All posts from “November 2010”

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November 30, 2010

A Theology of Workflow

Matt Perman on how Christians should think about productivity.

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Matt Perman wants to help you get your inbox to zero. He wants you to effectively multi-task, organize your desk, and schedule your day. But Perman, who blogs at whatsbestnext.com and is working on a book on productivity, is interested in more than managing workflow. Christianity Today spoke with Perman, who is senior director of strategy at Desiring God, about how his tips to manage productivity connect to theology.

Do you think Christians downplay the importance of productivity?

Yes, I think some do. Because we can think, Oh, it's not spiritual. You have to make a living and learn to do that job well. So I realized that I need to know more than theology; I need to know how to do my job well. That made me realize the importance of learning about the practical.

How does productivity fit with theology?

Theology gives significance to the practical. The practical helps advance theology. It's not that we have theology over here, here's practice, let's do these practical things that will help theology; rather, we can think theologically about the practical. That means we realize that the practical things we are doing are part of the good works that God created us in Christ Jesus to do. So when we're doing practical things, we're actually doing good works. That's a theological understanding of the things we're doing every day.

Is it somewhat an American ideal to be productive? Could you take your message to another country and communicate a similar idea?

I want to define it as getting the right things done. Sometimes that means just being with people rather than accomplishing tasks. Being productive on a Tuesday night might mean saying, I'm not going to do e-mail tonight. I'm just going to hang out with my family. Biblically speaking, productivity is about fruitfulness and serving people. So there doesn't need to be a tension between being productive and having relationships, because productivity exists for the sake of people. We need to define productivity not simply in terms of work products—get as much done as possible—but what are the things, tangible and intangible, that serve people and make life better.

This article first appeared in our sister publication Christianity Today. Click here to continue reading it. For more on productivity and office dynamics, check out the 2011 Church Office Planner and "Managing Church Calendars," an electronic training resource.

November 25, 2010

Food Safety for Church Holiday Meals

Quick helpful resources for safe food and fellowship during the holidays.

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If your church is planning a Thanksgiving or Christmas meal, don't let bad food spoil a good time—learn how to safely prepare and store foods by reading the article "Simple Tips for Food Safety at Church Potlucks" and the electronic training resource "Food Safety Guide: Church Potlucks and More."

Also, if you'd like to learn more about food allergies, we recommend the electronic training resource "Responding to Allergic Reactions."

--From Richard Hammar's Essential Reminders, a free weekly e-newsletter. Click here to subscribe.

November 23, 2010

Giving Debit Its Due

A new tool that can help with online giving without tempting those who abuse credit cards.

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Bryce Collman started a business to help churches save money on electronic payment processing. Rather than use the bundled rates many larger processors charge to process payments by credit and debit cards, he offered interchange rates, which can save customers significantly.

Then he learned how many churches oppose credit card use.

"We heard repeatedly that they'd really like to take advantage of online giving, including the recurring component [which allows automatic tithing, even when people don't make it to church], but they're opposed to having their congregants use a credit card [since so many people are trapped by credit card debt]."

Other online giving systems accept debit cards, and some churches use PayPal as a way to offer a debit-based option. "But they didn't have any way to control that situation," he says, so if someone chooses to use or misuse credit, the church can't prevent it.

Collman's response is Ardent Giving Solutions, which prevents the use of a credit card for online giving.

This article first appeared in Leadership Journal. Click here to continue reading.

November 18, 2010

A New, Free Tool for Calculating Church Staff Salaries

Step-by-step worksheet helps pinpoint appropriate pay ranges.

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One of the best resource books for determining church staff pay, The 2010-2011 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff, now offers a free, easy-to-use tool for church leaders. The "Free Compensation Handbook Worksheets Download," walks church leaders through The 2010-2011 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff, helping them identify a range of values that they can use to determine a starting salary for a new hire or a raise for a current employee, or to make an assessment of how fair—or unfair—a pastor or staff member's current pay is.

Based on a national survey of nearly 5,000 churches, The 2010-2011 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff provides reliable church employee compensation breakdowns for a variety of scenarios, including part-time and full-time positions. This information can be used to compare a church's payroll plan, or an individual's salary situation, with information from those of thousands of other church workers nationwide. The information is organized by position, as well as other factors, including geography and demographics. Compensation profiles are then organized by categories so you can easily determine base salary, retirement, health insurance, and housing allowance.

Using the new "Free Compensation Handbook Worksheets Download," church leaders can take personalized church data, such as worship attendance, church region, education level, years employed, and denomination, reference The 2010-2011 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff’s range of data using helpful step-by-step instructions provided in the worksheet, and then develop a unique compensation package range for most any church staff position.

You can find The 2010-2011 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff and accompanying free worksheet for calculating church staff pay at http://store.churchlawtodaystore.com/20cohaforchs1.html. The free worksheets are the third order button listed.

November 16, 2010

Easy Ways to Boost Church Website Traffic—Part 2

More things that church leaders can do to improve online visibility.

Editor’s Note: Last Thursday, we introduced Part 1 of “Easy Ways to Boost Church Website Traffic,” with freelance business and technology journalist Joe Dysart offering us some ideas about ways churches can generate more traffic to their websites. We also asked Kevin Hendricks, editorial director for the Center for Church Communication, to share his take.

