Church Executive Magazine, May 2012

Page 1


MArch 2012

Future BeGAN With

‘PrOMiSelAnd’ iN ChiLDreN’S MiNiStry | 18

PAtriCK LeNCiONi ShAreS Why

HuMILItY MAtterS iN LeADiNG | 30

Why yOur ChurCh MAy NOt OWN

itS weBSite

| 35


PuttING feet tO tHe VISION | 8


One of the originators of Willow Creek Church’s Promiseland shares the intentions and values of that early program.


the Ce iNterv ieW

By Ronald E. Keener

Since Jenni Catron moved from being an artist development director in the Christian music industry in Nashville, to being executive pastor of Pete Wilson’s Cross Point Church, she hasn’t seen the two being wholly different. “i like to say that ‘i put feet to the vision,’ which is what i do now for Cross Point.”


the Willow Creek MOve study follows on from the reveAL survey in finding new insights into spiritual growth.


Why some churches battle the government about restrictions on political activities from the pulpit.

DE PARTM ENTS 7 ron Keener 8 News update 9 Mailbox 14 Speaking volumes

By Ronald E. Keener

26 technology update By Ronald E. Keener



By Ronald E. Keener

Leaders at the very top fail to realize that no one else in the organization can do what they do in maintaining a cohesive team.


Carillon of 23 bells plays automatically by a computerized system with more than 500 songs in its library.


embezzlement happens far too often, as churches are naturally trusting.



A former injection molding plant is turned into a unique gathering place for young people.

By Kenneth Liu

the website designer you hired may own the materials used and use them again with the church down the street.



Church Executive (Copyright 2012), Volume 11, 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 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.

37 Marketplace

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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 Managing editor raj Dayal, ext. 208 director of Sales Jennifer Owens ext.202 Account executives Maria Galioto ext. 201 Jill Berlinsky ext. 221 Production director valerie valtierra, ext. 203 Art director renée 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 Mrazek

executive Director Pikes Peak Christian Church | 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. 3


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vice President Operations valerie valtierra Accountant Fred valdez integrated Media Manager raj Dayal

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rOn Keener

HaRD DecISIONS John Ortberg was a leading mover and shaker in the new Presbyterian body ecO — but couldn’t say so at the time. here’s why. When we interviewed John Ortberg about three months ago for last month’s Ce interview, we asked him about Menlo Park Presbyterian Church’s stance on the Presbyterian(uSA) schism engulfing that body. in May of last year, the denomination changed its ordination rules to allow presbyteries to approve people who were in homosexual relationships for positions in the church. Adroitly, Ortberg begged off on the question — “this is a sensitive and ongoing conversation around the denomination, so i don’t have a good response for publication at this point.” — and good folks as we are, we let it slide. Now, near the end of January, i know why he responded in that way. Ortberg was heavily involved in a “new reformed body,” that is to be called the evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians. two thousand Presbyterians, meeting in Orlando as the Fellowship of Presbyterians, were told January 19 about the new Presbyterian body that would embrace congregations who object to the PC(uSA) actions on gay clergy. “What problem are we trying to solve?” Ortberg asks. “the problem is not denominational ambiguity or ecclesiastical disunity or even ineffectiveness; we are doing this because people are going to hell and Jesus came to save them and we must be

instruments of that salvation.” Ortberg said hell prevails “every time a child is neglected or a marriage ends or a lie gets told or money gets hoarded or generations get divided or a workplace becomes oppressive or a culture of shamelessness emerges.” Ortberg shows his theological stripes in his remarks at the meeting, saying that too many churches settle for “pretty good” and “pretty good is not okay with Jesus,” he opined. “Our job is to put hell out of business. i have no desire to be part of a church that believes pretty good is okay while the gates of hell remain open,” he told the assembly. “i want to be part of a community that is willing to give everything we have to fulfill the redemptive purpose God has set before us. God has done it before, God will do it again. Will you devote your life to be part of such a church?,” he asked the assembly. it has been reported that dozens of congregations have left the Presbyterian Church(uSA) over its liberal direction on scriptural authority and homosexuality. Other church bodies are facing the same challenge to their decisions on the homosexuality issue. the Lutherans (eLCA) continue to lose congregations and members, and while the language in their reports is nuanced and polite, they are frank in saying that cuts have been required in the budget and missional work has been weakened and reduced. episcopalians are having similar issues. there is an old adage that denominations today exist only for real estate and pension plans. Dr. Mark Chaves of Duke university in his recent American Reli-

gion: Contemporary Trends says that “about one in five Protestant churches is now independent of any denomination, and about one in five Protestants now attends those independent churches.… if the unaffiliated congregations were all in one denomination, they would constitute the second largest in number of participants (behind only the roman Catholic church) and the largest in number of congregations.” One of the organizers says eCO’s values “will make and keep us a movement, not a bureaucracy.” Good idea! Avoiding the structure of a denomination is the smart move.

Got a question or comment? email

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newS uPdAte

‘ministerial eXCeption’ liVes on, says tHe supreme Court Making major headlines in Christian news recently is the unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the right of churches to select their own ministers and religious leaders. In its highly-anticipated opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court confirmed that courts cannot make inquiry into whether the church had religious reasons for its decisions concerning its ministers and – for the first time in its history – endorsed what is commonly referred to as “the ministerial exception” to antidiscrimination employment laws. As written about in the February issue of Church Executive, courts have generally believed that federal employment discrimination statutes do not apply to church employees performing religious functions. However, in HosannaTabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, the question

urt u.S. Supreme Co

was raised as to whether the “ministerial exception” applies not simply to religious leaders, but also to teachers at religious schools – particularly someone who teaches the full secular curriculum, but also teaches daily religion classes, is a commissioned minister, and regu-

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larly leads students in prayer and worship. Specifically, the case revolved around a Cheryl Perich, a “called” – or ordained – teacher in a religious elementary school in Michigan who was diagnosed with narcolepsy and eventually fired. The religious tenants of the school’s sponsoring denomination – the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) – required any disputes be handled by the church tribunal; however, the teacher did not abide with the policies of the denomination regarding dispute resolution, but rather sued the church and school in secular court under the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). The church and school insisted that the terminated employee was a “commissioned minister” and that her termination was for religious reasons; therefore, that the case was subject to the ministerial exception (i.e. dismissal from the secular courts). The ministerial exception to employment law was established to give religious groups the freedom to hire and fire people performing religious functions, in order to uphold the tenets of their particular faith. The rationale is that the ministerial exception lets religious organizations practice their religion and convey their beliefs without being subject to employment discrimination laws. In its ruling, the Court expressed its reluctance in adopting “a rigid formula for deciding when an employee qualifies as a minister,”

stating “we are unsure whether any such employees exist.… The heads of congregations themselves often have a mix of duties, including secular ones such as helping to manage the congregation’s finances, supervising purely secular personnel, and overseeing the upkeep of facilities.… The issue before us is not one that can be resolved by a stopwatch. The amount of time an employee spends on particular activities is relevant in assessing that employee’s status, but that factor cannot be considered in isolation, without regard to the nature of the religious funcUpdate to article tions performed.” in February issue. The question remains: To what extent can religious organizations shield themselves from employment laws by simply deeming all of their employees to be ministers? It is important for churches to note that in their ruling, the Court specifically relied on certain specific facts. In so doing, the court left open opportunities for lower courts to refuse to apply the ministerial exception in future cases where the facts suggest that an ordination is blatantly fraudulent or a mere pretext. Therefore, while this ruling is absolutely a major boost to the ministerial exception, the Court specifically did not create a blanket excuse for churches to use at will when terminating the employment of any and all employees in the future. — David Middlebrook is a partner in Anthony and Middlebrook, the Church Law Group, Grapeville, TX. [ ]


reCoVery programs: ‘We need to stop expecting a fair trade, serve people and leave it at that.’ People are identifying the church more and more as a place to receive healing for family, personal and marriage issues. People are not looking for God. They are looking for help from the church because nowhere else is someone going to help them and this is causing ministry professionals to struggle. [February 2012, “Church Recovery Programs Are a Safe Place for Personal Growth.”] There is a kind of trade or exchange mentality where we’ll give you food, money, or help if you will listen to us about God, read the Bible, or come to our church. It is human nature to expect an exchange. But is it not God’s nature, and the lost and broken intuitively know this and they take and then leave? I think we need to stop expecting a fair trade and serve people and leave it at that. That is love of another kind and it will eventually lead to people coming to the church to meet the God that encourages and empowers that kind of selflessness and service. This is going to be a huge challenge for the church and ministry professionals because the mindset is so ingrained. We want to serve and want to believe that what we are doing is making a difference in broken people’s lives. We are, but only by giving them a temporary fish to eat and not the fish that heals all hearts permanently. Jesus met people’s perceived needs first and then met their true needs. But he did it without any expectation that he would buy time with them to share godly wisdom or saving grace. He just met their needs. Our definition of benevolence support has become corrupted and a quick fix instead of a way to treasure people like Christ did. How that happens is the tough part because there is no easy fix other than to stop the madness and start caring for people without any expectations. No more, “If we do this for them, they will listen.” They won’t. But let’s not get cynical or frustrated. Let’s get true to ourselves and focus on caring for people and

