Scammer-Topia is upon us

A lot of businesses are struggling during the COVID-19 crisis. Many people are staying home…either out of work or working remotely? This is a perfect opportunity for one business to flourish…the Email Scammer. Think about it. How many more emails are we sending to the people we work with? How many us are used to conducting business like this? How many of us are a little panicked or on edge? This is a perfect storm for email scammers. Here’s some helpful hints:

  • Check the email address: Depending on the scammer, sometimes the incoming email address looks fine, but when you reply, it’ll reply to a different email address.
  • Does the email sound right: While scammers can make an email look like it’s coming from the person in charge, they can’t impersonate the tone. Does it sound like the Pastor or the Boss? Does it have their regular email signature?
  • Text or call to confirm: If something looks fishy, but you still aren’t sure, instead of emailing back, give them a quick text or phone call.

Below is a video where I document an attempted email scam. After seeing a TED Talk by James Veitch where he messes with email scammers, I decided to have some fun too. I figure that if I’m wasting the scammers time, he’s not ruining anyone else’s finances. Someone was pretending to be my co-worker Sheri so I played along. I’m not recommending you do this with any scammer.

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Articles of Faith

I made a series of 29 short videos back in 2019 as part of a personal devotional. For United Methodists, you might recall that was the year of the special session of the General Conference that was to put an end to the debate on homosexuality. GC2019 was probably the lowest point in my time as a United Methodist at that point. The UMC looked more like Washington DC than anything God honoring. As a way to cope with this disappointment, I decided to look back at our core doctrines as found in the Book of Discipline.

These doctrines are the closest thing we have to set in stone as they are practically impossible to change. While some of them do seem odd, they contain many timeless truths. They teach and remind us of who God is, who we are, and what Jesus has done for us. No matter what the UMC looks like in the future, I hope these truths continue to be upheld.

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Single Board Governance #3 – How do you implement?

If you watched the previous videos, the problem with the traditional church governance is clear…to you. Also, the solution of the Single Board Governance is clear…to you. But you need to remember that pushing for change, even good common sense change, is hard and often dangerous. Kermit Culver has over 40 years of experience in leadership, and he does a great job in describing the dangers and strategies in pursuing a change like this.

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Single Board Governance #2 – What’s the solution?

In the previous video, Kermit Culver talked us through the issues with the traditional church governance…where you have 20 committees each with 10 members. One of the issues with this is no one knows who is in charge or how an actual decision gets made. How do you replace all these committees with just one? What does that actually look like? Kermit does a great job explaining how his church restructured and how it actually works.

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Single Board Governance #1 – What’s the problem?

Could it be that your church’s governance is hurting it’s own mission? Most United Methodist churches are structured according to the Book of Discipline (ΒΆ243-258), and most churches struggle filling a slew committee positions. Some churches seem to have about as many positions as they do members. You end up wasting a lot of time and energy trying to fill positions where about half the people don’t want to serve. The good news is there is an exception. Instead of 50+ positions to fill, you might only need 12.

Kermit Culver, leads a discussion on how the traditional structure is holding many churches back. He was one of the first to pioneer the Simple Board Governance solution in the Dakotas UMC.

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Rebecca Trefz and I did this video some time ago. While a lot of church leaders want to know where apportionments go, this video actually gets at the heart of what apportionment giving is all about. I figure that folks could just watch the budget video or read the budget if they want to know where the money goes. I think there are some more fundamental questions that need to be answered first though. If you want to have a simple video to share with your congregation or leadership, this is for you.

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How to win as a Finance Committee

This was from a training that I did in the Fall of 2019 for United Methodist churches in Southeastern South Dakota. While most finance committees focus on reviewing reports and looking at cutting expenses, some are making a huge impact in helping their churches succeed. They are growing the church’s income, improving operations/decision making, and much more.

How are they making such an impact? The gist is, they staff the finance committee with the right people and set goals. It’s not that complex. I also give some ideas on how to fix the income problem, reporting, auditing, and budgeting. Enjoy!

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