All posts from “June 2010”

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June 30, 2010

Alleged Rape Underscores Church Office Security Needs

Ways church leaders can assess vulnerabilities before they're exploited

Editor's Note: A man hired to handle odd jobs at an Oklahoma City church was arrested last week and charged with raping a church employee. The man's background included two prior convictions for burglary, and two prior violations of protective orders, according to KOCO, a local television station.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim and the church during this difficult time.

Churches must think through possible vulnerabilities, whether it's the screening of employees, vendors, and contractors, or situations in which a staff member can become isolated, such as a church office. Below is "Strategic Security," a free article that first published in Your Church and now appears on our sister site It can help church leaders identify and address vulnerabilities before those vulnerabilities are exploited:

Continue reading Alleged Rape Underscores Church Office Security Needs...

June 29, 2010

Set an Example with Copyright Law

Avoid costly liabilities by obeying the law.

Editor's Note: This article provides a helpful overview. For a complete understanding of copyright law for churches, check out the fully updated and redesigned Essential Guide to Copyright Law for Churches by Richard Hammar, which is now available to pre-order for an August delivery.

Ministry leaders strive to set an example through their actions at every opportunity. Obeying copyright law should not be the exception. Music ministries and church websites are just a few of the areas where you are at risk for violations. It will be to your church’s advantage to understand copyright law and obey it.

About Copyright Law
Ignorance is not bliss. Violating copyright law—whether its done intentionally or not—takes honest wages away from the author. Being unaware of the law is no excuse and violations can be costly.

Continue reading Set an Example with Copyright Law...

June 24, 2010

Part 3: Doing Staff Reorganizations Well

Forming an effective team to implement vision.

Editor’s Note: Paul Clark, the Operations Pastor at Fairhaven Church in Ohio and a Contributing Editor to Your Church, recently underwent a major staff reorganization. In a four-part series that started two weeks ago, he explained what Fairhaven sought to change, and the first step for making that change—the dissolution of the executive team. Last week, he addressed the establishment of new title structures. Today, he explains how Fairhaven created a management team.

Step Three: Creation of a Management Team

Steps three and four reshape how we plan and execute our ministries. They involve establishing two functionally driven teams for vision and implementation. We’re calling these two teams the Lead Team (vision) and the Management Team (implementation).

Both teams are comprised of individuals who are invited to participate, not because of title, but because of their responsibilities, their gifting, or their ability to contribute to the goals of the team. These teams will be fluid, in that they can change at any time, based on the dynamics of our staff. We can make changes to both teams and not have to tweak our organization chart or our titles. New members can be invited to sit in, perhaps based on a particular discussion that’s relevant to them or to which they bring some expertise or special interest.

Unlike the former Executive Team, this new structure provides the possibility for greater flexibility and nimbleness, with less formality. The key is to have the right people around the table at the right time.

Continue reading Part 3: Doing Staff Reorganizations Well...

June 22, 2010

Healthy Board, Healthy Church

Every church needs a strong board, united in purpose.


Many churches are afflicted by "dragons," well-meaning saints who, one way or another, undermine the ministry and sap the vitality from a congregation. To make a church healthy, the place to start is by building a healthy board. Cohesiveness among the spiritual leaders of the congregation is a healthy core for healing the rest of the body and for fighting the infectious attitudes that spring up from time to time.

Some pastors go too far and "stack" the board with friends who can be trusted never to disagree.

"Every member of my board is someone I've personally led to Christ, and I've never had trouble with them," boasted one prominent Southern pastor to a group of seminarians. "I held one man in my arms as he went through delirium tremens. Now he's on my board, and I can count on his vote. He owes me."

Such crass political maneuvering is not only repugnant, but in the long run, runs against the pastor's best interest. The best board is not one where everyone plays follow-the-leader. A board that always votes unanimously the pastor's way will only be as strong as the pastor's personality. When the pastor is overwhelmed, run down, and needing guidance, a collection of clones won't be adequate.

At the same time, healthy boards are united in purpose and plan, respecting one another's differences. The strongest board is a team of coworkers willing to honor God not only with their decisions but the decision-making process. Their relationships are as important as their righteousness, and the relationship between pastor and board is cemented with trust; without that, the pastor's ministry will inevitably come unglued.

Continue reading Healthy Board, Healthy Church...

June 17, 2010

Part 2: Doing Staff Reorganizations Well

Why churches should re-evaluate the staff titles they use.

Editor’s Note: Paul Clark, the Operations Pastor at Fairhaven Church in Ohio and a Contributing Editor to Your Church, recently underwent a major staff reorganization. Last week, we published the first in a four-week series on what Fairhaven sought to change and how. Step One involved dissolving the executive team. Today, he writes about Step Two.

Step Two: Establishing a New Title Structure.

