Three Simple Steps to Survive the 2021 Church Giving Slump

church bookkeeping service

A 2021 Church Giving Slump??

I’m calling it. I predict that churches in the summer of 2021 will see a giving slump that surpasses many previous year’s slumps. 

Traditionally, churches see a dip in giving during the summer months. We have discussed summer giving slumps before, but this summer has the makings to be much different. 

Why? 

Well, we’re looking at a summer where many people, for the first time in over a year, feel comfortable traveling outside their local community.  

With a global pandemic and the resulting lockdowns and travel restrictions put in place, vacations and traveling were out of the question for many people. In fact, air travel in 2020 was down 60% compared with 2019 numbers.  

With precautions starting to relax in the last weeks and months, domestic travel, at least, has become more feasible and desirable. More people feel comfortable traveling and seeing extended family members. Many are now seeing opportunities to make up for lost time and take those vacations they had previously been unable to schedule. 

In other words, now that people can travel again, you can bet they are going to do just that.

So what does that mean for churches?  

More than likely, we’re going to see giving decrease as people use some of that discretionary income or their vacation savings to now take that vacation they had been putting off. More people have dealt with anxiety, stress and burnout in the last year and they are looking for a chance to get away and just relax and unwind. 

The good news is that a potential giving slump doesn’t have to blindside your church or leave you struggling to pay the bills.  

As a pastor, here are three simple steps you can take to prepare your ministry to survive the upcoming slump.  

1. Don’t hide from the church giving slump; talk about the importance of tithing and giving to your local church 

If you’re struggling to figure out how to talk about it, you can check out this article and this one. Many churches that have giving issues or struggle with revenue, sometimes have a problem because they don’t make generosity part of their DNA.  Don’t make talking about money taboo in your church.   

Talk about it, all the time. And when you think you’ve said it enough, talk more. 

Giving is a spiritual discipline much like prayer, bible study, discipleship and worship.  People that take issue with pastors talking about giving, more than likely haven’t developed this spiritual discipline or fail to understand why giving matters.   

Heading into this summer, be bold to talk about giving.  Proclaim with boldness the value of being faithful to those things that God has called us to and make people understand that the next step in their relationship with Jesus is following the things He has commanded. 

Preach boldly and unapologetically about giving. You’re called to shepherd people; this is part of their spiritual growth. 

If you are looking for additional resources for how to talk about giving or struggling to figure out how to make generosity a part of your church’s DNA, we’ve created a free guide to walk you through the process. You can access it here

2. Manage the church giving slump by looking at expenses and managing cash flow  

Practically speaking, one thing you can do to combat the giving slump is to better manage your cash flow.  

There is a common business adage that says if you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know your business. 

The same is true for your church. If you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know the health of your church. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But I’m the pastor. I just shepherd people and let someone else manage the money. Church finances are not my responsibility.” 

You’re partially right. Should you be responsible for paying the bills and tracking income for the church? Probably not.  

BUT… 

If you are the leader of the church, you absolutely should understand where your church stands financially.  Finances are a very real part of the health of your church. And the truth is your church could be headed for very real financial trouble if you don’t take steps to correct the problem. And how do you know if your church has financial issues? You have to know your numbers. Additionally, if you don’t know the financial health of your church, it’s much more difficult to make wise financial decisions and lead and grow the church. 

At a minimum, you need to know what your average monthly giving amount is.  Along with that, there are several other metrics you as pastor need to know. We discuss them in this post here. By knowing those numbers, you can better lead the church and know the financial health of your organization. 

When you know your numbers, you’ll be able to identify trends and have an idea of areas where spending is required, and perhaps things that can be turned off or delayed until cash is in a better situation. 

A practical step here is to look at your monthly expenses. Are there any discretionary expenses or subscriptions that maybe can be turned off or cancelled all together to save some money?  This will help with cash flow during an income slump. 

