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3 Best Church Administration Training Programs For 2022

Church administration training may seem like an expense that isn’t worth it, but there is a larger topic at hand when we talk about church administration and training for church admin work.

We need to wrestle with the fact that, as it is with many churches, our church administrators are not typically trained to work with christian ministry specifically, and not even necessarily non-profit trained. Yet there are a lot of specifics that go into church administration that can’t be overlooked.

In my years in ministry, I was lucky enough to work with an administrator who valued church administration training. She was constantly interested in learning the most effective systems, addressing issues before they became problems, and taking a role in daily affairs beyond her scope of work.

In the end, it made a huge difference. We had to hire a replacement after she left, and you could tell the difference between someone who was interested in secretarial work and someone who was interested in the ministry of church administration.

In this article, I will discuss why church administration training is vital for the life of your church and congregation and then give my top three church admin training options for a variety of budgets. 

I’ll cover:

Why Church Administration Training Is Important?

If you are in a position of church leadership, then giving careful consideration to the type of training your church administrator has should be a top priority.

Think of it like this: you spend ample amounts of time ensuring that your pastors and other church leaders are well equipped for their job. Yet, we don’t often spend the time to do the same for our administrators.

You probably don’t give it a second thought when taking into account leadership training, but having a certified church administrator likely isn’t something you have considered.

Reframe the conversation like this: your church staff likely includes a teaching pastor, a youth pastor, or a children’s pastor into whom you will invest time, energy, and finances for leadership training.

Yet these church staff members aren’t the ones who will balance the checkbooks, create SOPs (standard operating procedures), organize mailers and emails, or a host of other things.

Investing in church administration training will help your administrator understand the church business side of the local church that the rest of your staff doesn’t know. The rest of the church staff have considerations like pastoral ministry and pastoral counseling to be concerned about instead.

When you invest in the church administration training of your administrative assistant, you are really investing in the spiritual formation of your congregation!

3 Best Church Administration Training Programs

With this new mindset, you can start to decide what type of training would be the best fit for your local church, your church board, and your church secretary.

Having taken a look at some of the best church admin courses and certifications on the internet, there are 3 contenders that fit a variety of budgets, congregation sizes, and specific church management needs.

1. Smart Church Management

christian administration training by Smart Church Management
Smart Church Management offers the best bang-for-your-buck church administration training.

Smart Church Management has a church administration training that sits firmly within the middle-of-the-road option. It has a cost that is completely reasonable and doable for any church congregation, while also packing in a ton of great leader training, HR training, and finance management training.

This particular training comes with three options: Student, Professional, and Bundle.

The Student package costs $99 and grants 12 months of access to all the course work. The Professional package costs $199 and includes a course book to go along with the training, as well as lifetime access to the training.

Lastly, the Bundle Package costs $299 and packs a ton more value with exclusive access to resources like job descriptions, HR documents, and volunteer orientation training templates.

The Smart Church Management training can be finished in a few months. The course sessions with homework are sent via email every 2 days, but you have access to those trainings for as long as you have purchased access (either 12 months or lifetime).

There are no prerequisites for this church administration training and it offers tons of valuable information and lessons without costing thousands of dollars. It is also one of the highest rated courses out there.

2. Graduate Certificate from North Park University Chicago

North Park University graduate certificate of church administration training
North Park University Chicago offers one of the highest quality church administration training courses available online.

North Park University Chicago offers a Graduate Certificate for Church Administration that is on the higher end in terms of cost, but delivers some high quality training at a collegiate level of professional training.

This Graduate Certificate program doesn’t specify prerequisites in terms of education, but the overall cost is $1,240 per credit. The entire certification program takes 10 credit hours to complete.

The course can be taken 100% online but, if you are local to North Park University, you can attend in-person classes as well. Best of all, they offer plenty of grants and scholarships for students that can help cut the cost.

For those church administrators who want to work towards a Master’s degree, this certification has the benefit of building towards that goal while also getting hyper-focused training on what you need as a leader within the administrative areas of your church.

This program can be completed in 12 months, part time. This makes the list because of how esteemed the Graduate Certificate is for those who might be church members moving into a church administrator role as well as church leadership who want to take on more church management responsibilities.

3. Christian Leaders College: Christian Enterprise Course

church administration training provided for free by Christian Leaders College
Christian Leaders College provides free courses for all areas of ministry, and a combination of these courses makes some of the best church administration training available—free of charge.

While not strictly a church administration course, Christian Leaders College offers some top-tier collegiate courses that are 100% free. A combination of these courses cover everything a church administrator would need. All you have to do is create an account, enroll in the course, and complete the coursework at your own pace.