Titles can be extremely difficult to manage as a staff’s size increases and roles become more diverse and specialized. In order to reduce some of the problems mentioned in Step One, we decided to simplify and de-emphasize titles. Five general titles will remain, with clearly defined parameters. All staff will fit into these five employment categories:

Lead Pastor: This designation is reserved for the individual providing overall organizational leadership and reporting directly to the Governing Board.

Pastor: This designation is reserved for individuals who: 1) possess Bible college or seminary education; 2) are licensed (or are in the process of licensure by the District), making them eligible to perform sacerdotal functions; and/or 3) manage ministries and/or have other paid staff under their supervision.

Continue reading Part 2: Doing Staff Reorganizations Well...

June 15, 2010

Making Smartphones Smart for Ministry

Useful apps for the iPhone and other phones church leaders use.


Editor’s Note: Since its launch in 2007, the iPhone has changed the way we use mobile phones, creating a wave of applications and other features that turn these devices into mobile computers. With Apple upgrading its iOS4 software on June 21 (Wired recently compared iOS4 to Google Android’s 2.2), and launching sales of the iPhone 4.0 on June 24, we asked Carol Childress, a self-professed “iPhone junkie,” to share some of the apps she believes can help church leaders.

Time magazine named the iPhone the invention of the year in 2007. Just writing that sentence sounds like ancient history, and it is, in terms of innovations in current technology. I have fond memories of standing, sitting, reading, listening to music, and chatting with others who waited in line with me for the better part of June 29, 2007, to buy my first iPhone.

Despite all the hype at its release, I don’t think Steve Jobs, AT&T, or few others really understood how quickly the iPhone and other smartphones would change the telecommunications industry. The telephone now is almost the least functional feature of my iPhone. Actual telephone usage on all wireless phones is declining. In 2009, for the first time in the United States, the amount of text, e-mail, streaming video, music and other services on smartphones and other mobile devices surpassed the amount of voice data in cell phone calls.

A major reason for this shift is the introduction of third-party applications that convert an iPhone and other smartphones into a computer, a book, a wallet, a movie screen, a photo album, a remote control, or almost anything you can imagine in a single, hand-held device. Because of these apps, my phone has become the single-most indispensable tool I own. The same likely is true for ministry leaders who use smartphones. For leaders who have been reluctant to move to a smartphone, the scope of available apps, new smartphone models, and the increasing competition between carriers may be compelling enough to make the switch.

There are more than 225,000 apps available through the Apple App Store and more than 5 billion apps (that’s with a ‘b’) have been downloaded since it opened in July 2008. Paid apps account for almost three of every four available apps and the average cost of a paid app that is downloaded is $3.04. There are also more than 50,000 Android apps now available (Android apps are available off of their developers’ sites, from Google, Motorola, and a variety of other places).

With so many apps available, and 15,000 new ones submitted weekly to the Apple App Store, it’s hard to know which ones to download, which ones to keep, which ones to use to improve productivity, and which ones to help manage your life and time. Of the more than 250 apps I have downloaded, I have found several to be consistently useful in life and ministry.

Continue reading Making Smartphones Smart for Ministry...

June 11, 2010

Arkansas Floods Provide a Sober Reminder about Safety Preparation

A camping trip’s only as successful as it is safe.


Editor's Note: With floods hitting a campground in Arkansas today, killing at least 20 people and leaving dozens of others missing, we're pointing to two resources that church leaders can use to prepare for upcoming camps this summer. The first, "When Disaster Strikes," provides preparation guidance for serious situations, including flooding.

The other is a free electronic training resource during the month of June on "Creating a Safe Camp Experience." Below is an article from this download regarding safety for camping trips. Through the articles in the entire download, you’ll find the insights and advice you need to start planning your next camping trip with safety in mind.

We finally pulled into the church parking lot, the end of a long six-hour trip with our crew of teens. Parents waited, anxious to hear every detail of their child’s last four days of winter camping. And after ice games, tubing, horseback riding, canoeing, snowshoeing, hiking across a frozen lake, and much more—there was plenty to talk about.

One thing no one had to report on: accidents. Between the journey to and from the campsite and all the winter activities that took place in the freezing cold, we certainly had plenty of opportunities for trouble. But thanks to quality preparation and planning—both on our part as youth leaders and on the part of the excellent camp we attended—all we took home were our good memories.

Continue reading Arkansas Floods Provide a Sober Reminder about Safety Preparation...

June 11, 2010

Reminder: FCC Mic Deadline Hits This Saturday

Changes may prove costly for churches, as will non-compliance

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

The restriction includes churches.

Your Church published a more in-depth article on the FCC's ruling, "Racing the FCC Mic Deadline," which provides more details.

Churches need to determine if their wireless mic systems comply with the new rules. Several say the changes will result in thousands of dollars in costs. Church leaders who aren't sure whether their systems use the frequency can find out on a website created by the FCC.

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.

