Churches Can Increase Giving Online

Give Online

Churches Can Increase Giving Online

Blog article introduction by Hal Lentz, assistant to the BFC president

Soon after becoming the Pastor of Development for Whittier Area Community Church, I looked at our church’s website to see how easy it was to make a gift online.  I was a motivated giver and it took me 2.5 minutes to navigate the site and get to a form to fill in and make my gift.

Curiously, I decided to make the rounds in our office asking ten different staff members to help me out.  I asked each person to sit at their computer.  I said, “Now you’ve just received a letter, and you want to make a gift.  Start your browser, enter www.wacc.net, and let’s see how long it takes you to get to the input screen to make a gift.

The quickest attempt took two minutes.  The longest attempt took over four minutes and seven clicks before they gave up.  We needed to fix that!  I wanted our givers to be at an input screen entering their information in less than ten seconds with one click.

It took some convincing to get “accounting” to go along.  The good folks kept telling me, “We already have a system that is working just fine.”  The only thing was that you had to be I.T.-savvy, extremely patient and part detective to get to the form to make your gift.

We simplified the online giving process and gave a 60-second tutorial during our weekend services December of 2009.  The result: we went from nine online gifts to 54 in three weeks!

So, check out your church website and see how easy it is to make a gift to your ministry.  Just saying . . . 20 seconds and your givers are on to something else.

And read the helpful blog below.

hlentz@bfcnetwork.org

Churches Can Increase Giving Online

A guest blog post by The Rocket Company

Church leader, did you know that people are not only giving more often online but also more consistently?

Here are three ways your church can integrate online giving options for your church:

1) Make Giving Faster and Easier

Key: Make giving really easy!

Make sure your online giving platform is easy to use.

Minimize the number of clicks and information needed to give.

People shouldn’t have to create an account with your church to give online.

Get started by contacting your service provider and integrate online giving as soon as possible.

2) Make Giving Directions Clear

Key: Educate your givers!

Provide different venues whereby people can learn about online giving and educate them on their options.

An online giving link should be easy to see on your website home page.

Provide customer service for your online givers in case they have questions. Give them an email address or phone number to call.

Use your church WiFi service and projector to show people during your weekly gatherings how to give online.

3) Make Giving Professional

Key: Anticipate questions and answer them before people ask!

Questions you should answer on your website’s Giving page:

  • Can I designate my giving to a specific fund or account?
  • Are there additional fees associated with giving online?
  • If I schedule recurring donations, can I change the frequency or amount at any time?
  • What happens if I change bank accounts?
  • Will I receive a contribution statement for online gifts?
  • Can I give online and in service?
  • Is online giving secure?
  • How do I contact a church representative if I have further questions?

Anticipating questions and providing answers increases the confidence of each giver.

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This blog post summarizes original content by The Rocket Company. Click here to visit their website.

Click here to give online to the Berean Fellowship of Churches.

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3 Steps To Reaching Unchurched People

The Unchurched

3 Steps To Reaching Unchurched People

We recently saw an article entitled “How To Reach Unchurched People Who Don’t Think They Need God” by Canadian Pastor Carey. One of his statements really resonated with the shifting nature of North American harvest-field missionary work, “People in North America are learning to live comfortably without God.”

As a network of churches and leaders, God has already commissioned us to both grow healthy disciples in existing churches as well as reproduce healthy churches through Acts 1:8 “Judea” missions and church planting.

Here are three steps Pastor Carey recommends for reaching the unchurched in your local community:

  1. Focus intentional time on relationship-building with unchurched people.
  2. Contextualize your evangelistic conversations for the worldview of the people you are reaching.
  3. See the “good works” of the unchurched, bless the “good” of their current success, and point them toward the gospel.

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Please visit Pastor Carey Nieuwhof’s blog and encourage him on a great blog article.

Leave a comment to let us know how your church is finding success in reaching the unchurched in your local harvest field.

