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What's New in Church Design?

Christianity Today recently published an article identifying the top 5 church design trends to look for in the year ahead. I'd love to know, have you seen these trends at your church?

Church Admin & FinanceWorship
Mandate
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Facility Renovation

The Facility Renovation Team will be responsible to act as the primary contact between Our Church and the architect and builder.

Church Admin & Finance
Mandate
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Building Planning

These plans enable the church to finish building a facility at specified site.

Church Admin & Finance
Policy or Guidelines
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Facilities Use Policies

The following policies support the mission of our church and safeguards people and property.

Church Admin & Finance
Blog
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Why We Don't Want To Rent Space

Many congregations rent their facilities to emerging or established Christian congregations in their communities. This seems like a win-win arrangement. But what does Christ think about such an arrangement?

Church Admin & FinancePastors
Blog
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No Janitor

Our church doesn’t have a janitor. Well, the truth is that we don’t have a paid janitor. Instead, we consider ourselves a church of janitors. We all pitch in to keep the building clean and hospitable. People do sign up to take turns mopping, vacuuming the carpets, and cleaning bathrooms and the kitchen each Saturday in preparation for our worship gathering on Sunday...

Church Admin & FinanceElders
Blog
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Facility Keyless Entry

Do you know who has all of your outer door church keys? Many times members have lost their key or somehow a distributed key didn’t get added to the list. If you are thinking of changing the locks because keys are lost, maybe you also want to consider a keyless entry system. These systems, also known as external managed access control, are increasingly popular for controlling your keys and security.

Church Admin & Finance
Blog
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Go Green on Lighting

Have you thought about upgrading the light fixtures inside and outside your facility to more energy efficient LED or high-efficiency fluorescent lights? Many of the new products have reduced energy consumption, a much longer lifespan and almost no maintenance cost.  Here's the story of one church that has completed an outside and inside upgrade with a good return on investment.

Church Admin & Finance
Blog
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Rolling Out a New Perception in the Parking Lot

The most common symbol for accessibility features an image of someone in a wheelchair—lifeless, helpless, passive. Temporarily able-bodied people tend to look at people who have disabilities that way, seeing need without recognizing capability and giftedness. A new icon pushes that stereotype aside.

Church Admin & FinanceDisability Concerns
Blog
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Worship Services in School Buildings

Yesterday I worshipped at a new church plant that meets in a public school building.  Every Sunday, the setup/takedown team hustles to change this space from a public school auditorium to a place of worship.  As I sat there, I wondered about a recent article I read about the controvery over use of public school buildings for churches in New York City.. 

Church Admin & Finance
Blog
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Small Church Administration

The pastor of "Small Church" CRC is the go-to guy for everything.  He answers the phone, dusts his office, sets up chairs, prints the bulletin, and sees when things break or need attention. If you are a congregation with a small operating budget, how do you maintain the building, grounds, and other administrative needs of the church?  

Church Admin & Finance
Blog
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Cut Your Building Energy Use

What would your ministry budget look like if you were able to cut your energy use for your church building 10%? Many of us would like to accomplish additional ministry priorities but the church income from our members has not increased much the last couple years.  What if we could help our church this fall by participating in a task force that would review energy management and hopefully cut some energy use and costs?   

Church Admin & Finance
Blog
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Lock the Doors When You Leave

You come in early on Tuesday morning and the door is already open at church. It appears the church did not get locked last night. How can you ensure the facility is locked each night without assigning someone to check the doors each night?  Here are some ideas for closing procedures to post by your main doors.

Church Admin & Finance
Article
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Cell Tower Leases - Do's and Don'ts

Here are basic suggestions for a church which is approached about leasing space for a cell tower or antenna.

Church Admin & Finance
Blog
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Summer Building and Grounds To Do Lists

Let us know if your church has teams to help with the building and grounds tasks--people who are using their gifts to serve the church.

Church Admin & Finance
Article
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Architectural Evangelism

This article demonstrates the effort, time, and cost that many churches in our denomination have undertaken to make their facilities accessible to people with physical impairments.

Church Admin & FinanceDisability Concerns
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Hi Jonathan.  Thanks for your reply!

Thanks Angela!!

I use MailChimp to send out information to our church friends, as well as Outlook for those folks who aren't interested in opting in to MailChimp.  MailChimp is free on a basic level, and we have found it useful. It allows for some creativity in addition to plain text message.

Thanks Worship Ministries and Bryan for the good advice.

Bryan, what do you do to "be as interactive as possible"?

Hey Mark, great question. Church Juice is starting to do regular webinars on a monthly basis. Today is going to be our second one yet, so we're still learning and evaluating software, effectiveness, etc. So far, we've used join.me, which is pretty basic, easy-to-use, and cost-effective software.

