Administration Matters

A bimonthly e-newsletter for ELCA congregational and synodical leaders. It addresses common, practical issues including finance, governance, risk management, tax, legal concerns and topics of interest about day to day operations and management in church settings.

Index of the May 2016 Issue

Issue 46 of Administration Matters

Future Directions for the ELCA
Our Presiding Bishop, Elizabeth Eaton, is inviting us into a conversation about the future identity, direction and priorities of the ELCA. This discernment process, Called Forward Together in Christ, involves listening to God and to one another, and it is spreading across members, congregations, synods, social ministries, educational institutions and the churchwide office. Join the conversation. >More

The new ELCA Federal Credit Union will open soon
The new ELCA Federal Credit Union, with offices in the Lutheran Center Building in Chicago, will soon be open for business. The grand opening celebration will be Monday, June 6. ELCA members, congregations, synods and the churchwide organization—and their employees—are all eligible to join the credit union to take advantage of a portfolio of deposit accounts, loans and other services. This new ELCA-sponsored credit union supports the ELCA’s mission to promote responsible stewardship of members’ and congregations’ financial resources. Because this is a financial cooperative, credit union members will see more competitive rates on deposits and loans, fewer fees and enhanced services. Learn more by visiting the credit union website, As a financial institution rooted in your faith community, the ELCA Federal Credit Union looks forward to serving you. >More

Online giving options for congregations and synods
This guide outlines factors to consider when deciding how to offer online giving for your congregation. A companion spreadsheet helps you prioritize which features are important to you and compare pricing for vendors of online giving services. >More

Protecting offerings – who would steal from us?
Your church should be a place of peace and a safe haven for worshiping and experiencing God’s love and grace. But what happens when crime and violence breach the church doors? >More

Questions about buildings and property
Church property is often underutilized and can be a valuable community resource. The ELCA has resources to help answer your questions about opening your space to community groups and organizations, whether on a one-time basis or for regular use. >More

How to take inventory with limited time and resources
Everyone knows that having an inventory of the valuable items in your church is a good idea. Should disaster strike, that video, list, or collection of receipts will speed up the settlement process. >More


Index of the March 2016 Issue

Issue 45 of Administration Matters

Crime prevention for your congregation
It’s impossible to predict when and where crime will strike. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared. By starting a crime prevention program now, you are helping protect your worship center and congregation. >More

Security questions you should ask every church management software provider
More church management software solutions are advertising as operating “in the cloud.” This article looks at two aspects of data security – the cloud and datacenter security. It lists questions you can ask as you compare the various software solutions from a data security perspective. >More

Tax guide for pastors
Portico offers the annual Clergy Tax Return Preparation Guide by Richard R. Hammar at no cost to members enrolled in the ELCA benefit program. The guide gives special attention to several forms and schedules and the sections of each form most relevant to ministers. Use it when you’re preparing your income tax return. >More

Federal reporting requirements for churches
Also, on Portico’s website for sponsoring employers, the annual Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches by Richard R. Hammar is offered at no cost to congregations sponsoring members in the Portico benefit program. This resource can help congregations understand federal tax reporting requirements. >More

1 percent health contribution discount
Portico offers a financial incentive to employers – a 1 percent discount on health contributions (last year’s 2 percent  discount) – as a reward for helping communicate to ELCA-Primary health plan members and spouses the importance of taking the online Mayo Clinic health assessment and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. See how much your synod’s employers could save collectively.>More

Switching to energy-efficient bulbs saves money
Saving energy helps you save money on utility bills and protects the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. See what many congregations and ministries are doing through the Energy Stewards Initiative (ESI). If your congregation is in need of financing for an energy project, there are Mission Investment Fund opportunities for loans that could be obtained for energy reduction and also include the initiation of a plan for a rotating loan fund based on grant and gift funds that would be interest free to congregations and camps. >More

Index of the January 2016 Issue

Issue 44 of Administration Matters

Church property loss
Disasters are unforeseen and unpredictable. If your property is damaged or destroyed, you will likely have many questions and be faced with many decisions. Concerns about a temporary location, emergency repairs, and the costs of restoring or rebuilding can be overwhelming. >More

10 tips for better congregation announcements
Congregation announcements are an important part of the Sunday morning experience for most members. They often include information about happenings in the congregation that week, upcoming events for the month, and any reminders that members may need to know. >More

Toward a better congregation council meeting
A few good practices can give a council a joy-filled sense of mission, which, in turn, can lead to renewal in the congregation. This article is from the blog of the Northeastern Iowa Synod. >More

Slips and falls on steps and stairs
Slips, trips and falls account for 15 percent of all accidental deaths, second only to automobile fatalities. The risk of falling, and fall-related problems rise with age and are serious issues in homes and communities. >More

ELCA endorsed insurance program for congregations and synods
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)-Endorsed Property and Liability Insurance Program is committed to providing ELCA congregations and synods with quality insurance protection and enhanced customer service. This commitment is reflected in the selection of Church Mutual as the preferred insurance provider by the ELCA Office of the Secretary in consultation with the Office of the Treasurer. No other company specializing in the protection of ministries offers Church Mutual’s expertise, financial strength and record of outstanding customer service. >More

Submit your parochial report!
2015 parochial reports are due on Feb. 15. These reports are vital to the ELCA’s commitment to improving its efforts of spreading the good news and are used in allocating the ELCA’s resources to synods and congregations. Did you know that the information you submit (or do not submit) in your parochial report goes into your congregation’s trend report, which is publicly available online? Seekers looking for your congregation can see not only the information you submit but also whether the congregation has submitted parochial reports. Please submit the report so that visitors can learn more about you. >More

IRS mileage allowance
The Internal Revenue Service has issued the 2016 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. >More