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How To Create A Church Risk Management Plan To Avoid Disaster (+ Template)

I remember some of the hardest days that I have ever had working in ministry were ones that could have been avoided with proper church risk management. And even some of the days where we avoided disaster from happening still haunt me to this day, as the classic “what if” scenarios play out in my mind. 

Before I go any further, I would like to warn readers that some of the scenarios that I talk about could be triggering for some, due to the very heavy subject matter. 

For instance, I think of times in which a child in our care had to be rushed to the hospital due to an injury that shouldn’t have happened. Other times, I think of the parent not currently in custody of their child who tried to take them (thankfully, unsuccessfully). 

We need to be prepared for these moments in the best way possible. This is where a church risk management plan comes into play. There are so many risks that are involved in running churches and other religious organizations, but with a well-written plan in mind, you can at least avoid the worst possible outcome in most scenarios. 

I’ll cover:

What Is A Church Risk Management Plan?

A church risk management plan is your guide and help when it comes to unfortunate circumstances. It is the process you have in place when you are dealing with the possibility of something terrible happening. It is there for two main reasons: to help you avoid and reduce the risk of certain events occurring in the first place. 

But we are only human, so the likelihood of something happening eventually is, unfortunately, inevitable. So, the church risk management plan’s second purpose is to help you navigate the solution when bad things do happen. It keeps everyone in your ministry on the same page and is there to prevent a bad situation from worsening. 

Risk management is essential to every single church and ministry out there. A church risk management plan is not fun to make nor think about, but you will be glad you did in the end. 

How To Create A Church Risk Management Plan?

Before you can start implementing your system for noticing and avoiding bad situations, you must first create a physical church risk management plan. This will be your go-to document in emergencies, and you must share it with every staff member, volunteer, pastor, leader, and anyone else who might assist in your organization. 

In order to make one of these plans, there are four main steps that I would like for you to consider. These are crucial parts of mitigating risks. I will break down each one of the steps fully, and provide some insights and lessons learned from my time in ministry. 

1. Identify Risks in Your Church Environment

Before we can go any further, we need to know the risks that exist in our environment. There are a lot of risks and issues that can pop up in every church out there. But there are some that are unique to certain types of ministries and locations. In order to avoid unfortunate situations, you need to know what you are looking for. 

Here is a list of the main risks that I have seen in my time in dealing with church safety. This is not an exhaustive list and there may be situations that were not relevant to me that are to you. Also, I would like to reiterate that this list and this article in general may be triggering for some people, so please remember that before continuing. 

  • Accidents
  • Accusations
  • Assault
  • Drugs
  • Fights
  • Fires
  • Flooding
  • Harassment
  • Inebriated Attendees
  • Injuries
  • Kidnapping
  • Lawsuits
  • Medical Emergencies
  • Natural Disasters
  • Power Outages
  • Self-Harm
  • Shooting
  • Stealing Church Funds
  • Theft
  • Vandalism

This is absolutely not a full list of everything that you might deal with when it comes to church safety. These are just some of the main problems that I have seen and even dealt with. Identifying risks is all about knowing what could possibly happen, and then planning ahead with that in mind. 

For example: I was the assistant director in the children’s ministry at a medium-sized church. Drugs and fights were particularly problematic (yes, even for children). We had a bus system that brought in thousands of children from across Los Angeles County to our church every Thursday night and Sunday morning. 

Some of these children did not know anything beyond fighting to get their point across or messing around with drugs. As such, these were prominent issues that we had to deal with in our congregation, both with kids and adults alike. Since this was an obvious risk that we constantly had to consider, there were many plans and scenarios that we put in place. 

Because of this, we had systems in place so that when someone was doing heroin in the bathroom, we knew what to do next. Or when two kids started punching the living lights out of one another, we had the solution for how to deal with both of them and notify their parents. 

Once you know the main risks that are highly possible within your church (and ones that are not as common), you can prepare for that. 

2. Assess Risks and Their Impacts

It isn’t enough to just identify a risk, though, as we need to assess the level of risk as well. Some potential risks are more likely than others and some issues are going to have a more negative impact than others. In general, these are the four categories that you should divide your previously identified risks into: 

  • Low likelihood and low impact: These situations will rarely happen and when they do, it is easily taken care of. 
  • Low likelihood and high impact: These risks rarely happen, but will devastate your congregation and your leadership if they do occur. 
  • High likelihood and low impact: These are common scenarios that can regularly happen but are easily handled when they do. 
  • High likelihood and high impact: The worst of the four categories. These are high risk scenarios that can often happen and will affect everyone around when they do. 

What this means is that some risks are very unlikely, while others are extremely likely. For instance, (and this is generalizing), the chances of a child being injured in your children’s ministry is pretty much guaranteed. Kids are going to play, run around, and have fun, and someone will eventually get hurt.

They will run into each other, punch each other, and so on. That is a very high likelihood scenario in just about every church out there. On the other hand, a low likelihood situation might be flooding, depending on your location, and which you can prepare for ahead of time.

However, there is a second part to this, which is the impact that a situation can have. Low impact situations are ones that have minimal consequences after the scenario and, therefore, can be dealt with swiftly and securely. Thinking back to kids, minor injuries like bruises and bumps are low impact. 

They also have a high chance of happening, but they are minor enough that you should be able to handle them with ease. On the other hand, high impact scenarios are the worst of the worst. These are the dire situations that you wish to avoid at all costs. This is something like a fire or kidnapping, which can devastate the entire church, community, and everyone in it. 

To know the difference between low and high likelihood level of risk, you simply need to look at your church environment. If your community doesn’t have a high drug rate, then perhaps drug dealing at your church may not be too much of a concern. 

On the other hand, if your area has a lot of rain and storms, things like tornadoes, power outages, and flooding might be seriously high likelihood issues that require insurance and other assurances.

3. Mitigate Risks to Avoid Disaster

You have your risks figured out and you’ve categorized them, now it is time to take action. With the four categories of risks in mind, the next step is to take those risks and do whatever you possibly can to prevent them. Each situation will require different processes for the mitigation of risk, but there are some general rules of thumb. 

Let’s break down each of the four categories. I think that the low likelihood, low impact scenario is the least concerning of the bunch. This is one of the areas of risk where you can come up with some solutions to these problems, put them in place, or create a document for when they happen. 

For example, let’s say that a low risk, low impact scenario is vandalism of your church property. Graffiti and the like might not be too common and it wouldn’t be too serious if someone did it. In this case, all you might do is put some cameras in the alleys and outside parts of your church property to catch anyone who does it. You could also have a cleaning crew in place in case it did happen. 

On the other hand, a low risk and high impact scenario involves a lot more. These need highly detailed back-up plans and systems in place to keep them at a low risk. For example, fire is, hopefully, not too common, but what are you doing to keep it that way? 

You need to ensure that the proper fire safety codes are followed, as well as go above and beyond. You might make it a rule that only properly trained staff members can cook. Strictly enforce no smoking on the premises. And create exit plans that everyone knows about and practice them every so often. 

High likelihood and low impact scenarios may not sound that bad, but don’t take them lightly. Due to the high risk of these situations happening, they need proper attention and prevention to ensure that their impacts remain low. I recommend constant reminders, training, and detailed plans to mitigate the consequences of these scenarios.

