A Constitutional Republican Health Care Plan

Rep Paul Broun of Georgia is a unique Republican. He’s a doctor who has always bucked his fellow Republican doctors in Congress by opposing federal tort reform as an unconstitutional infringement upon states’ and individual rights. He’s a Tea Party hero for his strong, uncompromising stands against the growth of the federal government and the individual mandate in Obamacare. When House leadership pushed H.R. 5, the bill combining limits awards in medical malpractice lawsuits with another bill to repeal a key section of Obamacare, Rep. Broun drafted amendments to kill the unconstitutional tort reform and attracted the co-sponsorship of Rep. Lee Terry, another longtime Republican opponent of federal tort reform. Parliamentary tricks by leadership kept the amendments from being considered by House Republicans on the House floor, but Rep. Broun’s move was supported by conservatives such as the Tea Party Patriots and the founder of Tea Party Nation, the Heritage Foundation, the National Conference of State Legislators, and conservative and libertarian scholars. Rep Broun gave notice at the time that he was going to propose a health care reform plan that wouldn’t replace the unconstitutional Obamacare with another unconstitutional idea.

Now Rep. Broun has proposed H.R. 4224, the “Offering Patients True Individualized Options Now Act.” or the “OPTION Act.” Tea Party groups are hailing it as a true alternative to Obamacare, in part because it doesn’t violate principles of federalism. Avik Roy, conservative columnist and health care policy analyst, describes it in full in Forbes, and I urge 7th and 10th Amendment advocates to read it and forward it to friends and allies and support Dr. Broun. You can see Dr. Broun discuss the OPTION Act on a video on his website.

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There Is No Title That Will Do This Justice

There are few things easier or lazier than making fat jokes. Most people have some sort of disdain for the obese. It’s their own fault, put down the donut, etc.

In a way, I feel bad for people who are obese, the same way I feel bad for junkies or smokers, but at least they look cool in those American Apparel ads. At the end of the day though, none of them really want to be what they’ve become. A number of circumstances have led them to their fate; some their own fault, others that are factors that are beyond their control. There is a point in here somewhere. Oh yeah, regarding the whole fat people not wanting to be fat bit. Scratch at least one person off that list, but definitely make room for them on this List. A lot of room. HAHA, CUZ THEY’RE FAT! See how easy that was?

600-pound woman sets weight goal – 1,000 lbs
By Associated Press
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 – Added 22h ago

This girl’s dreaming big!

Donna Simpson, 42, of Old Bridge, N.J., already tips the scales at 600 pounds but says she won’t be satisfied until she’s porked herself up to 1,000 – to grab the title of world’s fattest woman, the London Dail Mail reported.

That’s why she’s gone on a junkfood jihad. But Simpson has given herself two years to hit the millennium mark. She earns her chow bucks – a whopping 750 clams a week – with a Web site where men pay her to watch her eat fast food.

“I love eating and people love watching me eat,” Simpson said. “It makes people happy, and I’m not harming anyone.”

“I do love cakes and sweet things, doughnuts are my favorite,” she said. She’s also fond of burgers and fries – an important part of her 12,000-calorie-a-day diet – and carefully avoids exercise. Simpson already holds the Guinness World Record as the fattest mom, 532 pounds when she gave birth in 2007. She says boyfriend Philippe, 49, eggs her on. “I think he’d like it if I was bigger. He’s a real belly man.”

I could probably create an entire new blog (same way I basically created this one!) about what’s wrong with this story. One post about that lead sentence, another one about the phrase “junkfood jihad”, another about this whole fucking thing, but I digress. I will say though… actually, nevermind. Time to shut it down (the world, that is.)

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Talking on Your Cell Phone in a Cafe

fucking important. You can’t help it.

One thing really important people always do – sit in cafes all day talking on their cell phone. Donald Trump. Oprah. Belichek. They all do it. They all are just like you are right now: sitting in a quiet cafe (where everyone other than you is sitting in silence), going back and forth between Facebook and Perez Hilton on your laptop, calling up your friends and convincing them how awesome you are.

If you’re going to a cafe, just turn the cell phone off. You don’t need to be on the phone 24 hours a day. There should be places to get away from that, and a cafe is one. Once the initial novelty of being able to be on the phone 24 hours a day wore off, you should have realized that you don’t really have that much to say. You’re not really that interesting. You’re not even a tenth as interesting as I am, and I sit here in silence. You certainly shouldn’t bother everyone else with your futile conversation when we’re all just trying to read. Talking on your cell phone in crowded places, cafes, while ordering food, while running, etc – on the list.

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SBTVC: What exactly is it that you do over there again? You work in public television?

PBS GUY: I work on the business side of producing some of the shows on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service). I basically make sure that we don’t overspend our budgets and use the money in the proper way as to not get busted by whoever gave us the money.

Which public television is it? Like Wayne’s World style or NPR tote bag style?

I have worked in both. Public access was a trip. A bunch of weirdos who all thought they were talented TV stars producing stuff that literally no one watches. Picture every fucking weirdo in town, give them an inflated ego and then put them in front of a camera. That’s what it was. It was real small budget stuff, volunteers from the high school and senior center, that sort of thing. One time I went away for a three-day weekend and came back to find that the channel was down for three days. Not a single call. Since then, I graduated to real public television which is the one always showing the Celtic Singers and shit.

What is an average day like for you?

If we are in production, it’s usually answering a lot of questions from producers about how things have changed and we need to reallocate a bunch of the budget in order to fit in to the new parameters. Then I go through invoices from our freelancers, camera guys, sound guys, etc., and try to pick out what they’re lying about. Did we go into overtime? Was there a meal penalty? Does their math add up? Usually they coordinate and lie about the same things, but when they don’t, that’s when you can bust them. Most of the time they are honest though. A lot of television is just prepping a bunch of shit and waiting for it to break down, and then you scramble to get it done somehow. It never goes as planned, ever. When we’re not in production, we’re coming up with new ideas, which is cool but also frustrating because sometimes you know you’re busting your ass on a project that is never going to take off.

What’s a good day for public television? What’s the big score? What is everyone working toward?

Money is ultimately the name of the game. You are constantly trying to get it. There’s a big misconception that most of the money comes from either the government or “viewers like you.” That’s not necessarily true. That’s just a cute branding thing for stations to make viewers think that they’re supporting Frontline or Nova or Antiques Roadshow. When you call in and pledge, that goes to the local station you’re watching, not to any of those shows. They use it for member services, events and local programming. Very little goes into actual production. Most of the money actually comes from corporations or charitable foundations (rich people). Juice companies, insurance companies, financial services, etc. all give support for a little promo at the beginning and usually an event involving some of the talent from the shows so they can plug their own stuff. Half the time is spent trying to get one of these companies to give you money for a show about travel or cooking or what have you. I do have to say though, once a company gives the money, that’s it, they have absolutely zero editorial input into the finished product.

Is it full of liberal weenies like me?

Out of the hundreds of people I’ve met, I’d say maybe like 5% of them are conservatives but even they’re not the stereotype of a conservative. They all believe in evolution and obviously don’t mind money going to the arts, but they might hold a few conservative positions. There could be more but if I were conservative and I worked there, I’d probably just keep it under wraps. There’s not as much political talk as you would think though.

Who are the pussies you have to deal with over there?

It’s always the people in any department that doesn’t have to do with actually making programming. They’re always bitching about the rules and you can’t do this or you can’t do that. Sometimes you just want to scream that the programming is the reason we’re all here, so just change it to suit us, but you know vis-a-vis the old hippies you can’t really hurt anyone’s feelings ever, so everyone just has to deal with it.