God will take care of the rest. He always does. If I were to talk to us I’d challenge this broken part of our strategy and call people to make caring our priority before fixing people. I wish that benevolence was truly seen as a growth engine instead of a necessary evil that must be performed. If we showed people love of another kind it would fill the seats of every nearly empty auditorium. People are coming to churches for help because no one else is going to help them. So let’s help them without any expectation of getting a chance to help them find the Lord. Let’s just show them Christ’s love once, twice, 7 x 70. For free. And along the way they will come back and we will get a chance to share Christ with them. We just won’t know when and whether we are the ones to land that fish. But God does and that is all that matters. Let’s really be intentional about not being intentional and let God do what he does best, and that’s change hearts. Let’s stop trying to save people and just let God do it. He is better at it and way more effective. Let’s lose the expectation of a fair exchange and do something completely unlogical. Let’s give like Christ gave, without any expectation of the reward or a chance to share our faith, and then step back and watch God meet their true needs while we meet their perceived needs. That is a partnership and I believe that is how God would want it to work. The more I write about this, the more I see the futility of our current mindset and processes and the more I see the utter brilliance of God’s way of doing things. John Mrazek executive director Pikes Peak christian church colorado Springs, cO

too many Countries oF restriCted religious Freedom You have written occasionally about the persecuted church, and I recently noted a news story on the annual report issued by the State Department detailing violations of religious freedom around the world. They listed eight “countries of particular concern” that, in my view, should be expanded to at least 24. How about Pakistan, Vietnam, Cuba, Chiapas/Mexico, India, Zanzibar, Comoros, Afghanistan, Somalia, Maldives, Yemen, Laos, Libya, Nigeria, Indonesia, Kuwait and on and on? The number of countries where there is international

religious freedom is probably smaller than the number of countries restricting or repressing religious freedom. One must wonder how long before the U.S. becomes one of the latter! Robbie Hopwood Underground Faith Program Central Christian Church Mesa, AZ

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the ce interview


Executive Pastor | Cross Point Church | Nashville, TN

Since Jenni Catron moved from being an artist development director in the Christian music industry in Nashville, to being executive pastor of Pete Wilson’s Cross Point Church, she hasn’t seen the two being wholly different. “I like to say that ‘I put feet to the vision,’ which is what I do now for Cross Point.”

By Ronald E. Keener

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She worked nearly nine years in the Christian music industry with some amazing artists, she says, including TobyMac of dctalk, Stacie Orrico, Audio Adrenaline, and Rebecca St. James. Her role was to be the liaison between the artist and their management team and the record company. “I was the champion of their vision inside the label, responsible for overseeing all marketing and promotional efforts.” How did you get involved with Cross Point? My husband and I were a part of the volunteer launch team that helped start Cross Point. It’s so rewarding to reminisce the first meeting of about 30 adults who dreamed about the potential for a new church in Nashville. For the first couple of years I volunteered but didn’t have aspirations to be on staff. I was pursuing my dream of being an executive for a music company. When Cross Point started averaging about 500 in attendance each weekend, Pete and I began discussions of me coming on staff to oversee the administration side of the ministry as well as to lead the staff team. March 1 was my seventh anniversary on staff and it’s amazing to look back on all that God has led us through with now five (soon-to-be six) campuses and more than 4,000 in attendance each weekend. Each season has led us to growth and new opportunities we’ve never imagined. Who was the pastor of your youth and what is your conversion story? When I was eight years old my Great Uncle Tom invited my mom to attend church at the small Assembly of God Church where he played piano and organ. As I recall, Uncle Tom had been pestering mom to attend this church for some time and when she finally “gave in,” it really became a turning point for our family. I remember my mom walking me through the prayer of salvation in our living room shortly thereafter. Uncle Tom was the person who taught me by example to love and serve the local church. Every Tuesday afternoon I walked from school to Uncle Tom’s house for piano and voice lessons and every Sunday Uncle Tom would call upon me to sing or play in our Sunday service. Not only did Uncle Tom influence my decision to follow Christ, but he was part of shaping my earliest leadership moments. How do you define leadership in terms of what you do in working and guiding others in this area? Leadership is such a complicated word with a lot of different interpretations. I think the best leaders represent a balance of what I refer to as the Four Dimensions of Leadership: Visionary, Managerial, Self

and Spiritual. Great leaders need to be able to cast vision for where they want to lead others, they need to be able to manage the details to get them there, they need to have self-discipline and be self-motivated, and as faith-based leaders we need to provide spiritual direction and encouragement. every leader will naturally excel in one dimension more than the others but the best leaders understand the importance of growing in each area. Outreach magazine named you one of the 30 emerging influencers reshaping leadership. how did you get that honor? i’ll be honest, i have no idea! i was shocked and honored when i found out i was on that list. i do believe that God has given me a very unique voice as a woman in ministry leadership and my heart is to steward my role and influence wisely. in what ways is your church implementing social media with the congregation? Social media is a big part of our communication at Cross Point. everything we do, whether sermon series, student ministry events, community groups activities, missions and outreach opportunities, etc., includes a plan for communication via twitter, Facebook and our blogs. We’re in the process of creating an app built especially for us and we’ve begun using Qr codes on our print pieces as well. During the 2010 flood in Nashville, twitter and Facebook were the best methods for us to get word out quickly about flood relief efforts. what is the church’s next step in multi-sites? Merger is a growing interest; is a merger being talked about with other churches in the area? Our vision is to reach the greater Nashville area with the hope of Christ and we’re investigating every opportunity that will help us accomplish that vision. Four years ago multi-site became a key way for us to accomplish that vision and we plan to launch campuses as long as it continues to be effective in reaching people. this year we plan to launch at least one additional campus. We have discussed several mergers but as of yet, there has not been a partnership that has been a good fit. in addition, we love resourcing other churches. Our team spends a great deal of time personally coaching and encouraging other churches, especially church plants. We are investigating creating a Cross Point Network for churches outside of the Nashville area. what would you advise other pastors about leading campus pastors of a multi-site church? Multi-site is messy. there is just no way around it. When it >>

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the ce interview comes to leading campus pastors, i think it’s important to be sensitive to the tension and challenges that a campus pastor feels. they are responsible for casting the vision of the senior leader, while also being accountable for the day-to-day leadership of their campus. they are constantly swapping between first-chair and second-chair leadership. that can be a very challenging place, yet it’s the reality of the campus pastor role. the more aware you can be of that tension and the more intentional you can be to keep communication open, the stronger you will be as a team. Anything special you are doing to ensure connectedness between the campuses? Communication is the key to effective multi-site ministry. Because all of our campuses are within a 45-minute radius of our broadcast campus, all of our staff can meet together weekly. this provides us both relational time with each other as well as time for planning, trouble-shooting and problem-solving. We use Kulabyte for our delivery system. this system offers a “nearly live” delivering of the broadcast feed, kind of like Dvr technology. One of the things i love about this is that our lead pastor can give special instructions or talk to our campus pastors on Sunday morning during rehearsal if there is anything last minute that we need to communicate. For a young church as yours, what is your strategic planning model? what vision are you working against? Our Cross Point vision statement can be boiled down to three elements: discipleship, community and evangelism, and our vision is to try to maintain a balance of those three things at all times. We really believe that that balance results in a healthy church. We want a culture where our attendees are being challenged to grow in their faith, while also building relationships with other believers and purposefully inviting the unchurched. everything we do as a church should support one of these elements of our vision statement. Strategically we plan in 12 to 18 month increments. We’ve attempted to