Still feeling stuck with exactly what you need know about church finances as the pastor? Download our free guide where we walk you through the five financial metrics every pastor needs to know. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a numbers person to understand. We’re all about S-I-M-P-L-E. We walk you through exactly which metrics you as pastor need to be aware of, why these numbers matter and how you can get easily find and review these numbers so that you can more effectively lead and grow your church. If the thought of finances and budgeting makes you cringe a little inside, this FREE guide will give you greater clarity and confidence in your ability to steward the financial resources of your church. 

3. Minimize the church giving slump by utilizing online giving  

Okay, this is probably obvious, but if your church does not offer an online giving option, you are preventing some people from being able to give to your church. Online giving is an opportunity for your congregation to participate in the act of worship through giving. 

This may sound a little harsh, but a resounding percentage of people (especially the younger generation) prefer to make electronic donations. Yes, some people still carry cash or checks with them, but more and more people do not. Let’s be honest, some don’t even own a checkbook! 

There was a time when an argument could be made against giving electronically for the reasons of potentially encouraging debt, or the other arguments that could be made.  However, our economies have shifted, and more money is transferring electronically now than ever.   

If you are not providing an electronic giving option, besides the fact that you are preventing some people from being able to give, you’re missing out the full income potential of your church. It’s true. You could be losing out on money every month. Numerous studies have shown that adding a digital giving option can increase donations between 20-35%! 

We recommend SimplifyGive, our online giving solution created with small and growing churches in mind. SimplifyGive is focused on keeping costs down, so that more money from each gift comes to the church for ministry. At the same time, it offers you easy-to-access valuable church giving metrics, so that you can better lead and grow your church.  

SURVIVING THE 2021 CHURCH GIVING SLUMP…MADE SIMPLE 

This summer of 2021 is an exciting time for many people in the United States. After over a year of staying home, there is a strong desire to travel and to engage in activities that were postponed or unavailable for a while. But the flip side of this excitement is that engagement with and giving to church might not be at the forefront of people’s minds. Churches can and should prepare for a potential decline in giving.   

But if you’re prepared for and aware of this potential, your church will be able to endure the season and come out on the other end equipped to finish the ministry year strong. 

If you’d like to know more about how you can better manage your church finances or have a team of church finance experts available to you to help navigate the ups and downs of church finances (at a price that’s affordable for small and growing churches), schedule a discovery call with Simplify Church. We’d be happy to show you how we serve local churches across the country, enabling them to better focus on ministry and reach more people for Christ.  

ChurchShield Payroll Update Webinar – Replay

SimplifyChurch.com Affiliate Program

Payroll Webinar Replay

Take a few minutes to review the replay of our webinar detailing the latest news from our payroll partner, ChurchShield.  They are now offering three service options to help better customize to the needs of your church.

Your options for service will be: 
Full Service – similar to the service your receiving now

Self-Service with Review – your church will process the payroll, but our team and the software are available to review and help as necessary.

Self-Service – your church has full control and responsibility for the payroll processing.  Our team will help with the setup and training, but the ongoing payroll processing will be up to the church.

Whichever option you chose, we’ll be here in an ongoing basis to help and consult your church to make sure you’re successful in this process.

2021 ChurchShield Payroll Update

Take a look at the short video we put together to share an update from our partners at ChurchShield and some recent updates they have in regards to their pricing.  The video should explain the update, how this will affect your church and the options available to you through the process.

Also, Join us Wednesday March 31, 2021 at 11am CST for a webinar where we’ll discuss the update as well and provide a time for Q&A.  Kristin Oeschle from ChurchShield will be joining us as well to give some insight and answer any questions you may have.

Below is the link to register for that webinar. 

If you have immediate questions please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Account Manager or Josh.

 

Thanks for continuing to be a valued partner as we serve the Lord together.

