character and multimedia to show up in worship spaces today. The great news is engaging worship spaces don’t have to be about spending large amounts of money. Your budget will certainly have an impact on the end quality of what you do, but you don’t necessarily have to drop tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring visual interest to your space. It’s not about adding expensive technology or visual elements, but about finding a style that engages your target demographic and using strategic media, color and contrast to enhance what 24 | Church executive | 10/2012

is happening in the room. Accompanying this article are pictures of the first church where I was on staff, First Assembly of God in Cedar Rapids, IA. We undertook a dramatic transformation by painting the walls a darker color (for contrast) and then lighting various materials that became our set. Pastors often see these types of before-and-after photos and ask me, “How can we get started in stage design?” Really, it’s a lot simpler than people think. With a few strategic lights and a trip to Lowe’s or Fast Signs, you can be off and running. In fact one of the most viewed stage designs on, a popular online gathering place of stage design ideas, is based entirely on lighting bubble wrap hung against a dark backdrop. So to answer the question of how to get started, here are some tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years: Build a small team for stage design. Creativity is better in collaboration. Our best ideas came from a small group of people who would refine ideas until they went from good to great. Have diverse talents on your team. One of the most important people I had on my first team was not a lighting guy, but a skilled carpenter.

When we threw ideas around, he’d take them and begin processing how to make them. He’d often come back with tweaks that made the design better. Use the talents that are readily available. You don’t have to hire professional stage designers unless your situation demands it. If you have people skilled in metal work, carpentry or sewing, start with those skills. Use the talents that God has placed within your church and start in that direction. Allow for a stage design budget. With a smaller stage, designs do not have to be expensive. However, make sure your team has a reasonable budget to work with. Most of our designs were between $250 and $750 for a stage that’s 40 feet wide by 30 feet deep by 20 feet tall. If your budget is tight, don’t cut the per-design budget, but decrease how often you change it. Create contrast. Light is most obvious when it’s surrounded by darkness. Dark walls with well-lit materials create a dynamic contrast allowing your set to pop. Bright sets against a light-colored background can look OK, but usually not great. Use color to reflect the mood of what is happening. I love LED lighting and neutral-colored >>

This stage design used simple black frames, filled in with chloroplast sheets and then lit from below with LED lights. 10/2012 | Church executive | 25


Stagecraft & Rigging

Before: A pre-model stage.

After: This design used chloroplast squares with a curve put into them via tie line, then was lit from both the top and bottom.

materials. With a few strategic lights and light-able surfaces, I can lead people visually in the feel of what is taking place in our services. For example, light and bright colors are great for upbeat songs while darker, richer colors set the mood for more worshipful times.

26 | Church executive | 10/2012

Allow for learning experiences. Let your team’s creativity loose and while you need to be smart, empower your team to make mistakes. We didn’t love every design we did, and if we didn’t like it we changed it sooner. But we learned a lot in the process and it made future

designs better. CE Duke DeJong is the church relations director for CCI Solutions, a design/ build, equipment and media company specializing in high-performance sound, video and lighting systems. []


Stagecraft & Rigging


AnDy bentley Tech Director/Lighting Designer Elevation Church, Charlotte, NC One of our responsibilities as church leaders is to create a physical atmosphere of worship that is both excellent and distraction free. When people come to our church, everything they see from the moment they pull in the parking lot is a representation of Christ to them, and they see the stage for 90 percent of their time with us. If we have a stage that is cluttered, messy or designed poorly, it can give people the perception that we don’t care about their experience, and that doesn’t give us a good platform to share Christ with them.

