Critical Coverage Gaps

Does your Church’s Insurance Policy Contain Critical Coverage Gaps? An updated booklet by Brotherhood Mutual encourages churches and ministries to regularly review their insurance coverage in a rapidly changing world.

Consider:

Religious Freedom Protection: claims related to your church’s belief-based decisions and activities. Examples include refusing to marry a same-sex couple or limiting the use of your facility to certain groups.

Worldwide Liability Protection: are your short-term mission groups traveling outside the U.S. covered for medical expenses, as well as liability suits and hiring local legal counsel while overseas?

Sexual Acts Liability Protection: this would cover claims against your ministry or other innocent insureds related to a leader or worker’s sexual misconduct.

Security Operations Liability Protection: this includes claims against your church, its leaders and/or security team members when enforcing your security policies.

Traumatic Incident Response Protection: this would cover expenses your church incurs while responding to a traumatic incident; for example, counseling costs, legal counsel in responding to the media, victims, and to law enforcement.

Directors and Officers Liability Protection: offers protection for individuals, employees, volunteers, spouses of leaders for financial damages caused by alleged wrongful activities of church leaders.

Legal Liability Defense Cost Reimbursement: addresses issues like, lawsuit for breach of contract, employee claims of bodily injury not covered by workers compensation, and wrongful termination of an employee not covered by the policy.

Counseling Liability Protection: this covers claims against your church, its pastors, lay counselors, employees, volunteers in relation to counseling on your church’s behalf.

These would be good questions to ask your church’s insurance agent or broker to determine if your church’s current insurance coverage is adequate for the rapidly changing world we’re called to minister and witness.

This free resource booklet can be downloaded at brotherhoodmutual.com/gaps/critical-coverage-gaps.

If your church has questions regarding church administration issues, contact Jeff Ingram at Jeff.Ingram@LouisianaBaptists.org and at 318.448.3402.

Church Administration Resources are also being added here.

Rethinking Care Teams

Many Sunday Schools have organized the class to better meet the needs of the group. The goal of care teams usually centers on making sure specific needs of group members don’t go unmet, or they function as a tool for keeping up with all the people in the group. There is nothing wrong with these objectives, and they both have value.

Let’s look back at Flake for a moment. Flake emphasized that everyone can serve in some way in and through the Sunday School. What if we thought of care teams as a means of providing a vehicle for people in the group to serve as opposed to only as a way of discovering needs?

If we begin to think in terms of finding ways for people to serve, then we may also realize the fallacy of the teacher doing it all. We may be able to keep up with everyone in the group, but at what expense? We have people in the group who can serve, and we are cheating them out of the opportunity by not letting them do so. The greater goal is not about keeping up with the group. The greater goal is helping the people in the group develop and grow spiritually, and serving is a means of accomplishing that.

Creating Care Teams

Let’s look at the steps we may need to take to establish, re-institute, or redefine care teams.

We need to begin by defining what we are trying to do. In the past we may have defined the purpose in terms of keeping connected with everyone on the ministry list. Instead, we need to find a way of bringing serving to the forefront. We might use terms like providing a vehicle for serving, for making a difference in the lives of others, and growing through serving others.

The purpose of care teams is different from the prayer partners suggested in Chapter 2. Prayer partners are about building community while care teams are about providing a means for serving. Both involve prayer, but they do so with a very different focus in mind. We could combine the two with prayer partners being assigned within care groups, but doing so may impact the fostering of community within the group as a whole.

How can you redefine for your group the purpose of care groups in terms of serving?

After we articulate the purpose, we can then focus on the specifics. We need to define the expectations for each care group leader. Do we expect them to simply contact the people on their lists and offer to pray for them or will we expect them to do more? What do we consider a contact—text, call, or personal visit? We may want to incorporate a monthly prayer time at the end of the group time for care groups to pray together. If we do that, then potential care leaders will want to know that they are responsible for facilitating that prayer time. Communicating clear expectations to potential care leaders helps them know when they succeed.

Next, we can focus on determining how many care groups we will need. If we lead a co-ed group, we need at least two care groups, one for the men and one for the women. A good rule of thumb would be one for every four to seven group members of the same sex. The number of people assigned to each care group needs to be manageable and allow for more to be added as the group reaches more people.

Some may choose to exclude those who never attend, missionary members, prospects who have yet to attend, or those who attend every Sunday. It makes sense that we include everyone on the ministry list. The smaller the number of people we include, the less the opportunity to serve. We may want to create a care group made up of only missionary members (people who would be in our class if they were not teaching elsewhere), but we need to include them in some way.

If we have nineteen on our ministry list, plus four missionary members serving in other groups, we will need four to six groups (if starting with groups of seven, 19 + 4 + us = 24; 24 ÷ 7 = 3.4 so we round up to 4; if you start with groups of four people, 24 ÷ 4 = 6).