2020 W-2’s Are Available for Download

image of 2020 church payroll w-2s ready for download

your organization’s 2020 W2s have been uploaded to our DNet Portal. The W2s are posted both to the administrator login as well as to the employees’ individual logins. Here is where you can find the W2s in DNet:

https://d21.darwinet.com/550D2/

For Employees:

After logging in, in the left hand menu, click on Payroll -> Payroll Info -> W-2 /1095

This screenshot is from a test system, so no W2 has loaded, but your employees will see a line item listed for 2020 with an Adobe PDF icon that they can click on to view, download or print their own W2.

For Administrators:

Administrative users can access each employee’s W2 by browsing to Employees -> List. Then, choose an employee, and click on Summary ->W2/1095-C
*Tip: Inactive employees can be viewed in the Employee list by clicking the “Show Inactive” checkbox at the top of the employee list grid

Again, this is test data, but when you click on W2/105-C it will open the same screen that the employee sees above, where you can click on the Adobe PDF icon to view, download or print the W2.

You will need to print and distribute the W2s for any inactive employees or employees who do not have access to the DNet employee portal by February 1.

If you’re having issues accessing your W-2 or need help with this process, you can reach out to our support team at support[a]simplifychurch.com. Be sure to include your church name in the message when you send.

2021 Church Bookkeeping Pricing Locked In!

We’re happy to announce that we’ve decided to lock in pricing for all of our church bookkeeping partners for 2021.

With all the craziness that 2020 brought to us and the added pressure it put on churches we have decided to not do any price increases for our church bookkeeping partners. We are grateful for your partnership in ministry and want to do our part to help you succeed.

Additionally, if you’re church has experienced a significant loss of regular income, please let your Account Manager know and we’ll discuss ways that we may be able to help out reduce some costs.

We’re looking forward to what the new year has to bring and how we can better partner to reach your community with the Gospel.

Should You Pay Your New Church Staff Member as an Employee or as a 1099 Independent Contractor?

Church Staff 1099

You’re ready to bring on a new church staff member. Only the question you really need to know the answer to is how you are going to pay them. Should you classify them as an employee (who receives a traditional W2) or as an independent contractor (who receives a 1099)? 

Employee Vs. Independent Contractor: What’s the Difference and Does It Matter? 

One of the most common questions we get asked is whether to classify someone as a 1099 Independent Contractor. Usually when a church contacts us and uses the word “stipend” in a conversation about compensation, we know that we’re going to have a discussion about Independent Contractors vs. Employees.  

First let’s define the terms.  

An employee is someone who works directly for an employer and receives a W2 each year. Being an employee may also entitle the individual to other benefits like health care coverage, FMLA and unemployment benefits. The employer is responsible for withholding and filing taxes on behalf of the employee. 

An independent contractor, in the eyes of the government, is self-employed. Self-employed individuals are not eligible for things like FMLA, ADA or unemployment. The contractor is responsible for all their own taxes; therefore, nothing is withheld from their paycheck. An employer who utilizes the skills of an independent contractor, just pays the contractor and provides him or her with a 1099 each year.  

As you can see, paying someone as a contractor is appealing to employers because the employer is not responsible for withholdings, insurance, etc.  

Can I Just Pay My Church Staff as Independent Contractors? 

The IRS is a bit vague about the specific distinctions between the two categories. They give churches and nonprofits a lot of leeway in determining organizational structure; however, the IRS does provide some guidelines to help make that determination.  

Making the right determination is important because there are penalties for misclassifying an employee. The penalties vary on a case-by-case basis from monetary fines to even criminal punishment.  

The full list of the IRS criteria on whether or not someone should receive a 1099 can be found here.  This can be a little difficult to decipher if you’re not a CPA or an attorney, but here are some guidelines to help you determine how to classify your next hire.  

There are three phrases you need to keep in mind to help you make a wise determination: 

  • Time Control 
  • Tools and Resources 
  • Expected Longevity of Relationship 

Let’s break these down. 

Do You Exercise TIME CONTROL Over the Person? 

