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Administration Matters

Index of the January 2024 Issue

Issue 91 of Administration Matters

Registration for the 2024 Gathering, MYLE, the tAble, and Young Adult Gathering is currently open!

The ELCA Youth Gathering and Young Adult Gathering will take place in New Orleans on July 16-20, with MYLE and the tAble taking place immediately before on July 13-16. We’re thrilled to be back in such a vibrant city filled with history, great food and inspiring music. We’re also excited to share that the first 1,000 people to register for the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event (MYLE) and the first 200 to register for the tAble, our pre-event for youth living with disabilities, will receive a waived registration fee for those events. To learn more, visit If you have any questions, email We’ll see you in the bayou!

January: New year checklist from Portico

What steps should administrative personnel take in January to ensure a smooth transition into 2024? Three things to check are that your withholdings are up to date, that compensation changes are recorded, and that your January bill is closely reviewed and is accurate. Church administrators can find detailed information on how to be prepared and record and pay bills with accuracy at EmployerLink.

Together we create Stories of Faith in Action

Across the ELCA we are connected through the stories we tell, hear and experience in ministry with, among and for one another. Our ELCA Stories of Faith in Action (SOFIA) are available to everyone at SOFIA ( Here you will experience a number of stories in action that lift up some of the vital ministries made possible by the generous Mission Support shared by the many ELCA congregations. Mission Support, which funds the ministries of your synod and churchwide organization, is available only because of the faith-filled regular offerings that individuals give to their congregations. This site also includes resources on how Mission Support funds ministry, as well as a devotion that can be used with SOFIA in council meetings, annual gatherings, Bible studies and wherever you gather to tell stories. We also encourage you check out, in the Mission Support tab, a monthly Mission Support Memo that includes additional stories, offers ways to engage and shares gratefulness! We are church together.

IRS issues standard mileage rates for 2024

In December the Internal Revenue Service issued the 2024 optional standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. Beginning on Jan. 1, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) are:
• 67 cents per mile driven for business use, up 1.5 cents from 2023.
• 21 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes for qualified active-duty members of the armed forces, a decrease of 1 cent from 2023.
• 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations; the rate is set by statute and remains unchanged from 2023.
These rates apply to electric and hybrid-electric automobiles, as well as gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles.

Bring results to your doctor at your preventive appointment

Many of us use January as a time to take inventory of our well-being. Based on research by the American Medical Association, “arranging for tests to be completed before the next visit” saves time, saves money and improves care. You can schedule any recurrent or necessary tests, draws or scans a couple of months before your preventive exam (such as a mammogram, blood draw or bone density scan). This gives your doctor information ahead of time and may save you an extra appointment.

Why do you need a finance committee?

Does your house of worship have an active finance committee? Or is there one person who takes on the task of managing your money and the responsibility of paying your bills? Here are five reasons why it’s important that a finance committee plays an active role in deciding what happens to money your members contribute. >More

Index of the November 2023 Issue

Issue 90 of Administration Matters

Who would steal from us?

Misappropriation of church funds can engender a crisis of confidence in your congregation, so proper handling of donations is a critical responsibility. Keep a would-be thief out of the collection plate by developing the financial controls needed to prevent theft and embezzlement in your congregation. >More

Supporting our leaders with financial, emotional, physical and pumpkin spice benefits

Portico seeks to support its plan members’ whole-person health and well-being with benefit options for every season of life — including pumpkin spice season. This fall a dietician at one of Portico’s partner vendors, Burnalong, has provided recipes for three healthy alternatives to popular, crave-worthy but often high-sugar, high-calorie fall coffee drinks. Encourage your Portico members with ELCA-Primary health benefits to log in to Burnalong this fall and view the “Healthy Fall Coffee Drinks” video or participate in their choice of online fitness content to support their well-being.

Socially responsible banking supports our community of faith

Members of the ELCA Federal Credit Union enjoy many benefits, and membership is open to all ELCA staff, volunteers and congregational members. Spread the word by downloading and posting this flier.

Plan ahead for 2024 payroll withholdings

If you provide ELCA benefits through Portico and your employees changed their 2024 pretax retirement, supplemental life insurance or other voluntary benefit elections during Portico’s annual enrollment, you’ll need to adjust payroll withholdings for 2024. Starting with pay periods in January, the Payroll Withholding Summary on EmployerLink can help you determine how much to withhold from your employees’ paychecks.

