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Christianity Today Releases Revitalized Annual Book Awards

English: Open book icon

English: Open book icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CAROL STREAM, Ill., Dec. 12, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ — Like the magazine that now sports a bold new look, the 25th edition of Christianity Today‘s Annual Book Awards has also been given some new life: two new awards, an awards seal, and a new twist on the presentation. The awards started in 1989 as selected by a reader’s choice poll. It has developed throughout the years into an annual staple of the magazine.

The biggest addition to this year’s book awards is the first-ever CT Book of the Year, based on the book the judges agree upon the most unanimously. The

winner
this year is God’s Forever Family, Wheaton professor Larry Eskridge’s
history of the Jesus People movement, which also won the
History/Biography award. This year’s awards also introduce a
Her.meneutics award, named after Christianity Today’s popular women’s site. This year’s winner was Amy Simpson’s Troubled Minds: Mental Illness
and the Church’s Mission, which recounts Simpson’s experience growing
up with a schizophrenic parent and discusses how the church can best
address mental illness.

On top of the new awards, the book awards
will include a “2014 Christianity Today Book Award Winner” seal, which
will be given to publishers to place on their award-winning book for
future pressings. This was created to give additional recognition to the
winning books.

Matt Reynolds,
books editor for Christianity Today, is running the book awards for his
third year. “I have learned that every year, there are going to be a
number of worthwhile books, any number of which that would be fine
candidates to bestow awards upon,” said Reynolds. “Year after year I am amazed at the number of quality books. It increases your appreciation for the amount of good book writing being done.”

The
final change is that Christianity Today has lifted the veil of
anonymity from the judges’ comments on the winning books. The editorial
team decided it wanted to recognize its judges –who include
best-selling authors, experts in their fields, and simply thoughtful
people — for their hours spent reading and evaluating thousands of
pages.

When asked about the reason for all the new features,
Matt says, “CT has changed in the past year in terms of the redesign, so
it is fitting that the book awards have changed as well. But despite
all that change, the core mission (for the awards) has stayed the same:
it’s still all about recognizing the books that most shape evangelical
life, thought, and culture.”

Other winners in 2014 include Francis Spufford’s Unapologetic in Apologetics/Evangelism, Eat With Joy by Rachel Marie Stone in Christian Living, and Lisa Samson’s The Sky Beneath My Feet in Fiction. Read a full listing of the winners here.

Leadership Journal Re-Examines Christian Vocation

X and P are the first two letters of Christ fr...

X and P are the first two letters of Christ from greek Χριστός; this is a very old symbol of christians (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CAROL STREAM, Ill., Feb. 7, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ — Leadership Journal tackles a problem churches have struggled with for years. Many Christians feel if they are not called to fulltime ministry, they don’t have a calling at all. Without a sense of calling, they fail to see their work as meaningful and holy. At best they regard their jobs as useful for making money to fund missions and church ministry — the “real” work of the Lord. Even worse, churches often reinforce this destructive thinking by the way they run their ministries.

Leadership Journal asks what it would take for churches to affirm and equip Christian businessmen, plumbers, and stay-at-home mothers. In Uncommon Callings Skye Jethani writes, “Imagine a Christian community where followers of Christ are not merely focused upon church-based programs, but where they are taught how to commune with Christ and glorify and serve him wherever the individuals are called — in business, the trades, the arts, medicine, education, or elsewhere.”

There’s been rising interest in vocation in recent years, with many books being published on the topic and conferences springing up. “There are no second-class Christians or second class callings,” says Drew Dyck, Managing Editor of Leadership Journal. “It is essential for pastors to do a better job of affirming everyone’s vocation.” The latest issue of the journal also examines the pastoral calling. “As important as secular vocations are, we also need to uphold the call to full-time ministry,” says Dyck. To gain a better understanding of the pastor’s calling, Leadership Journal interviewed David Platt on how he understands his own calling into ministry.