‘cuLtIVate HeR’ MeNtORS Jenni Catron began an organization called Cultivate Her in working with and mentoring women leaders. Here she explains its purpose: A few years ago a woman leader that I really admired challenged me with this: “Jenni, how you steward your influence as a woman leader at Cross Point directly impacts every woman who comes behind you.” That might seem rather obvious but it was a wake-up call to me of the importance of how I steward my place of leadership. I think sometimes we as leaders underestimate how much others are watching us. For me, I had lulled myself into a place of thinking that I had to focus on my own growth and that I wasn’t ready to develop others. I felt too young and inexperienced. That challenge prompted me to start Cultivate Her as a place where I could share what I was learning and encourage other women leaders along the way. Our goal is to connect, engage and inspire women leaders to help them feel confident to lead well, wherever they lead. I meet locally with women leaders in Nashville, we use the blog for creating conversation for women leaders around the globe, and we’re working on ideas for coaching and mentoring opportunities this year. [ ]

do five and 10 year plans but they just don’t work well for us. If we’re healthy as a church as defined by the balance of those three points of the vision, the natural bi-product is growth. We tend to be responsive to growth but proactive towards creating health. The staff seems highly organized in terms of goal setting and accomplishment, performance evaluation, periodic goal assessment, and the like. Do you have a particular approach, or follow anyone’s model, for that? I stole a lot of our management philosophy from the company that I worked for in the music business and I’ve adapted it to work for our team. Each of our staff creates goals every six months for their role and then they are evaluated on those goals every six months. Additionally, we use Patrick Lencioni’s idea of a thematic goal. We create one thematic goal for the entire organization and then each campus and respective campus staff apply that goal to their individual responsibilities. How is the economy affecting the church and giving? How have you kept the budget healthy and balanced? Our 2012 budget is just under $5 million. We operate pretty lean, but because of that value we have been fortunate to weather some of the economic ups and downs of the last few years. While we have not met our budget goals every year, our team does an amazing job of keeping expenses under actual receipts. We’ve finished every year of Cross Point’s history in

“the black” and we have not had to lay off any staff due to budget reasons. Fiscal responsibly is a huge priority to our entire team and everyone takes their role in that very seriously. How do you see the power of branding as expressed at Cross Point, and how that makes a difference when new people are deciding to remain at Cross Point? Because my background is in brand management and marketing, I think it’s a very important for every individual and organization to understand the power of their “brand.” I know people sometimes wrestle with the idea of brand development for the church, but branding really boils down to understanding your strengths and gifts and doing your best to be consistent in them. At Cross Point we’re very intentional to be true to the Cross Point brand. I want our attendees to feel confident that if they invite a friend to any of our Cross Point campuses, they can be sure the experience will be consistent. We know that we’re not the only church or the best church in town, but we do believe that God has called us to a unique style of ministry that reaches the people we are best gifted to reach. I’m told you like drinking tea? Oh, I love tea! I’m sure that I was supposed to be born British. I really drink all different varieties, but a good Rooibos loose leaf tea with a hint of orange is my favorite. [ ]

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SPeAKinG vOluMeS

What pastors aren’t told in seminary By rONALD e. KeeNer James emery White has been both a seminary student and a seminary president (Gordon Conwell-theological Seminary) and pulls few punches in writing What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary. (Baker Books, 2011) he writes, “it was painfully clear how little my seminary education had actually prepared me for the day-in, day-out responsibilities of leading a church.” What brought him to that conclusion? “the tasks at hand!,” he replies. “i was immediately thrust into doing things i had no training and little preparation for. everyday things like hospital visits, weddings, funerals, officiating the Lord’s Supper, running a meeting, raising money, relational conflict, instituting appropriate change, church growth — the list goes on and on. i was thrown into being the leader for it all, and no one had ever taught me how to do any of it. i could tell you about the Council of Nicea, but not how to run a council.” Dr. White leads Mecklenburg Community Church in

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Charlotte, NC, and responded to questions from Church Executive: was there anything that might have prepared you for the legal, financial, risk and human resources part of leading a church? yes, like a class! hear my heart, i’m not anti-seminary. My life has been lived, primarily, in two vocational worlds: the church and the academy. i am the founding and senior pastor of a church, and a professor and former seminary president. So if i wanted to pick a fight with a seminary, i’d only be picking a fight with myself. But there wasn’t a single class in my seminary experience that dealt with any of the dynamics you mention. Not one. what is it about M.div. programs that they can’t squeeze in some practical education? in fairness to the M.Div., most of what you get is invaluable to being able to “rightly divide the Word of truth” (i tim. 2:15). But they can do better. Why is it that the average seminary graduate can go to a two-day conference and get more practical training than they did in their entire three-year residential M.Div. program? Seminaries must do better to bring this into the curriculum. did you do anything at the seminary to bring in some of these “day-in, day-out” responsibilities to the seminarians? At Gordon-Conwell we required mentored ministry rotations where students have to be serving in the trenches, under a seasoned leader, throughout their seminary experience. that’s a great way to get practical training in, particularly if the school helps the student know what kind of mentored ministry rotations they need for their calling. Bringing in guest speakers and lecturers on the practice of ministry is also key. One thing we didn’t have, but should have had, is some kind of practical “exit” course at the end that goes over the day-in, day-out responsibilities of leadership: how to baptize, how to lead a meeting, how to raise money, how to structure your time, and so on. Any war stories to share? the book is full of them! i think, early on, where i suffered the most was in not knowing how to deal with relational conflict between people and within the church. My first church had been riddled with discord for years (i was their fifth pastor in less than 10 years). i was clueless as to what to do. what else does the book cover that is important to know? the book is filled with 25 very specific things that you won’t be taught in seminary, but that only come from being in the trenches: emotional survival, sexual fences, dealing with conflict, identifying safe people, envy toward other churches and so much more.

Architecture SPeciAl SectiOn

BeLL tOWeR eMBelliSheS A GreAt cAthedrAl carillon of 23 bells plays automatically by a computerized system with more than 500 songs in its library.

By SArAh De itA Over the centuries, the world’s most prestigious cities have built majestic cathedrals that stand as enduring symbols of faith and beauty, illuminating the architectural, civic and spiritual landscape of our cities. the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred heart in houston, tx, within the Archdiocese of Galveston-houston, was dedicated in 2008 as a spiritual home for all people of all faiths. the challenge was to build a cathedral for the ages, of profound spiritual expression and enduring artistic quality, contemplating a 500year planning horizon. A design team traveled to europe, visiting scores of cathedrals, immersing themselves in the rich history and architecture of the magnificent structures.

Monumental in scale the composition of the architectural elements, entrusted to Ziegler Cooper Architects, were intended to be monumental in scale and larger than those in other buildings. Built on a three block location in central houston, selected for its high visibility and easy accessibility to more than 1.3 million Catholics, the cathedral faces south towards the future plaza, inviting expansion of diocesan buildings

around the plaza. the copper dome crowning the cathedral supports a 17-foot-high, gold leaf cross, one of three adorning the cathedral and bell tower that serve as beacons of faith amid the downtown skyline. A carillon of 23 bells rings out from the campanile that stands on the southeast corner of the city block encompassing Co-Cathedral. the bells were cast with a bronze alloy of mostly copper and tin by the royal eijsbouts Bellfounders in the Netherlands and installed by Chime Master Systems located in Lancaster, Oh. the non-traditional carillon is played automatically by a computerized system that has more than 500 songs in its library. Cathedral musicians can play the bells and store additional music using a monitoring system inside the church. the music is categorized by liturgical season so that the bells always ring appropriate selections on the automatic ringing schedule. the carillon was designed with room for two more octaves of bells. the layout of the bells and installation of the electric action was done in such a way to allow the carillon to be fitted with a more traditional baton

style keyboard that can be hand played by a Carillonneur.

