Church management is an important ideal that brings together the spiritual and the organizational. In the spiritual sense, you are serving the Lord while serving your community. In the day-to-day sense, managing a church often takes the same skill set as managing a small business.
That’s because, at their core, churches function much like small businesses. There are funds to allocate, software and systems to set up, people to manage, and infrastructure to maintain. It’s not easy to run a church, but when you watch congregants gather to worship, you’ll remember that it’s a blessing to help bring them together.
Your church’s pastors and administrators will take on the majority of the managerial duties and tasks of church management— this helps them fulfill the overarching goals of the church. But it’s the entire church’s responsibility to hold the administration staff accountable.
Therefore, guidance on effective church management is for more than just your church’s staff members. Whether you’re developing new management practices at your church or assessing how operations are currently going, be sure to keep in mind these best practices for church management.
Effective church management can be divided into a few core categories, each of which is further explored through specific and actionable tips. Feel free to jump around to the sections that interest you most, or read along from the top as we walk through a few of the best ways to grow your local church:
One of the most important, yet often overlooked, jobs a church administrator has is selecting the best software for your church. This choice is a crucial one because your church software will be used by most staff members—and possibly congregants as well.
Your church donations software, for instance, will be the central element of maintaining and growing your church’s tithes and offerings. The software will also be a key part of building long-term relationships with your church’s members.
As step one in the church management process, lay a foundation for success. Whether you’re starting a church or simply updating your technology, here’s what you’ll need.
Which church management tasks can be automated and simplified with software?
Let’s start with donations, tithes, and fundraising, because you’ll need support in order to do pretty much anything when it comes to church operations. From Sunday service to missionary work, doing good work starts with a good foundation.
According to Nonprofit Source, only 10-25% of a typical congregation tithes. If we had to venture a guess as to why, we’d say that that number is so low because it can be inconvenient to tithe. Not everyone has cash to put in the offering plate or can set aside time on a regular basis to send in their tithes.
Fortunately, free (yet advanced!) fundraising software is available to provide congregants with a convenient way to give. Donations software provides a simple platform for online giving that can be featured on your church website. It’s also mobile-friendly, so churchgoers can simply pull out their phone in service and make their gift.
With an intuitive platform like the one we offer here at Snowball, first-time donors fill out a short online form; repeat donors just click twice to give, and they can also set up recurring donations. The inconvenience is gone, and the donation is easily made.
There are plenty of free online donation pages to choose from, but be sure to go with one that’s easy to set up (no programming knowledge needed), interactive (so friends and congregants can share it with one another and their networks), and allows donors to give on a repeating basis. After all, there’s no better form of engagement than making it easy for congregants to establish long-term support for your church.
Generosity is part of the Christian spirit. Give congregants the opportunity to give whenever and wherever they wish to express that generosity.
Besides donations, some other church tasks that can be automated are:
This may look like a lot, but these systems can work together for streamlined operations. For instance, look for an online donation platform that comes with built-in CRM functionality, such as the ability to store individual contact information and donation history. Then you can use the donor contact information that you’ve collected in your online donation platform when sending out messages through your email automation system.
Once your technology is in place, you’re ready to build your church membership! Consult with your church management team on how to welcome new and potential church members.
The key thing to bear in mind with new and prospective members is to always convey a message of welcoming. Whether your church communication letters include invitations to new members, or special parking offers to visitors, make sure your church’s guests feel like part of the community from the get-go.
If you’re taking steps to grow your church, it’s likely that multiple members will sign up at once. Having a streamlined system in place will help simplify the process of bringing new members into the fold. As soon as a new member submits their membership paperwork, send them a welcome packet. Keep prewritten emails, letters, and informative documents on hand to use when the time comes.
Use multiple channels to make new members feel welcome. Consider sending them a personalized welcome text and including a “welcome new members” message in your next newsletter. Also make hospitality a central element of your church’s service. A simple message from the pastor, asking congregants to greet someone they’ve never met before, can have a great impact.
One of the chief duties of church administration is to make sure all finances are in order. There are plenty of financial factors to consider, including how to manage a bank account, avoid fraudulent activity, file required paperwork, and raise money for the church.
We discussed the foundation of church giving above—namely, online donations. Here are some best ways to build off that foundation for further church support.
Text-to-tithe tools, like online donation platforms, allow congregants to give to the church even when they’ve forgotten their wallets or don’t feel like dealing with cash.
