Managing Your Church can be found online here.
Christianity Today is known for its flagship magazine, as well as publications like Leadership Journal. Few know about the Church Management Team, though. What is it?
We're a small-but-hearty group of editors, designers, and marketers committed to a straightforward mission: We serve church leaders by creating trustworthy resources that help them keep their ministries safe, legal, and financially sound.
How does ManagingYourChurch.com fit in to that mission?
When we launched the site in 2009, we had a vision for the site to do two things well: One, cover significant news trends and other "current events" of interest and relevance to local churches in the areas of law, finance, tax, and risk management; and two, provide practical, applicable insights church leaders can use in these areas, plus guidance on where to go for more in-depth information.
Why did you feel there was a hole that needed to be filled with this type of coverage?
Since Leadership Journal's launch in 1980, church leadership as a topic has surged. Generally speaking, there are now scores of publications, websites, consulting firms, books, and conferences on the subject. While that's mostly a good thing, it also reveals a challenge for pastors, church staff, and lay leaders: Seeking God's call for your ministry, dreaming vision, recruiting and motivating people, using creative gifts to communicate God's truths, and the like are all important. But all of that becomes significantly challenged if a lot of day-to-day details get overlooked. And outside of the thirty-plus years Richard Hammar, the senior editor of our Church Law & Tax Report and Church Finance Today newsletters, has advocated for doing these details well, we didn't really see anyone else talking about this in visible, helpful ways.
For instance, what happens when safety isn't considered for an upcoming youth rafting trip? Or when the right internal controls aren't used to count the weekly offering? Or taxes aren't withheld correctly on payroll? Or a pastor's pay falls significantly below those of his or her peers of comparable education, experience, and setting? Or a member unexpectedly confesses to a pastor about child abuse he committed? Or the church wants to open a coffee shop and isn't sure the revenue is taxable?
You get the idea. These are real questions happening every day across the country. And if a church chooses to ignore any of them, the consequences can be dramatic. People get hurt. Offerings are vulnerable to theft. The IRS levies penalties and fines. Valuable staff members leave. What's even worse is when a situation—say an embezzlement or an abuse—winds up in the local media. Ministry grinds to a halt because all of the energy is now focused on damage control and working to fix something that broke. So the hole we wanted to fill was actually two holes—one that brought attention and education to everyday realities in American churches, and another that served as an advocate for preemptive action so that time and energy can get focused on the ministry we all want to see happen: Sharing with others what it means to be in relationship with God through His son, Jesus Christ.
Are there some recent examples that illustrate this?
A few come to mind. One is a piece by staff member Michelle Dowell, who tied together some recent headlines related to people taking advantage of benevolence offered by churches. Another is a piece by Richard Hammar on the top five reasons churches wind up in court. We've also covered the way outsiders view church management topics, ranging from The Wall Street Journal to Bill Maher.
See the story behind the story of other award-winning content from the 2012 Evangelical Press Association convention.