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Charitable giving rose last year, still below peak
The Wall Street Journal    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
As the economy regained some momentum in 2010, Americans responded in kind by increasing their charitable giving. Philanthropic donations from individuals, foundations and corporations increased 3.8 percent to $290.89 billion in 2010, up from $280.3 billion in 2009, according to the latest Giving USA survey, released this week. But with an uptick in 2010, the implications for fund-raising and for charities across the country remain uncertain for now, said Nancy Raybin, a spokeswoman for the Giving USA Foundation and managing partner of Raybin Associates, a New York-based nonprofit consulting firm. More

Effort to Restore Children's Play Gains Momentum
Unstructured playtime helps develop crucial social and intellectual skills needed to succeed in life, advocates say as they try to pull children and their parents away from the screen. "A big part of free play is having space to do it in, a space that isn't ruled over by adults." MORE

It's time to move up the learning curve on interest rate curves
Bank of the West    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Some churches fall prey to the allure of the low variable interest rate. They say they want to wait until rates begin to rise before converting to the slightly higher fixed rate. This never works. Remember, yield curves slope up and to the right. This means that by the time your variable rate begins to increase, the five year fixed rates will have already increased. There will always be a spread between the two. More

IRS increases mileage rate to 55.5 cents per mile    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The Internal Revenue Service today announced an increase in the optional standard mileage rates for the final six months of 2011. Taxpayers may use the optional standard rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business and other purposes. The rate will increase to 55.5 cents a mile for all business miles driven from July 1, 2011, through Dec. 31, 2011. This is an increase of 4.5 cents from the 51 cent rate in effect for the first six months of 2011, as set forth in Revenue Procedure 2010-51. More

Make a Good First Impression
The church Web site is often a visitor’s first interaction with the church. One of the easiest ways to provide a more personal experience is to tightly integrate the Web site content with the church management system. For more information, download the ACS Technologies ministry guide Developing An Effective Web Strategy. more

More churches adopt gluten-free communion
Houston Chronicle    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
For thousands of years, Christians have remembered their Savior through the sacrament of communion, taking in his blood and body through consecrated wine and bread. But now that celiac disease and gluten intolerance is increasingly common, bread has become a bad word, at least for the one in 133 Americans who can’t eat wheat. Starting this Sunday, Palmer Episcopal Church in Houston will offer gluten-free wafers, eliciting hardy amens from the parishioners who were unable to take communion without getting sick. “It’s just a way of including folks, and I think that was Jesus’ intention, to open his table,” said the Rev. James Nutter, the church’s rector. More

Do u txt @ church?    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Most pastors would be upset if they looked up from their sermon notes to find most of the congregants texting on their phones. For the Rev. Mike Schreiner of Morning Star Church in O’Fallon, Mo., that’s just part of weekly worship. Schreiner invites churchgoers to text him questions during his sermons, be it clarification of a point he made or some other topic. “We’ve seen everything from, ‘Did Pastor Mike forget to shave?’ to things from John Wesley’s theology,” said Mitch Aldridge, Morning Star’s associate music director. More
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Study examines what families want from their church
Associated Baptist Press    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail
Conventional wisdom says “the family that prays together stays together.” But one study of 15 Baptist congregations found that what families want most from their church are opportunities to serve. Baylor University researchers polled more than 3,000 members of churches in 12 states affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship or both. While not statistically representative of all Baptists, researchers Diana Garland and Jo Edmonds said findings shed light on the struggles church families face at different stages of life. More

North Texas churches employ new methods for vacation Bible school
Fort Worth Star-Telegram    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Call it vacation Bible school on steroids. At The Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, Texas, more than 6,300 people attended last week's "Summer Spectacular" event designed to bring the story of Noah's ark to life, complete with a petting zoo and a Broadway-style musical that recounted the tale over three nights. It's a stark contrast to the VBS days of the past, when kids made praying hands out of plaster and listened to Bible stories before nap time. More

What do teenagers need from youth ministry?
Christianity Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail
Often ministries, especially youth ministries, are heavy on fun and light on faith. It's fired up entertainment and watered down gospel. The entertainment emphasis can be traced back at least a generation, and perhaps nowhere was the impact felt more profoundly than in youth programs. Instead of stressing confirmation of faith—youth ministry's original raison d'être—the focus shifted to attracting more and more kids to the ministry (which inevitably involved entertaining them). Not necessarily bad goals, but there were some ugly unintended consequences. More

Ministry in the 21st century
The Christian Century    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
What is pastoral ministry like these days, and how is it being shaped in new ways? Christian Century talked to pastors about the challenges and surprises of their early years in ministry. This interview is with Josh Carney, a graduate of George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He serves as teaching pastor at University Baptist Church, about a mile from Baylor's campus. More

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Taming the image
Leadership Journal    Share    Share on
FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The band is rockin', arms are swayin', and you're about to come on screen in high definition with such stunning visual clarity that even people in the nosebleed seats can see your perfect smile. Is this a rock concert? A beer commercial? Or just a typical Sunday morning? These days, it could be any of the above. Whether you're a questioning congregant or a concerned pastor, the use of technology in the worship setting is worth considering. More

4 northeastern houses of worship earn EPA Energy Star label
The Associated Press via    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Three Massachusetts houses of worship and a New Hampshire church have earned the Environmental Protection Agency's "Energy Star" label for building efficiency. The labels, announced by the EPA on Tuesday, indicate the congregations operate with more energy efficiency than 75 percent of similar houses of worship nationwide. More

Don't procrastinate, automate
Worship Facilities    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Opportunities to add aspects of automation are as varied as the size of congregations and worship facilities themselves. For the large church with thousands of members and multiple sites, automation may involve a full suite of enterprise software for financial, scheduling and human resources management, energy management systems and audio/visual and lighting. For the small church, automation may mean a new thermostat that’s better equipped to monitor spaces and outdoor temperatures or motion sensors for storage spaces and bathrooms that can be picked up at a home improvement store for $30 apiece. Some of the more complex systems come with pitfalls, too, regarding how they perform with existing or future systems, who’s trained and adept at implementation and operations, and what happens if the people with that institutional memory are no longer in the picture. More

"Extreme Couponers" turn deals into extreme giving
Assemblies of God News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The TLC show "Extreme Couponing" highlights people who use coupons and store deals to purchase large quantities of groceries and other products for next to nothing or even for free. Unlike some couponers who have received criticism for stockpiling years' worth of supplies for themselves, Chris and Ashley Duff, who were featured in a May episode, are on the hunt for good deals so they can abundantly help others. More

Arizona fires spark ministry
Baptist Press    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
As the largest fire in Arizona history rages in the eastern part of the state, Southern Baptists have responded with compassion in Jesus' name. The Wallow Fire has burned more than 730 square miles, destroyed 31 homes and cost around $25 million to fight, MSNBC reported. It has also forced the evacuation of multiple towns, prompting churches, associations and the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention to launch ministry efforts for victims. More

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