All posts from “November 2011”

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November 29, 2011

Delegating Responsibility in the Church Office

Hundreds of things need to be done in a church—here’s how to manage.

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Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from Pastor’s Handbook by John Bisagno (B&H, 2011):

Imagine trying to lead two million persons across a desert with no map, no food, and no water. Moses had an administrative nightmare not only in leading the Israelites and providing for their needs but also in judging them in matters of personal and national decisions. His was an impossible task.

You know the story. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, helped him get organized. The people were divided into groups, assistants were named, and the work efficiently done. Our Lord, of course, referred to Himself when He said, “On this rock I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18). Yet he poured his life into developing twelve leaders who would be the human instruments through which he would do the building.

The pastor of a growing and vibrant church must learn that he cannot be a jack of all trades, make all the decisions, and do everything himself. He must have help. Staff, secretaries, deacons, teachers, and the church members comprise a large reservoir of talent and abilities. Right now there is probably someone in your congregation just waiting to help you do the job.

Continue reading Delegating Responsibility in the Church Office...

November 24, 2011

Cartoon: Pastor Hides Staff Turnover

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If you need human resources materials for your church, see The 2012-2013 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff, and the staff section of ChurchSafety.com cover a variety of topics specifically geared toward church staff.

November 22, 2011

Church Business Practices are a Witness—Good or Bad

How you run the business of church speaks loudly to your community.

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Editor’s Note: Christianity Today recently reported that a church refuses to pay mortgage payments for expansion and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, even though it has the money to make its monthly payments. The president of the Association of Christian Economists thinks churches need to remember the way their actions affect others. Rich Kirkpatrick shares how church staff should remember this on a day-to-day level too, especially with how it relates to how others view the body of Christ:

After serving in ministry leadership as a paid staff member for over 20 years of my life, I have observed some very disturbing practices that go on in many church offices. These are the kind of things that we dare not whisper, because they actually are quite embarrassing. Many who work in ministry, including myself, are culpable to some degree.

Sometimes, it seems our workplace ethics stink in the local church.

Continue reading Church Business Practices are a Witness—Good or Bad...

November 17, 2011

Wandering Church Assets

How best to track church laptops, power adapters, and other moving items

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Asset tracking is part of church stewardship. Planning ministry events and activities is easier when there’s a clear list of the availability and location of church equipment. Insurance companies ask for an asset list when there’s an emergency. Audit and financial statement preparation requires this list, too.

But some assets are hard to track due to constantly being in the pockets, cars, and houses of church staff. Laptops and power adapters are often moving like this, pointed out Nick Dusenbury while participating in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability webinar “5 Hot Topics for Church Business Administrators.” Dusenbury is currently the director of finance for Forest Hill Church in Charlotte, N.C.

After using them extensively for a long time, church staff may inadvertently think small, movable pieces of church property are their own. If a power adapter is $100, and this happens ten times, that’s $1,000 of cost to the church, Dusenbury said in the webinar.

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November 15, 2011

Q&A: Limit the Number of Church Bank Accounts

Five reasons church treasurers should keep accounts to a minimum.

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Question: Our church changes deacons and session members every three years and this question seems to come up every time there is a change in elders. About nine years ago, we had five or six checking accounts throughout the church; the church's name was attached to the accounts for these various groups. Our finance team decided to close all of these checking accounts and instead run all funds through the treasurer's office. As a result, we are constantly asked by deacons, choir leaders, and multiple groups within the church to give them their checkbooks back. What are the pros and cons of allowing groups to open up checking accounts with the church's name attached to them?

Answer: It's not surprising to hear you're getting these types of requests. At first glance, it seems the most convenient to let each group have an account so that they can tap into their budgeted money when needed. But such an approach isn't advisable. The conventional wisdom in the church finance world is for churches to limit the number of bank accounts the church uses. Ideally, a church should use only one or two. The logic is generally based upon the following five tips:

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November 11, 2011

Rewriting Paterno's Playbook

What the church must learn from Penn State’s child abuse scandal

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On November 6, 2011, Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State defensive coordinator, was charged with molesting eight young boys between 1994 and 2009. Although he retired from Penn State’s football staff in 1999, he continued to use the school’s facilities for his work with The Second Mile, a nonprofit he founded in 1977 to assist at-risk kids.

Allegations against Sandusky range from sexual advances to touching to oral and anal sex. And even though there were some eye witness accounts of these actions that were brought to university and football staff’s attention in the course of the 15 years in question, Sandusky was never held accountable or reported to the proper authorities for suspicion of child sexual abuse.