JOel WyAnt Worship Lighting and Scenic Designer Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY As a scenic designer in a church, I strive to create an environment for a corporate worship service that allows people to focus on biblical teaching and engage in authentic worship. While God doesn’t need cool staging or high-tech lighting, it can be used to help lead people into His presence. A good stage design is often the first thing that the congregation sees. It should be something that allows people to put distractions and worries aside and prepare their heart even before the first song or sermon begins.

mArK Allen Assistant Production Director First Assembly of God, Cedar Rapids, IA I think of stage design and lighting as ways to tie in more senses with auditory during worship. If a stage and lighting design can reel an individual in and help them by forgetting about whatever they would otherwise focus on, I think that’s a win. In the corporate sense, it is a way to attempt to bring a common mood within a congregation.

28 | ChurCh exeCutive | 10/2012

HOW TO kEEP THE cOSTS OF cHURcH STAGE DESiGN REASONABlE? Stage designs can be as simple or complex as your church budget will allow. Something as simple as a colored par can aimed at a wall can achieve your desired look. Some of our favorite design materials are fabrics that take light well. Coroplast and truss are both extremely versatile. However, most of our designs are nontraditional set pieces. We have to get creative, and usually start from scratch and make everything ourselves from the ground up. It takes more time and planning, but it is more cost-effective in the end. We also store and reuse a lot of materials, which helps keep cost down. — Steve Kent and Mark Allen, First Assembly of God, Cedar Rapids, IA

Doing so can save money, not to mention time and effort too. — Joel Wyant, Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY Because we have multiple campuses we try to purchase different backdrops for each of them. That allows us to rotate them around to different campuses periodically to keep things fresh. As a lighting designer I also try to rearrange my lighting plot every few months to cre-

ate different looks on stage without buying more stuff. Another thing we do is use TVs on stage as backdrop elements because we can swap out imagery cheaply and have a customized backdrop based on whatever sermon series we’re in. We try to be good stewards of what God has given us by using everything to its fullest potential. CE — Andy Bentley, Elevation Church, Charlotte, NC

I think creativity is the key element to keep stage design costs reasonable. It’s important to get creative when dreaming up a set by thinking ahead. Like planning on how the set can be reused in the future. Also, it’s handy to find people that enjoy set design and have them help. They will often help you think outside the box.

SteVe Kent Stage Manager First Assembly of God, Cedar Rapids, IA We use stage designs to create a more subdued, warm and comfortable worship atmosphere, which can be a more inviting experience for the church body. Newcomers have often commented that they enjoyed the design and lighting, and that it wasn’t the “church” atmosphere they had expected. It helped them feel comfortable here. CE

10/2012 | ChurCh exeCutive | 29


Stagecraft & Rigging

The house is


Churches require the same caliber of rigging equipment that theaters use. By Harvey Sweet

Audio speakers, lighting fixtures, banners, a cross, even a flying angel in a pageant – these are things that may be suspended high above the heads of the congregants in a house of worship. Each of these elements, whether static or moving, is hung from rope, chain or wire rope. The suspension medium is attached to the structure of the building or to devices that allow planned movement of the piece. The equipment with which any of these elements is suspended is known as “rigging.” Rigging is used to suspend and move anything, whether lighting, scenery, ecclesiastical equipment, or props

(the replacement of burnt out lamps or faded gels). Scenery can be lowered into a performance area to create a background or raised out of the way to reveal a new setting. Rigging can be done manually or by motorization.

Safety standards Concerned with safety and efficiency, churches require the same caliber of rigging equipment that theaters use. This equipment is governed by strict safety standards published by the PLASA and ANSI organizations. These standards determine the appropriate suspension medium. For example, if you are going to suspend

apply a safety factor of 5:1. Nothing should ever be suspended above people on a single supporting line, no matter what the material. Rigging requires redundancy. Heavy objects, such as a large crucifix should be supported on at least two lines. Three are preferable. Suppose this is a cross that weighs 500 pounds. Because there are two supporting lines, each line must support half the weight, at least 250 pounds. This load can be supported by 1/8-inch diameter 7 x 19 GUC, with an ultimate rated breaking strength of 2,000 pounds. To determine the maximum strength of the wire rope, divide 2,000 pounds by the safety factor of five (2,000 pounds divided by five equals 400 pounds). In this case, each lift line will be capable of safely supporting 400 pounds. Two lift lines will safely support a load of 800 pounds if they are in good condition, properly terminated and properly installed. (If this were a moving load, the minimum safety factor would be 8:1.)

