The Church Network Weekly Update
Jul. 17, 2015

'Religious freedom' bill picks up momentum in House
The Hill
Pressure is mounting on House GOP leaders to call a vote this month on a religious-freedom bill banning the federal government from punishing churches, charities or private schools for actions in opposition to same-sex marriage. The legislation, dubbed the First Amendment Defense Act, is gaining steam. Nearly 50 Republicans — including Majority Whip Steve Scalise (La.), Policy Chairman Luke Messer (Ind.) and Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores (Texas) — signed on just last week, pushing the total number of GOP co-sponsors to 115.More

Stop preaching to an empty room
By Mark MacDonald
Imagine your pastor standing behind the pulpit. All the lights are on, the microphone is working nicely, and the doors are unlocked so people can freely come in. He's worked for hours on a great sermon to which he knows many people will respond. He clears his throat and delivers an eloquent message. Except the pews are entirely empty. It doesn't make sense, does it? Often, church communicators spend entire weeks preparing materials only to have no one show up and consume their content. It's as silly as a pastor speaking to an empty room.More

Virtual assistants for pastors?
Managing Your Church
Many business persons, particularly small business entrepreneurs, are moving toward engaging virtual assistants as vital components of their enterprises. A virtual assistant is not an employee of the church. This person likely lives in another part of the country, or even the world, and carries out specific duties for the pastor. For those pastors and church staff who currently have a great assistant, be thankful! This article is likely not for you. But many pastors do not have the benefit of either a full-time or part-time assistant.More

5 pastoral errors that can kill a ministry
Christian Today
Ministers are called, trained and equipped for ministry. That goes without saying, but though the calling might be there, the training and equipping sometimes fall short. That's not always the fault of the college or the mentor: Sometimes it's because of personal flaws like pride, over-confidence or a poor understanding of what pastoral ministry is all about. Of course, ministry's different in different places. But there are some surefire ways of harming your ministry, whatever the context.More

Social media for nonprofits: High-impact tips and the best free tools
Business 2 Community
Every industry and niche — every social profile, even — is unique. Nonprofits are a great example of a segment of social media with its own unique elements and expectations. The nonprofit structure — donation-backed, humanitarian-focused, member-based — presents an opportunity for some really neat ways of putting social media to good use.More

6 steps to follow if you are hosting VBS this summer
Church Tech Today
Vacation Bible School is a fantastic way to bring the message of your church to its younger members, while having fun doing it. This is a big responsibility. You are not only responsible for their spiritual growth, you are now in charge of their physical well being. Follow these tips to ensure that you are able to excel at both.More

Creditors to decide family Christian stores' fate
Christianity Today
In a fight for its financial life, the nation’s largest Christian bookstore chain is trying a new strategy. After a failed attempt in June to sell itself to FCS Acquisition, a subsidiary of the chain’s parent company, Family Christian Stores asked a bankruptcy judge to let its creditors decide whether the same sale should go through.More

Denver's Little Sisters of the Poor lose contraception coverage ruling
The Denver Post
The Denver-based Little Sisters of the Poor, who sued to avoid complying with the Obamacare contraception mandate, lost in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled it must allow employees to have contraception coverage. Little Sisters challenged the process it must follow to get out from under the contraception mandate but failed, the court decided, to show a substantial burden on the exercise of its religion.More

Oklahoma governor refuses to remove 10 Commandments monument from state capitol
Deseret News
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has announced the state will not be removing a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state capitol despite being told to do so, Natalie Schachar reported for the Los Angeles Times. Fallin said the Oklahoma state government is appealing a previous ruling from the Oklahoma Supreme Court that said the monument broke laws against using state money for “the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion,” Schachar wrote.More

Battles over religious freedom are sure to follow same-sex marriage ruling
Los Angeles Times
For some, the Supreme Court's decision declaring that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry put the free exercise of religion in danger. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was among them. "Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage — when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples," Roberts wrote in a dissent joined by three other justices.

Related: Gay marriage and the future of Evangelical colleges (The Atlantic)More

7 ways to keep a leader on your team
Ron Edmondson
One of the biggest challenges for any organization is to attract and retain leaders. The goal then is to find ways to keep a leader energized to stay with the team. The reality is that leaders get restless if they are forced to sit still for long. Good managers are comfortable maintaining progress, but a leader needs to be leading change. In fact, leaders even like a little chaos. Show a real leader a problem ready to be solved and they are energized.More

Are you too busy to lead? 3 ways to engage your team
Worship Facilities
Are you available for your team? Can they come to you with questions, get your input on ways to solve an issue, etc.? If not, you’ll have to spend time later redirecting those who’ve wandered off the path you intended them to take. That’s frustrating for everyone involved and certainly isn’t the best use of your time. So, with a full plate and limited resources how do you ensure you have time to lead?More

You know it's going to be a bad decision if ...
Church Executive
As leaders, we focus a lot on making good decisions. As parents, coaches, business and church leaders, we want to make the best decisions possible. However, there are actually times when the best decision is the ability to not make a bad decision. More

3 ways leaders accidentally undermine their teams' creativity
Harvard Business Review
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about where creativity comes from and how to nurture and grow it in a team. As a result, even well-meaning leaders can end up killing the creativity of a team when they need it most. If your team is in the midst of solving a problem or generating a new product or project idea, you might be killing their creativity without even trying. Here are three of the most common things managers do that have deleterious effects.More