How to Create IT Game Plans for Successful Ministry 
Free webinar will help you make smart decisions that fit your church’s needs and budget.
How to Create IT Game Plans for Successful Ministry

Most people don’t think about Information Technology (IT) as ministry, but Nick Nicholaou believes God has called him to use his IT skills to serve churches and various ministries. Nick founded the tech ministry MBS in 1987 and has been focused on providing the Christian community with reliable and affordable IT solutions ever since.

You can benefit from Nick’s knowledge and expertise through a free webinar with Church Law & Tax on August 21. This hour-long training session will focus on creating IT plans for ministry. Here are a few key areas he’ll cover:

  • Making decisions and setting IT policies;
  • Windows vs. MacOS;
  • Bring Your Own Device (“BYOD”)—determining if this is a good idea;
  • Wi-Fi—access, security, and setup;
  • How to work with IT volunteers; and
  • How to retain high-quality IT staff.

“The church and ministry computing environment is unique. ...

Not All Noncash Gifts for Silent Auctions Are Tax Deductible 
Donations of vacation property do not result in a charitable write-off.
Not All Noncash Gifts for Silent Auctions Are Tax Deductible

The News

From the June 28, 2019, issue of Kiplinger Tax Letter:

Think twice before donating to charity the right to use your vacation home. Charities such as schools and churches often use such places as prizes for dinners, galas or auctions that they sponsor to raise funds for their activities. You don’t get a charitable write-off because you gave only a partial interest in the property. Nor is there any deduction for the winning bidder, unless that person paid more for his or her winning bid than what the vacation home prize is worth. And be wary of this tax trap if you also rent out the vacation property: The time used by the winning bidder counts as personal use by you for purposes of the rule that prohibits the deduction of rental realty losses when the owner’s personal use tops the greater of 14 days or 10% of days rented.

The Church Law & Tax Take

Churches often organize ...

The Financial Struggles of Real Pastors 
Most pastors feel the financial squeeze, despite the hype surrounding mega-rich celebrity pastors. "Bless Your Pastor" is one way congregations can respond.
The Financial Struggles of Real Pastors

A TV preacher asked his flock for $54 million last year so he could buy a new private jet. One of America’s most popular pastors owns a $10.5 million mansion and drives a top-model Ferrari. And not long ago, @PreachersNSneakers was launched on Instagram to name and shame pastors who wear designer shoes that cost thousands of dollars.

It’s no wonder, then, that many Americans, and even church-going Christians, have the wrong view of America’s pastors and their money. The real story of America’s legion of humble pastors is unglamorous and largely untold. Ninety percent of pastors feel financial pressure. Hundreds of thousands of pastors make less than $50,000 per year while serving their churches 50-plus hours per week, and many have side jobs to make ends meet.

A 2015 study conducted by the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) found that nearly 60 percent of pastors ...

Few Church Leaders Discuss Abuse Crisis Says Pew Research 
Most startling is how little church-goers in Protestant faith traditions indicated leaders actively raised the topic.
Few Church Leaders Discuss Abuse Crisis Says Pew Research

The News

In a news release issued July 10, Pew Research Center said it conducted a survey this spring asking US adults (those who say they attend religious services a few times a year or more) whether “the clergy or other religious leaders at their place of worship have spoken out about sexual harassment, assault or abuse.” The survey results: “[A]bout three-in-ten say their clergy have spoken out about sexual abuse (29%), while two-thirds say they have not heard their clergy say anything about this topic (68%).”

Pew Research Center also notes:

  • “There are similar patterns among religious groups, with the exception of Catholics. Catholics are more likely than other U.S. Christians to hear clergy talking about sex abuse in general (41% among Catholics vs. 27% among Protestants). And Catholics who attend Mass at least a few times a year are more likely to say they hear their clergy talk only about supporting victims (24%), compared with a smaller share among Protestants (11%).”
Six Insights About Summer Slump 
Some churches keep their ministries robust during the so-called “downtime.”
Six Insights About Summer Slump

“I hate summer attendance!”

That sentence came from a pastor whose church is consistently down in attendance in the summer. Indeed, his sentiments were echoed in many conversations I had with pastors. The conversation began at the consulting and coaching hub at ChurchAnswers.com. I expanded it with some inquiries via emails, calls, and texts.

The insights these pastors shared were invaluable. Perhaps you can identify with many of them.

1. A typical average decline is 20 percent.

We used average worship attendance as our metric. The 20 percent number was the response from two out of three pastors in this survey. So, for a church with an average worship attendance of 200 during the non-summer months, attendance drops to 160 in the summer.

2. Snowbird churches tend to have greater fluctuations.

For example, churches in southwest Florida and south Florida tend to have an exodus of attendees ...

Religious and Individual Giving Dipped in 2018 
Newly released philanthropy report reveals decreases in giving that may, in part, be due to tax policy changes.
Religious and Individual Giving Dipped in 2018

Individual giving took a hit in 2018, with a decline from the previous year of 1.1 percent (or a decrease of 3.4 percent when adjusted for inflation), according to Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018—a highly anticipated study produced by Giving USA Foundation in partnership with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

Further, in spite of giving by individuals as a category achieving its third-highest dollar amount on record (adjusted for inflation), its percentage of total overall giving dropped by 2 percent, down to 68 percent in 2018 from 70 percent in 2017, stated a Giving USA press release.

“This year is the first time giving by individuals has fallen below 70 percent of overall giving since at least 1954,” the Giving USA report stated.

For churches, this development is significant since giving primarily comes from ...

Hey, Fletch: Are Discounts to Church Events Taxable Income? 
Understanding what IRS Publication 15-B and IRC Section 132(a)(2) does and doesn’t say.
Hey, Fletch: Are Discounts to Church Events Taxable Income?

We want to offer all staff who work 32 hours a week or more discounts to church retreats and functions. Does the “employee discounts” exclusion outlined in IRS Publication 15-B apply or must discounts be treated as taxable income to the employees? The publication says: “This exclusion applies to a price reduction you give your employee on property or services you offer to customers in the ordinary course of the line of business in which the employee performs substantial services.”

I would also like to point out thatPublication 15-B says, “You can generally exclude the value of an employee discount you provide an employee from the employee's wages, up to” certain limits—including “a discount on services, 20% of the price you charge nonemployee customers for the service.”

There are some caveats to this discount, and this one may apply ...

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The 4 Hour Legal Training Program for Church Boards

The 4 Hour Legal Training Program for Church Boards Member access only

Understand key legal concepts necessary to protect the board and the church.
Church Issues: Waivers and Release Forms and Church Liability

Church Issues: Waivers and Release Forms and Church Liability Member access only

What these documents do—and don't do—based on statutes and court decisions made nationwide.