Category Archives: Church Administration

Noted church leadership expert Mike Bonem headlines annual Executive Pastor/Church Administrator gathering

 

XPGatheringAt the first of two EPC Executive Pastor/Church Administrator workshops, noted church leadership coach and consultant Mike Bonem discussed the topic “Managing change for revitalization.” The event was held October 24-25 in Denver, Colo.

In his presentation, Bonem described the challenges of change, models for change, and some of the unique dynamics of being in a second chair through change in a church.

“Change is kind of like being in a sports car on a two-lane road in the mountains,” he told the group. “It can be incredibly fun to drive, but it can be terrifying to be a passenger. Second-chair leaders have the best—and worst—of both. And the members of your congregation most often feel like they are in the passenger seat. So leading change is hard, that’s all there is to it.”

Regarding the challenge of change, Bonem noted that people desire stability and predictability, but change often equals chaos, threatens comfort and power, and can imply that “we’ve done something wrong.” He added that these factors apply to any organization, not just the church, but change in the church is more difficult because churches are dependent on volunteers and rich in tradition.

“Churches are also often resistant (or unaccustomed) to feedback, and may have weak or informal governance structures,” he said. “We also have history—the past is always present—and many times people will put a theological overlay on that history.”

As a model of change, Bonem described the “Congregational Transformation Model” that formed the basis for his book, Leading Congregational Change.

“As church leaders, we often focus on vision and how we get there, but that’s just one piece of a much larger process,” he said. “We are never going to be done with change in the church, so what we want to do is create and reinforce momentum through alignment.”

He noted that the challenges in change management “are less about the changes we want to make, but more about the pieces around it—things like communication and having the right people involved,” he said, emphasizing that change always produces some kind of conflict.

“Not all conflict is bad,” Bonem said. “It can be life-giving, as we see so many times in Acts. But conflict without spiritual and relational vitality can be life-threatening. When decisions in the church—particularly contentious ones—start to become like the decisions in Washington or whatever your state capitol is, it makes me wonder about its spiritual and relational vitality.”

Regarding the dynamics of the second-chair role in change management, Bonem addressed a variety of factors, including being aligned with the senior pastor, helping manage the pace of change, taking the pulse of the staff and congregation, paying attention to process, and several others.

Bonem earned an MBA from Harvard University, is a longtime business executive, and later served 11 years as Executive Pastor for a large, multi-site church in Houston, Texas. He is author of Leading Congregational Change , Leading from the Second Chair, Thriving in the Second Chair, and In Pursuit of Great and Godly Leadership.

The gathering, now in its seventh year, is a two-day event for EPC executive pastors and directors, church administrators, and others in senior ministry (but second-chair) leadership positions.

Sixteen EPC church leaders attended the workshop. In addition to discussing recent challenges and opportunities in their ministry settings—particularly related to change—participants shared best practices on a variety of topics related to church administration and operations, and networked on such issues as technology systems, personnel, outreach efforts, vision and strategy, finance, and more.

The workshop is a resource of the Office of the General Assembly. The second roundtable, which also features Bonem and has the same format as the October 24-25 event, takes place November 7-8 in Orlando. For more information, see www.epc.org/xpadmingathering.

BRI Board of Directors examines benefit and retirement plans outlook

 

BRIBoardMeeting201909At its fall meeting, the Board of Directors of EPC Benefit Resources, Inc. (BRI) examined a variety of topics, including the financial performance and growth of the Retirement Plan, enhancements to the Wellness and Care Management programs for 2020, claims and trends in the 2019 Medical Plan. The group also discussed several cost mitigation strategies.

The Board met September 12 at the Office of the General Assembly in Orlando.

Actions taken by the Board included a 33 percent reduction in the fees charged by Fidelity to participants in the EPC 403(b)(9) Retirement Plan, and holding an increase in the Medical/Prescription Drug Plan rate increase to an average of six percent for 2020.

“Over the past year, we have been aggressive about cutting costs while maintaining high-quality service levels to church administrators and plan participants,” said Bart Francescone, BRI Executive Director. “That effort is paying off through reductions in fees charged to retirement plan participants, and a medical plan rate increase for 2020 that will average only six percent. That is actually below national healthcare cost increases, and is our lowest increase in many years.”

Francescone also said that “aggressive negotiations” with providers for the EPC dental, vision, life, and disability insurances has resulted in premiums for 2020 remaining unchanged from 2019 rates.

The Board also received a report from Merrill Lynch—the EPC’s medical reserve fund investment advisor—on U.S. and international economic and investment performance outlooks, as well as recommendations for fund investment asset allocations. In addition, the independent actuarial firm Milliman presented a report with recommendations for premium rate actions and reserve fund asset levels.

