All posts from “August 2011”

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August 30, 2011

One Church Receives an Unexpected Tax Bill

Why churches must understand unrelated business income.

A church in Mount Vernon, Washington, thought it didn't owe taxes. But that changed after a recent state audit, when the state said the church owed $180,000 in back taxes and penalties, according to a TV news station.

The church charges admission to a small amusement center. All profits support the church's ministry. Previously, the church thought that since these admission fees supported the ministry, taxes were not owed. The state's department of revenue disagreed, although it lowered the amount owed to $58,000 after reviewing the case and waived all penalties and interest if the church can commit to paying.

Continue reading One Church Receives an Unexpected Tax Bill...

August 26, 2011

A New Look for the Managing Your Church Blog

Helping keep churches safe, legal, and financially sound.

Welcome to the Managing Your Church blog—we're glad you stopped by.

If you came looking for, you're still at the right place. We've made a few changes, though, as you probably already can tell. We've slightly adjusted our name to better reflect the nature of what we cover. We've also unveiled a new look. Don't worry, though—you can still count on the same quality content and conversation on church management and leadership topics that matter to you. Whether it's law, tax, finance, safety, staff, or office issues, we're here to help.

As you can see from the site's new tagline, we hope our information, resources, and insights help church leaders keep their churches safe, legal, and financially sound. Join the conversation today!


Matt Branaugh

August 25, 2011

One Solution to Education Cutbacks

As schools continue cuts, your church faces an incredible opportunity for service.


Editor's Note: As a follow up to our posts, "What's a Congregation Worth?" and "Church Giving on the Rebound?" we came across this article by Dave Staal on our sister site, (Dave also played an integral role in the development of our Reducing the Risk resource). It's a timely read as the back-to-school season arrives:

Our local newspaper ran a front page story that examined a local church's financial turmoil. Faced with a steep drop in giving that began years ago, the article detailed how leadership made changes to cope with this crisis in order to keep the doors open and serve those who attend.

One of their changes deserves more than glancing consideration. Specifically, the church has eliminated staff positions and covers important tasks with volunteers. Not a groundbreaking strategy, I know. But cut and paste this situation outside the church walls and you'll see a timely opportunity to make a difference in others' lives—an idea worth a second look for any church.

To start, consider this prediction: Your state has cut the K-12 education budget and further cuts appear in the budget currently under consideration. Like the church in the news, local administration will need to make changes to cope with these steep drops while keeping doors open and serving the children who attend school.

I make no claims to understand the particulars of state and local education budgets. But I do claim to care about the impact on children.

More safe predictions: As your local schools deal with budget cuts, services will begin to dwindle and disappear. Support staff positions will face elimination. Class sizes will increase. Programs will go away. Activities will stop—especially as the number of adults serving children decreases.

Can you see the opportunity?

Your church can provide much-needed, sure-to-be-appreciated volunteer assistance to a school. Imagine the impact of a school, and the community it serves, recognizing your church as a solution to problems. The greatest resource a church can share with a community is love, as delivered through the active involvement of those who attend.

"Do people really notice?" you ask.

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August 22, 2011

When Someone Disrupts the Church Service

How to respond to a disruptive—and possibly dangerous—person.


The feature article this week on, a sister site of ours, looks at the delicate balance between ministry and safety. In "Dealing with Dangerous People," we go deeper into how church staff and lay leaders should approach an individual who may pose a threat to the church.

The article is timely for a number of reasons, including an incident last week in which an intoxicated man disrupted a church service in Louisville, Kentucky.

The types of threats addressed in the article include:

Continue reading When Someone Disrupts the Church Service...

August 18, 2011

Fraudulent Calls to Churches

Responding to desperate requests for help.


Churches often receive calls for financial help. The most difficult part of these conversations is determining the honesty of the person on the other side of the phone line.

When churches in Florida received a call from a man claiming he needed financial assistance to travel to be with his dying child, a dozen churches called their County Sheriff’s Office fraud hotline, according to a CBS news station. Other churches and individuals gave money to the man without knowing that he was lying. Fortunately, the man has been arrested.