Range of strike tones the two octaves of bells range in weight from 4,800 pounds with a diameter of 60 inches to 100 pounds with a diameter of 16 inches. the four swinging bells strike tones are middle C, D, F, and G with weights of 4,800 lbs., 3,400 lbs., 2,000 lbs. and 1,400 lbs., respectively. the four largest bells in the carillon were blessed and named for important women who led four congregations of religious women that played prominent roles in serving the people in the Diocese of Galveston at its founding. the Cathedral has seating for 1,800 worshippers. A wide center aisle of marble stretches from the front door to the altar. A 12-foot, 1,800-pound, crucifix presides over the sanctuary. two major shrines devoted to the Sacred heart of Jesus and the immaculate Conception grace the transepts. CE Sarah De Ita is senior associate with Ziegler Cooper Architects, Houston, TX. [ ]

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SPeciAl SectiOn


Youth center brings the


A former injection molding plant is turned into a unique gathering place for young people.

By Steve FriDSMA 3 Mile Project is a non-denominational ministry center for youth ages 5th grade through 12th grade, a place where teens can come for recreation and social engagement in a safe, spiritual setting and where adult leaders can play alongside the youth and offer friendship, role-modeling and spiritual guidance. Activities include indoor

sports courts (which accommodate 1,200 seats for concerts), video game arcade, contest arena with seating risers, table games area, skate park, reball arena and three theater “pods”– all free with the $5 entrance fee – as well as a subsidized café and bookstore. the project is the brainchild of four businessmen with a his-

tory and passion for youth ministry. After surveying 750 young people about their desires for the facility, the owners challenged the architects to create a place that would efficiently and securely accommodate the program activities and cause users to say, “WOW! you did this for me?” upon entering. the owners chose a 30-year-

SHOW aND teLL: takING tHe VIRtuaL VIDeO tOuR You can tell me about your dream and vision for your new church facility or renovation, but you won’t sell me on it until I can see it in my mind’s eye. When I can visualize it, I come a long way toward embracing the project as my own, and contributing to its success. Ask the director of a film and he will tell you that he wants to immerse the audience into the actor’s life, events and feelings to successfully tell the story. The result is a visual and emotional journey as the story unfolds, that will bring you to a place of deciding for yourself

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whether to embrace or reject the connection with the characters or events of the story. There are two distinct parts of your show and tell; this is the “what” and the “why” of your vision. 3D animated virtual tours are a great tool for illustrating the “what” of a project before it is ever built. Often this is a bricks and mortar portion of the leadership’s vision for a building or a renovation. In the last few years, technology has increased to allow photo-real cinematic videos. The animated short films render fly-throughs, flyovers, walk throughs,

and sweeping camera moves of the proposed building with a real life feel far above the CAD and BIM software. Live video clips, a message from the pastor, interviews and testimonials of church members can be inserted to help communicate the message and heart of the churches’ plans to the viewer. This video piece stresses the “why” of the vision, the greater purpose of life change, real events as a result of the ministry of the church. “We found that a key way to communicate our vision for the North Campus at Prestonwood was through the use of

a 3D animated virtual tour,” says Jack Graham, pastor of 30,000-member Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX. Prestonwood has three campuses. “It allowed us to show our people and to ‘virtually’ place them in the facility before it is was even constructed. Communication is integral when it comes to vision-casting, and this proved to be a powerful medium for us during this building campaign.” Sherry R. Keesee, Director of Business Development, 3Dream Studios, Tulsa, OK. [ ]

SPECIAL SECTION old former plastic injection molding plant as the venue. The design team drew on the industrial nature of the building for aesthetic inspiration and detailed to the gifts and skill-levels of volunteers. They also fabricated and installed key design features themselves, continuing an emerging trend in their architectural work nationwide. Primary materials include framing lumber, OSB panels, corrugated sheet metal, polycarbonate panels, carpet squares, sports flooring and indoor/ outdoor carpeting.

Youth-created collages Café tables were made from particle board rounds covered by youth-created collages on a variety of themes – sports, candy wrappers, movie tickets, cars, fly-fishing and even facial hair – followed by four coats of clear resin. Quilted-vinyl shipping blankets were used as acoustical wall treat-

ment in the theater pods and as upholstery for booth seating in the café. Additionally, acoustical wall treatment in the café was made by shingling panels of heavy-duty grey industrial felt accented with brightly colored craft felt. Media monitor arrays were made from a spider’s web of raw lumber, aircraft cable and clear blue compressor hose. Also, the facility includes large pendant lamps shades over the concourse surround industrial fixtures and are made of spiraled layers of deer fencing, hardware cloth and insect screening.

Repurposed components Guardrails in the three café skyboxes, which overlook the sports courts, are made from repurposed bed slats from IKEA and wire shelving components. Digital “fire pits” surrounded by semi-circular seating tiers are made

from livestock feed tanks with two layers of acrylic sheet sandwiching two inches of crushed tempered glass (from a glass supplier’s dumpster) illuminated from within by LED panels. The store service counter is covered in 64,200 strips from brightly colored t-shirts knotted on chicken wire – the painstaking work of a senior women’s prayer circle. 3 Mile Project was privately funded and relied on donations of materials, equipment and labor amounting to more than half the construction value. Renovation expenditures came in at less than $22 per-square-foot a small price to pay for a richly creative environment that has seen attendance rapidly grow to more than 1,500 per weekend and a success by any measure. CE Steve Fridsma is principal architect for Elevate Studio, Grand Rapids, MI. [ ]

03/2012 | Church executive | 17

to the

Back future: Kids learning in community

One of the originators of Willow Creek Church’s Promiseland shares the intentions and values of that early program.

By Phil Miglioratti Standing in the middle of a movie theater lobby is usually no big deal (and certainly not a spiritual moment), unless it is the first Sunday morning of Promiseland, a new ministry to children in the early days of Willow Creek Community Church. Launching a ministry to kids in an outof-the-box, rapidly-growing, already-influential congregation was a big deal; even bigger than I realized at the time, Willow Creek church in South Barrington, IL, about to surpass the 2,000 milestone in its third year, presented a brand new approach to “church” with fresh thinking from 18 | Church executive | 03/2012

top to bottom – except when it came to children. Birthed out of the innovative Son City youth ministry that reached 1,300 students weekly, the Willow Creek experience applied those ground-breaking principles and practices to non-churched adults. Thirty-seven plus years later those new ideas may be standard operating procedures in thousands of churches across the globe, but it took some time for them to travel from the theater seats to the lobby floor where scores of infants through sixth graders congregated.

As senior pastor Bill hybels said in 2005 with Christianity Today: “i admit i was a late-arriver to see the value children’s ministry could bring to Willow Creek. it started when, occasionally, a mother or father would share excitement over how much their kids learned in Promiseland. Parents noticed that their kids were changing, and that grabbed my attention.” “i never really looked at children’s ministry as a place where scores or even hundreds of volunteers could find their most meaningful place of service in the church,” hybels commented. “i always thought most people would find that adult ministry was the place to use their gifts. But a picture was developing of kids’ lives changing—and a place where significant numbers of volunteers were using their spiritual gifts.” though i had followed the Son City phenomenon from afar (serving 60 miles northwest in rockford, iL), i had been immersed in the Awana youth Association culture from which Dave holmbo and Bill hybels created the architecture of first Son City, then applied those insights and ideas to Willow Creek. Awana’s red-blue-yellow-green lined square where teams faced-off became the red and blue and even “clear” teams for Son City competition, which became the adult fellowship “modules” in the early days of this new styled church.

