Walking Away from Tense Situations

2016 03-March 22 (13)

Church staff face uncomfortable personal encounters frequently. These meetings may be with guests, members, and other staff members. Some of these meetings may get heated – emotions may run high and the tension escalates. It is at this point there is no “win” to this situation. Everyone, especially the church, looses.


Church staff must be empowered and encouraged to step out of the circumstances. They should be instructed that walking away from the meeting (even without saying a word) is a useful tactic to calm down the emotions on both sides. The staff person may need to leave his or her own office and walk outside. I have instructed staff that if the situation is particularly tense, they are permitted to get in their car and leave the church (to go home, to go to a café, etc.). After they have left the church, they are to call their supervisor to explain why they left.


Calming down one’s emotions can be tricky especially when someone has pushed all your buttons and set you off. In many cases, the only or perhaps the best way to ratchet things down is to leave. Leaving is not a sign of defeat. It is actually a sign of maturity – that you’re not willing for the situation to get out of hand and you’re willing to take the first step to calm things down.


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Dummy Plates on Outside Door Locks

2016 03-March 22 (7)

Every church wants to have a balance between the safety and security of the people inside the building (staff, guests, children in a daycare, etc.) while still being open and welcoming to first-timers and people needing assistance.


The best way is to control access by limiting the number of doors that people can come in. Use your signage to direct people what doors you want people to use to enter your facilities. Then, make those doors and the entrance area welcome and appealing. FYI, by law, all exterior doors must have push bars (aka, panic bars) so that people can leave without any trouble.


However, when exterior doors are installed, contractors typically install key locks on the doors. That means that anyone with an exterior key can unlock and open a door; they might even be able to leave the door unlocked for others to come in. There is a simple solution to this.


For all exterior doors which should not be used as entrances, change the lock plate and put on a dummy plate. That is a flat plate with no key hole which means there is no way to unlock and open the door from the outside. A dummy plate does not affect any of the exit mechanisms on the door. And a dummy plate won’t prevent someone on the inside from propping open a door, either.


Bottom line: control how people are coming into your building and remove the opportunity for people with keys to come in other doors.


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Workers’ Comp E-Mod Factor (part 3 of 3)

2016 05-May 31 (10)

Every year each insurance organization receives an annual report from National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI). The report is usually a letter with a link to a website to get the actual report. Every WC policy is evaluated every year to determine if the number of claims was above or below the anticipated amount. The insurance company uses formulas to pre-determine what they expect each policy to have in annual claims.


The number of claims and the dollar amount of the claims affects the experience modification factor or E-Mod Factor.” The Mod Factor is the figure which is multiplied against the total premium to get the final premium. Mod Factors range from about 0.80 to 1.49 with the average being 1.00.


The report from NCCI will list the org’s most recent Mod Factor. If the Mod Factor is below 1.00 then the original premium will be discounted. If the Mod Factor is above 1.00 then there is an extra amount to be paid in the WC premium. Of course, if the Mod Factor is exactly 1.00 then there isn’t a discount or a surcharge.


Organizations want to have Mod Factors under 1.00 in order to get discounts. However, do not jeopardize the safety of your employees nor hurt them when there is an accident and they need WC coverage. Mod Factors are on a three-year rotation. Accidents and claims that happened four years ago are no longer reflected on the Mod Factor.


Bottom line: use WC appropriately, try to keep the Mod Factor low by having a safe work environment, pay the premiums each year, and always know your Mod Factor.


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Workers’ Comp Codes (part 2 of 3)

2016 05-May 31 (12)

Most churches have two different types of employee classifications for WC purposes:

  • Professional staff (aka, clergy and office workers); their WC code number is 8868
  • Other staff (janitors, food service, and maintenance); their WC code is 9101


WC insurance assigns premium rates to each employee classification depending on the type of work on their potential injuries and severity. For instance, office staff and clergy do not engage in typically dangerous activities so their premiums are pretty low. However, kitchen staff use knives, ovens, and slicing machines; custodians use vacuum cleaners, ladders, and heavy equipment.


Insurance premiums are charged per $100 of income based on the employees’ actual wages as reported on the W-2. Many WC insurance companies will perform a spring time audit of W-2s and use that information to retroactively correct the prior year’s total premium. If they charged too much, they’ll send a refund and if they charged too little, they’ll send an invoice. The premium for code 8868 is in the range of 30 to 40 cents per $100 of income. The premium for 9101 is about $2.50 per $100.


There is a third code which affects some churches, 8869. This code covers child care workers and it has a rate of about 60 to 75 cents per $100. Working with children, especially their poop and their biting can be dangerous to employees. Remember, WC does not cover the children, only the employees.