Dan Busby, president of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), says that creating a policy may protect against this: “Your church would be wise to establish criteria for individuals who may receive assistance. It should also adopt policies on how benevolence funds should be disbursed. A board-approved benevolence fund is an excellent way to handle gifts for needy individuals.”

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August 16, 2011

Social Media Background Checks

Clever tool or legal minefield?


Editor's note: Mike McCarty is an "Ask the Expert" on our sister site and the founder and CEO of Safe Hiring Solutions, a professional provider of background checks for churches, nonprofits, and other organizations and individuals. Recently Mike posted an article on his blog site discussing the pros and cons of using social media sites for background checks. Because of his expertise in this area and the timely nature of the topic, we are making his article available as a guest post here for our readers.

How many of us have narrowed our hiring decision to a single candidate and then done a Google search of the applicant's name and bounced from Facebook to YouTube to Twitter and the blogosphere to see what else we can learn?

The internet is the Wild West 2.0, a wide open, unregulated, and unfiltered expanse of 160+ million blogs, 80,000 new blogs daily, 550 million Facebook users, 67 million MySpace users, 41 million LinkedIn users, 490 million YouTube users logging 92 billion (that's a 'b'—billion!) YouTube views per month.

An organization would be crazy not to peek into the social media window.

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August 8, 2011

Before You Hire, Pick Up the Phone

How one pastor could have easily avoided a hiring mistake.


Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from What They Didn't Teach You in Seminary, a new book by James Emery White (Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2011):

I saw him at a church conference. He lit up the stage. He was one of the most electric worship leaders I had ever seen. Young, handsome, talented. I went after him. I had to be a bit discreet—it felt a bit like stealing. He was, after all, serving at another church. But that just added value to his stock, particularly considering the church he was at. So the covert seduction began.

In the end, I got him. I was elated. Buckle your seat belts, church growth world—it’s time for warp speed! I had just nabbed the up-and-coming worship leader at one of the nation’s most prestigious megachurches.

In less than twenty-four months, he had been removed from ministry and placed under church discipline. He eventually left the ministry, and to the best of my knowledge, he has never served in a church since.

Not long afterward, I interacted with the senior pastor of the church from which I had procured my wunderkind. He graciously asked how my new hire had worked out, and I had to sheepishly tell him that, well, he didn’t.

I told him the whole story. After I was done, he said, “I’m not surprised. We had been having issues with him for months. Just before he left, I had entered into some pretty serious conversations with him attempting to confront the very kinds of things you have had to deal with. I was deeply concerned that he went to another church before we could work through anything.”

And then he said words that have haunted me and instructed me ever since:

Continue reading Before You Hire, Pick Up the Phone...

August 4, 2011

Churches: Get Your I-9s in Order!

Feds cracking down on employers' immigration records

If an immigration agent came to your church, would you have the paperwork on hand to verify that all of your employees are eligible to work?

More and more employers are discovering the answer to this question the hard way. According to a July issue of The Kiplingler Letter, "The feds are cracking down on employers with paperwork audits. With just three days' notice, immigration officials swoop in to check the I-9 forms that firms must file attesting to the eligibility of new employees to work in the U.S. Both the number of audits conducted and the amount of fines collected are way up…even technical errors, such as lack of a ZIP code on an address, are prompting fines."

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August 2, 2011

Surge in Copper Theft Continues for Churches

Air conditioners are being destroyed and stolen


A surge in U.S. copper thefts has continued throughout the summer.

“We've had copper robberies since forever, but we've seen a spike so far this summer," says a police officer in a recent Reuters article. Fueling more thefts: the rising value of copper during the summer. Since we last wrote on copper theft in late May, the price of a pound of the industrial metal has gone up around $31—from around $412 to $443.

Churches are a major target for these thefts.

“In the first six months of 2011, we have had 679 claims involving theft of copper,” says Patrick M. Moreland of Church Mutual Insurance Company. “Damage from these claims is approximately $5.6 million.” Compared to the first six months of 2010, this is a 36% increase in claims, and a 30% increase in cost of damage.

Continue reading Surge in Copper Theft Continues for Churches...