All posts from “January 2010”

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January 27, 2010

Top 10 Leadership Books from 2009

Useful titles for the inner and outer lives of church leaders.

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Pastors and church leaders are bombarded by the myriad books published every year and don't have the time and resources required to sift through, purchase, and read all that are of interest. For this reason, Leadership journal (a sister publication of Your Church magazine at Christianity Today International) released the Golden Canon Awards. This is a collection of the top 10 books most valuable for church leaders from 2009.

The 2009 winners were selected by a diverse group of more than 100 pastors and leaders, including contributing editors to Leadership journal. The list divides into two different sections—the leader's inner life that focuses on communion with God, and the leader's outer life that points to church leadership's best practices.

The top inner life book for 2009: Knowing Christ Today: Why we can trust spiritual knowledge, by Dallas Willard (HarperOne).

The top outer life book for 2009: Deep Church: A third way beyond emerging and traditional, by Jim Belcher (IVP).

To view all of the Golden Canon Awards, pick up a free trial of Leadership Journal or see the entire list of winners on LeadershipJournal.net.

"There are countless books published for pastors each year, and we appreciate the chance to recognize and honor those most deserving of attention," says Marshall Shelley, Leadership journal's editor. "We feel these books provide clarity and wisdom in presenting the gospel and leading a church wisely and well."

January 25, 2010

Discerning Eyes for Church Law, Finance, and Administration

Known, respected leaders to help guide CTI resources.

Christianity Today International's church management division, which publishes Your Church magazine, the Church Law & Tax Report and Church Finance Today newsletters, plus resources, such as the annual Church & Clergy Tax Guide and ChurchSafety.com, recently formed two important boards for its publications and resources.

CTI invited well-known and well-respected members from church legal and financial circles to an Editorial Advisory Board to bring authoritative and qualified eyes to its work.

The 14 advisors will regularly contribute to the church management division’s publications, websites, and resources, and also will regularly provide ideas, thoughts, and feedback, shaping the articles, videos, books, blog posts, and other resources that guide church leaders on important legal, financial, safety, and administrative decisions.

Noted church and business leaders who will lend their expertise include:

Continue reading Discerning Eyes for Church Law, Finance, and Administration...

January 22, 2010

FCC Ruling May Affect Many Churches

Microphone systems must comply with June 12 deadline.

Editor's note: Since this posting appeared on January 22, Your Church has published a more in-depth article on the FCC's ruling: "Racing the FCC Mic Deadline."

The Federal Communications Commission has set a deadline of June 12 for organizations to stop using any wireless systems, including microphones, currently operating in the 700 megahertz (MHz) frequency.

The restriction includes churches.

In its prepared statement, the FCC didn't indicate what penalties, if any, organizations might face for not complying. The FCC says the deadline will help eliminate potentially harmful interference with public safety systems now using the frequency. The deadline also will allow companies that purchased slices of the spectrum in 2008 to now pursue next-generation 4G wireless devices, the FCC says.

Church leaders who aren't sure whether their systems use the frequency can find out on a website created by the FCC.

The FCC's announcement shouldn't come as a surprise, but that may not ease the sting for church leaders who now face the prospect of replacing or modifying their current microphone systems to comply. Your Church covered this looming possibility in May, and included some possible solutions that may not require buying a new system.

In a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article, two church leaders indicated they'll likely need to replace equipment. One estimates it will cost the church $2,400 to replace four mics affected by the changes.

Most telecommunications providers currently use 3G standards, which allow simultaneous voice and data transmissions at faster rates of speed. The upgrade to 4G will accelerate the speeds of those transmissions and widen the types of services those providers can offer. Companies, including AT&T and Verizon, paid the FCC billions of dollars through a 2008 auction for the rights to portions of the spectrum.

January 19, 2010

Legally Host A Super Bowl Party

Churches must abide by NFL guidelines.

If your church is hosting a Super Bowl party this year, you will need to abide by three simple guidelines to avoid violating copyright law. Attorney David Middlebrook, who specializes in representing tax-exempt organizations and is a member of our Editorial Advisory Board, lays out the guidelines set by the NFL in this quick video clip:

January 14, 2010

Stetzer: Churches Lag in Economic Recovery

New LifeWay research says churches ''still waiting for recovery."

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Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research in Nashville, wrote a post today highlighting new research regarding continued economic pressures on U.S. churches. LifeWay gathered the research in November through phone surveys with 1,002 church pastors.

The overarching message: Churches are still waiting for a recovery.

