What do new overtime regulations mean for churches?

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Guest post by Jim Donnell, KBC Associate Executive Director for Convention Operations

Questions abound regarding the recently released Department of Labor regulations for overtime pay. Here are answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on this important, albeit confusing topic.

Donnell-JimI keep hearing something about new overtime regulations. What is this all about? All of this is related to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the federal law that dictates minimum wage and overtime be paid to certain employees. Some employees are exempt from these requirements due to the duties they perform and the salaries they are paid. The federal Department of Labor, which administers the FLSA, recently released new regulations increasing the salary threshold that must be met in order for an employee to be considered exempt from the overtime pay requirement. That threshold has been raised from an annual salary of $23,660 to $47,476. This increase becomes effective December 1, 2016.

Are churches required to comply with these new regulations? Unfortunately, the vast majority of churches are not exempt from complying with the FLSA and, subsequently, these new overtime regulations. Some churches may be of the size that they do not engage in interstate commerce (i.e, do not purchase goods from across state lines, do not make interstate phone calls, etc.) and, as a result, they would be exempt from the FLSA. These churches, however, are few and far between.

Are ministerial staff members impacted? This is the good news. Some employees are always considered exempt from the FLSA. This group includes ministers employed by churches and religious organizations. It also includes staff members who may not be ordained or even have the job title of “minister,” but who still perform duties of a ministerial or spiritual nature.

What steps should a church take to comply with these regulations? First, churches should review the salaries that are being paid to any non-ministerial staff members who are currently being treated as exempt. Secondly, for any employees who are being paid an annual salary of less than $47,476, a decision must be made as to whether or not the church is willing to increase the salary to at least the new salary threshold amount. If so, the staff member may continue to be paid on a consistent salary basis with no adjustments due to hours worked. If, however, the church is not willing or cannot afford to increase the salary to at least $47,476, the staff member must be converted to a non-exempt status. Work hours must be tracked and overtime paid at the rate of one-and-a-half times the regular hourly rate. The church may continue to pay the employee on a salary basis, however, once hours worked in a given work week reach 40, then the salary must be converted to an hourly rate and the overtime hours paid as previously stated.

If we have questions or need assistance, who should we call? Well, unfortunately Ghostbusters can’t help with this one (just kidding), but the Kentucky Baptist Convention is here to help churches. So, churches can call me toll free at (866) 489-3371, and I will be glad to discuss these issues. Please know I am not an attorney, but I can provide general information and guidance. If more assistance is needed, I can refer you to a competent employment law attorney who will provide any legal counsel you may require.

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What happens to my stuff after I die?

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What happens to my soul after I die? That’s a vital question for every person to ask. Everyone who believes the Bible, has trusted Jesus as Savior, and confessed Him as Lord knows the answer to that question. For us, the greatest desire is that others would ask the same question and, in doing so, recognize their need for Jesus and be saved.

Kentucky-Baptist-Foundation-logoWhat happens to my stuff after I die? That’s another vital question for every person to ask. Everyone who believes the Bible, has trusted Jesus as Savior, and confessed Him as Lord knows that we are stewards rather than owners of “our” stuff. What we “have” is only what God has entrusted to us. The Bible instructs us to tithe as a means of acknowledging we love and serve God rather than stuff.

Have you considered making a provision in your will to tithe your estate? Why should you? Here are a few reasons, among many.

First, by tithing our estates, we can acknowledge we love and serve God even in death. Our will can be a great opportunity for us to communicate to the Lord our devotion to Him never wavered, and our desire to be good stewards of what He entrusted to us was never in question.

Second, by tithing our estates, we can provide for souls to be saved even after our testimonies fall silent. Church evangelism and outreach programs, associational ministries and mission work, and the cooperative mission work and ministries of Kentucky and Southern Baptists all require financial resources. An estate tithe can be a significant way to provide for these ministries that share the gospel with lost and hurting people.

Third, by tithing our estates, we can leave a legacy of stewardship for our families and the world. The best way to teach my children and, someday, my grandchildren biblical stewardship is to model it. I’m confident they will be paying close attention to the contents of the wills belonging to Michelle and me on the day those wills are executed. What a great opportunity to disciple them!

