5 Essentials of Church Managementgnasim
At ChMeetings, we understand how important organization and effective management are for running a church. In fact, more than 2,000 churches and dioceses trust our cloud-based church management software.
The future of church management software is bright, with its market size expected to grow 5% annually in the coming years. The market size currently stands close to $200 million and will likely surpass $300 million around 2030.
Today, we’ll look at the 5 essentials of church management and explain how our software can help. Our guide will ultimately explore how to run a church more effectively through technology and more traditional means alike. Let’s begin, shall we?
Overview of effective church management
There are many steps you can take to improve church administration, ranging from how you plan and host events to more effective facilities management.
The key areas to prioritize:
- More effectively reaching your community through conventional and web-based means.
- Improving how you budget and plan for the future.
- Creating a welcoming and appealing environment to increase the retention of churchgoers, employees, and volunteers.
- Using technology to improve church management.
- Enhancing your facility management skills and capacity.
- Operating in a more organized manner.
- Being strategic in how you manage and operate.
How ChMeetings can help you
Our software has a plethora of features to improve church management.
We offer features in the following areas:
- People – Create and track profiles and manage families.
- Groups – Assign employees or volunteers to online groups making work, planning, and communication easier.
- Events & Check In – All your event management in one user-friendly location.
- Giving – Allow members to donate online and offline.
- Member Access – Enables members to contribute online, update relevant data about themselves and register for events.
Additional features include creating and customizing action lists and the capacity to set up and share forms.
Sign up to ChMeetings today and start using our software completely for free!
The five essentials of church management
There are many areas to consider when managing a church. However, we’ve narrowed things down to what we believe are the five most essential steps. You can achieve many of these goals by using ChMeetings.
1- Church management budget
With limited resources, a church needs to structure its budgeting process. You must consider all necessary expenses and how to prioritize your spending.
You should include the following approaches:
- Create an annual budget at the beginning of the fiscal year
- Hold check-in meetings with board members at least four times a year*
*These check-ins can help you evaluate whether the church is keeping within its budget. If you spot issues during a check-in, it’s the perfect chance to adjust your plans and reallocate funds accordingly.
A church budget may include the following:
- Staff payments
- Religious education supplies
- Literature such as the Bible
- Office supplies
- Special event funds
- Janitor supplies
Your budget should also feature room for an emergency fund. You should set aside no less than 10% of your monthly revenue for a rainy day. After all, we do not know what tomorrow could bring, and while we all hope to avoid sudden unexpected expenses (e.g., flood damage repairs), it’s always good to be ready.
It’s fine to reallocate some of these funds to other expenses at the end of the fiscal year. However, we recommend carrying much of, if not most of your emergency fund into the next year. This makes sense as disaster could strike early in the new fiscal year. You want to ensure you always have emergency funds, regardless of whether it is early, late, or in the middle of a financial year. As time passes, you may find you can reallocate more emergency funds (in total dollars) at the end of a given fiscal year, depending on how much you’ve carried over from year-to-year.
To provide an example, let’s say you save $500 a month in emergency funds from January 2023 and (assuming no emergencies occur) reallocate 30% of your emergency fund at the end of each year. By 2027, you will have saved $16,800. At this stage, you may decide to reallocate 60% of this fund, bringing you back to $8,400 before returning to 30% reallocation for the following several years. The point is that you should take a cautious but flexible approach when reallocating emergency funds.
2- Board governance and legality
Your church must be compliant with relevant laws on a local-, state-, and federal-level. It’s also important to recognize risks, whether legal or otherwise.
Examples of risk management include:
- Volunteer screening – You should screen every volunteer to ensure they have a clean criminal background. The primary reason is to protect children, and many states require volunteers to have a background check by law (if they work around children). You also want to protect adult church members, and, lastly, you want to prevent someone from volunteering who might steal church items.
- Campus safety – It’s Important to evaluate health & safety risks in general and put the appropriate measures in place if they aren’t already. You should do so in accordance with the laws and regulations of your local area. Of course, you should take your risk evaluation further if there are additional concerns worth checking (e.g., ask yourself whether all church candles are stable or if some are at risk of falling over and causing a fire). You should look around and try to identify hazards that may not be obvious at first glance.
Risk management is more than just a case of liability; of course, it is a moral concern too. To align with God’s vision, a church should ensure that everyone is safe from hazards and dangerous people alike.
Another thing about keeping members safe is to be aware that volunteer screening alone may not protect kids. This is partly because, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice, 23% of sexual offenders were under the age of 18 when they committed an offense.
Undertaking a background check on minors is more complex than screening an adult. However, it is usually allowed when certain steps are taken (e.g., the parents approve). If in doubt, check your local state laws.