That message is consistent with predictions Stetzer gave to Your Church back in May, when we hosted a roundtable discussion on our 2009 Church Budget Priorities research:

"Effects of unemployment tend to lag a bit for churches that emphasize tithing, but as the unemployment rate continues to increase, more congregations will get hit financially. Churches need to be ready for this impact," Stetzer said.

Fast-forward to the new LifeWay research released today and covered by USA Today and the Christian Post, among others:

Continue reading Stetzer: Churches Lag in Economic Recovery...

January 12, 2010

To E-Give or Not to E-Give

There's something psychologically important about writing a check and putting it in the plate.

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I stopped tithing a few months ago. Okay, no scandal here. I got married in September, and my husband and I moved to a new area and wanted to find a church. As we slowly combined our finances, it became painful. (He’s a cheapskate, and I didn’t want him to see every pair of earrings I splurged on.)

Within a few months we found a church that we really liked for various reasons. As the new year approached, we resolved to streamline our finances. Eager to get in our giving before 2009 ended for tax purposes, we talked about back-tithing. We decided to tithe the four months we had been married, which felt like a lot of money. It was daunting to put the check in the offering plate and watch the money pulled from our bank account. I then vowed to talk with someone about having our tithing automatically deducted from our account so we wouldn’t think twice about it.

On one hand, you could argue, “It’s not your money to begin with, so pretend like you never had it.” On the other hand, there’s something psychological about physically writing a check and putting it in the brass plate. If we all paid our taxes once a year instead of having them automatically deducted from our paychecks each pay period, we would probably feel the pinch much more. I often wonder whether I should stop the deduction so I could invest the money during the year and then pay up later. (But that, of course, requires some self-control.)

The authors of Freakonomics, economist Steven Levitt and journalist Stephen J. Dubner, report that economist Milton Friedman came up with automatic tax withholding from employees’ paychecks. Americans weren’t paying their income taxes, as I would imagine it’s hard to remember to save up a huge chunk every year. Levitt and Dubner also write a lot about the importance of incentives: We need a really good reason to eat our vegetables (think Vitamin C) and to resist the temptation to speed (think a $100 ticket).

To continue reading, please visit the original post "Confession: I Stopped Giving to the Church," on Her.meneutics, a blog for our sister publication, Christianity Today.

January 6, 2010

New Survey on Church Staffing

Understanding how lean personnel costs are--or aren't.

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How lean is your church staff? How does it compare with other church staffs? If you've ever wondered about these questions, here's your chance to find out.

The editors of Christianity Today International's Your Church magazine and Leadership Journal are collaborating with Leadership Network to learn about healthy ways churches keep staff costs down. If you'll take a few minutes to tell us about your church, you'll receive a copy of the findings, showing you what other churches have said.

Your replies will be held in the strictest confidence. The final report, and any subsequent articles and presentations, only will give group totals.

Please complete the survey by January 25, 2010. If you have questions or comments, there is contact information provided on the first survey page.

January 5, 2010

What Volunteers Want

Keeping your crew content isn't as hard as you think.

The red leather Bible on my bookshelf evokes twinges of regret. It belongs to Steve, a seminary student who volunteered on our youth ministry team nearly 15 years ago.

As a full-time intern, I was responsible for growing a ministry to a large suburban high school. I had recruited Steve and I admired his heart for God. Together, we decided he would focus on building relationships with the senior boys. Steve was older than most of our volunteers and loved basketball, so we thought he would have natural credibility.

Steve gave it his best shot. He showed up for athletic events, attended our programs, and joined in training sessions. By the middle of the year, however, I could tell his enthusiasm was waning. He showed that hangdog look of someone who feels defeated. He made less time for students. He skipped our end-of-year picnic.

Just before that, Steve had left his Bible in my car by mistake. Long after the picnic was over, I realized that I still hadn't connected with Steve to return his Bible and to thank him for his service. By that time, summer vacations were underway, Steve had finished seminary, and I had no way to find him. His Bible still sits on my bookshelf.

While he probably shared some responsibility, I have come to believe that I bear ownership for Steve's decline in morale. I simply didn't understand volunteers.

Today I still wrestle with the question of keeping volunteers happy and productive, even though I'm now a volunteer. I have the privilege of leading a ministry in our church that is almost entirely led, funded, trained, and staffed by volunteers. I have a deep appreciation for the unpaid workers in the Kingdom. I want to keep them motivated and connected. I am on a personal quest to discover what volunteers really want.

To continue reading this article from our sister publication Leadership journal, click here.