For instance, as before, I would consider a high likelihood, low impact scenario to be a minor injury resulting from a kid hitting another child. Just because it might be a little bruise that doesn’t require medical attention doesn’t mean you don’t take it seriously. If a child is known to be violent, take proper measures to avoid them hurting someone. 

For example, I have had to ban or suspend (usually temporarily) kids 12 and younger from riding the bus before and it was one of the hardest decisions of my life, but it was necessary to protect the others. Sometimes these high risk, low impact situations have simple enough solutions, but don’t let them go ignored because they don’t seemingly matter that much.

If you ignore them too much, they can and will turn into high impact scenarios. 

Speaking of high impact, there are the high risk and high result situations that are the most devastating and alarming. These require the utmost care, attention, and planning possible. Pour all of your safety resources and risk management resources into preventing these situations from happening, but know that they can and possibly will happen. 

As such, you need an equal balance of prevention and solution. There is a strong chance that it will happen at some point. You need equally solid back-up plans for how to deal with these situations when they happen. These are not easy or fun to deal with and are absolutely the most challenging parts of risk management. 

An example of this was an inebriated churchgoer, in my experience. As mentioned, we brought in adults to the church, and many times they would be drunk or high. This was high impact since they could possibly attack someone, disrupt the entire service, or even try to run onto the stage. 

These are the hardest scenarios but there are possible prevention methods if you have the proper action plans in place. In our case, we had guards around the facility, watching everyone, and guarding the stage at all times.

It was not fun and it didn’t look good for a church, but it was necessary. And we had great connections with the local authorities for effectively and immediately dealing with someone as soon as they showed signs of disruption. On a related note, I always suggest background checks for all volunteers and employees.

4. Document And Monitor Risks

You’ve conducted a risk assessment, categorized potential risks, and are putting risk control measures in place for each of them. Now it is time for the nitty-gritty of the church risk management plan. This isn’t a fun step, either, but is equally as necessary. It is time to start documenting and keeping track of the risks that are in your church. 

This means creating documents and formal risk management policies to note the issues in your church and what you have done recently to prevent them. This is where you check off the last time you did a fire drill or checked the locks on all of your windows and doors. This step is also where you create your plans for how to prevent situations and what to do when they happen. 

It is also here that you begin to monitor the risks in your local church. Keep track of the likelihood and impact of the risk and what you are doing to help with that. And if a situation has already happened, keep track of how it happened, why it happened, and what you will do to learn from that. 

For example, monitoring risks might include keeping track of everyone who knows the password to your computers to prevent theft. You might also be changing the password every couple of months as part of your prevention strategy. This way, you’re reducing the likelihood of theft, and you’ll have a list of everyone who knows the password so you’ll be in the know in the event of a possible theft.

Church Risk Management Plan Template

With all of this in mind, it can be overwhelming coming up with a church risk management plan or checklists for your church. But it is absolutely, 100% necessary. All of the volunteers, church leaders, and so on that are involved in working in your ministry should be aware of risks and mitigation plans in the form of checklists, documents, etc. 

To help with this, here is a very basic and simple church risk management template that you can use as a foundation for your church.

Risk Management Starts With Our Leaders

Running a church or ministry is not easy, and dealing with church risk management is never fun. However, it is one of the most foundational and necessary components of running an effective, safe, and Godly ministry. 

We cannot share the love of God without first caring for all our fellow humans and ensuring that they are safe and protected in all possible ways. Sure, mistakes are going to happen but that is why we have to adequately plan above and beyond for those unfortunate scenarios. 

That is why church risk management is not fun, but making a plan is absolutely required. With that said, I get that this was not the most exciting topic to talk about. 

That is why I recommend checking out our article on how to mentor and build devoted youth leaders next. This is far more fun and lighthearted compared to the heaviness here. Plus, training our church staff in a sufficient way will set them up for assisting in risk management procedures and dealing with any potential church crises that may arise.

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How To Mentor & Build Devoted Youth Leaders: Youth Discipleship

In part 1 of this series, we talked about teaching young leaders. The most important parts of teaching any leader, regardless of their age, are having a curriculum to study and having opportunities to put their new knowledge to use.

In part 2, we are going to examine the methods of both by framing them in two ways: Engaging their minds and engaging their hearts. By the end of this article, you will be able to identify leaders using the techniques you learned in part 1 and then successfully mentor them using the youth discipleship techniques you are about to learn.

I’ll cover:

Young Minds Are Hungry Minds

Young people have growing brains. As they grow, they retain knowledge more easily than after growing stops. This study shows that teen brains are wired differently from adult brains. Specifically, they seek situations that give them rewards for their actions.

As teens find their most rewarding actions, the brain grows to desire that and reinforces the learning pathways. This can lead to negative effects like addictive behaviors, but positive outcomes, like finding a love for service and self-improvement, are also possible with a little guidance.

Young Minds Are Eager To Learn

The first step in teaching your youth leaders is being adaptable. Every young brain is hungry, but not everyone knows how to focus that hunger into something useful. Get to know the communication styles of your leaders so that you can effectively teach.

Here is a short breakdown of the most common types of learning and the communication styles that pair well with them.

  • Visual Learning: Visual learners are best at learning through words, drawings, pictures, and videos. A sermon or lecture might go over their head, but they will be able to memorize Bible verses or written plans quickly.
  • Auditory Learning: Auditory learners are listeners. In many ways, they mirror visual learners in their strengths and weaknesses. Your sermon will be taken to heart at once, but workbook lessons might not be.
  • Emotional Learning: Emotional learners relate everything to their feelings. Their lessons should be framed through the emotional impact of the Bible stories or leadership goals.

In some ways, every lesson in your discipleship program should contain parts that speak to each type of learner. By doing that, you will model the communication styles that your leaders will need to help their peers when they complete that step of the program.

Young Minds Want To Be Challenged

Challenges, in this case, are not quizzes and tests like you would see in a classroom. Leadership is a hands-on responsibility and requires hands-on training and assessment. Leadership challenges should follow a three-step process to ensure a healthy and positive result.

  • Teach The Skill. No one is born with specialized skills. As easy as it is to ride a bike, we all must be taught how to do it first. Using the different types of communication here can make a huge difference.
  • Supervised Assessment. Allow your leader to complete a task with minimal/no intervention from you, e.g. a small group Bible study or an opening prayer. Only get involved if a safety concern or other emergency arises.
  • Evaluation. Remember the study linked above? Teen minds are reward-seeking. Praise the behavior you want them to remember. Try to never use harsh language or tones. Frequently mistakes made by growing youth leaders come from ignorance which is almost always the fault of the teacher.

One important note related to the evaluation section is that all types of learners do better when you frame your thoughts as questions. As they answer the questions, they learn to self-evaluate and the lessons become even more ingrained.

Young Minds Like Solving Puzzles

Once your youth leaders have proven themselves under supervision, it is time to set goals and challenges that will allow them a little more freedom. For instance, a leader might run a Bible study on their own after running the content by you first.

Each time you send them out to complete a task, they will need to apply the skills you have taught them in sometimes new and surprising ways. Increase their ability to adapt by practicing situations where they have to improvise in order to succeed. The rewards of seeing their skills pay off and the praise from you and their peers both help to solidify the criteria that their minds seek.

