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Complete Guide To Church Management For Lead Pastors

Church management drives our places of worship to new levels of growth and outreach. According to this Gallup poll, 59% of people see outreach and volunteer opportunities as a major factor in deciding where to go and social events are important to 49% of people. Effective church management will give you the ability to keep first-time guests coming back to your church, improve your church’s growth, and ride out the rough patches we all go through.

I’m Lexie, and, if you can name a job in the church, I’ve probably worked at it in some capacity. In this guide, we will look at the broad strokes of church management and provide links to more in-depth articles on each topic. So, let’s get into it and start with the big question.

Here’s what I’ll cover:

What Is Church Management?

Church management is controlling or delegating everything that happens within a church. Some definitions of church management will exclude worship services, but your volunteers, from ushers to band, and your financial team, among others, all need to be managed before, during, and after services as well. 

While management does involve some direct control on the part of the church leader or head pastor, most management, and usually the best management, comes from assigning people into positions where they will be most effective. This is what I mean by delegation.

For instance, I grew up around stage and sound production my whole life because my mom was a piano player and assistant choir director. When I started working toward becoming the assistant youth pastor at our youth church, my youth pastor put me in charge of running sound and stage. He hardly asked about sound unless he wanted something specific, and we sounded great because I had a ton of experience.

The point is that management does not mean micromanagement. Use people you trust and who know what they are doing, and you will be more effective than trying to do everything yourself.

What Needs To Be Managed In A Church?

Everything! Managing your church from top to bottom is the key to growth and sustainability. Good management during a growth period can give you the edge to carry you through a lean period. Some areas, especially in smaller churches, can have overlapping requirements, so we’ll group the following management teams by areas of expertise or responsibility.

Property Management

Everything under this heading deals with the actual property of the church. People within these groups include maintenance workers, janitors, and project managers.

Facility Management

Facility management is the part of your team that covers the following areas:

  • Cleaning the building and grounds, such as the parking lot
  • Supplying the bathrooms and offices
  • Maintaining the church’s physical building through repair and general maintenance.

Small churches might employ an all-in-one handyman, but larger churches may need to consider an expanded team with a dedicated Facilities Manager

In addition to regular staff members, you might need specialists who you can call in occasionally. For instance, the megachurch where I worked had an elevator so disabled people could reach the balcony that could only be serviced by a licensed and insured elevator repairman.

Project Management

Church projects are varied but include:

  • Upgrading equipment and systems
  • Renovating church structures
  • Enhancing the church facilities.

Church projects might also include digital projects such as upgrading your church website, implementing presentation software, or setting up live streaming for your church services.

Here’s a brief overview of the steps in church project management is:

  1. Start the project by proposing the project plan and budget
  2. Finalize the budget through board approval, or through whatever process your denomination’s polity allows
  3. Work the project by coordinating contractors and volunteers
  4. Close the project by ensuring that the goals of the project have been met and all contractors and vendors have been paid
  5. Maintain your project to ensure that it keeps its value in years to come

Your church project manager should have a good background in networking and interpersonal skills. Project management involves dealing with both contractors and volunteers, so be sure to check out our in-depth guide on project management for churches.

Operations Management

Church operations management belongs here because your operations team will often be set apart from the spiritual leadership and will instead be focused on the day-to-day of keeping the lights on. Operations will coordinate the church board’s decisions with the departments that will fulfill them. In some churches, the legal department is part of operations.

Hard Management

In business, “hard management” is a style that follows strict rules and guidelines. Here, it is used to define the business side of church as opposed to the spiritual side. The business side has to follow tax codes, reporting methods, and recordkeeping guidelines.

Risk Management

Risks within churches usually fall into two categories. First is the legal risk associated with ensuring that your church is abiding by all tax laws. Some countries, like the US, make it very difficult to investigate churches and other charitable organizations, while other countries offer little protection at all. 

Second, and often unrecognized by most pastors I have worked with, are mandated reporter laws. These laws require that ongoing child or sexual abuse be reported to the police. These laws supersede the privilege of faith just as they supersede doctor-patient and lawyer-client privilege. Additionally, employing or allowing sexual predators to volunteer in the same areas as children can open up the church to liability.

Only a licensed attorney can give legal advice, so please seek out a lawyer concerning your church’s needs and concerns.

Finance Management

Finance management starts with your church’s Treasurer and budget committee. Due to the charitable organization status of most churches and the tax exemptions or reductions that come with it, your management style should be hardest around your finances.

A more in-depth look can be found in our article on church financial management.

Crisis Management

Crisis management is often found in action plans for various types of negative circumstances. Form a crisis management committee and ask questions about how to deal with natural disasters or allegations of impropriety among the church leadership. Brainstorm the various ways your church could need crisis management and develop plans to mitigate those disasters.

Records Management

Church records involve, but are not limited to:

  • Marriages
  • Baptisms
  • Christenings
  • Many more, depending on your denomination and services offered. 

