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The cost of faith
The Gazette    Share   Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
With a decline in overall giving and fewer people in the pews, churches across the country are facing staff and programming cuts in a trend toward what some researchers call "the new normal" for today's faith community. Before it got to that point at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Mt. Vernon, Va., Rev. Mark Gefaller took the woes to the congregation. "We were having some struggles with giving but last fall we created a campaign that let people know exactly where we are," said Gefaller. "They've responded quite well." The congregation was able to stave off layoffs for church staff and the elimination of any programs. More

Recession impacts church donations
The Washington Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The nation's churches are staggering under the depressed economy, with more than one-third reporting decreases in giving last year, according to a survey. A "State of the Plate" survey of 1,017 churches sponsored by Christianity Today International (CTI) and the Colorado Springs firm Maximum Generosity reported that 38 percent saw their income drop in 2009, compared with 29 percent seeing drops in 2008. Although the report did not specify how much giving has dropped, a similar survey of 1,168 churches released last spring by CTI said weekly contributions were down 2 percent or more. More

Survey: Financial strain worsens for more churches
The Christian Post    Share    Share on
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The economic recession delivered a hard blow to more churches this past year than at the start of the downturn, new research indicates. Findings from a new survey show that 38 percent of churches reported a decline in giving in 2009. Only 29 percent reported the same the previous year. "Churches today are in unchartered waters financially," said Brian Kluth, founder of Maximum Generosity, in a statement. "Multiple research projects last year documented the sharp decline in church giving and our research this year shows things have only gotten worse for a growing number of churches." More

Group urges unplugging to take back Sabbath
CNN    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
As the story goes, God spent six days creating the world and then rested on the seventh day. He told the Jewish people to always rest on the seventh day of each week, which was to become known as the Sabbath for them for eternity. This was before Facebook, Twitter, BlackBerries and iPhones, of course. Adam and Eve didn't have friends who would get upset if texts weren't returned promptly, parents who wanted to know where their children were all the time or bosses who had complete access to their employees via work-issued devices. There is no excuse good enough to ignore the boss, even on a weekend. But one group is trying to take back the Sabbath. More

Now Is A Perfect Time To Improve Communication In Small Groups!
Small groups help keep your members on track with their spiritual growth and church leaders need an effective way to keep the ministry organized. For practical advice on improving communication at every ministry level download the ACS ministry guide Planning For Big Success with Small Groups. more

Churches' legal protection questioned
Denver Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 2000 and has been used primarily to defend religious institutions in land-use disputes. It also is used to guarantee the religious rights of the incarcerated. The federal act has been invoked several times in Colorado and Wyoming church zoning cases, including Rocky Mountain Christian Church's case against Boulder County currently being considered by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. This article discusses other cases as well. More

Tips on fundraising
Youth Worker    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Fundraisers can be the bane of any youth leader's existence. Figuring out what works, what doesn't and how to organize the event are basic questions to answer before beginning any fundraiser. Fortunately, many others have gone through the same circumstances. Here is a list of fundraising tips and ideas to help you on your journey through the hectic world of fundraising. More

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Target marketing: Defining the target
Ministry Today Magazine    Share    Share on
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God wants to reach all, and He's equipped you to reach certain ones. As church leaders, we're rarely taught to understand the variances between different people and cultures. Paul's letters to the Galatians show us his handle on their struggles and mind-sets--which were clearly different from those he encountered in Corinth or Ephesus. He went beneath the surface to reach people right where they lived. We must do the same if we hope to truly minister to people. More

Social media creates 'fans' and 'follower' of Christ
Church Executive Magazine    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
If your congregation is a cause that is accomplishing something worthwhile (like, say, growing the Kingdom of God), and if your congregation is a useful resource to people (helping them grow as disciples of Jesus Christ), then growing your tribe is pretty easy using social media. At the church where the author of this article serves, they've spent a great amount of time investigating how they should use the Internet as a part of our practice of ministry. More

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Failure is not final
Church Central    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Whether the context is leadership in particular or life in general; we all experience failure. As a result, genuine success is not based on avoiding failure but on facing our failures correctly. William A. Ward observed, "Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end street." Now that’s simple to say but a much more difficult concept to embrace. How do we survive the stumbles and defeats in our life? Here are some principles that may help you maintain the right attitude in the wake of disappointments. More

Should your church go multi-site?
Building for Ministry    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
What does a church do when they've invested significant capital resources into land and a building, and their growth still outpaces their physical capacity to effectively serve all the people who attend? More and more churches are finding their answer in the multi-site church model. According to Jim Tomberlin, founder of Multi-Site Solutions, "What started as a megachurch phenomenon has become a healthy-church strategy." More

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Florida church to present Stations of the Cross, drive-through style
South Florida Sun-Sentinel    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
An innovative version of the Stations of the Cross -- with people driving past live enactments of Jesus' suffering and death -- will be presented this weekend at St. Vincent Catholic Church in Margate, Fla. The U-shaped driveway of the church will be the pilgrimage route for drivers. Drivers will see church members acting out events such as Jesus' trial and condemnation, his walk to Calvary, and his crucifixion and burial. More

God is found in the wilderness for Passover, Holy Week
USA Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A reverend, a rabbi and a scholar hike up a mountain ridge...It sounds like the opening line of an unholy bar joke, not a spiritual warm-up for the beginning of Passover for Jews and Holy Week for Christians, leading toward Easter. But these three believers say skiing off in winter cold, hiking in desert heat, even taking a senses-awake walk in the park can open you up, body and soul, to better appreciate these holy days of salvation and freedom. More

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When Vermont church reopened, 'God did amazing things'
Baptist Press    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
They say the night is always darkest just before dawn. It certainly was a dark night for Tad and Annice Perry and others of the small remnant at the United Church of West Pawlet, Vt., when they made the difficult decision to close the doors. "I just hated to see the church close," Annice Perry said. "It was very hard to deal with emotionally. I just wanted to keep it going somehow, but we didn't see any hope, so we just started praying about it." Nearly 1,000 miles away in Rutherfordton, N.C., dawn was breaking in the heart of a young pastor named Lyandon Warren. "It wasn't an ah-ha moment," he said. "God developed the desire in my heart to plant a church in West Pawlet over time." More

Lily farmers race the clock toward Easter
Religion News Service    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
To the untrained eye, the graceful lilies that arrive on church altars each year on Easter Sunday are a familiar symbol of resurrection and renewal. Like poinsettias on Christmas, it just wouldn’t be Easter without them. But for the people who get them there--on a date that shifts from year to year--getting the trumpet-shaped flowers to bloom on cue takes months of just-right gardening, mathematical deduction and extreme diligence. More

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