06 Dec 2018

5 Questions for Leaders to Make the Most out of 2019

Angie Lopez

As we prepare to tear the final days off the 2018 calendar, for many pastors and ministry leaders, there is a renewed sense of hope for what 2019 will hold. There is a belief that God is going to do something more, something bigger, and something better for you and for your church or ministry in this coming year. Many leaders ask themselves: 

    • How can I become more intentional about setting goals? 
    • What are some practical steps I can take to plan for the year ahead? 
    • How can we stay the course in the area of church compliance? 

Having spent the year helping thousands of churches and ministries start and grow their organizations, we’ve put together five questions we encourage leaders to ask themselves before the end of the year.

1.) Did we keep proper board meeting minutes?

Board meeting minutes are some of the most important documents that your church should maintain on a regular basis. They are the record and proof that your ministry is operating in a compliant and legal manner. Essentially, board meeting minutes are receipts of any decisions the board has made. Be certain that board minutes exist for all board meetings held throughout the year. It is also important to confirm that your board meeting minutes accurately reflect what took place during the meeting and 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 during previous board meetings. 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.

2.) Do we know what documents have to be approved at the beginning of each year?

It is important that the board sign a conflict of interest policy on an annual basis - even if one has already been signed. Chances are, you have heard the term “conflict of interest”, but perhaps you are not quite familiar with how it relates to your church.  The first step in improving your understanding of the relationship between conflict of interest and your church is to recognize situations where conflict of interest exists. 

In short, conflict of interest occurs when an individual with a vested interest in the affairs of the church (e.g. board member, compensated individual, or substantial donor), participates in a decision process that may personally benefit himself or another individual with a vested interest in the affairs of the church.

3.) Is it time to make changes to the board?

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. 

4.) Do we need to review and/or re-approve compensation agreements?

The beginning of each year is the perfect time to review, restructure, and re-approve any compensation agreements. Perhaps this is the first year the church can pay a salary. If so, it is important to determine whether the person receiving compensation is considered a minister or not. Additionally, each individual’s compensation must be approved prior to him or her receiving it. 

5.) What is our plan for how to handle donations in 2019?

Do you know the difference between restricted and designated offerings? Do you know how to properly handle non-cash 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 provides excellent publications on how to manage donations. Publication 1771: Charitable Contributions is a great resource for information on record keeping and handling charitable contributions. It 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 already use a donor management software or program, consider using our cloud software, Kingdom Steward.

Are you ready for 2019?

2019 is going to be a year of blessing and bounty, and it’s important to start ordering your steps to receive the blessings. God blesses order and maybe after seeing all of this, you’re wondering, “Where do I begin?” Call StartCHURCH at: 877-494-4655.  We can help provide tools to get 2019 started off on the right foot! 

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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