Monday, July 30, 2018

ECFA Welcomes Dr. Warren Bird to Full-Time Staff

ECFA is pleased to welcome Dr. Warren Bird onto our full-time staff. We have CPAs and attorneys on our team, and now we get a Ph.D. We are excited!
An ordained minister with a big heart for the local church, Warren has led in various pastoral positions, taught at several seminaries, and served most recently for 13 years at Leadership Network, overseeing their research department where they’ve released several dozen groundbreaking reports on topics like multisite churches, large-church compensation, church planting, and church internships and residencies. 
An award-winning writer, he has also co-authored 30 books for church leaders on topics like breaking growth barriers, healthy mergers, and pastoral succession.
Warren will serve as our Vice President of Research and Equipping. The “research” side is to increase the scope, impact and depth of our knowledge base as we’re increasingly asked for peer benchmarks for our members. The “equipping” side of Warren’s role, according to ECFA President Dan Busby, is “energizing ECFA's nearly 2,300 members as they apply what ECFA is learning through research." Busby added, "Warren is a treasure for the world of Christ-centered churches and ministries. It is thrilling to have him join the ECFA team."
Warren and his college sweetheart wife, Michelle, live in Metro New York City.
As Warren bridges to ECFA, he sat down with Leadership Network's Dave Travis. Read the Interview Here.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Growing in Financial Leadership


What does it mean to provide financial leadership in a church?

Financial management addresses the to-do list of things that need to be done daily. Financial leadership, however, is a strategic way of thinking that aligns these operations with the long-term mission of the ministry. Leading the finances of a church means thinking broadly about sustainability while working to seize new opportunities. 

Here are some areas in the church where financial leadership is needed most:

Budgeting with a mission mindset. Intentionally aligning the dollars with the mission.

Setting aside reserves. Planning is critical for the future of the mission. Saving strategically requires leadership. Having adequate reserves allows an organization to grow and embrace new opportunities.

Creating a stewardship culture from the top down. Operating with integrity begins with the leadership. There needs to be a desire for compliance that starts at the top and permeates the entire ministry.

Making competency a priority. Hire capable people into positions, staff adequately, and provide training. Seek out quality volunteers.

Setting the priority on God-honoring financial management begins at the top. But amazing things happen when the leaders are on board - and the mentality tends to spread.

Listen to ECFA's Growing in Financial Leadership podcast here:


Monday, July 16, 2018

Large Church Compensation Trends


Dr. Warren Bird is one of the top researchers and experts in church compensation trends, especially in large churches. In his years of experience, Dr. Bird has found that churches of all sizes want comparisons to ensure that their compensation is on track. The 2018 Large Church Salary, Staffing, and Benefits Survey was created for that purpose. This objective comparability data can be used to enhance integrity and confidence in compensation planning. Here are three of the most common questions addressed by the survey:

How much of our budget should go toward staffing costs?
There is no “right amount.” However, the most recent survey shows that the norm is just below 50% of all church funds. For large and small churches alike, this ratio has largely remained consistent over the years.

What are some executive salary benchmarks?
These numbers are, of course, dependent on a variety of factors. On average, the report found that the second-in-command (Executive Pastor, etc…) is typically at 70% of what the top leader (Senior Pastor) makes, while the third person is typically at 59%.

To what degree should compensation information be made available?
Most churches do not disclose compensation details to the public. However, some churches may choose to inform their members upon request. Encouragingly, it was found to be broadly practiced that a designated team from the board with no conflict of interest establishes compensation.

Planning and evaluating fair compensation is an opportunity for the church to stand above reproach. For more on each of these questions and additional information from the survey, check out the free download here: http://leadnet.org/salary/

For tailored salary compensations: https://www.vanderbloemen.com/compensation

Listen in to our podcast conversation with Dr. Warren Bird:







Monday, July 9, 2018

5 Building Blocks of Church Financial Integrity


“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24,25)

Today’s churches are living in an age of frequent if not constant challenges. For church leaders and administrators, it is not a matter of if the rain, floods, and winds are coming, but when. Now more than ever, it is essential that your church is built upon a foundation of strong financial integrity that will weather the storms.

