IRS policy taxes healthcare premiums for individuals
Adapted for The Witness
December 17, 2014
VANCOUVER -- Churches that reimburse employees or pay for their individual health insurance policy premiums may face significant tax penalties, according to staff specialists of the Northwest Baptist Foundation.
NWBF officials noted churches which offer such payments for employees in group plans are not affected by Internal Revenue Service guidelines which took effect at the beginning of 2014. Most churches providing employee insurance through GuideStone Financial Services of the Southern Baptist Convention are automatically covered by the group coverage exemption.
The new guidelines stipulate employers – including churches and other non-profits – can generally no longer pay or reimburse individual health insurance policy premiums for employees on a pre-tax basis. Employers may still help offset costs for individual policy premiums, but the amounts are treated as taxable compensation.
NWBC president re-elected, budget approved by messengers
By Cameron Crabtree
November 26, 2014
SALEM, OR -- Messengers attending the Northwest Baptist Convention annual meeting in Salem, OR, Nov. 11-12 re-elected a slate of three officers, approved a $5,098,298 ministry budget for 2015 and formally celebrated a new mission partnership with International Mission Board workers in East Asia.
The 335 messengers and almost 80 guests gathered at the Salem Convention Center represented 149 NWBC-affiliated churches.
“One of the things I love about serving with you in the Northwest is the diversity of our work and the great commitment to reaching people for Christ that I see from so many of our pastors and people,” NWBC executive director Randy Adams told those attending. “There is no legislative or political pursuit, there is no executive board in the Fortune 500, there is no athletic endeavor on this planet that possesses the potential for eternal impact like that of your church, and churches like yours in the Northwest, and the world over.”
Adams urged participants to view their day-to-day ministry as a spiritual battle won through praying and proclaiming the gospel message.
“Our number one need is prayer for more preachers, more pastors, more seed sowers and gospel harvesters,” he said. “It’s too easy to live and die in the Northwest without hearing the gospel from someone who loves you.
Northwest women celebrate missions at annual meeting
By Sheila Allen
November 20, 2014
SALEM, OR – Women pursuing God’s purpose were evident at the annual meeting of Northwest Women, held November 10 in Salem, OR, just prior to the annual meeting of the Northwest Baptist Convention.
In a packed room that reflected the diversity of women across the Northwest, a vibrant desire for local and international missions was front and center.
“I took two friends that I lived with at the Purple Door to Thailand on a mission trip,” said Rebecca Harper. “There was something that led us even though we knew it wasn’t possible and God provided, financially and in other ways, through the WMU and the Northwest Baptist Convention.” (The Purple Door is a residential complex owned by the Puget Sound Baptist Association across the street from the University of Washington.)
The trio worked alongside International Mission Board personnel in place in Thailand and taught English classes using Bible curriculum at a Buddhist temple school, among other assignments.
“We were allowed to step into a moment of time where God has been at work for hundreds of years,” Harper said. “We also worked at a Baptist medical clinic and at Thai Country Trim, an artisan group sponsored by WMU through WorldCraftsSM that employs 25 women.” WorldCraftsSM develops sustainable, fair-trade businesses among impoverished people around the world. Their vision is to offer an income with dignity and the hope of everlasting life to every person on earth.
Clear call important when delivering the gospel
By Sheila Allen
November 20, 2014
SALEM, OR – Churches should anticipate and plan effectively for people responding to the gospel, said Oregon pastor Gabe Kolstad during a Nov. 11 breakout session at the Northwest Baptist Convention’s annual meeting gathering in Salem, OR.
“The gospel is worth a response because everyone needs that opportunity,” Kolstad urged. “You must expect someone to respond every time you preach.” Kolstad, pastor of Westside Community Church in Aloha, OR, led the session alongside Barry Campbell, pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Redmond, OR.
We must prepare for many to come to Christ – expecting it,” Kolstad noted. “Are rooms, resources, the church office or prayer team ready? We must consider what’s next after they respond.”
Participants were encouraged to build anticipation throughout the worship experience by announcing the intent to ask for a commitment so that people have time to respond.
“Use illustrations that explain the gospel, like to a child,” Kolstad said. “Communicate at the lowest common denominator to take barriers out. Use terms that people understand like ‘drive a stake in the ground’ or ‘step across the line’ to create a clear call. We must be really clear and consistent. If God brings us a new believer, we must be faithful to answer questions and prove ourselves worthy of his trust and protect new believers like they are your baby.”
Leaders developed at summer collegiate program
By Tobin Perry
November 12, 2014
SAN DIEGO (BP) -- When Arsenia Ivanov came to the end of her freshman year at Washington State University she had a choice to make.
The first generation Russian-American had little background in Christianity before attending Resonate Church on WSU's campus in Pullman. As summer approached the young believer could either go home -- away from her new spiritual support system -- or join some Resonate friends for a summer leadership development program in San Diego called Elevate.
"I knew if I were going to have a deeper relationship with Jesus I would have to pursue it or I'd walk away from it," Ivanov said. "I saw Elevate as an opportunity to be in a place where I could grow and see what my faith would really mean for the rest of my life. When I saw that it was basically work, a vacation, Jesus and community all rolled into one, I was in."
Summer can be hard for collegiate churches. Leaders spend the school year discipling students and preparing them to impact their world for Christ and in three months -- or less -- students fall into bad habits.
That's part of the success behind Elevate, a summer program to develop leaders at Resonate Church, a multi-campus Northwest Baptist Convention collegiate church near WSU, the University of Idaho and Central Washington University. Last summer, about 70 students participated in Elevate.
Elevate allows students to live in a discipleship community, work and witness at summer jobs and serve San Diego church plants in the process. Instead of the summer being a distraction to spiritual growth, it can be an incubator for it.