Once we know how many care groups we need, we can then consider how we will secure these care leaders. Every option comes with pros and cons to each. We can present the idea of care groups, asking for volunteers to approach us. Some who we never thought would be interested will express interest, which can be a pro or a con. We can identify people who could (and should) serve and approach them individually until we secure the number we need. This puts the burden on our backs, but we know the people we approach will be vetted. We might even consider a three or six month rotation system, giving everyone the opportunity to serve as a care leader in the course of one or two years. The only problem is not everyone will want to serve, so this leaves some holes. Some have even utilized an alternating month approach to involve more, but this also can create an inconsistent atmosphere.

What approach of selection do you believe will best serve your group and why?

While we are on the subject of rotation, we need to consider the length of time we are asking care group leaders to serve. Providing a set end date makes it more inviting for the recruit. In most cases, a commitment of one year works best. We can give them the opportunity to do it again after a year and may even give them a different group for which to care. If a group has a difficult time committing to a year, we might even consider a six-month commitment. The issue is setting a time that works for the group and then sticking with it.

How to Disciple Families

While it may be tempting to step aside from parenting and avoid conflict, the Brian Haynes encourages parents to do the hard things. The ultimate goal is to pass on a legacy of faith in God and strengthen the family relationship. Brian Haynes combines practical guidance and solid biblical truth to help parents who are navigating a challenging season of parenting. We know that we should make disciples, but how do we really do that in the context of family.

Session 1: An overview of how to begin teaching parenting and living in a biblical paradigm.

Session 2: Seven Milestones that should be recognized and celebrated in every home.

Four Church-Tested Ideas for Ministering to Widows and Orphans

As a pastor, one of my jobs is to talk with the men who have been nominated to serve as deacons. As a deacon myself, I know the dilemma that many men feel when they get the nod from the church as a candidate for deacon. Jeff, a young entrepreneur in our church reluctantly accepted the call of deacon. He said, “I don’t think I am qualified, I don’t think the timing is right for me personally, but I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that this is something God wants me to do.” Three months later he said to me, “I knew I’d be challenged but I’m realizing that God is doing something new inside me that I never would have experienced if I hadn’t said, ‘yes.’”

The role of a deacon began with a problem and therefore deacons are often thought of as fixers. In the narrative of the early Church, a number of widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. Someone had to step in to preserve the integrity of the gospel. That sounds like a hyperbole. How is a simple problem like food distribution threatening to the gospel? This problem posed a threat because Jesus cared so deeply for struggling people. Therefore we have to care for everyone in our church who finds a seat on the struggle bus.

Widows and orphans are real and symbolic reminders that our world is broken, that suffering and loneliness are palpable, and that the church has the great opportunity to reconcile, heal and transform their community through service and mercy. As deacons, it’s not that we have to do this. We get to do this!

Here are four ideas to help deacons fulfill the biblical mandate of serving widows and orphans.

Plan a Widows’ Banquet

Every spring, our church has a celebration for our widows. The deacons and their wives prepare, cook, serve, entertain and honor our widows. We decorate the Fellowship Hall and then each deacon couple will pick up the widows at their homes escort them to the banquet. The Widows’ Banquet helps us in a number of ways. For most of our deacons, this becomes an opportunity to get to know the widow, to understand their needs, to learn how to assist them and most importantly, to connect spiritually with them.

Mentor

Another mission that deacons impact in many churches has broad repercussions on the next generation. When we think about orphans, most churches would survey their congregation and say, “Looks like we’re all good on that front. No orphans here!” Look closer. Look into your community and you will find them. The orphans today are the kids in your church who have no spiritual father. They come to church without a dad. They suffer through the chaos and wreckage of a broken home. They are longing to connect with someone who can give them the blessing that their parents were never able to give them. Our youth leaders and Sunday School teachers were vital in assessing these needs. They challenged the deacons to develop a strategy to connect children and students with spiritual mentors from the deacon body. Every year we have deacons attending graduation celebrations after a number of years praying, mentoring and connecting with these students. I know a number of students who have received driving lessons, camp scholarships and scholarship recommendations. I can think of five students who went on to serve in full-time ministry and it’s my firm belief that the mentoring program was a tremendous part of their story.

Support young families in the adoption process

This cultural trend in many churches is cause for celebration. Young couples, burdened by the needs of orphans around the world are choosing to adopt. Often these adoptions are international. Deacons have a biblical challenge to help these inspiring members achieve their God-given mission. The financial toll can be overwhelming for many young couples. Our church and deacon body has joined them by helping them raise funds and celebrated the arrival of these new faces. This dynamic also helps our church family become multicultural. It makes our church look more and more like Heaven – all races, backgrounds and nations!