Importantly, the puzzles you give them should not be unsolvable or arbitrary. Many young people come to church to get away from that type of behavior at home. You don’t plant a flower in sand then curse it when it doesn’t grow. Plant your leaders in good soil with plenty of fertilizer and sunshine.

Young Hearts Are Open Hearts

As much as youth need to be taught how to learn, they have no problem feeling. Most times, the emotions of the constant changes of adolescence overwhelm and confuse the young adults of your youth church. They can be laughing one moment and crying the next as both life and brand new hormones play with their heartstrings.

This section will guide you through navigating these emotional currents as you try to teach them the lessons and values of becoming a youth leader.

Young Hearts Are New

Young people occupy a very tumultuous phase of life. Some try to cling to childhood while others attempt to become adults too fast. Faced with an onslaught of brand-new emotions, which can vary from romantic to independent to self-reflection, some withdraw from their family and friends and others break open, wearing their heart on their sleeve.

Dealing with all of these emotions is a skill just like riding a bike. For many adults, it is easy to forget that we, once, were new to these feelings, too. If you and the young person’s parents are not teaching them how to deal with and manage these emotions, who is? Most likely their friends or their favorite celebrity.

Help your youth understand their emotions and how to deal with them in a healthy way. Doing so will give them the self-control to be confident in their decisions as leaders and as humans.

Young Hearts Are Quick

Quick to say, “I love you.” Quick to say, “I hate you.” Most of all, young people are quick to blame themselves when things go wrong. This is partly because their lack of understanding turns everything inward. As a pastor, how many children have you counseled who blamed themselves for their parents’ divorce?

Be just as quick in your positive support and embodiment of healthy emotional behaviors. If the youth pastor is quick to anger, the youth will follow. Be a better example. Be quick in analyzing situations, and they will begin to assign less blame and take more responsibility.

Even in the best cases, your leaders will only be able to learn about the risks of a quick heart by getting hurt in friendship, in love, or in teamwork. In these cases, finding a way to explain that their emotions need to be tempered by wisdom can be more than difficult, especially when you are trying to keep from sounding like it’s all their fault.

While many adults, including some I have worked with, consider this attribute of young people a weakness, I have found that it is one of their greatest strengths, as long as it is pointed in the right direction.

Young Hearts Can Be A Force

What do we do with these powerful emotions? I have mentioned providing healthy outlets a few times, and here are some examples that have worked in my experience.

Beach Cleanup.  If you show a group of teens a video of aquatic creatures in distress, they might instantly fall in love and grab the nearest cleaning supplies. We did this when I worked with the youth ministry, and after the initial cleanup, we went back several times, and even had youth asking to go to cleanup for months afterward. If you don’t live near a beach, rivers or nature preserves always need volunteers.

Soup Kitchen. If your church does not have its own soup kitchen, partner with one that does. The number of teens who came away with greater respect for those facing food insecurity was staggering. Some of them said it was life-changing.

Group Trips. We often took our leadership team into our local big city to minister at churches, perform our music, or just learn how other places would do things. One time, we got completely lost (this was before smartphones and GPS), but everyone was laughing and singing so it still built the team and provided that pressure relief.

In addition, when the adult church has their events and projects, you will have a force of young people who are trained to accomplish whatever you set in front of them. The sense of accomplishment from outmatching the adult church alone can be enough to clear away the negativity of school, peer pressure, and difficult parents.

Young Christians Can Be Very Smart

We know that individuals vary in intelligence. In aggregate, though, people are generally smart. Only one person needs to see Suzy kissing Johnny before everyone within 10 miles knows. Kids notice everything. Sure, you can fool one youth, but you will never fool a youth group.

Most youth pastors protest that statement by saying that they are not trying to fool anyone. This is not about what you are trying to do. It is about what the youth perceive you to be doing. We are going to look at the good and bad ways of handling those perceptions.

Uniting Hearts And Minds Into One Purpose

As your youth church grows, you will develop a core of youth leaders who will be able to take responsibility for different areas of the service and management just like the adult church has its deacons and elders. 

A well-run youth church works like a machine. The young hearts have had their emotions focused toward the purpose of becoming servants of God. The young minds are trained to know what that means. They see an oasis of stability in the chaos of the world, and they carry that peace with them wherever they go.

The youth pastor, as the spiritual leader of the youth, provides the directions and the stability. After all, Jesus Christ said that Simon Peter was the rock on which the church would be built. In that tradition, each individual church, even youth churches inside larger adult churches, are built upon the vision and motivation of the senior pastor.

So, a healthy and growing youth church has solid, steady leadership at the top with ever-wider groups of leaders below who work according to the vision of that leadership. 

They Know When They Are Being Overlooked

As an adult, forgetting our teenage years is sometimes too easy. It feels like adults always set you off to the side so they can do more important things. You’re too old to have recess and too young to have freedom. Everyone is always yelling at you for either being lazy or being too active.

Then you go to church on Wednesday night, and they put you in a room in the back so the adults can have “real church” while you sit in your group and listen to an adult tell you about how Jesus loves the little children.

As harsh as that sounds, that is why a church of 2000 members had 50 kids show up for youth group. When we got a youth pastor with a real vision in place, we grew that from 50 to 500 youth in about 18 months. We treated everyone like humans, no matter their ages. We weren’t afraid to tackle complex and difficult spiritual issues, and their hungry minds ate it up.

Your young people know when they deserve better. They may not have the tools to express that in a healthy or appropriate manner because they are still kids, but they know. You should know too. When youth start slipping away, look to yourself and your attitude first.

Youth Church Is Not A Resume Builder

Too many times in that youth group that I grew up in, our youth pastor position was a revolving door. Some pastors used it to see if they would like being a pastor. Some only stayed long enough to get a job as head pastor. Some just didn’t like youth.

For me, this always felt much worse than being overlooked. Being overlooked is hearing, “I know you’re there, but I don’t really see you.” Being a line on someone’s resume is hearing, “I see you, and you only mean as much to me as I can get from you.” This is the worst perception a child can have of themselves or their church leaders.

For the last time, I’ll refer back to the study I linked at the start of this article. Teen minds seek out rewards. Pastors who only look at youth groups as the next rung on their ladder will not provide the structure and stability that rewards the input of a possible youth leader. As my youth pastor once told me, “Get in, or get out. There is no halfway in a youth church.”

Disciples do what their teacher does. Consider that before making your next move.

Growth Through Discipleship: Final Remarks

When talking to people about discipleship, some people find it strange that I speak so much about the pastors rather than the disciples. The reason is that the primary method of learning behaviors is seeing them done. Even though people take in knowledge in different ways, as we covered, behaviors are passed through modeling.

The number rule of discipling others was stated by Jesus when he said, “Go, and do as I have done.” Keep those words in mind as your youth leaders look to you for guidance and support.

In the next article, we are going to take a close look at using fun to attract new converts, keep them engaged, and do it all in a safe and appropriate manner.

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How To Conduct Church Financial Management + Best Practices

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a pastor feeling overwhelmed about financial management within your church. Maybe you’re considering hiring a finance professional, but maybe this costs more money than you want to spend, especially if you’re a small church without a large admin team.

You’re not alone. I’m Lexie Schmidt, and I’ve been involved at all levels of church volunteering and management. My experience in ministry can help guide you through the common pitfalls of managing your church’s financial health.