Visit LeadershipJournal.net to learn more about this issue and to view all the articles dealing with this theme.

Christianity Today is a nonprofit, global media ministry that serves the church through digital and print publications, as well as practical and accessible web resources that together reach more than 2.5 million people every month.

41% of Churches Fail to Train Staff and Volunteers in Child Sexual Abuse Prevention

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month; Churches Need to Take Action

CAROL STREAM, Ill., April 26, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — April is Child Abuse Prevention month, and we are reminded of the many children who have suffered from abuse. Churches should be the safest place on earth, yet even last year, according to church legal expert Richard Hammar, more than 12 percent of all church-related lawsuits involved the sexual abuse of a minor. Forty-one percent of churches surveyed by Christianity Today admitted they do not have child sexual abuse prevention training for their staff and volunteers.

The good news is the risk of an incident occurring can be decreased when a church implements an abuse prevention program like Reducing the Risk. Created by Richard Hammar, Reducing the Risk is a turn-key video training program designed to keep children in your ministry safe from sexual abuse. With just a half day of training, church ministry workers learn how to screen and select workers, implement solid supervision policies, and respond to allegations.

Christianity Today is a nonprofit, global media ministry that serves the church through digital and print publications, as well as practical and accessible web resources that together reach more than 2.5 million people every month.

Study Shows Giving Finally Rebounding for Majority of Churches

th Annual ‘State of the Plate’ Survey Shows Giving Increased Last Year; Budgets Up, Electronic Giving on the Rise, Greater Financial Transparency 

DENVER (March 27, 2012) — Churches suffered from plummeting donations after the recession began in 2008. But in the past year, a majority of congregations experienced giving increases because of a better economy, higher attendance and more church teaching on giving.

Trends in 2011 included higher budgets, which brought more church spending on staff salaries, missions, facilities and benevolence. Trends also included greater attention to fiscal transparency and board governance and a rise in electronic giving through technological tools, such as cell phone applications and automatic bank withdrawals.

The fourth annual “State of the Plate” constituency survey of more than 1,360 congregations revealed that 51 percent of churches saw giving increase in 2011, up from 43 percent in 2010 and 36 percent in 2009.

The survey was a collaborative research project sponsored by MAXIMUM Generosity, Christianity Today, publisher of Church Finance Today and Leadership Journal, and ECFA.  The survey asked pastors, staff and leaders of all church sizes, theological leanings and regions to report on their church giving, budgeting and generosity initiatives, as well as programs to help families negatively affected by the economy.

“Charities and churches were hit hard by the recession, but many are now beginning to see increased giving,” said Brian Kluth, author, speaker and founder of the “State of the Plate” research. “A better economy, more Bible teaching on finances and generosity and a growing number of online giving options are helping many churches rebound financially.”

Giving increases were greatest among larger churches, with more than 70 percent of megachurches — 2,000 or more in weekend attendance — experiencing giving increases last year. Heartland states saw the biggest rebound, with nearly 55 percent of churches experiencing giving increases. For three of the last four years, Pacific Coast churches continued to struggle financially.  In 2011, 38 percent experienced giving declines.

Among churches that saw giving increases, 50 percent attributed the rise to greater attendance. Forty-two percent said it was because people gave more after their church conducted financial/generosity teaching initiatives, such as sermons, classes, seminars or distributed devotionals about the subject.

Church budgets, consequently, are up, and churches are allocating the extra funds to staff pay raises (40.3 percent), missions (36.5 percent), church buildings (35.3 percent) and benevolence (31.1 percent). And the way churches receive donations has shifted from the traditional “envelope packets” toward electronic giving, such as cell phone applications, automatic bank withdrawals and lobby kiosks.

“As giving has improved for many churches nationwide, this survey shows many have made budget decisions that directly care for people,” said Matt Branaugh, director of editorial for Christianity Today’s Church Management Team, a survey sponsor. “Many churches increased their spending for missions and benevolence – two ways churches work to meet the needs of people locally and globally. And pay raises for staff and pastors were a move to care for their own, after many churches were forced to freeze or cut salaries during the recession.”