If you do not or cannot undertake background checks of those under 18, then training and oversight will be key to protecting kids. Indeed, these measures can help to keep everyone safe, even if every volunteer has been screened. After all, a person does not need a criminal background to be a threat.
You should also take into account the following policy and cultural concerns:
- Are people held to account in your church? Or, if issues have never arisen, do you consider it likely that they would be held accountable? We are referring to infractions that are non-criminal (i.e., breaking a church rule or lying). Of course, if you suspect someone of committing a crime, you must contact the police.
- Is there a plan in place to address allegations properly and seriously if they arise? Again, you must take appropriate action by involving law enforcement if criminality is a concern.
- Is there a plan in place to notify the relevant authorities of a criminal concern or allegation if needed?
Thankfully, church management in this area is improving. In 2016, property disputes replaced sexual misconduct as the main reason churches go to court. This is arguably the result of sexual misconduct declining due to better policies, oversight, training, and screening.
Of course, it’s important to remember that adults, as well as children, could be victims of inappropriate behavior, harassment, or bullying. Therefore, you also want to take steps to protect adult members and all churchgoers alike.
Another subject that falls under law and risk management is board governance. Assuming you are a 501c3 organization, you must follow the requirements for such organizations as set out by the IRS. For instance, your church must have board governance if you are a 501c3 organization.
Board governance involves:
- Overseeing the ministry budget, legal compliance, risk management, and capital expenditures.
- Ensuring appropriate management of church resources.
Ideally, the board should have members with backgrounds in many areas, such as business and law.
3- Utilizing technology in general
There are many ways to use technology to improve church management, reach churchgoers more effectively, and raise money for the church or/and special causes.
Here are some ways you can use technology to improve church operations:
- Updating your website – It’s important to keep your web content up to date, or else web users are unlikely to return. If there’s nothing new on your website after a month, most will assume it is inactive. Ideally, you should schedule website updates once weekly, every two weeks, or, at least, monthly.
- Managing social media – You should post several times a week, if not more. The good thing about social media platforms is that many allow you to schedule posts in advance. This could save time and make planning for the week ahead easier. Some things you may want to include in your online content are text and images related to recent services, bible passages, or/and news of upcoming church events.
- Web-based Newsletters – You should also consider producing a weekly or monthly newsletter that churchgoers can receive by email. Considering that the likelihood of church attendance increases with age, you should also provide a physical newsletter to hand out in person after a service or send by post to your old-fashioned congregants. Indeed, you may find quite a few people under the age of sixty-five who prefer this option too. However, don’t forget to take postage expenses into account.
- Email Payments – A great way of increasing online donations is to add a donation button to emails. This could mean including it in your newsletters or other mass emails (e.g., a big announcement).
Online Fundraisers – You can use ChMeetings to enable web users to contribute to your church through a custom donation link, PayPal, or Stripe. Our software allows you to add and track contributions, as well as export this data and email or print statements. All of this is done easily by setting up statements and mailing lists through our user-friendly online portal.
Today, many church solutions are achieved through modern technology, allowing Christians globally to use the new to preserve the old. For more information on what we offer, check out our comprehensive features page.
Also, did we mention that we can help you build your very own branded app? That’s right, we can bring your church closer to congregants with a mobile app specific to your church. This is an excellent way to stay connected and ensure your congregants are always up-to-date.
4- Managing church goals and strategy
An effective way of managing goals in any organization involves breaking them down into daily, weekly, and monthly lists. Rather than just going with the flow and addressing events and operations as they come, listing goals in detail can make church management easier and reduce the risk of things going awry.
Breaking down projects into smaller tasks can make life simpler for church administrators. To achieve this, the admin should look at all projects and goals and determine what their components would be. They could then create a timeline on a daily, weekly, and monthly timescale to deal with said tasks.
Of course, a daily to-do list would comprise individual tasks more so than a weekly or monthly to-do list. The latter would focus more on broader goals and targets for the said time frame.
Keeping churchgoers aware of plans moving forward is also a good idea. This can reduce the risk of churchgoers being upset by sudden changes in how the church operates.
Here are ways of effectively communicating future plans to churchgoers:
- Be transparent about what you have planned for the church’s future
- Allow churchgoers to submit both complaints and constructive ideas
- Ensure that congregants are aware of changes well in advance
- Ask for support and prayers as the church moves forward
- Arrange social events for churchgoers
Strategy is also key to ensuring future growth. You likely already have a long-term vision and mission laid out at this stage. If you don’t, however, we can help. A strategic plan can allow you to implement your vision and mission effectively. A mission in this context means your long-term goals and ambitions as a church, not physical missions to spread Christianity.