The other frustrating thing is when they put out for new ideas it always comes back to who our viewers are (old people), but they refuse to do anything that would bring in younger people. It’s funny too because you look at NPR and see what they’ve done and they pretty much have their finger on the pulse of what well-off, liberal 30-somethings want and they’re swimming in money as a result. They’ve made huge leaps in the past 10 years while public television has just kept on doing what they do. It’s not that public television doesn’t attract that crowd, but they could bring in so much more.

What’s an after-work outing like for the public TV crew? Do you go to vegan, fair-trade yoga cafes? Or is it just like a regular beers and whatever deal?

The place where we work is close to one of the biggest townie Irish joints in the entire world. I always thought before I worked there that afterwords, everyone goes to some cool place I’ve never been with awesome cocktails and everyone is young and good looking and discussing literature and foreign policy, but the truth is it’s all ice cold Buds and potato skins, while recapping the last 30 Rock or whatever else normal people are into. After a few rounds, the older people all get into their Prius and the younger kids onto their bikes or the bus and we regroup at around 10 A.M. the next day.

Be honest, is there a liberal conspiracy going on over there at PBS and NPR and places like that to steal our guns and make us gay?

I wish, but I don’t really find that to be true. I think that they are trying to educate people and engage people in order to cultivate some feeling of community or society. A lot of the programming is absolutely fascinating. You watch a show like Frontline and you realize there should be more programming like that, programs that actually explore a topic in some sense of depth rather than just feature people on opposing sides trying to bullshit you to believe their side. PBS realizes that there’s a market for the people who want more and they feel it’s important. They really do. They try to program in a way that engages people and gets them talking and evaluating and arguing and exploring. It’s not just this sense of “Hey, let’s keep their attention for 22 minutes so we can keep moving some shitty products.” They really believe in having a role in getting the conversation started without trying to argue one side or another. There should be more people who give a shit and I think they’re trying their best to reach them.

Do you think there’s a future for public television? How long before it dies off? What’s going to replace it?

It’s tough to say. There’s always going to be people who are a bit elitist in their viewing, people who want to hear how rockets take flight or what is happening in Pakistan, and right now public television and radio is one avenue for them to see and explore that. Obviously television is drastically changing and in the next few years, I think television and the traditional model for content distribution are going to go through changes just like print and music and movies. People who are under 25 don’t watch cable, some of them don’t even get broadcast despite owning HD televisions. They just download stuff through BitTorrent or watch it on the web or stream it to their televisions through a bunch of computer shit that I don’t understand.

The whole model of how you get content is going to drastically change but I think public television does have an advantage in that ultimately, people trust it. PBS is regularly ranked as one of the top trusted sources in news. As corporate conglomerates grow and become more intertwined with the creation, distribution and flow of information that we see/read, I think PBS can step in and pick up a chunk of people who are able to recognize that and want something more.

A lot of my liberal friends are always telling me to watch Rachel Maddow or Olberman or whatever, but it’s all just shit. It’s just spin and talking points and noise. Turn on CNN, watch it for an hour. It’s all bullshit. You don’t really learn anything. It’s like reading the headlines, you get a sense of what’s happening but you don’t actually explore anything in-depth. PBS does and that’s where they can really be an alternative.

Originally published on Street Boners and TV Carnage 

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Its like cockroaches up there

As you’ve no doubt heard if you’ve spent more than five seconds talking to me over the last year, I’m working on a book on the dive bars of Boston. I’m almost done, with some 105 or so in the can at this point, but I think I finally found the worst one. Or the best depending on your outlook. It’s called Upstairs Downstairs, and it’s like walking into the void.

This rough and rugged dive bar, wedged between a highway on ramp and a desolate few blocks of auto repair shops, and near one of Quinchester’s (where Dorchester meets Quincy’s) purgatory-like traffic circles, looks like a bowling alley with its colorfully playful sign. Inside runs with that theme as well, with video games, dartboards, posters of athletes covering the walls and other arcade-like fixtures. This sort of décor plays up the idea of how a lot of dive bars, even the ones where you’ll find largely older men, are really just examples of suspended adolescence at work. No surprise then that you’ll often find drinkers in dives reverting to their childish states. Yelling, drooling, nodding off for a nap, fighting when they don’t get their way.

Speaking of fighting, Ups N Downs, as it’s called, has a pretty menacing reputation in that regard. Fights over the past few years have placed the bar’s liquor license in jeopardy, and plenty of people in the hospital, on numerous occasions. Last Christmas a massive brawl in the bar spilled out onto the streets when a woman smashed one of the bartenders in the face with a bottle. This being Dorchester, he punched her right back in the fucking face. Every police car in the area was needed to control the situation. During another brawl one of the customers jumped behind the bar and emptied the cash register, while others made off with armfuls of liquor bottles out the back door. There are police officers on duty now on weekend nights in the bar’s upstairs area.

That upstairs downstairs demarcation is where things get a little interesting here, if by interesting you mean racially fucked up. The name of the place implies a sort of segregation. Upstairs is for hip hop, downstairs is for Sinatra. Or to put it another way, upstairs is for blacks, downstairs is for Irish. It’s the same old shitty story of Dorchester race relations played out literally every night in the place people in the neighborhood go to get drunk. Like that’s not asking for trouble. The bar, formerly known as the Pony Room, has been in operation for about 50 years.

“Don’t go in there. Seriously. It’s a bucket of blood where many, many innocent patrons have been assaulted,” my friend Dave tells me. “That place is an infamous late-night haunt popular with people grabbing last call on their way out of Marina Bay. It’s also popular with thugs from Quincy/Neponset who like to start fights with random drunks. If you want to fight or witness a fight, this is the place to go.”

Actually I don’t want to do that, but fuck it, I need to check it out anyway. For journalism’s sake. I almost get into a verbal fight anyway when I’m there drinking on a slow early evening. Everyone seems friendly enough on the surface. The bartender is cute in that trashy Dorchester way, with tattoos on her neck and feet. I’m drinking with a few old guys watching the game, and a seemingly reasonable guy in a Brett Favre jersey next to me. So what’s upstairs like tonight, I want to know?

“You don’t want to go up there,” the bartender tells me.

It’s like cockroaches up there,” the Favre fan says. “It’s fucking awful. It’s all black upstairs and all whites downstairs. Now you can’t have glasses to drink out of up there anymore.”

“It’s like Blue Hill Ave at its busiest.”

“It didn’t used to be like that, but then they started playing the hip hop.”

Wait a second, is this a joke? This is a joke right? I mean, I know Boston has a reputation, but we’re in fucking public here people. Instead I keep my mouth shut and my head down, because I’m a pussy. And what am I going to do, give a lecture? Kind of good to have some confirmation that Favre fans suck though.

“Ah well, as the world turns,” the bartender says.

“As the neighborhood turns,” another guy adds from across the bar. Then we all go back to staring at the Red Sox game, cheering on a bunch of black dudes.

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Saving parking spots on the street

It just snowed here in Boston for the first time, and that means a couple things: I’m not leaving the house for three months, and people are going to start putting furniture along the side of the road to call “dibs” on “their” parking space.  Our man Spoth56 wrote this rant a while back on the List, but same rules still apply this year fuckos. See you guys in April.  — Luke

Let’s just be clear here: I am not a lawyer, but I am fairly sure that you do not, and indeed cannot, own the street, in front of your house, or anywhere. If you put a chair or a cone in the street in front of your house, it is garbage and I should have no qualms about picking it up and smashing it into little pieces, then freely parking my car in the space thereby vacated.

Of course I will not do this, because there is a good chance you are psychotic and/or an off-duty or retired police officer and will key my car, cut my brakes, or smash my window as retaliation. But under the law, I am in the right. YOU ARE IN THE WRONG. YOU DO NOT OWN THE STREET.

More insanity after the jump.  

