Why word choice may undermine tithing and other acts of worship.
Editor's Note: Dan Kimball originally wrote this piece for his blogVintage Faith. He allowed us to publish an edited version here as a guest post:
I have become very aware of the power of words—and the power of defining words. In the Christian culture we have created, I don't believe we can ever assume we mean the same thing anymore when we say terms like "gospel," "Jesus," "salvation," "inspired," "evangelical," "evangelism," "missional," and so on. I have learned (sometimes the hard way) that you need to ask someone their definitions of terms with specific meanings to understand how theirs may differ from yours.
One of these terms is "worship."
I question how we have overwhelmingly defined "worship" to primarily mean music and singing, often to the detriment of other acts of worship, such as giving.
Create policies and procedures to protect older adults in your church.
Many churches create child abuse protection plans to keep kids safe from abuse. Older adults, especially those who are housebound and unable to fully care for themselves, deserve similar protection, too. Seniors who have family members or caretakers that come into their homes to visit and care for them are especially vulnerable to neglect, exploitation, and abuse. Here are three things your pastoral staff should know and do to keep older adults in your church safe.
Do you have volunteers who regularly visit shut-ins? Or a ministry to seniors that requires volunteers to serve one-on-one with the elderly? If so, take precautions to screen these workers carefully. Most abuse claims for churches hinge on the screening and selection process used for staff and volunteers. To reduce the risk of negligent screening, take care to select volunteers with clean background checks, strong references, and at least a six-month history at the church. ChurchSafety.com gives several helpful tips for selecting volunteers for your ministry, including these:
Fill in the blanks. All prospective workers should complete a written application form. An application provides information that can be used to conduct reference checks and an interview.
Obtain asking rights. Your application form should include a liability release, signed by the applicant, giving you permission to contact references and obtain any criminal records. It also should release from liability the person being asked to provide information.
When members struggle financially, financial institutions may come knocking.
A national bank recently subpoenaed an Iowa church’s financial records, seeking information about donations made by a man whose business defaulted on a $650,000 loan.
The financial institution wants to know about cash and property given to the church by the man and his wife since 2005, according to The Des Moines Register newspaper. The man’s lawyer says the bank intends to try to collect money he gave by investigating to see if those gifts qualify as fraudulent transfers.
The amount the bank can receive from the church may depend on whether or not the man files for bankruptcy.
Getting a handle on the weekly ups and downs with tithes.
Vonna Laue, a partner with Capin Crouse and an Editorial Advisor for Christianity Today International's Church Management Team, discusses key points for why churches encounter giving declines, how to track giving, and how to encourage additional giving.
Watch the four-minute video below:
The management of church money is a complex task for any church finance manager, treasurer, business administrator, bookkeeper, or pastor. The Essential Guide to Church Finances will help you strategize, organize, measure, communicate, protect and audit the financials of your ministry—available at YourChurchResources.com.
A church in Boise, Idaho, received an unexpected property tax bill of $17,000 for leasing space to a local YMCA daycare, according to Northwest Cable News. The church charges the nonprofit about $9,500 a month to rent space often left unused during the week.
The county attorney reviewed the church’s non-profit application and determined that the area dedicated to the daycare, representing 18 percent of the church’s square footage, is making a profit. The county admits that it interpreted the tax law different in past years, but it believes this year’s interpretation is more accurate. The church has appealed to a state tax appeals board. A decision may take months.
In the video below, Rich Hammar reviews what he considers the ten most common payroll tax errors made by churches. Rich, along with Christianity Today, publishes a comprehensive tax review in his annual book the Church & Clergy Tax Guide, available at YourChurchResources.com. To stay up-to-date on all legal and tax information for the church year round, visit ChurchLawandTax.com.
What ministries should note about changing federal rules.
New federal regulations for cribs could lead to substantial penalties and civil lawsuits that may implicate not only your church, but also your church board. It's important your church understands these new regulations and follows them closely to avoid creating a liability for the church. Here are three resources to help you do that:
No review of World Vision case; 'ministerial exception' consideration next.
Editor's Note:The Christianity Today Liveblog, a sister site to ManagingYourChurch.com, covered Monday's important religious employment case development at the U.S. Supreme Court, and briefly previewed Wednesday's Supreme Court review of the ministerial exception. Both will be of significant interest to churches regarding employment matters:
Among Monday's many Supreme Court actions, the justices opted not to hear Sylvia Spencer et al v. World Vision, a case that had potentially significant implications for religious organizations' hiring practices.
The Supreme Court's denial of certiorari lets stand an August 2010 decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of World Vision ...
"Pulpit Freedom Sunday" raises questions as Election Day draws near.
This past Sunday, the Alliance Defense Fund expected nearly 500 church pastors nationwide to participate in "Pulpit Freedom Sunday." The event, organized for four consecutive years by ADF, is designed to challenge a 1954 amendment to the
501( c) 3 tax code that doesn't allow nonprofits to participate in political campaigns. The law is often referred to as the "Johnson Amendment" because Lyndon Johnson, a U.S. Senator at the time, introduced and advocated its passage.
This limitation has an unusual and unfortunate history. It was proposed in 1954 by then Senator Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas as a floor amendment to the tax code, and it was passed without explanation. Apparently, Senator Johnson was attempting to limit the political activities of a private foundation that had supported one of his opponents in a Texas election. It is clear that few, if any, Senators contemplated in 1954 that the newly enacted limitation could be used to threaten the tax-exempt status of churches. However, the limitation is worded in absolute terms—prohibiting any attempts by churches or any other tax-exempt organizations to participate or intervene in a political campaign—and therefore does pose a significant threat to churches.
The goal of "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" is to get "the Johnson Amendment declared unconstitutional—and once and for all remove the ability of the IRS to censor what a pastor says from the pulpit," according to an ADF website created for the event. In 2008, 33 pastors preached on political matters for "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," then sent copies of their sermons to the IRS. In 2009, 84 did the same, while last year, about 100 did so. Each year, including this year, ADF has agreed to defend—for free—any IRS attempts to prosecute participating pastors.
So far, no such challenges have occurred.
Articles and editorials about this year's event showed up nationally in notable newspapers and websites.