H2O (part 4 of 8)

www.churchbestpractices.org

2016 04-April 12 (5)

H2O

The Gospel of John has more symbolism than the other Gospels combined. John forcefully uses bread, light, and water – all elements necessary for human life – to teach us that Christ alone is at the core of our being. Without food, water, and light, then we are without Christ.

 

In several consecutive chapters of John, the use of water is powerful. The following paragraphs can be used a devotional meditations during Advent or, as illustrated, during Lent. They can be used to bookend a week of meditations with the first and last used as sermon material and the middle ones as material to be read during the week.

 

John 4: 10-15

Third Sunday of Lent

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

  • About 1700 years before Jesus met the woman at the well, Jacob the Patriarch dug this well for his family, his servants, and his animals. Jacob needed the water to live but he had no idea that hundreds of years later that the Messiah would sit at that well. He was thinking of his current needs.
  • Jesus’ conversation with the woman was about her current needs for water. She was too embarrassed to be seen with the other women of the town when they gathered water in the early morning. Instead, she came in the heat of mid-day and that’s when she met Jesus. She offered him some of the water she was getting, but then he talked about her future needs.
  • Jacob wasn’t thinking about his long-term needs and neither was the woman at the well. But God was when Jacob dug that well and so was Jesus when he talked with the woman. Jesus used the very still waters of a well to talk with her about flowing water that will meet her continuous needs.
  • Are you concentrating on your needs for today or your long-term needs? Can you look back and see how God has taken care of your needs in prior years and decades? If God will provide something as basic to human life as water and something essential to our humanity as His love, what do we have to worry about?

 

Water is essential to our lives. Living water is essential to our souls.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

 

H2O (part 3 of 8)

www.churchbestpractices.org

2016 02-February 23 (12)

H2O

The Gospel of John has more symbolism than the other Gospels combined. John forcefully uses bread, light, and water – all elements necessary for human life – to teach us that Christ alone is at the core of our being. Without food, water, and light, then we are without Christ.

 

In several consecutive chapters of John, the use of water is powerful. The following paragraphs can be used a devotional meditations during Advent or, as illustrated, during Lent. They can be used to bookend a week of meditations with the first and last used as sermon material and the middle ones as material to be read during the week.

 

John 3: 3-5

Second Sunday of Lent

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

  • In the middle of the night, in complete secrecy, at a pre-arranged time and place, Jesus met a leader of the Jewish faith. This was a learned man whom others sought out for answers to their questions. And he was asking Jesus, an amateur rabbi, for answers about the Kingdom of God.
  • Jesus tells Nicodemus that finding God is about returning to basics, to seeking and finding God as if the world is completely new. It is about intertwining God’s earth and God’s Spirit so that you have a new DNA.
  • Are you immersed in earthly water so you know what is happening in your community? Are you plunged into the depths of God’s Spirit so that you are using that power to change your community? Is God’s Spirit part of your DNA and everyone sees it? How?

 

Water is essential to our lives. Living water is essential to our souls.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

H2O (part 2 of 8)

www.churchbestpractices.org

2016 01-January 17 (11)

H2O

The Gospel of John has more symbolism than the other Gospels combined. John forcefully uses bread, light, and water – all elements necessary for human life – to teach us that Christ alone is at the core of our being. Without food, water, and light, then we are without Christ.

 

In several consecutive chapters of John, the use of water is powerful. The following paragraphs can be used a devotional meditations during Advent or, as illustrated, during Lent. They can be used to bookend a week of meditations with the first and last used as sermon material and the middle ones as material to be read during the week.

John 2:7-9

First Sunday of Lent

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.

  • Weddings in our day last but a few hours but a wedding in the time of Jesus lasted several days; some even lasted a month. Jesus’s family was close enough to the wedding party that they were invited to this long and expensive celebration. Having food and drink on hand for such a long time is tricky because you don’t know how much people will eat and drink, when they will come and go, and what they will like and dislike. But this was a family of means – they had several servants – so they had food, wine, and water set aside.
  • Wine was actually healthier in Jesus’ time than water. The fermentation process of wine killed germs which live in water. Water had to sit in order for silt to settle but that provided time for bacteria to grow. Water was a problematic fluid to drink. But Jesus didn’t wait for the water to settle, he acted.
  • Jesus knew there was a crisis. It was embarrassing to run out of wine. And Jesus knew he could do something about this problem. Jesus took the last item on the menu, water, and turned it into the best.
  • How are you allowing Jesus to take what you perceive as ordinary, your life, and make it into the best? How are you taking an ordinary moment in a day and making it into something special, something that others proclaim as wondrous?

