After studying more about creating paper documents for local congregations and ministries, I have decided to better document my own church ministry. At the same time, I hope to improve and simplify some documents, forms and envelopes.
Servants’ News has been published since 1995, intended for people with a Church of God background. Shelter in the Word has been published since 1998 and intended for a general Christian audience. I have diligently tried to keep out anything that would require a Church of God background to understand. At present, there are only about 50 Shelter in the Word recipients that do not take Servants’ News, but there are also many who get both, but who are primarily interested in Shelter in the Word.
I have not felt a great urgency to try to increase Shelter in the Word readership, and I admit that it has not had a lot of consistency in its publication size or content. It has had extremely basic articles, and then it has included massive papers like What Does the Bible Say About Eternal Judgment? and Starting a Local Congregation. However, I thought it was very important to get in the habit of producing articles that can be understood without a CoG background. There is no reason for people who want to come to God to feel like they have to learn and re-live 50 years of Radio Church of God and Worldwide Church of God history—just like most of us would not want to learn and re-live 50 years of Church of God Seventh Day or Seventh Day Adventist History. Indeed, I have felt that if some Shelter in the Word readers would read some of the long banterings about organization and church government in Servants’ News, they might conclude that they need to look elsewhere for help in serving God.
But my efforts to keep the Servants’ News name away from Shelter
in the Word readers have met with difficulty when it comes to basic literature,
form letters, envelopes, etc. Do I need to print two versions of each, one “from”
Servants’ News and the other “from” Shelter in the Word? It is much easier to simply make all of them “from” Church Bible Teaching Ministry. Readers of both publications will see the CBTM name, but need not know about the other publication. If I ever have reason to add another publication (as if these two are not already more than I can do), I will not need to produce many new envelopes, forms, etc.
The name, Church Bible Teaching Ministry, was chosen because it was descriptive of what I do, and because it should be more helpful for those who give offerings and desire tax deductions. We have frequently quoted the following paragraph from IRS publication 557 (rev. Nov 1999), Tax-exempt Status for Your Organization, page 21, col. 3:
Churches. Although a church, its integrated auxiliaries, or a convention or association of churches is not required to file Form 1023 to be exempt from federal income tax or to receive tax deductible contributions, the organization may find it advantageous to obtain recognition of exemption…
I believe it is a mistake for churches and Church ministries to file form 1023, because they must promise to abide by all IRS regulations both present and future, which are sometimes contrary to Scripture. As I understand it (consult a licensed professional for advice), courts have upheld tax deductions to churches and ministries that have not filed form 1023, but the name on the check can apparently make a difference as to whether tax auditors will question a deduction or not—a name like “Servants’ News” does not sound like a church and may be more often challenged, whereas a name like “Church Bible Teaching Ministry” probably would not be.
I intend to publish the declaration and other foundational documents of Church Bible Teaching Ministry in the future. I hope other congregations and ministries will consider using these methods that were so common at the founding of our country, but have recently declined greatly in use.
— Norman Edwards