Managing your church’s finances doesn’t have to be as complicated as it seems. Whether you’re trying to improve current practices or starting a new church plant, these tips and resources will help you get started.

How To Manage Your Church’s Finances

In many ways, church finance is like finance for any company: the goal is for funds to be greater than expenses. But rather than selling a product to earn money, churches get most of their funds through individual donations—about 81 percent, according to a recent national study by Lake Institute on Faith & Giving. This categorizes them as a nonprofit, along with other requirements such as serving the public, and using funds towards a mission or cause.

One common misconception is that a nonprofit organization can’t make, or hold onto, money year-over-year. Just like for-profit companies, nonprofits are expected to maintain cash reserves for emergencies and build those reserves in anticipation for large projects and expenditures, such as renovations, upgrades, and other projects. 

How To Create A Church Budget

The biggest part of financial management is creating and maintaining a budget. A budget tells you how much you can spend by tracking how much you have coming in. Making a budget gives you your greatest tool in being an effective steward of your church’s finances. 

Budgeting can be a large task in practice but includes two main parts:

Part 1: Evaluating Current Financial Health

Your initial evaluation is vital to good bookkeeping, but it can be broken into simple steps.

  • Using past records, you can estimate what funds and expenses you will have for the upcoming year. 
  • Will you be in debt, or come close? If so, what is costing you the most? What is the greatest source of funds, and can a simple fundraiser cover the shortfall? Do you need a short-term or long-term loan to hold you over?
  • Ideally, you want to be able to cover your expenses and have money left over to save. If your tithes and offerings are not enough, consider whether new programs or events can generate the revenue you need.
  • If your church is running any expensive programs, they may need to be put on hold until the financial situation is more stable. This is always the hardest part. Sometimes, the programs we hold most dear are the ones that cost the most. Be willing to cut them until your finances improve.

Part 2: Determining Short- And Long-Term Goals

Financial goals should be specific and actionable. If you want to increase donations for the next year, aim for a certain percentage. If there’s a trip or project you want to fund, figure out how much it will cost. Compare these goals to your budget and see how much money can be allocated to fundraising and campaigning.

This, too, can be simplified into a few, easy steps.

  • Compare your past revenue and expenditures over the past several years. Generally, five years is enough. Use those figures to determine your percentage of growth or loss year-over-year.
  • Take those percentages and project your possible finances over the next five years. Look for shortfalls and overages in your projections.
  • If you have shortfalls over the next year or two, start identifying immediate remedies like fundraising through church events or small business loans in emergency situations. Shortfalls toward the end of your projections can be fixed by setting short-term goals for growth through outreach and community involvement.
  • Conversely, if you find yourself with extra finances, you should set short-term goals of saving a certain percentage, usually 10-15% of income, for emergencies, and begin to identify your areas of greatest need for church projects.
  • Long-term goals involve what comes after those five-year projections. While a short-term goal may involve upgrading your HVAC system, a long-term goal might be purchasing or building a new sanctuary. Think 10-20 years into the future as you start a savings plan or other financial concerns beyond your current needs.

Special Tax Considerations For Churches

Like other nonprofits, most of your funds will come from tax-exempt donations. Tax-exempt status comes with some rules:

  • the organization must primarily be used for religious or charitable work
  • the organization cannot promote any political agenda
  • the net earnings do not primarily benefit a single person
  • the organization’s agenda must not be illegal

Churches are not exempt from filing annual tax information returns. The specific guidelines can be found in IRS Publication 1828 where you can learn the ins and outs of US church taxes. Canada is slightly different, though. Religious charities, the legal term for all religious organizations in Canada, do not have to fill out the publicly accessible portion of the tax information return. They must still complete the government-accessible portion.

In the US, though, tax audits are nearly impossible for the IRS to initiate without evidence of malfeasance from a whistleblower, and those audits can only happen every 5 years unless malfeasance is found in an audit. This means that the IRS can usually only see a church’s books through their employees and what is reported on the tax forms. The IRS is, by law, unable to help churches track their finances.

Best Practices For Church Financial Management

Church finances can sometimes be seen as the ugly duckling of our business. Just like the ugly duckling, though, proper budgeting and management can turn your finances into a beautiful swan. Here are some of the best practices for growing a healthy budget.

Structuring Financial Oversight

Without government help tracking financial information, churches have to be vigilant about monitoring funds and putting safeguards in place to prevent losses. You can do this through a structure of checks and balances. In most churches, finances can be handled with a combination of the following elements. 

  • The board
  • The treasurer
  • The finance committee
  • The audit committee

Your church’s board of trustees (or board of directors) is ultimately responsible for financial oversight, but normal management tasks will be delegated to a finance committee chaired by the church treasurer.

Ideally, your treasurer and people on the finance committee will have relevant experience with budgeting and accounting. At the very least, however, look for people who have a gift for numbers and handling money. 

The finance committee’s duties include:

  • Creating policies
  • Managing funds
  • Keeping financial records

This means they hold almost all control over the church’s finances. The audit committee acts as a power check—they review financial statements for accuracy and make sure that policies are actually being followed.

Improving Financial Stewardship

Faithful stewardship is a congregation-wide practice that should be implemented in every area of life, but financial stewardship is the finance committee’s responsibility. Ensuring stewardship of a church’s finances means using internal controls to track and monitor funds.

Some common methods for monitoring your finances are:

  • Using church management software as outlined in our next section.
  • Keeping good books by recording all income and expenses promptly
  • Ensure that cash from offerings pass through as few hands as possible
  • Always pay with checks or bank cards linked to the church’s account
  • Secure the passwords to your church’s banking and business accounts

By being careful about who has access to your church’s money, both physically and digitally, you can more easily identify where funds have been misplaced or misused.

We have already talked about keeping and reviewing financial records as a practice among board and committee members, but most funds originate from church members. This is where stewardship is often overlooked.

Donations are most vulnerable at collection, because they haven’t been included in reports yet. Luckily, there are many easy ways to keep track of them:

  • Have more than one person present when counting offerings
  • Store offerings securely
  • Provide envelopes for cash offerings
  • Use a secure platform for digital offerings
  • Encourage recurring pay

These measures not only protect offerings from theft, but some can actually increase donations. Many people want to donate but forget or don’t have cash, so you can offer options like digital giving or automatic recurring payments to members of the congregation who might be interested.

Use Church Management Software

Keeping track of all those numbers might be difficult, but the right church management software can help. Church management software is designed to make administration more efficient by putting several tools in one place. 

While specific software programs have different specialties, generally they include:

You might have to shop around, but investing in the right software is an act of financial stewardship on its own. For finance-specific software, try church finance software or church accounting software.

Get Started With Church Financial Management

Still having trouble? Whether your church’s finances are just a mess or starting from scratch with a church plant sounds too overwhelming, it might be time to consider hiring a financial consultant or accountant. Keep an eye out for one of the many specifically Christian-based organizations dedicated to helping churches too.

I’m Lexie, and I hope you’ve learned something as you have read this guide. If you’ve implemented successful financial management tactics at your church, tell us about it! And if you’re starting a new church, be sure to check out our article on other problems that can arise in church planting.

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Article How To

Complete How-To Guide To Church Records Management

As we all know, running a church isn’t just about the Sunday services or programs. There is also that element of “business”. And because churches are nonprofit, there is also the important task of record keeping. While the subject of “recordkeeping” can cue the yawns, proper financial and accounting records are the foundation of a well-run church. Good record-keeping provides support in so many ways.