If the person who’s getting compensated from your ministry is expected to put in a specific number of hours or work at certain times, that means you’re exhibiting time control over that person. You’re telling them when to do the job or how long it should take. This also comes into play if you give the individual a specific number of hours they are to work for a given time period. 

If you have time control over the person, more than likely they should be classified as an employee for your organization. 

We find a lot of churches want to classify musicians as 1099, mostly for payroll simplicity. One fact to consider specifically is that you probably tell the musicians that they need to be at the church on Sunday mornings. This is an example of exhibiting time control. We’ll return to this specific example in a moment.  

Do You Give Them the TOOLS & RESOURCES to Do Their Job? 

If the person working for your ministry is using your tools and resources to complete their task, more than likely they’ll need to be classified as an employee. This could be someone using a church computer for bookkeeping, someone designing and printing church bulletins for Sunday morning or your marketing, social media or video people using a church computer to get things posted. If you are paying this person and they are using your equipment, they would most likely be considered an employee and not an independent contractor. 

Another instance would be your cleaning crew using the church’s vacuums, mops, brooms, etc.  If they are using the church’s equipment to complete the task, they need to be classified as an employee. 

Or consider church musicians. If you are paying your church musicians and they are using the church’s sound system (equipment) or playing the church’s piano or drumset (equipment), they might need to be classified as an employee of the church. 

Is There a LONG-TERM EXPECTATION of Relationship? 

We find that some churches want to pay their pastors as 1099 Independent Contractors.  Many do this because they misinterpret the self-employed dual status of pastors.  

According to the IRS, pastors are considered self-employed, but only for SECA (Medicare and Social Security), not their employment status. Yes, we know this is confusing.  

The point here, however, is that if there is an expectation of a long-term relationship between the individual and the organization, a person should most likely be classified as an employee. 

But a Church Musician, Really? 

Back to our example of how to classify church musicians. This is one of those areas that even the IRS isn’t very clear about in their determination. If a musician plays for several different organizations and they aren’t “required” to be at your church, they would most likely be considered an independent contractor. In any case, the situation needs to be analyzed carefully and it’s best to document whatever decision you make. The documentation won’t change the IRS decision if your church is ever audited, but you will at least have a basis to share why the specific decision was made. 

If you are confused about how to handle any particular situation, we recommend getting some paid legal advice.  This is simply a short overview for informational purposes only and it definitely doesn’t encompass all situations.

At the end of the day, if you question whether or not a person should be classified as an employee or independent contractor, it is best to err on the side of paying someone as an employee. The penalties for misclassification of a person far outweigh any savings you may gain by trying to make someone a contractor. 

Does Hiring a Person Have to Be Complicated? 

Nope. If you’re ready to eliminate the confusion and guesswork that comes with managing payroll for your church, we’re here to help! We’ll make sure that all your withholdings are set up correctly, we’ll file your paperwork and ensure that the pastor’s compensation is handled correctly. Save yourself valuable time and a lot of headache by partnering with us, instead of trying to navigate things on your own. Give us a call or apply today to get started!  

Are Dual Signatures Required for my Church?

church banking

Are Dual Signatures Required for my Church?

This is a question we run into quite often.

If not as a question, we have churches all the time telling us that they have dual signatures required on their checks.

While I understand that dual signatures may provide the appearance of security, I’d contend that it does very little to protect your church’s money.

I’ve been around several organizations myself and even served as treasurer of a few.  In those, we required dual signatures on the checks and at the surface, it seemed fine.  The problem was, dual signatures often caused more issues than they solved.

Now, I’m not trying to do away or say that you don’t need to have dual signatures on your checks.  I’m not even saying that it’s a completely bad idea.  However I could contend that with modern digital banking, online bill-pay and e-commerce, the days of requiring dual signatures are dwindling.

For most churches, dual signatures are setup only because that’s the way its presumably always been done.  Nothing requires dual signatures inherently just because it’s a church.  That is usually a requirement that gets put in the church’s Bi-Laws and that is usually only because “everyone else does it”.