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A proactive approach makes a world of difference

by Brent Mullett

Audio, video, lighting and acoustics within the church have been a nightmare for many pastors. One of my pastor friends jokes that when Satan fell from heaven, he landed directly in the sound booth … and still resides there today. Although we chuckle at this comment, there may be an element of truth to it. As we try to get God’s message out, technology is an area – especially when not planned well – that can be used by the enemy to create distractions within worship services. He doesn’t care how minor the distraction is – only that it is effective enough to get minds off the message being delivered.

Audio, video, lighting and acoustics are often overlooked in the planning of worship spaces within a worship facility. Great lengths are taken to design the aesthetics, HVAC, carpet color and seating options, but many times, there is not enough emphasis and planning put on other important factors. After all, in most cases, the delivery of the Word is the reason the building is being built. Therefore, there must be clear and detailed planning to make the delivery successful.

To eliminate the headaches often associated with the topic of technology, there are a few relatively simple steps the building committee can take to ensure these issues are covered well in advance.

Ask Questions

One of the first questions that should be asked, in the early interviews with architects and design-build firms, is how they handle acoustics and AVL. Is it included in their scope or do they have someone that they recommend that can be part of the design team? Don’t just take their word for it. Check references and visit completed projects to see how they turned out.

Hire Someone to Help

After you have hired the firm to design your facility, the next step should be to hire an AVL firm to be a part of the building design team. The AVL consultant will make sure that the intent of your programming is followed within the acoustical nature of the space’s worship area. Once again, check references carefully. Make sure you’re comfortable with the people you hire and that they have a successful track record on similar projects.

Get Documented Details

Your consultant will create a set of progress/construction drawings that will document all of the details associated with AVL. These drawings will be included in the master set and delivered to all relevant trades, including the general contractor and electrical contractor. The drawings will contain information pertaining to division of labor, equipment placement, conduit needed and electrical requirements. These specifications should be included in the master set before it goes out for bid, or else you may face costly (and possibly inflated) change orders later from various trades who did not include the provisions in their bids.

Get a Guaranteed Price

Your consultant will also give you a detailed equipment list that should include a guaranteed price. One advantage of selecting an AVL design-build firm is that they have the ability to keep track of costs throughout the design process – not just from specified equipment but also from labor and other expenses. Once you have an equipment list, you should be able to lock in a specific cost on a contract for 12 to 18 months.

One of the most discouraging things that can happen to a congregation is to spend years of planning, go through a capital campaign, and build a beautiful and useful worship space, only to move into it and immediately have issues with poor acoustics, audio, sight lines and lighting. Unfortunately, by the time some of these AVL design flaws are revealed, there is typically no budget left to address them. Even if there were a budget to fix it, the cost of the corrective measures would be multiplied from what it would have been during the original building construction.

AVL and acoustics goals can be accomplished in a variety of different methods depending on the programming of a church. The key is to find an AVL firm with a consultant that has a long track record of successful church designs. Satan may still find ways to cause distractions in our worship times. But why not take steps to reduce the tools he has to use by starting with a well-planned technical design?

Brent Mullett serves as a project manager for Custom Sound Designs Inc. He has served on the design team for AVL projects in several different states. Reach him at 888.448.7890 or [email protected]

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A Path to Fundraising for Churches

by Stephen Halliday

There are numerous books, seminars and conferences guiding churches on how to build funds. Ranging from A-Z guides on how to motivate contributions to online seminars on the keys to financial stability, these guides offer tips on targeting major givers, linking fund drives to spiritual commitment, using personal testimonials and developing financial plans. However, as well-intended as these resources are, the majority of them fail to mention a key strategy – affinity marketing, in which churches can receive a portion of their members’ cable, phone, Internet service or other bill.

Few church executives need to be reminded of the economic crisis our nation is experiencing. The ripple effects on communities across the USA and world are great. Even before September 2008 and the historic bailouts, contributions to churches were on the decline. In his “21st Century Mega-Trends Impacting Christian Fundraising,” author Brian Kluth, who is president of The Christian Stewardship Association and a pastor and “national-international generosity speaker,” chronicled a decrease in the percentage of income Christians were contributing to their churches and organizations, and the finding that the percentage of Christians tithing – giving 10 percent or more of their income – was also down. Other nonprofits are experiencing similar declines in donations as many Americans are struggling to meet their day-to-day expenses in these recessionary times. Why affinity marketing as a fundraising tool is especially important today is that it enables a church to benefit from their congregants’ spending on ordinary products and services such as wireless phones, long distance phone service, cable television, Internet service, etc. The affinity marketing process is fairly simple, but does require sound strategies and practices.

What Is Effective Affinity Marketing?

Affinity marketing based on your members’ ordinary purchases is analogous to an insurance policy annuity. Your church receives funds each time members pay their phone, cable television, Internet service provider bills, etc. All that is required of the church is to partner with a vendor of these services whose business model is that of an affinity marketer whereby a portion of the proceeds of each sale to a member of the partnering church (or other nonprofit) is given back to that organization. This percentage of “give back” ranges depending on the product or service and the affinity marketer, but 10 percent is considered a competitive number within the affinity marketing field.

While simple in principle, the affinity marketing formula does depend on more than a church’s decision to enter into a partnership with a product/service vendor. To have a positive and profitable experience, churches should adhere to the following best practices:

Be proactive in communicating your affinity marketing program to church members. Use your newsletter, Web site, direct mail, e-mail marketing and posters to let your members know about the program: your partner and the products and services involved in the program. It is also helpful to launch the affinity program through sermons and handing out of materials following services when church members are “in the moment” and you can better capture their attention. To develop effective marketing materials, rely on the affinity marketing company’s team members. They are experienced in creating high-impact, eye-catching pieces that communicate your program and reinforce the value of affinity marketing in helping your church achieve its mission.

Select an affinity marketing partner that shares your church’s values, offers high-quality products and services, and has the resources to fully support the program. These resources should include a state-of-the-art call center equipped with advanced technologies including late-generation servers, large-screen monitors, Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone and plasma screens for the training of informed, well-spoken and courteous customer service representatives, who can readily access customer order information in real-time using the company’s Customer Relationship Management Program.

Designate someone at the church to serve as your affinity marketing program coordinator. This individual will be charged with liaising with the affinity marketing company and tracking the month-to-month performance of the program’s sales and funds generated. The affinity marketing coordinator can also participate in creative brainstorming sessions designed to stimulate new ways to promote the affinity marketing program.

Convey to your congregants the funds raised through the affinity marketing program and let them know how the church is applying those funds. This will reinforce the program’s value and the importance in their continued participation.

Adherence to these basic policies will lead to a successful affinity marketing program. By continuing your traditional fundraising activities (i.e. church fairs, annual pledges and capital campaigns) and supplementing them with affinity marketing, you can be confident in knowing that you are taking all of the right steps to generate a steady stream of funds.

Churches Embracing New Tools to Achieve Their Missions

Worldwide, we see churches leveraging leading-edge technologies to reach their members and broaden their base. Ministers, pastors and church leaders across various denominations are giving sermons and sharing their thoughts using video conferencing, streaming video, podcasts and blogs. In the same way that they have advanced their means of communications, church leadership should be adopting sophisticated techniques to advance their fundraising. Affinity marketing is a sophisticated tool, easily implemented, with an especially valuable role during these challenging economic times.

As President and CEO of Norfolk, Va.-based Affinity4, Stephen Halliday draws on his extensive experience as a prominent tax attorney, investment banker, consultant and college professor on tax, accounting, legal and financial matters affecting nonprofits. He has a Master’s of Law-Taxation from Georgetown Law School and a law degree from the College of William & Mary. He can be reached at 757.228.1722 or by visiting www.affinity4.com.