Fourth, by tithing our estates, we can display our love for the Lord’s church. I love the church. I love it because I love Jesus and, since the church is His body, failing to love the church is failing to love Him. I love the church because the church loved me, introduced me to my Savior, helped raise me, and has helped me raise my children. The church has taught me eternal truths, encouraged me when I was ailing, comforted me when I was grieving, and given me countless opportunities to do the same for others. If I can bless the church in my death and help ensure her ongoing ministry until Jesus comes for her, I don’t want to miss that opportunity.

If you would like more information on how to leave money to your church or Baptist mission work, contact Richard Carnes at the Kentucky Baptist Foundation by EMAIL or by phone at (866) 489-3533. The ministry of the Kentucky Baptist Foundation for you or your church comes at no cost since Kentucky Baptists’ Cooperative Program gifts help provide for it.

Posted in Kentucky Baptist Foundation, Stewardship | Leave a comment

Protecting pastors from moral failure

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The call to be a pastor is the highest calling on the planet. What could be more important than serving as an undershepherd of the Lord Jesus, ministering to His bride? Since the church is the only thing in our world, including the world itself, that Scripture assures us is eternal, those who work to nurture and grow the church have surely answered a holy call.

To carry out KBC’s mission of helping churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ, we have focused the work of the Kentucky Baptist Convention Mission Board staff first and foremost on helping pastors. From my personal experience as a pastor for 18 years and in my role of serving churches and pastors for the past five years, I recognize the incredible privilege of serving as a pastor but also the heavy burdens that pastors carry. And I recognize that the enemy targets pastors because, as God’s word reminds us, sheep tend to scatter when their shepherd falls.

Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Darrin Patrick, Bob Coy, Billy Graham’s grandson, Tullian Tchividjian; the list of pastors with near rock-star status who have resigned their ministries over the past couple of years due to moral failure is shocking. Beyond the megachurch stage lights, hundreds of others have disqualified themselves from pastoral ministry, lesser known, but bringing just as much pain and disappointment to themselves, their families, and those whom they were charged to shepherd in the local church.

We deeply love and respect our pastors and want to ensure we are doing all we can to help protect them from the enemy. What can we do?

First, we can recognize the vulnerability of every person, including the men called by God to be pastors. In 1 Corinthians 10, the Apostle Paul uses the example of the Hebrews in the wilderness, those who “drank from the spiritual Rock” (v. 4), to show how even those who have lived in total dependence upon God can easily fall prey to temptations.

Second, we must recognize the two greatest enemies we face: Satan and the man in the mirror. In the same passage, 1 Corinthians 10, Paul references those who were “destroyed by the Destroyer” (v. 10) and warns us against thinking we stand (v. 12) lest we fall. Paul is obviously addressing the problem of pride. Most every sin and every moral failure, can be traced to pride, i.e., the love of self. The most difficult task we have is to control ourselves and our own cravings and passions.

Third, we must never forget the pain and brokenness that follows moral failure. Paul reminds us that the Hebrews “were overthrown in the wilderness” (v. 5) and “twenty-three thousand fell in a single day” (v. 8). He offers this example as a sober warning to the Lord’s people to guard our lives from sin.

As we guard our own lives, let us commit ourselves to guarding our pastors with constant prayer, and encourage our pastors to guard one another with appropriate accountability. We want every KBC pastor to finish well for his sake, the sake of his family, the sake of the church, and for the sake of Christ.

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‘Wars and rumors of wars’

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A few days before our nation celebrated its independence, the Obama administration continued its assault on American morals and values with the inclusion of gender frauds in the United States military and threats of drafting our daughters for war. Media coverage coincided with stories of a seemingly endless number of suicide bombers and well-armed terrorists continuing to unleash suffering and death around the globe and, increasingly, on American soil.

While military and political experts debate ways to defeat a covert enemy with no regard for human life, I believe the time has come to question whether that enemy has the capacity to defeat us. By “us,” I am referring to the peoples and nations that do not embrace the teachings of the Koran and Islam.

Notice I do not use the term “Muslim” to reference our enemies, because millions of people who call themselves Muslims do not live out the murderous teachings of the Koran and, thus, are not our enemies. They may have been born into Islamic countries and/or cultural traditions, but they do not obey the Koran’s commands to kill infidels (non-Muslims). That doesn’t mean Islam is a “religion of peace,” as President Obama is fond of saying. To the contrary, peaceful Muslims are those who choose not to follow some or all of the teachings of their religion.

As for the growing number of Muslims bent on following the Koran and creating an Islamic Caliphate everywhere on the planet, they are the self-professed enemies of every human being who refuses to submit to their demonic religion and have unequivocally and publicly declared war upon on us all. And they just might win.

