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According to IRS Pub 517, retired ministers are allowed to exclude the amount of the housing allowance from their gross income, just as working ministers are.

Form 1040 Line 16a should be the total amount reported to you on Form 1099R Line 1.  If the CRC has designated a certain amount as housing allowance, they should have already excluded that amount from line 2a on Form 1099R.  2a should go onto Line 16b of Form 1040.

If the taxable amount was not determined on 1099R, you may deduct the value of the designated housing allowance from Line 1 of 1099R and put that value on line 16b of Form 1040.

The housing allowance definitely does not belong on line 53.

Sheri might be able to provide some more color here, since she is familiar with pensions in general, and the CRC pension system in particular.

First of all, it all depends on whether you get a 1099 or a W-2.  Assuming you are a W-2 church employee, your housing allowance is not subject to income tax, and should not be included in your W-2 wages on Line 3 of Form 1040.  However, your housing allowance may be subject to self-employment tax (which covers SS, Medicare, etc.).  See IRS Publication 517 (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p517.pdf) for more information on income from religious employment.

 There are a few things we are trying right now.  We meet every Sunday after church for a Bible study during Sunday school hour.  This fall we are scheduled to meet two Thursday a month for a "local" event (something we can do at church or nearby - bowling, manhunt, kickball, etc) and one Saturday a month for a bigger event (apple picking, trip to Rockefeller Center, laser tag, etc).  Right now I am leading it with one other guy.  We're both in the age group we are trying to target (20 somethings).  He happens to be a deacon, and I am also the director of music at the church.

Our church is sort of in a period of transition right now.  Our pastor passed away suddenly just over a year ago and we are in the process of searching for another.  Our worship style officially is blended (unofficially I'd say its blended-leaning-contemporary).  There are a number of young adults involved in church leadership, including youth leaders, search team, council, praise team, etc.

Our church has a thriving Jr. High youth ministry (75+ students attend weekly), and an up-and-coming Sr. High ministry.  Our church has some trouble retaining students from Jr. High to Sr. High.  The Jr. High ministry is made up mostly of students that don't have a church home.  (Rough estimate - 25% from our church, 35% from other churches, 40% un-churched).  During the summer our church has an 8-week day camp, which is made up of 60%+ un-churched students.

The small group ministry at our church is growing, but is mostly geared towards "middle-aged" adults. There is no small group that exists for the 20's age group.  When I've asked about that, I've been told that I would be more than welcome to create one.  But I've been too busy with other responsibilities at church to be able to create a small group on top of that.

My church tries very hard to reach out to the local community through its programs.  I would love to see the young adult ministry at our church attract people from the community.  But, I think we first need a base of people from our church before we reach out to the community.

 

Paul - Thank you for your provoking questions.  

I am a director of music at a CRC in New Jersey.  I also am the co-leader of our church's young adult ministry.  In the past I have been a leader in our youth ministry.  And in a little more distant past, I was a participant in youth ministry (after all, I'm only 25).  So I think I have a pretty good perspective on the subject.

Let me address your comment about having a healthy, successful youth group and it's ties to the congregation.  In most youth groups I have been a part of, the youth group can basically be divided into two groups: kids who's families already go to the church and kids who's families don't go to that church (or any church).  For those who already go to the church, worship "style" is not going to inhibit them going to youth group, since they are already familiar with that style.  For the kids who don't go to that church, most likely they are never going to experience the worship style of the church anyway.  In most churches, those kids are basically going to come to youth group on [Friday/Wednesday/pick a day] night and most likely not walk into the church building again during the week.  So I think that "worship style" doesn't really effect them either, since they never really experience it.

As far as church plants/growing churches go, let me preface by saying that I absolutely hate the terms "traditional" and "contemporary".  It's like someone drew a line somewhere around 1982 and put songs on either side of that line.  All songs that are considered "traditional" today were "contemporary" when they were written.  The only difference is that with today's "traditional" songs, the grand filter of time has weeded out most of the bad songs and we are left with the good ones.  Whereas with the "contemporary" songs, we operate on a "throw it at the wall and see what sticks" method.

That in mind, I don't know that there is any good evidence to suggest that there is a correlation or causation between worship styles and church growth.  Let me throw out there some anecodtal evidence to suggest the contrary.  I went to a  Christian college in the midwest where about half of the college students there were from out of state.  The area that the college was in had a wide variety of churches to choose from.  Of my friends there, as well as other people I had spoken with over my time there, most people's experiences were similar.  Initially, when "church shopping", people started with the churches with the cool praise bands.  But, in most cases, the decision on what church to attend regularly came down not to what church had the most contemporary singing time.  It came down to which church engaged them the most on a relational level.

The church I chose was a church where I felt welcome, where I was offered meals, where I was invited over to people's houses to fellowship with them.  It wasn't the church with the most impressive praise band.  In fact, the church I attended the most was, in fact, more on the traditional end of the spectrum.  Style of singing, in most cases, has nothing to do with growth of individual churches.  Churches that grow the fastest are the churches where the people in them make an effort to build relationships with others.

Just some food for thought.

John Van Buiten
Director of Music
Covenant CRC, North Haledon, NJ

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