June 10, 2010

Part 1: Doing Staff Reorganizations Well

One church's reorganization challenges staff titles and hierarchies.

Editor’s Note: Paul Clark, the Operations Pastor at Fairhaven Church in Ohio and a Contributing Editor to Your Church, recently underwent a major staff reorganization, and reflected on the changes through his blog, Starting today, and continuing for the next three weeks, we’ll run a four-part series, “Doing Staff Reorganizations Well,” which details what Fairhaven learned and improved by evaluating its staff structure. Regardless of size, we think every church can learn from many, if not all, of Fairhaven's lessons.

At Fairhaven Church, we recently implemented a staff reorganization that we started working on last fall. The organizational structure we had when I came almost eight years ago was traditional, with the Lead Pastor overseeing about 10 direct reports. Leadership, mentoring, and oversight was limited to what he could do, given his own workload and time constraints. The joke was that it had been years since he had ventured into certain ministry areas of the church, even though those ministry leads reported directly to him.

When David Smith became the Lead Pastor, he reorganized, adding an Executive Team so that he could pour himself into four other guys, who would then provide leadership, mentoring, and oversight to the rest of the staff. It's a model that's worked well for us for most of the last five years.

Last fall, David and I stole away for a day and asked ourselves this question: "What organizational changes do we need to make in order to be an effective staff serving a church of 6,000?" Our current attendance is about 4,500. We filled an 8-foot whiteboard several times as we worked to answer that question. We took an honest look at what we do well, what we struggle with, and how well we are positioned to respond to the growth God is giving us. We worked through staffing and organizational issues down to a micro-level. It was an exciting day.

After a process of explanation and approval that involved the Personnel Committee and the current Executive Team, we presented our organizational restructuring to the staff. We noted that the church has grown quickly over the last few years and that many new staff have been added to respond to the growth in ministries. Although the staff continues to be healthy and the ministries are effective, we nevertheless identified some important organizational goals as we considered who we want to be in the future:

Continue reading Part 1: Doing Staff Reorganizations Well...

June 7, 2010

6 Questions to Ask in a Coaching Relationship

Dave Ferguson explains how "Coaching Conversations" help equip lay leaders.

At Community Christian Church, we value a culture that commissions each man, woman, and child for an outreach effort that they feel God has called them to fulfill. Part of that culture involves what I call “leading with a yes,” because as a pastor, I regularly get approached by people who ask whether their outreach idea is worth pursuing. By saying yes when they come to us with a worthy idea, we give them the affirmation they need to move forward.


But that doesn’t mean our “yes” guarantees them funding from the church, or the hands-on assistance of staff leadership. It’s just not always possible. When I’m asked how we train people to pursue their ideas, given these limitations, I tell people we error on the side of relationship, meaning we ask people to have relationships: an apprentice that they are developing and a coach that is developing them. If we can put someone into a coaching relationship, be it weekly or monthly, then that helps give needed support for various ministry efforts.

Community has developed a coaching model that guides both sides, whether it’s a staff member overseeing a lay leader, or a pastor overseeing a staff member. Part of that model involves the coach asking these six questions each time they meet with the leader they’re overseeing. We find these “Coaching Conversations” help develop these leaders, and they significantly enhance the experience for everyone involved:

Continue reading 6 Questions to Ask in a Coaching Relationship...

June 3, 2010

Top 10 Things Churches Need to Know About Zoning

A zoning attorney offers helpful information before you buy or build your next church facility.

Editor's note: Church law expert Richard Hammar says zoning is one of the Top 5 issues to land a church in court. To learn more about church property and zoning laws, check out Richard's Volume 2 of "Pastor, Church, & Law, 4th Edition."

Below are 10 things your church should know about zoning:

1. Zoning laws can prevent your congregation (whether by lease or purchase) from using land or buildings in many areas. They can also prevent you from expanding current facilities.

2. Include a "zoning contingency clause" in any real estate contract to protect your congregation from a financial loss if permission to rezone the property is not obtained by authorities.

3. Check zoning laws in advance. If you plan to purchase land or expand your present facilities, check with municipal officials before you shop.

Continue reading this article at, the website for our sister publication Leadership journal, where the article first appeared. Click here for a free trial issue.

June 1, 2010

Protect Your Ministry with an Employee Handbook

Learn how to create and maintain your ministry employee handbook.


Every ministry, no matter how small, could benefit from maintaining an employee handbook. A proper handbook defines what you expect from employees and what they can expect from you. By following a few simple tips, your ministry handbook can provide valuable legal protection if your policies are challenged in court.

Getting Started
Consult an attorney. Your policies and procedures may be subject to federal, state, and local laws. Have an attorney review your handbook before it is distributed to employees.

Keep it simple. Information should be concise and straightforward. An employee handbook is not an employment contract and it shouldn't read like one.

Continue reading Protect Your Ministry with an Employee Handbook...