Saturday, August 28, 2010

I.R.S. Defines What A Church Is

Kevin DeYoung post: "The U.S. Court of Appeals recently ruled that religious groups who primarily offer radio and internet worship services do not meet the IRS definition of church. In his ruling, Federal Circuit Court Judge William Bryson emphasized the associational test which defines a church as an organization whose members meet regularly for worship. In addition, the IRS has outlined 14 criteria for determining what is and and is not a church."

DeYoung resourced a post by Thompson & Thompson professional corporation and law firm, providing tax exemption and a wide variety of transactional services for nonprofit clients.

Here is their post.


"....The IRS, which apparently is unconstrained by the First Amendment, has nonetheless ventured where angels fear to tread, and has established criteria which, in its view, define a church as follows:

1. A distinct legal existence
2. A recognized creed and form of worship
3. A definite and distinct ecclesiastical government
4. A formal code of doctrine and discipline
5. A distinct religious history
6. A membership not associated with any other church or denomination
7. An organization of ordained ministers
8. Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed studies
9. A literature of its own
10. Established places of worship
11. Regular congregations
12. Regular religious services
13. Sunday schools for religious instruction of the young
14. Schools for the preparation of its ministers.

The Tax Court, which is apparently unconstrained by the IRS administrative criteria, has adopted its own view, consisting of most of the same criteria compacted into 7 or 8 points. See, e.g., Pusch v. Commissioner, 39 T.C.M. 838 (1980) or Chapman v. Commissioner 48 T.C. 358 (1967). In any event, not all of the 14 criteria must be met by every individual church, since only a substantial denomination will meet all of the criteria, and the IRS must allow for the existence of independent churches. Thus, there is substantial "wiggle room."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pure Life Minitries: Pastors Admit Struggling With Porn

I am absolutely speechless. These glaring stats from Pure Life Ministries demonstrate where we are in the church. It's another sad day in the Kingdom.


"The statistics say that 50 percent of Christian men are struggling, 20 percent of Christian women are struggling, and 47 percent of families say pornography is a problem in their home," he reports.

...what is perhaps even more surprising is the truth about pastors as "37 percent admitted a struggle with pornography."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Southern Baptist Resolution On Protecting Children From Abuse

Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting
Resolution No. 7

WHEREAS, The Bible stresses the protection of and care for children, as evidenced by: its condemnation of the ancient pagan practice of child sacrifice (Leviticus 20:1-7; Ezekiel 16:20-21); its special regard for orphans in the nation of Israel (Deuteronomy 24, 26); and the teaching of Jesus, who welcomed and valued little children (Matthew 18:1-5; 19:14); and

WHEREAS, Faithful Christians throughout history have risen to the defense of children, as seen in the Early Church’s protest of the practice of “child exposure”—in which unwanted infants were abandoned and left to die; the work of nineteenth-century Christians such as Lord Shaftesbury and others, who campaigned against child slavery and enacted child labor laws; and the diligence of those who defend the right to life of unborn children today; and

WHEREAS, Violent physical and sexual crimes against children have reached alarming levels in our nation, thus showing child abuse to be a leading issue requiring the urgent response of God’s people; and

WHEREAS, This abuse has occurred too often in churches and homes—which ought to be places of shelter and safety—and it has happened at the hands of family, educators, ordained ministers, and ministry workers—who ought to be trusted persons of authority; and

WHEREAS, The Southern Baptist Convention in 2002: called Southern Baptists to practice integrity and fidelity to God; urged accountability among spiritual leaders to the highest standards of Christian moral practice; urged seminaries and related educational institutions to emphasize ministerial integrity; encouraged religious bodies to rid their ranks of predatory ministers; called on civil authorities to punish to the fullest extent of the law sexual abuse among clergy and counselors; called on our churches to discipline those guilty of any sexual abuse as well as to cooperate with civil authorities in the prosecution of those cases; and urged our churches to offer support, compassion, and biblical counseling to victims and their families; and

