A Story About Faithfulness

This is a story from a friend of my wife. It is a true story and used with permission:

 

So I hadn’t tithed for four months. I could list reason after reason why, but not one of those reasons would justify not giving God what is rightfully His to start with. 

I went to church with a dear friend this past Sunday and one of the messages I heard was on tithing. As I listened, the Holy Spirit began to work in my heart. Needless to say conviction was overwhelming. 

When I got home I not only wrote the tithe check, I took it to the treasurer that evening at Bible study. 

I got to work the next day only to be overwhelmed once again. This time not with conviction, but with gratitude. I was told of a bonus that I would be receiving later in December. And guess what??? 

It’s 3 times the amount of the tithe check I wrote. (🙊<— me)

Now I want you to hear this part loud and clear, it’s not, not, NOT about the money!!! It’s ALLLLLLLLL about the faithfulness of a loving Father who sits waiting to bless His children when we are obedient. 

I know many will see this post as putting to much personal info out there. But I can not be silent about the faithfulness of a Mighty God. He is worthy to be honored by our testimony. 

I love you Jesus!!!

Good churches need good manuals – Finance Manual

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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

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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

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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

 

Admins as Notaries Public

 

Periodically church members will need documents to be notarized. This notarization may be for a document required to participate in a church event or even for a private need. FYI, all banks have notary public and people can get a doc notarized at their local bank. But it is often more convenient for the church to provide this service.

 

Becoming a notary public is pretty easy. Most of the work can be done online through the state agency. Do not use private companies that do the paperwork for you – they overcharge and you end up doing most of the work anyway.  The notary public fees are about $100 and the certification lasts for five years in many states.

 

I required all church administrative assistants to become notaries public so they could notarize docs as needed. Frequently the youth or children’s ministries had documents related to retreats or trips which needed to be notarized. It was easy to tell people to come to the church and ask for an admin who would then notarize the doc.

 

I told the admins who were notaries that they could notarize other people’s documents and even charge the legally permitted fee. They were forbidden from charging members a fee since the church paid for the notary public license.

 

This system has worked well and I encourage churches to take this step.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

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.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

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.

 

Lead On!

Steve

 

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.

 

Lead On!

Steve