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A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Church Office

Continued from

page 1

…Susan knows that her church employer values and supports healthy families, always encouraging parents to be there for their children. So when Susan’s young son has an after-school ballgame, Susan leaves early to be with him. She plans to make up the time working through her lunch the next two or three days (but, of course, she’ll also eat her lunch during that time). Bob on the pastoral team knows part of his job is to build relationships. He also knows that he needs to be healthy and look good. After all, obesity and being out of shape are not traits of a good role model. So Bob arranges to play squash with a pastor friend from a nearby church twice a week. Before and after the game, they encourage each other in the ministry and share their challenges – they even pray together.

There can be several problems with these two examples. First, in some churches, it could happen too often and may even become the practice rather than the exception. Second, even if acceptable or allowed, such behavior is not often “spun” very well, to use a public relations term. Outsiders who observe only the action (Susan taking off early, not being available to field calls; Bob living the life of Riley, having way too much fun), rather than the rationale behind it, can be frustrated by what they perceive. Third, Bob and Susan might begin to lose the support of other staff members who feel they’re pulling more than their own weight. In short, the whole team will suffer if no one confronts the situation openly. Fourthly, absences (regardless of the reason) do impact the progress of work – especially the progress of team projects – making it more difficult to schedule meetings or have questions answered. This impacts the overall achievement of objectives. In many cases, the level of excellence applied to programs is compromised and the congregation is short-changed.

Practice, Prevalence and Necessity

There are many churches where this is not an issue at all. Each staff member puts in full days and, in some cases, many nights on top of that. There are churches with staff who follow the lead of the senior pastor and put personal needs ahead of work during working hours. (On a related note, I know of one former pastor who refused to see engaged couples during evenings or weekends for premarital counseling, expecting them to take time off work instead.) Some pastors take an approach that says, “If my people don’t understand that I need this in order to be effective, that’s too bad – I’m not accountable to them. I’m accountable to God and my board.” True enough, but the fact is that just taking that attitude (regardless of what one does or doesn’t do) may end up being one’s downfall.

Most of us who observe organizations with today’s various generations in the workforce realize the importance of a work-life balance. In fact, I believe God wants us to have a proper work-life balance. A church needs to be an important model for the community of how to support such a balance. It is, however, important to take certain steps in creating such a culture — without it becoming a monster you cannot control.

What You Can Do About It

Here are some actions you can take to not only encourage a work-life balance, but also to communicate it and keep it from getting out of hand:

1. Develop, get approval for and communicate widely your ideal work-life balance and the role your church wants to play in being a model for its people and the community.

2. Establish and communicate a policy regarding work-life balance for staff. Include some parameters – limits, notice or approvals required, arranging backup, making up time, priority of meetings, satisfaction of deadlines, etc. These may differ for the various categories of staff (office, support, maintenance, pastoral), based on need or other demands a church makes on the group. It is most important that this be covered during the recruitment stage, as well as in periodic staff sessions or training.

3. Monitor the situations carefully through the appropriate supervisor. Take action early to curb any evident misuse that can creep in. Remember, a policy is only as good as those responsible for following it and those charged with enforcing it.

4. Sometimes it is necessary to differentiate between what is predominantly a pursuit of personal work-life balance versus something that is predominantly relational ministry. Generally speaking, if I’m going to play squash, regardless of who I play with, that activity may be more personal than ministry, and should be considered as such. If staff members are spending time intentionally with those to whom they are ministering (e.g., a youth pastor plays basketball every Tuesday morning with community youth who come to the church or drop-in center), then that’s work and should be treated and communicated as such.

5. Review your situation and policy every few years, and make the appropriate changes.

6. Share the relational ministry outcomes of your staff’s various activities (e.g., how Susan has started inviting another team mom to your evangelism program or her small group) with your congregation on a regular basis.

7. Finally, understand your congregation’s possible perception of these activities and always be prepared to lovingly and painstakingly win them over with the benefits you have identified.

Perhaps it’s time for your church to reconsider how well it does work-life and ministry-life balances.

Ken Godevenos has served on and/or chaired several church boards. He is a human resources and church consultant, mediator and executive director of SCA International. Call 905.853.6228 or visit www.accordconsulting.com for more information.

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Alabama Church Doles Out 50K to Members


An Alabama church sees the good its members can do it the community, so the leadership has challenged them – and blessed them – by giving them $50,000.

Of course, Bay Community Church in Malbis didn’t give its members carte blanche with the largesse. Members received between $20 and $100 a piece with the imperative to use the money to help the community and those in need. They were strictly instructed not to spend the money on themselves or their families.

Church leaders have unofficially dubbed it the “faith stimulus package.”


Eyewitness News 9: Alabama Church Gives $50,000 to Help Needy

Related Content:

Church Encourages Attendees to Take Money from Collection Plate

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8 Questions with Facilities Planner Bobbi Dobson

by Ronald E. Keener

By Ronald E. Keener

Sun Valley Community Church (SVCC) in Gilbert, Ariz. built its
permanent 17,000- square-foot facility in 2003 after 13 years of meeting in a
theater, a high school, a junior high school and a rented church facility.
Weekend attendance at SVCC jumped four-fold during the six months following the
new facility’s opening.

With attendance at 1,100, leaders are now engaged in an
$8-million project that will add 65,000 square feet of space, including a
worship center, a children’s center, administrative space and gathering areas.
The issue on the table now is how to best outfit it all.

To answer that question, Keener spoke with Bobbi Dodson,
western-area facilities program manager for Hewlett-Packard in Tempe, Ariz., and
a member of the SVCC campus-development team. Dobson led the furnishings, fixtures and equipment team during
the church’s initial building phase and represents them again for their
expansion program that’s currently underway.

Ronald E. Keener: What few things are included under the
mantel of “facilities planning” in a campus-expansion program?

Bobbi Dodson:

“Facilities” isn’t
all colors and design, as some might think — there are at least four major
areas of concern that underscore the facilities function. Once you get into the
major-planning stages, a lot of discussion will focus around the following:
floor plan (known as the “footprint”) based on functionality; the size of
building based on growth, demographics and programs; master-plan review (and, if
necessary, realignment or re-evaluation); and budget — what you can afford to

REK: What three or four cautions would you offer a church
leader engaged in a building program as they relate to facilities planning?


Keep God the focus of your
project at all times. You’re building a vessel that will bring people to
Christ, and what you do and how you do it should all be to glorify Him.

After that central focus comes program development — making
sure your facility will fit the needs of church programming wherever practical.

Plan your best-case scenario and then filter out needs versus
wants. It will help you avoid having to come back later with changes, which
could add to the cost of the project.

Then there’s traffic flow: [You must] avoid bottlenecks both
in the interior space and in the parking lots. Our interior-traffic experience
at SVCC has been referred to as “swimming upstream like a salmon” when
parents have to pick up their children.

Third, consider subcontractors. Cheaper isn’t always better;
depending on the type of contract you set up for construction, don’t assume
that using the least expensive vendor or subcontractor is necessarily the best
and most cost-effective way to go. Sometimes you end up paying more in the end
for substandard performance.

REK: How is the facilities function integrated with, say,
construction, architecture or design?


A lot of planning goes on up
front in your project. The “function” of the facility you build is
determined by the programming aspects of the building. Will it be multipurpose?
Will it be a facility that serves the community? Will it have a concert-ready
worship center? Does it include a chapel?

What are the educational facilities? These are the types of
questions, among many more, that go into the planning stages. The overall functionality can dictate the type of design,
construction and architecture you will use in building your site.

REK: Are there a few things you’ve seen just go wrong that
church leaders should guard against in planning facilities?


I personally haven’t seen any
“bumps in the night” as such. In retrospect, I think there’s always the
thought that, We should have done this or If we could do it over, we wouldn’t do that. But
once the project is completed, we can’t go back.

Review, re-evaluate and be aware of changes — they’ll add
up and can have a major impact on your budget. Making changes while it’s still
on paper is most cost-effective.

