Church Executive Digital Edition May/June 2014

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MAY/JUNE | 2014 m a g a z i n e

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COV ER S TO RY THE CE INTERVIEW By Rez Gopez-Sindac From hotel management to church leadership, 41-year-old Chris Gunnare proves that when it comes to running a successful operation, never underestimate the power of customer care. In 2005, and at the peak of his career as a hotel developer, Gunnare decided to serve full-time at Lutheran Church of Hope — bringing with him a passionate perspective on five-star service.


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FE AT U RES LEARNING BY HEART More and more church leaders are discovering how (surprisingly) personal online education can be. By RaeAnn Slaybaugh



WANT THE BEST LOAN RATE? 3 market changes to consider By Therese DeGroot

24 25 NEED AN ACOUSTICAL INTERVENTION? By Nick Colleran and Jim DeGrandis By Art Noxon


Positioning your church as a solid lending prospect starts today. By John Berardino




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3 students share their experiences — and what you can expect.




PASTOR-FRIENDLY A/V UPGRADE! 49 How one church (successfully) updated its technology and improved the worship experience. By Adam C. Henderson

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









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Publisher / Editor in Chief Steve Kane, ext. 205 Group Publisher Sali Williams, ext. 209 Editor RaeAnn Slaybaugh, ext. 204

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Rez Gopez-Sindac

EDITORIAL ADVISORY PANEL Stephen Briggs Associate Pastor of Administration First Baptist Church | Hendersonville, NC Denise Craig Chief Financial Officer Abba’s House | Hixson, TN David Kennedy CEO | San Marcos, CA 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 Executive Pastor Pathways Church | Denver, 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 13, No. 3


4742 North 24th Street, Suite 340 Phoenix, AZ  85016 | 800.541.2670

Accountant Fred Valdez Church Executive (Copyright 2013), Volume 13, Issue 3. Church Executive is published monthly by Power Trade Media LLC, a subsidiary of Friendship Publications Inc., 4742 N. 24th Street, Ste. 340, Phoenix, AZ 85016. Subscription Rates: United States and Mexico $39 (USD) one year, Canada $42 (USD) one year (GST) included, all other countries $75 one year, single issue United States $5 (USD), all other countries $6 (USD). Reprints: All articles in Church Executive are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express written permission of the publisher. For reprints of 100 or more, contact Valerie Valtierra at (602) 265-7600 ext. 203. ™

Copyright 2013 by Power Trade Media, LLC. No advertisement or description or reference to a product or service will be deemed as an endorsement, and no warranty is made or implied by Power Trade Media, LLC. Information is obtained from sources the editors believe reliable, accurate and timely, but no warranty is made or implied, and Power Trade Media, LLC is not responsible for errors or omissions.

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VIRTUALLY UNKNOWN “In my experience as a student, degrees that are offered in humanities and other areas that involve personal reading and reflection are best suited for the online education format,” Koshy says. “I believe that after getting some good foundations in place, self-directed education is possible — particularly for higher degrees in these fields.” Another student for whom online education made the most sense is Stan Zerkowski, director of stewardship and development at Historic Saint Paul Church in Lexington, KY, and a Villanova University online student. “Instructors became mentors, confidants and colleagues,” he says. “Initial questions regarding how interaction and relationship-building would be accomplished faded quickly.” The same was true for Carolynn Thompson, director of budget / financial liaison for Parishes and Schools, Diocese of Camden in Camden, NJ. The first time she logged in to her online Villanova University classroom, she panicked — mainly about technical glitches and not being able to gauge the other students’ reactions in person. But even more concerning, for Thompson, was her 28-year departure from continuing education. “I was one month shy of my 50th birthday when I started the Masters in Church Management program,” she recalls. After the first week, those fears disappeared. “It became very easy to imagine what was happening on the other end of that microphone,” she says. “It was like a gift from God to be able to pursue this opportunity, and to do it from any room in my home.” Ministry Program at Regent University’s School of Divinity. As Flynn explains, digital technology and the advent of the Internet means people can just as easily communicate with someone on the other side of the world as they can with their next-door neighbors. And, information is no longer bound by time and space to library shelves in certain locations; it’s now available, online, to anybody with a smart phone and an Internet connection. “Because of digital technology, this generation doesn’t think of relationships the same way,” he says. “They’re adapting as have past generations to reading letters on a page rather than hearing a human voice, or talking over a telephone and hearing a human voice without seeing the person. “Yet — like their predecessors — they still create and maintain relationships.”

For church executives who are considering continuing education, the value of relationships can’t be overestimated — not only between them and those to whom they minster, but also with their educators. And herein lies the biggest question many potential students have about an online study model: Can it truly be as personal as in-class coursework? It’s a concern borne of necessity; after all, leaving a full-time church post to dive headfirst into an on-campus program isn’t a viable option for everyone. Nor, as it turns out, does it need to be. Take, for example, Samuel T. Koshy, a chaplain and Director of Student Life and Ministry at the Centre for Global Leadership Development in Bangalore, India. Koshy didn’t want to leave his ministry context and family for a protracted period of time, so he’s pursuing his D. Min. from Regent University online. To date, Koshy has completed two semesters of the required coursework. Three of four classes were taken online, from Bangalore. The fourth was a “hybrid” — though it included a week of a modular residency, he and his cohorts interacted outside of class via blogs and through a closed group on Facebook.

Learn more (not surprisingly!) online The three online students — Koshy, Zerkowski and Thompson — have a lot more to say in Considering online education?, on page 20. (While you’re there, check out All things being equal … .) And, you’ll want to read Learning by heart on page 16. Because we know how critical a lifelong-learner mentality is for effective church leadership, we’ll keep a continuing-education focus in upcoming issues, as well as in a dedicated digital supplement in November. All the best to you and to your ministry,

Old story, new era Of course, a meaningful relationship takes two people: Educators are likewise embracing the digital learning platform. Among them is James Flynn, Ph.D., associate professor of practical theology and director of the Doctor of TALK TO ME: Email: Facebook: ChurchExecutiveMagazine Twitter:

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CHRIS GUNNARE Chief Operation Officer | Lutheran Church of Hope | West Des Moines, IA


Although Gunnare’s first visit at Hope in 2000 was less than spectacular — the line was long; the parking lot was full; he and his family watched the service on a small TV from an overflow room — he says that by the end of the service, he knew they had found a church home. And like many church leaders who made the leap of faith from the corporate world to full-time ministry, Gunnare took a significant pay cut — about 300 percent. He says, “It’s a good thing I had been listening in church and realized that money wasn’t the most important thing!” How did your background and training in the hospitality industry prepare you for your current role at Hope? My work experience was based on service and guest experience. One of my roles at Hope is to make sure we do everything we can to make the guest experience as positive as possible. Also, growing up, my parents taught me to work hard, help others — especially the less fortunate — and always strive to finish strong. These skills have been invaluable to me in doing the hard work of ministry. I’ve never worked harder in my life, but I’ve also never been so excited to go to work. There’s nothing better than ministry on the front lines, because we get the chance to see God change people’s lives. Over the last six years, I’ve had the privilege of mentoring 20 different guys who’ve made the transition from successful business leaders in the secular world, to the role of executive pastor. I pray this opportunity will shorten their learning curve and provide them a resource when they feel alone or confused. For those churches considering adding an executive pastor, I can tell you that I’ve seen it bless many churches. These leaders come with a wealth of knowledge and experience that isn’t taught in seminary. Combine that with a love for Christ and a passion and desire to serve their church, and good things are bound to happen! As a former hotel executive, you know what excellent customer service looks like. Was it difficult to get Hope on board with the concept of a five-star service? Actually, it was pretty easy. One of the first things my senior pastor shared with me was some studies about how the first 10 minutes has the most impact on whether a guest will return to your church a second (third or fourth) time. Ironically, I knew this from the restaurant and hotel industry — and was shocked that it holds true in ministry as well (though now it makes perfect sense, as both the church and the restaurant

From hotel management to church leadership, 41-yearold Chris Gunnare proves that when it comes to running a successful operation, never underestimate the power of customer care. In 2005, and at the peak of his career as a hotel developer, Gunnare decided to serve full-time at Lutheran Church of Hope — bringing with him a on passionate five-star perspective service.

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QUICK FACTS LUTHERAN CHURCH OF HOPE Year established: 1993 Denomination: ELCA Number of full-time staff: 42 Yearly budget: $12.5 million Number of locations: 4, plus an online campus Combined weekly attendance: 10,049

industry are after the same “customer”). Studies also prove that as people come back to your church, the likelihood they will later become associated with your church also increases. The reason for wanting them to come back isn’t for growth or to increase our attendance numbers; it’s so they can have the opportunity to experience the love and salvation that’s found through the Gospel. What’s the impact of good customer care on Hope?

ONLY IN OUR DIGITAL ISSUE! From aligning resources with mission, vision and values, to balancing outreach with member retention, Chris Gunnare — as COO of a megachurch — knows a thing or two about tackling operational challenges. Find out his three toughest demands, and how he tackles them. [] We have an amazing worship team and talented preachers who work together to create an excellent worship experience. But, it’s the warm hospitality that most people mention first when asked why they decided to worship at Hope. Our hospitality team really strives to exceed the expectations of our guests. However, hospitality can’t just be from those serving as greeters, ushers or the parking team. It should come from the entire congregation. We ask all those who serve to be “secret greeters” on their off weekend, when they’re not serving. So at any given service, we have about 150 people (who aren’t wearing nametags) looking around the parking lot, lobby, atrium, fellowship hall and Worship Center for people who are new or have questions. They reach out to these folks, welcome them to Hope and start a conversation with them that usually leads to a question or the beginning of a friendship. Regardless, it goes a long way in making the guest feel welcome. What are some of the practical ways Hope >>

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THE CE INTERVIEW wows its guests? First impressions are important, so every detail matters. Landscaping, condition of parking lot and signage are just a few of the things many churches overlook. Once the guests arrive, it all starts in the parking lot. Each car arriving is met with a friendly smile from a parking volunteer. For those who parked a little farther away or in one of our overflow lots, we have electric shuttles that But, because we have secret greeters, we’re able to provide another level of support as these greeters have time to walk them where they need to go. This level of service is what I hear most often from new members and guests when they explain their first experiences with Hope. We also have greeters in the Worship Center who welcome our guests and help them find a seat. After the service, we make sure we thank our guests for coming and we stay around to help answer their questions and get them connected. Then, as they leave, the shuttle is waiting at the front door to take them back to their car. What advice might you want to give to hardworking executive pastors out there? 1) Have some trusted people within your church (staff or church member) who can speak truth to you. People who know you well enough to just grab you by the collar and say, “Go home” or “When was the last time you took a day off?” Those type of questions. 2) Have people you can talk to about the stress of ministry outside of the church. I have a number of people I can reach out to when I’m struggling with something — many of them in similar roles at other churches. It’s wise to pick up the phone and have honest conversations with trusted people outside your church community who know what you’re going through and are willing to just listen and be there for you. 3) Your staff isn’t perfect, and your pastor isn’t perfect, either. This may shock you because you came to work at a church — but even though they’re great people, they’re still human! The great thing is, you can all serve alongside one another for the greater good … together! 4) Before you joined the staff, the church was a place of solitude for you. When you start working for the church, you may find it’s now hard to worship there, because you might feel like you’re never off duty. You could lose that place of solitude and feel like working for the church took that place away. How do you see Lutheran Church of Hope growing even more in the future? We understand that Hope’s past growth and future growth depends on our ability to rely on the Holy Spirit to help guide us to do the things we’re called to do. We’ll continue to network with other churches, nonprofits and for-profit organizations that provide five-star (or even sixstar) service. There’s no such thing as status quo. We’re either working to improve, or we’re falling behind. Our goal as a church has never been to reach “X” number of people, but instead to reach all. Therefore, until everyone knows and accepts that Jesus Christ is their Lord and Savior, we still have work to do — and we have to find unique and crazy ways to reach them! >>

Easter worship service at Lutheran Church of Hope

Five-star shuttle service from the parking lot to the church’s front door

bring guests from their cars to the church’s front door, with a friendly greeting and warm welcome from the volunteer driver. For those passing up on the shuttle ride and choosing to walk, there’s a positive buzz and excitement as they walk in the lot to the building. It’s amazing to watch people connect as they walk in together. As they get to the front door, they’re met with smiles and handshakes from our greeters. The greeters welcome the guests and offer assistance to those looking for some information. We’ve found over the years that many will pass this first layer of help, but then when they get about 10 to 15 feet into the building, they stop and stare, like, “Now, where do I go?”