So, when it came to designing the next stage of Willow Creek’s children’s ministry, i was in good company: biblically-grounded, creative-thinking, risk-taking unboundby-tradition leaders. here is what we brought to the drawing board: • Every person (every child) is valuable to God • Learning is best retained when the learner is involved in the process • Scriptural truths transform lives • Love and joy create community • Young-in-the-faith believers are enthusiastic leaders So we took the following steps in those early days of Promiseland: 1. We based every Sunday session on a promise of God from the Bible so that even the youngest child began their theological journey knowing God loves them and has good purposes for their lives now and in eternity. 2. As parents of young children, we knew faith-learning was stifled if kids were forced to be silent and be still (basically to make it easier for the adult teachers) so we >>

03/2012 | ChurCh exeCutive | 19

created a “Together Time” that was participatory — now tame compared to the technological advances in music and visual media, “The Kids’ Quiz Show,” memorizing scripture by pinning the words in correct order on a clothesline and singing along to Barry McGuire’s Bullfrogs & Butterflies was truly exciting and engaging then. 3. Enthusiastic volunteers were called learning leaders as a way of

placing traditional teaching methods into a grander concept of lifetransforming, life-long learning . While many were short on theological training or biblical knowledge and some had not grown up in Sunday school, they eagerly accepted the responsibility to take the lead in gathering, leading, teaching and discipling the learners in their age-level group. 4. Rather than replying on published resources, I wrote a simple cur-

Family night is a Promiseland staple.

riculum that provided the promise, the scripture text, a related biblical story, and several activity suggestions, but each learning leader was responsible to build a 45 minute (not including Together Time) session. Surprisingly, discipline problems were minimal, possibly because we were committed to designing an experience that included audio (learn by listening/talking) + video (learn by watching/looking/ drawing) + cardio (learn while moving/acting/responding). Learners participated in the learning event. 5. We also knew that effective learning had to be affirmed and modeled at home. I wrote a simple Family Guide with each Sunday’s promise, scripture, story and several fun agelevel appropriate activities for families. Family night was a combination of popcorn and praise!

How times have changed Now, three and one half decades later, children enjoy Promiseland in a spacious new facility outfitted with high tech media, live music, tables and sinks and more. The task is to keep the main thing the main thing: growing mature faith, hope and love into every kid God brings our way — while looking for ways to improve communication and increase accessibility to the lifechanging content of holy Scripture. Practices change. Trends challenge traditions. New becomes old. Culture morphs and evolves. And as it does, young, new, freshthinking leadership must meet the challenge to change the way we tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love. New wine needs new wineskins. CE Phil Miglioratti is COO of Mission America Coalition [ www. ], and founder of National Pastors’ Prayer Network [ ]. 20 | Church executive | 03/2012

churches want to

know how they can be

more effective the willow creek MOve study follows on from the reveAl survey in finding new insights into spiritual growth.

Authors Cally Parkinson and Greg hawkins

By rONALD e. KeeNer “Are we making a difference?” is a question that most churches and pastors ask weekly. Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, iL, essentially asked that question in a four-year process and a spiritual life survey, with the findings from 1,200 churches involving 280,000 people. the study that Willow Creek gave its own congregants is known as reveAL, that, said pastor Bill hybels, “challenged some of our core assumptions about our effectiveness as a church.” the results of the wider survey were published in the book MOVE by Greg L. hawkins, executive pastor, and Cally Parkinson, brand manager (Zondervan, 2011). hawkins responded to questions from Church Executive: For you, what were the most startling results of the study? the biggest insight was that we in church leadership are assuming far too large of a responsibility for our congregants’ spiritual growth. We need to move from being spiritual parents who feel the full burden of someone’s growth, to being spiritual coaches who walk alongside people as they grow.

if an individual does not own his or her own journey toward Christ, there’s really very little the best church in the world can do for them. Also, based on hearing from more than 280,000 actual churchgoers, people really want to grow. the spiritual appetite is very strong, and with a few changes, the church can really meet that need in a powerful way. how did the results of the national MOve study compare to the original reveAl results at willow creek community church? what new findings did you discover? the national survey confirmed all our early findings about what drives spiritual growth. the work that led to MOve has extended those learnings and allowed us to identify some best practice churches. We spent time studying those churches and discovered strategies that they had in common. those insights form the basis for half the book. how has involvement in the study affected the participating churches? what are some of the changes and results you have seen? We have had hundreds of conversations with pastors who participated in the study and what we have heard over and over is that their individual church results helped them gain crystal clarity on what areas in their church they needed to focus on for maximum spiritual growth. with more than 1,200 participating churches there was significant diversity represented in the study. When we studied the churches which appeared most spiritually vibrant, we found no pattern of size, location, denomination or style. Church effectiveness appears not to be determined by those traditional categories. that has been one of the more encouraging discoveries for our team. Any church, at any size and location, can become more effective. what are the four most important discoveries from the study for a pastor? First is the realization that you can measure spiritual growth, thereby allowing us all to get some clarity on how people grow and what we can do to catalyze that growth. Second, the most significant catalyst for spiritual Continued on page 24

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BEST PRACTICES AND ROLE MODELS: FOUR CHURCHES, FOUR SIZES First Baptist of Orlando, FL First Baptist of Orlando is a role model of the strategy Becoming Christ-Centered, which senior pastor David Uth summarizes in a statement he routinely makes to his 6,000 congregants: “We’re not here to make you Baptists; we’re here to make you disciples of Christ.” This statement may sound glib, but it reflects the idea that the goal is not to inspire people to fall in love with the church and all of its activities; the goal is to help them fall in love with – and surrender their lives to – Jesus. In all of its teaching and communication, First Baptist is direct and unambiguous about the discipleship goal of its ministry. But that’s not its real distinctive. What distinguishes First Baptist, and other thriving churches like it, is their persistent, overarching commitment to that pursuit. The salient point is this: Everything starts by committing to the life-changing (not activity-creating) goal of discipleship and making it the top priority for all ministry efforts. The resolve of best-practice churches to achieving this objective is so steadfast that they risk letting people walk out the door – in fact, they encourage them to do so – if becoming a follower of Christ is not a commitment they’re willing to make. Harbor Light Church, Fremont, CA Pastor Terry Inman of Harbor Light Church with 1,000 attendance, says, “The most feedback I get from my congregation is not on my sermons; it is when I tell my own story about my walk with God and my family’s walk with God.” He understands that it is not his words, but his actions that speak the loudest. And he is intentional about letting his congregation in on how things are going in his relationship with God.

First Baptist of Orlando, FL.

Transparency is key. What congregants see modeled in these leaders is not perfection so much as a work in progress. Leaders of the top 5 percent churches share their failures and their struggles. They let their congregations see their flaws so everyone can learn from their mistakes. The Bridge Community Church, Wildwood, MO Tim Gray started The Bridge Community Church in rural Missouri in 2006 with eight people and $156. Today, his church of 400 is anchored on a cell family model that is flourishing, largely because he equips cell leaders for suc-

The Bridge Community Church, Wildwood, MO.

Harbor Light Church, Fremont, CA.

Tri-County Church, DuBois, PA.

cess. While Tim’s leadership requirements may seem quite ambitious by normal church standards, his disciplined approach provides food for thought about what people who lead within their church are willing to do to serve Christ. Tim’s cell leaders, for example, receive 35 hours of training in Bible teaching, pastoral care, and biblical counseling. This is after they’ve experienced the 14 hours of training required to become a church member. Members also sign a covenant allowing someone to mentor them and committing to mentor someone else. Tim defends these high standards, saying, “We are commanded to go and make disciples, not members or pew dwellers. But empowering people is not enough. You don’t just hand over the car keys without making sure your child has driver’s training. You cheat your church if you give away leadership and don’t train the leaders. People want training. Our mission is to equip as many as possible to be capable of equipping others.” Tri-County Church, DuBois, PA David Bish, lead pastor of Tri-County Church (890 attendance) who coined the “I don’t go to church; I am the church” motto of this best practice, empowers people to live into this vision in three practical ways: Preach it! Teaching is imperative. “I am the church” is central to TriCounty’s annual vision-casting series. Reinforce it! Beyond the teaching, Tri-County dedicates a wall in their sanctuary to visual images that illustrate what “I am the church” looks like. They distribute t-shirts on which the phrase is prominently featured. And they distribute response cards regularly, to capture and communicate stories congregants share in answer to the question, “How were you being the church this week?” Do it! Being the church also has a corporate “doing” component. Every fall hundreds of attendees don their t-shirts and join together for a weekend of community serving. CE

03/2012 | Church executive | 23

Continued from page 22

growth, with no close second, is engagement with the Bible. Do whatever you can to inspire members of your church to fall in love with God’s word. Third, involvement in church activities, by themselves, does not drive long-term spiritual growth. Fourth, your congregants are looking to you, as their pastor, to teach them God’s word, show them how you yourself are living it out and then to challenge them to take a next

