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Guidance issued on tax treatment of business cell phones
Journal of Accountability    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The IRS issued a notice this week providing guidance on the tax treatment of employer-provided cell phones now that they have been removed from the definition of listed property (Notice 2011-72). The notice discusses the treatment of employer-provided cell phones as an excludible fringe benefit. The IRS says it has received questions about the tax treatment of employer-provided cell phones and similar telecommunications equipment in the wake of changes enacted by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (PL 110-240). Prior to the act, cell phones were included under the section 280F definition of “listed property” and, for employers to deduct the cost of cell phones they provided to employees, the strict substantiation requirements of section 274(d) had to be met. More

Busy Parents Seek Regular Exercise Outlets for Kids
The Centers for Disease Control, in an effort to halt the trend of obesity among children, recommend that children play one hour each day. That’s a lot for a busy family, and so parents are seeking ways to incorporate play into their lives and into their childcare plans.  MORE

More Americans tailoring religion to fit their needs
USA Today    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
If World War II-era warbler Kate Smith sang today, her anthem could be Gods Bless America. That's one of the key findings in newly released research that reveals America's drift from clearly defined religious denominations to faiths cut to fit personal preferences. The folks who make up God as they go are side-by-side with self-proclaimed believers who claim the Christian label but shed their ties to traditional beliefs and practices. Religion statistics expert George Barna says, with a wry hint of exaggeration, America is headed for "310 million people with 310 million religions." More

Outreach releases largest, fastest-growing churches report
The Christian Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail
Outreach magazine has issued its latest report on the top 100 largest and fastest-growing churches in America. According to the annual list, more megachurches are expanding their reach with multiple campuses. Of the 100 largest churches in the country, 75 are employing the multisite – one church, multiple locations – model. And most have three or more campuses. More than half of the fastest-growing churches also have more than one location. More

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Prevent fraud by looking in all the right places
Church Executive Magazine    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
There is an over-reliance by churches on an external audit in detecting fraud. In a Peanuts episode, Charlie Brown feverishly searches for a quarter he has dropped in the dark. Standing under a porch light, Lucy offers some sage advice; “Why don’t you look over here where there is more light?” This cartoon, dredged up from childhood memory, brings to my mind the approach many churches take in fraud prevention. Despite evidence to the contrary, they continue to look for fraud weaknesses in the wrong places, or at least in using the wrong methods. More

Pastor says burned homes will help church's witness
Houston Chronicle    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Losing his home in the Texas wildfires has forced a Southern Baptist pastor to live out the subject of his recent sermons about suffering on behalf of Christ and being fully reliant on him. The Southern Baptist Texan reported that before the fires, Pastor Cody Whitfill at River Valley Christian Fellowship in Bastrop, Texas, had put a notice in the bulletin challenging his congregation to be grateful for God’s blessings – “a spouse, kids, job, and a roof over your head.” Now he has lost his home, as have 11 families in his church. They are trying to see the devastation as an opportunity to witness to the community about their dependence on Christ. More

Poll: Pastors want IRS out of pulpit
Baptist Press    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Protestant pastors overwhelmingly agree government should not attempt to regulate pastors' sermons through re-evaluation of a church's tax exemptions, according to a new survey by LifeWay Research. The research, sponsored by the Alliance Defense Fund, followed a related study conducted by LifeWay Research in October 2010 that found Protestant pastors also largely believe candidates for public office should not be endorsed from the pulpit. More

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Survey: Pastors say identifying with denomination will become less vital
The Christian Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A majority of pastors with denominational affiliation believe it is vital to be part of a denomination, but a majority also believe that the importance of identifying with a denomination will diminish over the next 10 years. That is the finding of a survey by LifeWay Research of more than 900 American Protestant pastors. The survey, conducted in March 2010, excluded pastors of non-denominational churches. More

Re-think your communication plan
Wesleyan Life    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Whether you are a ministry leader, pastor of a church, or volunteer, communicating to a staff, congregation, or even a small group is probably a priority. It is important to re-evaluate your communication plan on a regular basis (yearly or bi-yearly), and decide to either keep it as is, tweak it, or try something new. More

Some churches cancel Sunday school, put parents in charge
Religion News Service    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Don’t look for children’s Sunday school classes at Ridgewood Church in Port Arthur, Texas. And forget about scavenger hunts and water park trips: the youth ministry is no more. Sound like a dying church? No, it’s a family-integrated congregation, whose leaders wanted parents—rather than Sunday school teachers and youth ministers—to spiritually train their children. Driven by statistics about youth leaving church after high school, they’ve turned to the Bible as their sole educational text and shunned age-segregated structures. More

Baseball player asks people to go back to church
Mission Network News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
National Back To Church Sunday, a cross-denominational movement to reverse declining church attendance and encourage everyone to revisit congregational life, will be celebrated Sept. 18 across the country. Lending his voice to this year's event is Texas Rangers all-star Josh Hamilton, the 2010 American League Championship Series MVP who credits his comeback from drug addiction and suspension from the game to his faith and church. More

Singles ministry tough, but vital
Associated Baptist Press    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Greg Belcher understands why many churches avoid keeping or starting a ministry specifically to "single adults." It's tough. A large part of the difficulty in singles ministry is the huge umbrella the term covers. "Singles" are not monolithic but fall across every age range and life spectrum. They are never married—like Belcher—divorced, separated and widowed. And they come in all ages, from very young adults just out of high school to senior adults who have lost a spouse after 50 years together. More

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Churches must welcome special-needs children
The Salt Lake Tribune    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Worship services can provide spiritual guidance needed to cope with challenging family situations. But. A certain dilemma can be circular: Special-needs families may not attend church because they do not feel welcome. The church does nothing to accommodate them because they have no members in that category. In the Bible, God said “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.” Thus, it is the church’s responsibility to ensure all people are truly welcome. More

Multi-site can be maddening
Worship Facilities    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
For many churches faced with internal growth or a pending “merger,” the multisite model is appealing. But first, there are dozens of questions—and a lot of issues—that need to be addressed before any expansion can be successful. Consultants say that a church needs to be clear on why it wants a satellite campus before tackling the operational issues of establishing one. More

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Keep pace with youth culture
Western Recorder    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
In some circles they are called “digital natives.” Others refer to them as the “stressed generation.” Whatever the term used to describe today’s teenagers, experts agree these young people are living in a fast-paced world that is constantly changing, both socially and technologically. “Do you realize that kids who are graduating and turning 18 this year were born about 1993? And when you say the first George Bush, they look at you and go, ‘There were two?’” said Steve Coleman, minister to youth and families at First Baptist Church of Richmond, Va. More

Sports and your church
Building Church Leaders    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Sports receive too little attention from churches. Some use sports as outreach, such as organized leagues or Super Bowl outreach parties—although the ads and halftime wardrobe malfunctions create awkward moments. Others occasionally ask athletes to share a message. Hearing Mike Singletary talk about fatherhood made me want to do my best as a dad. But actually teaching on the overall topic—sports—rarely happens. A surprise, given the magnitude of attention sports command in today's society. In children's and youth ministry, sports often earn a reputation as the competition. Sunday soccer leagues erode attendance, right? More

Inside Texas prison, seminary begins to change lives
Baptist Press    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Reaching Southwestern's newest student population takes a little effort and a criminal background check. The journey begins with a drive south from Houston along a small farm-to-market road lined with fields of livestock and crops managed by some of Texas' most violent offenders. Housed in this maximum security unit, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's new bachelor's degree in biblical studies gives inmates the opportunity to experience life transformation through studying the Bible as well as share that transformation with others. More
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