Requiring dual signatures on checks can be a hinderance to your ministry.

Dual Signatures Can Be Problematic. Here’s Why:

1. I have never seen a dual signor say no

Usually, I see dual signatures as more of a formality to give the appearance of security.  In most cases, when a check requires dual signatures, the second signor barely gives a look even to the amount of the check they are signing.

2. Banks often overlook signatures

Most banks are going through checks so quickly that catching a check that doesn’t have dual signatures is often missed.  I’ve seen several checks clear the bank even when dual signatures were required.

3. Dual Signatures creates unnecessary bottlenecks

Often, when dual signatures are required, waiting for the second person to sign can slow things down for no reason.

Again, my intent

Growing Your Church Staff: Should You Hire or Rely on Volunteers?

Small Churches With Big Vision Can Have Big Impact.

But it takes more than one person to bring that vision to life.

Perhaps you are a visionary pastor. Your greatest desire is to see more lives changed by the power of the gospel. You went into ministry because you had a God-given calling and a passion for people. You have a vision to see God use your church to accomplish His mission. But there is only so much you can do alone.

Too many pastors and church planters try to save money by trying to do everything themselves. But it’s too much. And it’s not the most effective way to accomplish the vision. And in the end it can end up costing you more time, money, and diminishing your impact.

Big impact can only happen when a strong team is in place to execute the vision. And the challenge for pastors is figuring out how to build that team.

Should Your Church Staff be Made Up of Volunteers or Employees?

Perhaps the scenario we see most often in small and growing churches is the all-volunteer church staff. If you are in the early stages of planting a church, you simply may not have the funds to hire any help. In this case, you must rely on a team of volunteers to make things happen. This is sustainable for a season.

But eventually there will come a point where the current level of growth, effort and impact of your church will not sustainable through the efforts of volunteers alone. Either you, and/or your volunteer team will burn out. And the last thing your church needs is for you to get burned out and quit the ministry. We’ve seen this happen way too many times. 

Before you ever reach this point, you and your leadership team need to think hard about what type of church you want to be and the long-term investment that will be required to accomplish the vision of the church. You will need to determine what kind of church you want to be, and which leadership structure is right for your church.

But before we dig into the details of how to build your church staff, we need to address a common misnomer.

Cheap Doesn’t Equal Stewardship

It can be tempting to continue to rely on a team of volunteers to execute the mission of the church. After all, this feels familiar and it is obviously the cheapest option. Isn’t cheap the same thing as good stewardship?

Absolutely not. I’m not sure where these two ideas got intertwined. Just because something is cheap, doesn’t guarantee that it is the most cost-effective, valuable or the right choice for long-term sustainability and health. Cheap doesn’t always equal good stewardship. 

Building an All-Volunteer Staff

While volunteers are a vital part of the functioning of every church organization, there are some challenges that come with relying solely on volunteers to accomplish key ministry tasks:

  • Your volunteer may be willing, but not in the right position. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard stories about volunteers who were very willing to serve in a role, yet they were not suited or qualified for the given role. What’s more, the under-qualified individual may prevent the right individual from serving where they are most gifted.  

    This can lead to an uncomfortable situation if the volunteer needs to be removed from the role. Often pastors will avoid this confrontation and just work around the situation. This creates more work for everyone involved and is not healthy for the entire organization.

  • Volunteer responsibilities need to be managed differently. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) has specific guidelines regarding the differences between employees and volunteers. While the guidelines for non-profit organizations can be interpreted broadly, this is something to keep in mind. Essentially the more say you have in what and how a person performs specific tasks, the more likely they are to be seen as an employee in the eyes of the law.
  • You are relying on their time commitment. Often, the volunteer’s schedule will dictate when things can get done. It is easy for the needs of the church to get put on the back burner. Things that are critical to ministry growth and success might not get done.