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step in response. Leadership really does matter and if you want a spiritually vibrant church, it starts with your own spiritual life and then extends to your bold, unrelenting leadership. In MOVE you have identified the top 5 percent of the most effective churches in the survey. What can churches learn from their best practices? By studying some 1,200 congregations, we were able to isolate some churches with high spiritual vital-

ity. Something special was going on there. When we spent time with those churches we discovered four common practices that appear to be transferable to any church setting. What was inspiring was that implementation of these ideas worked in small and large churches and really were not dependent on the size of a church’s budget. Why is it important for churches to pay attention to this information? This work is important because Christ himself has asked us to go make disciples. Any insights into how our church can be more effective in that work should warrant our focus and attention. We would ask any church leader to read MOVE and to reflect on its insights. Remember, we did not make this stuff up — it all comes out of the experience of real church attendees and real church leaders, confirmed by the teachings of Scripture. It is not necessary to have your church take the survey, although that is a very effective way to jump start implementation of these concepts. The ideas in the book are transferable, we believe, to every church, regardless if they take the Reveal survey. Do ministers worry about their effectiveness in guiding people spiritually? Isn’t it all up to God anyway? I have always felt a responsibility to use my gifts to help people get closer to God. I believe God gave me those gifts so that can actually occur. While I know that all fruit is a result of God’s activity, he has asked me to be faithful with what he entrusted to me, which consists of my spiritual gifts, abilities and experience. I must ask questions around ministry effectiveness and be open to learn from others. Church leadership can do a lot to promote spiritual growth. What MOVE outlines with great clarity is what specifically a church should be doing at each stage of someone’s growth, and that list does change as a person changes. But our work has clearly found that there are practices a church can pursue that appear to accelerate the rate of spiritual growth. CE

Technology update

Apps have come to the church By Ronald E. Keener Apps are seen as an “innovative way for churches and ministries to communicate their message to their community” says Matt Morris, project manager for LifeWay Christian Resource’s Digital Church. “With the ability to pull content from so many different locations, stream sermon audio and video, and pull it all under one roof, the ease of use and accessibility is simple,” Morris says. LifeWay and their mobile app development group, ROAR, have provided 1,000 churches the app at a nominal fee in an offer that ended at the close of last year. Morris says that 50 percent of adults in America have a smart phone, and by the end of 2013 it is projected that the number will be closer to 80 percent. “The number one app category accessed on smart phones is social media,” Morris says. “We believe that apps will be the future behind smart phone growth, and we believe that it will be key for churches to have a presence in the everyday life of their community and apps give

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us that opportunity today.” Church Executive interviewed Morris on the direction that LifeWay is taking in this technology, not only for Southern Baptist churches but for any church that decides to get involved. In doing your research what have you found that seems encouraging in this technology approach? We found that, as organizations, churches are starting to steer away from traditional communication means. The benefits of using an app include lower costs to communicate a message, one place for everyone to gather virtually, and ease of use when an update/revision is needed, all while delivering the church’s message to the congregation in a simple way. How do they make use of it with their staffs and parishioners and their own websites? The status quo today among church ministry leaders, technology pastors, executive pastors and others consists of publishing content from their church or ministry across the web. They have a church website, websites for each ministry, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a place where they upload sermon audio, video and other content as well. This app brings all of that content into one place packaged in an app where people can find it easily and interact with that information on a device that is with them wherever they go. So “Hometown First Baptist” signs up; what takes place then in the implementation, how is it used within the congregation? ROAR sends them a username and password to an online management platform, referred to as a content management system, where the church and/or ministry leaders will decide what is in their app. These options are sermon notes, prayer wall, QR Code scanner, Facebook page, pictures, videos or a host of other options. The church then submits the app for ROAR to build. The congregation will then be able to be updated on everything from what their kids are learning in small group to when activities are happening to where local missions are happening. Can churches “make it look like their own”? Yes, the app is very customizable. All of the graphics and layout of the app are up to the church. There is a basic structure but the management system behind the app is very flexible for a myriad of different content. Is there a way that the local church can maximize its use for its own members; how might they “market” it to increase usage? The best way to “market” any technology is to use the technology. The app will become a daily part of a member’s life if the church leaders and ministries use the app to inform their members of what is going on in the church,

encourage, equip, and inspire it’s members through the interaction of the app. what are the maintenance factors and costs here? what can the congregation save in costs with the lifeway product? the normal set up fee or building fee for a church app is $750 per iPhone, iPad or Android app, plus a monthly hosting fee of $35/month per app from rOAr the mobile app development company. if a church signs up through Digital Church, we charge $600 per iPhone, iPad or Android app plus a discounted monthly hosting fee of $30 per month. how is the lifeway app/program more functional and useful than any other one being offered out there? Many apps built for churches, ministries and nonprofits simply inform. they don’t allow for interaction in the app with social media platforms like Facebook and twitter. We believe that the more people interact with an app the more they will use an app. with 1,000-plus churches using this app, is there a “power” of them all working together? Just like there are different churches for different commu-

nities, we believe the power of having so many apps is that people will connect with the message of a specific church or ministry. Our goal is to empower and connect individuals, congregations and churches. this is why we believe there needs to be so many different voices in the app world. visioning a bit, how do you see the future of apps and iPhones and iPads? the future of apps will be centered on building community. the more you can empower the individual or filter information, the more success you will have in the future. there will also be a push on a global scale and not just a local community scale.

03/2012 | ChurCh exeCutive | 27

Picking a fight with the

IRS: The politics issue

By Frank Sommerville From the founding of our country until 1953, churches and their ministers enjoyed complete freedom to address social, moral, Biblical and political issues. Churches have enjoyed exemptions from federal income tax in every income tax law enacted since 1861 without any restrictions on the political activities of the church. But in 1954 all that changed. As part of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, then Senator Lyndon B. Johnson added a new condition to the tax exemption for all nonprofit organizations: no political activity. This amendment to the Code prohibited all nonprofits from doing anything that would support or hinder a

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candidate for elective office. (For purposes of this article, I will use the prior sentence as the definition of “political activity.�) This amendment was added at the last minute without any discussion or hearings. Since 1954, the Internal Revenue Service has struggled with enforcing this provision. The courts only report a single case where a church lost its tax exemption due to political activity. Yet many professionals have advised churches to avoid any activity that could be interpreted as prohibited political activity. After the 2004 elections, the IRS attempted to open exams of several churches and other nonprofit organizations that allegedly engaged in

political activity. When those organizations strongly resisted any attempts to examine their alleged political activity, the IRS quietly closed their inquiries rather than engage in a very public fight over those activities.

Evaluating with Scripture In recent years, ministers and their churches believe that political issues and candidates for elected office need to evaluated in light of scriptural truth and historical church teachings. However, if the minister offered such a biblical evaluation to his church, the church could lose its tax exempt status. Some ministers claim that this amounts to government censorship of the Gospel. In 2008 the Alliance Defense Fund started the Pulpit Initiative to encourage pastors to speak freely from their pulpit about social, moral, Biblical and political issues. The Pulpit Initiative ministers received training regarding the application of the political activity restriction in their church and their rights of free speech under the First Amendment to the Constitution. The Alliance Defense Fund believes that the restriction on political activity is unconstitutional because it violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. On a Sunday chosen in October, the ministers will address social, moral, biblical and political issues as part of their sermons. They record those sermons to preserve their “free speech.” The Pulpit Initiative highlights the issue of whether the political activity restriction is constitutional. The IRS has remained silent despite the fact that the Alliance Defense Fund heavily publicizes the number of churches that have chosen to participate in the Pulpit Initiative. Though the IRS started the examination of one church that was part of the Pulpit Initiative, it quietly closed the file without explanation.