Members of the BRI Board of Directors are Ron Horgan (Chairman), Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic; Michael Busch, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Alleghenies; Robert Draughon, Ruling Elder from the Presbytery of the Central South; Jim Lewien from the Presbytery of the West; Michael Moore from Presbytery of the Central South; Erik Ohman, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of the West; Bill Reisenweaver, Teaching Elder from the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean; Randy Shaneyfelt from the Presbytery of the Great Plains; and Sandy Siegfried from the Presbytery of the Great Plains.

Executive Pastor/Church Administrator Roundtable features church communications expert Mark MacDonald

 

XPGatheringAt the first of two EPC Executive Pastor/Church Administrator Roundtable workshops held this fall, veteran church communicator Mark MacDonald discussed the importance of strategic, intentional communications to a local church’s efforts in effectively reaching its community as well as its members and attendees.

MacDonald is Executive Director of the Center for Church Communication, and is author of the Amazon best-seller Be Known for Something. He serves as Strategic Communication Catalyst for the Florida Baptist Convention, which serves more than 3,000 Florida Southern Baptist Churches.

The roundtable, now in its sixth year, is a two-day workshop for EPC executive pastors, church administrators, and others in senior ministry operations leadership positions.

Phil VanValkenburg, EPC Chief Operating Officer, hosts the event each year.

“We believe in the biblical principle that ‘iron sharpens iron,’ and this event is an opportunity for our church leaders to hear from their peers who face many of the same issues as they do in their ministries,” VanValkenburg said. “As we continue to focus on effective biblical leadership as one of our strategic initiatives, by being ‘better together’ we glean from each other’s experience—and our churches receive the benefit.”

Twenty-four EPC church leaders participated in the workshop October 18-19 in Denver, Colo. Participants discussed their specific ministry victories and challenges, shared best practices on a variety of topics related to church administration, and networked on such issues as technology systems, personnel, culture, vision and strategy, finance, generosity, and many others.

The workshop is a resource of the Office of the General Assembly. The second roundtable takes place November 1-2 in Orlando. For last-minute registration possibilities, contact marti.brenner@epc.org.

General Assembly Networking Lunches offer more than mid-day meal

 

2017GAbannerRegOnlineNetworking Lunches at the EPC 37th General Assembly provide opportunity for connecting with others with similar ministry interests on June 21-23 from 12:00-1:30 p.m. at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church in Sacramento. For more information, including descriptions and meeting locations, see www.epc.org/ga2017networkinglunches

Wednesday, June 21

  • Church Planting (hosted by the EPC Church Planting Team)
  • For the Church, For the Generations (hosted by Reformed Youth Ministries)
  • How to Build a Contagious Church Culture (hosted by Vanderbloemen Search Group)
  • How to Make Progress on Leadership Challenges (hosted by PastorServe)
  • Joy Together in Ministry and Mission (hosted by Serge)
  • Jump-Starting Church Revitalization (hosted by the EPC GO Center)
  • Presbyterians Pro-Life (hosted by Presbyterians Pro-Life)
  • What Is the Westminster Confession? (hosted by the Westminster Society)
  • Who Is My Neighbor? (hosted by the EPC Women’s Resource Council)
  • World Outreach Global Worker Meet-and-Greet (hosted by EPC World Outreach)
  • Young Ministers in the EPC (hosted by the EPC Young Ministers Network)

Thursday, June 22

  • Building a Culture of Generosity (hosted by the EPC Foundation)
  • Conflict Management: What Seminary Never Taught You (hosted by Pastor-In-Residence Ministries)
  • EPC Benefits “Lunch and Learn: Retirement Plan Changes” (hosted by EPC Benefit Resources, Inc.)
  • International Theological Education Network (hosted by EPC World Outreach)
  • Reaching Millennials (hosted by the EPC GO Center)
  • Reaching the Next Generation of College Students for Christ (hosted by the Coalition for Christian Outreach)
  • Understanding Gender Dysphoria and the Transgender Experience (hosted by OnebyOne)
  • Who Will Lead After You? A Guide to Effective Succession Planning (hosted by Vanderbloemen Search Group)
  • Women Teaching Elders and Candidates (hosted by the EPC Office of the General Assembly)
  • World Outreach Needs Business Professionals (hosted by EPC World Outreach)