The “State of the Plate” shows a significant number of churches actively use a variety of practices and procedures to ensure financial transparency and accountability. For instance, 92 percent make their financial statements available upon request to their members; 89 percent provide copies of their annual budget to their congregation or make them available upon request.  Eighty-six percent of church boards are made up of five or more people, with at least three of those people not a pastor or staff member, or related to either.

“It is important that churches properly self-govern in financial matters,” said Dan Busby, president of ECFA. “The ‘State of the Plate’ research shows that a significant number of churches are concerned about financial integrity and accountability. Our research shows that many churches are implementing strong financial accountability practices.”

Winchester, Va.-based ECFA leads the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations in response to a request from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).

In conjunction with the “State of the Plate,” a second survey called the “View from the Pew” assesses churchgoers’ personal financial, debt and giving practices, and trends. Findings of this survey, which focuses on those who give 10 percent or more of their incomes, will be released at a later date.

“State of the Plate” online surveys were completed by 1,360 churches of varying types from all regions of the country. For an executive summary with charts, graphs and trends, visit www.STATEofthePLATE.info/media2012.htm.
About MAXMUM Generosity

In mainstream media circles, Brian Kluth (www.BrianKluth.com), founder of “State of the Plate” research and the MAXIMUMgenerosity.org website, is known as “America’s Giving Guy.” A best-selling author, speaker and media commentator, Kluth’s book “40 Day Journey to a More Generous Life,” has become a bestseller, with a half-million copies sold. Kluth is a speaker for the www.GiveWithJoy.org radio program and the www.GenerosityPledge.org movement.

About Christianity Today

Christianity Today (www.christianitytoday.org), based in Carol Stream, Ill., is a global media ministry founded in 1956 by the Rev. Billy Graham. It provides nine publications, including Christianity Today, Leadership, Church Finance Today and an award-winning website reaching more than 2.5 million unique visitors each month.
About ECFA

ECFA (www.ecfa.org), based in Winchester, Va., is an accreditation agency dedicated to helping Christian ministries earn the public’s trust through adherence to Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™. Founded in 1979 and now with more than 1,600 members, ECFA provides accreditation to leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with established standards for financial accountability, fundraising and board governance. Members include Christian ministries, denominations, churches, educational institutions and other tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations. Collectively, these organizations represent more than $20 billion in annual revenue.

PreachingToday.com Announces Annual Preaching Book Awards

CAROL STREAM, Ill., Feb. 17, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — PreachingToday.com, a ministry of Christianity Today, has announced the winners of its annual Preaching Book Awards. PreachingToday.com names preaching books of the year in two categories: one focused on the preacher’s skills and the other on the preacher’s soul.

This year’s winner of the skills category is Engaging Exposition, written by Daniel L. Akin, Bill Curtis, and Stephen Rummage, and published by B&H Academic. David Allen, dean of the school of theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, raves, “This book has the best overall discussion that covers the landscape of expository preaching, regardless of genre, that would help any pastor regardless of experience level.” Honorable mention in the skills category goes to The Beginning and End of Wisdom: Preaching Christ from the First and Last Chapters of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Job, author Douglas Sean O’Donnell, published by Crossway.

In the soul category, the winner is Folly, Grace, and Power, author John Koessler, published by Zondervan Publishing. A strong second in this category is The Pastor by Eugene H. Peterson, published by HarperCollins.

The award winners were chosen by votes from two preaching experts and the editors of PreachingToday.com.

The article announcing the awards can be found here:
www.preachingtoday.com/skills/2012/february/annualptbookawards.html

PreachingToday.com is dedicated to inspiring preachers and elevating the level of preaching in the English-speaking world. PreachingToday.com is a subscription site that posts over 360 illustrations in its searchable database each year, as well as preaching articles, sermons and sermon series, and audio sermons.