On the church management side, the process is simple:
Once you have the foundation in place, church members can simply text the specified number to send in their weekly or monthly tithes. Then, they’ll receive a link, where they’ll select their preferred donation amount. If it’s the member’s first time giving, they’ll fill out a short donation form requiring key financial information. When they give again the following week, they can donate with two simple clicks.
Give congregants the option to use the tool that’s most convenient for them (their cell phones!) for good.
An email donation button is another simple yet powerful tool. Once a churchgoer or another community member receives an email, they can click on a button that says something along the lines of, “Support [name of church].”
They’ll be taken to your church’s online donation page, where they can give once or set up recurring donations.
Email is already an effective fundraising technique because many church members check their inboxes numerous times a day. Additionally, your church’s administrators are probably sending out many daily emails, from newsletters and surveys to prayer requests and daily scriptures.
If your emails were to become fundraising opportunities, imagine the spike you could see in gifts! Adding donation buttons to your email templates is an easy way to increase the visibility of tithing opportunities, without distracting readers or sounding pushy.
Fundraising thermometers are a great way to inspire church members to support particular projects. For instance, let’s say you’re fundraising for new seating in your chapel. You do the math and figure you’ll need around $5,000 to purchase a new set of pews. Set your fundraising thermometer at $5,000, then watch as church members donate toward that goal.
You can incorporate a thermometer into your fundraising strategy in multiple ways. Consider implementing:
Make fundraising thermometers even more engaging by hosting celebrations for major benchmarks. For instance, you could host a pizza party for the first $500 raised, a movie night when you hit $1,000, and so on.
Peer-to-peer fundraising isn’t just a great funding strategy, but it can also work as an effective marketing tactic. It works like this:
This method works well because you’re not appealing only to your church’s immediate network. When your supporters share their fundraising pages with their own online networks, they’re spreading the word about your church far and wide. This is why social media is a fantastic platform for campaign awareness-raising.
Your church management team works hard to make sure your church’s finances are up to date and responsibly handled. Standardizing a process to keep up with financial management is key to organizing your records and responsibly allocating your funds.
Church administrators often get bogged down by the enormity of the tasks they’re assigned and the frequency with which they’re assigned them. The only way to tackle such large and overwhelming projects is by breaking them into smaller tasks that can be taken one day at a time.
The best advice for a church administrator with a goal—from large goals like organizing the Christmas pageant, to small goals such as switching coffee providers—is to break each step down into its most granular components and create a specific timeline.
Once these mini-tasks are set, you’ll find it much easier to address even the largest tasks at hand. Delegate the tasks once they’re set. You can assign tasks to individuals on the church management team, staff members, or other eager volunteers within the church body.
Make sure you create a reasonable budget that addresses your church’s needs at the beginning of every fiscal year, but your financial management can’t end there. It’s important to have a check-in meeting with your church’s board members at least every three months, to ensure that you’re sticking to that same budget and address any problem areas that arise.
Be sure to allocate portions of your budget toward all expenses, including:
If you’re a part of a management team for a small church, you may be able to track your finances through a simple spreadsheet. However, large and growing churches will find management much easier through comprehensive accounting software.
The good thing is that three-month check-ins do not leave a long-enough time for your budget to become irreparably set off course. If you catch mistakes or oversights in fund allocations early enough, you can redirect and make adjustments in the coming quarter.
Because your church budget highly relies on the generosity of its congregants, reliable funding can be difficult to accurately predict. That’s why it’s vital that your church set at least 10% of its monthly revenue away each month in case of a disaster or another immediate need.
Although we all hope your church will never see such a disaster, it’s always good church management practice to be prepared. After all, better safe than sorry! An emergency fund could be allocated for something as destructive as a flood, or something as simple as a broken staircase railing. Either way, it’s a necessary fund for any church.
Every so often, whether monthly or quarterly, set aside an agreed-upon amount expressly for emergencies. If the money has yet to be spent by the end of the fiscal year, portion some of it out for an extra fun event, and carry the rest over to next year’s emergency fund.
A key responsibility among many church management staff members is event hosting. Because your church is a community hub, you probably frequently welcome people through its doors for events.
Those events may pertain to stewardship, fundraising, or other forms of community engagement. Your entire staff should be involved in event hosting to show strong leadership and foster the familial environment of a church congregation.
If you’re thinking about hosting an event for your church, make sure you choose one that’s mission-appropriate. Brainstorm events connected to the overall mission of the church, as well as the more targeted mission of a particular project.