Friday, June 23

  • Clerks of Session (hosted by the EPC Presbytery of the Pacific)
  • Coaching Church Revitalization (hosted by the EPC GO Center)
  • Come to The Well: Women’s Ministries Resources (hosted by the EPC Women’s Resource Council)
  • Engaging Muslim Communities for Christ Through Literacy (hosted by Literacy and Evangelism International)
  • EPC Benefits “Lunch and Learn: Retirement Plan Changes” (hosted by EPC Benefit Resources, Inc.)
  • Growing Your Church Through Small Groups (hosted by Hope Church, Richmond, Va.)
  • How to Lead Your Team to Fulfill Your Church’s Vision (hosted by Vanderbloemen Search Group)
  • Leaders of Small Churches (hosted by the EPC Z–4:10 Network)
  • Sending Our EPC Sons and Daughters (hosted by EPC World Outreach)

EPC Benefits offers new tools for church administrators

 

BenefitsHandbookCoverIf you help administrate EPC Benefits for your church staff members, you will want to be aware of some new tools to assist you with the administrative duties related to EPC Benefits. There have been many changes in recent years regarding benefits, not only from the EPC but also from the United States government, and these resources are designed to keep you and your staff current on these changes and the administrative work we require from you.

  • Administrator Benefits Video
  • Administrative Quick Reference Guide
  • EPC Benefits Handbook

Each of these can be accessed from the Benefits section of www.epc.org under a new tab called Church Administrator Resources.

Church Administrator Benefits Training Video
This video was created to answer questions for your administrative staff, whether they are new to your church or not, and takes approximately 45 minutes to complete. Administrative individuals can receive an EPC certificate of completion by watching the video in its entirety and answering the questions at the end. Once completed, the video can be reviewed anytime as a refresher.

Administrative Quick Reference Guide
We encourage you and your administrative professional(s) to print this at-a-glance guide of who to call when you need assistance in a particular area.

EPC Benefits Handbook
This document is a valuable resource concerning the administrative duties related to EPC Benefits policies and practices.

If you need more information or have any questions, contact the EPC Benefits Office at 734-838-6942, 734-838-6948, or diane.pray@epc.org.

Annual Statistical-Financial Reporting

 

We regret to announce that the online database of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (www.epc.org) will not be available for 2013 reporting due to technical difficulties which, unfortunately, were not able to be resolved. You may still use the site to get previous years’ reports.

Clerks of Session will receive by mail the week of February 17th directions to download a spreadsheet template along with instructions to fill it in. After completing the spreadsheet it should be returned by mail to the General Assembly Office.

We are looking forward to a different and much improved data collection system next year and regret any inconvenience this may have created for you.

If you have any questions regarding the revised reporting process after you receive the instructions, please feel free to contact the General Assembly Office.

Transformation “Metrics”?

 

It is said, “What you measure is what you value.”

In January, the General Assembly office staff begins work on the 2013 Annual Statistical and Financial Report (ASFR). The numbers that make up the ASFR provide a measure of church health in terms of growth or decline. The 2013 report will be a part of the 2014 General Assembly Commissioner’s Handbook.

I’ve been thinking about possible measures (or “metrics”) that might help us evaluate our commitment to a ministry of transformation.

If transformation is about the supernatural power of God the Holy Spirit poured out so that men, women, boys and girls in our communities come to a saving knowledge of and love for Jesus Christ, then those numbers that tell us we’re engaging those who do not yet possess salvation in Jesus Christ (or who have come to a saving knowledge of Christ) could be those “metrics.”

Here’s my list:

  • Number of adult/believer’s baptisms
  • Number of first time conversions
  • Number of visitors (first time and regular)
    • To worship services
    • To mid-week events (such as small groups)
  • Number of new members

Questions:

  1. Is there value in attempting to measure a ministry of transformation?
  2. Is it possible to measure a ministry of transformation?
  3. Are there other ways we could possibly measure the results of a commitment to transformation?

2013 Annual Statistical/Financial Reporting

 

An overview of the 2013 Annual Statistical and Financial Reporting:

  • Reports are collected on www.epcdata.org.  With your PIN, you may view and print reports from prevous years now.  The site is being prepared for 2013 data entry and you will not be able to enter new data at the present time.
  • A blank worksheet (no individualized, pre-printed data) is available so you may start gathering information now.
  • An individualized Worksheet with detailed instructions and pre-printed data from the previous reporting year for your church is under preparation now with the goal of mailing to Clerks of Session by the end of January.
  • Please use the worksheet to gather the needed information and then enter it on www.epcdata.org when it is open for new data.  Please enter your data by March 31. The site will be closed for new entries on April 1 to give us adequate time to prepare reports for the General Assembly meeting.

