More on Churches and Tax Exemption

170111tax-exempt-torn-paperIn a  previous article, we examined churches and their exemption status under federal and Tennessee laws. Now, we look at the third level of church tax exemption – local property tax.

In Tennessee, property tax is actually a joint state and county matter. The state Board of Equalization ensures that property tax matters are handled consistently and based on state law. However, since the majority of the work on property matters is handled in county offices, most people consider property tax a local matter. Continue reading “More on Churches and Tax Exemption”

Five DOM Lessons About Bivocational Pastors and Churches

bible-tools-bivoThe 18 years I served as a director of mission (DOM) were in an association that had a greater percentage of bivocational pastors and churches than full-time pastors and churches. Obviously I needed to learn quickly how to encourage, support and communicate with those in bivocational ministry.

Here are five lessons I had to learn if I wanted to be effective in working with bivocational pastors and churches: Continue reading “Five DOM Lessons About Bivocational Pastors and Churches”

Seven Steps to Enlisting Sunday School Leaders

161116light-bulb-hand-select-choose-new-ideaThe 2016 U.S. presidential election was quite a spectacle! During the primaries, the Republicans seemed to get a new candidate every day. Then there was the general election campaign to elect the new President!

You don’t want your process of selecting Sunday school leaders to look like that!

Sunday school leaders should be enlisted not elected. Nominating committees work diligently to enlist volunteers for various positions of leadership in the church. A few Sunday school classes actually elect their teacher. The teacher of these classes often accept the task of teaching, but will they cooperate with church leaders to understand Sunday school as a strategy for growing the church? Continue reading “Seven Steps to Enlisting Sunday School Leaders”

Four Foundations to Grow a Great Sunday School

161102girl-hand-reading-open-bibleTony Evans told a story about lying in bed and noticing a crack in the ceiling. He calls a painter and the painter repairs the crack and repaints. A few months later, Tony looks up and notices the crack had reappeared. A little annoyed, he calls the painter and he once again repairs the crack and repaints. A few more months go by and the crack again reappears. This time Tony calls a different painter. The painter observes the damaged ceiling and says he can’t help. Tony asks him, “What do you mean? You’re a painter!” The painter replies that, of course, he could repair the crack and repaint, but that isn’t the problem. The problem is that the house’s foundations are shifting. Continue reading “Four Foundations to Grow a Great Sunday School”

Five Proven Means of Strengthening Your Church

161012church-interior-blur-backgroundPastors and other church leaders often are deeply concerned about the weakness of a church. The congregation may be clearly unhealthy, or perhaps it just doesn’t exhibit the vibrant, reproducing life of a healthy church.

In both cases, 1 Thessalonians 5:11-23 shows us five proven means for strengthening a church. Continue reading “Five Proven Means of Strengthening Your Church”

Barnabas: Our Role Model for Generosity

160622hands-holding-white-heart-generosityWhat’s so special about a “role model”?

Many people in Scripture have served as role models in my life. One of my favorite role models as a Christian leader is Barnabas. He gives us a wonderful blueprint of how to live out our calling as Christian leaders.

The word I associate most often with Barnabas is ‘generosity.’ Let’s take a look at some ways generosity characterized his life and ministry. Continue reading “Barnabas: Our Role Model for Generosity”

First Show Up, Then Participate

160517sbc2There is an old expression that states that about 80 percent of life is just showing up. That may be true, but it begs the question: So what do you do once you get there? That’s easy. Participate.

That would be my advice to any minister or messenger wondering whether to attend the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting, and especially this meeting coming up in a few weeks in St. Louis. Show up and participate.

Personally, I believe every Southern Baptist Convention meeting is important. Look back through our history and the annual meetings are key markers on our journey as a denomination. Yes, we’ve tackled some tough issues along the way, but as the largest evangelical network of churches in the United States gathered via elected messengers, we have collectively committed through the years to embrace the centrality of the gospel of Jesus Christ communicated through an inerrant Scripture. Continue reading “First Show Up, Then Participate”

Do You Suffer From Spiritual Inertia?

bible-or-tv-remoteWinston Churchill could see the dark clouds gathering above Germany and drifting across Europe. It was the early 1930s and the future British Prime Minister repeatedly sounded the alarm at the growing German military might under the direction of Adolph Hitler. Churchill was often shouted down and ridiculed for what many considered much ado about nothing. The “British Bulldog” recognized his countrymen were overcome with a “political inertia” that endangered Great Britain’s future. “Spiritual inertia” endangers Christians, and especially pastors and ministry leaders if they don’t remain vigilant. The word inertia means, “lack of movement or continuous movement in a particular direction unless affected by something that alters that direction.” Another way we might define inertia is, “stuck in a rut.” Continue reading “Do You Suffer From Spiritual Inertia?”

Are We Pressing Ahead or Falling Behind?

two-way-signLooking across the field at the opponent, it was easy to feel confident. After all, the advance scouts had done their homework, assessed the opposing side’s strengths and weaknesses, and determined this was victory for the taking. Show up, execute the plan, and walk away with the usual rout.

Only problem was, this time it wasn’t the underestimation of the opponent’s ability that led to resounding defeat. It was the underestimation of the dominant “team’s” pride and arrogance. Continue reading “Are We Pressing Ahead or Falling Behind?”

Prioritize with No’s

The winningest collegiate football coach of all time is not Paul “Bear” Bryant, Joe Paterno, Bobby Bowden, Eddie Robinson, or Amos Alonzo Stagg.  And on the very short list of coaches with over 300 wins is one of our own—Carson-Newman University’s coach Ken Sparks.

But the man at the top of the list is John Gagliardi who retired in 2012 after a 64 year head coaching career, 60 of which were at St. John’s University in Minnesota.  He won four national championships and 30 conference championships.  He won an astonishing 489 games.  Coach Gagliardi’s story is remarkable.  His strategy for winning is radical.  He won with no’s:

No tackling in practice.
No full contact practices.
No calling him “coach.”
No blowing whistles.
No lifting weights.
No practice over 90 minutes.

The coach had a limited agenda of a few focused excellent priorities that led to a lot of winning.  As Vance Havner said, “The Apostle Paul said…‘this one thing I do…’ not these 1,000 things I dabble with.”  There is the great power of focusing on a few important priorities.  But to get there you’ve got to say “no” to lesser things.  It is pretty radical and against human nature for most of us to understand that we must say no to many things in order to live our lives seeing that which matters most really matters most.  For the sake of your marriage and family, what is it you need to pronounce an emphatic “no” over?  For the sake of a victorious walk with the Lord, what “no” is needed in your personal life?  For the sake of a growing ministry, what must be excluded?

Some things we can’t do in order to accomplish that which we must do.  Dabbling with a thousand things gets pretty tiring.  Focusing on a few very impactful and important high priorities brings energy, life, and Godly success.  Our Lord said it like this in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness…”  Our priorities cannot be based upon our wants, but upon His will.  Are you seeking those things which matter most to the very heart of God?  Under His Lordship, prioritize your life and learn the power of saying a gracious, “no.”

It is a joy to be with you on this journey.