All posts from “February 2013”

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February 27, 2013

Lessons from a Church Sexual Abuse Scandal

What leaders should know about preventing misconduct&and reporting when it happens.


A high-profile case involving the rape of a 13-year-old girl inside a Tulsa, Oklahoma, megachurch and other charges of abuse provides a sobering reminder about the steps churches must take to prevent sexual abuse—and a reminder for leaders to know their legal obligations if an allegation ever arises.

Chris Denman, 20, was recently convicted of raping the 13-year-old and also assaulting a 15-year-old and making a lewd proposal to a 12-year-old while serving as a janitor for Victory Christian Center. He is now serving 55 years in prison. Another janitor, Israel Shalom Castillo, 23, faces charges he made a lewd proposal to a 15-year-old. Both men, who are members of Victory Christian, were fired by the church after the allegations surfaced.

Continue reading Lessons from a Church Sexual Abuse Scandal ...

February 25, 2013

When You Need Outside Help for Taxes

What clergy should look for in a tax preparer.

A brief Q&A recently featured in The Wall Street Journal offers tips for what to look for in a tax preparer. Many people hire someone to help them file their returns these days, the author notes, mostly because of the increasingly complex nature of the country’s tax code.

Those involved with ministry likely turn to some form of outside help for their returns. Clergy face numerous questions and decisions related to their tax status, and churches and clergy also deal with a number of complex matters, including the handling of housing allowances and the tax treatment of business expenses. Among the Journal’s tips for hiring a tax preparer, the following seemed especially insightful:

Continue reading When You Need Outside Help for Taxes...

February 21, 2013

Four Money Lessons for Churches from the "Great Recession"

ECCU leader shares tips that helped many stay afloat.

Randy Marsh, ministry development officer for the Evangelical Christian Credit Union, shared four money lessons for churches while speaking Wednesday in Dallas at the 2013 XP-Seminar, a conference involving nearly 200 executive pastors from across the country.

Marsh said ECCU observed the following healthy patterns with churches that successfully navigated the "Great Recession":

1. Using savings and making changes. Marsh said a willingness to use available savings for short-term cash issues while simultaneously making changes in spending and planning helped many weather the storm. Those who used savings, but otherwise continued business as usual and didn't make changes (all on the hopes better times would come again soon) struggled.

Continue reading Four Money Lessons for Churches from the "Great Recession"...

February 19, 2013

Big Churches Expect Big Things in 2013

Gleanings from Leadership Network’s new economic outlook.


Leadership Network released its 2013 economic outlook this morning, relaying a mostly upbeat forecast for the nation's big Protestant churches in the year ahead.

The organization created the report, written by Warren Bird and Stephanie Jackson, by combining responses from two surveys it conducted last year with large-sized churches.

The optimistic outlook is a contrast to the for-profit Atlas of Giving's recent projections of harder times ahead for religious giving in 2013.

The following 10 highlights from Leadership Network's report are especially helpful for church leaders who oversee budgets, staffing, and other management responsibilities, regardless of church size:

Continue reading Big Churches Expect Big Things in 2013...

February 14, 2013

Are Designated Gifts for Individuals Tax Deductible?

What the IRS has said about these types of contributions.

It's a common scenario at local churches across the country: A member faces a significant medical condition, racking up major debt in the process. Others at the church learn of this challenge and wish to help. Can they donate to the church, designate their gifts for that member, and still receive tax deductions for the contributions?

The Internal Revenue Service has ruled on such situations many times. Such gifts likely can be treated as deductible if (and it's a significant if) donors and churches handle them a certain way. The IRS has stated:

Continue reading Are Designated Gifts for Individuals Tax Deductible?...

February 7, 2013

Risqué Texts are a Legal Risk for Youth Ministers

Trading indecent messages with minors can draw severe punishments.

This video, the first in a series by Richard Hammar on six legal risks for church youth pastors, describes a new concern for churches: Recent cases of youth ministers "sexting" with youth group members.

View this entire video series on Richard Hammar's YouTube channel.

For more help with digital technologies in ministry, check out Stacking Up Electronics in Church, a Feature Report from Church Law & Tax Report, and Using Social Media Safely, a downloadable training resource from our sister site,

February 5, 2013

2012: "A Bad Year for Violence" at Churches

Security expert Carl Chinn discusses how congregations should respond to the latest stats.


Last month, church security expert Carl Chinn updated his statistics on violent incidents at churches and faith-based organizations. He began tracking this information in 1999 by learning of incidents reported by news agencies, which he then independently researches and verifies before categorizing and tabulating them. The result of this work is 14 years of data churches can use to analyze the risk of violence for their congregation.

Chinn works for a security solutions firm serving the private sector, but his ministry background is extensive. Previously, he was building engineer for Focus on the Family, and he also served on the security team at New Life Church in Colorado Springs that responded to a 2007 shooting there. He frequently speaks to law enforcement groups, churches, and ministries nationwide.

His analysis of 2012 revealed 135 "deadly force incidents" and 75 deaths at churches and faith-based organizations—"a bad year for violence," he observed recently in a blog post on his site. Chinn recently spoke via phone with to talk more about church security, shootings, and how churches can respond.

Q: Since 2009, the number of "deadly force" incidents surpassed 100 and stayed there. Is that a function of better reporting and information, or was something else going on during the past four years?

Continue reading 2012: "A Bad Year for Violence" at Churches...