My personal view is that you should be very selective in the
types of activities you get your congregation involved in when it comes to
supplying volunteer labor. Make sure you use those people who are skilled in
what they’re doing, available to assist those who aren’t, and oversee the
end result.

You can learn a lot from your own project experience, but you
can also learn from other churches’ building projects by talking with
[leaders] about what they did right and what just didn’t work.

Never assume you know everything about building the church
facility. Use your resources — surround yourself with individuals who have
vision, are creative and aren’t afraid to think out of the box, even those in
your congregation who are in the professional trades. If you’re using church
members as subcontractors, qualify them just as you would any outside
contractors. They can offer insight, ideas and even additional resources when it
comes to making some key decisions about your facility.

REK: How do you get the congregation’s best input regarding
facilities planning?


The key is to listen. In my
professional career, when we plan for new real estate, we sit down and talk to
the business-management teams and ask them what type of space they need to run
their business, how much space they need, and what specialty space is needed for
labs, demo rooms, et cetera. Everything is negotiated since you can’t
do “everything,” but in going through those discussions, you filter down to
what the true need really is.

For the church and the congregation, one approach I’ve seen
that has been effective is using the town hall-type meeting that’s interactive
and will allow your congregation to get involved. Have a structured agenda of
what you want to accomplish, and give them a venue to discuss their issues and
concerns. Allow them to ask questions and be honest with them. If you don’t
know the answer, say so. This gives them an opportunity to be heard and to feel
like they’re a part of the decisions about where the church is going and what
it’s growing to become.

REK: How do you achieve “taste” and good design in a new
building when there might not be people in the congregation who can offer it?


If you don’t have the internal
resources, use a reputable architectural and design-resource firm. They usually have an in-house staff of trained professionals
who can assist you in making the right choices for your facility.

Do your homework. Visit other churches and buildings you see
that are of interest to you, and ask about the designs, types of construction,
et cetera. If you see buildings with a certain type of finishing that you
like, take photos (if permitted). Share this with your architects. See if there’s
a way they can incorporate it into the overall design.

REK: SVCC is in the early stages of its planning. What will
the team become involved with later as construction takes place and the facility
nears completion?


Since we’re led by committee
(working as a campus-development team), there’s always something happening.
Whether it’s prayer from the prayer team or newsletter updates from the
communication team, there’s a tremendous amount of behind-the-scenes work
going on even now, in the planning stages.

The furnishings, fixtures and equipment team has been involved
since the onset of the project in several facets: preliminary budget setting for
furnishings; preliminary color schemes and design; and design review with
programming teams to address needs and wants of the different facets of
ministry. The technical team (sound, acoustics and lighting) is working on the
appropriate types of systems needed for the planned space.

The construction team is focused primarily on the type of
facility to build and is involved very heavily with the general contractor,
working on the preliminary plans. Meetings are already taking place with the
municipal officials and planning boards.

There will be a time over the next several months in which
this team will be involved with the architects to discuss design, color schemes,
finishes, flooring and more. As construction takes place, we’ll work with the
general contractors on selecting the appropriate fixtures and fixed furnishings.

REK: How do you deal with the range of costs of furniture and
other fixtures available?


You’ll spend a majority of
your budget on sound, lighting and seating. These three areas are the biggest
impacts on your congregation because if it looks good, feels good and sounds
good, people will want to come back.

There are a number of resources out there who work
specifically with churches to get the best pricing on products for your
facility. Some of it depends on taste versus cost, but there’s an overall
effort to get best pricing for whatever you need.

Use the creative talents you have in the church to provide
ideas, materials, sponsorship of equipment — there are many options to choose

Ronald E. Keener writes from Mesa, Ariz., where he follows
faith issues for the Church in society and culture, church renewal and growth,
and leadership and management. He is the former editor of Christian
Management Report. Contact Keener by e-mail at
[email protected]

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7 Ways to Get Foot Traffic to Your Retail Store

Computer mice might click, letters might be addressed and stamped, but there’s still only one time-tested way to help ensure the success of your retail business: Get customers to walk through your front door.

Driving foot traffic to a bricks-and-mortar store might seem something of a lost art, but it’s no less critical to the health of your business than it ever has been. Here areá7 tips to get your front door swinging.

1. Have a grand opening. Planning on opening a business in the near future? Make Day One as big a deal as possible. Provide food, offer door prizes, and serve up other enticements and entertainment to make the day memorable. And, while you’re doing it, keep tabs on who shows up.

“Nothing is as powerful as a grand opening to attract customers,” says Robert Smith of Robert Smith and Associates, a Rockton, Ill., public relations concern. “But, once they arrive, you should collect their names and addresses or ask for their business cards.”

2. Plan on holding other promotional events. Just because your business has been up and running for a while doesn’t preclude celebrations that attract foot traffic. Any promotional event that draws attention can be effective. Look into an in-store raffle or giveaway, and advertise the event as widely as your budget will allow.

If yours is a business that can somehow connect with a local celebrity — say, an author or sports figure — having him or her on the premises can bring in clientele. But, no matter what you do, make it sufficiently fresh and appealing.

“Promotional events have to be really exciting and different; otherwise, people just won’t come,” says Rick Segal, author of “The Retail Business Kit for Dummies.”

3. Make your business newsworthy. Foot traffic on the day of an event is one thing. Attracting business beyond that 24-hour window is something else again. That’s why it’s important to leverage media whenever possible. For instance, donating a portion of the day’s take to charity can win a flattering article in your local newspaper. Taking a completely different tack, investigate whether a radio station would be willing to broadcast live on the day of your promotional event. The key is to grab the attention of customers who can’t make it in at that particular time. That drives foot traffic in the future.

“The more creative the event, the more likely that a newspaper will write about it,” Segal says. “And that makes it all the more likely that customers will read about it and come check it out.”

4. Have a sale. Old fashioned? Maybe. Still, nothing beats the lure of something that’s less expensive for a limited amount of time. And, while the idea of a sale may seem a bit blasÚ to some, technological advances have made sales events more potent than ever before. For example, if you maintain a database of customers, contact them via an e-mail newsletter to let them know of upcoming sales events and other promotions. To further boost foot traffic, urge them to pass along your e-mail to others. That’s not only effective but exceedingly cost efficient, as you’re not dropping money on mass mailings that only saturates the uninterested.

“Offers that come with a sense of urgency are always effective to get customers to come to stores,” says Irene Dickey of the University of Dayton’s School of Business Administration.

5. Host a seminar or workshop. Boosting foot traffic doesn’t even have to involve a direct effort to sell a product or service. These days, education is every bit as important, as consumers want to know how to get the most out of what they buy. And that makes in-house seminars and workshops powerful weapons to build foot traffic. To illustrate: If you own an accounting firm, offer free tax-cutting workshops. Sporting goods stores can consider a variety of events, from strength training clinics to nutrition seminars. But, no matter the actual event, publicize it to the hilt.

“Promote the event via in-store signage, fliers, ads and press releases,” says Segal. “Home Depot does it and so does Williams-Sonoma. And look at how successful they are.”

6. Follow up with your contacts. Even the best-planned promotional event is of little import if you fail to leverage the initial contact. Keep encouraging foot traffic by staying in touch with customers. Let them know about events that may otherwise attract little attention. Encourage them to pass along the news with friends and neighbors.

“A great event is only half the battle,” Smith says. “If you want consistent foot traffic, you have to follow up, then follow up some more. Send them offers, special announcements or anything you can think of to get them into your store.”

7. Emphasize customer service. One advantage that a bricks-and-mortar store has over mail-order and Internet competitors is a personal relationship with customers. Special events can be terrific in building foot traffic, but what keeps customers coming back — and spreading the good word as they do — is the product knowledge and enthusiasm that can only be conveyed face to face. Things may be cheaper on the Web or via the post office, but getting to know your customers and what they value can trump those handicaps. And, in turn, can build a steady stream of foot traffic for the long haul.

