NACBA Weekly Update
Dec. 27, 2013

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Mindless metrics: Sunday attendance not a useful measure
Religion News Service
From June 7: The go-to number in American religion is ASA — average Sunday attendance. Or as an irreverent colleague put it, "fannies in the pews." Entire methodologies for church development have been built around this number, as if fanny count dictated how a church should behave. The problem is ASA isn't a useful measure of quantity, and it says nothing about quality.More

What churches need to know about the Affordable Care Act
Associated Baptist Press
From Oct. 4: Beginning Oct. 1, churches now have new options for purchasing health insurance for their ministers and staff. With the Health Insurance Marketplace now open, what do church leaders, pastors and administrators need to do to comply with the Affordable Care Act? In planning and evaluating health insurance coverage for the 2014 calendar year, there are three options.More

Judge declares tax exclusion for clergy housing payments unconstitutional
From Nov. 27: The Freedom From Religion Foundation has won a stunning victory in the United States District Court For The Western District Of Wisconsin where Judge Barbara Crabb has ruled that a substantial tax benefit enjoyed by many thousands of clergy — ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and others — is unconstitutional.More

The conversation churches do not want to have
Associated Baptist Press
From Nov. 15: With finances tight, congregations are being forced to take stock of the number of professional staff members they require and can afford, and the focus of those staff members. It is a difficult conversation to broach in most congregations, and so we often delay and deny the looming issues. Unfortunately, the conversation then erupts as a crisis at budget or transition time. Proactively leaning into the conversation is a much healthier alternative. As you consider your situation, here are some guiding thoughts.More

Time to kill your worship guide? 4 things to consider
By Mark MacDonald
From May 3: It seems every day we hear stories of newspapers realizing the costs of their reporters, the paper or the printing are not worth it. Even with advertising revenues helping to pay their costs. So why do we think it's worth the church's expense to pay for bulletins? Actually, it's not really the "cost" that has created this dilemma. The real issue is the majority of people want to get their news in another way. Online.More

Donor denied $25,000 charitable deduction: Here's why
Church Law & Tax
From June 14: A donor made a cash contribution of $25,000 to a religious organization. The IRS audited the donor's tax return and denied the charitable contribution deduction on the ground that it was not properly substantiated. The donor appealed to the United States Tax Court. The Tax Court agreed with the IRS. This case illustrates the consequences that can result from a church's failure to comply with the substantiation requirements for charitable contributions.More

3 signs your church is too busy
By Deborah Wipf
From Aug. 2: Reaching people for Christ is our main mission in ministry, and most churches use a variety of methods to attract a diverse audience. That makes sense, yet if we're not careful, this can lead to a scattered approach that drains your people and church finances. From a lack of defining goals to not measuring effectiveness or just plain not wanting to rock the boat, we can quickly fall into the trap of mistaking abundant activity for actual fruit. Here are a few ways to tell if your church is too busy — and how to combat the problem.More

Feds release first guidelines for confronting a church shooter
Religion News Service
From June 21: For the first time, the federal government has issued written guidelines for houses of worship that are confronted with a homicidal gunman. Beyond seeking shelter and waiting for police to arrive, as many Newtown victims did, the new rules also advise adults in congregations to fight back — as a last resort — in a bid to stop the shooter. The new federal doctrine is "run, hide or fight."More

5 threats to effective organizational communication
By Mike Wokasch
Effective communication is a critical success factor in any effort involving two or more people. From small businesses to large corporations and even government, effective communication can inspire, align interests, mitigate differences and build trust. Most importantly, effective communication can get things done.More

5 tips for successful performance evaluations
By D. Albert Brannen
Performance evaluation programs can be immensely beneficial to employers. They can help management improve employee performance and adjust staff expectations. However, if done improperly, performance evaluations can create more legal liability than they help to avoid.More

5 things your church needs to spend more money on next year
Church Leaders
As church leaders, we need to be strategic investors in the future of our ministry. There are no prizes for spending the least amount of money. The goal is to spend every dollar that our people give to us on expenses that will push the ministry forward. Here are a few areas churches chronically underspend onMore

The top reason for the decline in church attendance and 5 ways to address it
From Aug. 23: Few people will argue that church attendance in many churches in America is declining. Many have suggested that our nation is shifting away from its Christian roots, and thus the churches are declining as a smaller proportion of our country are believers in Christ. Certainly attendance declines are related to massive cultural shifts in our nation. But one reason for declines has a greater impact than others.More

As denominations decline, numbers of unpaid ministers rise
Religion News Service
From Sept. 20: The 50 members of All Saints Episcopal Church in Hitchcock, Texas, are looking forward to when Mark Marmon will be ordained their priest. One reason for the excitement? They won't have to pay him. A 57-year-old fly fishing guide, Marmon, whose wife is a lawyer, says he doesn't want or need a church salary. He belongs to a growing breed of mainline Protestant clergy who serve congregations in exchange for little or no compensation.More

4 trends impacting giving to the church
Church Executive
From Aug. 30: Giving to religion has been in a steady decline since 1968 — and the economy has little to do with it. Most church leaders either ignore this decline, or object to the conclusion that the economy isn't the reason. However, consistent studies have shown that even during times of economic prosperity, giving to religion has declined. There are multiple reasons.More

6 things managers should not talk about at work
By D. Albert Brannen
From Nov. 15: Managers have a special role for employers because they are legal agents. What they say, do and know can be attributed to their employer. Depending on the issue, employers can be strictly liable for the conduct of managers. Several laws come into play here, but there are certain things that managers should absolutely not talk about with employees or anyone else at work. This article lists six of these topics, but by no means is this an exhaustive list.More