Federal Court ruling re: Minister’s Housing Allowance

 

On Saturday, November 23 the Associated Press reported that a federal judge in Wisconsin has struck down the law that gives clergy a housing allowance that is excluded from income tax. An important element of this ruling is that the housing allowances of pastors remain unaffected, because the ruling has been stayed by the judge until the appeals are exhausted. This morning Thom Rainer of Lifeway Resources provided his response to this news. It includes a statement from the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and Guidestone Resources. To read Rainer’s response and the statement go to http://thomrainer.com/2013/11/25/thoughts-on-the-court-ruling-on-the-ministers-housing-allowance.  To read the press release from the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) see http://www.ecfa.org/Content/Federal-District-Court-Rules-Clergy-Housing-Exclusion-Unconstitutional. EPC leadership will keep a close watch on this issue as it develops.

EPC Pastor Alan Conrow

 

Alan Conrow, Assistant Pastor at Fellowship EPC of South Lyon, MI, has written a small group study entitled The Path of Discipleship: A Journey Toward Whole-Life Worship. This book is designed to help believers discover what Jesus wants for their life and how He wants to lead them there. The book is available at Amazon for $9.68.

End-of-year Task to Ensure Tax-Deductibility

 

To ensure tax deductibility of contributions to the church, the church needs to issue acknowledgement in writing of the contributions and contributors should not file their 2013 tax returns until they have received that acknowledgement.

ManagingYourChurch.com (part of Christianity Today) suggests the following notification in newsletters and/or  bulletins:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: To ensure the deductibility of your church contributions, do not file your 2013 income tax return until you have received a written acknowledgment of your contributions from the church. Some of your contributions may not be tax-deductible if you file your tax return before receiving a written acknowledgement of your contributions from the church.

Click here to see the full article from ManagingYourChurch.com.

EPC Pastor Robert Hock Recognized As An Indianapolis “Angel”

 

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS ANNOUNCE PASTOR ROBERT HOCK AN INDIANAPOLIS “ANGEL”

The Indianapolis Colts proudly announced Pastor Robert Hock, an Indianapolis, Indiana resident, as a 2013 honoree of the Colts Anthem Angels program, presented by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Pastor Hock was recognized at the Colts home game on Sunday, September 15, 2013, for his outstanding contributions to the community.

Hock is the pastor at Southport Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis and a key component in the aftermath of the Richmond Hills Explosion in 2012. He assisted in coordinating and authorizing the use of the church for community meetings, established a one-stop shop facility for those affected by the disaster, created a safe place for meetings with Homeland Security, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Indianapolis Fire Department and helped in many other capacities.

While Hock was invaluable to crisis-management during the weeks following the explosions, he also showed unwavering dedication to his community by being at the scene for twenty hours a day for over three weeks. Hock has been described as a true “Angel” for the residents of Richmond Hills during this tragic event that affected more than ninety homes and killed two people. He selflessly devoted himself to the well-being of his community and not only provided a place of solace from the trauma of this tragedy, but also created a place of hope for the residents of Richmond Hills.

“Anthem Angels…Honoring Everyday Heroes” was established by the Indianapolis Colts and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield to pay tribute to Hoosier “First Respondents” who may have received little or no recognition for the strides they have made to help others in human-service related professions.

In honor of Hock’s heroism, he received four (4) VIP Club Seat Tickets to the Colts game, a feature story with his photo in the Colts gameday magazine (the Scout) and on www.colts.com, as well as on-field recognition at the game.

Nominations are currently being accepted for upcoming 2013 home games. For more information about Anthem Angels, presented by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, please visit: www.colts.com/anthemangels.

Annual Statistical and Financial Reports due March 31

 

Each year we pubish a “family snapshot” of the EPC by way of the Annual Statistical and Financial Report. Be part of the photo and send in your Report by entering data on www.epcdata.org by March 31.  The site will be closed to new entries on April 1.  If you need a copy of your church’s customized worksheet (mailed the first week of February), please email Carol Templin (carol.templin@epc.org).  If you cannot complete the report by March 31, please mail, fax or email a copy of your Worksheet to the Office of the General Assembly:

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
17197 N. Laurel Park Dr., Ste 567
Livonia, MI 48152
Fax: 734-742-2033
email:epchurch@epc.org

Annual Statistical/Financial Reporting

 

Worksheets for 2012 Annual Statistical and Financial Reports have been mailed to Clerks of Session of all EPC churches that were part of the denomination as of December 31, 2012.

After gathering the data, use the worksheet and enter the data on www.epcdata.org.  The data collection site is open until March 31.

If you did not receive a Worksheet, please contact the Office of the Stated Clerk at epchurch@epc.org.