All posts from “August 2010”

« July 2010 | Home | September 2010 »

August 31, 2010’s Top 10 Training Resources

What other church leaders are reading and using to keep their congregations safe.

Top10Safetydlds.gif provides expert guidance and risk management information on a broad range of safety topics. We’ve compiled the Top 10 most-downloaded resources from during the past year. Find out what other church leaders have read and used to train staff and volunteers and to develop a safe environment for ministry:

10. Confronting Gun Violence at Church

While the number of incidents involving guns at churches remains small, information and preparation are still vital. Begin by assessing the current security of your church. This download gives helpful advice on how to plan for the unexpected, whether or not your church should hire a security guard, and how to deal with the media in the aftermath of violence.

9. Screening Underage Workers

Children are often the most vulnerable members of our congregations, and their presence also presents some of the most serious liability risks. Most churches use minors to assist in various children's or youth programs. Screening these workers will help prevent youth-peer sexual harassment. Institutions can be found guilty of negligence in these cases for not providing security against such abuse. Learn practical steps to properly screen underage workers and access helpful templates for references and interviews.

8. Creating a Safety Team

When crisis arises, are you prepared? Don’t be taken by surprise next time. Learn to respond appropriately to situations ranging from common medical emergencies to crisis involving gunfire. Every church can benefit from forming a safety team that is trained to respond appropriately to various emergencies. This download will discuss the importance of having a team that can handle situations requiring security intervention, medical response, or evacuation.

Continue reading’s Top 10 Training Resources...

August 26, 2010

The Your Church Blog's Top 10 Posts from Its First Year

The topics that most interested readers like you during the past year.

I love milestones. And I'm a sucker for top 10 lists (thank you very much, David Letterman). Since today is August 26, it means the turns 1. Naturally, I went back and looked at our 10 most popular posts for the first year.

But before I do, a few observations about our past year:

1. Subject popularity appears diverse: 3 of the Top 10 posts fall under the Law Category, with 2 each under Finance and Safety, and 1 each under Staff and Office (the other post was a general one and didn't fall under one specific category);

2. Our highest traffic day came on February 23, on the heels of our post "Oregon Case Provides a Powerful Reminder to Churches," which reviews the implications of an appeals court's ruling that allowed a pastor's victory in a defamation lawsuit against his former church to stand.

3. The post garnering the most comments was "Where You Work Best," which discusses the pros and cons of worshipping at the church where you also work.

Without further delay, here are's Top 10 posts during its first year:

10. Legally Host a Super Bowl Party: 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 ... read more

9. The Top 7 Resources to Combat Church Embezzlement: Earlier this month, we looked at two recent cases of church embezzlement, and the "zero tolerance" stance judges are starting to take against these crimes. Unfortunately, yet another big headline has since emerged ... read more

8. 10 Questions to Ask About Your Church's Communication: As you approach 2010, consider these 10 questions to discuss your church’s communication efforts ... read more

7. What Will the New Health Care Bill Mean for Churches?: Now that President Obama has signed the health care reform bill into law, many churches are wondering what the impact will be on staffing costs. ... read more

Continue reading The Your Church Blog's Top 10 Posts from Its First Year...

August 24, 2010

People You Don't Want in Your Ministry

How pedophiles exploit churches--and what to do about it.

Like a triple espresso on an empty stomach, some news stories make my hands shake.
In our paper yesterday, I read about a Boy Scout camp director recently arrested for possession of child pornography. The FBI raided the camp to confiscate his computers. This man also worked at a YMCA.

Get ready to tremble with me.

Leadership from both organizations described how he passed extensive criminal background checks. One group performs them periodically and requires annual youth protection training. The suspect worked there for seven years. A senior leader remarked that, unfortunately, no manual exists for them to see exactly what a pedophile looks like.

By now, you likely see the connection between this news story and your ministry. You perform criminal background checks (right?), you conduct child protection training (right?), and the potential still exists for the wrong people to make it into your ministry.

Continue reading People You Don't Want in Your Ministry...

August 19, 2010

A Fast (and Free) Way to Assess a Church's Health

Discerning a church's spiritual vitality beyond "nickels and noses."


"Recent church assessments, such as Natural Church Development, Church Health Assessment Tool, Transforming Church Index, and REVEAL's Spiritual Life Survey, are very helpful—if your church has the time, money, and motivation to hire a consultant and/or get people to take surveys," Kevin Miller recently wrote in Leadership. "Many pastors, though, need a measure that is free and simple, more complete than weekly attendance but just as easy to determine."

Miller, the former publisher of Your Church who now serves as assistant pastor for a church in Wheaton, Illinois, set out to do just that. Inspired by the story of Virginia Apgar, the anesthesiologist who developed a five-point check for newborns (which is now largely credited with radically reducing infant mortality rates in the United States), Miller developed two different "Apgar" scores that churches can use.