 

Water is essential to our lives. Living water is essential to our souls.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

 

H2O (part 1 of 8)

www.churchbestpractices.org

2016 01-January 16 (11)

H2O

The Gospel of John has more symbolism than the other Gospels combined. John forcefully uses bread, light, and water – all elements necessary for human life – to teach us that Christ alone is at the core of our being. Without food, water, and light, then we are without Christ.

 

In several consecutive chapters of John, the use of water is powerful. The following paragraphs can be used a devotional meditations during Advent or, as illustrated, during Lent. They can be used to bookend a week of meditations with the first and last used as sermon material and the middle ones as material to be read during the week.

 

 

Ash Wednesday

John 1:32-34

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.  And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

  • After the Gospel’s dynamic introduction of Jesus as the Word, we see the Christ approach John the Baptizer to request baptism. John’s witness is that God told him that he, John, would baptize the Messiah. John baptized with water in the Jordan River.
  • The first time we encounter water it is a symbol of purification. Jesus and the others who were baptized by John wanted others to see that they wanted and needed a visible sign showing their contrition and desire to be one with God.
  • Jesus uses water for his baptism. But more importantly, the baptism is used to reveal the true nature of Jesus, that he is the Son of God. John the Baptizer, the last Old Testament prophet, points to his cousin, Jesus, and proclaims that the Messiah is here and he was privileged to baptize him and introduce him to the world.
  • Water covers two-thirds of our globe; it is extremely common. God uses the ordinary to point to the extraordinary. You are I are extraordinary because we are divinely created and inspired. How are you and I pointing to the even more extraordinary – to Jesus the Messiah? How are you and I in our “common, ordinary lives” showing others who Jesus really is?

 

Water is essential to our lives. Living water is essential to our souls.

 

Lead On!

Steve

Good churches need good manuals – Finance Manual

www.churchbestpractices.org

2016-11-november-24-6

 

A finance manual is critical. Church finances require the utmost level of trust from the donors and members toward the pastors and finance staff. A finance manual establishes the policies by which the church’s money will be governed and used. Parts of this document are a legal requirement but most of it is designed to ensure confidence in the handling of funds.

 

If a church does not have a finance manual, it can create the appearance of lack of integrity and a haphazard attitude towards donated money. That is not the biblical standard. Paul tells the Corinthians to do all things in their church “decently and in order.”

 

A good finance manual will address accounting, banking, record-keeping, software and hardware, document retention, communication with donors, accounts payable, financial reporting, audits, gift acknowledgement, and too many other things to list here. These policies ensure that even though staff may come and go, the practices within the Finance Office remain constant and completely above-board.

 

A personnel manual is a living document – it must be reviewed every year and updated at least every other year. Not doing that minimal step is a failure by management. Most policies will remain the same such as contribution processing, payroll, or accounts payable. But as times change, new policies must be written and old policies changed to address changes in the law or accounting standards regarding overtime, designated funds, and PP&E (property, plant, & equipment).

 

The finance manual template at www.churchbestpractices.org has

  • A Gift Acceptance Policy to help the church know what gifts can be accepted without question versus those which require research
  • A policy for using church-issued credit cards and reporting the expenses charged on the card
  • Fundraising ethics standards to ensure the church abides by IRS rules

 

This manual is only $30. It is updated annually to ensure its compliance with the latest legal and tax changes.  This manual is a great starting point for churches needing to develop a manual scratch or to update their current one. It will save hours of research and writing. By using this manual, a church will need only to add sections that are specific to their situation and/or remove non-legal policies which don’t apply to them.

Good churches need good manuals – Personnel Manual

www.churchbestpractices.org

2016-10-october-18-8

Many churches don’t have a personnel manual or their manual is seriously outdated. And that is fine so long as it passes this test: will whatever you have stand up in court?

 

Personnel manuals are founded in personnel law which is written by Congress and the Department of Labor. If a church’s manual does not keep up with the current laws, then the church is open to a lawsuit. AND, if a church does not abide by its own manual, then every judge will rule harshly against the church.