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Here are the rest of Dysart’s ideas:

• Become an easily quotable media source: Generate free—and valuable— news story links to your website by establishing a ‘go-to’ person on your staff for the news media. “Once you fill a niche and provide a unique perspective on your area of expertise, and once people are drawn to what you offer, they continue to return to you,” says Bob Baker, author of Poor Richard’s Branding Yourself Online, (Topfloor Publishing, 2001). “Not only because of what you do, but also because of who you are and what you bring to the subject.”

Places to list a staff member as an authority for your church include Experts.com; Newswise Contact Directory; Profnet; and The Library Spot.

Hendricks’ take: I'm not familiar with those specific sites, but I have seen http://helpareporter.com/ and that one seems pretty effective (mainly because it's reporters reaching out with specific needs, not just a general listing of experts). Of course becoming a trusted source for a media outlet is easier said than done. What works best isn't fancy new technology, but age-old relationships. Do some networking with the local media and you might be able to set yourself up as a go-to source. But it's got to be a real relationship, not just glad-handing and schmoozing.

Continue reading Easy Ways to Boost Church Website Traffic—Part 2...

November 11, 2010

Easy Ways to Boost Church Website Traffic—Part 1

Little things that church leaders can do to improve online visibility.

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Editor’s Note: Joe Dysart, a freelance business and technology journalist in Manhattan, recently offered us some ideas about ways churches can generate more traffic to their websites. Outside of the standard answers—an updated, well-crafted site design, a presence on Facebook, and experimentation with Twitter—Dysart offered some additional ideas that might not be so readily obvious to church leaders.

For additional ministry perspective and application, we asked Kevin Hendricks, editorial director for the Center for Church Communication, to share his thoughts as well.

“As Web marketing has matured, a number of tried-and-true techniques have emerged that consistently lure potential visitors to church websites in significant numbers,” Dysart tells us. “The easiest way to home-in on implementing these techniques is to first and foremost ensure you have a high-quality website. Once you’ve got the overall design of your website in place, there are key tactics you can use to ensure your site becomes a promotion engine for your organization.”

Not surprisingly, Dysart recommends churches form pages on Facebook to take advantage of the continued popularity of social networking among Internet users of all ages. “It’s a great place to post church videos, staff photos, coordinate events and be, as they say, ‘where the fish are,’” Dysart says. Dysart says to search for Oasis Church Miami and Hope Summit Christian Church on Facebook for good examples of using Facebook for ministry purposes.

Regarding Twitter, Dysart recommends a more experimental approach. “The key here is to hang back and ‘lurk’ awhile before participating. ‘Follow,’ or sign up to receive messages from a few churches first to see how it’s done,” he says. “The community here responds most favorably to individuals and organizations that have something to add—rather than something to trumpet.”

Beyond these ideas, Dysart also offers the following tips for churches to generate more traffic to their websites:

Continue reading Easy Ways to Boost Church Website Traffic—Part 1...

November 9, 2010

Should Pastors Know What People Give?

Does such information create temptation toward favoritism, or a needed discipleship tool?

A question on XPastor.org's Google Group asked whether pastors should know who gives what to the church. Is it primarily an issue of privacy, potential partiality, or accountability and pastoral care?

According to attorney Frank Sommerville, churches "should examine job and committee descriptions to determine who qualifies under a need-to-know standard." The reason: donor privacy. Those who have access "need to agree to a privacy policy requiring them to keep all donor information private and use it solely to perform their church duties," he says.

Churches must decide whether the pastor needs to know, such as for providing specific counsel and spiritual development tied to members' tithing. Once the church determines who has access, it needs to disclose this to the congregation so that donors "will have a realistic expectation of privacy," Sommerville says.

Here is how three XPastor.org members say their churches handle this question:

This article first appeared in our sister publication, Leadership Journal. Click here to read the rest.

November 4, 2010

Finding Grants for Church Building Campaigns

Churches that serve the community may be eligible for outside funds.

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Are there corporate or foundation grants available to fund your church building campaign?

There may be, depending on who you serve and how church facilities are used. Your best chance of securing this kind of funding is if your congregation is building or renovating spaces that are (or will be) primarily used for community ministry programs serving people from the larger community. These spaces are often multi-purpose—used by your church members on Sunday for spiritual formation classes or Sunday school, then used during the week, for example, for after-school programs or a health clinic.

Grants like this don't replace the need for individuals in your church to support your building campaign. Grants might make up a third or less of total campaign support. Often, it is the last funding received—like the "frosting on the cake." Most grants like this are local, so identify funders that give in your city or state to find ones that fit. Look for the grantmakers association in your state (at http://givingforum.org)—many of these groups produce indexes of grant opportunities by state or region. You will need to look at funders that make "capital grants" and that give in the program areas in which your church works (health, education, job training, and so on).

Some possible scenarios for capital grants:

Continue reading Finding Grants for Church Building Campaigns...

November 2, 2010

Should Churches Block Staff Access to Facebook?

Why preventing staff from accessing the site may backfire.

Editor's Note: Evan McBroom, a ministry communications consultant, recently shared a story with us about an event in which a church staff member who handles the office's information technology revealed he was required to block staff access to Facebook. Evan questioned the move, seeing Facebook as a potential online equivalent to in-home or hospital visitations.

"If you want to follow Jesus' command to love God and love others, then you can't block Facebook from your in-church computers and computer network," McBroom says. "Ministry leaders can absolutely love the people of your church and the people in their lives through Facebook. To block your people from Facebook is the same as saying 'people don't matter.'"

He shares more in this video:

Facebook One Another from Evan McBroom on Vimeo.