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MY 3 TOUGHEST DEMANDS As COO of a megachurch, Chris Gunnare knows a thing or two about tackling operational challenges. What are your three toughest operational challenges as COO of a megachurch? 1) Ensuring that our resources (financial, staff, facility and volunteers) are properly aligned with the mission, vision and values of the church. This is especially hard when we have to make hard decisions to reduce certain areas of ministry so we can start a new one or add to others. 2) Developing a staff culture that allows us to maximize our impact on our community as well as the world around us. 3) Keeping the best interest of those we’re trying to reach, versus pleasing those who are already with us. Many churches get comfortable with what they’re doing, because it pleases those who are already there. But, if we’re called to reach out, then we have to look at our community and see who is not being reached by the Gospel. In the secular world, if we lose a customer, we could find others to help us reach our goal. In ministry, every person we miss (or don’t reach), the consequence could be eternal. That’s a heavy price for failure! How do you deal with these challenges? 1) Submit to the Lord in prayer and study His word. Ask boldly for His wisdom, support and protection. 2) Balance. You’ll never get everything done, no matter how many hours you work. While this is an area where I still rely on friends to hold me accountable, we’re so much better for our church and our ministry when we take time to breathe, be with family and friends, and get away. 3) Surround myself with smart people. At Hope I’m blessed to work for a great senior leadership team. I also have a great team of ministry leaders, both paid and unpaid, that fights the good fight and makes a difference on this side of heaven. 4) Prioritize my schedule based on what will bring the biggest return. This can be tricky, though, because oftentimes, spending time in an area that isn’t broken can result in better return on time and talent than working on an area or project that isn’t clicking on all cylinders. 5) Determine what metrics are important, and monitor them often. Evaluate changes (both good and bad) to see if we can identify the reason for the change. Catching this early gives us the opportunity to make adjustments as needed. 6) Open and consistent communication with our senior leadership team, the ministry leaders, the entire staff, volunteer leaders, volunteers and the congregation. We’ve found that open and honest communication is the best way to build trust and respect. Also, it helps prevent people from making wrong assumptions about why we’re doing some things, but not doing others. 7) Full transparency of all things financial. I also serve as the chief financial officer. It’s a huge honor and responsibility to help allocate how to best spend the offering dollars of our congregation. We take great pride in ensuring we maximize every dollar we spend, and that every expense is necessary. People trust us to use their money to expand God’s kingdom.

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TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS church regularly. This is partly because families are more mobile than ever — for work, recreation or kids’ activities. Given a lack of consistent attendance, having an online giving system is critical. Offering your donors giving options online gives them the flexibility they need while still allowing them to give. Recurring donation capabilities, credit and debit card choices and electronic check capabilities meet donors where they’re at, individually, and gives them options they want to use. 2) Technology has changed the game. Technology has changed people’s behaviors — even the ways they worship and receive the Word. Members no longer have to physically attend to engage in a worship service; with widespread live-streaming, many now choose to worship from the comfort of their own homes, at coffee shops or even on the road. The same thing is true of electronic payments. From tithing, to paying bills, to buying movie tickets, technology has given us the freedom to pay for anything online with a few clicks of a button. Having a user-friendly online giving system works the same way, and it’s simply an extension of what donors are already doing online. If you haven’t made it easy for donors to give to your organization online, you run the risk of losing them to others who have. 3) Electronic giving gets results. Providing a customdesigned, easy-to-use experience and flexible giving options will drive generosity in ways you never expected. An online giving page allows anyone who has access to your website the opportunity to give on the spot, without having to write and mail a check. Donors across the country — or even across the world — who don’t attend your church might be motivated to give electronically. Let them! Additionally, our research shows online donors are more generous, with average online donations coming in at $120 compared to $80 offline. And the results aren’t just on the donor side: Church staff will experience a reduction in personal time it takes to make trips to the bank, manually enter donor data into a management system, and reconcile transactions. Automated functionality easily ties transactions to bank deposits and donor information, making reconciliation and reporting a breeze.

3 reasons to offer online giving BY RACHEL McCALL Cash and checks are quickly becoming a thing of the past as younger generations push to use debit and credit cards — a result of more online and mobile interactions. It’s no wonder, then, that more and more churches are contemplating online giving. Recently, NonProfit Times reported that churches and faith-based groups experienced an increase of more than 16 percent in online giving last year. And, that figure continues to rise. While the topic of whether or not to embrace online giving can be an uncomfortable one, it can (and should) be an essential piece of your ministry outreach today. Here’s why. 1) Online giving works around any schedule. Fifty years ago, church attendance was much more consistent. David Olson, author of The American Church in Crisis study, estimates that less than 18 percent of members now attend

A win-win proposition We’re passionate about online giving because we see the results a quality giving solution can bring to churches every day. It provides a built-in channel to better tell a church’s story, mission and how it’s impacting lives in a way that’s inspiring. Communicate with your donors about online giving. They’ll soon see how their generosity is moving to grow the Kingdom, and be left striving to do more. Rachel McCall is Marketing & Communications Specialist at MinistryLINQ, a Division of The CashLINQ Group, in Spokane, WA. []

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Learning by heart More and more church leaders are discovering how (surprisingly) personal online education can be. BY RAEANN SLAYBAUGH At Regent University’s School of Divinity in Virginia Beach, VA, the professors — including James Flynn, Ph.D. — prefer the term “digital education” to “online education.” As an associate professor of practical theology and director of the Doctor of Ministry Program, Flynn says “online” doesn’t fully describe the model offered to now-70 percent of students in the School of Divinity: a hybrid of on-campus, modular and distance learning. The trend toward digital education is also evident at Villanova University in Philadelphia. Chuck Zech, director of the Center for Church Management and Business Ethics, says its flexibility makes it an excellent option for students. “Good programs not only offer synchronous — or real-time — education, but also opportunities for asynchronous learning,” he points out.

Designed for entrepreneurial types … While Flynn and Zech agree that digital education students tend to be more comfortable with technology than their counterparts, this is where the commonalities end for Zech. “Otherwise, these students are as dissimilar as any setting of graduate students who share the same discipline,” he says. Flynn, on the other hand, sees clear differentiations among digital students. “Ultimately, witness and evangelism come down to being able to penetrate a culture and its people and to speak their language,” he explains. “People with a more innovative or entrepreneurial approach to ministry realize they must help people listen to the gospel to the best of their ability. This generation speaks and thinks in a digital way.”

… But also great for introverts! Surprisingly, a digital education platform also lends itself well to more introverted students. Zech explains why. “In my on-campus lecture classes, when I throw out a question, the responses usually come from the fastest thinkers — although not necessarily the most thoughtful,” he says. “Introverts can get left behind. And we’ve all had experiences with live discussions where we think to ourselves, ‘Gee, I wish I’d thought of saying [XYZ].’” On the contrary, giving students a day or two to respond has invariably elicited more thoughtful and more thoughtprovoking answers — particularly from introverted individuals.

Ministry, (un)interrupted As Zech points out, a digital education platform is gaining particular favor among pastors and church workers who can’t take time off from their ministry to attend live class sessions. “The fact that they often work irregular hours (evening meetings and weekends) makes the flexibility even more attractive.” Flynn agrees. “For many of our students, it’s very important to stay connected to their churches or church networks, and not break ties.”

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READER SNAPSHOT: More than 27% will invest in themselves — via continuing education — by this time next year. Source: “The Church Executive Reader Survey”

Real-time application Digital education allows students to immediately apply what they’re learning in class to their real-world church leadership roles — especially practical/applied theology, Flynn says. “This is where we take biblical principles, apply them to the real world, and do ministry with as much impact and fruitfulness as possible,” he explains. “It comes back to being able to stay in your context for ministry while pursuing your education. There’s no better way to learn.” Another class he teaches — sermon preparation — is entirely online. Students preach in their real-world contexts, videotape the sermons, and upload them for evaluation by their peer blogging groups. It’s a far cry from the same kind of training Zech received in seminary, himself. “We would sit in a classroom, learn about homiletics, and then have several opportunities to preach in a classroom setting, or maybe a chapel service,” he recalls. “Then, we’d go on our way thinking we knew how to preach.”

in their ministry context and culture; getting a chance to evaluate what they see; and receiving a professor’s formal feedback on their homiletics and rhetorical skills. A lot of learning is taking place. “There’s nothing like seeing one of your classmates in India, Singapore or Afghanistan preach,” he says. In fact, one of the most moving sermons done for his class was delivered under a camouflage covering in Iraq by a chaplain deployed overseas.

Face-to-face isn’t always “personal” Everyone has taken an in-person class which nearly (if not literally) put us to sleep. According to Flynn, this is because — even in a face-to-face environment — the instructor failed to create the “social presence” required for learning to be effective. Granted, in-person learning lends itself to social presence. But, he asserts its inherent advantages are far offset by the global (if virtual) relationships enabled by digital learning. “People’s perception of reality and what constitutes relationship is changing, so culture and its institutions are changing,” Flynn concludes. “Education will never be the same because of digital technology.” CE

Digital makes the world smaller In Zech’s experience, a class of about 30 usually includes students from all over the world. They’re preaching

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All things

being equal … BY AARON IMIG, ED.D. Equal credibility Another important question is, Will prospective employers consider an online degree to be as rigorous or valuable as a traditional onsite program? While fairly nebulous negative perceptions have circulated in the past (and in some situations were warranted), accrediting bodies and higher education institutions are making significant strides to uphold academic rigor. With the ever-increasing demands of accreditation and licensure, schools must continually demonstrate that each course and degree program is taught at or above a traditionally acceptable level. All this means graduates of online programs today can be confident they’ve earned a degree that is valued for the work they have done, and that is seen as just as substantive as a degree gained having sat in classroom after classroom.


Online education is worth considering for pastors and other church staff

Christian higher education — especially at the graduate level — is growing at an unprecedented pace. Colleges and universities are responding to the increasing number of students seeking higher education degrees by offering a variety of options. The most prevalent, now, is online education. Institutions continue developing online programs, or components of programs, at a rapid rate. Navigating the possibilities and opportunities has become increasingly difficult due to the sheer number of institutions offering online graduate programs. Then again, research in the past decade has shown that as online education programs grow, these programs increase in quality, accessibility and affordability — all of which benefit students.

Equal quality The most common question prospective students ask is, Will an online course offer the same quality as a traditional, face-to-face class? As with traditional courses, the success and quality of an online course is mostly dependent upon the qualifications and ability of the instructor. As well, the design of an online course has the most impact on the personalization and interconnectedness a student feels. Many technological options today make it easy for online instructors to create and nurture a community environment. Students in online settings have been shown to have similar test scores and overall course grades compared to students in traditional settings. Often, an instructor can pull in more resources and provide more connections to information and additional learning in an online setting than in a traditional setting. Students also are able to have exponentially more networking opportunities in a variety of areas and locations not available in a traditional class model. Additionally, students in online programs receive more individualization, communication, feedback and student-toteacher interaction than in traditional programs, all of which have a positive or very positive impact on performance. 18 | CHURCH EXECUTIVE | 05-06/2014

Lower cost The cost of online courses and programs can be extremely reasonable compared to traditional models. Too often, prospective students forget the added economic benefits of no time and no cost for transportation to and from school over against the actual seat time and waiting built into traditional settings. Online educational environments help students manage their personal resources on their own terms.