With great record keeping, you should be able to instantly look up your incoming donations, outgoing expenses, membership statistics, and more. Record keeping also helps you stay compliant—and, if applicable, maintain your nonprofit status for tax purposes. 

It’s not always easy to keep good records, but since records management is so important, you really need to dedicate time and resources to it. 

In this article, I’ll cover:

What Kind Of Records Should Your Church Keep? 

Detailed records help you keep an eye on church metrics like congregation attendance, online giving history, and finances. Some records need to be kept longer than others, so it’s important to research record retention laws in your country, state, or province. 

Your church should keep records on everything that affects how the church runs. Here are some examples: 

How Long Should A Church Keep Records? 

Different documents have different retention periods. So your records management program must include a records retention schedule. This helps you keep track of your church’s overall health—and stay compliant with the law. 

Your federal and state or provincial laws will determine how long a church should keep records. Some financial records like tax returns and payroll reports need to be kept for at least several years.

According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA):

  • Official donation receipt copies (aside from those for 10-year gifts): Must be kept for a minimum two years from the end of the year of the donation.
  • 10-year gift records: Must be kept for as long as the church is registered and for at least 2 years after the church closes.
  • Meeting minutes for director/trustee/executive meetings: Must be kept for as long as the church is registered and for at least 2 years after the church has shut down.
  • Members meeting minutes: Must be kept for as long as the church is registered and for at least 2 years after the church has shut down.
  • Governance documents and bylaws: Must be kept for as long as the church is registered and for 2 years after the church has shut down.
  • Ledgers or other books containing summaries of transactions and the related accounts: Must be kept for 6 years from the end of the last tax year, while the church is registered, and for 2 years after the church has shut down,
  • Financial statements, source documents and copies of annual information returns: Must be kept for 6 years from the end of the last tax year, or, if the church has shut down, for two years after the date of revocation.

For our American churches, there are no specific laws, but there is a Charity Guide created by the IRS that may help. In general, the suggestions from the IRS include: 

Records to be kept permanently:

  • Corporate records, including articles of incorporation and bylaws
  • Meeting minutes, including all related reports.
  • Audit reports
  • Annual financial statements
  • Tax returns submitted 
  • Annual corporate filings or returns
  • Tax-exemption documents and correspondence
  • Property records

Records to be kept 10 years:

  • Insurance policies

Records to be kept seven years:

  • Bank statements, cancelled checks, and bank reconciliations
  • Worksheets and supporting documents for tax returns 
  • IRS Forms
  • Payroll tax records, including payroll registers, W-4 forms, and payroll deductions
  • Employee expense reports
  • Employee personnel records after separation from employment
  • Contracts and related correspondence
  • Investment records 
  • Annual audit records and worksheets 
  • Insurance letters and all correspondence
  • Individual giving records
  • Accounts payable records
  • Tax bills, receipts and statements

Records to be kept two years:

  • Time cards and time sheets
  • Individual offering envelopes

How To Manage Church Records

Recordkeeping requires attention to detail and a love of numbers. So you’ll need to appoint the right person to the records management position. Your church board should appoint one person to oversee your records management program. 

And because record-keeping is so important, it’s usually best for the records manager to be a full-time member of the church staff or clergy rather than a volunteer from your congregation. 

Create A Policy For Record Management

A records retention policy sets out how long records must be kept and includes guidelines and processes for how and when to dispose of records. This ensures that everyone involved in managing your church’s records is clear on the procedures and what needs to be kept.

Identify The Church Records That You’re Going To Manage

Based on your local state laws you will need to figure out what records are imperative to keep. Use the guidelines above as a starting point.

Implement A Retention Schedule 

You will have to figure out what works for your Church, based on your local laws. A lot will also depend on if you are keeping physical or digital records, and how you will review and audit your statistics and records on a regular basis. Have someone in charge of implementing this, and make sure that all church staff members understand and follow the filing system guidelines. A central file room for physical records may be a good idea. 

Establish Retention And Destruction Policies 

I would suggest that whatever you decide, make sure your policy is documented properly in writing. It would also be beneficial to have it reviewed by legal counsel and to get it approved by your governing board. This shows it was a considered organizational decision, not just something you put together of your own accord.

Here are some samples of church retention and destruction policies you can use as a starting point.

How To Improve The Process For Church Records Management 

You already know that a strong records management program is crucial to your church’s success. And even if you’re happy with your current strategy, there might be some areas to improve. 

First, audit and review your current records. This might include filling in the gaps if there’s any missing information, such as missing meeting minutes or official bylaws that haven’t yet been documented.  

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you improve your records management: 

  • Do you use a records center, or are your records on-site? 
  • How accurate and current are your records? 
  • Are you archiving or disposing of your inactive records?
  • Are you using church management or records management software? 

A big part of answering these questions is whether you have hard copies or digital copies of your records. In my opinion, delegating storage space to stacks of papers and files is not really needed. Of course, these days, the preferred method of record retention storage is the digital route, mostly because digital files are much more likely to survive a disaster. In addition, it is also a lot faster to search through digital files than paper files, and easier to send electronically!

Digital records can be stored on a computer hard drive, or on a network server either at your location or through the Internet.

Choosing the storage option that makes the most sense for your church will depend on your church’s desires or needs. Talk to companies who are familiar with document imaging and storage technology, and discuss the best way to index records for search and retrieval. 

Also, keep records security in mind—data loss can be devastating for a church, or any business for that matter. Finally, as I mentioned earlier, does your church have an attorney? If so, I would suggest asking them for guidance on creating a record retention program that works with your local legal requirements.

Related Read: Church Data Management Systems

Consider Church Management Software

Church management software can be crucial in helping manage all types of records, including financial records, congregation membership records, and others such as those described above.

If you run a nonprofit local church, you might not have a large budget for church management software. Fortunately, some companies like TouchPoint and QuickBooks offer free or discounted software for churches. You can also find a list of free church management software options here

Here are some things to consider when looking for Church management software:

  1. User Interface (UI): Churches usually have lots of members. You are also dealing with a lot of information with each member. You will want an interface that is clearly understood, and easy to use. Having an interface that is too complicated or hard to use will just add unneeded time and frustration to your day. Which is why I think it’s also important that it has a Mobile App as well. You want it to be easily accessible. 
  2. Security: This is the most important feature I’m looking for! You want a software that is secure. Your congregation is trusting the church with important information, like phone numbers, emails, and credit card numbers for online giving. The software needs to have good security. 
  3. Value for $: Does it have features that make its pricing reasonable? Do they offer a free trial? Having a free trial is imperative. You want to make sure the software is the right fit for your church. You don’t want to commit to a contract or payment and then find out the software is too complicated or not in line with what your church needs. 

Church records management is crucial to your church’s success. And picking the right software is vital! Take the time to do your research so that you make the best decision for your church.

Keep Your Church Thriving With Strong Records Management 

Your congregation deserves a well-managed church. And church records management plays an important role in your church’s overall health. When you keep good records, your church can thrive. 

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Ultimate Guide To Church Leadership Roles And Responsibilities

An excellent church needs strong leadership and a dedicated congregation. Every single member of the church needs to understand the roles and responsibilities of the church’s leaders.

