Free Tax Help for Ministers

Ministers’ tax law is, well – unique – to say the least.

IRS rules governing ministers can be confusing for the minister and many tax preparers.

GuideStone publishes a “Ministers’ Tax Guide” annually that provides step-by-step instructions. It is written by Richard Hammar, one of America’s foremost authorities on Church & Ministers’ tax law. The 2016 edition includes special instructions regarding the PATH ACT of 2015 and the Affordable Care Act.

Download your free guide.

Send the link or file to your tax preparer to aid him or her in serving you best.

More Questions?

You are welcomed to contact GuideStone directly at 888.984.8433 or Stacy Morgan at 800.622.6549, ext. 293 or 318.449.4293 and Stacy.Morgan@LouisianaBaptists.org.

2016 Summer Camps

2016 is here! And summer will be here before you know it.

Tall Timbers has begun accepting camp registrations. Make sure you sign up before you miss out!

Youth Camps

June 30 – July 2, 2016 – High Pursuit Camp
July 4-8, 2016 – Clear Camp I
July 11-15, 2016 – Clear Camp II
July 18-22, 2016 – Clear Camp III

Girls Mission Camp

July 24-27, 2016

RA Camp

July 27-30, 2016

5 Ways to Focus on WMU in Your Church

A recent conversation about healthy churches brought an illustration from seminary days to mind.

The church education professor was emphasizing five major programs of a church.

  1. Worship
  2. Pastoral care
  3. Discipleship
  4. Stewardship
  5. Missions

He illustrated it as a puzzle piece roof on top of the outline of a church building.  That is still how I often define a healthy church.

February 8-14 is Focus on WMU Week in Southern Baptist churches, a great time to look at mission education through WMU in YOUR church.  Not only a time to recognize preschoolers, children, teens and adults who gather to pray for missions and learn about missions, but to celebrate how they give to missions and how they DO missions.

Remember the time the RA and GA had a penny drive to do their part toward the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering – and included a little fun while doing so (even if the children’s minister took a pie in the face afterwards)?

What about the Acteens who collected towels for kitchen and bathroom towels for a man whose home had burned – a man who was not part of their church, in fact, one they didn’t even know?  Or the young women, of myMission age, who went to New York City on Memorial Day to serve alongside a North American missionary for the weekend?

Don’t forget the Women on Mission who weekly work the food pantry, in Jesus’ name, lovingly boxing non-perishables for those who would go without!

Here are 5 ways to celebrate them:

  1. Set up a “Missions Done” display in the church, showcasing photos of their work in the past 6 months, with the goal being one table for each age-level organization.
  2. Gather up all the children (whether or not your church has GA, RA or Children in Action) and participate in Children’s Ministry Day™ (information at wmu.com/CMD). They’ll be among thousands across our convention doing the same on the same day!
  3. Ask a GA and a GA leader to lead the church to pray for a Louisiana Baptist church planter during the Sunday morning worship service.
  4. Ask the RAs and their leaders, wearing their RA vests, to assist the ushers as they receive the Sunday morning offering.
  5. Using cardboard testimonies or a poster contest, ask mission education members – all ages – to share how they DO missions through WMU in your church. Share those in the opening moments of a worship service

During this week, thank God for missionaries who serve and the WMU members – of all ages – who pray for them daily.

These church members live missionally every day.

Go VBS with GOLA

GOLA Vacation Bible School Teams is a ministry to help zero-baptism and low-baptism Louisiana Baptist churches have a successful VBS this summer.

The teams of six college students each are chosen from Louisiana Baptist churches and Baptist Collegiate Ministries from across the state and are assigned to churches for a one-week VBS.

There is no cost to the church for a team as their expenses are handled through the Georgia Barnette State Missions Offering and Cooperative Program. A GOLA hosting church is responsible for their own VBS expenses, such as literature for expected number of children, craft items, decorations, refreshments, and so forth.