At that time, the IRS selected the Chief of Examinations, Exempt Organizations Division, as its official to approve church examinations. Living Word Christian Center, Minneapolis, MN, challenged the IRS saying that the Chief of Examinations was not a high enough IRS official to approve the examination. United States District Court agreed with the church and dismissed the attempted examination. Since that court decision, IRS has not opened a single church examination. Later in 2009, the IRS proposed new regulations authorizing the Commissioner of Exempt Organizations to approve church examinations. However, many criticized the proposed regulation because it was still not a high enough official. The Regional Commissioner was one organizational level below the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The Commissioner of Exempt Organizations is four organizational levels below the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. Until final regulations are effective, the initiation of any church examination can be challenged unless it was approved by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. To date, he has declined to approve any church examinations. CE Frank Sommerville, JD, CPA is a shareholder with the law firm of Weycer, Kaplan, Pulaski & Zuber, P.C., Arlington, TX. [ ]

Basis for selection In general, the IRS will not select a church for examination simply because the church asked to be examined. The IRS will not select the church for examination simply because the apparent violation of the law is blatant and flagrant. The IRS will select nonprofit organizations for examination solely on its internal, secret criteria. No amount of publicity by the Alliance Defense Fund will cause the IRS to openly challenge the Pulpit Initiative. The IRS has an additional problem. In 2009 a United States District Court in Minnesota ruled that the IRS was violating the Church Audit Act when it changed its internal procedures in approving the opening of church examinations. The Church Audit Act, codified at section 7611 of the Internal Revenue Code, requires that all church examinations be approved by the Regional Commissioner of Internal Revenue Service. When the IRS reorganized in 1998, it eliminated the position of Regional Commissioner.

03/2012 | Church executive | 29

BeinG huMBle is one of the most

critical traits of a

GreAt leAder

leaders at the very top fail to realize that no one else in the organization can do what they do in maintaining a cohesive team. When church administrators work at building their team or merely conduct a meeting they must “compel the process,” says management consultant Patrick Lencioni, and when it doesn’t happen it is more often because “they have a misplaced sense of humility.” Lencioni, president of the table Group that specializes in organizational health and executive team development, is a favorite speaker at church conferences. he has authored nine books with more than three million copies sold, and the latest one is The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business (Jossey-Bass, 2012). Church Executive asked Lencioni to apply the advice in his book to pastors and executive pastors of churches as well as to companies: we don’t hear much about humility in business? Being humble is one of the most critical things a great

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By rONALD e. KeeNer

leader must be. But being humble means that leaders know that they are not more important than the people they lead. they are servant leaders. however, even servant leaders need to understand that their words and actions are, in fact, more impactful than those of others. When they fail to recognize this, regardless of the rationale, they often hesitate to stand up and take responsibility for what they are uniquely qualified to do. What they must do is simultaneously embrace their humility and their role to get out front and be a public leader. where do leaders go wrong, mostly, whether in the corporate or church setting? too many leaders delegate responsibility for building a healthy organization. in a world of participatory management and shared responsibility, leaders at the very top of an organization sometimes fail to realize that no one else

in the organization can do what they do in terms of maintaining a cohesive team, and creating, communicating and reinforcing clarity. in almost every other aspect of running an organization, the leader can delegate. But in building a healthy organization, which is the most central of all responsibilities, the leader must keep his or her hands on the wheel. you note that “being the leader of a healthy organization, more than anything, is just plain hard.” what few things, of behavior or preparation, can lighten the load for the already overburdened pastor? the most effective and important behavior of any leader who wants to avoid the exhaustion and frustration of being overburdened – and certainly this applies in a big way to a pastor – is vulnerability. What i mean is that the leader must be completely naked with his team about his faults, mistakes and shortcomings. As painful as that might seem, it is extraordinarily liberating and the only way i know for a leader to build lasting trust and credibility with followers. During difficult times, this, more than anything else, pulls people together and makes the burdensome job of a pastor possible. they don’t have to pretend they’re something they’re not, and they can share the load with others who now see them a human being, not a perfect person. when the senior pastor or executive pastor gathers department heads around the table for the weekly “staff meeting,” what dynamics should he expect, avoid, or encourage that can lead to a healthy congregation? A pastor should always be looking for and fostering healthy disagreement during meetings. When people aren’t disagreeing, there is a decent chance that they aren’t addressing issues that could become bigger over time. they should avoid people feeling pressure to agree with one another, especially with the pastor. “no action, activity or process is more central to a healthy organization than the meeting,” you write. why such trust in that “m word”? Briefly, meetings are the most important activity of a healthy organization because that is where teams live, and where they make decisions. if the decision-making process in an organization is broken, the organization will be broken too. So why do most of us see meetings, especially staff meetings, as “a form of corporate penance, something that is inevitable and must be endured,” in your words? what is it that we do wrong? i think we’ve just given up on meetings and decided they are a necessary evil. Most of us have had so few encounters with great meetings that we’ve decided there must be something inherent about meetings that makes them dreadful, boring, tedious, and wasteful. the fact is, meetings should be the most compelling parts of our days, and they are probably the greatest artifact of a healthy organization. this is especially problematic in churches

and parachurch organizations, where meetings tend to be extremely “nice” and therefore, boring. One of the biggest factors that make a meeting effective is keeping people interested in what is going on, and the greatest way to do that is to ensure that people are engaging in conflict. Not mean-spirited, interpersonal conflict, but productive, respectful, passionate disagreement about what is important. if people disagree on the best way to do that, shouldn’t they enter the fray with one another and “have it out”? the truth is, they usually don’t because they think that disagreeing isn’t being “nice,” and that isn’t Christian. Loving someone enough to disagree about something important is completely Christian, as long as it is done with genuine love. So what is the meaning of your title, The Advantage, when it comes to organizational health? the best way to read the title is to put an emphasis on the first word, “the.” What i mean is that i believe that organizational health is the most important and impactful advantage that any organization can have. in a world where people have come to believe that technology, finance and strategy are what make organizations great, it’s actually the ability to eliminate politics and confusion, and get people rowing in the same direction, that create the greatest competitive differentiator and advantage. CE

03/2012 | ChurCh exeCutive | 31


watching the

funds? Embezzlement happens far too often, as churches are naturally trusting.


By Eric Spacek

While a church’s ministry often refers to its worship services, activities and community outreach programs, protecting your financial resources also is an important part of the organization’s mission. Financial collections are vital to keeping the various programs running. Unfortunately, it is all too common to have a trusted church member admit to embezzling from the funds they were asked to safeguard.

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Recently, the treasurer for a church in Connecticut was charged with embezzling nearly $300,000 over a fiveyear period. This church member had access to all of the church’s accounts and engaged in more than 100 thefts of church funds during this time period. Sadly, this type of theft happens far too often, as churches are naturally trusting. However, every church has the stewardship responsibility of protecting the money that

is given by its members. The best way to ensure your finances are secure is to have a financial policy in place. The policy should address procedures for handling funds from the time collections are taken until the money is disbursed. Having such a policy is likely to help deter individuals from embezzling.

Handling the collection The weekly collection is a large part of the church’s financial resources. Often, ushers play a key role in this process, and they should be trained on how to safeguard the money during and after it’s taken. It cannot be stressed enough that the two unrelated person rule should always be followed when handling funds. This means from the time it is collected to the time it is deposited, at least two people who are unrelated should be in the presence of the collection to help deter any temptations. Some churches choose to count collections the same day, while others count the following day. Either way, collections should remain in a locked room and/or safe until it’s time for counting. When transferring funds to the bank, a nondescript bag should be used, and taking varying routes to the bank is suggested. A team of people should count the collection, and these teams should rotate weekly or monthly to help hold everyone accountable. Figures should be double-checked, and a deposit slip completed. Never allow collections to be taken home. Before anyone is allowed to handle funds for your congregation, they should undergo a background and financial reference check. At a minimum, those with high integrity should be selected. All persons privy to contributions should have the ability to be discreet with this sensitive information.

Keeping accountability In order to maintain a checks and balance system, and hold everyone handling funds accountable, it is important to utilize internal >>

WHY CHURCHES NEED FINANCIAL CONTROLS • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported in October that an Adairsville couple were jailed for allegedly stealing more than $88,000 from Noonday Baptist Church. The woman opened a joint account with the man, funded by 51 checks written by the woman on the church’s account. • A Visalia, CA woman pleaded guilty to 13 counts of felony embezzlement and money laundering with special allegations in connection with the ongoing theft of more than $2 million from Visalia First Assembly of God Church, where the woman was employed as a bookkeeper. The thefts occurred over the course of seven years. • A former Rogersville, AR, church treasurer was sentenced to eight years of house arrest and ordered to pay $75,000 in restitution for embezzling funds over a three year period from Bridge Baptist Church. She was the treasurer and secretary for the church, and cashed about 100 church checks for herself and stole from the offerings. • A man convicted of conspiring with his mother to steal $1.5 million from First Baptist Church in Morristown, TN, was sentenced in October to just over four years in prison. His mother was financial secretary at the church for 46 years, and confessed to writing more than 1,600 checks to herself from the church’s general checking account 03/2012 | Church executive | 33

dures. these special accounts should be audited periodically on an unannounced basis.

