All posts from “July 2010”

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July 29, 2010

5 Ways to Develop Better Interns

How churches can commit better to the internships they use.

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I’ve recently thought about the use of interns, which happens frequently today in many churches. I know why: it’s a win-win. The intern gets experience, churches get more hands and (let’s face it) cheap labor, and everybody benefits.

That is, except if we violate some of the most basic tenets of good people management.
In light of some things I’ve observed recently and over the years, here are five ways churches can commit to creating internships that work well for everybody:

1) Commit to mentoring them. When you accept an intern on your staff, don’t just use the person to accomplish a task. An intern is not a traditional employee. Your commitment must include mentoring and coaching. It’s a commitment to a process, not just a project. The goal is to shape this individual into a more effective, productive future employee, not just get something from him or her today. That happens through a relationship, which is what an internship is about.

2) Commit to a specific time period. Unless the intern is stealing, lying, or doing something else worthy of dismissal, stick with the person for the duration of the internship. Don’t let someone go halfway in because they’re not meeting your expectations. Coach the person toward your expectations. If it still doesn’t go well, chalk it up to experience. Refuse to offer a recommendation. But don’t cut the individual loose. That’s desertion, not good management.

Continue reading 5 Ways to Develop Better Interns...

July 27, 2010

Where You Work Best

The pros and cons to working and worshiping at the same church.

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Can church employees work at one church and worship at another? Off the Agenda recently explored this question on our sister site, BuildingChurchLeaders.com with mixed feelings. Blogger Tim Avery asked these follow-up questions in response:

• If the church can't meet all of your spiritual and relational needs, do you expect it to meet the needs of others?
• Does your role impede your ability to relate to the community because you are placing too much weight on your responsibilities?
• Can you really fulfill your role well without being fully involved in that community?
• Is your perception of the church as employer something that needs to be fixed or fled from?

While Avery ultimately objects to the idea of having two church homes—one for work, one for growing—there are some church administrative assistants who would advocate for this situation.

Continue reading Where You Work Best...

July 22, 2010

How Churches Can Re-think Money and Giving

4 questions with Mike Bonem, author and executive pastor

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I recently posed four questions about organizational theory, leadership—and how those influence church giving—to Mike Bonem, executive pastor at West University Baptist Church in Houston and co-author of Leading from the Second Chair. Here is what he shared with me:

1) What connection exists between organizational theory and funding as it relates to churches?

In the for-profit world, money is the measuring stick of success. Increasing the bottom line by growing revenue is the driving factor behind business decisions, and they have developed sophisticated approaches for doing so, such as new products launches, market segmentation, customer retention initiatives, brand loyalty programs, and more. Businesses are also willing to look at strategic, long-term investments for the future, spending money today on something that might not pay off for two or more years.

For the church, financial resources are not the end but a means. The mistake that some churches make is to take a very simplistic approach to money as if it’s a dirty word. For example, we talk about discipleship strategies to move someone from a not-yet-believer to a fully devoted follower of Christ. We assume that their financial giving will grow as they mature, but perhaps we should have more explicit strategies in this regard. Or perhaps we should consider using cash reserves for an “investment” that is likely to bring in new members, people whose giving will “pay back” this investment in future years.

I am not suggesting that a congregation’s decisions should be run through the same financial filter as a business. There will be many decisions with no expectation of financial return, such as a low-income medical clinic or a ministry to college students. I am, however, suggesting that we could grow the resource base that is available for ministry if we learned from the corporate world.

Continue reading How Churches Can Re-think Money and Giving...

July 20, 2010

Should Churches Increase 2011 Budgets?

What church leaders around the country plan to do next year.

Christianity Today, our sister publication, recently asked several financial advisers, researchers, and other observers to weigh in on whether churches should increase their operating budgets next year. Here are their responses:

"What we see is cautious optimism on the part of our church members. Donations seem to be trending upwards somewhat. Some of them are still down five to 10 percent compared to a year ago, but there is increasing optimism on the part of churches as we see some positive trends in the giving."

Dan Busby, president, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, and an Editorial Advisor for Your Church

"The years of prosperity concealed underlying internal issues that are the real reason giving is down at some churches. During the time the economy was good and offerings were increasing, statistics say the offerings were not increasing on a per-giver basis. … They were growing their operating budgets by growing numbers of people. When the lean resource environment sets in, scarcity begins to clarify everything. For some of these churches, it clarifies that they haven't been healthy for a while, and the abundance of money was just covering it up."

Jim Sheppard, CEO, Generis

"Our church will not. In October 2008 there was a tsunami that hit Wall Street, and almost overnight there was crisis. That did not happen to churches. Churches do not experience tsunamis, but they are experiencing rising floodwaters of financial challenges. It isn't like bam, they all got slammed; it's like people aren't giving as much. Some of our people are out of work. There's not any one cataclysmic event, but rising floodwaters of economic difficulties that are more and more affecting churches."

Brian Kluth, founder, Maximum Generosity, and a Contributing Editor to Your Church

Read responses from Crown Financial Ministries' Chuck Bentley, The Financial Seminary's Gary Moore, Barna Group's David Kinnaman, Leadership Network's Chris Willard, LifeWay Research's Scott McConnell, and Generosity Monk's Gary Hoag at the full article here, then tell us what your church anticipates for its 2011 budget.