Once you have an account set up, you can complete all courses online and even work towards certification and accreditation if you so choose. There is a fee for taking these accrediting exams, but taking the course without earning college credits is completely free thanks to the contributions of generous donors.

If you want to take your church administration training seriously but don’t have the financial resources to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars, then this is our best free pick for church administration training!

Do What You Feel Called To Do

Managing the pastoral care of your congregation, along with keeping church leadership organized, can feel like a full-time job. Being able to entrust administrative duties to a well-trained church staff member frees you up to do what you were called to do: love people and show them the love of Jesus Christ.

Learn more about church administration here, and check out the latest church administration software for further help streamlining your church’s admin processes.

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How To Customize A Church Business Meeting Agenda + Free Template

I’ve sat through hundreds of hours of various church meetings, and there is one constant: a church business meeting agenda that controls the conversation.

The most effective meetings have an agenda that creates space for everyone to voice their opinions, keep tangents to a minimum, and give clarity on what goals are going to be achieved.

I have several years of ministry experience, both paid and unpaid, and I can tell you that a church board meeting can be a slog, but it doesn’t have to. With a simple mindset shift and some structure, even the worst meetings can become fruitful and beneficial.

Let’s start by defining a church business meeting, what should be covered, and put a template in your hands that you can start customizing for your church meetings.

I’ll cover:

What Is A Church Business Meeting?

A church meeting can be defined like this:

Any and all meetings where attendees can discuss the mission of the church and the mission of Jesus while making decisions to affect the ways in which the church accomplishes these goals.

Too often we see these meetings as a “necessary evil” but that is a grim interpretation of the situation. An honest moment here: it’s just a bad attitude to have. Every meeting can be an opportunity to move the needle forward on the missions of the church and of Jesus.

In fact, with this working definition, we can say whether or not these meetings truly have purpose and value. If they don’t, then you have a set clear criteria to justify disbanding or re-purposing these meetings.

Regardless of the type of meeting, there is usually one person who is put in charge of creating the meeting agenda. The Lead Pastor is put in charge of making sure these meetings run smoothly.

What if that isn’t your gift, though? Not every leader is an administrator. We need to know what should be covered in these meetings so we can define the goals for each meeting. This will help even those not administerial-minded be the best they can be with the duty placed on them.

What Should Be Covered In A Church Business Meeting?

With our new definition in mind, we can begin to talk about what could and should be covered in these meetings. This also means we will need a clearly defined agenda to use for each meeting.

Every agenda should be concerned about:

  • The attendees
  • An orderly discussion
  • The mission of the church
  • The mission of Jesus
  • Decisions that need to be made
  • Goals to be accomplished

If a meeting agenda can accomplish all of this, then every church meeting can have value and push the goals of the church forward.

The Attendees

Each agenda needs to clearly state who should be at the meeting. The people who are coming to the meeting (and the roles they will serve in it) will largely determine what gets discussed, the types of conversation that can be expected, and, to some degree, what politics may be at play (and need to be avoided).

Orderly Discussion

Every meeting needs to have a layout that addresses who will be talking and what they will be talking about.

This is the section that will be customized based on the type of meeting and who will be attending. Getting this order right and making sure each member can share what they need to say will go a long way to ensuring every member feels seen and heard.

A great practice to keep these discussions orderly is to allow a set amount of time per item. This keeps everyone hyper-focused on what they need to say to communicate their points effectively.

From there, you can allow for a set amount of time for others to ask and answer questions. At the end of the time, the group needs to make a decision on the item. If no decision can be made right away or there is a bigger discussion to be had, then set that item as a priority for the next meeting.

One last note here: make sure the items are all connected to the meeting goals, which we will discuss shortly.

The Mission of the Church

At every meeting, the mission of the church needs to be a topic of discussion. It needs to be its own line item for every meeting. People need to be sick of hearing about the mission because this will guarantee the mission becomes internalized within the community.

The Mission of Jesus

The same is true for the mission of Jesus. This needs to be discussed at every meeting. If we cannot internalize the missions of the church and of Jesus, then all church meetings will fall short.

Decisions to Be Made

Each meeting agenda should list all critical decisions that must be made. Keep this to the absolute most important items on the agenda. Truly, there are only a handful of critical decisions that deserve the most attention in each meeting. Don’t let your attendees get bogged down with decision overload.

If no other decisions get made, these should be the items that get the most discussion.

Goals to Be Accomplished

Clearly defining the goals of each meeting will go a long way to making sure each meeting stays on track and moves the mission of the church forward.