Penn State’s scandal bears many of the same traits as clergy abuse scandals—and many similar repercussions. For instance, there are at least eight young men today who are living with the emotional scars of being sexually abused by an adult they trusted. If statistics bear out, there may well be others who were also victimized but are suffering in silence. Penn State will surely be facing years of litigation to find some way to compensate the victims and their families.

So far four Penn State employees have lost their job, and more could follow as details surface. A school’s whose reputation sparkled is now faced with the daunting task of rebuilding its reputation, and The Second Mile faces a similar task.

Given the scope of damage that’s done in a child sexual abuse case, churches would do well to learn from Penn State’s mistakes.

Continue reading Rewriting Paterno's Playbook...

November 10, 2011

Safely Depositing Weekly Collections

One church nearly loses $7,000 in offerings.

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A church in Centralia, Washington, lost nearly $7,000 from its weekly collections recently when a staff member accidentally left the bag containing the collected funds on top of her car and headed to the bank.

Fortunately, a man driving in this small community located about an hour south of Tacoma spotted the bag and picked it up. The man told KomoNews.com, which reported on the incident, he contacted the church and returned the funds because an honest mother and son returned his lost wallet some 40 years earlier.

"I could have done a lot with it, but I couldn't bring myself to do that," he told the outlet.

Until electronic giving and mobile giving options become the dominant methods for transactions among members and visitors, churches of all sizes will handle varying amounts of cash and checks every week. Although the risk is small, the opportunity exists for these offerings to get lost or stolen. If a weekly trip to the bank is necessary, make certain to have two people (preferably unrelated) go together during daytime business hours (in 2009, a couple was robbed while making a night deposit on behalf of a South Carolina church).

Churches also should look into remote-deposit capture technology offered by many financial institutions. A device provided by a bank will scan checks and send the information electronically; churches usually pay for the scanner and a monthly service fee based on volume.

For more help on this topic, check out Safe Ways to Handle Your Church's Money from ChurchSafety.com.

November 7, 2011

Preventing Identity Theft at Church

What church leaders can do to protect sensitive information.

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A church that meets in the Iowa Correctional Institute for Women says its former administrative assistant, who is also a former inmate, used volunteers’ personal information to steal 40 identities to open credit cards, according to the Des Moines Register. Social Security numbers, birth dates, and other information are required from volunteers to gain entry into the facilities. The church’s leaders believed all documents with personal information were secured.

While few churches meet in correctional facilities like this one in Iowa, this news still serves as an important reminder of the precautions leaders can take to safeguard the sensitive information about their staff and members that churches possess. Identity theft is a major issue in the United States, topping the Federal Trade Commission’s list of consumer complaints in 2010. A nationwide survey by Javelin Strategy & Research reports that 8.1 million adults in the U.S. were victims of identity fraud in 2010. The mean consumer out-of-pocket cost was $631 per incident in 2010, according to Javelin.

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November 3, 2011

Eight Tips for Securing Church Property

Don’t let burglars get the best of your ministry.

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Since June, two men in Texas have burglarized multiple churches in a bold way: They visit the churches during daytime hours to steal credit cards and employees’ wallets.

In one instance, they tricked a church employee by creating a distraction. Father Dean Lawrence, pastor of the targeted church, said one of the men walked through the front door inquiring about child care, while the other came through one of the side doors asking about work. Using the diversion, one of the men took the employee’s wallet out of her purse.
"We probably should be more diligent about making sure things are under lock and key," Lawrence told Click2Houston.com.

These burglaries serve as a good reminder for churches to secure their buildings. While it may prove difficult to stop someone with dishonest intentions from walking into your church building during the day, there are steps your church can take to protect the building and your employees throughout the week. Below are eight tips from ChurchSafety.com that can help you control access to your property and deter criminals.

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November 1, 2011

The Church Bulletin as a Tax Tool

Simple reminders can help members with end-of-year giving.

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To avoid jeopardizing the tax deductibility of charitable contributions, churches should advise donors at the end of 2011 not to file their 2011 income tax returns until they have received a written acknowledgement of their contributions from the church. This communication should be in writing. To illustrate, the following statement could be placed in the church bulletin or newsletter during the last few weeks of 2011, or included in a letter to all donors:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: To ensure the deductibility of your church contributions, do not file your 2011 income tax return until you have received a written acknowledgment of your contributions from the church. Some of your contributions may not be tax-deductible if you file your tax return before receiving a written acknowledgement of your contributions from the church.

Keep your congregation informed about the rules for substantiating charitable contributions by ordering the 2012 Charitable Contributions Bulletin Inserts by Richard Hammar. The insert is designed as a one-page summary explaining the rules of most importance to church members and can fit easily in church bulletins, newsletters, or contribution statements. The inserts are available in quantities of 100 or can be purchased for electronic download. Call 1-800-222-1840 or visit YourChurchResources.com to order.