Motorized rigging

Typical rigged theatrical-lighting pipe.

for a worship production. Dynamic rigging can raise or lower lighting fixtures into position for maintenance

30 | Church executive | 10/2012

a stationary cross on galvanized utility cable (GUC) – formerly known as galvanized aircraft cable – you must

The best and safest choice for moving such loads above an audience is motorized rigging with safety features built into its hoists and controls. These machines are typically installed by professional riggers. Not all motorized hoists or hoist controls are equal.

A rigging system, at a minimum, must (1) locate hoist controls in the line-of-sight of the moving objects and (2) include a “hold-to-operate” button so that the lifted load only moves when attended by a person. (3) “End-of-travel” and “over-travel” limit switches must be part of the system to ensure the lifted objects will not crash into the overhead structure or slam into the floor. (4) The hoisting system should include load-profiling capability to ensure that a hoist will stop moving if unexpected excess weight (such as an unintentionally lifted curtain) is placed on the machine, or if normal weight is reduced (if scenery unintentionally were to catch on a ladder or platform). Additional functionality that should be provided by a motorized system would include preset positioning of battens, speed control of battens, and slack-line detection. Control modes such as automatic cycling of cues, automatic timing between cues, and the moving of multiple line sets at the same time are also very beneficial. The best system provides feedback information (“diagnostics”) from each of the hoists to the controller.

Easy handling Finally, you should not need a Ph.D. in engineering to operate your motorized hoist controls. While a manual rigging system (raising, lowering and manipulating stage elements by hand) may seem simpler, it requires several qualified persons operating with a high awareness of safety and in a very coordinated way. Motorized rigging requires only one responsible operator who understands the workings and safety features of the system. Motorized rigging reduces the manpower necessary to run a show. Automated stage hoists make great worship-production artistry possible – adding energy, diversity and excitement. Churches rely on this

Typical drapes and rigging overhead installation.

technology not only for signature seasonal pageants and special services but simply for their busy facility’s daily needs. Motorized rigging saves time, labor and money, while – most importantly – being safer. CE

Harvey Sweet is senior product manager with ETC Rigging (Electronic Theatre Controls Inc.), Middletown, WI. []

10/2012 | Church executive | 31


FIRE HAZARDS Electrical – additional electrical demands are often required for stage lighting, props and equipment. this can lead to overloading of the current electrical service. if flickering lights, blown fuses or tripped breakers are occurring, this is a good indicator the electrical service is overloaded. the use of extension cords and temporary wiring should be avoided if at all possible. any necessary electrical work should be completed by a licensed electrical contractor. Flammable liquids and solvents – the use of flammable-based liquids, such as paints, stains, varnishes, adhesives and chemicals used for set decoration are all possible sources of fuel. proper use, storage and disposal of these liquids are critical to reduce the chances of fire. Solvent-soaked rags can actually catch fire on their own (spontaneous combustion), and these should be kept in metal containers with self-closing lids.

How to avoid hazards on the stage By MarK MOhLer

Churches conduct different types of live performances especially during the holidays – ranging from small plays to elaborate theatrical productions. there are many things to consider, including stage construction, painting of the set and scenery, costume design and rehearsals. there are also numerous hazards that come along with a theatrical production, including fires, rigging failures and slips and falls. if these hazards are not controlled, they can result in severe property damage and injury or death to staff, volunteers and possibly audience members. the following examples describe some common types of hazards that can be associated with performance activities and how to control them:

32 | ChurCh exeCutive | 10/2012

Housekeeping – the backstage areas can be very tight for space. it is critical to maintain a clutterfree backstage and provide a clear space from combustibles and ignition sources, such as lights and electrical equipment. Lighting, with protective guards, may need to be provided to ensure combustible materials cannot come in contact.