Different types of church leaders help your church-run, and all are equally important. When you define and understand the roles and responsibilities of each leader, your church will thrive. And a thriving church will grow from the congregation all the way up to your church board and worship team. 

You may know from my bio or the previous articles that I have worked in churches as small as fifty members up to a megachurch of over four thousand. I’ve also worked in nearly every role I’m about to mention.

Let my experience help you develop a leadership guide for your own church.

Here’s what I’ll cover:

Types Of Church Leadership Roles 

table showing different types of leadership roles in terms of ministry roles, church admin roles, and church board roles
There are a variety of church leadership roles.

You’re of course familiar with church leadership roles like the minister, pastor, bishop, and priest. But in addition to these titles, every religious organization needs a church board and an administration team to run the daily operations, ensure legal compliance, and make sure that the worship team is always communicating the church’s message. Your congregation notices when your church leadership team is on the same page.

Before continuing, let’s clarify a few terms.

  • Church Leader: The head pastor/bishop/priest. This is the person who leads the church.
  • Church Leadership: The rest of the team that follows the lead of the church leader. Sometimes, the leadership will be split into teams, like the worship team, or the youth team.

Maintaining and growing a successful church is a team effort. From the spiritual leader who preaches to the congregation to the treasurer and secretary, all successful churches must have strong leadership. The three main types of church leadership roles are ministry roles, church administration roles, and church board roles. 

As your church grows, you’ll need to increase the staff. Open job opportunities in your church can also help you increase the size of your congregation, so be sure to communicate all job openings to your community. 

Ministry Roles

Church leadership roles have evolved over the years. In the early church, for instance, some of the leadership was left to whoever owned the building that people worshipped in. But nowadays, the roles are much more complex. 

The title of your church leaders can vary by religion and denomination. For instance, a Baptist church is led by a minister, and a Catholic church’s leader is called a priest.

Pastor

The pastor is a key role in the church. Here are a few duties that every good pastor must fulfill: 

Your church’s pastor is likely the face of your church. Each church member recognizes the pastor as a spiritual leader. So your pastor must embody the church’s message and philosophy to effectively serve your congregation.  

A good church leader takes their duties seriously and basically acts as a brand ambassador for the church.

Minister

While the minister is sometimes used interchangeably with the pastor, in some churches the roles are separate in a few ways. For instance, in the megachurch I worked in, we had many different ministries. We had one minister who was head of the hospital ministry, another who was head of the food pantry, and another who was head of the prison ministry.

The ministers never preached in the church as the pastors did, but they did preach in their respective areas and often led prayer meetings and other church functions. 

Deacon

Deacons fill many roles in the actual running of the church service. First, they can act as ushers. Later, they will collect and usually count the offering with the church treasurer. Finally, they will stand at the altar and pray with people at the end of service when the pastor is calling for prayer or for people who need salvation.

Historically, the books of 1st and 2nd Timothy were written to a deacon of a church that the Apostle Paul founded.

Lay Leader

In just about all Christian leadership, the “spokesperson” of the church is referred to as the lay leader. This person communicates directly with the congregation on a regular basis. 

The lay leader works with the church board. Every church has a lay leader in charge of ministry but serves underneath the senior pastor. These leaders communicate the church’s message to the congregation.

Worship Leader

Your worship leader is often the face of your church as much as the head pastor. So their attitude, demeanor, and dedication are important. They should caringly and enthusiastically lead worship services, be available to rehearse at any time, and minister the worship team’s needs.

The worship leader should not only have some musical talent themselves, but they must be able to see the potential in others so that your music program can grow. 

Church Administration Roles

Church administration is how the lights stay on and the restrooms stay clean. It isn’t always pretty, but the administration is what makes the world go round.

Receptionist

The first contact with your church will sometimes be the person who picks up the phone or responds to the email. A good receptionist is organized, friendly, and understands the roles of every other person working at the church so that a person in need can be sent to the proper ministry within the church.

Maintenance

Maintenance is probably the least spiritually demanding role, but without them, your building becomes a mess. Whether or not you agree that cleanliness is next to godliness, a messy building can send the wrong message to your congregation.

IT Department

IT, or Information Technology, departments are becoming more and more necessary as time goes on. Someone needs to be in charge of the church’s computers and website. While a smaller church might be able to get away with having someone volunteer for this position, larger churches will need to pay at least one person, if not more.

Security

As your church grows, you will attract more people who enjoy being disruptive. Not only that, but safety in the parking lot becomes a growing concern as well. Hiring a security firm to handle crowd control and to protect from disruptive influences becomes a necessary investment as you grow into the higher hundreds and possibly thousands of church members.

Legal

Any church can benefit from having a good relationship with a tax lawyer who can help you navigate through the maze of laws surrounding your church’s tax status on both the state and local levels. Much like IT, the larger your church grows, the more likely you will have to hire your own lawyer or put one on retainer.

Church Board Roles

The board consists of members of the congregation who handle the church’s finances, organize events, and keep the church compliant with denominational regulations and state and federal laws. The board is a crucial part of the church administration and leadership.

The church board must consist of at least 4 people, by law if it is a 501(c)(3) corporation in the U.S., so the structure will look very similar to any other corporation. You can have many more than 4 board members if you want, so consider it the minimum.

CEO

Almost invariably, in churches with a board structure, the CEO position is filled by the head pastor. This person is the leader of the corporation and helps steer it. The CEO takes the things that the board votes on and makes them happen. That is why the head pastor, as the spiritual leader, is usually the one to hold this position.

President

The president of any board ensures that the board meetings happen according to the bylaws of the church and is generally in charge of what gets onto the agenda of each meeting. Sometimes, the president is also called the chairman. Other times, the chairman of the board is an honorary title. There is no hard and fast rule to it.

Secretary

The board secretary handles any paperwork generated by the board and ensures that the board documents are properly and legally stored in case of an audit or investigation. This person usually is charged with handling the documents regarding any ordinations your church dispenses as well as baptisms, marriages, or other ceremonies.

Treasurer

The treasurer deals with money and must be present when offerings are counted. They are the ones who write the checks to pay the church’s bills. While this is the position most able to be exploited, the church bylaws can be written, or amended if they already exist, to say that the treasurer can only serve a certain amount of time, or to include a co-treasurer position on the board.

Other Positions

The aboveboard positions are only the ones required by law if you are trying to gain non-profit status in the U.S. Most likely, you will need more board members as your church grows. The other members don’t need specific titles, as not every board member in secular corporations has a title. Just remember to add each through your bylaws so you define their powers and responsibilities legally.

Wrapping Up The Roles

The church board and church administration staff work together to keep the church running behind the scenes, similar to how a board of directors and an administrative team help keep a company running. 

Your entire church governance team, the combination of spiritual, administrative, and board leaders, needs to work together for a church to succeed. The overall objectives and leadership styles need to mesh so they can appropriately serve the congregation and ensure smooth worship services. So when you consider who will fill each leadership role in your church, make sure that they’re a good fit.   

Every member of the church board—including administrators and spiritual leaders—is representative of the church.

The Importance Of Church Leadership

Church leadership is crucial to every church, whether it’s a national organization or a smaller local church. And for your church to succeed, it’s important to outline the responsibilities for church roles. 

