The Top 10 Church Management Articles of 2011
Church leaders followed these stories most this year on

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm a sucker for lists. And the end of a calendar year always brings opportunities to reflect on the top stories and headlines from the year that was.

So it's only natural to share the top ten articles for in 2011 based on unique page views. Each post is highlighted below, starting with the tenth-most uniquely viewed post and building up to the first-most. Each highlight also includes the post's title, author, and date, as well as a brief description and, if available, a notable reader comment.

See what caught the interest of church leaders nationwide, and feel free to weigh in with your thoughts on these legal, financial, and management topics:

10. The Pluses of Google+ for Church Leaders by Margaret Feinberg (July 18, 2011)

Social media tools continued to proliferate in 2011, and no new addition created a larger stir than the summer unveiling of Google+. Many early adopters viewed Google+ as the first legitimate threat to Facebook's status as the social networking site of choice for the masses. Christian author Margaret Feinberg dove in to Google+ immediately and shared her initial thoughts about how it works, and the way its features may be useful for churches.

Notable reader comment: "I definitely see the strengths of G+'s Circles. Love the idea of Hangout, etc all being built in. My concern is that FB would only need to make a few changes to do the same thing. And so far, my Incoming on G+ is DEAD. Very little updating going on." —Richie Allen

9. A Pastor's Thoughts on Knowing What People Give by Larry Osborne (May 3, 2011)

In this guest post, Pastor Larry Osborne shares about a situation that changed his thinking about whether a pastor should know what people give to the church.

Notable reader comment: "To me, what was done with the information presents a better arguemtn for why pastors don't need to know than why they do need to know." —John

8. The Church Bulletin as a Tax Tool by Richard R. Hammar (November 1, 2011)

How churches can use their bulletins at the end of the year to provide timely, helpful year-end tax reminders and guidance to givers.

Notable reader comment: None.

7. The Top 5 Reasons Churches End Up in Court by Richard R. Hammar (January 25, 2011)

Every month, Richard Hammar reviews nearly 1,000 court rulings for Church Law & Tax Report and Church Finance Today, as well as the resources he creates for churches and ministers. He categorizes this information to identify patterns, and in this video, he shares the most common reasons that churches wound up in court in 2010.

Notable reader comment: None.

6. Before You Hire, Pick Up the Phone by James Emery White (August 8, 2011)

An excerpt from James Emery White's What They Didn't Teach You in Seminary about an important lesson he learned after rushing to hire an up-and-coming worship leader.

Notable reader comment: "Excellent advice... and not just for paid staff hires. Any time someone from the outside of your church family is put in a position of leadership, it would be wise for the pastor to do some sanity checking :)" —Jenni Baier

5. Scammers Phishing for Your Money by Lindsey Learn (July 28, 2011)

In July, the Internal Revenue Service issued an alert to churches nationwide regarding five scams focused on tricking churches into paying to pursue false or erroneous tax schemes. The bottom line: If free money sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Notable reader comment: None.

4. The Top Three Reasons Fraud Happens at Church by Vonna Laue (June 16, 2011)

Vonna Laue, co-author of the Essential Guide to Church Finances, wrote about the top three reasons a church becomes a victim of fraud. By shedding light on these three, Vonna provides brief explanations on how churches can evaluate their own current practices—and possible ways to address deficiencies.

Notable reader comment: "I've been told that 85% of people will steal if given the opportunity; you can argue with the statistic, but it does make a point that reasonable safeguards need to be in place." —Lori

3. Cyber Crime: Coming to a Church Near You? by Matt Branaugh (July 12, 2011)

Hackers targeted a church in Iowa this summer and stole $680,000. Sadly, it's a potential sign of things to come, as one notable author on the topic of church fraud noted during a church business administration conference. Six tips, along with several recommended resources, can help churches thwart similar attempts.

Notable reader comment: None.

2. National Commission to Examine Church Financial Practices by Matt Branaugh (January 7, 2011)

After a three-year inquiry into the financial practices of six media ministries, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, asked the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability to head an independent commission that will obtain feedback about the financial practices and oversight of churches and religious groups nationwide. The Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations is chaired by Michael Batts and includes notable legal, tax, and ministry voices, including Richard Hammar, senior editor of Church Law & Tax Report and Church Finance Today. In December, the commission began accepting public comments on the issues Grassley asked it to study.

Notable reader comment: "The issue is that churches are granted a tax exemption and some special privileges that other taxexempts don't have (the housing allowance for pastors). As a result, we the taxpayers are essentially subsidizing religion just like we subsidize many other charities, but with some extra percs that other charities don't get, which causes some concern. Certainly if we are going to give special privileges to churches not permitted to other tax exempt charities, we ought to be able to ensure that churches are at least as compliant with tax exempt status requirements as other charities are, and this can best be done through requiring the same kind of reporting required for other charities." —How Tax Works

1. A Tax Credit for Churches? by Richard R. Hammar (April 18, 2011)

Is there really a "tax credit" available to churches based on President Obama's 2010 healthcare reform? For small- and mid-sized employers offering healthcare to employees, including churches, the answer is quite possibly yes. Many churches took advantage of this tax credit in 2011, and unless the U.S. Supreme Court rules the reform is unconstitutional after hearing arguments for and against it in 2012, many likely will be able to do so again.

Notable reader comment: "Wonderful video and follow-up comments. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Our church may receive a $11,700 check in the mail later this year." —David

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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