Posted in Christianity Today

Five tips for professionals joining a church staff

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Five tips for finance professionals joining a church staff: Experts emphasize the unique rules and dynamics churches face.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | For Church Finance Today

Jennifer Neal wanted to conquer the world — as a woman, as a mother and as a financial controller at a multibillion-dollar company. “I was desperately trying to make my mark and have it all,” she said.

What Neal didn’t intend was for Jesus, as she put it, “almost taking a two-by- four to my head.”

But in 2012, when her Indianapolis church began looking for a director of finance, nine people emailed and encouraged her to go for it. Her career ambitions certainly didn’t include a ministry position. However, she couldn’t help but feel “the Lord was leading me to at least apply.”

After much time spent in prayer, and much deliberation over the benefits of a more stable schedule as she raised her three children, she embraced her new calling with the College Park Church in Indianapolis.

Although Neal took a significant pay cut, she quickly found fulfillment using her gifts to further God’s kingdom. “It just gives me a great deal of satisfaction in my position,” she said.

Even so, Neal readily admits that the differences between a church and a business is overwhelming at times and the learning curve can be high.

This article appears on the December 2016 cover of Church Finance Today, a publication of Christianity Today.

Posted in Christian Chronicle

Cold nights, warm hearts: Churches become homeless shelters

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Cold nights, warm hearts: Churches become homeless sheltersFrom Idaho to Maryland, congregations open their doors to strangers in need of food and rest.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

Each Friday night, a van picks up 15 homeless men in downtown Nashville, Tenn., and takes them to the Woodson Chapel Church of Christ for food, Bible study and rest.

Four to six weeks per year, the Dalton Gardens Church of Christ in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, rolls out mattresses and welcomes homeless parents and children to sleep in Sunday school classrooms.

On cold nights when regular homeless shelters fill up quickly, the Levy Church of Christ in North Little Rock, Ark., sets up bunk beds and cots and opens its doors.

Any given night, roughly 550,000 men, women and children in the United States lack a home to call their own, according to an annual federal report released this week.

“I was a stranger and you invited me in,” Jesus says in Matthew 25, talking about loving “the least of these brothers and sisters of mine.”

Taking the Lord’s words to heart, a number of Churches of Christ across the nation regularly transform their buildings into temporary homeless shelters — often cooperating with nonprofits such as Room In The Inn and Family Promise, leaders told The Christian Chronicle.

This story appears in the December 2016 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Posted in Christian Chronicle

A holy cure for ‘post-election stress disorder’

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A holy cure for ‘post-election stress disorder’: Leaders of Churches of Christ urge believers to put their hope in the ‘king of kings,’ not politicians.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | The Christian Chronicle

As many Christians see it, America avoided the worst-case scenario in a nasty election featuring two of the most distrusted, unpopular presidential candidates ever.

Other people of faith grapple to imagine a more terrible outcome than Republican Donald Trump’s stunning defeat of Democrat Hillary Clinton on Tuesday.

However, voters on both sides of the political aisle can celebrate this: Jesus Christ remains Lord, forever and always.

After one of the most divisive political seasons in U.S. history, members of Churches of Christ desperately need to hear that message, say ministers and other leaders interviewed by The Christian Chronicle.

Josh Ross, minister for the Sycamore View Church of Christ in Memphis, Tenn., warns that some Christians will experience what he dubs “PESD,” or “post-election stress disorder.”

“Be prepared,” Ross urges fellow church leaders and counselors. “It’s real. Offer hope. Encourage. Extend mercy.”

This story appears in the online edition of The Christian Chronicle.

Posted in Christianity Today

Where’s the money to fix this?

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Where’s the money to fix this?:
 Six tips that will keep a church from breaking the bank on big-ticket fixes.

By Bobby Ross Jr. | For Church Finance Today

Several years ago, members of the Bridge Church in Fresno, California, committed millions of dollars to a special capital campaign to upgrade facilities and expand parking lots.

But the church didn’t make a plan to set aside the future funds needed to keep its facilities running well.

“There had been pretty serious deferred maintenance for a while prior to that date,” recalled Dave Cowin, who serves as chairman of the church’s elder board.

When Cowin joined the elder board of Bridge Church in 2012, he proposed creating a capital reserve fund as part of the church’s annual budgeting process. The board chose to go with Cowin’s proposal. It was a wise decision that safeguarded the church’s resources and saved thousands of dollars for other ministry priorities just a few years later.

Like Bridge Church, many churches spend valuable time, energy, and money getting a building, but then neglect to plan — and budget — for the expenses needed to keep those buildings operating.

“They are more than happy to raise the money to move into a building,” said Tim Cool, chief solutions officer and project facilitator for North Carolina-based-Cool Solutions Group. But after they move in, churches “fail to plan for the fact that everything in their buildings has a natural life of deterioration.”

This article appears on the November 2016 cover of Church Finance Today, a publication of Christianity Today.

Continue reading “Where’s the money to fix this?”

Posted in GetReligion

GetReligion: November 2016

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Links to posts by Bobby Ross Jr.

In a town called Faith, voters offers clues on who exactly supports Donald Trump. Published Nov. 1.

Faith vs. works: Hillary Clinton’s ‘public and private faith’ draws CNN’s attention. Published Nov. 2.

MVP! Cubs’ Ben Zobrist – ‘a missionary in the big leagues’ – wins World Series again. Published Nov. 3.

#WarOnChristmas: RNS, other media jump on (nonexistent) controversy over Starbucks cups. Published Nov. 7.

Give it a rest: On #ElectionDay, a pretty kitty picture and a reminder of simpler times. Published Nov. 8.

Don’t write off capital punishment just yet — Tuesday’s elections gave death penalty a boost. Published Nov. 9.

Spiritual visions: Behind the scenes of Donald Trump’s ‘inner circle of evangelical advisors.’ Published Nov. 10.

Hey Dallas Morning News: Bible contains two books of Timothy, and Peter didn’t write them. Published Nov. 14.

Based on Trump’s win, it looks like religious liberty really is a thing — with no scare quotes. Published Nov. 15.

Heartland authenticity: Praise for one paper’s nuanced coverage of post-Trump Muslims. Published Nov. 16.

Hello! ‘The Book of Mormon’ — the crude musical — leads to a religious conversion. Published Nov. 17.

News reports aside, battle for heart, soul and LGBT stance of Texas Baptists is complicated. Published Nov. 21.

Thanks for the (attempted) correction, Dallas Morning News, but your story is still wrong. Published Nov. 22.

AP reports churches transcend racial barriers after Mississippi arson — but do they really? Published Nov. 23.

Who would Jesus execute? Dylann Roof facing death penalty in rampage at S.C. black church. Published Nov. 28.

Haunted by holy ghosts: ‘Devout Christian’ cop is so ‘blessed,’ but questions remain. Published Nov. 29.

Weird case of godless former sex slave: Hey Reuters, are you really that afraid of religion!? Published Nov. 30.