A New Pastor Barry Blog Post

Visit Barry's blog post

“If I Were Valedictorian”

A Guest Blog post by Berean Pastor Barry Holbrook

It’s graduation time again…

A time of celebration. A time of victory. A time of bittersweet emotions.

As a youth pastor I get excited and saddened by graduation. Excited to see teens I have grown close to prepare to move on and impact the world as young adults, and saddened because it feels as if a piece of my heart is being savagely torn out of my chest! I will miss my graduating teens…

These days have me doing some introspection. One of the questions that has bounced around my head in the past few days is  “What would I say if I were Valedictorian?”

If I were the Valedictorian…

… I would challenge my fellow students to continue to work hard and strive for excellence in every endeavor.

… I would reminisce aloud of the wonderful days of high school and all the amazing memories that my friends created in my heart and mind.

… I would encourage my teachers and coaches to press on for they have impacted my life and many other lives with their dauntless pouring out day after day after day.

All of the above sentiments are necessary and expected. A Valedictorian should speak of these things!

But as a believer in Christ and Valedictorian I would say to my fellow students…

… Work hard and strive for excellence in every endeavor, but do it all for the glory of God.

… God has a plan for each of our lives. Jesus came to us that we may have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10). All of your awards and accolades are wonderful, but the greatest possible goal in life transcends any touchdown or scholarship you may receive. That goal is to be in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Nothing matters without this relationship and after entering into this relationship everything matters!

…In just a few moments you will hear you name called, you will stand up, walk toward your principal, shake his/her hand and be handed your diploma. The crowd will applaud your efforts and celebrate along with you–you have graduated high school!  Receiving your diploma is a big deal. You worked hard for it. You completed all of your assignments and passed all your tests. But in the process of earning that piece of paper did your life bring honor and glory to God? Did you receive the applause of Heaven as you walked through the hallways of your high school? In a moment you will see the smile of your principal as he hands you your diploma–but did you live your life in high school in such a way to hear from God the Father, “Well done good and faithful servant!”

…High school matters. Living for Christ in high school matters more. making good grades matters. Making good grades to glorify Christ matters more. Earning a scholarship matters. Earning a scholarship to continue honoring God in college matters more.

… But what if you do not have a relationship with Christ right now? What if you are sitting here and God is the furthest thing from your mind? You have an opportunity to gain something greater than a high school diploma today. Your diploma will open doors for you. A relationship with Christ opens eternity for you! Graduating high school  is the beginning of your adult life. Being saved is the beginning of REAL life! As you prepare to face the world with your diploma in hand, why not surrender your life to Christ so to be genuinely prepared for life?

… You will leave this building today a graduate. You can also leave this building saved, in a relationship with Jesus, reconciled to God the Father. Yesterday you WERE a senior in high school. Today you are an adult. Say yes to Jesus today and be able to say “Yesterday I was lost without hope. Today I have been set free to live forever!”

… Congratulations graduate, the old is passed away, all things have become new.

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Visit Pastor Barry’s Blog

Leave a comment and let us know what you think about this blog article!

Obese Christians

Spiritual Obesity

Obese Christians

A guest blog post by Pastor Barry Holbrook

Obese is defined as having excessive body fat. Our nation is full of people who can be labeled obese.

Annual medical expenditures attributable to obesity have doubled in less than a decade, and may be as high as $147 billion per year, according to a new study by researchers at RTI International, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. (RTI International, 7/27/09)

Wow…those are very sobering statistics.

Let me pose a question: What is the number one contributing factor to obesity? The answer of course is over-eating. if someone insists on over eating on a regular basis they have placed themselves on the pathway to obesity.

According to WebMD, if you are obese and have unhealthy eating or activity habits, you have a higher risk for gallstones, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease (CAD), a stroke, and sleep apnea, among other conditions.

Obesity in our physical bodies is not God’s plan for any man or woman. We are designed to eat healthy and exercise in order for our physical bodies to function the way God intended.

This is not only true of our physical well-being, but it is true of our spiritual well-being too!