For instance, in my megachurch experience, we put on a Passion Play with a cast and crew of over 500 people that took place on a stage that spanned just over 200 feet. The stage was divided into sections, and each person’s script told them which section to be in at which time. The play ran so smoothly that I still marvel at it sometimes.

The moral is to define your roles and responsibilities and everything just works, even when a live camel stops to do nature’s business in the middle of the market scene.

Just like running a business, a strong church needs great leaders and employees to run smoothly. Each church staff member has duties and responsibilities that they need to fulfill. And whether a particular staff member communicates directly with the congregation or works behind the scenes, every church leadership role is important. 

How To Grow Your Church’s Leadership Team 

Church growth happens when your leadership team successfully spreads your church’s message to the community and your church leadership team works together. And just like a growing business, a growing church sometimes needs to increase its staff to accommodate the increased demand. 

So how do you grow your team? How do you provide strong leadership development to sustain your growth, and what do your leaders need to be successful?

Developing Leaders Within Your Church

If you’re searching for new church leadership, it’s sometimes best to start within your church. Perhaps there’s an enthusiastic deacon who would like to expand their responsibilities. As an existing church member, they already understand and appreciate your church structure, message, mission, and goals. 

Developing a potential leader will take some time. They’ll need to learn what church leadership entails and how their daily responsibilities will change. But with some training and guidance, the right leaders can help your church grow. 

Growing With Your Community

The key to successful church growth is planning. If you’re not prepared to experience some growing pains, you’ll have a bumpy road ahead. But if you consider what church staff you’ll need to hire and how to support your church leadership, you’re setting yourself up for success. 

Adding to your team means creating roles that you didn’t previously need. For instance, you might need one dedicated staff member to coordinate weddings and another staff member that only focuses on youth ministry. You can make their lives easier with resources like a congregation database or specialized accounting software to keep track of costs. 

Growing your church is exciting. It means that you’re able to serve more of the community than you were before. Just be sure to plan for your growth so that you can keep achieving your church’s goals without missing a beat. 

Related Read: 10 Best Church Data Management Systems In 2022

Finding And Developing Church Leaders

Leadership development is challenging. You must make sure that all new additions to your church body agree with the church’s goals and message. Here are a few ways to find and develop new leaders: 

  • Write a concise mission statement that defines why your church exists.
  • Create a job description for each church staff member that clearly outlines their roles and responsibilities.
  • Look within your existing congregation for applicants, since they already understand and agree with your church’s objectives. 

In addition, you might want to ask your head pastor or minister (unless that’s you) to interview your top candidates before hiring anyone. Your existing leaders need to support your new staff, so it’s important that they agree with your hiring decision. 

Qualities Of Successful Church Leaders

A church leader’s needs can be divided into two categories: what talents and characteristics they must possess and what they need from the church to succeed. 

Successful church leaders are charismatic and enthusiastic about the church. They are excited to spread the church’s message to the congregation and the larger community. They must be good communicators and establish themselves as trustworthy advisors that church members can rely on. 

In addition to those inherent attributes, successful church leaders also need help from the church itself. The church board must support its leaders, particularly new additions to your church leadership team. 

The team members need encouragement and the board’s support so that the congregation will accept them. And if your church leader is particularly forward-thinking, they might need financial or strategic resources to make positive changes to the church and the surrounding community.    

Serve Your Congregation With Strong Church Leadership

Church leaders come in many forms. From the worship leader to the church board, every member of the leadership team plays an important role in the success of your church and the spiritual journey of your congregation. Strong leaders need care and teaching to grow.

As the head pastor, it is your responsibility to help them grow and become the best they can be. I recommend going to conferences or retreats to help your entire leadership team.

Related Read: Young Disciples: Turning A Youth Group Into A Youth Church

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Article How To

Church Volunteer Management Guide: Strategy, Tips, & Software

According to a recent Gallup poll, the percentage of people who volunteer their time is at 58% in the U.S. This number includes all types of volunteering, from Habitat For Humanity to Christmas food pantries. 

Expect the number of people eager to give their time to your church to be even lower than that. Things are not all doom and gloom, though. Following this guide will have you on your way to a solid group of faithful volunteers.

This article will bring you up to speed with the latest tips in church volunteer management. I will cover various processes like background checks and identifying strengths and weaknesses, as well as software that can keep your volunteers organized.

My name is Alexandria Schmidt, and I spent twenty years in multiple churches helping coordinate everything from bake sales to full-scale youth productions of our local Passion Play. Let me help you manage your church volunteers with three simple concepts.

How To Manage Church Volunteers

Volunteering at non-profit organizations such as churches, soup kitchens, and food pantries is not a relic of bygone days. Even at the current low of 58%, which is due to many factors, especially the COVID-19 pandemic, we can see that a significant majority of people are willing to spend their time helping someone. 

How can you ensure that they spend their volunteer hours at your church? I will cover how to find and keep good volunteers in this section.

Recruiting Church Volunteers

Recruiting starts with you, the pastor. Enthusiasm and excitement for your next project go a long way towards bringing people into your church’s inner circle. People are like plants who need water and sunlight to grow. Let your encouragement and praise be that water and sunlight. A discouraged volunteer is one who will not return.

Step 1: Ask For Help

Don’t be afraid to announce the church’s needs when starting a new project or ministry. Some pastors are more willing to ask for money than time, but it is our congregation’s time that is most valuable. Also, when announcing a need for volunteers, give people at least a month to fix their schedules to help you. Asking for Wednesday’s help on Sunday morning will leave you very short-handed.

Step 2: Screen For Possible Legal Issues

Once you have announced your needs and given encouragement, what do you do? First, most churches and church events involve children in some capacity. Consult the National Sex Offender Registry in the U.S., or the equivalent for your country.

If a frequent volunteer seems to be ready to move into church leadership, you might even want to conduct a background check on them. This is typically done through your local law enforcement office. Not doing so could possibly open you or your church to legal issues, so consult with your church’s lawyer concerning your local laws about who can and cannot legally volunteer.

Step 3: Get To Know Your Volunteers

Spend some time talking to your volunteers. Even if it is just a moment or two each, you can get an idea about which parts of ministry they are passionate about. Volunteers will stop coming back if they are not in a role that they enjoy. 

Of course, not everyone can do exactly what they want every time. That’s where your encouragement and praise as their leader comes in. A person who feels as though they did a good job will be happy, even if the job was not their first choice.

Step 4: Lead From The Front

Finally, the most important thing that you can do to recruit and keep volunteers is to do the jobs yourself. I was assistant youth pastor to a head pastor at a church of over two thousand people, and we held a Passion Play every year with a cast in the hundreds. Year in, year out. Our volunteers always grew. The reason is that he was legendary for giving his all in everything he tried. Lead by example. Do the work, and the people will follow.

Training Church Volunteers

This section will examine why and how you should train your volunteers. Volunteering is for simple tasks, right? How much training does a person need to wipe down the Bibles after-service? Unless your church elders are getting paid, they count as volunteers. Unless your sound person or choir director is getting paid, they are volunteers. Volunteers frequently occupy key parts of our ministries and our church leadership.