How to Apply

Churches interested in participating in this ministry need to complete the GOLA 2016 VBS Application below.

Download application

Return the completed application to Jeff Ingram, adult ministry strategist, at the address given below or Jeff.Ingram@LouisianaBaptists.org.

Louisiana Baptists
Attn: Jeff Ingram
P.O. Box 311
Alexandria, LA 71309

Please note that priority will be given to first-time requests from churches, as well as in the order of receiving the completed applications. Completing an application does not necessarily guarantee a team will be available. There are usually more requests than the teams can schedule in the summer. However, every effort will be made to help churches with their VBS.

For questions, contact Jeff Ingram at 318.448.3402 or email Jeff.Ingram@LouisianaBaptists.org.

What the GOLA VBS Team needs from your church:

  • Pray and prayer walk your community.
  • Publicize your VBS to your community (door-to-door flyers, telephone, signs in community and yards, inviting neighbors, etc).
  • Provide workers from your church to help the team and to build relationships with the children and parents.
  • Provide VBS curriculum for anticipated number of children and/or youth (LifeWay’s Submerged: Finding Truth Below the Surface).
  • Provide a meal – lunch or supper – for the team.
  • Follow-up with all children and families after VBS – THIS IS CRITICAL!
  • Help make it a great week for the team through cooperation and patience.

We (the Louisiana Baptist Convention) will provide the following:

  • GOLA VBS Team of 6 college students to help  lead your church’s VBS.
  • Train the team prior to their first week. (The students will be prepared to lead worship rally, recreation, crafts, Bible studies, missions; however you need them to help your church have a successful VBS.)
  • Provide for their transportation, hotel, and meals, except for the one meal at your church.
  • Provide honorariums for students.
  • Background checks for the team.
  • In most cases the team will be at your church from Sunday morning through Friday. (Saturday will be a travel day to their next location.)
  • The team leader will contact you at least two weeks out for final details.

6 Ways You Can Choose Wonder in 2016

2015 turned out to be a different world than 2014 and this year promises more change. That’s guaranteed!

• The state of our world is as uncertain as it’s ever been and all bets are off when it comes to what it will look like five years from now.
• Will we face an even deeper economic collapse?
• Will we face more threats from well-funded lunatics and military mercenaries?
• Is this the kind of world that you’d want to bring a kid into in five years?
• Should we be investing in the market or stockpiling spam and green beans in our closets?

Uncertainty is certain but one thing remains: our desire for wonder. Wonder is imbedded in the core of our soul. Very few seek a boring life, with so-so relationships, a mediocre romance and a take-it-or-leave-it career. We yearn for wonder. But how do we get wonder? Is wonder something we can capture like a trout at the end of a fly reel? Is wonder a formula? Is it a myth like the legends of Middle Earth, Sasquatch, or honest politics?

Time and time again in the Bible we get a view of wonder – how to lose it and how to seize it today. We see heroes who struggle – just like us. We see ordinary people who doubt – just like we do. And we see God compelling them to be all they never thought they could be. It all begins with preparation.

Chances are, this season of your life is all about preparing you for the next season of life. If you are anything like me and my church, you have big dreams and little budgets. Like a slingshot, you are being stretched to the limit in order to propel you into all the other phases of your life. This stretching time can determine your career, your lifelong friends, your financial future and ultimately, your spiritual direction. (No pressure.) While so many celebrate with a series of mind-numbing parties and shallow, surface-thin relationships based on all the wrong things, God wants to lead you through the threshold of wonder, bliss and amazement that will last for eternity.