We have already found that finding the length is important, so that you keep people engaged and don't lose them, but long enough to feel like the webinar is valuable and worth their time investment. For us, the sweet spot seems to be about 40 minutes, including time for questions and answers. Another piece to that is to be as interactive as possible, which helps keep people engaged.

We've done webinars using the Zoom conferencing.  We've found Zoom to be quite reliable and easy to work with. One of the best pieces of advice I have is to do a practice webinar at least one day before. This allows you to work with the technology, test power point or other presentation if it's being used, and check for things like lighting in the room, background, sound, etc.

We use gmail to send messages.  Having about 125 addresses, we first had problems with hotmail accounts, then all of a sudden gmail sent the messages back generally because we tried and send too many emails at once.  Now we use the google distribution service which after some tweaking works pretty well.  Members first have to accept the invitation to join the distribution list, then a message is moderated, that is checked for appropriateness before approving it to be sent.  Where members have trouble joining, you can force the approval.  A google email address is only needed for the manager who maintains and operates the system. A nice feature is that the person who originates the email is the one who receives the replies, not the manager who approves the message.

We find that asking members to do various things to be sure emails are accepted does not work very well.  Social media is being used almost more than email and so things need to be as simple as possible. We have a policy that emails for activities and matters pertaining to members are accepted, but matters from third parties are denied. We have Sunday bulletins for such information. I guess each church would decide what type of messages to accept or not.

If you want a tool that evaluates the entire church, (not just a ministry) I think Natural Church Development by Christian Swartz is a great tool.  It identifies your churches strengths compared to thousands of other churches.   I would also order his book and read it.   After reading the book, it is very easy to administer the test and interpret the results.  And it is not expensive.   The theory is that healthy things grow.  It is not a measure of church growth but rather church health. 

 

I was going to suggest the Building Blocks of Faith also. It depends what your reason and/or objective is for evaluating your ministries. Once you are clear about that, then you can look for a tool to evaluate them.

This article from the Harvard Business Review (Dec. 27, 2017) makes the same case for the value of work force diversity: The Case for Improving Work for People with Disabilities Goes Way Beyond Compliance. "As Chieko Asakawa walks around IBM’s campus, she explores new ways of getting from point A to point B. She recognizes the faces of colleagues approaching her and greets them. She reads snack labels and decides whether to eat them. Although she is blind, Asakawa doesn’t need a human or canine companion to complete these tasks. She’s helped invent a smartphone app that, as she explained in a recent TED talk, 'understands our surrounding world and whispers to me in voice or sends a vibration to my fingers. Eventually, I’ll be able to find a classroom on campus, enjoy window shopping, or find a nice restaurant while walking along a street.'"

Thank you for taking the time to respond Walt!

To evaluate a ministry, Jay, I would design four, perhaps five, diagnostic questions, assemble the stakeholders, and through a well-thought out circle exercise work the questions.

Thanks Karen.  So much good information at FFM.  Those are the big questions we need to be asking.  I'll drill down into the info a little further. Thx 

Thanks Walt.  I appreciate your response.  I'm not really thinking about evaluating people - but evaluating programs.  I know sometimes it's hard to separate the two but that's what we'd like to do.  How can we gauge the effectiveness of a program?  Maybe it's not a reasonable approach?

Which ministry evaluation tool to use depends on the kind of ministry to be evaluated. If the ministry is led by a paid staff, the tool to use will be different than one managed by volunteers. Staff evaluations must have necessary checks-and-balances built into the a Council-approved process that is mutually transparent; that is, it holds both the evaluator and the one evaluated accountable for their respective roles in the process. A volunteer-managed ministry evaluation is simpler, Council led, and essentially requires the design of right diagnostic questions.

Hi Jay, 

Have you explored the Building Blocks of Faith as a ministry evaluation tool? It was developed by Bob and Laura Keeley in 2014 and ministry leaders who use it have found it to be very helpful. 

It begins with the premise that our identities as people of faith of all ages are shaped by building on the framework of four themes: Belonging, Understanding/Knowing God's story, Having Hope, Being Called and Equipped.  The four themes (blocks) form a tool which can be used not only to evaluate every ministry within a church but which can be used with every age level.  

Click here to read the excellent article in which the blocks are described. (Be sure to check out the great chart on page 12!) Faith Formation Ministries (FFM) has also developed a Building Blocks Toolkit. It's filled with related resources as well as ideas from CRC's which have used the tool in their contexts. You can access it here.  

If you have any questions feel free to contact FFM. They'd love to help!

Thank you so much for your help.
 

That document had exactly the information we needed.

 

CW

I don't believe there is a "boiler plate policy" that can be applied. 

The following online entry might provide some assistance. 

https://www.dakotasumc.org/media/files/FIN_ADMIN/CHURCH_TREAS/FLSA_Guida...