Church Mutual offers armed intruder emergency service

Nothing is more important than the well-being of your staff, your volunteers and the people you serve. Protecting them from harm is your top priority, and the best way to do that is to plan for the unexpected. The new Pull for Police Armed Intruder Emergency Service, available at no cost exclusively to clients of Church Mutual Insurance, includes a device that, when activated, notifies local law enforcement of an armed intruder situation within seconds. >More

Questions to consider when writing a church job description

Employees go to work intending to do a good job, and knowing the specifics of their job helps them deliver. Ministries create systems to help manage employees, and the job description is part of that system. Employees must know what is expected of them and who to approach with questions or concerns. Job descriptions are essential tools that can guide employee performance and dictate daily activities. Churches have limited resources, so any salaried position must support the overall mission strategy. When writing a job description, answer the questions below to ensure that the job you’re creating truly supports the church’s mission. >More

Index of the September 2023 Issue

Issue 89 of Administration Matters

Register Sept. 15 for the 2024 Youth Gathering and related events!

Registration opens at noon on Sept. 15 for the ELCA Youth Gathering and Young Adult Gathering, taking place in New Orleans, La., July 16-20, 2024, and for the two pre-events: the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event (MYLE) and the tAble, for youth living with disabilities, both July 13-16, 2024. We’re thrilled to be back in such a vibrant city, filled with history, great food and inspiring music. This cycle we’re excited to announce that we will waive the pre-event registration fee for the first 1,000 people who register for the MYLE and the first 200 who register for the tAble.

To learn more, visit If you have any questions, email We’ll see you in the bayou!

Update your Portico benefits enrollment

This August the board of trustees for Portico Benefit Services approved rate and benefit changes for 2024. Sponsoring organizations and plan members have been notified by email. If your organization provides Portico benefits, visit EmployerLink to review your organization’s Decision Guide and Custom Comparison Report. Then, from Oct. 2 to Oct. 13, select your organization’s 2024 ELCA-Primary health benefit. >More

Laws and rights for employers and employees

Q. I recently read that my congregation needs to put up posters explaining certain laws to the staff. Where can I get more information?
A. Here and at the ELCA’s legal page.

What’s Your Church’s Money Story?

Now that your congregation has passed the midpoint of 2023, this is a good time to examine your financial health. Many congregations are experiencing their first full year in a post-pandemic environment. How do your organization’s finances look today? >More

Don’t Be Left in the Cold — Inspect Your Heating Boiler

One of the biggest risks of boiler heating systems is that some problem might escalate the internal pressure to a point where the boiler explodes. This not only results in major physical damage to the facility but can be life-threatening if your members or employees are in the building. With proper maintenance you can greatly reduce the risk of this occurring. >More

Index of the July 2023 Issue

Issue 88 of Administration Matters

Protect your church’s operating reserve

A well-designed contingency plan for a congregation maintains an operating reserve to cover the church’s expenses for at least four months should it experience difficulties and its income be drastically reduced. >More

Know when to retain or discard synod or congregational records

Congregations and synods must know which records and information they should keep and which can be removed. Some records need to be maintained permanently; others can be discarded periodically. >More for Synods. >More for Congregations.

Church building redesigned with MIF loan

Zumbro Lutheran Church in Rochester, Minn., had a “strong desire to redesign its space to be welcoming, leaning into downtown,” recalls the congregation’s directing pastor, the Rev. Rob Zahn. The Mission Investment Fund, a financial ministry of the ELCA, provided a loan for a redesigned sanctuary — with a stunning new cross and baptismal font — that is flexible enough to serve multiple purposes. New office space supports the work of several ministry partners operating in Rochester.

Why feedback matters

Critique, one might say, is critical to growth, particularly for those in ministry. “Critique is a key component of our staff culture,” writes one pastor on the Lifeway Research website. When you ask for feedback, you show that you are not only teachable and open to improvement but also humble, something Colossians 3:12 encourages us to be.

Portico Benefit Services recognizes the importance of active listening. Its new feedback platform, Portico Voices, was created to gather feedback from plan members and sponsoring employers so that it might improve its products and services. If you receive an email inviting you to join, and become part of the Portico Voices community, please consider signing up!