Often church leaders have a desire to shore up their financial integrity, but they aren’t sure where to start. The good news is building your church’s financial integrity is not as complicated as you might think. Much like a strong and solid home is built brick-by-brick, there are basic building blocks that provide the foundation for your church to stand strong in the face of challenges.

In the ECFA eBook, 5 Building Blocks of Church Financial Integrity, we explore these five essentials: Committed Leadership, Sound Financial Management, Appropriate Transparency, Excellence in Compensation & Conflicts of Interest, and Trustworthy Stewardship, as well as the “glue” that holds it all together: Accountability.

Here are a few key takeaways from the eBook:
  1. Committed Leadership – The church’s governing body and staff must lead the way for financial integrity. A committed, independent church board selects good leaders, makes decisions in light of Scripture, and keeps the church accountable to its overall mission. (Key Scripture: 1 Tim 3:1)
  2. Sound Financial Management – Integrity requires administering church finance with diligence. Important issues to address include proper use of resources, financial oversight, and a thorough understanding of internal vs. external audits. (Key Scripture: 1 Cor 16:1-4)
  3. Appropriate Transparency – Regular financial reports create an atmosphere for greater generosity. Openness and transparency through public disclosure of financial statements and project reports promotes responsible Christian stewardship and enhances trust with givers and a watching world. (Key Scripture: Rom 15:25-26)
  4. Excellence in Compensation & Conflicts of Interest – Church leaders must avoid even the perception of improper personal benefit. Carefully designed and consistently executed policies for compensation setting and potential conflicts of interest can help ensure that the church is above reproach. (Key Scripture: 1 Tim 5:17-18)
  5. Trustworthy Stewardship – Givers expect churches to be faithful to their word in the process of raising and spending resources. By striving for truthfulness in communications, honoring giver expectations and intent, issuing appropriate gift acknowledgments, and acting in the best interest of givers, not fundraising consultants or staff, your church can demonstrate faithful administration of resources. (Key Scripture: 2 Cor 8:20-21)
Accountability is the Glue

Like a New Year’s Resolution to diet or exercise, the best intentions often fall by the wayside when there is no accountability. Maintaining financial integrity requires a certain support system to be successful in the long run. Churches can make themselves accountable to their members, congregants, and financial supporters through such avenues as independent board governance, internal controls, denominational oversight, and third-party certification by independent organizations such as ECFA.

There are currently more than 2,200 organizations across the United States that demonstrate their commitment to high standards of financial integrity through ECFA membership. Churches are the fastest growing segment of ECFA members, and ECFA-certified churches represent 18 different denominations and over 40 of the nation’s largest and most vibrant congregations.

To learn more about ECFA membership as well as other ways that ECFA can support you in your ministry, call 800-323-9473 or email michael@ecfa.org.


To listen to a recent ECFA podcast on this topic click here. To download the FREE eBook 5 Building Blocks of Church Financial Integrity click here



Monday, July 2, 2018

5 Tax Saving Tips for Pastors


Reimbursing ministry-related expenses can add up to huge savings for pastors. To best manage them, create an accountable expense reimbursement plan that outlines what is eligible for reimbursement, the substantiation required, and when the expense must be substantiated. Here are three tips for complying with a good accountable expense reimbursement plan:
  1. Only submit items that constitute a church business expense. Not everything qualifies as a business expense.
  2. Substantiate the expenses submitted to the church. The details are important. Go beyond providing a receipt. Remember the 5 W’s: why does the expense qualify, what expenses were incurred, when were the expenses incurred, where were the expenses incurred, and who was involved.
  3. Submit the expenses for reimbursement in a timely fashion. For the sake of clarity, make expense report thorough and timely.

Remember, reimbursements under an accountable plan always save pastors more money than Schedule A deductions. For more on how pastors can leverage the tax law to save money, tune in to the conversation here: https://ecfa.podbean.com/e/5-tax-saving-tips/