 

You can also contact our Human Resources Office if you have specific questions 616-224-0770

 

 

Short Answer:  Try a bulk email merge which uses your list of recipients, your email in Microsoft Word, the Mailings (email merge) feature in Microsoft Word, and Outlook to send messages *one-at-a-time*.  Here's a link with some information to get you started.  https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Use-mail-merge-to-send-bulk-ema...

However, I like elements of responses from Jim (12/22/2017) and Dean (12/26/2017) both.  Here's something I am going to try in the New Year.

I have the same goal as you,

0.  to get out email reliably to all my congregants. 

In addition, i have a couple of goals which you may or may not agree with so bear with me for a second.

1.  Any congregant should be able to contact all other congregants via "the email list" without having to go through the office.

2.  Congregants should be able to add or remove themselves from the "the email list"

Our church was using a gmail account ("not using Outlook") that Jim suggests with an address book and putting a bunch of email addresses on the "To:" or "CC:" line, but I think that is falling out of favor.  That solution wasn't guaranteed to reach everyone, and I don't know when or how it started, but I think over time the whitelisting (that Dean mentioned) was happening.

What I am trying in 2018 is setting up the church as a G-Suite (Google) and setting up a mailing list of congregants as a Google Group.  The benefit is that I think we can get to #1 and #2 goals above by having a Private Group where past messages are archived.  Feel free to contact me if you want updates.

The problem is likely on the receiving end and not what app you're using to send—but what you use to send is going to be part of the solution. Internet Service Providers (ISP) or your member's own email clients will block what they interpret as spam. You can educate your users to approve (or whitelist) the email coming from your email address or you could use a more trustworthy address from which to send. Email services like Mailchimp work hard to maintain good relationships with ISPs so email sent from their servers get through. You'll also want to craft your subject lines with care so your members know what's coming their way is legitimate and not something they should mark as spam. As well, if  your list is smaller than 2,000, Mailchimp services are free. 

Change from outlook to something else

Thank you for sharing this! I'm intrigued and will be giving this a listen. 

West Michigan Church Security Network is an excellent resource. Their website is WMCSN.org.

Thank you for taking the time to reply.  Helpful!!

 

We're in the state of Washington.  Thanks for the info - very good information!

I don't know where your church is located, but if it is in Canada, you should consider the following article:

http://www.classishamilton.ca/files/ClassisHamilton/7_things_charities_s...

I hope this helps somewhat even if your church is located in the USA.

Safe Church Ministry provides resources regarding background checks. And your local safe church team member can also provide assistance. 

HI Jeff. I serve as the director of communications and marketing for the CRCNA.  I think a short video overview of the denomination's history is a great idea.  I'm not sure I have it in my budget this year, but I'll definitely add it to my "idea file" to see what I can pull together as time and funds allow. Thanks for making the suggestion. 

 

Edward,

Here is something that I think would be a great investment for our denomination, a short video walkthrough of our denomination's history and current ministry. Maybe there is one out there but I haven't run across it.  I tend to do a four or five session class, based upon CS Lewis' image of a house with a foyer and hallways, representing different traditions of the church. I've tried to do it in such a way that we can jump in whereever the person might be in their relationship with Christ. So the first session is Going through the Door, which is essentially a presentation of the gospel using different images.  The next session is about what the biblical contours of the church are and how our church lives into them, with an element that talks about what biblically it means to be a member of a church.  The third session is about the specific "hallway" of the Reformed faith.  Here we talk about the history of the reformation, some of theological emphases of the reformation, and things of that nature.  We also talk about the history of the CRC.  Somewhere around here I also show a video about infant baptism and make this a topic of discussion as well.  In the last session we look at the specific room off the hall that is our own church--our history, vision, values and mission, and some of the ways that we are structured and operate.  In these last sessions I also bring aboard an elder and a deacon to talk about some specifics related to their offices as well.

My question relates to the church council and the Pastor.  We are very new/green in this matter....who is responsible to who as far as decision making?  pastor to council? or council to Pastor?  We never have a treasurer report, Pastor tells treasurer where money goes....all funds were co-mingled in one account (which is been dealt with now)....any guidelines for making reports of the financials and minutes of the meetings??  and should this info be readily to the congregation>??  Right now there is a lot of frustration because nobody knows what is the responsibilities of individuals and council as a whole.

Designing Worship Together by Howard Vanderwell, has some different forms that you can tweek, etc. to fit your context.  

CICW also has some articles on evaluating worship for different reasons: https://worship.calvin.edu/search/?q=evaluation

 

Hi Jim,

Following are a few standard definitions:

Raffle: a lottery in which the prize is won by one of numerous persons buying chances.

Gamble: to play a game for money or property; to bet on an uncertain outcome; to stake something on a contingency.