Stage curtains and sets – Stage curtains should be certified flame-retardant, according to the national Fire protection association (nFpa) Standard 701. if your stage curtain does not have a certificate stating it meets this standard, one should be requested from the manufacturer. if this cannot be supplied, the curtain should be replaced with a compliant curtain. remember, flame-retardant treatments do not last forever and the certificate should indicate when retreatment is required. Wood stage decorations, props and scenery should be adequately fire-proofed. there are paints and sprays available to complete this. another option is to build stage sets using fire retardant pressure treated wood (FrptW) that does not need any additional fire proofing. Standards for theater scenery, curtains and furnishings are commonly set by law, and churches should check with state and local authorities to be sure of compliance.

RIGGING a rigging system is typically comprised of a series of ropes, pulleys, counterweights and similar devices that allow for raising or lowering of curtains, lights and stage effects during the theatrical production. these systems can suspend hundreds of pounds of equipment, and if a rigging failure would occur, these heavy objects can fall. Do-it-yourself rigging should be avoided if at all possible. rigging should be left to the professionals who are properly trained and knowledgeable in the safe operation

of the equipment and what to do in an emergency. this also would include regular inspections of the rigging equipment before the production, after any changes are made and at scheduled intervals.

SLIPS, FALLS AND LIFE SAFETy there are many slip and fall hazards present during any theatrical production. Life safety concerns also should be considered. For example:

all cords (electrical, sound, etc.) should be taped down to avoid someone tripping over them. if scaffolding is needed, it should be installed and taken down by trained professionals. Guardrails, mid rails and toe boards should be installed on all open sides and ends of platforms that are 10 feet or more from the floor. the correct type of ladder to safely perform the job should be used. Ladders have ratings associated with them based on weight and use. if the rating label is not found on the ladder, the ladder should be replaced. Ladders should be inspected before each use and any ladders with defects such as broken or missing rungs should not be used. non-skid feet should be installed and the ladder should be placed on a dry, level, and stable surface. never use metal ladders around electrical work. Stepladders should be used in the fully opened, locked position and the top step should never be used to stand on.

the number of people who can occupy the building during a performance is called the occupant load. allowing too many people inside your building could hinder proper evacuation of the building under emergency situations. Contact your local fire marshal to help you determine the occupant load and adhere to this number during performances.

all exits should be marked, unlocked, free of obstructions and illuminated. any doors or corridors that are not actual exits, which could be confused as exits, should be properly marked indicating they are not exits.

Stairs should be provided with handrails, kept clear of obstructions and lighted.

all walking surfaces should be level and in good condition with no cracks, potholes or depressions.

under emergency situations where power is lost, it is critical to have emergency lighting units installed that are in proper working order. under power failure conditions, these lights will automatically come on and light the main area and the exits out of the building, allowing for safe exit from the building.

planning, practicing and presenting a church performance should be a fun and exciting time for your organization. help ensure that everyone who is participating is kept safe from harm by following these guidelines.

Mark Mohler is risk manager at GuideOne Insurance, West DeMoines, IA. []

10/2012 | ChurCh exeCutive | 33

Carpets have come a long way

under foot

Today’s carpets may be made from recycled materials, and are readily turned around at the end of their lifespan.

By Ronald E. Keener

Milliken’s Allumé (top left) and Isos, a 100% wool construction (right). Photos courtesy of Melissa Hettie from Hello Misha Studios.

