Monday, February 25, 2019

The Council: New Release from ECFAPress

What does the Bible say about board governance? This often-asked question has puzzled board members for decades. The Council answers this question by starting with the Scriptures and ending with the Scriptures. 

Thanks to the deep dive that Gary Hoag, Wes Willmer, and Gregory Henson have taken into the Scriptures, the question has now been more fully answered than ever before.

According to ECFA President Dan Busby in his foreword to the book, The Council is outstanding for five reasons which rarely apply to a book:
  1.  Universal. This book applies to a broad spectrum of organizations. It is relevant for Christ-centered churches and other nonprofit ministries. It contains essential truths pertaining to organizations both large and small. The Council universally applies across denominational lines and is appropriate for churches whether denominational or independent. The book has universal application regardless of country or locality.
  2. Transformative. The principles embodied in The Council hold the potential to change the governance practices and outcomes for all Christ-centered churches and other nonprofit ministries. Every board can fine-tune their operations even if the board is healthy. The Council has the potential to enhance the trajectory of every board.
  3. Timeless. The Council is timeless. It is a principle-based text that will apply as much in the future as it does today. We are reminded of the parable of the wise and foolish builders in Matthew chapter 7. Jesus taught the disciples through this parable, saying, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like the wise man who built his house on the rock.” The authors of The Council have wisely built this study of biblical board governance on a solid foundation of scriptural truth that is unchanging regardless of culture or circumstance. After you read this book, you will be drawn back to it over and over as you desire to refresh your biblically-based mindset on board governance.
  4. Practical. The Study Guide in Chapter 7, "Tools to Help Overseers Think Biblically,” is crystal clear in providing a road map for boards to implement the principles in the book.
  5. Inspiring. Other authors have also urged prayer, the reading of Scripture during board meetings, setting aside time for silence, and welcoming all board members to share their thoughts. But The Council is unmistakably clear on these topics and communicates these principles in a new and inspiring way.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Relational Evangelism in a Shifting Culture

How can Christians effectively witness in an increasingly shifting culture? In a recent ECFA Excellence in Church Administration podcast, Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, shared a few thoughts on what it means to be individual Christians living missionally:

  • Think beyond the building. The days of inviting your friends to church to hear the Gospel from a pastor are over. Church will always be a place where we should welcome others, but people are more likely to engage in a conversation or grab a cup of coffee than come to church with you. 
  • Classification may vary. The nominal, or by-name-only, Christians and those who classify themselves as “none” in the religion category are merging. As this happens, we have a unique opportunity to make it clear what it means to be true Christians that center and shape their lives around the reality of Christ. 
  • Be on mission. Relational ministry and personal evangelism in work, family, and play has potential for meaningful impact. As ambassadors of Christ, we are called to share our faith in the tangible expression of our lives.

For more discussion on relational evangelism, join Ed Stetzer and ECFA’s Warren Bird for the Cultural Shift & The Church podcast.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Tackle a Church Building Project the Right Way

Whether your church building project is creating multiple sites or simply renovating your children’s wing, the factors that aid success follow a similar pattern. Here are a few takeaways for church leaders heading into an expansion project, from a recent conversation with Glenn Wood of Seacoast Church
  1. Start with prayer. Seek God’s wisdom and direction from the very beginning.
  2. Define the goal before the budget. It may seem counterintuitive, but rather than starting with a budget, define the need and scope of a project first. The budget will inevitably drive the project, but having the scope in mind will prompt discussions on what is most important to the ministry and assist with long-term goal setting. Be open to talking through options and finding what works.
  3. Build the teams necessary for your project. At this point, you will need input from the right people to influence the project. Depending on the needs and scope of your project, your teams may vary, but generally they will include a staff team (those at the decision-making table; detail-oriented leaders of the project), a professional team (these are the people who will be doing the actual work), and a volunteer team ("homegrown" people with specialized knowledge or helpful skill sets).
  4. Count the cost. Having a holistic understanding of the expenses is important and biblical. Consider peripheral expenses associated with your project, right down to the trash cans.
  5. Manage the details. As the project develops, detail-minded individuals will be required to keep the budget and scope on track. Build in time and resources for needs that arise.
For more insights and reflections from Glenn Wood of Seacoast Church, listen to the full Tackling a Church Building Project the Right Way podcast.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Insights on Receiving Non-Traditional Gifts

As giving in various non-traditional ways has become more popular, ministries should have a strategy prepared for receiving these new forms of generosity. We recently sat down with Dr. Jeff Steed of the Southern Baptists of Texas Foundation to discuss the issue. Here are a few notes for both givers and ministries to be aware of:

  • Beyond cash gifts, there are many opportunities for giving that can be advantageous to churches and ministries. Gifts of property, vehicles, stocks, businesses, etc., require special handling and consideration but can prove to be invaluable ministry assets.
  • Proper management can greatly enhance non-cash gifts. While not every gift can be received in its current form, many gifts can be significantly multiplied depending on how they are given and subsequently managed by the ministry.
  • Estate gifts and planned giving allow donors to leave a legacy with their final arrangements that honors what they valued in life.

To listen to the full discussion with special guest Jeff Steed, tune in here to the Insights on Receiving Non-Traditional Gifts podcast.