Throughout the meeting, confirm whether or not goals are being met with each decision made. Let the goals be the litmus test whether or not the meetings are worth it and are staying on track. If an item doesn’t push the goals forward, then it can probably be removed entirely.

Customize Appropriately

One note for customization of these agenda templates: it needs to stay on target. If a change only slows down the process, impedes decision making, or alienates members or goals, then it isn’t a worthwhile customization.

That being said, the types of decisions that are considered critical may be different from a board meeting to a finance committee meeting to a youth board meeting. Don’t hesitate to make an executive decision about what is considered critical when you are the leader. It is your role to keep making sure goals are being met, the mission is being internalized, and that volunteers have a chance to voice their opinions.

If you want to start with a rock-solid template, then here is our master church business meeting agenda just for you!

Church Business Meeting Agenda Template

church business meeting agenda template screenshot
Our template provides a starting point for creating your own agenda.

Here is a free template for you to use and get started leading the best church meetings possible. This agenda has been tested in ministry settings, and I’ve even used it to decrease the amount of time spent in meetings and increase our ability to make decisions that affect our church and ministry goals!

Meet With a Purpose

Hopefully this guide makes even the least administrative-minded leader seem like a superhero for their church! All it takes is the dedication to make sure every meeting is focused on the mission and vision of Jesus. If an agenda helps you do that better, then let’s celebrate it and do it well!

For more guidance on meetings and so much more, we would love for you to check out our website for articles about risk management, church marketing strategies, and the best church management software

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What Is Church Administration? What Leadership Needs To Know

what is church administration infographic
Church administration involves organizational structures, resources, and the church community.

I’ve been there, staring blankly at the wall, thinking, “What is church administration? What’s the point? And how can I set it up for success in my church?”

Now, there are systems and processes we set up in the church that are sometimes accidental and others that are intentional. As church leaders, though, we need to be aware that our church admin is just as much a representative of God and His grace to our church members as the youth group, the benevolence ministry, or any other church ministry you can think of.

In this article, I will walk through not only how to approach this question, “what is church administration?” but why it is important on so many levels. Then, I will conclude with some recommendations for church administration software to help you and your congregation have the best stewardship with your resources as possible.

I’ll cover:

What Is Church Administration?

Let’s establish a working definition of church administration before moving forward. For the Christian church, we need to make sure we are looking at the Bible for guidance. When it comes right down to it, we can tackle this definition from the standpoint of church management, church finances, and church community.

Our working definition of church administration will be this: to organize the resources and people of the local church to love God and love others. 

Church Management: More Than Just A Church Budget

sample organizational chart for church administration screenshot
Here is a simple sample of an organizational structure for your church administration (Source).

When church leaders think about managing a church, 9 times out of 10 they are immediately starting to drift towards managing the church budget.

We need to steer clear of these thoughts, though, because it isn’t just worrying about the upkeep of the ministries and the church building, but about the organizational structure of the local church in order to fulfill its mission of building the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

The books of Titus and 1 Timothy give some clear instructions on organizational leadership within the local church, outlining the need and role for both Elders and Deacons within each church community. However, it is truly the words of Jesus in Matthew about the greatest commandments, which are to love God and love others as yourself. 

Contrary to what others might think about answering the question of “what is church administration?” it is not a question of creating more complicated organizational structures within your church, but of making these two commandments the goal of every step of the administrative process. That is what we will strive for in the rest of this article.

Church Finances: More Than Financial Resources

slide of the church budget
A sample church budget, which, as I have established, should not be your first thought when it comes to church administration (Source).

We have established that one part of defining church administration is to define our church operations through the lens of loving God and loving others. The next logical consideration is how we include things like fundraising, outreach, and even staff members within this context.

If we think carefully about the ways in which we choose to love God and love others, as Jesus commands, then these questions can become much simpler. The issue is, we rarely allow them to be.

If we can ask ourselves, as church leaders, “is there a better way to spend this money that would show more love to both God and others?” then we are already halfway to making the better choice. 

Do we really need nicer bulletins? Consider: will this be a greater act of love towards God and/or others than another option?

Is it more loving towards God and/or others to allocate funds to more church events? Or is there a better way to spend these funds?

However, when we think through church administration through a defined organizational structure with these two commands to love God and love others, then we should be starting to realize we have far more than mere financial resources to allocate.

non financial resources graphic
Don’t forget about non-financial resources when you’re thinking about your church budget.

Managing the church budget needs to also include the non-financial resources we can use to love God and love others. 

For example, I once worked at a church that had more offices than staff members. 

