April 26, 2012
Taxes, vacation time, and other things to clarify.
Bible college and seminary are great for a lot of things. In my experience, important skills you need to survive in an office, such as yearly budgets, business plans, and understanding a housing allowance, are not some of those things.
I love the education I received, but I am embarrassingly lost every spring when I try to do my taxes.
For rookie pastors, or for those who start a pastoral position at a new church, someone on staff will approach you within your first 30 days and start talking about things that affect your paycheck and how many days you get off for the year.
It will be tempting to not ask questions because you are intimidated or because of some silly pride that prevents leaders from asking questions. You can go that route and miss out on some deserved benefits. Or you can ask some honest questions and get clarity.
Continue reading Rookie Pastors: Keep the Devil Out of the Details...
April 23, 2012
How to protect property, funds, and employees when ministering to the poor.
Around lunchtime on a Friday, a man entered a Boston-area church and soon left with the church secretary’s purse, according to a local news station. The man claimed he needed money to support his five children. After the secretary went to consult the pastor on how to respond, the man—and also her purse—were gone.
The man also approached another church with the same story. That church gave him a $50 Target gift card.
Fortunately, the police caught the man at a local store using the secretary’s credit card, according to Fox News.
Benevolence ministry, like all ministries within a church, presents risk. Property, funds, and employees are at risk when doors are open to the public to request money from the church. Policies and preparation can minimize these risks.
Continue reading When Benevolence Ministry Becomes Risky...
April 19, 2012
Small church doesn't equal small message.
I go to an Episcopal church. We have liturgy. Our pews aren’t padded. We don’t do PowerPoint. We don’t have a visitor’s welcome center. Our website? Kinda lame. Our communications budget? A single line item for a phone book ad, which we cut. A communications committee has started and failed multiple times in the last five years.
We’re what you call a normal church. One of the little guys.
I say that so you understand I’m not from one of these cutting edge churches with communications directors and flat panel TVs and sermon graphics. We’ve got an admin assistant, and Janice puts together a mean newsletter.
So understand where I’m coming from when I say this: There’s hope for the little guy.
The people in this book talk a big talk. And many of them walk the walk. But for us little guys, it’s a little overwhelming. They’re debating microsites and we’re still high-fiving that we even have a website.
But don’t let that scare you away. Don’t let that intimidate you.
The truth is you’re already communicating. Don’t let the fact that you’re little stop you from making it better.
Here are some ways the little guy can step it up:
Continue reading Little Guys Can Do Big Things ...
April 17, 2012
May 2 event covers what churches must know about reporting laws and prevention.
Allegations of child molestation at Penn State University stunned the nation last fall. Even as the investigation continues, church leaders can learn from the tough lessons of this case, including recognizing abuse, the duties to report suspected cases of abuse, the mandatory reporting laws enforced by each state, and the civil and criminal liabilities associated with a failure to report.
In a free, live webinar co-sponsored by Christianity Today and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company on May 2, Richard Hammar will review these critical matters for church pastors and leaders and take questions.
Hammar's background with risk management matters, including his creation of a comprehensive training program designed to help prevent child abuse in churches, makes him uniquely qualified to address the laws that churches nationwide must know, the prevention plans they must make, and the responses they should give if allegations ever arise.
Space is limited for the webinar, so sign up today.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. With state legislatures, such as Georgia's, closely scrutinizing their abuse reporting laws, it's a prime opportunity for churches to assess their current practices and identify potential vulnerabilities. To go deeper on the ways churches can protect the children in their care, check out the following resources:
Continue reading Free Webinar: Child Abuse Reporting in the Aftermath of Penn State...
April 12, 2012
How church leaders should respond to a lawsuit.
Editor's Note: This guest post by David V. Edling first appeared on redeemingchurchconflicts.wordpress.com. It's related to the forthcoming book, Redeeming Church Conflicts, co-written by Edling and Tara Klena Barthel and scheduled for release in May from Baker Books.
Q. Redeeming Church Conflicts doesn’t apply to us because our church is being sued by non-Christians. So we have to listen to our lawyers, right?
A. If you are being sued by anybody, it is always wise to listen to your lawyers. Besides being licensed experts in the secular law, however, lawyers are not merely “attorneys-at-law;” they are also to be “counselors-at-law.” That means they are to be aware of what is important to you as Christians and how your faith will be expressed even as you respond to a lawsuit. And that means that Redeeming Church Conflicts does apply because you don’t stop becoming people of faith just because you are being sued by non-Christians. Christians, of course, should retain Christian lawyers who will be sensitive to the priorities and values of their fellow believers.
Tara and I define “redeeming church conflict” as:
Continue reading Redeem a Church Conflict by Listening to a Lawyer? Really?...
April 10, 2012
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month—this video shows how your church can act.
April is Child Abuse Prevention month. Church should be the safest place on earth, where kids can learn and grow in their faith. Sadly, many children have experienced abuse—physical, emotional, and sexual—at the hands of people they trusted at church. The video clip featured here highlights curriculum your church can use for training all staff, volunteers, and board members on best practices for protecting kids at church.
We also have more resources for keeping children safe in our store and on ChurchSafety.com, a joint ministry website of Christianity Today and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company.
April 5, 2012
Michigan child-rape case spotlights clergy-penitent privilege.
A child sexual assault case in Michigan has garnered national interest in recent weeks because the evidence used to bring criminal charges against the alleged perpetrator included testimony from his pastor.
A county judge deemed the inclusion of the pastor's statements to be a violation of the state's clergy-penitent privilege laws, and tossed it out from the county prosecution's case against the man. The suspect, who is accused of raping a girl when she was 9, faces a mandatory 25-year prison sentence if convicted.
The prosecution appealed the county judge's decision based on two factors: One, the suspect's alleged confession was given to his pastor in the presence of the suspect's mother, thus reducing expectations for confidentiality. And two, the pastor requested the meeting, not the suspect, suggesting the suspect wasn't seeking spiritual counseling when the meeting occurred.
This case once again illustrates the challenges with understanding how clergy-penitent privilege works. Richard Hammar has written a few times about the clergy-penitent privilege on ChurchLawAndTax.com, including a case in Florida in which the privilege didn't apply, another case in Rhode Island in which it didn't apply, and a Q&A about the difference between privileged and confidential communications. These articles are critical first steps for pastors to understand how clergy-penitent privileges work, as is a thorough reading of applicable state laws.
For more help, the first volume of Pastor, Church & Law by Hammar includes an extensive checklist that pastors and church leaders can use before any potential communications that may involve a confession.
April 3, 2012
As church income and worship attendance increase, so do pay and benefits.
The 2012-2013 Compensation Handbook for Church Staff, Christianity Today’s bi-annual survey of compensation levels based on 4,600 participating churches, shows senior pastors’ salary and benefits at an average $82,938 this year. This represents a 2.7 percent increase from the $80,745 average reported in 2010.
Senior pastors rank at the top in total compensation plus benefits for church staff. (See the "Top 7 Paid Full-Time Positions in Church.")
In general, as church income and worship attendance increase, compensation and benefits also increase.
While a salary in the $80,000 range looks good on paper, actual take-home pay for pastors may be much different, perhaps far less. The average base salary of a full-time senior pastor ranges from $33,000 to $70,000. Eighty-four percent of senior pastors say they also receive a housing allowance, which accounts for $20,000 to $38,000 in added compensation.
The graphic below highlights the breakdown of salary and benefits senior pastors receive.
Continue reading A Breakdown of Salaries and Benefits for Senior Pastors...