To the extent that raffles seem to fall squarely within a standard dictionary definition of gambling, the CRCNA position on gambling seems apropos:

Pastors and church councils are urged to expose all destructive influences on people's lives that seek to trivialize or render irrelevant the providence of God. They must also caution against the impact of materialism, take decisive action to combat the evil of gambling, and minister compassionately to persons addicted to or victimized by lotteries.

That statement and some synodical history can be found here: https://www.crcna.org/welcome/beliefs/position-statements/gambling

Thanks!!  Every church in town does raffles....wondered what CRC position is...

I can't help you on the church's position, but I would suggest a legal caution.  Depending on your state, a raffle may constitute gambling, which may be disallowed or require a permit (again, depending on the state's laws).

As a practical matter, a small, one-time grocery raffle may never come to the attention of anyone having the responsibility of doing anything about it, but if repeated enough, or if the event was "big enough" or publicized enough, it might.

Thanks for that feedback! Yes, we have updated the header of this article to indicate that this insurance program is only for US churches. I apologize for the confusion. 

Would it help in these types of posts that this insurance program applies only to churches in the USA?

Hi Ken, 

Sheri has now shared sample bylaws in MS Word format.

Thanks!

It looks like both the US and Canada "Letter of Call" samples are now available in a Word format here

posted in: Letter of Call

Hi Ken, thanks for this. I checked with Sheri and these Bylaws are not available in Word format but she is checking with some other churches to see if they have Bylaws that we could turn into a sample that would be available in Word. Stay tuned!  

Our church uses Servant Keeper for our church database/directory and to calculate online giving. It's good for generating reports and keeping track of a lot of stuff, like dates, allergies, membership status, and whatnot.

One question you may want to ask is whether this is something one person is going to use on one computer or if this is something multiple people are going to need to access at different locations. Most church database software programs have local (one computer) or cloud versions or their software that come at different price points.

Do you know what exactly you're trying to do or keep track of with the software?

I was the Ministry Coordinator at CrossRoads when this was developed, and while I don't remember specifics of the results, I thought it was a great tool that ended up providing really helpful feedback. I'm glad to see that it's being shared for others.

Sheri, thanks for all the helpful posts that you've provided on various CRC web pages. I'm a member of a Michigan CRC congregation. We're in the process of creating both Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws. Under Synod Resources it appears that we can get a running start by filling out the fields in the Michigan Articles of Incorporation Filing Form pdf file, and then append the Attachment to the Articles of Incorporation Filing Form MS-Word document, which can be modified by anyone having MS-Word on their PC (very helpful!).  So I think we have a clear path ahead for Articles of Incorporation.  But what about Bylaws?  The sample on the CRC website is quite long; we've seen another actual set of Bylaws that is both sides of one sheet of paper (three paragraphs).  Is the CRC sample available in MS-Word format?  That would help a lot!  Thanks.

The Dispatch CRC in Kansas has a Foundation Scholarship for those attending Christian higher education. Contact the pastor there for more information.

I've posted the Offer Letters for Non-Ordained Church Staff for anyone who is interested. Thanks!

Joel - I have some samples of offer letters which are often used when hiring non-ordained church staff.  You are welcome to connect with me at jkallemeyn@crcna.org and I'll send them your way.

Whenever the question "may we do this" is asked, it really needs to be accompanied by saying also, "as far as _____________ is concerned."

By my view, there are a number of possible problems with doing this, but none of those possibilities are actually a problem.  For example, it could perhaps be a problem with the IRS (from several angles), but I think it clearly is not.  And it could be a problem with the workers compensation insurer, but I think that unlikely as well.  Etc.

Last but not least on the least is whether this would be OK with the congregation (a political question really), but I expect it would be.  (They could be asked/informed).

So bottom line: I can't imagine how this would be other than permissible, and beyond that, appropriate.

Victoria,

I see no problem with this arrangement. The purpose of the church is to promote prayer and for Christian ministries to meet and serve the neighbourhood would appear to fall within the purpose of promoting the Christian religion.

Just got a question from someone wondering if the membership transfer form can also be used for CRC to RCA transfers. Any advice? Thanks!

posted in: Membership Transfer

The question about the longevity of digital records is very real for archivists.  First there is the question of ongoing software changes, after several new generations of softwares, files generally became unreadable.  This problem now is being resolved, but another question is longevity of digital media.  It seems to be accepted that digital files can be stored for about 10 years without degradation, although it may be longer, there is no way to know until the time passes. Copies can of course be made, but with each copy a little bit of the original is lost.  Related to this is that all digital systems rely on mechanical devices, which can physically fail, so backups are necessary.  

In short, paper-based records will last much longer than digital files. But many files now only exist in digital format, so we have to deal with storing digital files, indexing them, and accessing them.  I would not recommend converting existing paper records to digital as a means for preservation.

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