In this Issue

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Feature Article:

How to Avoid Being Blindsided by Legal and Financial Issues in Your Church

Suzanne Recommends:

  • September 17 Pastors' Forum, 8 pm EST

  • Developing Leaders by Building a Coaching Ministry in Your Church

    Guest Pastor Dr. Joseph Umidi, President, LifeForming Leadership Coaching,
    VA Beach, VA
  • Details below

  • How to Avoid Being Blindsided by Legal and Financial Issues in Your Church

    There are so many legal and financial issues that can blindside a church. In our Monday night Pastors' Forum, here are a few tips that Dan Busby, Vice President of the Evangelical Financial Accountability Association, (ECFA) shared with us.

    If you'd like to learn more, please contact me at my office to order your CD of this terrific Pastors' Forum teleseminar.

    1. "No Loose Cash in the Offering Plate" Rule - effective January 1, 2007 with the Pension Protection Act of 2006.

      This relates to a new change in the tax rules of as of January 1, 2007, whereby churches must acknowledge cash gifts from individuals, whether or not the gifts are under $250. Churches can handle this by providing offering envelopes to people in which they place their cash gifts with their name for appropriate church recordkeeping. Although this creates a bit of a greater administrative burden on the church, it is an opportunity to encourage people to use the offering envelopes and also provides greater accountability for people regarding their gifts.

    2. Churches and charities can receive IRA Rollovers through December 31, 2007. The law "sunsets" at this time, unless Congress passes it again. This is a very beneficial law for churches, so churches should encourage their Congress people to pass this again.
    This is more of a benefit for taxpayers that are over 70 1/2 years of age. They can roll over their IRAs as a charitable contribution to a church or ministry. The donor benefits in that they are not taxed on the money, and the church benefits because they receive the entire amount of the contribution. There is no tax deduction on the rollover, unless it is from a Roth IRA. Churches then acknowledge the amount of funds received from the IRA custodian.
    1. New Issues from the IRS

      Form 990-N, also called the "E-postcard" - There is quite a bit of confusion about this as the media has been publicizing this, but not clarifying who it applies to - it applies to small nonprofits with revenues under $25K.

      Churches are clearly exempt from this filing. But they are required to annually file the 990-T, which is the form for "unrelated business income" when they have income of over $1,000 per year. Income from debt-related property or a church bookstore that is outside of the church are types of issues that would fall into this category of "unrelated business income."

    2. Brand-new IRS regulations related to Informal Retirement Plans (Section 409A)

      These are some "hidden" regulations that apply to churches that have established informal retirement plans. These are supplemental to 403(B) plans. They may make agreements with the senior pastor, for example, to make payments for a certain number of years or over a lifetime. Whether the church has funded the plans is inconsequential - even if there's a promise to make the payments, the rules still apply. These go into effect January 1, 2008.

    3. Donor- Restricted Funds

      ECFA receives more questions regarding donor-restricted funds than any other issue. Dan mentioned it's because it's a state law issue, and there's often a lack of clarity surrounding these laws. However integrity requires that the money be used as the donor specified, whether for its for a building program or some other needs. If that need goes away, then the church should go back to the giver and ask permission to redirect and use the funds in a different way. Churches can expose themselves to lawsuits if they choose to use funds differently than donors specify. Churches need to track the money via accounts and monitor the "outgo" of expenses against that account. Dan has written a 200-page book to be published later this month called Donor Restricted Gifts Simplified.

    4. Short-Term Mission Trip Issues

      These gifts are generally deductible if the trip is approved or endorsed by the church as part of its missions' program and the church is providing oversight. Often, churches ask the trip participants to raise their funds for their trips. The caution points here related to "donor-preferenced" gifts versus "donor-restricted" gifts, as this relates to how much actual control the church has over the funds.

      Gifts given on behalf of minors are generally deductible if the minor has the capacity to significantly contribute to the missions trip. Examples would include teenagers helping with vacation bible schools, building relationships with the children and sharing Christ.

      If people fund their own trips, they may deduct a charitable deduction for the trip even if the church does not handle the funds. They would claim this as a "noncash" deduction on their Schedule A, and this applies even if the church does not handle the funds directly.

    Were these tips helpful to you? Please contact my office at (703) 282-2325 or at to order your copy of the CD. You may also purchase Dan's upcoming book later this month.

    Did you Miss our April Pastors' Forum Kickoff?

    It was on "How to Build Powerful, Inspired Teams to Accomplish the Work of Ministry."

    What is the Pastor's Forum? Well, it's a monthly seminar via telephone of pastors to network and be exposed to other pastors with specialty areas of expertise.

    I'd love to offer you a free trial month of the Pastors' Forum.

    For more information, you may access the Pastors' Forum Invitation by clicking on this link. You may access the FREE 1-hour audio class by linking to Pastors' Forum FREE Audio Class. The handout associated with the class is at Pastors' Forum April 07 Handout. I pray it's of great benefit to you and your leadership team.