Everyday technology An increasingly smaller percentage of prospective students say they feel scared of the technology required for online classes. Typically, all one needs is access to the Internet and some basic programs. In searching for the right program, though, this a great question to ask sooner than later. A growing number of universities now offer a single iPad loaded with all the software, syllabi and textbooks the student will need to earn his or her degree. That makes life anything but complicated, let alone scary!

Flexible schedule A major advantage of online classes is that one can work on his or her own time. True, that leads to more procrastination by some students; many others thrive, however. After all, there still are traditional due dates and check points along the way. (Then again, if a student wants to sit in his or her pajamas and work on coursework at midnight, why not?) This opportunity to work at one’s own pace benefits a broad range of students. High-achieving students are able to progress through curriculum more quickly, avoiding the frustrations of unnecessary repetition and boredom. Conversely, struggling students are able to spend more

time on difficult concepts and progress without the distractions of a traditional classroom’s unrelenting pace.

The bottom line As Christian colleges and universities strive to meet the demands of an ever-growing graduate population, online programs will continue to be developed, expanded and promoted. Pursuing a degree in the online setting can be the best way to achieve an educational goal in a cost-effective manner while maximizing a busy life schedule. CE Aaron Imig, Ed.D., serves as assistant professor of education and director of graduate education at Corban University [], with campuses in Salem, OR and Tacoma, WA.

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CONSIDERING ONLINE EDUCATION? 3 students share their experiences — and what you can expect. BY RAEANN SLAYBAUGH


What factors were most important when you decided to pursue online continuing education? Zerkowski: Most important was the integrity of the program. Second, an eminently respected institution of higher education was imperative. Third, relative convenience was key. The hybrid program was convenient. Koshy: I didn’t want to leave my ministry context and family for a protracted period of time. I wanted to study in an institution that was Renewal-oriented and had courses that would help me in the area of spiritual formation. I searched for universities that were involved in online education and found that the School of Divinity at Regent was strong in the online delivery mode.

Thompson: Convenience and flexibility. I was a fulltime (commuter) undergrad student at Rutgers in Camden. One thing that always held me back from pursuing an advanced degree was how to accomplish it at the end of the work day. It was like a gift from God to be able to pursue this opportunity, and to do it from any room in my home. Did you have any misgivings about online education? Zerkowski: No; we built an amazingly tight community of learners / professionals via distance learning modes. Instructors became mentors, confidants and colleagues. Initial questions regarding how interaction and relation-

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ship-building would be accomplished faded quickly. Koshy: No; I was keen to continue ministering in my context (while studying). Thompson: Sure, I panicked the first time I logged into the classroom. Would I be able to hear the professor and other members of my cohort? Would they be able to hear me? Would I sound ridiculous on the microphone? I think many of my fears revolved around not being able to get back into the study mode. I was one month shy of my 50th birthday when I started

as beneficial and engaging as oncampus classes? Zerkowski: I found online education to be every bit as effective as any in-person format. I think online learning provided benefits that in-person learning doesn’t — the capacity to set a specific time in a professional schedule to learn, without interruption, and the capacity to interact with a far more diverse group of learners and faculty. The capacity for a far more diverse range of learners and faculty is one of the most beneficial aspects

the online mode and have found it to be extremely beneficial. Three out of the four courses I’ve taken so far have been online. The other course was hybrid, including a week of a modular residency; but, the bulk of the course work was done online from Bangalore. The way the courses were designed and facilitated, I was able to connect with fellow cohort members and glean from their experiences. We interacted with each other by engaging and responding to blogs written by other members of the

Carolynn Thompson, Director of Budget / Financial Liaison for Parishes and Schools, Diocese of Camden in Camden, NJ (Villanova University online student)

Stan Zerkowski, Director of Stewardship & Development, Historic Saint Paul Church (1865), Roman Catholic Diocese of Lexington, KY (Villanova University online student)

Samuel T. Koshy, Chaplain / Director of Student Life and Ministry, Centre for Global Leadership Development in Bangalore, India (Regent University online student)

the Masters in Church Management program at Villanova. I had been out of school for 28 years! I was concerned about my ability to comprehend and retain. Also, as a person who reacts to facial responses, the inability to see what others were thinking, or how they were reacting, was an unnerving experience at first. But, once we got through the first week of class, it became very easy to imagine what was happening on the other end of that microphone. Can online courses truly be

of online delivery. We had learners in Europe Hong Kong and throughout the U.S. interacting on a daily basis and sharing insights and experiences. The faculty was equally diverse; we enjoyed the benefit of those immersed in law and diocesan planning, as well as those immersed in academia at Villanova. The capacity to garner such a wealth of experience in facilitators was made possible by the “miracle” of technology. Koshy: Sure! I’ve already completed two semesters of the course work for my D. Min. program using

cohort. We also used a closed group on Facebook and built an online community of learners. Thompson: I do. I firmly believe that any course can be taught in an online setting. There needs to be a serious and dedicated commitment by the student, as well as the professor, to ensure that expectations are clearly defined and met on both sides of the equation. Given the chance, I would jump at the opportunity to do this all over again. CE

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How to be a good lending prospect now Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t all about “the numbers” for lenders. Leadership and process are equally important when contemplating the relationship opportunity. Whether your religious institution is contemplating an on-site physical expansion, the acquisition of a satellite facility, or seeking a beneficial refinance of existing debt, knowing how to prepare and approach a prospective lender is critical to securing the most advantageous offer. Initial exhibits and information which all banks knowledgeable in religious institution lending will want to review are: • Number of years in existence as a church • By-laws • Board composition (Local lay members? Ministry staff? Out-of-area fellow pastoral associates?) • Three years of financial statements, including income statements and balance sheets • Three years of adult worship attendance totals • Details of any capital pledge campaign • Lead pastoral length of tenure • A brief description of real property owned, along with an estimate of the current market value. If borrowings for physical expansion are contemplated within the relatively near future, be sure to discuss this with the bank. This ensures you enter into your new relationship with a mutual understanding of upcoming needs and expectations.


the organization; he or she should be present at the eventual meeting with the bank and be capable of demonstrating a sufficient grasp of the business side of the ministry. In a sizable religious organization with a certain level of financial exposure, a lender needs to know there’s a capable business administrator on staff who’s readily available to interact with the church’s financial partners with due focus. The loan application process provides the opportunity for the bank to make these observations. Designating a board member or a loan broker as the primary contact could obstruct the bank’s ability to do so.

Don’t limit your options Identifying lenders which are appropriate for your religious institution’s lending needs is critical. Start by asking other churches for referrals — and whether they would recommend their lenders. You can also contact or visit the websites of religious trade organizations and other ministry partners. It’s wise not to limit yourself to dealing with local lenders. Although you might have relationships within the community or a desire to support local businesses, the overriding commitment should be to stewardship. Expert religious institution lenders offer a well-defined and efficient process, a wealth and depth of experience with cash management guidance regarding future borrowing capacity, and numerous other helpful insights gathered from working exclusively with religious institutions.

Carefully consider the primary contact Banks work with businesses of all sizes every day. In assessing the credit-worthiness of any organization, a key risk factor is the management team. If your church has fewer than 500 adults in average weekly attendance, the bank might not be concerned if the pastor or a board member acts as the lead contact person for communications through the financing process. However, religious organizations with larger congregations than this have the financial ability (and the organizational need) to employ a qualified full-time business administrator. Continued success requires sufficient staffing, separation of duties and delegation of authority. When the pastor, board member — or, more concerning, a loan broker — is the primary contact, the bank might see this as an impediment to loan approval. The pastor is recognized as the head of

And away we go! It isn’t always easy to fully express your religious organization’s vision and goals to a financial institution. However — once basic exhibits and information have been received and follow-up communications conducted — an experienced lender can guide you through this process and deliver a detailed Term Sheet or Preliminary Expression of Interest letter outlining pricing, loan structure and sample covenants, usually within one or two weeks. As a lender who has made more than $3 billion in ministry loans, I can assure you that a well-prepared religious institution isn’t only a healthier organization, but a stronger lending prospect. CE Dan Mikes is executive vice president and national manager of the religious institution division, Bank of the West, in San Ramon, CA.

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WANT THE BEST LOAN RATE? 3 market changes to consider BY THERESE DeGROOT

Although a handful of post-Great Recession market changes impact the amount for which a church seeking a loan might qualify, interest rates continue to be low. So, now is an excellent time to refinance existing debt or undertake important growth initiatives. While the conditions that banks require might seem burdensome, most are in line with biblical stewardship principles. These include: 1) Property valuation. Most bank lenders are generally limited to loaning no more than 75 percent of a property’s current market value. Given the overall depressed property valuations in recent years, your property could be valued less than it was when your previous loan was funded.

Capital campaigns are another solution to reduce debt on over-leveraged properties. This strategy can reduce debt, increase cash reserves and help the church dedicate more resources to ministry. 2) Adequate cash reserves. Church leaders can position their churches to be more attractive loan prospects by making it a best practice to have at least three months’ of operating cash reserves on hand. When lending through the Great Recession, one positive factor for us — which clearly determined strong leadership and the ministry’s sustainability — was having adequate cash on hand. Churches which maintained appropriate liquidity were able to manage through the tough cycle while not severely cutting back on staff or ministry and outreach programs. Strong cash reserves also made these churches stronger borrowers, which in turn presented them as a lower risk; so, we were able to offer them a lower rate, which increased cash flow for ministry. 3) Multi-site ministry gains ground. If cash reserves have increased, but the value of your property — even with improvements — still isn’t enough to allow for a building project, consider becoming a multi-site ministry! When expanding the sanctuary isn’t an option — due to loan or property size, building restrictions, neighbor or zoning issues — establishing multiple locations allows your church to keep growing. And, it has proven to be a very efficient and cost-effective way to reach more people. Plan early, and decide what multi-site model works for your vision, and whether to lease or buy property. With values (and therefore prices) at an all-time low, it’s a great opportunity for low purchase and lease prices.

A solid all-around investment If you’re planning on a building project, the “as complete” valuation could also be as much as 20 percent below actual cost, as the appraisal must consider both the cost to build or replace existing buildings and recent sales of religious properties. An experienced religious lender will only engage an appraiser who specializes in religious properties to determine a relevant and current valuation. If it comes in lower than required to refinance, drawing on cash reserves (while painful) might be necessary to bring the loan-to-value ratio to 75 percent. Refinancing to a lower rate will result in interest savings that can be redirected to replenish those cash reserves. 24 | CHURCH EXECUTIVE | 05-06/2014

It’s more critical than ever to find a financial partner experienced in religious lending, committed to the market, well-capitalized and liquid. Consider only those which understand how religious organizations operate and are mindful of churches’ unique cash flow nature. A lower rate, combined with the right financial partner, will support your church’s vision and put you in relationship with a lender you can trust through the challenges every ministry faces — expected and unexpected. CE Therese DeGroot is managing director of First Bank’s Community First Financial Resources Division [] in Lake Forest, CA. She has developed and managed religious lending programs for 25 years for many banks that now specialize in lending to churches, nonprofits and schools.

Preparation makes perfect Positioning your church as a solid lending prospect starts today. Here’s how. Preparing to apply for a church loan really begins about three years before the money is needed, as lenders will want to see the last three years of the church’s financial statements. Even for churches that keep good financial records, most find it very time-consuming to go back through three years’ of bank records to create financial statements. So, they often hire a CPA, accountant or bookkeeper to create these items. For most loans, a church simply needs to have financial statements prepared on a Compiled Basis. However, there are always exceptions; any church seeking a loan should contact a loan officer to make sure the correct financial statements are being created. Credit and reputation considerations. One very important piece of the puzzle is a church’s credit and reputation within the community — including the pastor’s. If a church has paid its current mortgage more than 30 days late on multiple occasions (especially recently), securing a conventional loan might be a challenge. For these clients, our company manages a private money fund called Griffin Private Capital. The interest rate for this program is high, but it can be used even when a church is in foreclosure or bankruptcy. Just as important, if the pastor has been in the news for negative reasons, this can be a barrier to a church securing a loan. Positive trends for cash flow, membership and tithes. These three trends are the basis for evaluating the financial direction of a religious institution. Underwriters often take these into consideration when evaluating whether or not to make a loan to a church. If negative trends are evident, it’s important that a church does its best to explain what happened and what has been done to correct the situation.