Some things don’t change much when it comes to choosing carpet for the church. The color of the sanctuary’s stage carpet and the runner up the middle aisle more often might be determined by the pastor’s wife or the favorite football team, says Bear Goolsby of Powers Goolsby Architects, Universal City, TX, which has a number of church clients in 48 states. Still, other things are changing. “Eco-friendly carpets have really come to the front,” Goolsby says. “Not only are many carpet fibers and backings made from recycled materials, but they are designed to be readily recycled at the end of their lifespan. Stain resistance in carpet has greatly improved due to the dying process and you can even find some carpet with a polarity charged fiber that is designed to resist coffee stains.” The people at the well-known Milliken floor covering division pride themselves on offering unlimited cus-

tomization options. “Through a unique blend of science and design, our floor covering collections help the architecture and design industry achieve inspiring design solutions,” says Milliken’s Bob Baird, general manager of global commercial carpet. Baird says that floor coverings are chosen on the basis of function, aesthetics and performance and “no one floor covering will fulfill all requirements.” “Churches want carpet solutions that are architecturally consistent with their surrounding space. They want floor covering that will perform well over time and stand up to heavy traffic. They want a solution that can be easily maintained with a welcoming aesthetic and quality finish,” says Baird. “And they want a provider they can trust to meet their diverse floor covering needs in a timely, hassle-free manner with a seamless installation.” Bear Goolsby says that more churches are looking at other floor Continued on page 38

34 | Church executive | 10/2012

DEALING WITH COFFEE STAINS Vacuuming is the most critical component in maintaining carpet. Supplement this with spot cleaning, and use a professional cleaner on a routine basis to maintain the life and beauty of your church’s flooring. So says Stephen Lewis, technical director for MilliCare, the textile and carpet care unit of Milliken Flooring. And for high traffic areas, Lewis says the answer is “vacuum, vacuum and vacuum.” “Dry soil damages carpet fibers and is the reason carpet develops wear patterns,” he says. “By removing this soil frequently, especially after a service or event, you will dramatically extend your carpet’s appearance.” And those coffee stains? “General purpose spot cleaners can usually remove the typical coffee stain completely,” he says. “However, decaffeinated coffee can actually ‘dye’ nylon carpet fibers, making it difficult to remove. These stains can be eliminated

with spot cleaning products called reducing agents. They remove oxygen from the stain to bleach it clear and require activation with heat—often with a steam iron.” But Lewis advises that only a trained professional should attempt this, as there is the potential to damage the carpet due to the use of heat. Oxidizing agents with hydrogen peroxide may also bleach the stain clear. As for food stains, Lewis says that “while many products claim to be all-purpose stain removers, the truth is there is no perfect solution. Most water-soluble cleaners will remove food related stains, but fail to eliminate grease and oily soils,” he advises. “The key is to have two or three different kinds of carpet cleaning solutions on hand to deal with a variety of stain types.” What’s the “green” movement’s implications for carpets? “The most environmentally-friendly products have third-party green certifications. Choose carpet cleaning systems that use less water and energy – but are still effective at removing soil,” Lewis says. “While these processes are considered ‘green,’ the most important thing you can do from an environmental standpoint is keep your carpet installed as long as possible. When properly maintained, commercial carpet can last for many years before having to be disposed of.” Finally, what vacuum product works best? Lewis says to choose a commercial upright vacuum with a beater brush. (Example shown above.) These machines are the best at removing dry soil in any home or facility. CE

CARPETING CAN COVER OVER A HARDWOOD FLOORING Churches use their gymnasiums for more than just sports. More often, these multi-purpose facilities are the worship centers on Sundays. To make that possible, the gym floor is protected by a covering that has a normal carpet-top layer and a PVC base to prevent the carpet tiles form sliding. Everything from plays to meetings to special events take place in such rooms, where the hardwood or synthetic flooring needs protection. Seth Gordon of Signature Systems Flooring, New York, NY, says their CarpetDeck 2 product will not move even under rolling loads and heavy foot traffic. “They are comfortable under foot and provide the feel of being on any permanent carpet,” he says. The product tiles are 21 square feet and weight 14 pounds each, allowing them to be easily handled by one person — and with a transportation cart speeding up the installation process and later storage. Two people laying down the tiles can cover a standard basketball court in one hour. The CarpetDeck 2 tiles slide next to each other without a connection system or adhesive underlayment. Another product, GymDeck, is made of a harder plastic material and does use an interlocking system. Gordon says the company has installed the product at Lake Country Christian School in Fort Worth, TX, and Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, TX. He says that the product comes in colors of charcoal, blue and gray, and a dynamite look is achieved when there is an alternating color pattern. — RK