 

A personnel manual is a living document – it must be reviewed every year and updated at least every other year. Not doing that minimal step is a failure by management. Most policies will remain the same such as employee benefits, grievance guidelines, etc. But as times change, new policies must be written and old policies changed.

 

For instance, most churches do not have a “social media policy” which instructs their staff on how to write about their church and/or boss on social media sites and blogs. Does your church have an updated weapons policy? What about political statements and statuses advocated publicly by lay leaders and staff?

 

The personnel manual template at www.churchbestpractices.org has

  • Typical employee classifications which meet legal standards
  • Common benefits for employees (while salaries get an employee inside the door, benefits KEEP employees inside)
  • Dozens of other policies which help churches, their staffs, and their members

 

This manual is only $30. It is updated annually to ensure its compliance with the latest legal and tax changes.  This manual is a great starting point for churches needing to develop a manual scratch or to update their current one. It will save hours of research and writing. By using this manual, a church will need only to add sections that are specific to their situation and/or remove non-legal policies which don’t apply to them.

Good churches need good manuals

www.churchbestpractices.org

2016-10-october-18-1

All churches need policies. Some churches make policies in reaction to an event. That is backwards thinking. Churches must be proactive in their policies so that staff and members know what is expected and what lines cannot be crossed.

 

Every church needs a personnel manual and a finance manual to establish the legal and ethical boundaries within which the staff and members will operate. Violation of these policies often violates legal, ethical, or moral boundaries. Breaking a policy will always result in a conversation and sometimes in the termination of a staff member.

 

Some churches need guide manuals (not policy manuals) to establish the parameters for their budget, endowment, or internal operations. These manuals determine the boundaries within which the staff and committees will function. Straying outside those limits may be permitted but only after a conversation about why and how.

 

This site provides churches with templates they can use to create their own manuals. There is no need to “re-invent the wheel.” These manuals were developed by an administrator with over 25 years of experience in half a dozen churches. These policies comply with all current laws and are the best practices of healthy churches.

 

The manuals available are:

  • Budget
  • Finance
  • Finance Office
  • Endowment
  • Personnel
  • Financial Statements
  • Financial Planning for Ministers
  • Generosity Strategy
  • Written Communications

 

Nehemiah Answers Simon Sinek (part 2 of 2)

2016-08-august-16-16

In part one, I recapped an excellent Ted Talk by Simon Sinek. (please stop now and watch it to more fully understand this post).

 

Nehemiah is a quintessential Old Testament leader. Upon hearing of the status of the protective walls and gates of Jerusalem, Nehemiah got his boss, the king of Persia, to let him go to his ancestral homeland and rebuild everything. His leadership skills are not questioned – he found solutions for every problem as they arose, he dealt with people justly, and he confronted his cynics directly. He accomplished what needed to be done and what others said couldn’t be done. He did it. And his work subsequently protected Jerusalem for several centuries.

 

This is what Nehemiah did:

  • In chapter one,
    • Nehemiah hears about a situation which breaks his heart
    • He prays fervently about what he should do and he listens to God
  • In chapter 2, Nehemiah answers Simon Sinek
    • Verse 2: the king asks, “Why does your face look so sad…?” Nehemiah’s reply is an emotional appeal: his homeland is in ruins.
    • Verse 4: the king asks “What is it you want?” Nehemiah has a short reply – let me go to my homeland and rebuild the city
    • Verse 6: the king asks, “How long will your journey take?” and Nehemiah responds with lots of specifics about his needs
  • In the rest of the book: Nehemiah gets the job done. He leads the people, fends off critics, and reports back to the king.

 

When the book begins, Nehemiah had no power and very little influence. But he did have a God-inspired vision and he was articulate. By the end of the book, Nehemiah is an inspirational leader. Even 2,500 years ago, Nehemiah was ready for Simon Sinek!

 

Nehemiah 2:1-9

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”

 

I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

 

The king said to me, “What is it you want?”

 

Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”

 

Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

 

I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.

 

Nehemiah was an inspirational leader. In only 52 days he did what others said couldn’t be done. He had a clear “Why” and could get people to believe what he believed. Even the king, who paid for everything, was able to buy into what Nehemiah wanted to do. Nehemiah’s “Why” was compelling to the soul of his listeners.

 

Lead On

Steve

www.churchbestpractices.org has a complete set of very affordable church manuals as templates in Word plus lots of free Word and Excel docs to help church administration.