Filing a form 501(c)(3). Although religious institutions aren’t required by law to file a 501(c)(3) form, it makes getting a loan easier. Many underwriters are unwilling to make a loan to an organization that’s not officially recognized by the IRS. So, if your church hasn’t applied for its 501(c)(3) status, it can begin the process by visiting the IRS website: Begin collecting for a building fund now. Starting a capital campaign will help a church save money as though it has already secured the loan. Begin collecting specifically for a building fund. Your church can do this in many ways — additional collections at services, special events and fundraisers, letters to church donors, and so on. Set this money aside in a special account designated for your building, and begin to pay into the account an amount equal to what your mortgage payment would be if you had it. Do this consistently, and you’ll save money while showing an underwriter that your church can afford the payment. If your church already has a mortgage or rent payment, then save the difference between what it’s currently paying and what the new payment will likely be, plus a margin of 15 percent of the proposed payment. (Example: If your church currently pays $5,000 in rent, wants to buy a building and expects the monthly mortgage payment to be $10,000 per month, it should save the difference between the two — $5,000 — plus a margin of 15 percent (an additional $1,500) for a total monthly savings goal of $6,500.) The bottom line is this: Be organized. Do your homework on your church’s financial history. Have your financial statements ready to be reviewed. The more prepared you are, the more likely it is your church will be approved. CE John Berardino is managing partner at Griffin Capital Funding in Fredericksburg, VA. []

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How to select portable seating for your multi-use space that will stand the test of time.

Your church plans to use the largest open space in the facility to its fullest potential. This will mean worship on Sunday, followed by a variety of other uses during the week. Seating will need to be portable so that it can be stored or reconfigured; but, it also needs to be more substantial than metal folding chairs. What should you consider in the selection process?

Draw upon experience Start by consulting a company with experience building chairs for churches and for other public spaces where multi-use is common. The manufacturer’s local representative should be willing to meet with you, discuss your vision for the seating, and offer solutions based on experience. He or she can measure the space (or work with a drawing if construction hasn’t begun) to determine capacity and provide price quotes.

Match features to your needs Framing: Hardwood frames provide a warm ambience for any gathering. For churches replacing existing pews, wood frame chairs make the transition from pews to chairs much easier. Ganging: Systems vary. Metal gangers are more durable than plastic, and the design should be simple enough for volunteers to use. Stacking: Not all chairs are stackable, and the quantity per stack

can vary. If under-seat bookracks are needed, it might affect stack quantity. Portability: Two-wheeled dollies specifically designed for moving chair stacks are best, since chair legs can slip off standard dollies. Chairs shouldn’t be too heavy for the average person to lift. Durability: When chairs are moved and stacked, there’s more potential for wear. Mortise-and-tenon or finger-jointed frames will stand up to heavy use better than joints that are screwed or doweled. Good-quality chair frames include two horizontal stringers: one to connect the two back legs and one for the front legs. Finish: Catalyzed varnish prevents wood surfaces from becoming grimy from hand oil and general wear. Lacquer finishes tend to be softer and less durable. Fabrics: Coordinating fabric and floor covering is easier when a wide selection of patterns is available. They should be rated heavy-duty for abrasion resistance, and

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READER SNAPSHOT: One-in-five (21%) of our readers will invest in new chairs or seating within the next 18 months. Source: “The Church Executive Reader Survey”

include some form of stain resistance. Comfort: Several style and cushion options should be available, allowing you to tailor comfort to your requirements.

be less incentive for the supplier to respond promptly if any issues arise.

What about pricing? In addition, you’ll want to do some of your own research. True quality includes both tangible and intangible elements. Sit in the chair and twist back and forth. If the frame flexes with you rather than remaining rigid, it is likely that the joints will eventually loosen in actual use. Ask to see a cut-away of the frame construction. This will allow you to verify the quality joinery, as mentioned in the previous section. Insist on visiting facilities where chairs from the chosen manufacturer have been in use for at least five years. Are the frames solid? Are seat foam, fabric and finish holding up well? Seek references. This includes churches and architects regularly involved with church projects. Ask how projects were managed by the company. Was there good communication? Were products delivered on time as promised? What about customer service if there was a warranty issue? These are some of the intangibles which can make your project a joy or a burden. Look for payment terms allowing you to take delivery before final payment. If you must pay prior to receiving the seating, there might Although every church is concerned with budgets, many place too much emphasis on the initial price and fail to think long-term. A difference of $20 per chair amounts to $1 per year over 20 years of use. Good stewardship remembers what Ben Franklin once said: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” With some due diligence, your church can make a wise decision and enjoy beautiful, quality portable seating that will serve a variety of uses for many years. CE John Chastain of Chastain Associates (Maineville, OH) is the territory sales representative for Sauder® Worship Seating [].

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Think bigger for small-project fundraising It makes sense to enlist next-generation giving tools for projects of all sizes. BY RAEANN SLAYBAUGH


Not every church fundraising initiative is a multimilliondollar effort; often, smaller amounts are sought to fund outreach trips, new ministries and more. Regardless of the monetary goal, enlisting next-generation giving tools — those which make it easy for people to give to any mission — can bolster support and engagement.

Although tech-driven (and, therefore, possibly intimidating), incorporating these new-school tools is far less complex than it seems, according to mobile-giving experts. Among them are Pushpay Co-Founder Eliot Crowther and Chief Marketing Officer Fraser Clark. Both acknowledge

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Crowther says a simple plug-andplay strategy — when implemented with his company’s best practices — has delivered increases in some churches’ annual budgets ranging from 10 percent to 15 percent, and beyond.

of generosity showing up in their accounts at seemingly how far giving tools have come, technologically, in the random times,” he explains. “Through further investigation, church. “But now they need to be revised and simplified,” these gifts could be tracked to activity on the mobile app Crowther adds. around prayer meetings, home groups and other church To be truly effective, a next-generation tool must be activities that aren’t necessarily on a Sunday or in the three things, he says: digital, very simple and — perhaps church building.” most important — ministry-wide. “The clarity and simplicity of message needs to be front and center,” Crowther advises. “That means the giving option needs to be Generosity at work consistent, no matter where, how, or to what ministry or Clark offers up a local church as an example of how effort a person is giving.” the moment of generosity can be accommodated with True to form, Crowther next-generation giving. and his team have designed “Easter Camp is often their platform so that the such an influential time same giving page can be in a young person’s made accessible on the life,” he explains. “The church’s website, via its church’s youth group giving kiosks, and even had a large proportion on members’ cellphones. of kids coming from This is possible because ‘unchurched’ homes. after someone gives for [These kids] were finding the first time — no matter it hard to raise money how — they’re invited by from parents who didn’t text message to download necessarily want to Matthew Barnett, co-founder of The Dream Center in Los Angeles, CA, says his an app that will let them organization “has seen giving go up at a dramatic rate — an historic rate.” commit a few hundred give (literally) in seconds dollars for a ‘church using their phone from that camp.’” point on. Using the company’s platform, it’s amazingly simple to This level of simplicity and immediacy is essential respond to this need and to add “Youth Camp Sponsorship” to combat a huge abandonment rate for online giving: into the dropdown giving menu. Then, when an appeal was Research shows that if mobile giving takes longer than made, church members were just 10 seconds away from 30 seconds, 85 percent of people will abandon the supporting the cause. transaction. “People find some tools too complicated, and Meanwhile, at Crowther’s church, the Pushpay platform they walk away,” Crowther explains. “Churches tend to put aides giving to a yearly campaign that encourages aboveup barriers to giving. If someone has a desire to give, he and-beyond giving. or she should be able to exercise that act of obedience One recognizable client — The Angelus Temple and right away.” The Dream Center in downtown Los Angeles, pastored To this point, Crowther says he has received feedback by Matthew Barnett — is a truly special case. At from clients that revolves around giving outside of the The Dream Center facility, people are often moved traditional Sunday service. “Churches are reporting acts to give at 11 o’clock at night, after a prayer session >>

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at The Dream Center’s new prayer chapel. “If God moves them to give, they need the ability to act then and there on their generosity impulse versus enforcing a rigid traditional giving model,” Clark explains. “Matthew Barnett has found that the ability for his congregation to give immediately, by phone, has been essential in their fundraising efforts.”

Make it easy — to give and to receive Even today, not every church has embraced next-generation giving tools. “Church leaders don’t know whether or not they’ll need an IT degree to make it work. They don’t know all the moving parts,” Crowther explains. “But, among Pushpay’s church-based users, the majority have found that implementing simple, digital, ministrywide giving options is even easier than what they have been doing.” Of course, nothing makes a case like results. To this end, Crowther says a simple plug-and-play strategy — when implemented with his company’s best practices — has delivered increases in some churches’ annual budgets ranging from 10 percent to 15 percent, and beyond. “And that’s from a general budget perspective,” Clark points out. “When the technology is made available to support a specific ministry or outreach, the impact can be — and usually is — significantly more. If a church makes an impassioned plea for support of a specific project or fundraiser, the immediacy of that giving becomes essential to accommodate.” CE — Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh The team at eChurch [] has been bringing Pushpay to churches across America, partnering to ensure simple engagement and adoption of the digital giving process.

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The next frontier for fundraising 10 social media tips to help pastors ramp up results BY MARC A. PITMAN Mobilizing social media tools for fundraising efforts is lots of lead-up, and it requires talking to top donors and well worth the effort. Research shows one donor posting inner family first, face-to-face. to Facebook leads up to 68 percent of his or her contacts 3) Don’t always be closing. If all you’re doing to learn about your effort, and 39 percent to make a with social media is “pitching” a fundraising initiative, donation. Moreover, Twitter mentions of fundraising this comes across as crass. It won’t work. The proper events can yield up to 10 times more in donations. approach requires getting R.E.A.L. — Research, Engage, So, the case for using Ask, Love/Like/Live. Love/ social media tools is clear. Like the person anyway Marc A. Pitman is on the speaking To set the wheels in motion, — they’re always more team of a brand-new conference for senior consider these 10 tips. important than the gift. pastors, online pastors and others sharing the faith through social media: 1) It’s OK to ask for 4) Lead with the Going Digital for His Kingdom. money. Really. Although vision. A lot of churches [] pastors tend to fear assume online fundraising fundraising, asking for will be an instant jackpot, money is something Moses, Hezekiah, Nehemiah, David but social media is only a tool to communicate the vision. and Paul all did. In the context of the vision, it’s important for church As church leaders, we can ask for money without members to know that it will cost X dollars just to sustain fear because those who are growing closer to Jesus are operations at the church. more generous. 5) Whatever you do online, do it regularly. I 2) Larger gifts require face time. While social use an aggregator called to pre-schedule media should be used for casting the vision, large asks social media posts. For example, on Sunday night, I cut are better done in person. Securing a generous gift takes and paste my church’s daily schedule into Hootsuite,

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knowing they’re going out every day that week at 4 p.m. via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. This communicates that church is a seven-day endeavor, not just a Sunday scenario. 6) Listen first. As church leaders, we should definitely use social media more for the relationship steps of “Research,” “Engage” and “Love.” Ask the congregation what social media outlets they’re involved with, and where they’re viewing that content — at home, at work and so on. Also ask for their Twitter handles, and watch what they say. As you see what people respond to and retweet, you can craft your fundraising “pitch” much more effectively. 7) Think like an event planner. Truly effective fundraising involves deadlines and creating teams with specific responsibilities. The best approach is to drive

followers back to your church’s website or giving page. Statistically, people give more on your site than when they’re asked to give right there on Facebook or Twitter. 8) Twitter tips. Twitter is the most effective tool for peerto-peer fundraising — walk-a-thons or bike-a-thons. Ask for people to retweet your post. Also limit your posts to 120 characters (compared the 140 characters allowed). This way, members or givers can retweet without the post being cut off. 9) Go beyond the norm. Today, Pinterest is generating really good results; you can “pin” just about anything that has a photo. Businessfocused LinkedIn resonates well with some people who are normally averse to social media. Using a Google+ page for your church helps train Google how to classify it in normal website searches. Bufferapp. com optimizes sharing of posts at

times when most of your members are likely to see them. Also consider podcasts; just use the sermons you’re already preaching. Podcasts expand your audience and can be cross-promoted across all your social media platforms. 10) Publicize your social media activity. People won’t follow your church’s social media activity if they don’t know you’re out there. Church bulletins are a surprisingly effective way to do this. And don’t just say “Like us on Facebook;” actually list your church’s Facebook URL (, as well as its Twitter handle. CE Marc A. Pitman is an internationally recognized nonprofit organizational development consultant, author and founder of He has compiled Bible stories of people asking for money — including Moses, David, Hezekiah and Nehemiah — available at free-articles/fundraising-in-the-bible.