Regular auditing and reporting

financial controls. Consider separating duties between the counting team, treasurer, and financial secretary so that no one person has control over the church’s financial processes. Such controls could include making sure that the person who prepares the checks does not have the authority to sign them as well. those with check-signing authority should not have access to blank checks. A person uninvolved in counting and depositing the monies should review unopened bank statements. Also, consider requiring dual signatures for all checks over a specified dollar amount. Many churches utilize a pastor’s discretionary or benevolent fund, which allows the minister to address cases of special financial need within the congregation. however, if not set up correctly, there can be income tax implications to the pastor with this type of account, so consult your tax advisor on how to do this properly. these funds also should be monitored by establishing a monetary account limit, requiring documentation of all expenses, prohibiting cash gifts, requiring bank account reconciliation, and performing a periodic audit. With all of the activities that take place in a church, outside of the regular Sunday service, there are often special funds and accounts held by different groups. this includes ongoing programs, as well as one-time events. every effort should be made to safeguard these funds and accounts as well. Monies should never be taken directly from a collection and given to an individual or ministry group. they should be counted, deposited and disbursed according to the church’s regular financial proce-

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regular audits should be performed on your accounts by a certified public accountant (CPA). While annual audits are recommended, some churches opt to have a formal audit undertaken every two to three years, with a lesser financial review conducted by a person uninvolved with the church’s finances in the intervening years. A church member who is a CPA or who has a strong financial background is a good candidate for such financial reviews. Financial reporting also is necessary. As part of their responsibilities, church board or finance committee members should regularly review the church’s financial reports. it also is recommended that, at a minimum, summary financial reports be regularly provided or made available to the congregation. While you hope it never happens, if an accusation or suspicion of embezzlement is reported, it is important to act promptly and with care. Consultation with the church’s legal advisor and insurance company is recommended. they will likely suggest an immediate investigation with the assistance of a forensic accountant to quantify the loss and make sure that records are preserved. if the suspected embezzler remains involved in church finances, a suspension of their duties while the investigation is ongoing is advisable. With information in hand and in consultation with the church’s legal advisor, in most cases the suspected embezzler should be asked for a full account of the situation. if investigation or a confession point to guilt, church leaders must then decide on a course of action – whether to turn the matter over to the police or handle it internally. there are important considerations for either course of action, so church leaders should proceed with the guidance of their expert advisors, always bearing in mind their stewardship responsibility on behalf of the congregation. By ensuring the above elements are in place, the chances of robbery or embezzlement can be reduced. Not only have church leaders been called to take care of and lead the people of their congregations, but they also are responsible as stewards for the finances that keep the church’s various ministries alive. CE Eric Spacek is senior risk manager at GuideOne Insurance, West Des Moines, IA, and has been a liability litigation trial attorney. [ ]


might not own their


the website designer you hired may own the materials used and use them again with the church down the street.

WORk-fOR-HIRe DIStINctIONS Under the copyright “work-for-hire� doctrine, works created by an independent contractor belong to the contractor absent an agreement to the contrary. Works created by employees of an organization automatically belong to the employer. If it is unclear whether a person is an employee or a contractor (for example, a temporary worker or someone hired only for a specific project), the safest course is always to get a contract before starting the work.

By KeNNeth Liu

think you own the new website that you just paid a vendor to create? Consider the following scenario. First Baptist Church hires a Web developer to create a new website. the developer designs a website with a new contemporary look that the church is proud of, complete with great graphics and content. A few months later, the church sees that the new website of trinity Christian Church in the next town over has much of the same graphics, artwork, and even some of the same text and other content. First Baptist discovers that trinity hired the same developer to create its website, and the developer simply re-used much of the same stock material. Was the developer permitted to do so? if First Baptist did not enter into a contract giving ownership of the website content to First Baptist, the developer was fully within his rights to reuse the same materials. Many organizations are surprised to learn they may not own a website or other projects that they hired someone to create, even though they paid for it. >>

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Under U.S. copyright law, an independent contractor who creates a work is, by default, the owner of that work, regardless of who pays for the work. This is true not only for websites, but for all types of creative works, including software, videos, music, artwork, graphics, photos, publications, brochures, and the like.

Before or after In order for the copyright in a work to be owned by the hiring organization, it must either (1) enter into a “work-forhire” agreement with the creator prior to the creation of the work or (2) the contractor must assign (transfer) the rights in the work to the hiring organization. Unlike a “workfor-hire,” an assignment can be executed before or after a work is created. If a hiring organization has neither a work-for-hire agreement or assignment of a copyright, the creator owns and is free to re-use the content. At most, the hiring organization may have only a non-exclusive right to use the work. (Note: “Works-for-hire” agreements are applicable only to certain types of works listed in the U.S. Copyright Act, such as audiovisual works, collective works, and compilations.) Sometimes contractors are reluctant to give ownership of materials to a hiring organization, particularly when they have stock material that required significant effort to create. This happens frequently with software components. Often in these situations, it may not be necessary for a church to obtain ownership of the material as long as the church has the right to use it for the desired purposes. It is wise, however, to ascertain ownership before hiring a contractor so that it is clear which materials will be owned by whom, and the price and terms of the work can be negotiated accordingly. A church may wish to obtain a better price for a work when it knows it will not own certain elements of a project (or the entire project). If a church does not acquire ownership of a project, it will not have the right to reuse the materials for other purposes, unless explicitly stated in an agreement. For instance, without ownership granted from a contractor, a church may be prohibited from using the graphics and artistic theme created for a website in other ways, such as on printed brochures or newsletters. A church wishing to use contractor-owned materials for other purposes would need to obtain a license from the contractor. Failure to do so could result in copyright infringement.

Use an agreement Churches and ministries can safeguard their interests in copyrighted material by entering into a written agreement. The larger the project, the more critical it is to have a formal agreement. If the contractor supplies his own agreement, it would be prudent to have it reviewed by an attorney experienced in such matters. Consider the following recommendations before engaging an independent contractor:

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1. Enter into an agreement before starting a project. Although work can be assigned to the hiring organization later, it is wise to enter into an agreement before a project is started and before any money is paid. Generally, the hiring organization has more leverage for negotiating the terms before work is started, and it is always better to have agreed upon terms before disputes arise. One of the key purposes of a contractor agreement is to define the scope of work: What are the contractor’s specific obligations? What end products will be delivered? When will each stage be completed? 2. Delineate the rights of each party. If the hiring organization will not own all intellectual property rights in a project, it is crucial to define what rights will be retained by the contractor and what will be granted to the hiring organization. For those rights that will merely be licensed to the hiring organization, the agreement should clearly define the scope of the license, including the term of the license and the specific items on which can the hiring organization use the materials. The larger the project, the more important it is to clearly define the rights. 3. Be sure works are original to the contractor. Obviously, a contractor cannot assign rights to materials he or she does not own. Be sure that an agreement with a contractor includes a warranty that all works created are original works. If a contractor uses materials from other third parties (such as a stock photo agency), the contractor should be responsible for obtaining all the rights allowing the hiring organization to use the materials for the purposes intended under the agreement. No church wants to receive a copyright infringement claim from someone whose work was “borrowed” by a contractor without permission. 4. Get an agreement, even with a friend or a volunteer. Churches may often use the services of a church member (or a member’s friend or relative) who designs websites or other works on the side. The church may have a good relationship with this person at the outset, but unfortunately relationships sometimes sour. Although it may be awkward to ask for a written agreement from a volunteer or to work out details of ownership with a contractor, an agreement can prevent later confusion and frustration. A written agreement protects both parties by defining the scope of each party’s rights. For small projects, an agreement does not need to be a lengthy formal contract. Even a short email agreement in which the designer assigns to the church all rights in the works he or she creates is better than no agreement at all. Having a written agreement allows you to be sure you are getting what you pay for, or at least know what you are getting for your money. CE Kenneth Liu is a partner in the Intellectual Property and Internet practice group of Gammon & Grange, P.C., a law firm in McLean, VA. [ ]

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