The biggest challenge to the all-volunteer staff approach is that the impact potential of the church gets limited. While we have seen a few churches sustain health and growth with only a team of volunteers, most churches eventually plateau (or begin to decline) unless they choose to invest in church staff. 

Is it Time to Hire or Outsource?

A great first step to increasing the impact of your church is to hire part-time help or outsource time-consuming tasks.

Think through how you currently spend the hours in your week. According to the Harvard Business Review, you can free up to 20% of your day by either eliminating or delegating unimportant and time-consuming tasks. What kind of impact could your church have when you are able to focus more on the mission and less on the administrative details?

Some of the most common tasks to outsource include:

What Happens Next?

We can’t tell you specifically what role you should hire for first and what you should prioritize because this is unique to each church. It depends on the specific giftings and weaknesses of the lead pastor, along with the vision and goals of the church. But here are some of the most common church staff roles that help churches make big impact:

  • Associate Pastor and/or Executive Pastor
  • Children’s Minister
  • Student Pastor
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Groups/Equipping Coordinator
  • Worship Pastor
  • Missions/Outreach Coordinator

We recommend sitting down with your core leadership team to dream together about the vision of your church and then sketch out a strategic plan and timelines to bring on paid support to help accomplish this vision. This will not happen overnight, but through setting goals, making informed decisions based on accurate numbers, prayerfully pursuing the vision God has given your church, and building a healthy leadership team, you will move towards big impact much more quickly.

Are you a small church who wants to have big impact? Give us a call so we can chat about how we can partner with you to grow your reach and impact. 

Before You Hire Your First Church Staff Member…Do This

If you are the pastor of a small church, you probably already know that there is a limit to what one staff member can accomplish for a church (at least without eventually burning out).

You’ve realized that there is a finite amount of time, but more tasks that need to be accomplished than can fit into that finite amount of time. Eventually there will come a point – if it hasn’t already – where you will need to consider whether to bring on additional help.

Many small churches and church plants will first try to make do with volunteer staff, but there are additional challenges that come with relying on volunteer staff for key ministry functions.

If you truly want to be a church that flourishes and experiences long-term health and impact, you will at some point need to invest in paid help. But before you bring on an additional paid staff member, there are a few things you need to consider:

1. Make sure you hire a church staff member for the right reasons  

Hiring that first employee is something that needs to be done with some forethought.

I’ve met several pastors that hired their first employee and in hindsight realized they did it for the wrong reasons. Yes, there probably was more work than one person could handle, but their motivation for hiring someone was really the belief that hiring an employee would mean that the church plant had somehow now “made it”.

In reality, when not done right, hiring that first employee can actually be a detriment to the church. After all, there are a whole new set of responsibilities and requirements that need to be considered once your church is designated an employer (more on this in a moment).

2. Make sure you hire the right church staff person for the right role

I’m sure you already know this, but never hire someone simply because you are desperate, and they are available. Conversely, don’t hire someone just because they are a good friend or a “good person”.

In the words of Jim Collins, “Leaders of companies that go from good to great start with getting the right people on the bus…and the right people in the right seats.”

The same is true for your church. If someone is not the right fit for the church or for a specific position, it can cause a great deal of harm. Before you hire someone, first think through the needs of the church. Then consider your responsibilities, giftings and skillset. Ask yourself:

  • What is currently missing/lacking?
  • What responsibilities should I offload?
  • Could I effectively solve these problem areas with volunteer help or by outsourcing? Or should I bring someone on in a paid capacity?
  • What are my areas of weakness and how could an additional staff person offset this?

If you determine that your church would be best served by an additional paid staff person, consider what characteristics would complement your gifts and personality traits. For example, if you are a visionary/dreamer, consider bringing on someone who is more detailed-oriented and gifted at turning dreams into executable plans.