Here are a few questions to ask before getting started with event planning:
Let’s say you’re hosting an event to raise money for the homeless population in your area— you may choose to partner with a local nonprofit with a similar mission to boost community relations and generate increased fundraising revenue. When planning the event, think about inspiring activities that will truly unleash generosity within your community. Some possibilities are:
Or, check out 85+ more fundraising ideas here! No matter what event you’re most excited to pursue, make sure your entire church management team is on board. Then, start planning.
The best way to throw a profitable and well-thought-out event is to start early, leaving yourself room to handle any unforeseen circumstances in a timely manner. Depending on the scope of the event your church is hosting, you could spend months planning it. Avoid the stress of scrambling to put together an event in only a few weeks by getting a jumpstart as soon as possible.
If the goal of the event is to generate revenue for your church, first determine how to go about collecting those funds. Will you charge for tickets in advance? Sell merchandise? Have a text-to-give sprint? Set up a traditional donation box? You may even choose to implement multiple fundraising tactics to bring in the maximum donations from various sources.
Next, focus on funding the event itself, if needed. After all, sometimes the most successful events require upfront costs as a fundraising investment. You could have a campaign leading up to the event to pay for any expenses such as food, supplies, or activities. For instance, you may choose to host:
Finally, start planning the activities by forming an event committee to address everything from the budget to food, decorations, set-up and tear-down, and individual responsibilities during the event.
Once you have a strong plan in place, begin marketing your event. Feature it in your church newsletter and on social media, and as appropriate, announce it at your church’s service and other regular church activities.
Consider using event management software to keep track of any RSVPs and attendees. If you choose to go this route, look for a software provider that integrates with, or even is part of, your other church software for boosted convenience and a centralized data system.
In addition to raising money before your event, there are plenty of creative ways to raise money during it.
It’s important to ensure that your church supporters never feel as though they’re being pestered by your church’s administration, but rather have the desire to give in whatever way they can. To do so, options should be made available without becoming overbearing— it can be a careful balance to strike.
Some of the classiest ways to raise extra money during your event include:
There are plenty of other ways to raise money during your event. All your church management team has to do is get creative!
Whether it’s emailing a quick “thank you” to event participants or following up with a phone call or handwritten letter, it’s important to send some kind of acknowledgment as soon as possible after an event.
Appreciation can go a long way at your church. Not only will people feel as though they’re a true part of the church community, but they may also feel more connected with the church as a whole, and therefore more inclined to get involved with other activities.
Not only do church administrators have to be miracle workers behind the scenes, they also have to be great communicators. From catching up with new members to writing newsletters and updating blogs, administrators have a lot of plates to keep spinning. Use these tips to help balance them all at once.
When you update your church website and blog on a consistent basis, church members are more likely to visit it regularly. Imagine their reaction if they were to check the website for news about the church, only to discover that it hadn’t been updated in months— or years. They’d never check it again!
Consistency is also important for your social media pages. Engage with church members and supporters often on social media to keep a high level of enthusiasm for the great work you’re doing.
Set a schedule for website updates, whether it’s weekly, biweekly, or even monthly. Aim to post on social media more frequently—at least a few times a week. Remember, it’s okay to delegate tasks like these if you have too much going on. Blogging, keeping up with web announcements, and managing social media platforms are fun activities for a more tech-savvy church member who enjoys writing and/or design.
Here are some sources of inspiration for your church’s website, blog, and social media pages:
Nowadays the majority of your congregation is likely to have an online presence, and expect you to do the same. After all, it’s one of the easiest ways to reach new attendees, keep your congregation up-to-date, and maintain a sense of community.
Just as you should commit to updating the website on a regular basis, your church management team should also publish a newsletter on a consistent schedule.
Some of your church’s members won’t want to check the website or blog to keep current with the happenings in and around the church. For those members, it’s important to have something physical and easy to access, so everyone can stay informed.
Your church newsletter should have information such as:
Your newsletter is key for those who want something physical to hold onto. However, it’s a good idea to also send it by email, to reach a wider audience and incorporate more digital features.
Your church members are a family, so make sure to let them share the spotlight every now and then. Especially as your church grows, it becomes more and more important to introduce church members to one another and maintain that close-knit family feeling.
Consider featuring a different congregant on your church’s social media pages on a weekly or monthly basis. Or highlight a specific volunteer profile in your newsletter. Make sure members and other supporters are acknowledged by the administration as a vital aspect of church management.