THE NEXT FRONTIER FOR FUNDRAISING 5 more social media tips from Marc A. Pitman 1) Put yourself out there. As a pastor at a Vineyard church, I wasn’t doing social media, or publicizing my activity, until my congregants asked me to. In my experience, it’s even less common for pastors to use social media for fundraising. 2) Connect donors with the impact. In this regard, churches need to get out of their own way. It’s the volunteers — not the church — out there feeding and clothing the homeless. So, show that! Share photos of people doing outreach. On social media, people respond best to faces. 3) Mobilize members and staff, online. Be aware that only about 17 percent of the people who “like” your church’s Facebook page are actually seeing its posts in their newsfeed. To get more people to see the posts, you’ll need “likes,” comments, and shares. So, the inner leadership team should immediately “like” the church’s posts to generate interest in these messages. And ask your congregants and staff members to comment, like and share your church’s posts. 4) Moderate posts — but be cool about it. In your church’s social media pages’ “About” sections, it’s important to qualify that you will delete inappropriate posts; but don’t just automatically delete anything contentious. Have a thick skin and a tender heart. If you see an “off” comment, it can be helpful to email some of your congregants with a link to the post and ask if they agree with the troublesome post. When it comes to perception, it’s better if that person says he doesn’t agree than for the church to take issue with it right away. 5) Be realistic about results. When it comes to crowd-funding, by and large, most projects don’t get funded — even in churches. Your best effort will still be offline. But with the average American giving only 2 percent of their income to nonprofits, there’s a lot of room for growing generosity — even in the church.

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GREEN Showcasing eco-friendly components in your new-build project conveys good stewardship — financial and environmental. BY RAEANN SLAYBAUGH For the majority of clients, aiming for full Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification for a new building isn’t cost-effective, as it often costs several to tens of thousands of dollars above and beyond construction costs. Charles Kluger, principal at Kluger Architects, Inc. in Signal Hill, CA, explains why. For one thing, Kluger’s firm must be part of the US Green Building Green Council, which is fee-based. Second, he says, LEED certification is an extensive process that often involves third-party consulting to achieve. Tim Black of CDH Partners in Marietta, GA — who designed LEED-certified (silver) First United Methodist Church in Orlando — agrees that these projects are the exception, not the rule. “It usually comes down to bottom-line costs. Even administrative costs associated with pursuing the certification can be cost-prohibitive,” he acknowledges. Even so, as Black points out, this doesn’t mean churches don’t embrace green design. “In fact, they’re intrinsically motivated to do the right thing and not waste resources — financial or environmental,” he says. Kluger agrees and says many church clients elect for green elements in their projects — especially if they’re implemented early and are “passive” by design.

First United Methodist Church in Orlando, a LEED-certified (silver) facility (Photo courtesy of Jacque Photo, LLC/CDH Partners)

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READER SNAPSHOT: Nearly 23% will embark on a construction project within 18 months. Source: “The Church Executive Reader Survey”

“Passive energy systems don’t relate to something you buy,” he explains. “It’s how you orient and design the building itself.” As an example, Kluger cites St. Finbar, a parish hall and multipurpose building project in Burbank, CA. Here, he and his team accounted for prevailing wind directions by designing the building with high windows which open to provide passive cooling in the large hall. The wind pulls the high heat from the building and creates suction of the cooler air to flow upward from the ground. They also located the A/C units on the roof, on the negative side of the building, which took advantage of the air moving away from the building. In doing so, it allows sound and air to flow across the units and away from the facility. Additionally, decorative masonry block was chosen for the exterior and interior finish. It helps keep the building cool and needs no maintenance. Similarly, Brad Lechtenberger, project architect for Churches by Daniels Construction, Inc., in Broken Arrow, OK, has found church clients very receptive to green construction elements — often in an effort to balance budgetary constraints with long-term use and costs needs. In particular, he says clients have embraced locally sourced and manufactured materials (which reduce carbon emissions associated with long-distance shipping), as well as structural components from renewable sources — wood products — and steel structural elements with a high recycled-material content. They also appreciate mechanical systems with a high SEER, or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, he points out. “The higher the rating, the more energy-efficient the system will be.”

Combatting green misconceptions Although conventional wisdom says green construction elements are more expensive, upfront, it really depends on a handful of factors.

“For instance, here in California — and in many other states — local and state codes require a certain percentage of a project to be reuseable, recycable or ‘green,’” Kluger says. Depending on >>

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According to Pastor Ronald Johnson of Bethel Temple Assembly of God (Hampton, VA), the Churches By Daniels team decreased costs sizably by value-engineering the church’s HVAC system, including a complete update in the sanctuary — a $500,000 project — with no additional fees. (Photo credit: Harry Niser)

jurisdiction, the code requirements can be as much as 20 percent, if not more. (In Los Angeles, for example, it can be as high as 35 percent — even for tear-down projects.) For his part, Lectenberger says green elements don’t have to be more expensive, if they’re part of early planning. “Certain elements can greatly reduce the amount of energy spent during the manufacture / construction period of the facility, and then over the life of the church facility.” Finally, Black says that while certain energy-efficient

elements (solar panels and energy-efficient HVAC systems, for example) might still cost more than their counterparts, the industry has “almost flipped.” “Now, they embrace green offerings at a low price point,” he says.

A sum of its parts According to the architects, several elements represent the most immediate opportunities to embrace

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The dramatic LED lighting setup at Victory Christian Center in Tulsa, OK is energy-efficient and cost-effective. (Photo credit: Scott Olinske/Churches by Daniels)

green construction. They are: Energy-efficient lighting. For Lechtenberger and his team, LED is quickly becoming the main lighting system in their church designs — not only for stage/ specialty use, but for all facilities. “LED has great advantages over the old incandescent lighting systems,” he says. “It uses a fraction of the energy, and a fixture’s life span is measured in years rather than weeks or months.” On the back end, clients save “a tremendous amount of money” in energy and maintenance costs, according to Lechtenberger. Kluger agrees. Conservatively, he estimates switching to LED bulbs represents a lifetime cost savings of 20 percent to 30 percent versus incandescent lighting. “For a parking lot lighting project we’re working on right now, we switched to LED from incandescent,” he says. “The church will recoup the higher investment cost within seven years.” Black has had a similar experience: “In fact, the industry now makes it difficult not to use energyefficient lighting as it phases out incandescent bulbs.” Carpets. Given the high recyclable content of many contemporary carpets, it’s perhaps the simplest of all green construction elements to incorporate. “Actually, almost all interior finishes have a green focus now,” Black says. “It’s all headed in a sustainable, recyclable direction.” Windows. Kluger, Lechtenberger and Black all like to use low-thermal-emissivity (“low-E”) glass in their church projects. Although Kluger concedes that dual-glazed and low-E glass is more expensive upfront, both are “almost a requirement” in California. It pays off in the long run, in air-conditioning and heating cost savings. Black concurs and says energy codes now include minimum-energy-efficiency standards when it comes to windows. Everything (including) the kitchen sink. Other green elements Kluger often works into his church projects include automatic-on/off faucets and toilets, as well as waterless urinals. For Lechtenberger’s part, he pays careful attention to the design of the exterior wall and roof envelope systems. “It relates to proper insulation/thermal bridging and the reduction of air infiltration,” he explains. Plants / landscaping. At St. Finbar, droughttolerant plants — including olive and palm trees — are a welcome, eco-friendly option. And, as Kluger points out, both lend themselves well to religious symbolism: “Clients sometimes plant 12 palm trees to represent 12 apostles.” CE

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Is your church reaching its budget? BY NANCY LAWSON According to a recent Giving Rocket survey of churches, only 14 percent are meeting or exceeding budget. Knowing that churches rely entirely on donations to survive, not meeting the annual budget means critical mission work is in jeopardy of being underfunded. Fundraising for any non-profit organization has always presented challenges — and always will — because the root of its failures typically stems from poor communication. Conversely, successful communication is one of the key attributes of any organization, but especially churches. The most common synonym for “successful” is “accomplishment.” Is your church “accomplishing” or

exceeding its budget? If not, then you must read on. Historically and traditionally, churches have relied on one primary source of communication to promote giving in their organizations: offering envelopes. This mode of communication had such an impact that companies were created out of its need as far back as a century ago, and several are still in operation. How can this be, you might ask, given the ubiquitous influence of technology? Even the U.S. Postal Service is struggling because there’s an obvious shift in communication preferences with the evolution of technology. First, let me remind you that churches are dealing with people, and people will always have a diverse set of preferences for how they do anything, including giving. Second, is your church doing everything it can to promote giving? Are you addressing it from the pulpit, consistently? Are you communicating directly and regularly with your members? Do your members know all the ways your church benefits from these charitable gifts? After all, isn’t the church — the Body of Christ — biblically, ethically and morally obligated to reveal this information? How many avenues of giving are provided to the members? Do you still rely solely on envelopes? What about online giving, text giving, kiosk giving or mobile giving?

From the pulpit There is no scientific correlation between preaching about stewardship and how much your church receives in donations. But, just like anything else, if you never ask, you’ll probably never receive. Keep in mind that it’s not so much what you say as how you say it. While I’m not employed by Giving Rocket, I’m comfortable sharing with you that they provide a

It’s refreshing to learn from the Atlas of Giving that, despite the economic struggles this country has been facing for many years, charitable giving increased 13.3 percent in 2013 compared to 2012. Much of this can be attributed to the adoption of online giving. document — The Giving Talk — to help you develop just the right words to share with your congregation, motivating them to at least continue (if not increase) their giving. You can also seek out similar resources to accomplish the same.

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The importance of communication Don’t keep it a secret when your church is blessed with giving that supports a particular cause, or even helps it reach budget — shout it from the mountain tops, along with praise and gratitude! People are motivated by many things, but none are as effective as praise. Don’t hesitate to send contribution statements at least quarterly. With all the activities going on in each person’s life, we need to be reminded of the importance of financially supporting the church. While not technology-based, a monthly mailing program still addresses a certain sector of individuals who prefer to give using an envelope. Even for tech junkies, the monthly mailing program serves as a communication piece that reminds members to fulfill their spiritual obligation.

Mobile/text giving Statistics for 2013 show that more people purchased their Christmas presents online via a mobile device than in any year prior. Some of us do everything on our cell phone or tablet — I certainly do! Don’t overlook this method of giving. It’s so simple, and the adoption rate is climbing. A new method of giving which evolved several years ago is text giving. Some companies charge your cell phone company, which then shows up on your monthly bill. Others bill you through a separate invoicing process. The latter is much easier to set up.