Examples of effectively managing church strategy:
- Helping the homeless – If one of your goals is to support homeless people in your area, it is worth creating a plan and structuring how you will approach this on a year-on-year basis. Just as you should budget for the year ahead, you should structure plans for achieving goals that may currently be too broad or abstract. Obviously, you want to allow some room for spontaneity, such as if your church comes into contact with a homeless family who you would like to help promptly. This is an example of where a rainy-day fund could help.
- Welcoming more churchgoers – The internet is a fantastic way of appealing to Christians in your area who are either unaware of your church (perhaps as they just moved in) or yet to be inspired to attend your church. Consider what steps and tasks you should undertake to achieve this goal (e.g., you could announce when and where an upcoming service is being held via social media).
As mentioned, your church strategy relates to your overall mission. You could summarize your mission and strategy with a single mission statement.
Here are some hypothetical mission statements:
- Bringing you closer to God through leadership while building hope for the future
- Helping Christians re-discover their connection with God
- Allowing you to develop a closer relationship with God while establishing a greater sense of community and belonging on Earth
- Showing you the way of Jesus Christ through authenticity and empathetic communication
- Bringing the light of Jesus into the hearts and minds of Christians
You probably have an existing mission statement. If you do not, however, we recommend that your mission statement summarizes your vision and goals in one or two sentences.
For brainstorming purposes, ask yourself the following questions:
- What are you trying to offer churchgoers in relation to God? (i.e., is improving their relationship with God your top priority? Or perhaps it is more effectively spreading the word and love of God?).
- Do you want to make your mission statement solely about the spiritual and heavenly, or would you like to touch on your vision for Earthly matters too, such as helping the local community?
- How can you most effectively communicate your vision and goals? It’s worth drafting and redrafting your mission statement until it is as concise as possible while ensuring it reads well too.
5- Facilities management
The most important consideration here is maintenance. This, of course, relates back to health and safety. It’s important to repair or replace objects and fittings when needed.
Moreover, ensure your church is kept clean. Ideally, you should hire a janitor to undertake this work. In addition, unless you are satisfied with the current appearance of your church, consider how it could be re-decorated to become a more visually appealing space.
We recommend using a scheduled maintenance plan. Note what maintenance is needed when an issue arises and book a contractor to address the problem as soon as possible. Some contractors also provide an emergency service.
Examples of emergency maintenance include:
- Significant flooding*
- Gas leaks*
- No heating available
*In these cases, if you cannot reach a contractor on their emergency number, you could contact the emergency services since these issues pose an immediate risk to health and safety. In the case of severe flooding, you should always call 911 once you are safe to do so.
If your church is suffering from gas leaks, you should turn off the gas supply, turn off naked flames and leave the property. Only make a phone call when you are outside, as even making a call indoors could ignite leaking gas. Furthermore, do NOT turn any electrical switches on or off before you leave the premises. Needless to say, everyone should evacuate if a gas leak is suspected.
An immediate evacuation may also be necessary in the case of flooding. Of course, it would depend on the extent of the flooding, but if in doubt, take no chances and make sure everyone leaves. You should also move to higher ground if dealing with severe flooding. Only when you are safe should you dial 911. If there is no danger, however, you could contact your local flood response authority.
Here are some additional areas that you should not overlook:
- Supporting your employees and volunteers (e.g., set aside time to acknowledge their work and ensure they have the necessary resources to meet their goals).
- Make sure that you offer an environment welcoming to everyone.
- Better manage how you, your employees, and volunteers undertake work. By giving it some thought and discussing the matter at meetings, you may discover more time-efficient approaches to everyday tasks.
- Make suitable plans for the future, particularly in light of declining church membership.
- Plan for events and consider what events would best suit your congregation. Some ideas include a 5K run, church gala, and silent auction.
- You can also utilize ChMeetings to effectively manage your team of employees or/and volunteers. This is possible with our group creation features.
- Church reviews can help keep a church on track with its goals and targets. Quarterly meetings should suffice. These meetings are an opportunity to determine where the church is exceeding expectations and in what areas it is falling behind and why.
Sign up for ChMeetings today to help manage your church
Today we’ve looked at the five essentials of church administration and touched on some further considerations.
ChMeetings can help you with all the essentials and more. We are one of the most respected and decorated church systems out there. Our cloud-based church management software has received a whole host of awards, such as Capterra’s best value and best ease of use awards for 2021. Software Advice also classed ChMeetings as its most recommended software for the same year.
Get started with ChMeetings today without spending a penny!
Good luck and God bless.