The Church Network Weekly Update
Jan. 30, 2015

Safety strategies: Clear your path to a safe church
Church Executive
Even with the recent decrease in visits to the emergency room, falls still are the leading cause of nonfatal unintentional injuries in the U.S., according to Ken Kolosh, manager of statistics at the National Safety Council. Further, falls are the No. 1 cause of injury at religious organizations. Serious injuries often are associated with falls from elevated surfaces — think choir risers, outdoor decks, stages and bleachers. And church festivals can bring an added risk for slips and falls at places of worship.More

NATA announces new leader
Michael Liepman has been named the first Executive Director of NATA, the National Association for Temple Administration, it was recently announced by NATA President Janice Rosenblatt. NATA is the professional organization of executive directors and temple administrators who serve Reform Congregations.

"I am very proud to be named NATA's first Executive Director," Liepman, said. "My past experiences, working locally and nationally with fellow temple executive directors and administrators, have been incredibly rewarding. I have personally witnessed that NATA has the most dedicated and involved leaders. Moving forward, I will be honored to work closely with my colleagues to help lead NATA as it continues to evolve, grow, prosper, and continue to serve as a key professional organization and URJ affiliate."More

Registration is now open for our 2015 spring regional meetings
The Church Network
For those who have attended, the responses have been extremely positive and almost all have indicated they would attend again. If you have never participated, plan now and join the fun to network with fellow administrators, talk about your successes and your challenges, see how other churches are organized and make new friends who you can call on throughout the year.More

3 time-savers for church communications
By Mark MacDonald
As I visit churches across the country, I realize that ministries have so much to communicate. Events, promotions, services, requests and stories. Sadly, the more I research behaviors of church staff, I see we're doing more and more while having less time to get it all done. Since we have limited time, we need to start using it effectively for the most important things. Regularly, church communicators say, "I just don't have time for that, but I wish I did." The truth? We make time for what we prioritize. Period. So, let's solve this. More

Photos on church websites — learning from one costly mistake
Managing Your Church
A church recently received a letter claiming that it used an image on its website without a license and that it had to pay a fine of $550. After some research, the claim appeared legitimate. The image in question was one the staff had found with a Google search, and they assumed it was free to use. As it turns out, the image belongs to a stock image company. A third party contacted the church on behalf of the company and threatened further action if it didn't pay the fine and remove the picture. The church did, and the fine was reduced to $300.More

6 tips for fast text formatting in Microsoft Word
By Joe Latta
For nearly 25 years, Microsoft Word has been the dominant word-processing application in the business world. But according to data from Microsoft's Customer Experience Improvement Program, today's professionals rarely use Word to its full capacity. In fact, they found that of its more than 1,200 functions, just five (paste, save, copy, undo and bold) account for nearly one-third of all function use. That's why I'm discussing six longstanding — yet often overlooked — ways to quickly format and move text. Greater efficiency = fewer late nights.More

Following up with church visitors
Center for Church Communication
Most churches understand the importance of warmly welcoming first-time visitors when they first walk through the church’s doors. However, don’t forget to extend that welcome by following up with church visitors. One way to do that is by making a follow-up phone call.More

4 myths about online giving
As the Director of Business Development for a faith-based online and mobile giving provider, I spend most of my days talking with pastors and church leaders about the ways in which technology can transform the "giving culture" at their churches. During these conversations, I am often struck by how hesitant many church leaders are to engage with digital giving tools. Despite the fact that less than 7 percent of transactions in the United States are conducted via cash and check, many thousands of churches continue to count on cash and check donations for 100 percent of their annual budget.More

The 10 most influential churches of the last century
Christianity Today
At some level, all Christians want their churches to be influential in carrying out the work of God. One pathway to increased influence is a road we often overlook — the one behind us. Looking back can be good. It can give us wisdom and perspective. It can also help us look forward to what God is doing next in your churches and ours.More

Marcus Borg, leading liberal theologian and historical Jesus expert, dies at 72
Religion News Service
Marcus J. Borg, a prominent liberal theologian and Bible scholar who for a generation helped popularize the intense debates about the historical Jesus and the veracity and meaning of the New Testament, died on Wednesday (Jan. 21). He was 72 and had been suffering from pulmonary fibrosis. Borg emerged in the 1980s just as academics and theologians were bringing new energy to the so-called "quest for the historical Jesus," the centuries-old effort to disentangle fact from myth in the Gospels.More

Churches must try new methods of outreach to reach a changing world
Wesley Savage Church recently gained national attention for starting a prayer and devotion service in a wings restaurant/sports bar in Hoover, Alabama. It was even mentioned by David Letterman in one of his Top 10 lists. This type of outreach is not new in the U.S. and has been effective in helping to reach an entire generation that is leaving the church in droves, specifically young adults and millennials.More

A police chief turned pastor, working to heal the nation's racial rifts
The New York Times
In the days leading up to Christmas, the aging pastor of a small Episcopal church set amid the glacial hills here began to write a parable. It came neither from Scripture nor from yuletide tradition, but rather from the priest’s very different earlier life. The Rev. David Couper, 77, recalled the predawn hours of a March day nearly a quarter-century ago. A fire had broken out at a housing project in Madison, Wisconsin, where he was the chief of police. A police sergeant, hearing about the blaze from a 911 dispatcher, jauntily sang of the apartment complex, "Sommerset Circle is burning down."More

The fittest churches in Texas, ranked
Texas Monthly
Well, if what you've always wanted out of your church was a free gym, Houston-based fitness guru, Samir Becic has got you covered. Becic, who's faith is primarily placed on the idea that "smart fitness, good nutrition, social well-being, and some form of spirituality can change your body, maybe even change your life," recently published a list of the top 20 fittest churches in Texas. Because what good is developing your faith if you can't also develop your biceps?More

Leadership and bearing pain
Faith & Leadership
Termination meetings — those uncomfortable sessions in which an administrator tells an employee that he or she is being fired — are primarily shaped by legal considerations these days. The instructions from the HR office are clear: Make sure that all the necessary paperwork is prepared. Get right to the point, saying as little as possible. Don't talk about how difficult it was to come to the decision.More

Are you measuring against the wrong benchmark?
Gifted for Leadership
Steven Colbert recently told a Slate podcast audience that his show's jokes represented long days of hard labor with his writers. Colbert said he and his staff forced themselves to write and rewrite jokes and to "push all the way through and not give up at a certain point and go, (sigh), 'That’s good enough.'" It looks enticingly similar to "good" and can make you think you have traveled all the way over to an elusive finished product known as a "breakthrough." Right up until the very exact moment that you realize you ... haven't. Just ask Elijah.More

Church leaders who are serious about saving the faith need to be serious about worship
The mainline Protestant churches have been declining for decades. This trend has now reached the evangelical churches, too. In a desperate attempt to stay alive, churches and their leaders are coming up with new solutions, new strategies and guesses. In one way or another, a frequently heard refrain is: "The Church of the future is the Church of service." It takes all shapes and forms, but it always boils down to the same thing: Don't focus on worship — "do stuff" instead! So, a denominational leader blogs that the vocation of churches is to be local community centers, food banks, day cares, or places for diaper drives.More