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.
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:
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.
What the IRS has said about these types of contributions.
Richard R. Hammar
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:
Trading indecent messages with minors can draw severe punishments.
Richard R. Hammar
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.
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 ManagingYourChurch.com 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?