We have all heard the phrase or something similar: ” I go to church to be fed.” This is all well and good, unless “getting fed” is all that you are doing! We all need to be part of a church where we are being fed spiritually, but if all we do is eat then we will grow to be obese!

Just as physical exercise or activity is healthy for someone who is eating properly, there must be an outflow of the truths we “eat” in our churches, bible studies,and life groups!

We get so caught up in “getting fed” that we forget that God has called us to be ministers to a lost a dying world! If we keep bellying up to the buffet of biblical truth that our pastors and leaders prepare for us week after week without properly having an outlet for that truth we will grow fatter and fatter– bellies full and plump with no effort to serve and minister.

So instead of looking for where  your next 5 course meal is going to come from — start asking God to show you where He wants you to feed others!

We have been so over-fed. We are obese Christians…

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Go to Barry’s blog

Leave a comment and tell us what you think about today’s blog post!

Image by businessweek.com

Leadership Resource: Church Finances

Financial Advice

Leadership Resource: Church Finances

Helpful tips gathered by the BFCnetwork VP:

How a church establishes a housing allowance?

In the minutes of any business meeting of the church or board.

You will need to include something similar to the following example…

The names of the individuals making the motion and seconding it should be included.

The housing allowance cannot apply to expenses paid before the date of these minutes. A housing allowance is never retroactive.

•  It was discussed that under the tax law a minister of the gospel is not subject to federal income tax on the “housing allowance paid to him as part of his compensation to the extent used by him to rent or provide a home.”

•  After considering the housing expense statement prepared by _____________, a motion was made and seconded and passed to adopt the following resolution:

•  Resolved that Pastor __________________ is to receive a total cash remuneration of $________(salary) for the year 20___. Of this amount, $_______ (housing expenses paid from salary) is hereby designated as housing allowance.

•  Resolved that as long as Pastor ___________ is our employee the above amount of housing/parsonage allowance shall apply to all future years until modified.

Date_________________ Signed ________________________________

Here is an example of a housing expense report. (to be filled out by the Pastor)

Use the following form to estimate his housing allowance.

The housing allowance can be amended in mid­year, but the housing allowance is never retroactive.

Name of church __________________________________________________

Position held _____________________________________________________

Housing allowance for the coming year of 20___. I expect to incur the following expenses to rent or otherwise provide a home.

Rent or payments on purchase of a house including down payment, principal payments, interest, taxes, and improvements:

$___________

Furnishings and appliances:

$____________

Utilities :

$____________

Other housing expenses (cleaning supplies, etc.):

$____________

Miscellaneous repairs:

$____________

Total: $____________

Signature__________________________________

Date________________________

In the event the church owns and provides a parsonage, the following type statement should be added to the board motion.

2.  The parsonage owned by the church has a rental value of $_________ and is provided for the convenience of the church. Actual utility expenses will be paid by the church and they will amount to approximately $_______ for the year.

Housing Allowance is simply a portion of a minister’s compensation that is so designated in advance by the minister’s employing church.

It is very beneficial for ministers because an allowance for housing is excluded from federal income tax. However, it is not exempt from the minister’s self-employment tax…more on that later.

In order to qualify for the exclusion from federal income tax, two very important conditions must be satisfied:

•  The housing allowance must be board approved before it was paid (A housing allowance is NEVER retroactive)

•  The minister actually spent the allowance on eligible housing expenses during the year

What types of expenses are included in an allowance for housing?

It may be used for any expense relating to renting a home, purchasing a home, and maintaining a home. Some of the eligible expenses are:

·      utilities

·      mortgage interest and insurance

·      home insurance

·      Down payment on a home

·      Home Mortgage payments, including both interest and principal

·      Real estate taxes

·      Personal property tax

·      Fire and homeowners liability insurance

·      Rental payments

–      Cost of acquiring a home (i.e. legal fees, bank fees, title   fees, etc.)

The housing allowance can also be used for maintaining a home. Some of the eligible cost or expenses are:

·      Home improvements

·      Minor repairs

·      Utilities

·      Furnishings and appliances (dishwasher, TV,  refrigerator, pool table, vacuum cleaner, personal computer, etc.)

