Church management 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 come together in 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, keep in mind these best practices for church management.
Ready to get started putting these best church management strategies into practice? Let’s dive in!
One of the most important 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 all congregants. Your church donations software, for instance, will be the central element of maintaining and growing your church’s tithes. 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, and not everyone can set aside time on a regular basis to send in their tithes.
Fortunately, free (yet advanced) software is available to give congregants a convenient way to give. Donations software provides a simple platform for online donations that can be featured on your church website. 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 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—and interactive, so friends and congregants can share it with one another and their networks. And this is also important: It should allow donors to give on a repeating basis. 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 storing individual contact information and donation history. 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 you offer special parking to visitors, make sure your church’s guests feel like part of the community.
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 welcome text message 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.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” — Matthew 6:21
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. You’ll need to be aware of what paperwork to file and how to manage a bank account, avoid fraudulent activity, and raise money for the church.
We discussed the foundation of church giving above—namely, online donations. Here are some ways to build off that foundation for further church support.
Text-to-tithe, like online donations, allows congregants to give to the church even when they’ve forgotten their wallets. All they need is a phone.
Once you have everything set up, church members can simply text the number to send in their donations. After texting, they’ll be sent 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. When they give again the following week, they’ll simply donate with two clicks.
An email donation button is another simple yet powerful tool. Once a church member or friend of the church receives an email, they can just 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.
Emails are already an effective fundraising technique because church members are probably checking their inboxes numerous times a day. Adding donation buttons to your email templates is an easy way to increase the visibility of tithing opportunities, without distracting readers or sounding pushy.
Your church’s administrators are probably sending out many emails a day, from newsletters to prayer requests to surveys and daily scriptures. If your emails were to become fundraising opportunities, imagine the spike you’d see in gifts!
Fundraising thermometers inspire church members to support particular projects. For instance, let’s say you’re fundraising for new pews for your chapel. You do the math and figure you’ll need around $20,000. Set your fundraising thermometer at $20,000, then watch as church members donate toward that goal.
You can incorporate a thermometer into your fundraising strategy in multiple ways:
Make fundraising thermometers more fun by hosting celebrations for major benchmarks. For instance, you could host a pizza party for the first $5,000 raised, a movie night when you hit $10,000, and so on.
Peer-to-peer fundraising isn’t just a great funding strategy. It’s also a great marketing strategy. 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.
A key responsibility among many church management staff members is event hosting. Because your church is a community hub, it probably frequently welcomes 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 fundraising events, to show strong leadership. And they should be there for stewardship events in order to foster the family aspect of the 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 singular mission of a particular church 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. When planning the event, think about inspiring activities that will truly unleash generosity. Some possibilities are:
No matter what event you’re most excited to pursue, make sure your entire church management team is on board. Then, start planning!
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. The best way to throw a profitable and well-thought-out event is to start early, leaving yourself room for any unforeseen circumstances.
If the event is a fundraiser, first determine how you’ll address the fundraising component. Will you charge for tickets in advance? Sell merchandise? Have a text-to-give sprint?
Next, focus on funding the event itself, if needed. You could have a campaign leading up to the event to pay for any expenses. For instance, you may choose to host:
Finally, start planning the activities, possibly by forming a planning committee to address everything from 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 who’s coming. (If you do, look for one that integrates with, or even is part of, your other church software).
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. However, they should also know about the options available to them. It’s 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 critical to send some kind of acknowledgement 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 more inclined to get involved with other activities.
Expressing gratitude can help build relationships to last.
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 gigantic tasks is to turn 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 goal 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. This advice pairs perfectly with Tip 8 (plan everything in advance) because it can be difficult to set mini tasks if you’re too close to the activity itself.
Delegate the tasks once they’re set. You can delegate to members of the church management team, or to other staff members within the church.
Every three months, it’s important to have a check-in meeting with your church’s board (501(c)3 churches are required to have managing boards), to ensure that you’re sticking to the budget you set at the beginning of the fiscal year.
Be sure to allocate parts 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, larger churches will find management much easier through comprehensive accounting software.
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 correct them in the coming quarter.
Because your church relies on the generosity of its congregants, funding may be difficult to reliably predict. That’s why it’s vital that your church set 10% of its monthly tithing away each month in case of a disaster or an immediate need.
Although we all hope your church will never see such a disaster, it’s always good church management practice to be prepared. 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.
Each month or quarter, set aside an agreed-upon amount expressly for emergencies. If, at the end of the fiscal year, this money has to be spent, portion some of it out for an extra fun event, and allocate the rest for next year’s emergency fund budget.
Not only do church administrators have to be miracle workers behind the scenes, they also have to be great communicators. From calling 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 four months. 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, every other week, 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, web announcements, and social media are fun activities for a church member who enjoys writing.
Here are some sources of inspiration for your church’s website, blog, and social media pages:
Just as you should commit to updating the website on a regular basis, your church administration 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 or easy to access via email, so everyone can stay informed.
Your church newsletter should have information such as:
Your church’s 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 email donation buttons.
Your church members are a family, so let them have the spotlight every now and then. Especially as your church grows, it becomes more and more important to introduce your church members to one another.
Consider featuring a different congregant on your church’s social media pages each month. Or highlight a member profile in your newsletter. Make sure members are acknowledged by the administration staff.
Members will love reading fun interviews with their fellow church-goers. Plus, they’ll look forward to seeing who will be featured next. Who knows, it could be you!
Good church management includes taking care of the building and services, but it’s also so much more than that. It includes setting up effective church software and keeping everything on track.
However, your church is more than its infrastructure and tools. It’s 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 for their sake.
If you’re looking for more key information on running a church, check out the resources below.
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