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Workers’ Comp Insurance – a primer (part 1 of 3)

2016 05-May 24 (5)

Workers’ Compensation Insurance is legally mandated for employers. In Virginia (and probably in most US states) it is required for all employers with more than two employees. That means that ultra-small employers (like mom & pop companies) do not need WC insurance but everyone else does.


WC insurance covers the medical expenses of employees who are injured or killed while working. It pays for most work-related injury expenses. However, I have seen work-related accidents which were determined by the insurance company to be non-work-related.


When a person goes to the hospital with an injury, especially the emergency room, one of the questions is, “Was this caused by a workplace accident?” This question should always be answered truthfully – never try to protect an employer from claims or insurance price increases by lying about the nature of the accident. Employers must encourage their employees to claim WC insurance especially on injuries which could cause chronic pain or prolonged recovery. Those long-term consequences can be expensive if the employer or employee pay for them.


WC insurance is obtained from the insurance company which handles the employer’s property & liability insurance. It is typically not expensive and it is based on several factors:

  • The work performed by the employee
  • The employee’s actual wages
  • A discount or premium charged based on prior claim history


After the terrorist attacks on the US on September 11, 2001 the insurance industry lobbied Congress which permitted a non-negotiable terrorism fee which is assessed on all WC policies.


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A Story about God’s Faithfulness

A (Real) Letter from a Church Member

2016 04-April 12 (13)

One of my clients received this letter from a church member. It is a great example of truly trusting God in everything, including finances.


A few years ago, we attended the church during the tithing challenge. We saw so many wonderful blessings that could only have been the hand of God. Through the years, we would miss church and not tithe for those missed weeks. Even this week, I went into the app yesterday to give and did a smaller amount than usual. I rationalized the reason is so I can give to so many other people at Christmas time. After leaving the service, I knew I was wrong and gave more. I know I can skip a few luxuries to make the budget work, but I didn’t UNTIL I heard the service Sunday.


I type this as a reminder to myself and for you to know, I saw God work in ways that would only be possible through my worship of giving to Him.


Within the first weeks of really tithing, we had a government agency sending bills for months. I would tell them why their bill was wrong. I contemplated paying it because it was “only” a $600 bill and no matter how many forms I filled out, they would send me a new bill the following month with interest accruing. After I was tithing, I received a phone call from the government agency saying they needed some info to process a refund. Seriously, a refund of hundreds of dollars.


My frugal father called and said he wanted to thank me for helping him so much through the years and give me a gift of $500. NEVER would we have expected this!


Small things happened too. Eating out at a restaurant we talked about how God was blessing us and tithing was incredible way to KNOW without a doubt His presence. Within a minute a manager came over and told us our meal was on the house!


I am thankful and truly appreciate the brilliant ways my church has us learn from scripture. God bless you all!


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Stock Gifts (part 3 of 3)

2016 05-May (10)

Several times during the year it is a good idea to place in the Sunday bulletin, the quarterly donor gift statement, or other form of communication a reminder that people can give stock to the church. Below is the bulletin “blurb” which I use regularly.


Many members of (insert church name) donate appreciated stock. They give to the ministry budget, to missions’ offerings, the church’s endowment, or the building campaign. You can transfer your stock electronically to (insert church’s name)’s account by contacting (insert church’s broker) at (insert brokerage name and phone number) or (insert church contact) in the church office (insert church phone number). To give electronically, your broker will need a DTC number (insert number) and the church’s account number at (insert account number).


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Stock Gifts (part 2 of 3)

2016 04-April 26 (9)

When stock is donated, it must be acknowledged by the church. It can be posted on the person’s giving record so that there is permanent record of the gift. It is also an excellent practice to send the donor a separate letter with the details of the transaction. Below is a sample letter which I use regularly.


Mr. and Mrs. John Smith

1234 Maple Ave.

Hometown, US 12345-6789


Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith:


Thank you for your contribution to Grace Family Fellowship. Your gift of stock was:


Name of stock:……………………………………….. Apple, Inc. (AAPL)

Number of shares:………………………………….. 25 shares

Date of transfer:…………………………………….. January 3, 2018

Stock high on date of transfer:…………………………… $412.50

Stock low on date of transfer:……………………………. $409.00

Average value per share on date of transfer:………. $410.75

Total value of contribution:…………………………… $10,268.75


Fund contributed to:

  • 2018 Operating Ministry Budget


The date of transfer is the date on which the stock was transferred to Grace Family Fellowship. The IRS requires that stock gifts be valued at the average of the high and low of the stock on the date of transfer. Grace Family Fellowship sells all stock gifts immediately. The cost of the commission and fees related to the sale is netted from the value of your gift.


For IRS purposes, I must inform you that the gifts contained in this letter are based on intangible religious benefits. You did not receive any goods or services from Grace Family Fellowship for this contribution.


Thank you again for your gift. Your continued support of the ministries of Grace Family Fellowship is greatly appreciated. If I may be of further help please let me know.




Church Administrator


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