NACBA Weekly Update
Dec. 11, 2009

More Americans 'mix and match' religious beliefs, poll finds
Los Angeles Times
America is a melting pot not only of culture but also religion, according to a survey released Wednesday. Many Americans attend services outside of their own religion, and blend Christianity with Eastern and New Age beliefs, the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life said. The nationwide poll of 4,013 adults found that a third regularly or occasionally attended religious services at more than one location -- and 24 percent of the public overall worshiped outside their faith.More

New churches: Chicago seen as a fertile field for congregations to branch out
Chicago Tribune
While religious affiliation is on the decline and many mainline denominations struggle to grow, nondenominational churches and networks are training and funding young pastors who want to do church differently. Nationwide, about 4,000 churches are planted each year, a new church every two hours or so, according to Dave Olson, the head of the American Church Research Project and the Evangelical Covenant Church's church planting director. There are more than 50 congregations considering planting churches in Chicago in the year ahead, said Sam Smith, of the Chicago Partnership for Church Planting, and the city has already seen a boom in new, hip churches.More

The role of design in modern church marketing
Any Web designer can attest to the recent rise of hip, high-quality church Web sites. A non-churchgoing designer might wonder how places of worship fit in amongst software startups and cutting-edge businesses; yet, these churches are branded as intensely as any business and supported by savvy church-marketing communities on the Web. The author of this article interviewed some of the industry’s top church designers and marketers to understand how design helps communicate the spiritual life. More

Pastor scandal brings out best in church
Ministry Today Magazine
A pastor-related financial scandal that halves your congregation and diminishes your community impact typically isn't seen as a good thing. Yet according to members of Live Oak Community Church in Oakley, Calif., the last nine months of turmoil have resulted in a "wonderful" transformation that's returned the church to its giving roots.More

Parents of preschoolers get their own Sunday School class at Louisiana church
Baptist Press
One person saw the need and another person saw the opportunity, but it was the Sunday School teacher equipped with the right curriculum who brought the vision into focus. Deleece Nichols, daycare director at Florida Boulevard Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La., noticed too many parents of her preschoolers were not attending Sunday School. She mentioned her observation to her pastor, Randy Johnson, who then asked his assistant Dottie Gore to pray about starting a class specifically for parents of preschoolers.More

Five ways you can smash those empty imaginary ministry boxes
Ministry Marketing Coach
We’ve all been there. You’re roped into a brainstorming session at the very moment your hair caught on fire from that looming time sensitive project that’s due in 15 minutes. You’re expected to sprinkle some of your magic creative dust in the room and come up with a ton of stellar ideas that will change humanity and rock the world for Jesus. It’s all happening on-the-fly and your brain is melting into slo-mo. Who cares about your other projects and never-mind that you weren’t given a heads up on what’s coming down, you’re a creative! As creatives, what should our attitude and approach be when it happens?More

Sunday School is a team effort
Baptist Press
With all the talk about football this time of year, it seems appropriate to point out that a great "team effort" shouldn't be reserved only for athletic fields. Just like on a football field, one person can't do it all. It's crucial that you recruit and cultivate a team. Just having a name in each slot on the organizational chart isn't enough to make a team; it takes effort. Here are a few quick principles of high performing teams.More

Introduction to church risk management
Church Central
Many Americans are involved in some capacity with a local church, even if it is just visiting there a couple times a year. In recent years we have become intrigued by what has become known as the "mage-church" syndrome, those churches with thousands of members. Yet according to statistics, the "median" church in America only has 75 active members and 1 full-time staff purpose. In other words, these are very small businesses in the scope of what we would call "insurance" or "risk" exposures. There are hundreds of thousands of churches that do not have the staffing nor expertise to know where to go and what to do when it comes to submitting or managing an insurance claim.More

Right person, wrong position
Your Church
Have you ever had to let a church staff member go--even though they gave everything they had--because they still weren't hitting the mark? That's a painful and difficult transition to manage, and one that many churches don't always navigate in a healthy way.More

How to write your state of the church message
The New Year is approaching and you may be considering a sermon on "making resolutions" or on "fresh starts." The author of this article wants to encourage you to consider using the first Sunday of January to preach an annual "State of the Church" message. If you have never done this before, here are several practical suggestions.More

Nonprofits facing money woes respond with innovative fundraising strategies
Knoxville News Sentinel
According to a July 2009 report by the Giving USA Foundation at Indiana University, total giving to charitable organizations in the United States in 2008 was $307.65 billion, down 2 percent from 2007, adjusted for inflation. This was the largest decrease in 50 years. But research shows that churches and religious organizations are faring better than other nonprofits in this economy. The 2009 Congregational Economic Impact Study by the Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, published in October, reported that fewer than one-third of 1,500 churches surveyed had a decline in giving in the first half of 2009. Most said fundraising increased or held steady overall. More

Achieving "oneness" in a small group
When churches start small-group ministries, most hope that new groups will continue to grow both numerically and in relationship with Christ and one another. One of the keys to sustain this type of growth over time is something the Bible calls "oneness." The author of this article defines "oneness" as: "Relationships characterized by unity of purpose and love for one another even in the face of extreme opposition or internal conflict." Genuine oneness, while an internal quality, is almost always noticed by outsiders, drawing them to the source of that same oneness. That's why oneness is one of the main engines that will drive small-group growth.More

Texas Baptist church helps foster teens' transition to adulthood
Associated Baptist Press
One Baptist congregation in Texas has decided to do something to help an often-overlooked group with special needs: teens who are aging out of the state's foster-care system and heading for the intimidating new world of adulthood. University Baptist Church in Fort Worth gives 18-to-21-year-old young adults who have aged out of the foster-care system much-needed support as they begin life on their own. More

Christian group to pay off $10K in strangers' parking tickets
The Associated Press via USA Today
A Christian group will once again camp out in front of City Hall and offer to pay off up to $10,000 dollars in parking tickets for any passersby. Organizers say the Dec. 12 event is an example of how easy it is to receive God's grace. The Grace Gift Parable giveaway was first held in 2004, when Treasure Valley church leaders doled out nearly $7,500 to delinquent parkers, including one woman who arrived with more than a dozen tickets.More

Community experiences a walk through Bethlehem
The Sun
For those who have imagined what it was like at the time of Jesus’ birth or what it would be like to walk the streets of Bethlehem a local church offered the public an opportunity to experience a "Walk Thru Bethlehem." The overwhelming experience, which appealed to all ages, put guests right into the heart of Bethlehem with all of the sights, smells, and sounds. John Wesley United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, transformed its activity center visually, aesthetically, and spiritually into a scene from Bethlehem, complete with a temple, a stable, camel rides, street vendors, and a live nativity.More