WHEREAS, LifeWay Christian Resources and many state conventions offer extensive resources designed to assist churches in addressing this issue; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in San Antonio, Texas, June 12-13, 2007, express our deep level of moral outrage and concern at any instance of child victimization; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we implore Southern Baptist churches to utilize materials from LifeWay Christian Resources and state conventions and other relevant research that help churches prevent child abuse; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we strongly recommend that Southern Baptist churches and Convention entities respond to any suspicions or allegations of child abuse in a timely and forthright manner; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we urge Southern Baptist churches and Convention entities to exercise moral stewardship by observing responsible employment practices, including performing criminal background checks on all ministers, employees, and volunteers; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we renounce individuals who commit heinous acts against children; and be it further

RESOLVED, That we renounce individuals, churches, or other religious bodies that cover up, ignore, or otherwise contribute to or condone the abuse of children; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we pray for righteousness and justice to prevail in our land and intercede on behalf of victimized children, asking God to heal their deep emotional and physical wounds, grow them into mature and healthy adults, and stop the cycle of abuse from repeating itself in another generation.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Clergy Suffer From Hypertension and Depression More Than Most Americans

The New York Times gives a sobering report about the pressures associated with our ministerial vocation. Read this and you will discover the reason I now take a cruise every chance I get as well as why I have absolutely abandoned the institutional churches "ABC's competetion model". [attendance-buildings-cash]

"The findings have surfaced with ominous regularity over the last few years, and with little notice: Members of the clergy now suffer from obesity, hypertension and depression at rates higher than most Americans. In the last decade, their use of antidepressants has risen, while their life expectancy has fallen. Many would change jobs if they could."

"Public health experts who have led the studies caution that there is no simple explanation of why so many members of a profession once associated with rosy-cheeked longevity have become so unhealthy and unhappy."

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Pastor's Family and Church Involvement

SBC Voices posted this "relevant" article that addresses every leader in the local church. I've extracted two of the models [family commitment vs laissez faire]relating to family involvement in the life of the local church.

For 38 years I have personally advocated "the family commitment model" for ministry team members,elders,deacons and leaders. This mean't having to exhort,reprove and and even rebuke at times those who drifted toward the laissez-faire model.

Even worse,in recent years, I had the most unfortunate experience of serving with a "Pastor" and some of his "elders" who actually dumbed down the commitment level for their own family while publicly advocating a higher standard for all the other families in the church. Obviously, we had some serious "face time" over such flagrant hypocrisy.

"When the only one of a family who shows up on Sunday receives a check for it, the people in the pews wonder why they bothered to show up and get told about how much more involved they need to be each week."

>The Family Commitment Model: The pastor’s family is committed as members to the church. They attend with the same involvement that would be considered “faithful” for a regular member (aka not gone for soccer 6 months of the year), and are allowed to find their own ministry niche. The church is taught not to freak out if the kids aren’t at the 6 am senior adult prayer breakfast. The wife is free to use her gifts and talents within... the church as she deems appropriate.

Positive: Church commitment and involvement is kept serious for the family. Within that commitment, there is freedom for individual family members to find their place. Pastor’s family can set model for how other busy non-paid church members can reasonably be involved....

>The Laissez-faire Model: For those who slept during economics class, laissez-faire basically means “hands-off.” In this model the pastor adopts a “hands-off” model towards his family’s church involvement. If they want to go, he’ll give them a ride, but he’s not twisting arms or waking people up on a Sunday morning. If they come, they won’t be asked to do much more than fill a pew. Forget ministry involvement; if they want his wife to be involved, they should pay her! And of course, if Junior joins one of those traveling carnivals known as “tournament teams”, then the wife and kids can disappear for 6 months and no one will care as much. If the family is tired on Sunday night, then dad will show up and preach, but it’s Home Makeover time for everyone else.

Positive: Kids can never complain about being forced to go to church. If they are involved it is a credit to their personal interest and effort. Negative: Kids can never complain about being forced to go to church. Tell me which 5 year-old will set their alarm and get themselves ready for church each week, especially if they find out Spongebob is on tv. Some forced activity is healthy for children. And usually this “non-committal” kind of model winds up leading kids to other commitments in place of church, often still not at their own choosing. The pastor’s family may not hate him for taking them to church each week, but they might resent him for sending them to softball games all weekend in 100-degree heat. Dad and family may end up living two totally separate lives. It also sends the message to other church members that if one isn’t paid to be at church, then showing up isn’t important. When the only one of a family who shows up on Sunday receives a check for it, the people in the pews wonder why they bothered to show up and get told about how much more involved they need to be each week.