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02 Jan 2018

5 Questions Every Ministry Should Ask to Start 2018

Raul Rivera

The beginning of each new year is a time to look forward to the opportunities that lay ahead. It is a time to leave behind what we wish we would have accomplished the previous year and optimistically look ahead at what we will accomplish.

With each new year comes a renewed sense of hope for something more, something bigger, and something better for your church.

But in order for that “something bigger and better” to happen for you and your church, you have to be intentional.

In order to help shape 2018 into one of the best years for your church, there are 5 questions every ministry should be able to ask and answer. Doing so will help ensure your ministry starts its year off on the right track.

How to start your ministry’s new year off right

Taking the time to ask and answer the following questions will not only help your ministry to start on the right track, but doing so also will set-up 2018 to be one of the most successful years for your ministry.

Question 1 - “Do I have board meeting minutes for all board meetings in 2017?”

Board meeting minutes are some of the most important documents that your ministry should maintain on a regular basis. They are the record and proof that your ministry is operating in a compliant and legal manner. 

Be certain that board minutes exist for all board meetings held last year. Also, confirm that your board meeting minutes accurately reflect what took place during the meeting, and check that each set of board meeting minutes was read and ratified at the following board meeting.

If some of your board minutes are missing, or you do not have any board minutes, your board may apply the concept of ratification of prior acts, which is when the board retroactively approves decisions made in the prior year.

This is a temporary solution that will allow your board to document prior corporate decisions that should have been recorded in board meeting minutes. When ratifying prior acts, it is important to make your most accurate, good faith estimates of times and dates when previous decisions were made.

Question 2 - “Do I need to add more/new board members?”

It is important to have board members that work well together toward the same goals. The annual board meeting is an ideal time to update your board of directors. Depending on your bylaws, at the annual meeting you may accept resignations, add new members, and remove existing members on the board. 

(Recommended reading: “What to do When You Need to Remove a Board Member”)

Question 3 - “Do I need to review and re-approve compensation agreements?”

The beginning of each year is the perfect time to review, restructure, and re-approve any minister compensation agreements. Perhaps this is the first year your church will be compensating you or another staff member. If so, it is important to know whether or not the individual is a ministerial employee or a regular employee. Additionally, each individual’s compensation must be approved prior to him/her receiving it. 

Most often this will be done as a compensation package that is approved by the board of directors. If you need assistance, or have questions about compensation packages, please call our office at 877-494-4655

Learn More About Ministers' Compensation

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(Recommended reading: “What You Need to Know About Your Pay, Part 1”)

Question 4 - “Do I have a plan for how my ministry will handle donations in 2018?”

Do you know the difference between restricted and designated offerings? Do you know how to properly handle noncash donations? If a person wants to donate a vehicle to your ministry, do you know what to do? Does your ministry have a prescribed method of how tithes and offerings are counted?

Being able to answer these questions is an important aspect of being a good steward. Properly handling donations is of utmost importance not only for the purpose of church compliance, but also for the donors who wish to claim a tax deduction for their donation(s). 

The IRS has provided excellent publications on how to manage donations. The Charitable Contributions Publication 1771 summarizes responsibilities of charities and donors for different types of donations. 

Additionally, it is wise to use a program that tracks and manages your church’s donations. If you do not use any type of program, consider using our cloud software, Kingdom Steward.

Question 5 - “Does my ministry have a plan to start saving money this year?”

Whether your ministry is financially soaring or experiencing setbacks, saving little by little is always a smart investment in your ministry’s future. With such diligent conduct, your ministry will have a substantial amount in its savings account after a period of time. 

As Proverbs 13:11 (ESV) says, “Wealth gained hastily will dwindle, but whoever gathers little by little will increase it.”

Perhaps your ministry has been consistently saving money and has an impressive “cushion” in its savings account. Have you considered how to best protect your ministry’s savings? 

Sure, the bank can keep it safe, but if one day your ministry finds itself in the midst of litigation, your ministry’s savings and assets become vulnerable and exposed.

When your savings becomes substantial, or when your ministry has valuable real and personal property, consider establishing a tax-exempt holdings corporation to protect your church’s assets. The holdings corporation is a great line of defense for your church.

(Recommended reading: “How to Make the Dreams for Your Church Reality”)

One last question to consider to begin 2018

Are the dreams for your ministry big enough in 2018? Do not allow what your eyes can see and what your heart can fathom to determine the size of your dreams, because we serve a God infinitely bigger than our circumstances.

The time for change has come! 

Life is too short to live satisfied with the traditional way of doing things. There are “new wineskins” that God has for you and your church in this time and season. 

Therefore, why not start a ministry-owned business and break out of the traditional methods used in the past? Why not begin to utilize a new way of doing ministry business?

A for-profit arm is a ministry-owned business that is established to make tax-free money, which is paid in the forms of donations and dividends to the church. The for-profit arm exists as a regular for-profit business that is described in Internal Revenue Code section 502.

The for-profit arm is a strategy we teach at all of our conferences - a conference that is dedicated to teaching pastors and ministry leaders strategies to dream bigger dreams.

I invite you to join us at one of our upcoming Ultimate Church Structure Conferences. With information on church compliance and strategies for expanding your ministry, this conference is just what you need to start strengthening your ministry’s foundation in 2018.

Find a Conference Near You

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Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Blessings,
Raul Rivera

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About the Author

Church Planter. Speaker. Author. CEO. Raul Rivera has had ample experience in the church planting world. His current venture, StartCHURCH, has helped 1000's of churches to start right. Raul has compiled an array of manuals and software tools that help churches stay compliant with the IRS. He also hosts over 35 national conferences per year, training pastors on how to launch their churches. Raul is married to his wife Genel, and they and their five children live in Atlanta, GA.