Five ways to keep your building secure

Every organization would like to believe its facility is safe from crime, but plenty of details can get overlooked when you develop a security plan for your building. There are many elements to crime prevention, but we have developed a list of steps to keep your building secure. >More

10 points to cover in volunteer orientation

The beauty of a church community is the abundance of committed people with a passion for helping the church achieve its vision and mission. Volunteers drive the church by donating the hours required to ensure that everything gets done. Many people use the volunteer experience to get to know other church community members. Creating a well-run program ensures a great experience for those volunteers, and a structured orientation process prepares them for their new responsibilities. >More



Index of the May 2023 Issue

Issue 87 of Administration Matters

(Delayed until June 5 from May 15 publication date)

ELCAdvantage Program

Through the ELCAdvantage Program, the ELCA churchwide organization develops agreements with participating providers that offer products and services at competitive prices. Using the program enables collective, volume purchasing of essential products and services. >More

Inflation’s effect on houses of worship

This is a difficult time for houses of worship, which have experienced the one-two punch of first COVID-19 closures and now inflation. Inflation affects both a church’s finances and its members’ finances as the price of groceries, gas, clothing and other necessities rapidly increases. While these prices are rising, cost-of-living increases aren’t matching them, which means a dollar is worth less today than it was a year ago. How can you weather this latest crisis and come out on the other side with a still strong ministry. Church Mutual is publishing a series of blog posts on how different types of organizations can best handle inflation. Here it offers five tips for houses of worship.

What’s love got to do with it?

We all know the commandment to “love thy neighbor as thyself,” but how does this apply to rostered ministers? As reported on NPR in September 2022, burnout among faith leaders is at an all-time high. The apostle Paul reminds us that if we have not love, we have nothing. Extending love to those who lead means we are generous with their compensation, forgiving of their human foibles, and reasonable and flexible with our demands, allowing them adequate rest.

Portico offers many programs for this: the Omada program for blood pressure and diabetes management, online health and fitness classes from Burnalong, employee assistance programs (including access to Talkspace for dealing with depression, anxiety and stress) and Learn to Live courses for cognitive behavioral therapy-based (CBT) support, among others. Best of all, these programs are virtual and can be accessed at home. Remind your employees who have ELCA-Primary health benefits that preventive exams are covered. Portico Care Coordinators by Quantum Health are just a phone call away to answer questions about exam and test coverage.

Operational ethics policy for congregations

Best practices for all organizations, including churches and nonprofits, recommend that business ethics and conflict-of-interest policies be in place. Such policies clarify fiduciary duties and address real or apparent conflicts of interest. >More

Three steps to stronger passwords

Strong passwords are of the utmost importance. They protect your electronic accounts and devices from unauthorized access, keeping your sensitive personal information safe. The more complex the password, the more protected your information will be from hackers and other cyber threats. >More

Five ways to demonstrate good church stewardship

Good stewardship is the careful and responsible management of all resources God provides for the betterment of creation. It is about using your gifts and talents to better the lives of others. Giving back to God’s mission in our world can go farther than you know! >More

Index of the March 2023 Issue of Administration Matters

Issue 86 of Administration Matters

It’s tax season: Updated tax guides are now available through Portico.

Portico Benefit Services provides ministers and congregations participating in the ELCA benefit program with no-cost access to annual tax guides. For ministers, Clergy Tax Return Preparation Guide by Richard R. Hammar gives special attention to tax-related topics most relevant to ministers. For congregations, Federal Reporting Requirements for Churches by Richard R. Hammar helps congregations understand their federal tax-reporting requirements.

Rostered Ministers Gathering – early registration ends March 31.

Let this gathering be an opportunity for you to remember, reclaim, rekindle and revive yourself. Gather with colleagues from across the church for fellowship, renewal, continuing education, worship, Bible study and refreshment for your spirit. The registration fee includes access to the plenary sessions and workshops, as well as participation in Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton’s opening reception and the Wednesday evening banquet and lunch each day. >More

Enjoy the ELCA Federal Credit Union ministry card, designed with your congregation in mind.

Credit cards are a necessary part of today’s world, but not all cards are the same. As a cost-effective alternative to standard corporate credit card programs, consider the ELCA Federal Credit Union’s ministry card program, and participate in a financial cooperative that supports other ministries and members of this church. Benefits for your congregation include:
• Ability to issue cards to pastors, staff and volunteers, with no minimum requirement on the number of cards.
• No impact on or relationship to the user’s personal credit or credit score.
• Low interest rate.
• No annual fee.
• Worldwide acceptance along with travel and insurance benefits.

For additional information or to apply, contact the ELCA Federal Credit Union.

Keep your building safe from wayward vehicles.

As you develop or review your organization’s risk control plan, you will likely consider many ways your property could be damaged or people injured — weather-related incidents; an armed intruder incident; vandalism, theft or arson; or child abuse. But a possible event that may never cross your mind is one that happens more often than you might think — a vehicle crashing into a building. >More

Unemployment Exemption for Churches

Nonprofit organizations enjoy special privileges under unemployment laws. Notably, churches and other religious institutions are entirely exempt from unemployment coverage. For more information on the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), review IRS Publication 1828, p. 22, and IRS Publication 15-A, p. 9.