I’m an accountant that makes videos on the side. I have very limited skills in the area of video editing, and I don’t want to spend the time to learn fancy new tools. Prior to PowerPoint, I would make about 3-4 videos per year. I didn’t mind the creating part, but the video editing was intimidating.
Since I learned I could just turn my PowerPoint into a video, I make 4-6 videos a month! No more editing! Everything is finished in the creating and recording process. Once I’m happy with the recording, you just click export. Plus, it seems like every other month I learn something new…almost like Microsoft had video-making accountants in mind when they update PowerPoint.
In this video, you are going to see a recording of me making this video. Behind the scenes-ish.
Disclaimer: This is general tax advice so don’t sue me. The question I was left with last week was: Can the church claim a payroll tax credit if their pastor is out because of COVID? After doing much research and calls, I came to the conclusion that the church cannot claim the tax credit.
The primary reason for this is the pastors confusing tax status. The IRS considers them to be employees, but the Social Security Administration considers them to be self-employed. This credit is tied to payroll taxes which are under the Social Security Administration.
This does open it up that the pastor might be able to claim this tax credit on their personal tax return. This could be a nice bonus for pastors…as long as they keep documentation of their time out. My preliminary estimate is that pastors could get around a $2,000 credit on their taxes. Here’s how I calculated it:
$50,000 in Self-Employment Income (Base Salary of $42k + Fair Rental Value of Parsonage of $12k – Salary Withholdings of $4k)
÷ 260 Work Days (The IRS assumes self-employed folks work just 5 days per week 52 weeks a year. Isn’t that cute.)
x 10 Days (if you were out two weeks, you would get 5 days/week.)
Disclaimer: This is general tax advice so don’t sue me. I had almost forgotten about the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) until I got a call from Bismarck McCabe UMC. They were on top of things and knew more than I did. The only question we still have is if clergy are covered.
Long story short, FFCRA gave employees an extra 80 hours of sick leave (or proportional if part-time) if they or a member of their family was directly affected by COVID. This is different than being affected by the shutdowns. You can see more about this in the links below. To help pay for this sick leave, you can claim a payroll tax credit! This is good news for churches that already file a quarterly Form 941.
Here’s what makes this credit so good:
Dollar for Dollar: You get reimbursed 100% for this sick leave in most cases. This includes health insurance costs.
Includes Health Insurance Costs: While few lay employees receive health benefits from the church, that portion can also be applied to the credit.
Refundable: This credit is refundable. A lot of our churches don’t pay in much for payroll taxes so it’s nice to know that, when the credit is larger than the taxes, you’ll get a check back.
A sermon on giving and generosity cannot be a Saturday night special! The subject is so touchy and sensitive, it’s like handling electricity or dangerous chemicals. If you don’t take great care in fine tuning the message, someone will get hurt…and likely that someone will be you. With being a guest preacher, I almost always have the luxury of being able to plan weeks ahead and have rarely given a message that I haven’t thoroughly polished. Being an average preacher at best, the polish makes me seem like almost a good preacher.
Here’s why you need to spend the extra time fine tuning your message:
Another Perspective: Up until now, this message may have come completely from you. How will a person that is older or younger hear it? How about someone of the opposite gender? People hear things differently depending on their past experiences.
Focus: In your research and preparation, you’ll run across great info that you’d love to share…but it doesn’t quite fit with your one point. If you include this, you will weaken your overall message.
Practice: People that read their sermons or rely too much on notes or stumble over the delivery seem less believable. A simple one-point message can and should be memorized.
Did you know that the Book of Discipline states “tithing is the minimum goal of giving in The United Methodist Church?” Meanwhile, the average Methodist gave just 1.6% of their income to the church according to a 2009 study by the Indiana University. 1.6%! Apparently Methodists aren’t relying too much on the Book of Discipline…or even the Bible…to guide their giving.
The good news is that there is a ton of room for growth…if people are challenged to grow in giving and generosity. Think about it. If your church is average, and they grow to just 2%, the income to the church will increase by 25%. Here’s an example of what it would look like in an average church:
The Median Household Income in the Dakotas is $60,000.
The average giving (1.6%) ends up being $960 for the year ($20/week except they miss four weeks of the year).
If they gave 2%, their giving goes to $1,200 for the year ($20/week without missing PLUS an extra $160 gift on Christmas Eve).
A church of 30 households sees their income increase from $28,800 to $36,000.
If people are never challenged or invited to think about their giving, they usually give the same amount year after year. While not everyone will accept the challenge, some will. Churches that are courageous enough to challenge their people on giving through New Consecration Sunday or the like will see their income grow year after year. Also, I and others have noticed that people growing in giving are usually more joyful and engaged.
Because of the bankruptcy of the Boy Scouts of America and the rash of sexual abuse claims, I’m encouraging all churches that have ever been involved with Boy Scouts to file a Proof of Claim form with the bankruptcy court. The link is below. Filing this form will help provide resources in the event that a victim connected to your church ever comes forward. If the court doesn’t receive your form by November 16th, you will be barred from any support from the Boy Scouts of America.
I’ve been preaching on tithing for quite some time now so I occasionally run into someone I’ve converted to tithing. Some years ago, a woman from Groton UMC blessed me by sharing that she had decided to tithe her Social Security check after I had preached at the church some months prior. She was so excited to tell me. And then she said this: “When I saw how well behaved your three kids were in church, and heard that you tithed, I thought, ‘if this guy can do it, surely I can too.'” It wasn’t my theological points that convicted her. It wasn’t my cleverly crafted one point. It was my testimony…in a way.
People love a good story. They tend to perk up and pay closer attention. It’s easier for them to remember. There is power to a story. A person’s giving testimony is a powerful story…as long as you keep these points in mind.
Authentic: It’s easy stretch the truth or maybe ignore struggle. The temptation is to maker ourselves the hero instead of Jesus Christ.
Relatable: The listener should be able to imagine themselves in the shoes of the person’s testimony. An exceptional life of an exception person can be demotivating for us regular people.
Format: Not everyone is comfortable or capable of sharing their testimony up on the stage. You don’t want the presentation to detract from the story.