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 November 2020 Issue

Issue 73 of Administration Matters

Portico’s new mental health services support members during pandemic
COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on our emotional health, disrupting the way we live, work, connect, worship and care for our loved ones. In this blog post, Josh Smith, leader of Portico’s products unit, describes how new 2020 online mental health support services are playing a critical role. Jeff Thiemann, Portico’s president and CEO, underscored the broad need for this kind of support in his recent two-minute video message to the ELCA Church Council. If you provide ELCA-Primary health benefits, remind your members that, right now, we all need to take extra care of our health and that their benefits can help.

Online giving solutions is an ELCA preferred vendor offering a family of online tools to help increase giving, manage congregational membership data and engage members throughout the week. Featuring online, mobile and text giving options, has expanded its product line to offer low-cost websites, church management software and apps to ELCA congregations. Is your congregation paying for several technology solutions every month?’s new “All-access” plan includes a giving platform, a church website template, church management software and an app, all for one flat rate. Take advantage of special prices available exclusively for ELCA congregations at

Reducing legal liabilities
America is more litigious than ever before. Knowing where your organization stands in terms of its legal liabilities will help you prepare for potential pitfalls. While you may not be able to avoid all legal risk or anticipate every legal threat, there are steps you can take to reduce liability. >More

How to identify church leaders
If a church is to grow, it needs to identify good leaders. Finding new leaders is as critical as the quality of the leaders being discovered. But where do you find these people? It helps to look for certain qualities that all good leaders need or that, consistently over time, seem to make good leaders. >More

Dell computers purchase program
The ELCA continues to partner with Dell computers and its Corporate Affiliate Purchase Program, which extends to ELCA synods and congregations. Here is information regarding current specials being offered to us: Dell’s Member Purchase Program is announcing a new discount percentage on Dell and Alienware electronics and accessories. Members can now save 10% on top tech accessories, including monitors. Doorbuster weekly events start Nov. 5, and the main sale starts on Nov. 16. Complete sale and purchasing information is available in this flyer.


Index of the September 2020 Issue

Issue 72 of Administration Matters

“Stories of Faith in Action”

This annual publication illustrates how God is at work across the ELCA through your generosity. It highlights how a portion of your offering, called Mission Support, advances the ministry of our church — particularly the ways the ELCA nurtures vital congregations, raises up leaders and grows the global church. Most importantly, it’s one way we say thank you for your faithful generosity to your congregation, your synod and the churchwide organization ― by showing your offering at work. Find the new publication and other resources now at

Congregation council roles and responsibilities

The role of the congregation council is to assess and shape strategic and long-term direction, protect church unity and oversee administrative functions of the church. Being elected to a congregation council carries with it the respect and trust of your congregation. Your contribution to the life of your congregation is significant and appreciated. These are some of the functions and responsibilities of the congregation council’s positions. >More

Take a fresh look at health benefit options during Portico’s 2021 annual enrollment

In response to a resolution from the 2019 Churchwide Assembly, the ELCA Church Council is recommending not one but two ELCA-Primary health benefit options for next year. Organizations can prepare to select their 2021 health benefit option this fall by learning about the recommended options and accessing their Custom Comparison Report on EmployerLink.

Why write policies and procedures?

Policies and procedures are an essential part of any organization. Together, they provide a roadmap for day-to-day operations. They ensure compliance with laws and regulations, give guidance for decision-making and streamline internal processes. Utilizing policies and procedures during decision-making ensures that employers are consistent in their decisions. >More

IRS update: Financial safety in times of disaster

Before a natural disaster strikes, taxpayers are encouraged to be prepared, if possible. This includes developing evacuation plans, putting together kits of essential supplies and putting financial safety measures in place. >More

Preventing theft and embezzlement in your organization

Theft and embezzlement are scary topics. You probably don’t want to think about them at all but knowing the warning signs to watch out for and taking steps to protect your organization can go a long way. >More

Index of July 2020 Issue

Issue 71 of Administration Matters

Considerations for returning to in-person worship

Reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic is complex. First and foremost, congregations must keep the safety and well-being of their members and staff as their top priorities. Also, they must consider many factors and take on many new tasks as they welcome their faithful. Safeguards should be in place, such as attendance limits, physical distancing, and the use of face coverings. We should also be humble, understanding that none of us completely understands the nature of COVID-19 and that others will likely have perspectives very different from our own. Don’t compromise on safety but be patient and humble as you navigate the ups and downs of reopening your congregation. > More

Livestreaming your worship service

Even as you return to in-person worship with limited attendance, you may still want to livestream the service for members who are reluctant to attend in person. This guide explains how to begin streaming for very little money and with equipment you already own or might borrow. >More

Safe return to worship

Just as we have adapted our operations to weather the pandemic, we now look forward to a time when we can reopen our doors and welcome people back into our churches. As state and local authorities begin to ease restrictions, it’s time to think through how we might best resume normal day-to-day operations. Any plan for reopening needs to have the health and safety of worshipers as its top priorities. With that in mind, the ELCA has partnered with Church Mutual Insurance Company, S.I., to bring you safeguards and recommendations in the webinar “Safely Returning to Worship” and a related article here.

Financial best practices for congregations

Creating an environment with financial controls and best practices ensures that the resources entrusted to       the church are handled in the best possible ways. It also ensures compliance with accounting rules and  regulations. The presentation “Financial Best Practices for Congregations” highlights key aspects of separating financial duties, safeguarding offerings and handling expenditures, among other items, to ensure proper controls and compliance and assist in reducing the risk of misconduct and audit findings. > More

Preparing for an emergency

Smart planning can help you keep your business running if disaster strikes. The chances of your congregation requiring an emergency plan may be greater than you think. You’ll want to take the right steps to prepare for and possibly prevent a crisis, and you’ll want to know where to get aid if an emergency occurs. > More

Emojis and the COVID pandemic

Emojis. Those colorful symbols are everywhere and help infuse plain text with tone and body language. They offer a way to convey nuance and express thought or emotion. Emojis are meant to be lighthearted and convey a broad range of emotions. Why are we using more emojis — particularly the “folded hands” or “prayer hands” emojis — during the COVID-19 pandemic? Watch this video to find out.