They're free, and provide instant results.

The first, based on Acts 2, can be taken here:

The second, based on Revelation 2, also can be taken here:

What's your church's Apgar? As church administrators, executive pastors, or pastors, do you find this way of assessing your church's vitality a helpful alternative to the "nickels and noses" (budgets and attendance) approach commonly used?

August 17, 2010

Bothered by the Business of Church


I’ll admit that I like to pull a Scarlett O’Hara when it comes to the less attractive side of church leadership, like getting the parking lot paved or turning in a budget. “Fiddle dee dee!” I shrug. “I can’t think about that now! I’ll think about that tomorrow…”

I think the business of church can be excruciating. What do you get when you take a room full of over-committed volunteers, mix in some underpaid staff workers, and toss in hundreds (or thousands) of church-goer expectations? How about business leaders who are used to managing corporate dollars combined with under-resourced and over-ambitious “kingdom” plans? Welcome to church business.

Continue reading this post at

August 12, 2010

Can Google Hurt a Church Leader's Job Search?

Weighing online realities about our reputations--and ourselves.

I keep my CV updated. People often need it to introduce me for conferences. The strange thing is, in this era of shared information, I often do not know where my work has been published. My mother recently let me know that I had an article in an Assemblies of God journal. I had no idea. The viral nature of our information is the magical part of the web. But there are difficult things about it too.

I have friends who make sure that they are on top of each time someone is talking about them on the Internet. I'm not so vigilant. I usually run into stuff by accident, and recently there has been some rather strange things popping up. A "heresy hunter" has been trolling my information. He finds it offensive that I am a woman minister, so he writes unflattering portrayals of my work, peppered with name-calling. The site looks legitimate, and the blogger maintains that he is the pastor of a church, but when you try to look up the congregation, it's actually a Chinese restaurant. As a writer, I shrug and think, Any publicity is good publicity. But as a pastor, I'm not so sure. As church leaders, what we do hinges on our reputation.

This experience has made me wonder: what happens if someone on a search committee Googles the name of a candidate who has been attacked by a vicious blogger? How much will that weigh on the committee's decision? We can usually control what sort of information we put on the Internet about ourselves, but we cannot control what people say about us. We also have very little legal recourse in these situations (to dig deeper, see Daniel Solove).

How do we lead religious institutions in the Google generation? There are a few possibilities:

Continue reading "Search Committees and Google," at Off the Agenda, our sister blog. This article originally appeared in Faith & Leadership (reprinted by permission).

August 10, 2010

Food Safety at Church Potlucks

Don't let bad food spoil a good time at your next church potluck.


Bring out the food, and the fellowship is close behind. Church dinners offer an excellent opportunity to bring the community together. Poor food preparation can spoil a good time, though, so use the following precautions before your next church potluck.

Food Preparation

Look for warning signs. Don't purchase or use canned goods that are damaged or rusted. These signs indicate the food may not be safe regardless of how you prepare it.

Separate quarters. Keep raw seafood, poultry, and meat away from other foods. Use separate cutting boards and make sure any juices are contained.

Continue reading Food Safety at Church Potlucks...

August 5, 2010

When a Staff Person Isn't Doing the Job

Steps to follow before taking drastic measures.

Our sister site recently released a bundle of training resources titled "Essentials for Church Staffing." It includes the survival guide "Dealing with Staff." Below is an excerpt from one of the articles in that guide, suggesting what to do with an underperforming church employee before you get to the point of firing him or her.

From time to time, I suspect a staff member is malfunctioning. This hardly constitutes evidence for firing, although it may eventually lead to it. What are the steps to take before that drastic measure is called for?

* Quietly investigate. As soon as I suspect trouble, I put my ear to the ground. I ask questions of secretaries or other staff. I do so quietly and casually, asking, "What's going on with So-and-so? How are his groups doing? Anything new coming on line? What's happening in the department? How many people were in his last class?"

* Meet with staff. If two or three staff members suggest there are problems with the person in question, I call a meeting of the entire staff, not including the person in question. I ask how serious the problem is. Is it worth looking into, or should I just forget about it? That's usually when something comes out.

Continue reading When a Staff Person Isn't Doing the Job...

August 3, 2010

The Positive Experience of Check-In/Check-Out Procedures

These systems can be key to encourage returning visitors.


Parents desire confidence in nursery procedures when they’re visiting churches. One way your church will gain control of a critical piece of the childcare experience is by creating a well-managed check-in and check-out process. You’ll leave parents with a good impression of your church, knowing that their kids are safe.

Make a Good Impression
Set the stage. Parents will make key decisions—including where to attend church—based on the needs of their children. Set the stage for their experience at church with a friendly, but professional greeting process.

Continue reading The Positive Experience of Check-In/Check-Out Procedures ...