NACBA Weekly Update
May 7, 2010

Churches reach out to Tennessee flood victims
Baptist Press
Churches across Middle Tennessee are reaching out to members and residents who were impacted by a record-setting flood that damaged thousands of houses, killed a dozen people statewide and even shut down sections of three interstate roads. More than 13 inches of rain fell in Nashville May 1-2, nearly doubling the two-day record and pushing the Cumberland River -- which flows through downtown Nashville -- more than 10 feet above its flood stage. The rain's impact was worsened because the region experienced a heavy rain just one week earlier.More

Recession puts the squeeze on some churches
Los Angeles Times
The Great Recession has left millions of people jobless and cratered home values and retirement accounts. It has also been felt in church collection plates nationwide. Declines in charitable giving have forced many congregations to slash staff and downsize ministry work. A Vermont church went so far as to put up for sale a 100-year-old Tiffany stained-glass window to keep its homeless shelter open. Experts say a relatively small, but unprecedented, number of churches have gone into foreclosure or bankruptcy. "It's been a tough year for churches," said Simeon May, chief executive for the National Association of Church Business Administration, a Texas-based nonprofit that lost 10 percent of its members because of church layoffs. More

Poll: 83 percent say God answers prayers
USA Today
Americans are overwhelmingly sure there's a God who answers prayers. According to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, 92 percent say there is a God and 83 percent say this God answers prayers. But that doesn't mean they all favor an official annual National Day of Prayer — or that its goal should be promoting Christianity. The survey also asked two groups of 500 people each a question about the National Day of Prayer.More

Amp your youth camp
Baptist Press
Kids are leaving for church camp. What does that have to do with you -- a church member? Youth camp and kids' camp offer an amazing focus for Christian growth, building Christian friendships, and knowing God's will. Small encouragements from you can enhance that experience. Need fresh ideas?More

Get a handle on the new retirement regulations
Church Executive Magazine
Nearly all 403(b) programs are now explicitly required to have a plan document outlining the details of the program. Many church plans, however, are effectively exempt from this requirement. Churches that only offer a retirement benefit through a denominational program can rely on the denominational plan document, and do not need their own. Churches with their own 403(b) plans offering investment options through mutual funds and insurance annuities only are technically exempt, though a plan document is strongly recommended.More

A religious take on climate change
Los Angeles Times
Were it not for the setting in a stately Romanesque cathedral near downtown Los Angeles, the gathering might have been mistaken for a political rally. Many of the 90 people present signed cards to California's two U.S. senators urging them to support legislation to roll back greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. For most of those gathered last Sunday, the underlying motivation was not political but religious. They said they had a moral duty to care for the Earth and all of God's creation. They called for a widened understanding of what it means to love one's neighbor in a world where choices made on one continent can affect people thousands of miles away, including those in poor countries least able to cope with climate shifts.More

Church or ministry PR crisis: Slaying the beast of open mouth, insert foot
Ministry Marketing Coach
You know how it happens: someone says something off-the-cuff that’s inappropriate, unaware that the cameras and recorders are rolling (remember, they are always on). It hurts when it happens. It damages those who have been offended by the statements as well as the offending person and the organization they represent. But there are a few things that can help minimize the damages felt by all of those involved. While these circumstances are stressful and cause that "the sky is falling" sensation, they can actually be turned around to yield some positive media traction.More

Early-Bird Deadline for NACBA National Conference is May 15
NACBA
The National Association of Church Business Administration will be conducting its 54th National Conference and Trade Show in Orlando, Fla., July 19-23. The early-bird deadline for receiving a discounted price is May 15. This year's conference features more than 90 learning sessions plus keynote addresses from Robert Winstead, Reggie McNeal, Susan Beaumont, and Will Mancini. Scholarships are available for qualifying NACBA members.More

Secure your sanctuary in an unsafe world
Building for Ministry
Shootings at churches are all too common across the nation. Put together a comprehensive plan of action that will help your church to be safe and secure while remaining open and inviting. The following article focuses on what will help you do that.More

Got synergy?
SmallGroups.com
Information overload--that's the world we are living in, and that's the reality of most our churches, as well. Our children have their own curriculum, our teens are studying something else, the weekly sermon is on another topic, our personal devotions often cover yet another, and then our small group focuses on something entirely different! There is too much information and no time or opportunity to meditate on it, discuss it with others, or apply all the topics at hand. These are some of the reasons why our church recently adopted a sermon-based approach to small groups. There are a few practical things your church will need to be aware of and anticipate in order to successfully transition to a sermon-based system of small groups.More

Effective assimilation through Sunday School
LifeWay
"Assimilation" is term all too common to church leaders. Some churches even employ a "Minister of Assimilation." While the word has a breadth of meanings, in churches it typically describes the process - or identifies the problem - of helping folks who only attend worship move into fellowship and discipleship. Sunday School has a proven track record as an effective assimilation tool.More

As faithful unite, National Day of Prayer divides
Houston Chronicle
The National Day of Prayer -- which by federal law occurs the first Thursday in May -- remains ensnared by differing, strongly held points of view. Now it must contend with a federal district judge's ruling that it violates the U.S. Constitution. Judge Barbara Crabb of Wisconsin put the effect of her April 15 decision on hold, pending appeals. The National Day of Prayer itself may be in need of prayer -- for its survival. Lawrence Sager, dean of the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, believes Crabb's decision is no outlier but rather a well-crafted, precedent-respecting argument that the Constitution doesn't permit a law calling on Americans to pray. More

How much to donate? God knows
The New York Times
Americans gave away 2.2 percent of their personal disposable income to nonprofit groups of various sorts in 2008, according to Giving USA, an annual report on philanthropy. Of the $229 billion that individuals donated that year, about half went to religious institutions. Given our support for houses of worship, it seems reasonable to ask how much the various holy books would have us give. More

Massachusetts church to offer worship services for dogs
The Associated Press via the Boston Herald
A Massachusetts church is scheduled to launch a new monthly worship service - for dogs. Calvary Episcopal Church in Danvers, Mass., will offer later this month its first "Perfect Paws Pet Ministry" aimed at giving area pooches and their owners improved odds at getting canines into heaven. The church plans to hold the service on the third Sunday of every month, complete with communion for the humans and special blessings for pets. More

Virginia church opens cafe and bookstore
Blue Ridge Business Journal
Many churches have a coffee hour on Sunday mornings, but Parkway Wesleyan in Northeast Roanoke, Va., brings a whole new meaning to the term. The church has just opened the Bridge Cafe and Bookstore. Greg Beecher, missions and special events director for the church, said the project came about as church staff looked for ways people could connect more on a personal level. As they tossed around the idea of a cafe and bookstore, they pondered the question of what to do with the proceeds. They decided to use the money for missions, locally and around the world.More

Church on the streets
The Christian Post
There are an estimated 2,000 homeless people in London and the church is trying to reach each one of them with practical support and some much-needed tender loving care. Some people look away when they see them. Other people even cross the street to avoid them. Some people rifle in their pockets for whatever change they have and others are even bold enough to stop for a chat. But when night falls and the streets empty, the homeless remain and there with them are dozens of Christian volunteers doing what they can to help them safely through another night.More