3. Recognize that you will now also be a boss

Chances are you went into ministry because your life was changed by the gospel. You expected that life in ministry would involve preaching the word, discipling and encouraging others in their faith, and spreading the message of Jesus with your community.

My guess is that you didn’t go into ministry with the expectation that you would be operating the equivalent of a small business. And yet, as a church grows, the administrative responsibilities increase as well. Being a lead pastor involves not just shepherding people, but also leading the organization. When you hire additional staff, you become both a pastor and a boss.

In some cases, pastors specifically hire someone to oversee all the administrative areas of the church. They assume that by hiring an executive pastor, they will be able to solely focus on ministry.

However, as the lead pastor, you need to be aware of the health of your organization. Even if you aren’t managing the day-to-day details, you still need to have a pulse on how the organization is doing. And you are still ultimately the person that sets the vision for your church and that all other staff members answer to.

Besides, as a non-profit organization, there will ultimately be one person the IRS or state and local government looks to as the “manager” of the organization. As much as many lead pastors try to say they’ve delegated this role to someone else, at the end of the day it falls on them.

My encouragement to you is to not let this new role scare you. View it as an opportunity to grow in your skills as a leader and a disciple-maker.

4. Learn to lead your church staff team well

Even if you hire the right person for the right role, it does not guarantee ministry health and success. You will need to grow in how you lead and communicate with your team.

The moment you hire someone else, the structure of the organization changes. How you operate, make decisions and structure your day will need to change.

You will need to provide your staff members with consistent, intentional communication. This goes beyond just talking about job responsibilities and assigning tasks, but an ongoing dialogue that includes expectations and feedback.

Church staff check-ins

Set up a time to have a routine, intentional chat with each of your employees. In our company, I push to have a weekly “check-in” chat with every employee. Usually it only lasts 10-20 minutes, but these chats allow me to maintain the pulse of our organization. I get to know what’s going on personally with each person, while also keeping a handle on their workload and how they are doing. 

Church staff performance reviews

Secondly, you should have routine performance reviews. This is an area where many churches see problems arise. Let me describe a common scenario:

You hire a new staff member who excels at their job. Because they are a go-getter, as time goes on, they take on many additional responsibilities. As a boss, you are excited because it keeps more tasks off your plate.

Months go on and, because the work just keeps getting done, you never take the time to revisit the scope of responsibilities or hold a job performance review with the person.

Sounds great right?

It is. Until there is a problem.

I’ve seen things go poorly for churches in this situation several times. Either the staff member eventually burns out, or they begin to lead people toward a different vision. Instead of moving towards a united church vision under the leadership of the senior pastor, they end up sowing seeds of discord because the pastor and staff member are no longer on the same page.

Without consistent feedback, vision casting and dialogue with you, your staff members will eventually develop their own vision of where they think things need to go.

To grow a healthy church, you need a healthy leadership team pursuing the same goals. And a healthy team begins with how you lead your team.

5. Understand any new legal requirements and filings your church may be responsible for now that you have a church staff

In most, if not every situation, you as pastor are a “dual-status” employee. This means that you are considered a church employee for federal withholdings; but considered self-employed for SECA (Social Security and Medicare) withholdings.

Since you are already on the payroll, your church should already be filing proper documentation with state and federal authorities. However, if your church has not yet set up proper documentation because you’re the only person on staff, you will need to make sure you take care of all legal obligations before bringing on any additional staff members.

At a minimum, you should be submitting monthly or quarterly forms that detail payroll information for all paid staff members. This requirement starts the day your church begins compensating a person in an employment relationship.

NOTE: Before we move on, please know that it is NOT OKAY to circumvent filing payroll by paying someone as an independent contractor. The IRS has very clear guidelines and a person must meet specific criteria to qualify getting paid in this manner. Many churches mess up in this area of payroll. We don’t want you to get flagged by the IRS for mishandling payroll. 

Conclusion

We believe that churches are healthier and more effective when they have a strong leadership team. And a strong leadership team is made possible when your church is able to hire additional staff. 