Partner with widows and widowers in ministry

Just last week I mourned the loss of a great prayer warrior. She was a 92-year-old widow in our church. Every Thursday I would get behind the wheel of her car as she would direct me to the homes of the elderly members of our church. She turned the afternoon into a prayer event as we visited and prayed. I thought this would be a ministry to her but was I ever wrong! Vivian was a blessing to me. Vivian threw all her energies into her new ministry of mercy and prayer. I remember her in the elevators of hospitals, in Bush Jewelers, and other places around town praying for strangers. She had a knack for discerning what was going on in people’s lives before she heard it from them. Vivian was an old school card-writer, spending hours purchasing and writing cards by hand and mailing them out. She wasn’t on Facebook. She didn’t need Facebook. She preferred face-to-face conversations. Vivian did as much if not more, than I did in ministering to her sisters grafted together through the loss of their spouses. I am sure there are Vivians in your church whose life will be extended because you partnered with them to minister to their friends.

Finally, get organized

Know what the plan for ministering to widows and orphans is. Create smart assignments for connecting deacons with widows. Chart out whom on your deacon ministry team would have the best success in mentoring to children and students. Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid overstating the plan to the church. Keep the plan soft-spoken. Otherwise it will sound obligatory or forced.
  • Encourage accountability. The main focus of every deacons meeting should be reporting, celebrating and praying about the ministry strategy. So many deacons meetings are derailed by petty issues! Keep the main focus of your Deacon Ministry Team about the task of service. Otherwise, you’ll miss the whole point.
  • Adapt the plan with time. Ministry to widows and orphans is fundamentally fluid. You’ll have to change throughout the year, so remind your Deacon Team to be flexible and adaptable so that you don’t have the same issues that arouse with the controversy of the Hellenistic widows in Acts 6.

Like Jeff, most deacons struggle with time demands, agendas, and priorities. Having a strategy in place allows us to do the work of a deacon, which ultimately will change the lives of widows and orphans and the deacon who is obedient to the call.

Prayer Boot Camp Resources

If you missed the Prayer Bootcamp, here’s some content to help you as you develop a prayer strategy in your church. These brief clips will inspire and aid you to begin making your church a House of Prayer.

For more resources visit: http://blog.lifeway.com/growingdisciples/

The Ultimate Fixer Upper Reveal

I just finished reading Joanna and Chip Gaines, The Magnolia Story. By the way, it’s a great read, even for guys like me that end up as accidental HGTV viewers. In the book, the Gaines share amazing stories of how their lives intersected and through courage, faith and perseverance God began to build things in their lives that they never dreamed would happen.

For me there is a biblical moment in every one of their shows, It’s the big reveal. They bring the home owners by their newly redesigned house with a huge photo of the pre-renovated house masking its fresh paint, new porch, replaced shutters and new landscaping. Of course, it’s the dramatic climax of every show as they roll the huge photo away, a moment complete with tears, hugs and ‘wow’s.

The biblical moment for me is the connection we find in Ezekiel 40 when God reveals to Ezekiel the New City and the New Temple.

He brought me there (to the new city). In visions of God, He took me to the land of Israel and set me down on a very high mountain. On its southern slope was a structure resembling a city. Ezekiel 40:1-3 (CSB)

This was God’s big reveal as he walked Ezekiel through the New City and Temple which represent a time when we all will see the glory of God’s perfect work. Complete with eye-popping design, renovation and beauty.

I’m reminded that this world is  a fixer upper. The societal landscape is full of weeds, leaky pipes, stained carpet, faulty tile, and messy closets. They present themselves as lies, injustice, starvation, human trafficking, hypocrisy, hate and dirty politics. But even now, God is at work.

We have the same responsibility that Ezekiel received in verse 4:

He spoke to me: “Son of man, look with your eyes, listen with your ears, and pay attention to everything I am going to show you, for you have been brought here so that I might show it to you. Report everything you see.”

We get to share the big reveal of our soon-to-be home, that Jesus is preparing. It’s what we do as believers.

Remember His promise?

 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you.  If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also.  You know the way to where I am going.

I don’t know about you, but after a rough year of lies, violence, injustice, terror, and protests, I’m ready for our new digs. In the meantime, let’s do the two things He’s asked us to do. Do “big reveals” of the Kingdom to come and  pick up a hammer and renovate the fixer upper we have in front of our eyes today.

Read the original post here

ReGroup Conference Resources

Baptists are good at talking about what we should do and how to do it, but do you remember WHY you do what you do? We exist to glorify God. We glorify God when we make disciples. We make disciples by sharing the gospel with the lost, developing biblical community, helping believers to mature spiritually and equipping believers to live missionally.