As your congregation grows through increasingly effective and streamlined church management, being able to quickly recognize and address these common roadblocks will be essential. These are some of the most common concerns, but it’s important to be on the lookout for anything else that may hinder your church’s growth or sustainability.
The most common problem for churches wanting to expand is that they simply aren’t ready for it. Your church may have the heart to accept new congregants, but the resources just aren’t there. And that’s okay!
You’ll need sufficient funding, a growing staff, and a dedicated team of leaders to provide a solid foundation for church growth. One or more of these areas may pose a problem that could deter your growth if you don’t have the right resources.
Before you can solve any problems, you must first identify exactly where the problem lies. Create an actionable list of your resource shortages. Once this list is created you can start coming up with solutions.
For instance, if you’re lacking staff members to teach your weekly Sunday School classes, seek volunteers instead. After a worship service, introduce the idea to your congregation and recruit members for these new and available positions.
In another example, if you are lacking the funds to grow your church, prepare your next budget to include some church fundraising ideas. Estimate the revenue you could make from each of these fundraisers, and allocate the funds to specific growth efforts.
Don’t jump the gun when it comes to church growth. The more time you take crunching the numbers and preparing to expand, the easier the growth process will be. Make sure your church has the necessary staff, fundraising capabilities, and strong leadership.
If your church doesn’t have access to these key resources yet, your next steps are to acquire them before attempting to grow.
Let’s face it, as much as we’d love for everyone in our community to join our church, the building simply isn’t big enough. Worship space is a major issue for many churches trying to expand their congregations.
It takes a lot of time and discipline to save and plan for more church space. First, you need the money to either re-purpose some of the space you already have in your building or to acquire an entirely new space.
Building takes saving, which means it can be difficult to show your congregation immediate results. Without immediate results, it is easy to become discouraged with these large projects.
Here are some tips to get started with the expansion process without discouraging your congregation:
Watch your savings grow a little at a time, plan ahead, and stay motivated. Before you know it, your new service space will be filled to the brim with new disciples.
Do you remember when your church first got its start? There was so much talking between leaders, congregants, members and all sorts of other people. Expanding is no different— you need expert communication techniques to grow your church.
Many churches fall short with this necessary communication. They tend to rely too heavily on one type of communication than others. For instance, new contemporary churches tend to focus too heavily on social media communications, while more traditional churches rely too heavily on word-of-mouth.
Consider these methods of communication for your church:
Combine as many of these communication methods as you can to ensure people are seeing your messages about upcoming church growth strategies, but don’t bite off more than you can reasonably chew!
Consider allocating the upkeep of these platforms to a single communications director for your church, who can help you lead the congregation through the growth process.
A growing church tends to involve big changes, such as in church management, leadership, and even location. While it is almost impossible to make absolutely everyone happy with such a big change, we do have some tips and tricks that can help even the most stubborn audiences learn to welcome new adjustments. Consider the following strategies:
Resistance to change is nothing new to most churches, but if the opposition to your desire to grow is too great, it’s probably worth reevaluating your decision to expand. You’re going to need a strong church body on board to move forward with expanding your church!
Many churches, even if they do have the infrastructure to expand, still find it difficult to encourage the attendance of new believers. A major source of this problem may be the lack of a presence in both the online and physical communities. In other words, people may just not know about your church!
Try increasing your visibility in order to encourage the attendance of new members. Here are a few examples of how to grow awareness within your community:
Getting someone to attend your church for the first time is a big step in the growth process, and it’s often one of the most nerve-wracking stages as a prospective new member. Next, it’s time to encourage them to return— over and over again.
To foster sustainable growth, it’s important that some, if not all, of your first-time guests become repeat churchgoers and eventual members. Here’s where some churches go wrong— once your church has encouraged someone to attend a service once, your job isn’t done!
Many churches see an abundance of guests who attend a single service and never return to the congregation again. Yet the majority of church guests are turned off not by the sermon, but by the lack of a welcoming environment.
Take the necessary measures to ensure your new guests feel at home in your congregation. The brunt of this process falls on current members and churchgoers, who can be encouraged to:
First impressions can go a long way with retaining your first-time guests. They should feel welcomed by you and your congregation into the house of the Lord.
Good church management includes taking care of the building and services, but it’s also more than maintaining infrastructure and tools. After all, a church is defined by the members who worship together.
Therefore, when you’re managing your church, you’re really managing the family that comes together every week to worship something bigger than all of us. Make the church experience the best it can be!
If you’re looking for more key information on running (and growing!) a church, check out the resources below:
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