Why would I make such an unthinkable statement? Consider these reasons, among many:

  1. The seat of economic and military power has, for the past several decades, resided in the West, but Western nations are quickly abandoning the cultural values, moral precepts, and religious convictions that have kept us unified and strong. This abandonment is the direct result of the rejection of Christianity. The call to lay down one’s life for God and country begins to ring hollow in countries where God is mocked and His teachings are discarded as offensive. Will millions of young fighting men still answer the call to war when the country for which they would fight despises their core beliefs and their God? Will those who do not believe in God and the Bible’s teachings about our obligations to love our neighbors and defend the weak be willing to put themselves in harm’s way for their fellow man?
  2. Although religious convictions are disappearing in free nations, they are growing in the Islamic world. The jihadist takes up arms and willingly lays down his life with the conviction that his god will welcome him into eternity. Eternal convictions are what cause men to face the enemy with courage and risk death with shocking confidence. In the classic movie, “Sargent York,” young Alvin stole away to the woods to search the Scriptures for direction and then faced the enemy without any concern for his own life. Today, young Abdul does the same, but studying the Koran rather than the Bible, what he reads is not a call to defend the defenseless but a call to slaughter the defenseless. He answers that call with a promise of virgins awaiting him in the afterlife.
  3. Bible prophecy does not ensure the temporal defeat nor victory of Islam. What the Bible does ensure is the victory of Christ over Satan and the eternal victory of the church over everything and everyone who stands against her, the false religion of Islam included.

Will America ever become a Muslim nation? I wish the answer to that question was more obvious than it is. Will Islam wipe Christianity from the face of the earth? I’m glad the answer to that question is never in doubt.

Muhammed’s bones are dust, but Jesus’ tomb is empty and His bride will be here to greet Him when He comes for her. I love my country and pray God does not lift His hand of protection from her. But my petitions turn to praise when I recall that God will deliver His people from death’s sting to Christ’s eternal Kingdom.

Posted in Christianity, Culture, Government, Islam, Nation, Public Affairs | Leave a comment

Southern Baptist polity & autonomy gets ‘perplexing’ when it comes to resolutions

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The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in St. Louis was a tremendous opportunity to celebrate all God is doing through our Cooperative Program-funded mission work and ministries to reach North America and the world for Christ. It was also a fascinating display of Baptist polity.

SBC-MessengersThe autonomy that exists at every level of Southern Baptist life is often misunderstood by the media and by people from other religious traditions. Our denominational autonomy means that instead of Southern Baptists having a hierarchical system of control, our churches, associations, state conventions, and the SBC all operate with their own authority. For example, no denominational body tells a local Southern Baptist church what to do. Nor does any denominational body tell another denominational body what to do. That is to say, the state convention does not control a local Baptist association or vice versa.

As messengers registered and then voted on business items and candidates for SBC offices, their voices could be considered, in a general sense, representative of Southern Baptist churches and associations, but their decisions are not binding on churches, associations, or state conventions. Nowhere is our polity more perplexing than in adopting resolutions.

Resolutions are statements, typically expressed in official and “flowery” language, that communicate positions taken by a convention or association and sometimes even a local church. Resolutions can be an important part of convention annual meetings. That was certainly the case at this year’s SBC. Convention messengers approved 12 resolutions on topics including freedom of the press, biblical sexuality, women and the military draft, the confederate flag, and evangelism.

If you haven’t already, I would encourage you to go online and read through the resolutions adopted in St. Louis. As you do so, here are three helpful observations (not original to me) about resolutions:

  1. A resolution is a powerful expression of conviction but is non-binding. It is a snapshot in time of what messengers approved at one convention meeting but does not bind future convention meetings or, for that matter, any individual Southern Baptist, SBC entity, or SBC church.
  2. A resolution speaks for the messengers who were gathered in a particular place at a particular time. As such, a resolution is not a statement of official Southern Baptist policy, nor could it, in most cases, represent the beliefs of every Southern Baptist. We place great value, however, on what it means for a deliberative body of messengers from cooperating churches to make a public statement concerning key issues facing our churches, country, or culture.
  3. Resolutions are informative rather than directive. A resolution does not have any effect of allocating resources or directing the work of Southern Baptist or state convention entities, and a resolution certainly cannot govern the ministry or policies of any local church.
Posted in Baptist Polity, Denominational Life, Resolutions, Southern Baptist Convention | Comments closed