By Eric Spacek, JD, ARM As church leaders, staff, volunteers or even members of the church, it is hard to imagine a religious facility being a prime target for criminals. Churches are seen as sacred and safe places; however, violent incidents of varying natures happen several times each year across the country. Because these places […]
Church executives of all types know that the church is, in some ways, a business. Whether you’re a lead pastor, executive pastor, business administrator or denominational official, you attend to congregational business of facilities, finances, human resources, information technology, and a host of other issues on a daily basis. For example, take a quick test […]
It’s no secret the world we live in today is much different than it was just a few years ago. In today’s society, it has become clear that churches are no longer the safe haven they once were thought to be. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of church violence or allegations of abuse on the nightly news. Unfortunately, churches have become more vulnerable to these types of incidents that threaten the strength and reputation of the organization. To help protect your religious organization from these threats, the leaders of your church are encouraged to set aside time each year to ensure the safety and security of the facility. During this time, it’s important to analyze, review and modify current church policies and procedures to ensure adequate plans are in place to help prevent potential risks.
There are more than 400,000 churches in the United States, each with its own governance structure and decision-making model. With so many different models and terminology used to describe church governance structures — elders, deacons, trustees, directors, pastor and apostle — it can be quite confusing to determine what’s the best and most biblically-sound corporate structure for your own church.
The landscape for churches and ministries is filled with pitfalls.
Over the last 20 years, Congress and the IRS have become very interested in the activities of churches, ministries and nonprofits, which has led to the enactment of section 4958 and the creation of the Exempt Organizations Executive Compensation Compliance Project, resulting in increased enforcement presence and millions of dollars in fines.
Since 1954, churches — and other nonprofits in America — have been prohibited from engaging in certain kinds of political activity. While these limitations might be an affront to the moral conscience of many pastors across America, it has become a way of life for 501(c)(3) organizations.
Ministries need to be aware that even the best applicant on paper might not seem so squeaky clean after a background check. It’s important that church leaders have a standardized policy when it comes to identifying “red flags” that will disqualify someone from employment or volunteer positions. Even red flags such as behavior or character traits need to be thoughtfully weighed as they could expose the church to increased risk.
Accidents happen; it’s inevitable. And when those accidents occur, it can be a scary time for both the injured party and the church. When such events take place and the injured party files a claim against the church, it’s called a liability claim.
Not infrequently, pastors and their parish / congregational administrators, board and / or committee members are inclined to avail themselves of “donated” labor in the form of volunteers who purport to have the appropriate experience, expertise and equipment required to perform some necessary project work on or within parish buildings.
You probably noticed that this new series of articles has been retitled to Never Again: Beyond Insurance. But, how does a church organization get “beyond insurance” — and should it even try?