July 15, 2010

A Look at Christian Household Finances

Midway through 2010, survey shows signs of struggle and hope

Three out of four Christian households experienced stagnant or declining income levels during the past year. However, many of those households have managed to keep debt levels under control, according to results from the second annual View from the Pew, a constituency survey of 1,029 Christian households conducted during the first half of 2010 by Maximum Generosity and Christianity Today International.

Only 23 percent of households saw their family’s income increase from the previous 12 months. Meanwhile, as the U.S. economic recession continued, 44 percent saw their income stay the same and 33 percent saw their income go down.

Challenges with income did not necessarily result in higher levels of debt, however. The primary debt obligation for 64 percent of respondents was a home mortgage, according to the survey; only 35 percent of households reported car payments, and 70 percent said they actively pay off their credit cards in full every month.

“It’s a sign that a growing number of people are learning to actively eliminate and avoid debt,” said Brian Kluth with Maximum Generosity.

The View from the Pew results are consistent with ones uncovered earlier this year through the second annual State of the Plate, another constituency survey conducted by Maximum Generosity and Christianity Today International.

Continue reading A Look at Christian Household Finances...

July 13, 2010

Impact of Health Care Reform Issues for Nonprofits

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Editor's Note: Richard Hammar reviews the 2,500-page health care reform legislation that President Obama signed into law in March 2010 in the feature article of the July/August issue of Church Law & Tax Report. Rich's health care reform analysis also is available for individual purchase in Health Care Reform: How the new laws will affect your church--Feature Report.

H.R. 4872, the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (Reconciliation Act, P.L. 111-152), is a massive overhaul of the U.S. health care system affecting nearly all taxpayers, many employers, and many elements of the health care industry. The Reconciliation Act modifies legislation signed into law on March 23, 2010 that contains the bulk of the health reform law, H.R. 3590, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Health Care Act, P.L. 111-148).

The federal health care reform law and other recent tax acts will have a substantial impact on churches and ministries. Here are the main issues you may wish to consider:

1. Which organizations are subject to the employer mandate to offer "minimum essential coverage" under a health plan? Only an "applicable large employer" (employing an average of at least 50 full-time employees during the preceding calendar year) is subject to the requirement to offer coverage beginning in 2014. Most small organizations, since they have fewer than 50 employees, are thus exempt from the employer requirement.

Continue reading Impact of Health Care Reform Issues for Nonprofits...

July 8, 2010

Is Your Church Giving Raises This Year?

How different churches plan to approach pay increases in 2010.

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An interesting post recently surfaced in the Church Admin discussion group hosted on Yahoo:

"Situation: Our church is currently very close to our income and expense budget for the current year (fiscal year end in December). Last year, the board chose NOT to give any pay increases, but this year, some of them want to do so in next year's budget.

One board member feels that since some of our congregants are out of work, that we shouldn't give salary increases, even though according to our budget projections, there is no financial reason not to. He is very vocal that we shouldn't even consider raising anyone's pay.

Is anyone willing to share whether or not they are giving pay increases, and the rationale behind their decision? I'm especially interested in hearing from churches who are doing okay at meeting their budgets, and whether or not they are considering pay increases."

The administrator's question is an interesting one. If the economy is beginning to thaw—and there is still debate about whether that's actually the case—then should churches currently meeting their budgets consider pay raises for staff? Our 2010-2011 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff, which surveyed nearly 5,000 churches across the country, showed a small decline in salaries in 2009 (after a slight gain in 2008). This means many church staff members haven't received a bump up in pay in quite some time.

Here's how other church leaders responded to the question:

Continue reading Is Your Church Giving Raises This Year?...

July 6, 2010

Designing Print for Big Impact (On a Tiny Church Budget)

Your efforts can help you save money and design an attractive piece.

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If the word frugal conjures up images of your matronly aunt’s used tin foil collection, or the carefully washed plastic bags drying in her dish drainer you’re not mistaken, but being frugal is also simply being a good steward with the resources we are given.

When it comes to a church’s design budget, however, maybe we should be thriftier and less frugal. Though frugality is used with the best intentions, it has a negative connotation linking it with an effort to be simple, plain, and well, cheap. Simplicity in design can still be a great element in your creativity tool belt, but it is important to familiarize yourself with your cost-cutting options in order to stretch the limits of what’s available to you. Your design doesn’t have to suffer because of your lack of dollars.

Continue reading Designing Print for Big Impact (On a Tiny Church Budget)...

July 1, 2010

Part 4: Doing Staff Reorganizations Well

Forming the team responsible for the church’s 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 three weeks ago, he explained what Fairhaven sought to change, and the first step for making that change—the dissolution of the executive team. Two weeks ago, he addressed the establishment of new title structures. Last week, he explained how Fairhaven created a Management Team. In today’s concluding article, he explains how Fairhaven created a Lead Team.

Step Four: Creation of a Lead Team

The final step involves how Fairhaven sets the vision and direction for the church. The new Lead Team is comprised of a mixture of individuals who are invited to participate based on their experience, gifting, vision, and their strategic role in the broad scheme of ministry. It includes both men and women, ranging from Boomers to Gen X. It's an eclectic group, each representing a unique vantage point on Fairhaven and culture.

The Lead Team deals with four strategic questions:

Continue reading Part 4: Doing Staff Reorganizations Well...