Christianity Today is a nonprofit, global media ministry that serves the church through digital and print publications, as well as practical and accessible web resources that together reach more than 2.5 million people every month.

New Brand, New Initiatives for Christianity Today

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Image via Wikipedia

The future is more than a magazine.

CAROL STREAM, Ill., Feb. 17, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — Christianity Today International, the nonprofit organization that serves over 2.5 million readers every month through award-winning content in publications and web resources such as Christianity Today magazine and Leadership Journal, has rebranded as Christianity Today — a global media ministry.

The rebranding, which includes a new visual identity and the launch of a new ministry website, ChristianityToday.org, reflects the powerful history of the flagship magazine, Christianity Today, and creates a clear connecting point for all of the ministry’s brands.

“We pray that the biblical, balanced, and thoughtful content we strive to create in all of our resources inspires and mobilizes the church and its leaders,” says Harold Smith, President and CEO of Christianity Today. “When Christianity Today magazine was first published in 1956, print was our only option. However, with today’s technology, we serve millions of Christians every month through a variety of digital, mobile and print platforms. Therefore, a new identity and new initiatives focused on the future of the global church are necessary to accurately reflect the depth and breadth of Christianity Today as a ministry.”

With the rebranding, readers and friends of Christianity Today can expect the same powerful content from their favorite publications and resources, as well as other opportunities to engage with the ministry through two new initiatives Smith references:

This Is Our City: The three-year multimedia project “This Is Our City” focuses on six diverse metropolitan areas throughout the United States, giving a comprehensive picture of cultural renewal in business, government, public health, education and the arts by Christians who are shaping American society in creative, dynamic and sacrificial ways. The project includes a social platform for stories of cultural investment driven by Christian commitment.

Global Gospel Project: Christianity Today’s “Global Gospel Project” is a multi-year, multimedia initiative that will provide the 21st century evangelical church with compelling ways and means of re-engaging the great doctrines of the church so that men and women will more deeply grasp, in both mind and heart, the astounding love of God in Jesus Christ. This in turn will not only ground them more securely in their faith, but also energize them to share the gospel in word and deed ever more faithfully in the world.

For more information or interview requests regarding Christianity Today’s rebranding and new initiatives, contact Cory Whitehead, Director of Brand and Digital Marketing, at cwhitehead@christianitytoday.com or 630-260-6200 x4220.

Related Links:
What’s Changing at Christianity Today? – Q&A with Harold Smith
About Christianity Today magazine
About the Ministry of Christianity Today

Christianity Today is a nonprofit, global media ministry that serves the church through digital and print publications, as well as practical and accessible web resources that together reach more than 2.5 million people every month.

Church Leaders Can Be Personally Liable for Unpaid Payroll Taxes

taxes

taxes (Photo credit: 401K)

CAROL STREAM, Ill., Feb. 16, 2012 /Christian Newswire/ — Recently a federal court in North Carolina ruled that a minister met the definition of a “responsible person” under section 6672 of the tax code, and therefore the IRS could assess a penalty against the pastor in the amount of 100 percent of the payroll taxes that were not withheld or paid over to the government by the church.

The most significant federal reporting obligation of most churches is the withholding and reporting of employee income taxes and Social Security taxes. Church officers and directors (and in some cases employees, such as administrators or bookkeepers) can be personally liable for the payment of income taxes and Social Security and Medicare taxes that they fail to withhold, account for, or pay over to the government. It does not matter that church leaders serve without compensation, so long as they satisfy the definition of a “responsible person” and act willfully. In the March edition of Church Finance Today, Richard Hammar explains the three factors that determine whether a person is responsible, and how churches should respond to ensure their payroll tax obligations are correctly handled to protect staff and volunteers alike.

About Christianity Today International: Christianity Today is a not-for-profit communications ministry that serves the global church through print magazines, digital publications, websites and blogs which together reach over 2.5 million people each month. For more information, visit www.christianitytoday.com.

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