# # #

Jeff Wuorio is an author and consultant who writes about small-business management issues, and publishes a monthly newsletter.

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Authors actors and religious leaders team up to silence hurtful words

The Gossip Ends Here
Authors, actors and religious leaders team up to silence
hurtful words

According to the National Education Association, 160,000 children skip school
each day because of intimidation by their peers. In a similar report, the
Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that almost a third of 6th
to 10th graders have experienced some kind of bullying.

Disturbing statistics like these contribute to a growing need to address the
issue of hurtful words. WordsCanHeal (www.wordscanheal.org),
a new non-profit group, is doing just that. Earlier this year, WCH launched its
anti-gossip campaign, which has already garnered the support of renowned
authors, celebrities and church leaders.

“The goal of the campaign is to promote the value and practice of
ethical speech in order to improve our democracy, build mutual respect, honor
and dignity in our country,” says Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, public relations
consultant. The WordsCanHeal campaign includes posters, print ads and television
spots on ABC, NBC, FOX, CNN and other stations.

“In the post-Columbine era we need to reduce gossip and verbal abuse
that is behind so much pain in our society,” says Co-Executive Director
Irwin Katsof. “The first step is for people to acknowledge that gossip and
verbal abuse cause real pain. Once people admit they have a problem with gossip,
they can take steps to improve their lives and the lives of the people they love
around them.”

Katsof is the author of several books including Powerful Prayers–one
of the 10 Best Selling Religious Books in 1999–and is also the Executive
Director of The Jerusalem Fund of Aish HaTorah. He is joined by Senators Harry
Reid, Sam Brownback, Tom Daschle and John McCain, who are proposing a “WordsCanHeal
Day.” The campaign has also attracted the support of well-known celebrities
and authors, including Jack Canfield, Tom Cruise, Harry Reid, John Gray, Goldie
Hawn, Florence Henerson, Bette Midler, Rene Russo and Jerry Stiller.

Dr. Robert H. Schuller, host of Hour of Power, has also joined the
anti-gossip movement.

“I am convinced that words have enormous power,” he says.
“They are either bombs or balms. They level us or lift us. They carry with
them power to connect with the memory system that can release healing powers or
destructive powers.”

WordsCanHeal is working to inspire at least 100,000 people to sign the
anti-gossip pledge. Those who do agree to think more about the words they use;
replace them with words that encourage, engage and enrich; see how gossip hurts
people; and work to eliminate it from their lives.

Braille Ministries Reach Across Geographic, Faith Borders

At St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Dallas, Texas, volunteers produce more than
1,000 Braille books of the Bible each year and ship them to the blind in
southern India. Ironically, none of the workers is blind, much less knows the
Malaysian language in which the books are printed, according to a recent Dallas
Morning News
profile. However, none of these skills is required by
California-based Lutheran Braille Workers of America Inc. (www.lbwinc.org),
a group that for more than five decades has provided Bibles and selected
Christian materials in over 40 languages. The only criteria to become a ministry
member is a willingness to devote a few hours per week to fulfill orders
received from the California headquarters.

The St. Andrew Braille ministry is one of more than 200 locations nationwide.
Elsewhere, volunteers at the LaPuente, Calif. work center recently celebrated a
10-year anniversary. To date, this group has produced nearly 400,000 pieces of
literature. In Saginaw, Mich., volunteers produced almost 2,000 Braile books–in
Spanish, Malayalam, English, Portugese and Burmese–in 15 months.

New work centers continue to develop as well, most recently in Cincinnati,
Ohio; Poplarville, Miss.; and Sun City West, Ariz.

Since St. Andrew’s Braille ministry was started 2 1/2 years ago, volunteers
say they have learned a great deal about where the books they make are going and
the people who receive them. Books are produced strictly in the Malayalam
language native to the coastal state of Kerala, located on the southwestern tip
of India. Here, Christians make up a very small percentage of the population,
which is dominated by Hindus and Muslims.

On the retail market, a complete Braille Bible printed in English would cost
about $800, and a Spanish Bible would cost about $1,200, according to K.M.
Philip of Mesquite, who’s from Kerala and since 1999 has helped educate the
group about his homeland.

“I wish more people would get involved in the volunteer work,” he
says. “They are depending only on volunteers to do this.”

A world without Bibles is nearly impossible for many people to imagine, says
LBWA Executive Director Loyd Coppenger. “Many who are blind or visually
impaired do not have access to a Bible of their own. This deprives them of the
opportunity to read the Bible that most take for granted. [What we do] is
possible due to our volunteer work force and gifts from loving donors. As a
result, thousands each year hear and read, for the first time, the message of
Salvation in Jesus Christ.”

Religion, Social Services and Constitutional Rights
A challenge for our time

By Valerie J. Monson, Esq.

The “charitable choice” section of the Community Solutions Act
passed by the U.S. House of Representatives has sparked renewed controversy. The
heated public debate centers on whether increased public funding of faith-based
social services can or should occur, in light of current anti-discrimination law
and the First Amendment’s religious freedom safeguards.

The less public, but no less important, debate centers on whether
restrictions on the autonomy of faith-based providers will eviscerate the
“faith factor” that makes faith-based delivery of social services
especially effective. It is in our interest as individuals and as a society to
understand the issues involved and reach a consensus. Only then can we identify
the best and most cost-effective ways to help the needy while protecting
constitutional and civil rights.

For many years, religiously affiliated nonprofits such as Catholic Charities,
the Jewish Federation and Lutheran Social Services have received federal funding
for social service programs. These and similar organizations, however, are set
up as secular nonprofits and must restrict the religious content of their

The charitable choice provision of the 1996 federal welfare reform law allows
religious organizations to compete for government social service funding without
setting up separate entities. Congress has since passed other legislation that
includes charitable choice provisions, including the Welfare-to-Work program
(1997), the Community Services Block Grant program under the Health and Human
Services Reauthorization Act (1998), and drug treatment programs under the
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2000). Charitable
choice provisions in these federal statutes bind states that accept federal
welfare block grants.

The nitty-gritty legal issues raised by public funding of faith-based
services are important and complex. Finding solutions acceptable to all is hard
work, yet the effort is crucial to our society. The issues include:

  • Application of federal, state and local anti-discrimination laws to the
    hiring practices of faith-based social service providers. Religious
    organizations are exempt from the Federal Civil Rights Act’s prohibition of
    religious discrimination in employment practices. The House bill provides
    that a religious organization will not lose that exemption by accepting
    federal funds for social service programs. The bill also ensures that a
    religious organization receiving such funds will remain autonomous from
    federal, state and local governments, retaining control over the
    “definition, development, practice and expression of its religious
  • Hiring practices have become the focus of the current debate. The
    exemption of religious organizations from federal (and many state) religious
    discrimination prohibitions enables religious organizations to hire on the
    basis of religious beliefs and practices.
  • Critics of the House bill have expressed concern about the impact of the
    bill’s exemption and autonomy provisions on expanded hiring by faith-based
    providers. They argue that allowing hiring decisions to be based on
    religious factors in federally funded programs is a giant step backward for
    civil rights in this country. Supporters of the bill cite the historic
    recognition of the right of religious organizations to make
    religiously-based hiring decisions, arguing that states and municipalities,
    as well as the federal government, should respect that right.