In order to experience the wonder of this amazing walk with Jesus, make a few commitments:

• to not take yourself so seriously
• to not win arguments
• to love the people nobody seems to be loving
• to connect on a deeper level with your friends
• to be honest in your conversations
• to treat yourself like Jesus treats you
• to leave people alone when they want to be left alone
• to not “fix” your family
• to laugh more
• to dream more
• to give more
• to treasure sleep
• to weep without shame
• to rest when you’re tired
• to celebrate the accomplishments of others
• to live wholeheartedly
• to never judge
• to always love
• to be present
• to be available
• to put people above agendas
• to live in a perpetual state of gratitude

Jesus tells a story about a guy who finds an amazing buried treasure and then sells everything he has so that he can have the legal rights to this secret trove. Can’t you just hear his friends, family and neighbors? They didn’t know about the treasure. Can you hear them gossiping about his foolishness in selling his home, boat, donkey, family heirlooms, his shoes, pottery collection, tickets to the games in Rome … everything! I can just see him with a mischievous grin as he hears them mock and sees the smirks. He takes all this abuse because he knows something they don’t. He prepares to sell it all and get so much more in return. This is a metaphor about consecration. He goes on a huge sell-off in order to get that pearl – the prize of his life.

What will you choose?

Here are Six Ways to Choose Wonder

1. Seek out private worship. Having a daily time of worship and Bible reading places you in the zone of the supernatural. Shoot for seven days a week but hit at least five. See what God begins to show you.

2. Connect with one other person who is in agreement with you to follow God and seek Him daily. Meet once a week with that friend.

3. Make a difference in one person’s life. Pastor Andy Stanley says it like this: Do for one person what you wish you could do for everybody.

4. Set boundaries on frivolous spending and activities that disrupt your spiritual journey.

5. Give up trying to control people. Simply love them and work on yourself. It’s amazing what happens when we allow people to experience the consequences of their actions. Instead of trying to fix people, just love them and let them see you live with integrity.

6. Look for God’s hand and you’ll be amazed! There are miracles and unexplained mysteries all around us. Once you find them, you’ll bolster your faith to ask God for big things.

DIY Announcement Screens for the Budget Conscious Church

An announcement loop seems to be a mainstay in the 21st century church. Being able to give people a glimpse of the opportunities to grow and serve in their church should never be taken for granted and should be done with excellence.

Just because it needs to be done well doesn’t always mean you need to spend a lot of money. Here are the materials you will need to acquire in order to begin.

Project List

  • LED/LCD TV (preferable 42” or greater)
  • Flat screen TV mount
  • WD TV Live Media Player Wi-fi 1080p
  • Small flash drive (4gb or more)
  • Industrial Velcro
  • 1.5ft. HDMI cable
An excellent announcement screen doesn't need to be expensive

An excellent announcement screen doesn’t need to be expensive

Steps

  1. Hire an electrician to provide a power outlet in the area of the wall where theTV will be mounted
  2. Mount the TV following the instructions provided by the manufacturer of the mount. (Monoprice.com has great prices on mounts and HDMI cables)
  3. Take your industrial strength Velcro and adhere the WD TV Live to a flat surface on the wall or back of the TV.
  4. Connect the HDMI cable to both the TV and the WD TV Live box
  5. Use Microsoft Powerpoint, Adobe Photoshop, or Adobe Illustrator to create slides that are sized at 1920px x 1080px. You can do smaller slide dimensions but the suggested dimensions will give your images the maximum clarity.
  6. Take your thumb drive and load these images you made as well as a few songs to loop while the slides are going.
  7. Plug your flash drive into the WD Live and power it up. You will be able to access your slides and songs from the flash drive using the WD Live and begin your loop. Please consult the owner’s manual if you need assistance.
Behind the TV view of the WD Live TV box with USB drive

Rear TV view of the WD Live TV box with USB drive

Extra idea for the more advanced

You could easily repeat these steps for a two TV setup inside a lobby or corridor by adding a few additional items. A Kramer 1:2 HDMI distribution amplifier and two 50ft. HDMI cables would give you the ability to have the same exact image on two different TV’s at the same time. Sometimes this is desirable just so the ads are looping in unison. This gives a very polished look but is not absolutely necessary.