Each church is its own entity with its own needs, so this article cannot specify what exactly to do, but this section will provide general advice. Training volunteers is a complex task. A worship leader might need to be trained on which songbooks are allowed by your denomination. A deacon or elder might need to be trained in what they are allowed to counsel a church member before sending the problem to an ordained minister. The bake sale cashier might need to be trained in the proper care and handling of the cash box or donation app. The number of ways your church members can volunteer, and the amount of training each position needs, is as different as the people themselves.

bar graph showing relative training times for deacons, elders, worship leaders, and bake sale cashiers

So, how do we train them? In my experience, the bake sale cashier only needs a few minutes of instruction. They will not be praying over someone or preaching. You, or your volunteer manager if you’ve trained one, can show them how the money handling procedures work, and then send them on their way. 

These simple tasks, which are the bulk of church volunteer opportunities, require some common sense and little supervision. This is a good thing because your leadership volunteers will require a higher investment of your time and energy.

Training your church elders is sometimes governed by denominational bylaws or other regulations, so, once again, consult with your lawyer or your higher clergy (such as a bishop) before deciding who to promote from a regular volunteer. 

Typically, elders require a great deal of experience in the church, having proven themselves through prayer meetings, church projects, and simply doing the work of keeping the church-going. I was always taught to be wary of people who want to skip the steps of simple service before reaching the point of standing before the stage and leading people to Jesus at the end of service. 

Church elders, or deacons, are just about the highest point a layperson can reach in their local church. Pray with them, study with them, and make sure they are there for the right reasons. Power-hungry elders can split a church like firewood.

In my personal experience, those people are somewhat rare but watch out. This is part of the purpose of training: to weed out the people who would use their position to do harm.

Caring For Your Volunteers

Good volunteers are a church’s most precious resource. To keep them coming back, they must be cared for. As I have said a few times before, encouragement and praise are your greatest tools in keeping volunteers happy. Still, after a long day of packing groceries for a food drive, those church members are probably going to be hungry. That sounds like a perfect time for a pizza party!

Yes, the pizza party is cliche, but it can be very cheap (depending on where you get your pizzas) and most people love it. What else can you do to make your volunteers feel special and encouraged to come back for your next project?

The Phone Blitz 

We’ll cover volunteer scheduling below, but, on your volunteer list, you should have an email or phone number. Hopefully, both. Get on the phone with your leadership team and call the volunteers to give them a personal “Thank You” from the pastor and church elders.

Church Announcements

We all have announcements on Sunday morning, usually just before or just after praise and worship. Place a general “Thank You” to all volunteers, or a specific one if a volunteer did a really great job. This can have the dual effect of bringing in more volunteers who are glad to be paid with their name being called.

Volunteer Retreat

Find a Christian leadership retreat or conference, such as these. Take your volunteers there both as a treat and for development. Bulk rates in hotel rooms can bring costs down, and churches near big cities may not even need to stay in hotel rooms for these kinds of conferences. Although, the trip is half the fun in itself.

These ideas may not work for your specific congregation, but they should get your brain moving in the right direction.

Church Volunteer Management Tips And Best Practices

In this section, I want to take you through some tips and best practices for church volunteer management. We might double back over a couple of points from above, but reinforcement is key to learning.

Establish Clear Roles

As you put on more events and develop your core volunteers, you might find that they start forming volunteer groups. Some will only show up for the bake sales. Others will only show up for food drives. Some will show up only to fold announcement papers if you even do that anymore. The point is that your volunteers will find people and jobs that they are comfortable with and attempt to stay there as much as possible.

While this is not a bad thing, per se, these small groups can develop into cliques if left unchecked. You can avoid this by establishing a very clear hierarchy from the beginning. By giving the role of gatekeeper to a person from the start, you stop everyone from trying to claim it at once. Just be sure the person in charge of each group is someone who is willing to bring new volunteers into the fold.

Establishing clear roles is also extremely helpful in figuring out where things went wrong. It’s going to happen. Some disaster will befall your event, and you will want to find out how to stop it from happening next time. By ensuring that everyone has a specific job, you can tell who messed up and might need more training. Just be prepared. That person is going to be with you a significant amount of the time. Those are the breaks of being the one in charge.

Finally, on this point, establishing clear roles allows you to identify those who are willing to step outside the lines for their own benefit. As I said earlier, these people are not common, but it only takes one to cause deep pain for many people. Your ministry leaders should be willing to do anything for the cause, but not for their own gain. Volunteer management is about protecting your church community as much as it is about helping it grow.

Define Realistic Goals

Realistic goals are all a part of that enthusiasm and praise I looked at earlier. Like all things, setting your goals is a balancing act that comes with experience. If your goals are too easy, your church leaders won’t feel a sense of accomplishment for achieving them. Meanwhile, harsh goals can suck the joy right out of any number of volunteers.

How do we find that balance? Experience, for one. For two, ask other pastors in your area how successful they have been. Maybe research your local area’s recent history for the type of event you are planning. If you have never done this type of event before, set your goals just slightly under the average. Always give yourself some wiggle room to find ways to praise people for reaching the goals you set.

On that note, not every group has to have the same goal, even within the same event. Let’s look at a 5K Fun Run. You might divide the volunteer groups into pre-race day and race day teams. Pre-race day might consist of the children’s ministry trying to collect donations for the runners and the route planners working with the city to find an appropriate day. 

Neither group would have the same goals, and their success does not depend on the other. The race day team might have a team that is in charge of getting each runner checked-in and pointed toward the start/finish line and start/finish team that would keep the time and prepares the finish line for the runners as they cross it.

All of those small groups work together to create the event even though they each strive toward different goals. What their goals should depend entirely on your church community and the number of volunteers you have to work with.

Other Best Practices For Church Volunteer Management

Here are a few other quick tips for managing your church volunteers.

  • Background checks can save your church legal trouble. When in doubt, consult an attorney.
  • Social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) is how many people communicate with the world these days. A tech-savvy volunteer coordinator can wrangle a large number of volunteers with a couple Tweets. If you don’t know how to use social media, find someone in your volunteer pool or leadership group who does. Read this article about using YouTube in your ministry to get you started.
  • Lead from the front. Don’t ever ask your volunteers to do something you wouldn’t do. They will know that there is a double standard, and they will run.
  • Discipleship is key to great volunteer leaders. Just like the previous point, don’t promote someone who is not willing to serve. Churches have rules, and your ministry leaders need to be people who can listen. They don’t have to be robots who do exactly as you say and nothing else, but humility is one of the spiritual gifts. As someone who has stacked and folded thousands of chairs before getting a chance to preach, this one is close to my heart.
  • Speaking of spiritual gifts, don’t neglect spiritual training for your volunteer group. As you train them to assist with event check-in or whatever is at hand, don’t forget to relate back to the reason why you are all there in the first place: outreach into your neighborhood and community. Whether your focus is on soul-winning, fundraising, or just reminding people of a safe space in the community, always take a few minutes to pray with your volunteers or quote relevant scriptures about your event. This fosters solidarity and mindfulness around your larger goals.

A final point on those rare instances of a disruptive influence among your volunteer staff. Mercy and patience are always in order, but some people will not take the hint. You are the boss in your church, and you have the right and responsibility to kick someone out who is making it difficult for others to work. 

Tell them they can come back after they have cooled down if you want, but protecting your congregation will increase their respect for you and make them more likely to come back.

Church Volunteer Management Software

Church Management Software, or ChMS, is any computer program or mobile app that allows you to keep the information about your church and its members in one place. