I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to believe that Christmas is almost here. I’m sure you and your church are putting the final touches on your Christmas weekend services. I’m excited for the opportunities that our network of churches has to impact our communities, when people are often open to our “good news.” We are praying with you that many will enter Christ’s fold.
Churches are doing many creative things to leverage this time of year to reach people who are open to the gospel story. Some are doing multiple Christmas services; others are serving in community kitchens. One of our churches is having a special service for those who are going through grief. We'd love to hear what you are doing that might be of help to our other churches.
We are looking forward to rolling out some new opportunities for our NextGen churches this coming year. If it’s not already on your calendars, please note May 19-21, 2014 for our staff and leadership conference at Silver Spur. Our main speaker will be Dr. Mark Young, President of Denver Seminary, someone who understands mission and someone who understands leadership in the local church. This will be a new and unique conference—you will want to be there.
We’ve moved our annual meeting to Silver Spur to make this event accessible for everyone and for churches to be able to bring their staff. We are also working out a deal with a brand new hotel for those who would like those accommodations. This will be a great place to network—whether you are a large church staff or laboring as a solo pastor.
Speaking of solo pastors, if you are serving in a small church context, we’ve got a great event for you and your spouse scheduled for February 3-4, 2014 in Old Sacramento. This will be a great time of encouragement and opportunity to network with others serving in similar contexts. We don’t want cost to be an issue, so we’ve made spouses free. If you need further help, we have scholarships available, so please ask!
It’s a joy to see what the Lord is doing in and through our network of churches. Thanks for the privilege of serving with you.
May the Lord richly bless you!
Dr. David Whitaker
Executive Director, Next Generation Churches
Lead Pastor, Morgan Hill Bible Church
The Affordable Care Act (AKA ObamaCare) has been all over the news lately. But for churches, very little has been written to help navigate the new complexities of the law. Here is a basic overview that hopefully will give you direction as you consider your options.
As your church evaluates how to provide health insurance coverage for 2014, there are three options (unless you have 50+ fulltime employees).
For many churches, the rates on health insurance have been already locked in for 2014, which may provide you with additional time to think through your options. For additional resources, please visit the websites below or feel free to contact me at email@example.com or at (510)857-7049. These issues can be very complex and I would love to assist you in evaluating your options.
Great chart to evaluate costs and benefit options-
For churches with 50+ employees-
Quick overview of tax credits available to churche-
The issue of limiting employment based on religious grounds is likely to come up at some time. Whether you are a pastor, on the church board, or run a ministry of the church, you may be confronted with a situation where an employee is acting contrary to your group’s doctrines and beliefs. For example, a pastor might divorce his wife and remarry contrary to your church’s doctrine. An administrative assistant might express belief contrary to your church’s stance on abortion. It might be discovered that a teacher in your religious school might not actually attend church. And the issue will come up – can we fire a person who does not adhere to our doctrine or agree with our beliefs?
There was a case in Michigan where a church rescinded the call of one its ministers, thus ending her employment. According to this church’s by-laws, all disputes within the church were to be resolved according to Matthew 18, and church members were urged to reject the adversarial system that dominates the secular world. So when this minister threatened to sue the church, the church took the matter before its congregation, rescinded her call, and terminated her employment. She then sued the church, and one of the issues in the case is whether the church actually held such a belief.
While the general rule is that an employer cannot make hiring and firing decisions based on religion, there is an exception for “religious organizations.” The legal system is very protective of church autonomy and generally does not interfere with church hiring and firing practices. Federal law exempts churches and allows them to consider an applicant’s religious beliefs in hiring for all positions. And under most state laws, religious nonprofit organizations are entirely exempt from these regulations.
But nevertheless, there are things an organization should do to protect its ability to make hiring and firing decisions based on religion. First, churches need to stay true to their religious mission. Some ministries, over time, lose their religious mission and just become focused on doing a task. For example, some religious schools stop integrating church doctrine into the curriculum, and thus may lose their status as a religious organization under the law.
Second, religious organizations should provide job descriptions in their bylaws for every position in the church and explain in the job description how the position furthers the religious mission of the church. These position descriptions should include the religious grounds for limiting employment opportunities – especially if the limitations involve other legally protected factors, such as race, age, sex, or national origin.
For example, if the church’s beliefs require that only certain positions be held by men, this should be stated in the bylaws with support from Scripture. This firmly establishes that there is a religious basis for the church’s limitations on employment, and is unlikely to be questioned by a judge.
Finally, churches should ensure that they are consistently applying their employment rules to protect themselves from claims of employment discrimination. Churches must handle similar cases similarly and cannot use religion as an excuse to treat a protected class of people more favorably than others. For example, a church might be vulnerable if it terminated an unmarried, pregnant female employee on religious grounds based upon an inference of illicit sex, but did not terminate a male pastor guilty of extramarital sexual relations.
Today would be a good day to take a look at your bylaws and make sure they adequately protect your church. If you have questions, Please email give us a call.
Next Generation Churches
15750 Vineyard Blvd, Suite 110
Morgan Hill, CA 95037
Dr. David Whitaker
Director of Administration
Director of Church Planting
Director of Church Networking
17301 Silver Spur Lane
Tuolumne, CA 209-928-4248
Director, Silver Spur
2924 Becerra Way
Sacramento, CA 95821
San Jose Campus
469 El Camino Real
Santa Clara, CA 95050