So they turned one office into a food pantry, got a fridge and chest freezer donated, and started reaching out to the single moms in our church community. 

We had access to a physical space that had potential to be used for something more than an empty office. We had access to non-financial resources and decided to use them to love those often overlooked and unappreciated in our midst. 

Don’t stop at church administration as balancing the budget.

Church Community: Outreach, Discipleship, And Risk Management

church attendance in decline via Gallup poll screenshot
According to a recent Gallup poll, church membership has gone down over the last century (Source).

Now that we have a lock on organizational and financial definitions of church admin work, it is time to get into the people side of the work. Seeing church administration as the work of creating, building, and reproducing church community needs to be a defining feature of our church operations.

When we move beyond worrying about church staff, worship services, and Sunday school we can start to see the people within our community as not just a means to making Sunday services run smoothly but the reason for why we do what we do.

It is the role of church leadership to have their communities on their mind at all times. Not just because they are called to preach, teach, evangelize, and more. Instead, we keep these members of our community in mind because they are the reason we have an organizational structure to begin with.

This is a subtle point, but one that needs to be carefully weighed. We don’t need to think about answering, “what is church administration?” because of our church community but for our church community.

This means we don’t do outreach because we have to. We don’t create plans and programs and processes for discipleship because we need to. We don’t create these opportunities because we are expected to.

Instead, we are concerned with how we can best love God through our people and how we can best love others through our community. It means we have to adopt a sense of risk management for our programs, structures, and resources.

Sometimes, the best way our church community can be loved and love on others is going to be a little different than we had intended. For one church I was at, it meant having a baseball diamond put in, starting a softball league, and running a wild Wiffle Ball tournament for the youth group. 

It was a large investment of both financial and labor resources, but we consistently had 100+ teenagers show up for a day of Wiffle Ball events where they were shown that our people cared about them and for them.

Did things get broken? Yes. Did we have to call the cops one year because of a brawl that broke out? Yes. Did everything turn out okay and we were still able to love God and love others through the situation? You better believe it.

Church administration is the process of organizing the resources and people of the local church to love God and love others. It‘s not about a series of systems to keep everyone in check, a means of balancing the checkbook, and a way of placating our people. It‘s about intentionally choosing to love God and love others by any means necessary. 

Who Is A Church Administrator?

Humorous church secretary mug with nutritional facts of the church administrator
The often undervalued church secretary is a small part of the number of church administrators within your church (Source).

I know, you are probably thinking, “we’ve answered ‘what is church administration?’ but now what?”

Well, it is worth noting that we need to decide who is meant to be our church administrators. The admin assistant? Executive pastors? Lead pastors? A board?

If we are being honest, we can’t answer that for you. What we can say, though, is that it is probably a bit of each regardless of your particular flavor of Christianity.

When we think about church admin in terms of loving God and loving others we don’t need to think about job descriptions only, though there are plenty of them out there. Instead, we see the work of administration of the church as a ministry with different people involved in different parts of the process.

The Lead Pastor or Executive Pastor may worry about the organizational structure of the church, while the administrative assistant takes care of the resources and office management, and the deacons stay focused on serving the needs of the people in their care.

All church leaders can consider themselves church administrators.

Church Administration Software

As we mentioned at the top of this article, good stewardship of our resources and people is of the utmost importance as we focus on church administration. While many of the facets of administration move beyond the bounds of apps and software that can keep track of attendance, tithes, and service opportunities, it is still a good practice to stay in touch with the practical realities of where your church is at developmentally.

In fact, we have done a roundup of the best church administration software. Our pick out of this list would be GoDoChurch. Not only does it allow you to track some of the basic information like names and addresses but also allows you to track important dates and events for each member. Our favorite part, though? GoDoChurch has Growth Paths so that members can engage in seminars and courses to advance their own way through a discipleship curriculum either in tandem with your own or completely solo.

godochurch screenshot of best church administration software
A simple way GoDoChurch can be used to have congregants work through a defined discipleship process (Source).

We highly encourage you to check out our full article to see what other options might help you and your people love God and love others more effectively, though!

What Is Church Administration? Answered

I never did find what I was looking for while staring at that blank spot on the wall.

It wasn’t until I started truly searching through the Bible and spent time in prayer, reading lots of content from others smarter, further along in their relationship with Jesus Christ than me, and even listening to some of the greatest leaders of our age that things started to click.

The simplest things are often the best things.

When we think of church administration as the intentional decisions to organize the resources and people of the local church to love God and love others the pieces fit together much easier. No needless red tape. No prioritizing one board over another. Just cohesive vision to organize the people of God and the resources of the church to show the most love to the world.