NACBA Weekly Update
Oct. 8, 2010

National Church Administration Day helps congregations deal with dangers of ministry
Religion News Service
In the days of the Old Testament, it was the role of the prophet to warn the people of God about impending dangers. In the Christian church of today, that role often falls to the church administrator, whose job it is to foresee threats that would put a congregation at risk—risk of liability, injury, abuse or theft. On Oct. 21, administrative leaders nationwide will be helping each other do a better job of protecting their congregations from those threats. National Church Administration Day has taken as its theme "Risk Management: The Cost of Ministry."More

The great green question
Building for Ministry
Twenty-five years ago, Kermit the Frog lamented that it wasn't easy being green. Kermit should feel right at home these days. Today, we buy "green" paint for the walls, look for "green" ways to fertilize our lawns, and bring home our groceries in "green" shopping bags. And of course, leading the way is the green building movement, which encourages the use of sustainable products and energy-efficient designs. Being green is a major trend in all segments of society, including the church community.More

Churches, other groups do more background checks
The Associated Press via the Deseret News
More churches and religious groups are conducting background checks and taking other steps to protect children against mistreatment in the wake of the sex abuse scandal that has plagued the Catholic Church for years. Children's advocates say not all background checks are equal, and warn religious groups they must be especially vigilant in screening clergy, volunteers and staff because their trusting communities are often targets for abusers.More

Americans' views of God shape attitudes on key issues
USA Today
In the U.S., God — or the idea of a God — permeates daily life. Our views of God have been fundamental to this nation's past, help explain many of the conflicts in our society and worldwide, and could offer a hint of what the future holds. Is God by our side, or beyond the stars? Wrathful or forgiving? Judging us every moment, some day or never? Surveys say about nine out of 10 Americans believe in God, but the way we picture that God reveals our attitudes on economics, justice, social morality, war, natural disasters, science, politics, love and more, say Paul Froese and Christopher Bader, sociologists at Baylor University in Waco, TexasMore

Use 'secret worshipers' at your church
Baptist Press
Do you ever wonder how your church looks to a first-time guest? Are you curious about why some guests attend once and never return? What if a "secret worshiper" anonymously visited your church and completed a survey to describe the visit? The author of this article has put together a simple plan to help a church see itself from an outside perspective. It could be called "Fresh Eyes by Secret Guys," but that sounds too much like a spy novel or burger restaurant. So let's just call it the "secret worshiper survey." It's an online process, and there is no cost. More

Rural churches: Strong sense of community gives churches new life
The Associated Baptist Press
America’s rural churches were built upon and grew from a strong sense of community. Although many of rural congregations are in decline now, that community reliance may be the key to spiritual renewal and to thriving ministry. Some rural-church experts believe recovering a sense of community or building on it may give congregations new life -- not necessarily in terms of numbers, but in vitality and effectiveness. “It may be time for rural church [members] to change from [the attitude], ‘What can my church do for me?’ to, ‘What can my church do for my community?’ said Fran Schnarre, director of educational ministries for the Missouri School of Religion Center for Rural Ministry.More

Facebook rules for pastors
The Christian Century
Pastoral ministry is a public calling, and in our social media age this calling extends to online identities and relationships. The author lauds the possibilities social media presents and urge the church to use the tools for the kingdom. But just as church-owned houses offer particular challenges to a pastor and family when members drop in unannounced to fill the fridge with makings for the women's tea, Facebook offers the challenge of unclear and ever-changing boundaries. Here are some different Facebook practices for pastors (and other church administrators).More

3 things to consider when creating a compelling call to action
Resonate or Die
“Sign me up!” are beautiful words every ministry leader likes to hear. But what exactly is it that draws a person to your ministry, and more importantly, keeps them engaged to give of their time and money when so many other “good causes” are fighting for their involvement? Given limited funds and hours each week, how can ministry leaders create a compelling call to action that encourages people to consider—and participate—in the ministries God has called the church to?More

Bookkeeping software for churches
Keeping precise records is essential to successful church operation. Well-maintained bookkeeping software allows church staff to supervise and monitor progress, organize and prepare financial statements, identify receipt sources, and organize tax documents.More

Legislation drops cell phones from "listed property"
Your Church
The small business tax relief legislation just passed by Congress and signed by the president includes a long-awaited provision removing cell phones from "listed property" under federal tax law effective for tax years beginning after December 31, 2009. As a result, the stringent record-keeping requirements that have applied for decades will no longer apply to cell phones or similar devices. "We expect that the practical impact of the legislation will be that employers will be able to provide employees with cell phones primarily for business use on a tax-free basis, with little requirement to document the actual business vs. personal use," said Mike Batts, managing shareholder of the accounting firm Batts Morrison Wales & Lee, P.A.More

Mobilizing college students for short-term missions
Round Trip Missions
Missions mobilization in the past has been about going. Now it is about a bigger goal—every Christian a World Christian. Every Christian saying, “I’ll do whatever it takes for my life to contribute to the great commission.” What is the goal of mobilization? Most of us are familiar with the end goal: reaching every tongue, tribe, and nation. But how do we get there from here? As mobilizers, what is it that we want students to do? Cross an ocean? Reach out to internationals? Pray for the world? These all are great things, however, we do not want to mobilize students to a single activity. If we do, they go back to life as usual once the activity is completed. Instead, we should mobilize students to a change in perspective.More

Goodbye, pews
The Longmont Times-Call
Instead of pews, people who attend Crossroads Community Church recline on couches inside people’s living rooms. They sing from copied song sheets, not bound hymnals. Exit four-part choir, and enter one guy with a guitar. It’s not your typical church setting. But that’s the point. More

Pet blessings are part of bigger blending of animals and religion
Austin American-Statesman
Laura Hobgood-Oster, professor of religion and environmental studies at Southwestern University in Georgetown, spent her childhood summers admiring wild ponies on Assateague Island in Virginia. At a young age, she volunteered to care for rats in biology experiments for school, and her parents both animal lovers encouraged a Christian love that included animals, she said. She's explored the idea that animals are as worthy of salvation and compassion as humans in a new book, "The Friends We Keep: Unleashing Christianity's Compassion for Animals." Across the country, colleges and universities are starting to pay more attention to Hobgood-Oster's area of study. More

9 Arkansas pastors lose property tax exemption
Close to a dozen Pulaski County ministers will have to pay property taxes after previously being exempt. An article Tuesday morning in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette said nine pastors -- including Bishop Steven Arnold, until recently of St. Mark Baptist Church, Pastor Joel Holmes of First Pentecostal Church of North Little Rock, Apostle Lawrence E. Braggs of Awareness Center International and Presbyter Bill Harden of the United Pentecostal Church -- had been exempt from paying property taxes on their homes. More