·      Home decor (rugs, curtains, plants, knick knacks, wallpaper, paint, towels, bedding, etc.)

·      Lawn care (lawnmower, garden hose, sod, landscape tools, etc.)

·      Basic telephone Services

·      Cable TV

·      Internet Service

·      Miscellaneous (light bulbs, cleaning supplies, etc.)

Examples of expenses which are not eligible are:

·      Foods

·      Servants

·      Cleaning service or expenses for a person to clean your house

·      Groceries

·      personal toiletries

·      CDs and DVDs

·      Personal computer software

What about taxes on a church provided parsonage?

If a minister lives in a church provide parsonage, the minister is not subject to income taxes on the use of the parsonage.

However, the fair rental value of the parsonage (plus utilities if paid by church) is added when figuring his self-employment tax. (The minister is responsible for determining the fair rental value of the parsonage.)

Can non-minister employees receive an allowance for housing?

No.

In order to be classified a clergy for tax purposes, a minister must satisfy all five separate tests:

•  Be licensed or ordained

•  Administer the sacraments of the church (weddings, funerals, baptisms, and communion, etc…)

•  Be considered a religious leader by the church

•  Conduct religious worship

•  Have management responsibilities in the church

How does the church report this tax benefit?

The church is not required to report the minister’s allowance for housing to the IRS. However some churches choose to report it in Box 14 of the minister’s W-2 (which is labeled “Other”) as a courtesy to the minister.

Churches can also just include the amount of the allowance in a separate letter to the minister. (This separate letter should not be sent to the IRS and will not be included or attached to the minister’s personal tax return.)

Are the allowance payments exempt from all taxes?

No. HA payments are exempt from federal income taxes, but not from self-employment taxes (Social Security).

A minister who receives such an allowance must report the lesser of the following amounts on a SE schedule on their personal income tax return:

•  The amount actually spent on eligible housing expenses.

•  The fair market rental value plus furnishings and utilities.

•  The amount officially designated in advance as housing allowance.

What if the minister does not spend all of the allowance on housing?

The church does not have any responsibility in making sure that the minister spends all of his allowance on housing expenses.

It is the minister’s responsibility to report any excess funds as taxable income.

India Update From Pastor Frank

Reaching Indian Unreached Peoples

India Update From Pastor Frank

Most of you are familiar with our Berean Fellowship’s venture in India, the 300in3 Project, through which we partnered with India Campus Crusade to train church-planting pastors in unreached villages in five states spread from north to south.  Luana and I, along with three other couples, recently completed a journey to Global South, as I call it, to encourage and stimulate the brothers and sisters there in their work.  (If you haven’t followed us on this trip, you can still catch up by reading the posts on my blog, www.pastorafrank.wordpress.com.)

Our stateside Berean family has been heavily investing in this project.  Many of you have had the privilege of either going to India to teach the doctrinal module to men in training, or to attend their graduations.  That being said, your church family may or may not be up to speed on the state of affairs of the Berean Fellowship’s work in India.

Luana and I are in the position to rectify this situation.  I am putting together a presentation and challenge about both what is taking place in India and our continuing involvement in meeting the needs of our brothers and sisters there.  Almost all of them are in a “hand to mouth” situation, barely having enough to survive, let alone having anything for medical and other assorted emergencies.  We would be very happy to come to your church to inform your church family about these things.  We want our stateside Berean family to recognize the continuing bond we have with our Indian pastors and families.  The DNA of our Fellowship is present half a world away on the Subcontinent!

We’d be happy to come for a one-time presentation, presentations to small groups, or to be part of a missionary conference/emphasis. Will you pray about this?

To contact us, please send an email to bfcnetwork@gmail.com.

Thank you.

Frank and Luana VanCampen

Pastor At Large, BFC

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Please leave a comment to encourage Pastor Frank in his global networking for missions in the 1040 window!