If you’re concerned about managing the records and legal requirements as an employer, consider using our Simplify Payroll system. We’ll take care of all your filings and paperwork, so you never have to worry about doing it wrong. Our goal is to break down all the barriers that prevent pastors and churches from thriving. 

Bringing on staff members is an entirely new level of ministry that needs to be handled with forethought and planning. But when done well, hiring that next staff member will enable your church to impact more lives, while keeping you from burning yourself and your family out.


Finding Peace in the Pandemic

finding peace in leading in chaos

From time to time we ask a fellow pastor in the Oasis pastor support network to share a word of encouragement. Today’s post comes from Shayne Robinson, pastor of Redeemer Church Waterloo.

If we have not quiet in our minds, outward comfort will do no more for us than a golden slipper on a gouty foot.”

John Bunyan

I assume that we have found similar experiences pastoring through this Covid-19 season.

My heart has fluctuated from hope and anticipation for the future, to crushing uncertainty with discouraging rapidity. A heavy mix of emotions and weight stand on the shoulders of every decision. The lack or conflicting nature of information mix with my personality, struggles, and a healthy dose of input from every direction, and leave me feeling like I’ve just been choked out in an MMA bout… laying on the mat with my head spinning, gasping for oxygen, and looking for my opponent so I can rejoin the battle.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m the only one looking for a little peace in this pandemic ministry.

Finding peace in pandemic ministry

We have this tendency to buy into a concept that peace is the absence of war. We tend to think that if the war would just end there would be peace.

That’s simply untrue and we know it. We know there is something working far more insidiously against our peace than simply the outward circumstances of life, even if those circumstances include a pandemic.

No, the heart of the struggle is not the war but something which manifests itself emotionally as worry and anxiety, and physically as fight or flight. The heart of our struggle is fear and unbelief.

Two passages help us gain a better view of the peace we’ve been extended in Christ. The first, Matthew 6:25-34, deals with those things which affect our peace in the immediate sphere of everyday life; such as food, shelter, and time.

The second, Matthew 10:16-28, deals with wolves, betrayal, answering before rulers, persecution, and even death. I encourage you to go and look at these texts. Note which things threaten your peace and consider the peace that is offered in Jesus’ words.

We find a profoundly helpful framework in these texts and it revolves around this question: How does the Spirit of God work peace when our heart wants to buckle?

Here are three brief observations from Jesus’ words:

  • Peace is found in the knowledge of God’s character and nature
  • Peace grows as we apply that knowledge to the promises we find in scripture
  • Peace strengthens as we remember His greater purposes and work in this world

How are you doing, fellow pastor?

  • Is your lack of peace because you’ve been so busy living off of old knowledge of God?
  • When was the last time you spent time in the Word experiencing wonder at God?
  • Are you drowning in anxiety and frustration because you’ve not considered the promises of God?
  • Have you neglected looking to God’s purposes in light of who He is and what He has promised?

God’s peace is available both to you and the sheep you shepherd, regardless of season or circumstance.

I won’t pretend to have some mystically clear answer for what God is doing in this season, but I know He is at work. I cannot counsel on how and what to do for the church and people God has entrusted to your care. Yet, I do know that peace is a fruit of the Spirit which God has promised to work in the heart and life of everyone He has redeemed. It is available both to you and the sheep you shepherd, regardless of the circumstance or season.

I’ll leave you with a quote and my great hope that you would look to Christ and find peace in the midst of the remarkably valuable work God has called you to in this season. Grace and peace to you in Christ.

The fountain of Christ’s peace is everlasting; it is what no time, no change can destroy. It will remain when the body dies; it will remain when the mountains depart and the hills shall be removed, and when the heaven shall be rolled together as a scroll. The fountain of His comfort shall never be diminished, and the stream shall never be dried. His comfort and joy is a living spring in the soul, a well of water springing up to everlasting life.”

Jonathan Edwards