Application of federal anti-discrimination laws to delivery of social
services by faith-based organizations.
The House bill forbids discrimination
against the beneficiaries of faith-based social service providers. The bill
provides that federal anti-discrimination laws apply to the delivery of services
by religious organizations. For example, a faith-based rehabilitation program
could not refuse to offer drug counseling to people of a particular race or

Sectarian worship, instruction or proselytizing in federally funded social
service programs. The House bill explicitly prohibits sectarian worship,
instruction or proselytizing in programs that receive direct federal funding.
Those activities may be permissible, however, in voucher programs that provide
funds directly to the consumer, rather than the provider, of social services.

The definition of “religion” in determining qualification for
The House bill contains no such definition. This is consistent with
the fact that the legislation is designed to remove existing barriers to the
funding of faith-based organizations, not to establish a separate pool of funds
available only to faith-based providers. Any provider may seek funding;
religious or secular labels are irrelevant.

The requirement of an alternative provider for those who object to a
particular provider on religious grounds.
The House bill requires that an
alternative provider of social services of equal value be made available to any
person entitled to receive services who objects to the religious character of a
particular service provider, and that the alternative be unobjectionable to the
individual on religious grounds.

The display of religious art, icons, scripture, or symbols, or use of a
name of religious character.
The House bill provides that a religious
organization will not be required to remove religious items from public display
or to change its name in order to be eligible to provide assistance under a
federal program.

The controversy over these civil rights and First Amendment issues will
continue to play out in Congress and in the courts. At the same time, leaders of
both political parties are exploring another way of solving the problem.
President Bush recently established a bipartisan group headed by a former
Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania, Harris Wofford, to examine these issues,
identify common ground, and seek solutions.

Helping the needy, protecting individuals from discrimination and respecting
the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom are core American values.
We know that there is tension among those values. We can and should strive for
an intelligent, reasoned solution that respects and strengthens those core
values. We can and should care enough to bring our collective resources to bear
on the issue. This is a challenge for our time. Let us rise to that

Valerie J. Munson chairs the Religious Organizations Practice at Eckert
Seamans Cherin & Mellott, LLC and specializes in First Amendment religious
freedom issues. Contact Munson at (215) 851-8434.

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As a pastor I have a love-hate relationship with e-mail

Dos & Don’ts of Good E-mail Communication

As a pastor, I have a love-hate relationship with e-mail

by Gary Combs

Dos & Don’ts of Good E-mail Communication
As a pastor, I have a love-hate relationship with e-mail

by Gary Combs

ON THE ONE HAND, I can’t remember what life was like without e-mail. I use it everyday. E-mail represents a large percentage of my communication with our church members and staff. I don’t know what I’d do without it.

On the other hand, I hate e-mail. I sometimes wish it had never been invented. Discovering 97 e-mails in my inbox on Monday morning, after not checking it on Sunday, fills me with dread. Just knowing they’re in the inbox, waiting for me, I can barely work on anything else.

And I’m sure we’ve all opened the e-mail bomb that blows up our attitude for the day. It’s just too easy to press “send” on a critical comment that wasn’t given enough thought.

So, I’ve developed some “do’s” and “don’ts” of how to use e-mail. I even teach these to our staff and church leaders so they can maximize their communication too. Here they are:

DO: Use e-mail to keep everyone informed. We use weekly e-mail newsletters, or “e-zines,” to keep our people informed. Many of our ministry teams — the youth, the worship team and others — put out weekly e-zines. We send out a church-wide e-zine every Thursday that promotes the upcoming weekend events and sermon series. It offers news articles, calendar information, prayer concerns and other items of interest to our members. We try to keep the e-zine short so people will read it.

We also use the e-zine to promote our church website by putting only the first paragraph of an interesting article on the e-zine, with a “Read more…” tab. Readers can mouse-click to continue reading the item on our website.

We use a professional provider for our church-wide e-zine. It offers special templates, ease of use, multiple-contact-list storage, and usage tracking. It’s helpful to see how many “opens,” “bounces” and “click-throughs” our e-zines get. Although it might be discouraging for the pastor to learn that of the e-zines “opened,” only 25 percent “clicked through” to read his article, it’s still good information to have for improving communication.

DON’T: Assume e-mail keeps everyone informed. E-mail is just one form of communication. You can never over-communicate. People are always down on what they’re not up on — so keep them “up” on everything. Use e-mail, but don’t forget to use the church bulletin, pulpit announcements, scroll PowerPoint announcements before and after the service, mail fliers, etc. People often don’t ‘get it’ until they’ve heard something multiple times. Plus, as strange as it might seem in this modern age, not everyone has e-mail.

DO: Use e-mail to share facts. E-mail is great at this. Use it to attach the minutes from your last board meeting to all the board members. Send your sermon notes to the small-groups pastor, so he or she can write the facilitator questions for next week’s groups. (These will be sent out to all small-group facilitators via e-mail, too.) Attach recent photos from church event when you e-mail to the webmaster so they can be posted to the website.

DON’T: Use e-mail to correct or criticize someone. E-mail is terrible at this. It just doesn’t work well with anything that has the potential for emotional misunderstanding. I’ve made the mistake of offering criticism via e-mail. I thought I had mixed in the appropriate number of “warm fuzzies” before delivering my “cold prickly” by email, but the recipient totally misunderstood. They sent a very angry e-mail in response.

Rather than continue with a string of ever-escalating replies, I chose to phone the individual. Just adding the tone of voice to the context of the conversation changed everything.

That’s the thing: e-mail has no tone of voice and no visual cues. Communicating by phone — or better yet, in person — is much more effective when offering correction.

DON’T: Use e-mail when you’re angry. This seems an obvious addition to the above suggestion, but it’s just too easy to hit the “send” button. Letters have to be licked and stamped, but not e-mail.

Plus, e-mail has a dangerous second life. The recipient might decide to keep the e-mail and read it over and over again, constantly stirring them up. Or worse, they might decide to forward it to others in the church without the sender’s permission. (By the way, if you ever receive an angry e-mail, the “delete” button is just as easy to reach as the “send” button.)

DO: Use e-mails to get urgent information out quickly. We use e-mail “blasts” to quickly notify our members of something that needs their immediate attention. For instance, we’ll send out a very short e-mail that reads like a press release to inform of a member’s death and funeral arrangements. This keeps as many people as possible in the loop when something like this happens during the week.

DON’T: Let e-mail control you. Designate a portion of your day to e-mailing. Many e-mail providers and programs have an e-mail notification that includes a “ding” sound, like a bell, followed by an onscreen message that says, “You have a new email in your inbox. Would you like to open it now?”

One of the best things I’ve ever done to improve my time management is to turn off that automatic e-mail notification. I have a secretary for my phone calls (and an answering machine, too), but why do I have to read every e-mail as it arrives? I don’t. It can wait until the time I’ve allotted to reading it.

When properly used, e-mail helps me save time by letting me budget when and how much time I want to devote to correspondence that day.

DO: Add e-mail as an important tool to your communications tool box. E-mail is a wonderful tool when properly used. It’s great at keeping people informed, sharing factual information, making everyone aware of urgent needs quickly, and it can be a great time management tool, too. Just remember: It shouldn’t be the only tool in your tool box.

Some things require a different touch. A hand-written card is always more powerful when we want to communicate our care. A conversation over a cup of coffee is always preferred when offering a gentle correction. E-mail should be used where it works best. Don’t overuse it, or use it inappropriately, just because it’s easy to use.

For those of us in the ministry, we recognize communication as one of our primary jobs. When we learn the proper use of e-mail as one of the many tools at our disposal, we can use it to greatly improve our task of getting the word out and keeping the people informed.

Gary Combs is the founding/lead pastor at Wilson Community Church in Wilson, N.C. He has a master of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with an emphasis in Biblical Languages. Combs is also one of the founding members of North Carolina’s Innovative Church Community and serves as one of its directors, providing church leaders and planters with coaching, consulting, conferences and learning communities.