10/2012 | Church executive | 35

Combination of carpet tiles (Patcraft Cell Structure Modular) and porcelain tile (Daltile-Terrace) in lobby and café areas of the Family Life Building at Crossroads Baptist Church, San Antonio, TX, in PowersGoolsby Architects project.

Continued from page 34

coverings than carpet, such as: w “Stained concrete has been around for a while and is very popular due to the visual appeal, durability and easy maintenance, but care must be taken to ensure proper staining and polishing.” w “Wood look, ceramic tiles are very popular for high traffic areas. These tiles give the look of a wood floor and the durability of tile.” w “Bamboo flooring options have also become very popular to their durability and style options. Being sustainable, many manufacturers have created several bamboo products and made it an affordable option.” And when it comes to color, there is much beyond the usual beige from which to choose. Says Goolsby: “We’ve moved from reds to browns and blues to green and warm greys. If you are using a multi colored carpet, you have so many options available, from just one swatch, to pull several paint schemes.” “Churches are asking for colors that complement the intended purpose and aesthetic for each space,” Baird agrees. “Sanctuaries should be inviting, so there is certainly a trend toward rich colors, such as dark reds and deep blues and greens. If they choose a neutral color, warm beige tones are very popular as they portray a welcoming aesthetic. “Patterns that tend to work well in these spaces are small in design and feature motifs specifically chosen to accentuate and enhance the building’s existing architecture,” Baird says. Goolsby says that he has clients determined to use a solid color car-

38 | Church executive | 10/2012

pet. “As great as today’s carpets are, the traffic generated by a congregation over a few years will wear down a solid color carpet. We do our best to show people how using a patterned, multi-colored carpet will not show traffic patterns as fast, plus the patterned carpets help to hide dirt and trouble spots that creep up in church facilities,” he says. Building committees should decide in their selections on how well the carpet holds its color, how well it will hold up to traffic, and the availability of coordinating carpets, says Goolsby. Milliken’s Baird says that durability and the intended use of the space determine the specific type of carpet necessary. “Sanctuaries are best suited for broadloom applications, while modular carpet is more appropriate for areas where congregations gather to share food and refreshments, as it’s easier to maintain and replace.” When it comes to coffee and food, Goolsby says “some manufacturers recommend using vinegar to help remove coffee stains, while you can find a carpet that has looked at the molecular structure, but they have fixed the polarity of the fiber to aid in the repelling of acidic stains.” But the best advice, he says: “We recommend asking people to leave the coffee in the lobby and preferably where the tile is.” CE


The emerging

megapolitan church

The urbanization of America calls for congregations that can respond to dramatic demographic shifts.

By Sam S. Rainer III America is a land of wide open spaces, vast expanses with enough room for buffalo to roam. The frontier ethos of our country evokes an individual, self-made spirit that pervades many aspects of our culture. Most people in America, however, do not live where the deer and the antelope play. They live in cities. In the book Megapolitan America, authors Arthur C. Nelson and Robert E. Lang reveal that two-thirds of the U.S. population lives on less than 20 percent of the privately owned land in this country. While our country’s average population density remains relatively sparse, the average is misleading. Fewer people are moving into rural areas, and more 40 | Church executive | 10/2012

people are moving into urban areas. The open ranges are becoming less populated, and the cities are becoming more populated. This trend is expected to accelerate through 2040 as current metropolises converge and become megapolitan communities. The United States is becoming more urban. As a result, several key demographic trends are emerging. Cities are becoming denser at faster rates. In 1900, 60 percent of U.S. residents lived in rural areas. Today it’s only 16 percent. Within three decades, most of the population will live on a land mass comparable in density to Western Europe. Additionally, cities are becoming more ethnically

diverse. Over the next few decades, minorities will account for 90 percent of the population growth. By 2042, the United States will be minority white. Cities are also aging, as many megapolitan communities will see substantial increases in the senior population. These emerging megapolitan communities will need megapolitan churches. Let me share the presuppositions of these coming mammoth urban areas and how the new megapolitan church might respond.

