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Administration Matters

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.


Index of the January 2023 Issue

Issue 85 of Administration Matters

Stories of Faith in Action

We are pleased to share with you the latest version of “Stories of Faith in Action,” filled with inspiring stories from this past year. “Stories of Faith in Action” connects us as church and illustrates how, through your generosity, God is at work across the ELCA. It highlights how a portion of your offering, called Mission Support, advances the ministry of our church, helping the ELCA nurture Christian community, raise up leaders, serve our neighbors and strive for justice. Most importantly, it’s one way to thank you for your faithful generosity to your congregation, your synod and the churchwide organization ― by showing your offering at work. The stories and resources can be found at

January: New year checklist for Portico financial and health benefits

Is your congregation ready to start the new year strong? There are a handful of steps administrative personnel should take in January to ensure a smooth transition into 2023. EmployerLink users, visit Portico’s New Year Checklist to ensure that you are prepared.

January is also the time many of us set health goals. Getting an annual preventive exam, sometimes called a physical, is recommended by health care professionals for everyone but especially for those starting a new exercise program. Remind your employees who have Portico health benefits that preventive exams are covered and that the Portico Care Coordinators by Quantum Health are just a phone call away to answer questions about coverage and tests.

Risk control technologies

Every year ELCA congregations are impacted by water- and smoke-related losses to their property that severely impact their ability to conduct their various ministries. See the following for important free sensor and alarm alert technologies from our endorsed insurance partner, Church Mutual, that can help prevent such losses. >More

IRS issues standard mileage rate for 2023

The Internal Revenue Service has announced an increase in the optional standard mileage rate used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes. As of Jan. 1, the standard mileage rate for business use of a car, van, pickup truck or panel truck will be 65.5 cents per mile, up 3 cents from the 2022 midyear increase. This rate applies to electric and hybrid-electric automobiles as well as gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. >More

Index of the September 2022 Issue

Issue 84 of Administration Matters

Stewardship Kaleidoscope: Sept. 26-28

Join us online or in person in Savannah, Ga., to hear practical stewardship tips from outstanding plenary and workshop leaders:
• New York Times bestselling author A.J. Jacobs, whose numerous books include The Year of Living Biblically and My Life as an Experiment: One Man’s Humble Quest to Improve Himself.
• The Rev. Dawn Hyde, pastor at the thriving Downtown Church in Columbia, S.C.
• The Rev. Michael Bos, senior minister at Marble Collegiate Church and author of A Church Beyond Belief: The Search for Belonging and the Religious Future.
Register at Stewardship Kaleidoscope.

Considering accessibility? Find out how one congregation lives out its welcome

As ELCA churches become more physically accessible, learn how one congregation uses its building as an invitation. Beginning with an inclusive welcome statement, First Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Neb., beckons not just in words but in parking spaces, a portico, ramps and more. If your congregation is contemplating renovations, planning accessibility updates or curious how one congregation strives to open itself to the surrounding community, read First Lutheran’s story (included originally in the Mustard Seed, a publication of the Mission Investment Fund of the ELCA).

2023 Portico annual enrollment reminder

In early August, Portico’s board of trustees approved 2023 rate and benefit changes. Shortly afterward, sponsoring organizations and plan members were notified via email. Organizations that currently provide Portico benefits will need to make their ELCA-Primary health benefit selection on EmployerLink Oct. 3-14. Before then you can visit the site to review your organization’s decision guide and custom comparison report.

Lutheran Men in Mission — National Bold Gathering

Lutheran Men in Mission is providing an opportunity for men to reengage with each other and the church. This event will be in-person only; though parts will be recorded and shared at a later date, the true experience will be joining in the fellowship onsite. Register here.

Starting a risk control program

As organizations settle into the “new normal” of a riskier security environment, they need a more strategic approach to managing these risks beyond “check-the-box” compliance. The best way to protect your organization from losses, both internal and external, is to develop a risk control program. >More

Get All Access offers digital tools to engage members, encourage giving, build websites and manage congregational membership data, with special pricing for ELCA congregations. An ELCA preferred vendor, All Access offers ELCA congregations complete access to its platform for just $49 per month. All Access includes complete giving, a church website, ChMS (Church Management Software), a church mobile app and text messaging. Take advantage of All-access at