    Our next Pastors' Forum is Monday, September 17, 8 pm - 9 pm EST, 7 p.m. CST / 6 pm MT / 5 PST. Please join me and other pastors for a special teleseminar with our guest, Pastor, Dr. Joseph Umidi, President of LifeForming Leadership Coaching in Virginia Beach, VA.

    Joseph and I will be discussing the philosophy of coaching to develop leaders in your church, how you can create transformation in the lives of individuals through coaching, how we need to coach men and women differently, and other important leadership development issues.

    Many of you write me that you're busy with sermon preparation, counseling appointments or other scheduling conflicts. I know you're busy! So I've set up the forum so that when you enroll, we'll ship the audio link and CD directly to your office for the listening convenience of you and your staff and volunteer leadership team. Plus as a BONUS, you'll receive a complimentary copy of the case study on "Avoiding the Leadership Mistakes that Make a Church Unhealthy."

    You may enroll for the Pastors' Forum via our SECURE SERVER by clicking on the "Enroll Here" red button below.

    August Coaching Special

    With enrollment in the Pastors' Forum, you’ll receive a complimentary 30-minute personal or church coaching consult. Just contact my office at I'd love to serve you.

    Case Study:
    Avoiding the Leadership Mistakes
    that Make a Church Unhealthy

    Would you like to learn about this church's journey to a place of health?

    The Story of a Texas Mega-Church

    Click here to order your copy of this case study or get it FREE when you enroll in the Pastors' Inspired Leadership Forum.

    Please let me know what issues you would like to hear about in the next newsletter, such as hiring or managing staff, inspiring volunteers, or preventing burnout, for examples. I'll do my best to address your concerns! I look forward to speaking with you all next month.

    Many prayers and blessings to you all,

    Leadership Tips is a monthly e-zine written and published by Suzanne Martinez, founder of SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC. Our purpose is to help leaders develop healthy leadership cultures and healthy relationships - cultures that promote growth and maximize personal and organizational performance.

    You may copy, forward or distribute this e-zine if this copyright notice and contact information for Suzanne Martinez is included.

    Suzanne Martinez
    SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC
    P.O. Box 9172
    Reston, VA 20195-9172

    Copyright ©SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC, 2006-2007.

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    Leadership Tips
    Vol. I, Issue 9

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    Attention Pastors:

    Need Resources for Your Women's Ministry Leaders?

    Then check out the Upcoming Garden Club Teleseminars....

    The Inspirational Women's Garden Club is a monthly get-together via telephone of women to network, build relationships with one another, and to discuss the Relationship Tips monthly topic.

    The next Inspirational Women's Garden Club topic will be on:

    Resolving Conflicts and Healing Past Patterns that Plague Your Relationships Today

    Wed, Sept 12 at 7 p.m. EST

    Other Upcoming Garden Club Dates

    Wed, Oct 8 & 10, 7 pm EST

    If you'd like more information about the Garden Club or to enroll, please go to Inspirational Women's Garden Club. You may hear a sample audio class at FREE Gift and FREE Handout.

    Hope the women in your church will join us!

    Avoiding the Leadership Mistakes that Make a Church Unhealthy

    Would you like to learn more about this mega-church's 46-year journey from an unhealthy leadership culture to one that is thriving today?

    A team of three ministers recently studied a dynamic Texas church to uncover its secret keys to health and growth. The team evaluated the church's leadership culture, its ministry philosophy, and its 46-year church history.

    This 35-page academic case study provides unique perceptions into the overall spiritual health and subsequent growth of this church. All pastors, elder boards, and church leadership teams will be able to glean valuable insights they can apply to their own churches to lead to greater church health and effectiveness.

    It is my gift to you today when you enroll in the monthly "Pastor's Forum" where we spend time each month on Inspirational Leadership topics for pastors and church leaders. For more information or to enroll, click on the button below.


    Healing the Heart of Your Church

    Another excellent resource for pastors on developing a healthier leadership culture is called Healing the Heart of your Church.

    Like people, a church can become sick and traumatized from past sins in its corporate Body. The destructive effects of these past sins can linger for decades, hindering the present and future work and growth of the church.

    Healing the Heart of your Church explains this phenomenon and lays out a clear strategy to address these wounds and lead the church to a place of healing and greater effectiveness for Christ.

    Healing the Heart of Your Church

    For more information or to purchase your copy:

    Preview of September Issue:
    In September's issue of Leadership Tips, we'll address coaching tips for leaders and also how to use a coaching ministry in your church to build your staff and volunteer leaders.

    Join me and Dr. Joseph Umidi, President of LifeForming Leadership Learning, as we discuss these helpful leadership tips.

    About Suzanne

    Suzanne France Martinez
    Founder & Principal

    During the last 20 years as Suzanne served in the marketplace and in ministry, she learned to excel amidst the pressing demands and challenges of leadership in each setting.

    Suzanne's passion is to help leaders develop healthy leadership cultures and healthy relationships - cultures that promote growth and maximize personal and organizational performance.

    Suzanne desires to help leaders renew and refresh their vision, attain new levels of leadership excellence, and build healthy and strong leadership organizations.

    Copyright © 2006-2007 SFM Consulting & Associates, LLC.