Scale The megapolitan community will encompass major cities and counties, sharing a common culture, geographic features and transportation networks. The extensive size of these communities will necessitate larger churches. Most churches are small. The median church size is about 75 people. However, most people attend larger congregations. The largest 10 percent of churches have half the people and resources in the United States. Bigger churches are getting bigger at faster rates than other congregations, and this congregational trend is accelerating in every community and in every denomination. The demographics of more people moving into fewer urban areas also apply to churches. Larger churches will continue to get larger as more and more people migrate to the biggest congregations. While I struggle with making a qualitative judgment about this trend (I believe small churches can be effective), the reality is large-scale megapolitan communities will need large-scale megapolitan churches. Cultural relevance in these communities will apply to size as much as any other factor, as it already does in many areas.

Regionalism Globalization will force U.S. regions to merge in order to stay competitive. Economic and population growth will continue to occur unevenly (in favor of urban areas), which means more collaborative regional planning across multiple communities in the future. As a result, more people will identify with a large region as opposed to a specific, local community. These megapolitan communities will attract the bulk of visionary leaders with the capability of managing complex systems. The megapolitan church will be led by visionary pastors with the ability to interact and partner with megapolitan community leaders. This church-community partnership will become more vital in these regional areas. Smaller churches in these regions will find it difficult to be the hub of the local community that they once were. And the most successful megapolitan churches will be seen as part of the collective, regional whole as opposed to a separate entity with a separate mission.

Diversity As megapolitan communities become minority white (some already are), individual neighborhoods will become more distinguished. While regionalism will create a common cultural system, increasing diversity will create neighborhood subcultures within each region. However, this diversity will be based less upon ethnicity and more upon socioeconomics. These neighborhoods will look more diverse ethnically but will become homogenous based upon income level. The megapolitan church will continue to grow in ethnic diversity but will struggle to become a place for all income levels. These churches will have to work hard to be a place not only for all ethnicities but also for people of differing economic classes.

Pace Megapolitan communities will create more jobs as urbanization accelerates. People will be more mobile, moving to different places at greater rates. Megapolitan churches will be large but also flexible. Due to the transient nature of megapolitan communities, megapolitan churches will have to adapt quickly to the inflow and outflow of people in their region. The megapolitan church that can change quickly will also grow quickly. The churn of people in the community will mean these churches will have to reinvent themselves often. Many churches are already transitioning to become a megapolitan congregation. More of these churches are needed. These megapolitan churches will take on many structural forms. Some will be multisite, enabling them to reach into new communities. Some will be massive, one-site churches with a self-generating gravitational pull. Others will discover how to be big by being small, reaching multiple niche communities while creating a common, unifying vision for everyone. The landscape of America is changing. The frontier once summoned people to “Go West.� Today the new frontier is a large-scale emerging urban society. The individual spirit that settled the West is being replaced with a collective mentality congregating in urban cores. As the frontier church reached the early settlers, I have no doubt the American church will respond with new megapolitan congregations for an urban society. CE

Sam S. Rainer III is president of Rainer Research and senior pastor of Stevens Street Baptist Church, Cookeville, TN. [www.rainerresearch. com,]

10/2012 | Church executive | 41


boo k m ar ks


Find your church resources here ‌

MarketPlace Ads come in a multitude of sizes to suite your advertising needs. Contact Maria Galioto for rates and art specifications: 800.541.2670 x201 or



42 | Church executive | 10/2012