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6 Questions to Consider Before Starting a Building Campaign

by Brad Leeper

Continued from

page 1

3. Am I encouraging biblical generosity and stewardship?

For years now, churches have reaped the fruit of financial gifts that flow more from excess than from a heart of generosity and sacrifice. Givers need fresh, relevant teaching in biblical generosity and sound financial stewardship.

Studies such as Crown Financial Ministries (www.crown.org), Good $ense (www.goodsenseministry.com), or Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University (www.daveramsey.com) can help you teach basic biblical principles regarding money. Crown also has a special edition study for high-capacity givers to help you minister to their special needs.

4. How long should my campaign be?

The traditional three-year campaign was developed primarily because of the need to maximize pledges to secure a long-term loan. But with less lending options and cheaper alternatives to building, there is a trend for more frequent mission expansion projects with a smaller giving season.

For example, one church I work with just finished a massive construction project and immediately outgrew the space within months of opening. Ordinarily, the next step would have been to build an even larger facility at a projected cost of more than $30 million. Instead, they are opting for a multisite strategy at less than 10 percent of that cost. The church, rather than pursuing the standard three-year giving season, is looking for financial gifts within the next nine months only. The cash will be in hand when the multisites are launched, and no bank loan will be required. If the multisites are successful, they will tackle another campaign within the year.

Should your church consider a series of smaller campaigns over three years rather than one large one? Here are some of the advantages:

  • Members today are much more comfortable with short-term commitments because of uncertainty about their jobs or financial investments.
  • Bank loans are not necessary for many projects now if you can raise the necessary resources in a shorter amount of time.
  • Supporters favor paying as they go in projects rather than committing the church to long-term debt in these times.

5. How am I communicating to each giver?

A traditional campaign assumes that most of the communication is one-size-fits-all. Just like our culture, church populations have diverse and unique groups that have their own special needs. So the conversation must be customized for each of those groups. An expensive brochure or creative video alone will no longer be adequate. Intentional layers of communication spread out over more time are more effective.

High-capacity givers need one level of conversation, and within this group, there are as many female givers as male. Newcomers require a glossary of terms because they are just encountering the process. Lay leaders have different expectations and should be engaged on a deeper level. In this sense, communication has become far more complex. You will need to take more time to communicate deliberately with your various groups of givers to maximize their financial investment.

6. Am I giving people what they need to connect?

In classic capital campaigns, most of the information is communicated in a five-week window, assuming that people are in church each of those five weeks. But the idea that projects can be launched and completed in less than 40 days will no longer be the best practice.

It is very rare for people to be physically present in church every Sunday. Online social networking and other cultural shifts have changed how we communicate. People now long for intimacy, affinity and community within an authentic context. To engage the heart, mind, and money of their people, churches are radically shifting how they tell their stories.

In addition to providing a brochure, you need to focus on fostering conversation. Create places of dialogue where givers can get face-to-face with you and other visionaries in an intimate setting. Churches that generate a steady stream of meaningful communication in the six to nine months prior to the actual public phase of the campaign often build momentum to a tipping point that culminates in a successful financial outpouring.

While you may wonder if some of these trends are relevant for your church, there’s no doubt that the traditional campaign is evolving. I pray that these questions will help your church adapt to new methods of ministry expansion beyond anything you have ever hoped or imagined.

Brad Leeper is a senior strategist at Generis (www.generis.com), one of the nation’s leaders in church giving and generosity counsel. As a specialist in multisite strategy and other pioneering church movements, Leeper works with all types of churches across the U.S. to help them advance the Kingdom in their community.

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Autumn Winds Are Blowing

Well, okay, maybe they’re not.

You’re probably still battling your on-the-blink air-conditioner, slathering the kids in SPF40 and actually using your pool for once. The last thing you want to think about is your fall festival. Still, like it or not, the lazy days of summer are the perfect time to start planning.

And boy, have you got your work cut out! I remember the annual fall bazaar at our church was a very big deal to my family. While Mom busied herself in the pie room and Dad refereed the sack races, we kids whizzed back and forth between the book fair, fishing pond (Read: stick + string + clothespin = oodles of prizes), cakewalk and Bingo—lots of Bingo. Normally, this particular game would not register so much as a blip on our radar screen o’ fun where there was PacMan on Atari and Hot Wheels to race around their little track. Nevertheless, we looked forward to the bazaar and all its old fashioned fun every year.

Of course, autumn heralds another event: Halloween. A number of studies have gauged various faith groups’ attitudes toward the day.

Not surprisingly, quite a few faithful families— nearly 30 percent, according to one Focus on the Family poll—said they would turn out the lights and ignore it altogether this year. On other hand, the same poll showed nearly as many Christians (29 percent) said they enjoyed the costumes and candy. Moreover, they planned to organize fall festivals at their churches that included these elements.

The challenge, which can feel like a water into-wine-size commission, is to make this outreach fun. You don’t want to dilute your Christian message, but you also know that whatever you do must be entertaining enough that the youngest members won’t feel “punished” for their faith.

Fortunately, some trailblazing churches have managed to walk this line very well, and their creative alternatives are food for thought. In Connecticut, for instance, one church hosts a harvest festival/outreach event starring puppets.

To counter children’s fears of ghouls and goblins, they perform a skit called “Jesus Protects Me” and lead a sing-along of Veggie Tales tunes, including “God Is Bigger.”

Meanwhile in Hickory, La., two Christian business owners host the Corny Harvest Festival, featuring a “fear-free” maze, hayrides and Pumpkin Parables story hour. Wacky costumes are encouraged, but anyone who shows up as a ghoulish character is funneled off to the Goblin Rehab Center. There, with the help of a hairstylist and a face painter, they are transformed into funny new characters.

Other activities are much simpler to organize.

Every year, thousands of churches order scripture mints, gum and candies from CTA Inc. (www.ctainc.com) and distribute them to members to hand out at home on Halloween night. And the American Tract Society (www.atstracts.org) offers some terrific kid friendly tracts in its Halloween Rescue Kit.

Candy is taped to each tract—a sweet treat for the palate and soul.

These are just a few ideas, and more follow on page 12. But no matter what you do about Halloween this year, remember one thing: None of these alternatives “celebrate” the day. Obviously, glorifying darkness is not an option—but turning it into light is a great trick.

RaeAnn Slaybaugh
[email protected]

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National Karaoke Week


Each year, National Karaoke Week is celebrated during the last week of April. For all you fans of this sometimes embarrassing, always entertaining hobby, you’ll be delighted to find karaoke events being organized all over the country as we pay tribute to the art of amusing amateur singing.

To really celebrate National Karaoke Week, you simply can’t appreciate it from a distance. I urge all of you to take those headphones off your ears, turn off the radio, and get on stage to give it a try! And just remember…there’s no such thing as a bad karaoke artist, especially during this celebratory week!

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National Call In Single Day (Calling in Love-sick Doesn’t Count!)

Valentine’s Day is a great time to express yourself and show the one you love most just how much you care. For all you singles out there, this can be a pretty lonely day.

But don’t worry because you’re in luck! Today no longer has to be Valentine’s Day! From here on out, it’s National Call In Single Day. Singles all across the country are encouraged to pick up the phone, take a day off from work, and set aside some time for themselves. Nobody can love you like you, so make sure you love yourself a lot today.

So go on out and do things for YOU. Take a walk, spit at passing couples walking hand-in-hand, eat copious amounts of chocolates, chase your shadow, and do whatever else you single people do, just make sure you enjoy yourself. If all that alone time eventually gets to you, you could always pickup some games and gadgets to pass the time.

***Attention, for all those who seek to avoid this holiday next year***

Instead of using today to enjoy and appreciate yourself, go out and find some other lonely singles to celebrate with. Who knows, you two could hit it off and next year you’ll be the one needing to pickup some Valentine’s Day gifts!

Hey, it could happen.

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