These records are usually kept in Perpetuum due to their historical significance. Church records are how my family was traced back to 1600s England.

Beyond those important records, you will likely be responsible for tax information concerning your members. Some of your congregation may wish for a tax form showing their charitable contributions. Recordkeeping of this variety is made simpler these days with a wide range of church software which we will get into a little later in the article.

Learn more about records management in the church here.

Soft Management

Soft management is more people-focused and willing to accommodate individual preferences. The soft management part of your church is the spiritual side where you perform weddings, train volunteers, and reach out to your members.

Volunteer Management

Volunteers are our lifeline. From the business end, they lower costs and increase sustainability. From the spiritual end, they show the benefits of joining our church community.

A short summary of the volunteer management process goes a little like this:

  1. Recruiting Church Volunteers
    1. Ask For Help
    2. Conduct Background Checks & Screen For Legal Issues
    3. Get To Know Your Volunteers
    4. Lead From The Front
  2. Train Your Volunteers
  3. Care For Your Volunteers

Dig deeper in this article on church volunteer management.

Communications

Communication might be the single most important thing we do as pastors. 

We:

  • Preach from the pulpit
  • Negotiate prices on materials
  • Communicate church goals and ideas
  • Develop volunteers into leaders

We have more to say on this subject in this article on how to develop a church communications plan.

Member Management

Not every member becomes a volunteer or joins a leadership team. We cannot forget them as they will make up the bulk of our churches. If you don’t have the personnel to give everyone a personal call, many church software apps will allow you to track your members and even send messages to check-in when they miss service.

Event Management

Every church needs to have an event manager. No matter what kind of church you have, you run events. weddings, vacation bible school, passion plays, and more all fall under the umbrella of event management.

Get the breakdown on how to throw successful events in this article on church event management.

What Is Church Administration?

Church administration is quite simply the structure that organizes people into the management team and ministry leader teams defined in the above section.

Church administration usually starts with a church board or a bishop, depending on your polity. Guidance is usually given through a denominational board or synod above them. People within church administration roles can be given a salary at larger churches, but most churches reserve a salary for the lead pastor.

Church administration is the business side, mostly. They deal with the “hard management” issues so that the clergy can deal with the “soft management” issues. The lead pastor, however, usually deals with both as the head of the clergy and the president of the board. As always, individual churches will have differences based on their bylaws and the bylaws of their denomination.

Church Management Software

Church management, in the past, did not scale well with large numbers. My grandfather, with his parsonage of less than 50, handled all of the paperwork himself. The megachurch where I worked had an entire 4-office suite dedicated to finances alone.

Current advances in software, however, make it much easier to track, manage, reach, and follow up with your members no matter the size of your church. Let’s take a closer look.

What Is Church Management Software?

Church management software (ChMS) refers to the tools used by churches to computerize their member database, their giving receipts, their event calendar, and many other services that the church provides. Frequently, this software comes in the form of a mobile app for the church member, and a desktop application for the church administration.

Benefits Of Church Management Software

Church management systems not only give you the convenience of real-time tracking of your budget, volunteers, events, and more, it can let you print off your tax reports with a push of a button and print statements for your members with another push. When it comes to the benefits of bringing your church into the software age, you will not be disappointed.

Types Of Church Management Software

General Church Management Solutions

These articles analyze user-friendly church management software options from a general management standpoint. Keep track of member data, finances, attendance, volunteers, events, improve and automate management workflows and processes, and more.

Facility Management Software

This type of software will give you the functionality you need to stay on top of your building and facilities.

Find more info at the following link: Best Church Facility Management Software

Communications Software

The latest in communication software can be found at the links below. Send mass emails to your congregation, follow up with new members, leverage text messaging capabilities, and keep in touch with your church members.

Financial Management Software

Since financial stewardship is so important, we have a number of articles to help you find the best fit for you and your church. In addition to keeping track of church finances and assisting with general fundraising, many platforms also enable online giving for donations and tithes.

Church Management: The Takeaways

Church management is a wonderful and complex undertaking that can define the difference between a growing church and a stagnant one. One common ingredient in all of these different aspects of management is information, so bookmark this page to keep your source of information nearby!

Use this article as your jumping-off point to refine and develop the parts of your management team that need help. As always, comment below for further discussion!

Related Read: 10 Best Online Church Management Software For 2022

By Alexandria Schmidt

Lexie was born into a family of pastors and other church leaders. She was trained to be a pastor by her grandfather, and spent a great deal of time in her youth learning everything he knew about the ministry. She played trumpet and guitar for worship, with her mom on piano, and was leading people to the Lord on a regular basis by the time she was a teenager. She has also held nearly every position in a church from custodian to sound tech to Assistant Youth Pastor. Although she became physically disabled for almost twenty years, medicine has advanced enough that by 2020 she was doing well again, and her fire for the ministry rekindled.

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