It’s a good time for giving

In my opinion, we’re very fortunate to live in a time when all these options are available to help increase giving in the churches — especially in light of the Online giving declining attendance It’s refreshing to learn which churches of from the Atlas of Giving every denomination According to a recent that, despite the economic face these days. Giving Rocket survey of churches, struggles this country has The beauty of this only 14 percent are meeting been facing for many years, group of stewardship or exceeding budget. charitable giving increased resources is that you 13.3 percent in 2013 don’t have to settle compared to 2012. Much for just one; in fact, of this can be attributed to the adoption of online giving. data suggests that one is simply no longer enough. In this cashless culture, and with the ever-increasing While it might be difficult to interpret actual giving as security measures to make these types of software PCI a percentage from each of these categories (envelopes, Level I-compliant, online giving is a significant venue for online, text, kiosk, mobile), let’s assume that each increasing contributions in your church. For the protection represents one equal piece of the total giving/stewardship of your members, make sure the software you’re using “pie.” Since there are five, we can conclude that each is PCI Level I-compliant (which provides the ultimate piece of pie represents 20 percent of your total potential security), not just PCI-compliant. giving. So, theoretically, if your church is only providing Some benefits of online giving include reduced one of these methods to its members, it’s only reaching administrative effort, guest donations (no sign-up 20 percent of its total stewardship potential — and, required) and recurring donations. Online giving is also an therefore, probably not exceeding its budget. excellent resource for reaching beyond your membership, As the Body of Christ, reach out to all your members in terms of charitable giving, as it opens the doors for and their preferences. This way, when they’re called to businesses and ministry supporters from all over the give, they have all available options in place to do so — at world to contribute to your church’s efforts. that moment — using their preferred giving method.

Giving kiosks Another communication resource to increase giving can be found in giving kiosks. Some will say that they don’t want “ATM machines” in their church. But, churches that use giving kiosks realize that, if placed in a key area(s) of the facility, it serves as a reminder to give — just like monthly envelope mailings or periodic contribution statements. These same kiosks can serve as check-in stations, event registration kiosks and more, further increasing their value.

Nancy Lawson is the manager of strategic partner sales at NCS Services, Inc.

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DRIVEN TO DISTRACTION Making the case for a church social media policy that prohibits texting while driving BY ROBERT ERVEN BROWN “Why do you think we need a cell phone/texting policy?” the exasperated business administrator asked me. This question led to a legal discussion which raised his awareness about how the church can be held financially responsible for a texting (or “sexting”) incident. A few basic legal concepts govern the courts when they attempt to allocate fault — responsibility to pay damages — among the various participants in an automobile crash. Principle 1: A church (usually a corporation) acts through its “authorized agents.” These agents include pastors, staff and volunteers. Principle 2: Unless the church has a written policy which prohibits using a cell phone or texting on a cell phone while driving, the use of the cell phone is considered to be an authorized action, if it’s done by an authorized agent acting within the scope of his or her authority. In general, any activity which can reasonably be said to promote the purpose for which the church was formed will be an authorized act. The major exception to this rule occurs if the church board of directors has adopted a formal resolution creating a policy forbidding, conditioning or limiting the activity and takes reasonable steps to enforce it. Principle 3: Both the church and the agent are liable for reasonable damages caused by their negligent behavior. Principle 4: Driving while distracted places innocent people in peril. Texting and talking on a cell phone while driving have been held repeatedly by courts to constitute “driving while distracted.” If a pastor, staff or volunteer injures an innocent person because he or she was negligently “driving while distracted,” then both the church and the driver can be held financially responsible.

Policy considerations When considering whether or not to adopt a policy, your church board of directors should consider: What are the benefits of allowing our “agents” (pastors, staff and volunteers) to talk on cell phones and send/ receive text messages while operating a moving vehicle? Is the content of a call and/or text message so important that it must be seen instantly? Imagine you’re a juror as a distracted driver tries to “explain” why his loss of one minute is more important than the injured person’s loss for a lifetime. Does this calculation honor Christ? Do local or state laws ban or restrict cell phones, hands-free devices or texting? Have you checked with your church’s insurance company for their “best practices” recommendation? Is your organization willing and able to enforce the policy? Failing to do so can, in some cases, be worse than not having a policy at all. What practical steps can you take to insure compliance? Training classes? Certification forms signed by all those who drive? Announcements from the pulpit?

Know your exposures The church bears the legal and financial risks of “distracted driving” by its agents — not only financial damages, but also psychological trauma. Adverse media

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READER SNAPSHOT: 70% own and operate church vehicles. Source: “The Church Executive Reader Survey”

coverage blackens the name of Christ when his “agents” negligently injure innocent people. The distracted driver potentially faces criminal prosecution and jail time for “involuntary manslaughter” if the conduct involves a high degree of risk. A charge of “gross negligence” could arise if the church board or staff was aware of the texting and failed to stop it. Moreover, insurance coverage for damages for gross negligence is very uneven, and sometimes non-existent. And, the State and Federal Volunteer Protection Acts don’t protect volunteers from damages arising from gross negligence or criminal acts.

or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. “From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations.” Simply reading this material this does not create an attorney/client relationship with

Brown, as this article is general legal information, not legal advice. A formal attorney/client relationship will not be established until a conflict check is completed and an engagement letter has been signed by both the attorney and the client. No “informal” legal advice will be provided by telephone. Simply sending an e-mail to Brown will not create an attorney/client relationship.

Is it truly worth it? When you weigh the risks and benefits of failing to aggressively prohibit distracted driving, it’s obvious that this is a significant threat to any church. This threat has become all the more real in light of a 2013 New Jersey case (Kubert v. Best, Colonna) which held that a person who knowingly sends a text to a person who’s driving can also be held liable for the accident under certain conditions. Now that you’re aware of the issue, what are you — personally — going to do about it? CE Robert Erven Brown is an attorney licensed to practice in Arizona. He and his nonprofit practice group work with non-profits and churches, helping them manage key operations connected with their missions, visions and causes. As permitted by local Rules of Ethics, they collaborate with attorneys who are licensed in states other than Arizona. He is the author of Legal Realities: Silent Threats to Ministries, which describes his Campus Preservation Planning© initiative — a comprehensive program designed to manage the wide array of risks facing non-profit organizations. [] This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is provided with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting

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Protecting your flock Keep these tips and ideas in mind when selecting a safe vehicle for church use. THE CHURCH BUS. Not many things are more evocative of the role a church plays in the life of its community and its members, as the church bus shuttles them to and fro. When you think about it, though, this raises an important question: What message are you communicating with your selection of church transportation? After all, few things are more visible and high-profile — outside of your facility itself — than your official mode of transportation. Indeed, there might be many people in your community who know your church by its vehicle alone.

BY IVAN ROBERTS can greatly increase driver visibility of the road in front of and around the bus. Additionally, the cab’s ergonomics play a role in keeping a driver focused on the road and, as a result, keeping passengers safe. A dashboard focused on optimized ergonomics — making sure common buttons, features and functions are easily located and used — keeps the driver’s hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Vehicle maneuverability. A more maneuverable vehicle (one with a greater turning radius, for example) offers several safety benefits. A greater turning radius means fewer points in a turn, which afford fewer opportunities to back up and / or navigate blind spots. And, a more maneuverable vehicle makes it easier for drivers to negotiate tight turns in cramped spaces, keeping vehicle and passengers safe in what could otherwise be stressful driving situations. Of course, this checklist will bear slight differences or additions based on the specific goals for the bus you’re buying. A church seeking a bus to transport elderly members might value mobility and accessibility more than one intended to carry children, for example. Even so, these key items listed should be at the top of every checklist to ensure you end up with the safest vehicle possible. After all, your members — and your church as a whole — are riding on it. CE Ivan Roberts is Sales Manager, Commercial Bus for Freightliner Custom Chassis. He has more than 15 years of experience in product testing, quality assurance, engineering and sales — all with the company — and has worked with a multitude of churches and religious organizations to develop and deliver custom vehicle solutions.

and from church school), the most important goal is to do it as safely as possible.

A buyer’s checklist With that in mind, here’s a handy checklist to keep in mind when selecting the safest vehicle for your church: Reliability. It seems simple, but reliability is a crucial factor in determining a bus’s overall safety. How dependable will this bus be? Will it start every time and run reliably, trip after trip after trip, for tens (and hundreds) of thousands of miles? If it’s reliable,

The S2 chassis — shown here as a finished coach — is a popular choice among church customers. (Photo courtesy of Freightliner Custom Chassis)

And, while the reconditioned or repainted old school bus can help provide a nice dose of levity and goodwill as it’s out and about, it’s important to ask yourself about the broader perception you’re conveying to those who see that bus and — just as important — to those who ride on it. Does it promote an image of sophistication? Modernity? Technological understanding? Safety? That last question is, of course, the most vital. Any time you transport parishioners or others from the community aboard your official transportation (whether it’s shuttling church members to and from Sunday services or transporting children to

after all, there’s less worry about it breaking down or encountering issues while on the road or in transit. Component quality. Reliability, in turn, is driven in large part by the relative quality of the parts and components a manufacturer uses in building a vehicle. Higher-quality parts and components create a higher-quality vehicle. A higher-quality vehicle is often — but not always — more reliable, safer, and built to last longer. Driver setup and ergonomics. Features as simple as the windshield and hood of a bus can have an outsize impact on overall safety. A more sloped hood and taller windshield, for example,

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Where the rubber meets the road

BY PATRICK M. MORELAND Rented or borrowed vehicles, or asking someone to drive on your church’s behalf, carries hefty liabilities. If that vehicle is involved in a serious “at-fault” accident, your church will likely be named in a lawsuit, along with the vehicle’s owner and driver. Examples of hired and non-owned auto use include: • A pastor asking the church’s administrative assistant to drive her own car to the office supply store • Volunteers driving mobility impaired members to and from worship services on Sunday • Members transporting kids to a skating party • Borrowing a member’s large van for a weekend church group retreat • Renting a van to transport members, cross-country, to your denomination’s annual conference Fortunately, in most cases, you don’t need to rely on the driver or vehicle owner to have adequate insurance to protect your church. Instead, your church can buy “hired and non-owned automobile” liability insurance — usually as an addition to your church’s multi-peril (property and liability) policy or commercial auto policy. Hired and nonowned auto insurance provides liability protection for your church when you rent or borrow a vehicle for use on church business, and when vehicles owned and driven by your employees (or anyone else) are used on the job or on your church’s behalf. Your clergy, officers, employees and volunteers also are covered, if driving. Typically, hired and non-owned auto insurance is an “excess” liability coverage, meaning it (1) applies after any other valid and collectible insurance is paid, and (2) covers bodily injury and property damage you cause others, but not damage to the vehicle you’re using. The vehicle’s owner is the first source of liability coverage, and the only source of coverage for damage to that vehicle. If the owner has no coverage, or it’s inadequate, the church’s hired and non-owned auto coverage steps in to provide liability protection, but does not cover damage to the vehicle you’re using. Minor injuries to occupants of the hired or non-owned auto can be covered if the church has purchased “medical expense” coverage in conjunction with the hired and nonowned auto liability insurance.

A word about rental vehicles There are important differences between a personal auto policy and a commercial auto policy — among them, coverage for vehicles you rent or borrow. Don’t assume that because your church owns a vehicle and carries insurance on it, it will be covered when you rent or borrow a vehicle. While it’s common for the physical damage coverages of a personal auto policy to extend to rental vehicles, it’s far less common for a commercial auto policy to do so. You might very well need to buy the insurance offered by the rental agency, unless your insurance company offers specific coverage for rented vehicles. When a doubt or question arises about your church’s coverage, check with your insurance agent before you rent or borrow a vehicle or ask someone to drive on behalf of your church. CE Patrick M. Moreland, CPCU, CIC, CRM is vice president of marketing for Church Mutual Insurance Company in Merrill, WI. []

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Auto exposure A “black swan” for nonprofits BY PETER A. PERSUITTI

Today, the pivotal discussion for nonprofits revolves around the issue of the Directors & Officers “limit.” This focus is not only attributed to the Penn State / Second Mile debacle, but vicariously connected to the financial meltdown, which exposed nonprofit leadership, as well, in fiduciary and governance roles.

