NACBA Weekly Update
Jan. 7, 2011

New churches rising
CNBC
It's been a rough year for commercial contractors. Unless they've made a "niche" business in churches. It's hard to say if there's a church building boom on a national level or if, like all real estate, it's location, location, location. Some areas are prospering from growing attendance and growing revenues in the recession, while other churches shrink with the economy. "Overall we are seeing a difficult economy for congregations, but it is really to be expected as this is the pattern for churches in multi-year recessions," says Phill Martin of the National Association of Church Business Administration. "The last year is always the hardest." More

Minister housing tax break under attack
The Christian Post
As tax time begins, church legal expert Richard Hammar warns ministers, pastors and clerics to be mindful of a legal battle that has strong financial implications on their personal and church taxes in 2011. In the January 2011 issue of Church Law & Tax Report, Hammar highlights tax developments, drawing special attention to a California court case that threatens to extinguish a federal tax break which dates back to 1954, the parsonage exemption. More

Why Vacation Bible School is still relevant, still reaching
Church Executive Magazine
Vacation Bible School is a well-known term as a form of religious education which focuses on children and is usually held during the summer for four or five days. The development of VBS over the last 117 years has grown to reach every state and span the globe. VBS has touched the lives of millions of young people and adults. Why is it important and how can we assure that it is still relevant and still reaching children in your church?More

12 spiritual tips for 2011
Baptist Press
As the New Year rolls around, many folks will make New Year's resolutions to change or improve something in their lives. One of the topics that makes every Top Ten list is "get out of debt." But what about spiritual goals? With the Bible as our guide, here are 12 tips and corresponding scriptures to help you make 2011 your best year ever.More

Poll: US personal religiosity stable, influence declines
Associated Baptist Press
A new Gallup poll shows that, while personal measures of religious sentiment have remained fairly high among Americans, their membership in houses of worship continues a long decline and they increasingly believe that religion is losing influence in the country at large. The survey results show that 70 percent of respondents now believe faith is losing its influence in American life, while 25 percent believe religion is becoming more influential.More

Baltimore church takes environmental work global
Faith and Leadership
Like many churches, New Psalmist Baptist in Baltimore is committed to environmental issues. But the congregation’s impact has spread far beyond the walls of their own church, the city of Baltimore or even the impoverished communities in Kenya that first inspired their efforts. This African-American megachurch now serves as an adviser to major governmental organizations -- the United Nations among them -- helping to craft global environmental policies.More

Traditional church embracing latest technology
Tulsa World
First Christian (Disciples of Christ), one of Tulsa, Okla.'s oldest and most traditional churches, is also one of the first in Tulsa to have its own iPhone app. Announced from the pulpit two weeks ago, the app provides the latest real-time information about the church and its day-care center, including phone numbers and e-mail addresses of staff, the church newsletter, calendar, service times, prayer requests, and weather cancellations. A hot button provides instant e-mail access to church staff members. More

Church devoted to people with disabilities
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A Restoration Church doesn't look quite like other churches that have disability ministries. Often, Rev. John Holmes says, churches with such ministries separate people with disabilities from the rest of the congregation, serving them but not allowing them to serve in return. At A Restoration Church, people with disabilities worship alongside other members; the church seeks to help them discover their talents and use them to serve the congregation.More

Technology unites missionaries, families around the world
Religion News Service via the Pew Forum
Janine Winkler loves reading books to her 2-year-old grandson Judah, but instead of sitting on her lap at her home in Michigan, he's usually half a world away in Nigeria, where his father works for Wycliffe Bible Translators. What connects them is Skype, the free online telephone and video service, that has made expensive phone calls and lengthy periods of no contact a distant memory for many missionaries abroad and their families back home. "I've told people that I think God waited to send them until ... the technology got to where it was," said Winkler, who never had a camera on her computer or used Skype before her son left the country. "I couldn't imagine just waiting to get letters from them." Missionaries say the new technology can bridge the thousands of miles between home and the mission field, often for free and in real time.More

For some Myrtle Beach, S.C., churches, social media saves
The Sun News
Businesses were quick to start using social media like Facebook and Twitter, but many churches are just beginning to tap into social media to interact with their members and communities, said Kevin Ring, a consultant who researches how churches use social networking. Ring's company, Michigan-based Unconventional Method, surveyed about 250 church ministers and members across the U.S. and found that churches face different challenges than businesses in using social media, he said. "Really they are limited in terms of their resources, and particularly time and money, figuring out what they can spend using these tools," he said. "Secondly, what they are trying to accomplish is not as clear cut as a business' goals might be."More

Texas megachurch premieres 3-D Christmas services
Dallas Morning News
Some might call it wholesome innovation, others shameless gimmickry, but Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas, offered Christmas in 3-D this year. About 4,000 people – nearly a full house – came for the first of the church's well-advertised 3-D Christmas services. Adults and children alike each got a pair of paper-frame glasses with red and blue plastic lenses. They donned them for three brief videos shot in 3-D. The third re-created a real-life episode from last Christmas, in which Pastor Ed Young's dogs got into the living room and tore up gift packages.More