Guest Post by: Dennis W. Watkins, Legal Counsel
There is an old marketing saying that goes something like: “It doesn’t cost any more to get the very best!” I have thought about this statement in terms of getting the very best resources for ministers and churches, and I would like to discuss briefly what I think are the best resources available in several fields of significance.
Best Legal Information
Without question in my mind, the best legal information for churches and ministers can be found at www.churchlawandtax.com, published by “Christianity Today.” This resource was created by Richard Hammar, the leading writer on church legal and tax issues, and is being continued by the magazine cited, along with him. In this publication, you will see a treasure trove of materials on many subjects relating to churches and ministers. I recommend subscribing to Church Law and Tax Report, a bi-monthly magazine that covers up-to-date issues regarding churches.
Best Tax Resources
Once again, go to www.churchlawandtax.comand you will see much material on tax information specific to churches. Also, obtain the exhaustive work, “2018 Church and Clergy Tax Guide” from this source. Another source available, that we in Church of God use, is The Benefits Board website: www.benefitsboard.com. This is a tremendous website with many materials available for churches and ministers. The Benefits Board website also contains great information regarding compensation for ministers in Church of God.
Best Church Insurance Companies
There are many insurance companies that can write good commercial policies, but I think you should always consider the companies that specialize in insurance for churches. They are: Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company; Church Mutual Insurance Company; GuideOne Insurance Company; and Southern Mutual Insurance Company (The Donegal Group in some states). These Companies might be more versed in the nuances of insurance for churches. In Church of God, our denominational offices use Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, from Fort Wayne, Indiana. This is a very recent association for Church of God and we are excited about this new relationship.
Best Religious Freedom Organizations
This is becoming a more needed area of legal defense in our country now, and there is a great organization that offers help in this field, Alliance Defending Freedom. Their website is www.adflegal.org. They offer a great source of materials and also have a “Church Alliance,” of which Church of God is a member. This alliance offers direct, hands-on assistance to churches which are being sued over religious freedom issues.
Best Sources for Criminal Background Checks
Here is a listing of some sources I have found in my work: local law enforcement (possibly free); www.oxforddoc.com; www.screenstaff.com; and www.protectmyministry.com. Remember, you cannot obtain a person’s background check without consent.
Best Sources for General Risk Management Information for Churches
I have found that the websites for the major church insurance companies (see above) address numerous areas of risk for churches. I recommend that you consult them all for information on various topics of interest for churches and pastors.
Best Church Security Training
This is an area of upmost important and concern to pastors and churches at this time. There are numerous persons and companies who are offering training in the area of church safety and security. One of the best companies I have found in this field is from South Florida, known as Lion Heart International Services Group. You may look them up on their website: www.lhisg.com. You will find this group to be an extremely helpful resource. Church of God has partnered with Lion Heart in providing information to our local churches, and one of their principals, Tim Miller, is a regular contributor to Church of God informational sources.
If you know of other great resources for churches and pastors, I’d like to hear about them. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. In the meantime, as you work for the Lord in His Kingdom, I wish you only the very best!
The writer is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional services herein. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be obtained.