Meeting with a new faith-based client recently, I was surprised to learn of an $80-million D&O limit.

As I looked deeper, I learned that a current board member (whose background was in insurance) drove the decision. As the newly appointed broker team, it was essential for us to provide relevant benchmarking data, including a report from our partners at Advisen. This documentation facilitated the executive staff to bring to the board justification for reducing the limit and cost, thus reclaiming dollars for ministry. Limits are an important issue for faith-based organizations. Twenty years ago, the notion to sue an organization that “did good” was unthinkable. Today, we certainly do have a different climate, and there’s no question that faith-based organizations — especially those with assets — are targets for litigation and payouts. In my 30 years-plus experience working with the faith-based community, I would propose that the largest exposure requiring board examination — and perhaps additional limits (assuring they’re included in an excess or umbrella policy ) — would be related to the nonprofit’s auto coverage, both owned and non-owned. Think back to recent >>

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news events: How many times have we heard about a devastating accident involving ministry members? Not only does this type of misfortune harm people, but we have to be concerned about recovery, especially when we’re told that one out of every seven U.S. drivers on the road has no automobile insurance. I’ve gained significant insight over the past 13 years from stories and real-life experiences told at an annual meeting of faith-based institutions (those with their own insurance program — captives, risk-retention groups, trusts) called “Common Ground.” I’ll never forget the Salvation Army’s story of its fatal automobile accident, when the team was transporting prison spouses and children to visit their incarcerated family members. The Salvation Army faced more than $38 million in liability demands as a result

of the crash. While I support the Salvation Army’s ministry and their activism in demanding change in the manufacturing of 16-passenger vans, the hard facts are that people died. To cite another case, a volunteer transporting a statue for a faith-based entity — just across town — collided with another driver at an intersection. The impact of the crash left the other driver (no more than 22) paralyzed and in need of 24-hour care for the rest of his life. A $22-million lawsuit against the faith-based institution resulted. In this case, I often think a courier service could be a risk-mitigation alternative. On one hand, it’s seemingly expensive and outside the normal resources of a nonprofit; yet, the $95 cost seems so incongruent to the resulting $22-million claim. Fatal or devastating auto accidents are unpredictable. We can

certainly do more to transfer risk through contracts and the use of third-party vendors. And, we can proactively deploy a fleet-management program that monitors the vehicles’ maintenance and provides training to ministry teams. Our church boards need to investigate more deeply the umbrella limits and the need to adequately protect those ministries which promote volunteers and mobile teams. In a day of your constituencies’ increasing expectations through duty of care, a nonprofit’s insurance program has to contain an adequate limit in the umbrella / excess policy to includes auto liability. CE Peter A. Persuitti is managing director, Religious Practice, at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in Chicago. []

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UPGRADE! BY ADAM C. HENDERSON Six months ago, our church’s faithful analog mixing console died. We knew we wanted to do more than replace the board; our ultimate goal was to update our technology and improve our worship experience. Six months later, the initial assessments are coming in: It’s been a great transition. Perhaps our positive experience can pave the way for your own.

How one church (successfully) updated its technology and improved the worship experience.

Go digital Digital consoles provide maximum flexibility and control. This Easter season, our Good Friday service was quiet and acoustic, featuring a piano we rarely use, a keyboard and four vocalists. Easter Sunday morning featured a full band, six vocalists (three of whom weren’t used on Good Friday), and added wireless for a reading. The transition from one service to the other was accomplished with the push of a button. No re-patching. No adjustment of equalization or monitor mix. Just find the Easter Sunday preset and push “load.”

Faith Presbyterian Church in Cape Coral, FL, recently expanded its sanctuary and updated its audio system. The church also expanded its stage lighting and added projection. (Photo courtesy of Custom Sound Designs)

Invest in your people Upgraded equipment is only as good as the technician running it. Investing in these people — personally and professionally — is essential. Worship technology is an equal blend of art and science. Remember this when training your people. When I mention the “art” of worship technology, I’m referring to the feel. What emotional response are you seeking, and what audio mix accomplishes this for you? The “science” of worship is the technical skill necessary to run the equipment to achieve the desired sound. Regular practice and periodic team training are critical. If you train everyone individually, you’ll never gain consistency. Bring everyone together, and present a single, clear picture of what you hope to accomplish and how.

Get rid of the wedges Stage noise was killing us on Sunday mornings. No matter what we did, there was a general muddiness to our audio. We could never hear the acoustic guitar if the lead guitar, bass or drums were playing. The clarity of the new digital board helped to some extent, but the issue was all the sound from the wedge monitors bouncing around onstage before drifting into the seats. Onstage monitor mixing with in-ear monitors was part of our upgrade plan, and the digital mixer cost less than anticipated, so we transitioned early. All our powered instruments now control their own monitors (making life that much easier for our sound guy), and in-ear monitors eliminate competing sound.

Anticipate great things While our church anticipated great things from the decision to update our equipment, we continue to be amazed at the level of improvement. There’s great satisfaction in knowing the artistic element of our services is strengthened, and that people are more ready to hear the Word and respond. CE Adam C. Henderson is an audio/lighting technician in his local church. Before transitioning into his current role as Operations Manager for Fort Wayne, IN-based Custom Sound Designs [], he served as lead pastor of a midsize church and as Central District Ministry Director in the Missionary Church.

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Need an acoustical intervention? BY NICK COLLERAN AND JIM DeGRANDIS The No. 1 cause of poor sound in a large space is inappropriate reverb time, or RT60 — the time it takes for sound to fully decay, 60 decibels down, from its initial impact. While a large, open hall might enhance a traditional choir and blend or average pitch, it’s not acoustically friendly for modern, highenergy music wherein amplified sound reaches parallel walls, high ceilings and other hard surfaces. Begin by asking people if they can hear everything clearly. If not, then it’s time to call an acoustical professional. Fortunately, many will offer a basic assessment for free if provided with photos, dimensions and information regarding surfaces and intent. A recorded balloon pop might also be used to analyze a room’s acoustics.

Keep the look (but lose the surplus sound)

If your worship as acoustical wall space is historic or panels for custom field painting, Tone “vintage,” and you want Tiles™ are now to preserve the look of available in larger the facility, the sound of sizes that mimic drywall but absorb music can be improved sound rather than discretely. Keep in mind reflecting echoes that a historic space with back into a room. a magnificent look and (Photo courtesy of First sound for its time wasn’t Acoustics Corporation) intended for modern amplification or highdecibel music. To preserve the austere appearance, existing curtains can be thickened with more layers or replaced with acoustic or theater stage curtains. Alternately, double-wide curtains will produce more pleats and capture more sound when closed. Padded pews will generate sound improvement. On the walls, some sound absorbers can be painted and are available in drywall sizes. Finally, to help tame sound at its source, make sure the loudspeakers are effectively decoupled from the structure. Generally, older structures weren’t designed with decoupling in mind; therefore, they tend to vibrate and resonate, destroying sound clarity.

Originally designed

More uses, more problems A multipurpose space usually means multi-challenges. If a venue must accommodate traditional worship in the early morning, modern praise music at midday, and intimate acoustic performances in the evening, the acoustical

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READER SNAPSHOT: More than half — 56% — will invest in new A/V equipment for their churches within the next 18 months. Source: “The Church Executive Reader Survey”

IS YOUR SPACE MUSICFRIENDLY — BY DESIGN? Simple strategies to make it so

requirements move from one extreme to another. One solution is to create a space that’s acoustically “dry,” and then to add reverb electronically when appropriate. While electronics can’t change the acoustics of a room (a function of room geometry), they can help “fake it” and add ambience back in as needed. A portable church might require portable acoustics. While it’s difficult to justify the cost of variable acoustics (such as rotating sound stage walls) in a permanent facility, a portable church might rely on acoustical quilted curtain blankets that roll up and store. These are industrial-grade products, so they’ll take the abuse of the road. CE Nick Colleran is a principal at Acoustics First Corporation in Richmond, VA. []

BY ART NOXON Make sure the space embraces acoustic music. In general, acoustic music prefers reflective, somewhat reverberant environments. Imagine an old-fashioned choir loft — a room in the balcony, with a large window opening into the congregation. It’s made out of wood, has a shiny wood floor, walls, ceiling and seating. Some 20 percent of the sound the choir makes passes directly out of the window, while the other 80 percent gets reflected off the interior walls, floor and ceiling of the semi-enclosed choir loft. When the choir members can hear themselves and each other singing, they stay in tune and on tempo. They sing with gusto. Voices (even congregational singers) and acoustic instruments need a lot of reflected sonic ambience. Consider your loudspeaker setup. Note that half the loudspeakers onstage are called “monitors.” They’re playing some particular form of the music towards the musician so he or she can hear what’s going on and play along with it — in time and >>

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in tune. Musicians face forward, while their monitors are set out in front of them and fire the sound backwards. Some musicians have music-making speakers onstage (often for the electric guitar and electronic drums), which usually face the congregation.

Find the house mains. These are the big speakers — one to the right of the stage and one to the left — facing into the congregation. The music congregants are supposed to hear is collected and mixed, and quality full-range musical sound is

Market Place • Market Place ACO U S T I C S



supposed to be delivered to the congregation through these speakers. Meet with the tech running the board; odds are that the “EQ” setting doesn’t make sense. The only sound being allowed out of the music mains is some treble, high-frequency sound. Despite the size of the speaker, the bass is essentially turned off. Go back to the stage: All those monitors are pointed right against the front wall of the church, which reflects the monitor sounds back across the stage and into the congregation. During that round-trip, the only energy lost is high-frequency. The low-frequency energy expands with equal loudness in all directions; only the high-frequency energy can be directed by which way the speaker is pointed. What’s happening is that the stage monitor speakers are already filling the room with bass sound, and the house mains are only being used to add a little top end to make up for the lost treble going backwards from the stage monitors. When the congregation listens to the cacophony of sounds bouncing off the front wall of the church, filling the worship space, they think this is the music they’re supposed to be listening to. In reality, it’s the part of the music they’re not supposed to hear; they’re supposed to listen to the music being played by the big main speakers. The only way to correct this chaos is to put sound absorption on the lower portion of the front wall of the church. Add a modesty railing around the front of the band and the choir. Put sound panels on the inside of the modesty railing as it wraps around the band speakers, and leave sound panels off the railing as it wraps around the choir. Add carpet to the floor of the praise band, and remove the carpet from under the choir. CE Art Noxon — an acoustic engineer with 30 years experience in voicing worship and other acoustic spaces — owns Acoustic Sciences Corp. in Eugene, OR. []

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Grove City Church BY LISA YOUNG

Upgrades Yamaha Digital System w

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h of the Nazarene The main auditorium at Naz Church in Grove City, OH, seats about 2,800 and has a congregation of 3,000. The church recently installed two Yamaha CL Series Digital Audio Consoles — a CL5 at front of house and a CL1 at monitors — as well as eight Rio input/output boxes: two Rio3224-D, two Rio1608-D, two Ri8s, and two Ro8s. The system was purchased through Boynton Pro Audio (Norwich, NY) and installed by church staff and volunteers. “This was not our first experience with digital consoles,” says Matt Groves, technical director at the church. “We previously used a Yamaha LS9 at monitors and a Yamaha PM1D at front of house. The purchase of the CL system began when we started looking for a replacement monitor console because our Yamaha LS9 was stolen from the monitor booth. One of our front-of-house engineers — Doug McLaughlin with Tech Art Productions in Columbus — suggested we purchase a CL Series, and after researching it more, we discovered how functional it would be for us. Our audio engineers are volunteers with previous digital console experience on our LS9 and PM1D, so the only training required was to watch the self-training videos on the Yamaha website. The setup and operation of the CL system was very user-friendly.” >>

with New Yamaha Digital System

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The Church of the Nazarene has both traditional and contemporary services. The traditional service consists of an 80-member choir, a 15-piece orchestra, a rhythm section (with a five- piece drum kit, two digital keyboards, bass, two acoustic guitars, one electric guitar, synth/tracks), and seven main vocalists. The contemporary service consists of a five-piece drum kit, digital keyboard, bass, acoustic guitar, two electric guitars, synth/tracks, and four vocalists. “Because of the many components each service style presents, we felt it was a good opportunity to start our CL system upgrade,” Groves says. “We decided to purchase a CL1 with a Rio3224-D first to replace the monitor console, and our master plan was to eventually purchase a CL5 for front-of-house. A couple of weeks after installing the CL1, we began having major issues and failures with our then-existing analog wiring and patch bays, so we decided to accelerate the completion of our system and purchased the CL5 along with the seven additional Rio boxes.”

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Groves says the features that determined the church selection of the CL Series was the Dante networking and the ability to bypass the old/existing wiring. “The use of the Dante system is so functional for us as a church,” he says. “Since we run two very different style worship services and host many events and concerts throughout the year, having the Dante network gives us the flexibility we need. We also needed to replace the existing wiring and patch bays, so being able to run a redundant network with Cat5e cable between the consoles and Rio boxes was a huge cost savings for us. Our system now sounds the cleanest it has ever sounded.” >>

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The church also upgraded part of its video system infrastructure using Ross Video’s Carbonite 2M 24 Switcher MultiMedia Edition. The video control room is home to the switcher, along with two 60-inch Panasonic plasma displays for multi-viewer use with the Carbonite, along with three 24-inch LCD displays for preview use. The church staff records to two solid-state hard drives using Blackmagic’s Hyperdeck Studio Pro. Four Mac Pros are used for video playback, lyric projection and live streaming of services, using Livestream as their streaming service provider.

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“We currently run five cameras,” Groves notes. “However, these are still our older cameras [three Sony D-30s and two Canon XH-A1s]. Right now, we’re meshing our standard-definition cameras with the high-definition infrastructure, which took some doing, but works great now after some trial-and-error and many converters.” With regard to the new Yamaha system, Groves said the system has unbelievable clarity. “It’s amazing when you have the system on and can’t tell it’s on,” he says. “Before the installation, our system was pretty noisy from the analog wiring and patch bays, but now there is no noise at all. The clarity and depth of sound we’re getting from this system is amazing!” CE

Lisa Young is a publicist for Yamaha Commercial Audio Systems, Inc.

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FINANCIAL EDUCATI Asbury United Methodist Church (Madison, AL)

A 2013 “Good Steward” Award winner in the area of financial education / ministry, in 2009 Asbury United Methodist Church launched a church-wide focus on financial repentance that included sermons, story-telling, and educational environments. The church registered about 970 individuals — at a time when it hosted 2,000 in Sunday worship attendance — in its Momentum program, which included the Financial Peace University (FPU) ministry offering. Both programs are designed by financial guru Dave Ramsey. Many of the spiritual adventures that started continue to this day. Besides healing marriages, lowering stress, and strengthening families, Asbury’s church family was (and is) paying off debt and creating emergency funds. “We’ve been offering FPU for more than 12 years at Asbury and have put more than 3,000 people through the course,” explains Executive Director Jon Bridges. “Many of those who [participated] were from the community and not members or regular attenders at Asbury.” Meg Grunke, public relations senior coordinator for The Dave Ramsey Show and The Lampo Group, says the church has done great work with stewardship. “The goal of Momentum is to put through 80 percent of the congregation,” she points out. When you say the Momentum program was launched “church-wide,” what does that mean? Bridges: We started in fall 2008 by putting our entire staff and most of our lay leadership through FPU. Then, in October/November that year, we advertised our stewardship promotion, which would start in January 2009, to the whole church. We started with a sermon to introduce the entire effort, and then started in on 13 weeks of classes. Our children’s ministry developed age-appropriate classes called “Financial Fun” that went along with the topics the adults were learning each week. Every age group was engaged! Since then, we’ve continued to offer FPU — and the new Legacy Journey program — classes year-round. In what ways were you able to extend your reach to “blanket” the congregation? Bridges: Getting the clergy, staff and lay leadership onboard early was key. We also used personal invitations, word-of-mouth, announcements in classes and worship services, video promotions, website announcements, and social media to get the word out. What form did the financial repentance-focused sermons, story-telling and educational environments take? Bridges: One of the excuses we wanted to take off the table was, “It just won’t fit into my schedule.” So, we offered FPU at 11 different time slots over six days, each week, for the 13 weeks. There was a class for everyone’s schedule. The sermons coincided with the first week and last five weeks of the classes, so we could have a great, positive finish. Every adult Sunday school class, weekday bible study and small group was encouraged to focus on financial stewardship during this period of time. How were these offerings received by members early on? Bridges: Very well, I’d say. Financial stewardship isn’t something we talk about at Asbury every so often; we talk about it a lot, and offer Financial Peace University — and now Legacy Journey —classes year-round. So, while the magnitude of a church-wide effort was unusual, talking about financial stewardship was not.

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Did the reception change (warm up, cool down, etc.) over time? Bridges: I think everyone warmed up to it as time went on. When a large group of people have a common topic of discussion that affects every aspect of their lives (money!), it creates a buzz. And, the time of the year when we decided to launch this effort was no accident. January is traditionally when: 1) People make New Year’s resolutions about doing better financially, and 2) They get all their credit card bills from their Christmas spending. It’s a great time to address financial stewardship in the church. CE — Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh

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First Baptist Church of Orlando (Orlando, FL)

A 2013 “Good Steward” Award winner in the area of food service, First Baptist Church of Orlando (Orlando, FL) serves more than 250,000 meals a year and generates in excess of $1.6 million in selfsustaining revenue. As Hospitality Director Marcus White details, the church’s kitchen is 4,000 square feet, with an additional 25,000 square feet of designated dining space. A full-service café — with seating for 100 — is also onsite, as is plenty of meeting and small event space. “Our church (which has a 5,000-seat sanctuary) lends itself to lots of conference and concert events that our Food Service Ministry is usually heavily involved in,” he says, citing the example of the four-day annual Exponential Conference, which attracts more than 4,000 church planters from all of the world. “We handle many of their dining needs,” he points out. You serve more than 250,000 meals a year at FBC Orlando. Is that three meals a day? Are you also serving school children? Catering events? White: Our services include a cafeteria for 1,000-student private school, café service five days a week for our 400+ church staff and guests, as well as banquets, weddings, funerals receptions, conventions, conferences and more.

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Is the $1.6 million in revenue driven by one type of food outreach versus others? White: We try to keep the cost to the guest as low as possible for the cafeteria and for the Wednesday Night Fellowship dinner, usually resulting in a small loss. Thus, our banquets (especially our outside group events) are typically our driving revenue source which financially supports the other areas of operations we have. Last year was a challenging year for our church and other organizations in our community which use our Food Service Ministry’s services. That forced our ministry to be creative in finding ways to still host the events, but save the ministries money so they can still do the events. As you’re driving revenue, how are you also keeping costs down in your food service ministry? >>

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White: This question is best answered in categories. First, one major way that we control costs is through the intentional efforts of hiring and using paid Christian professionals to lead and manager our Food Service Ministry. This allows us to put systems in place that help us control costs, such as proper training and ordering procedures. We also use a tremendous amount of line-level volunteers for our kitchen and other areas of labor needs, including the use of unpaid interns from a local culinary school, as well as interns from various job training programs in Central Florida. By far, our best area of cost controls is through our purchases. We believe strongly that every church should be a part of a group purchasing organization (GPO). We highly recommend Navigator, the company we use. Being a part of their buying power has our saved our ministry more than $400,000 in the last nine years compared to our previous invoice pricing. It has also provided us with more than $60,000 in rebates that we wouldn’t qualify for, or have the time to file for, on our own. Those figures are just the savings we’ve seen in the Food Service Ministry; the GPO program also allows for savings throughout the rest of the church’s purchases. I know you feel strongly that a food service ministry is best served by being self-sustaining, financially. Can you talk a little more about that? White: Every church has different goals and intentions for the use of their Food Services. Some churches prefer to only charge the food cost to the ministry and will cover the labor and other expenses from the main budget. Other churches will try to cover the food and labor only. We believe strongly that, with our church and the size of our Food Service Ministry (and potential for even more growth), our goal is to cover all expenses for the entire ministry, including equipment, facilities costs, admin costs and the rest of the overhead — all from the revenue gained from hosting events. This has been the goal we have been striving towards for the last eight to 10 years. Each year, we get a little closer to attaining it by slightly raising our prices and increasing our services and events. Achieving this goal is truly a win-win for everyone. The church gets to have a support ministry on campus that allows its in-house ministries, members and guests to host high-quality events. At the same time, we’re able to provide outreach services and events to our community — excellent, high-end banquet hotel-quality services at non-profit pricing. Most important, the many guests who come to those events often come to our church campus for the first time, and then consider coming to church on Sundays. This makes the Food Service Ministry another doorway into the life of our church. CE — Reporting by RaeAnn Slaybaugh

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Retirement planning and its impact on your CHURCH’S FUTURE Recently, I went to a home improvement retail store and was greeted warmly by an employee who, in my estimation, couldn’t have been younger than 70. I told him I came to buy a water dispenser. He said he knew exactly where to find it and motioned me to follow him. But, because he couldn’t walk fast enough, he instructed me to go ahead and promised that he’d be just right behind me. When I finally found the water dispenser, he was nowhere in sight, so I asked another employee to help me plop the heavy item into my shopping cart. I drove home feeling sad for the old man. I don’t think stocking shelves, mopping floors and answering customers’ questions were his idea of golden years. Then, as a pastor’s wife, I thought about the hundreds of baby boomer pastors who might be heading in the same direction — needing to work past retirement, at a time when they could no longer effectively meet the demands of ministry. According to a recent Barna research, the median age of mainline senior pastors in the U.S. is 55, and an unusually high number of boomer pastors have no plans of retiring in their mid-‘60s. According to Jim Cook, national outreach manager for the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board (MMBB), approximately 60 percent of the ordained ministers who are active participants in MMBB’s retirement plans are age 55 or older. Cook helped me realize the impact of retirement planning on the future of a church. He says when pastors and their churches properly plan this milestone, it leads to an orderly transition to the next generation. However, when churches are ill-prepared for this event, it could mean that aging pastors would be staying at the job longer (when their capacity is diminished), or congregations would

As a pastor’s wife, I thought about the hundreds of baby boomer pastors who might be heading in the same direction — needing to work past retirement, at a time when they could no longer effectively meet the demands of ministry. have to find ways to support retired pastors who don’t have the means to fully support themselves. In many large congregations, often the issue is designing a plan to benefit the entire staff, not only the senior pastor. Offering some level of benefits to as many staff as possible is a good business practice, says Cook, because it can be a competitive advantage in hiring certain classes of workers. It can also give employees the freedom to make intelligent decisions about the continuation of their ministry, he adds.

“When a church has a thoughtful and caring approach to salary and benefits that’s grounded in a model of biblical stewardship, it really can help in hiring the best staff, retaining them and enabling them to transition into retirement at an appropriate time for themselves and the congregation, and for all the right reasons,” says Cook. Mark Simmons, business manager at Christ Community Church of Milpitas, says it’s the moral obligation that drives most congregations to provide retirement benefits to their full-time staff. “No congregation with a heart would feel right having a pastor [or staff] faithfully serve for 20 to 30 years and reach retirement age with NO retirement contribution by the church.” In the end, I believe it all boils down to good stewardship of your church’s greatest resource — your people.

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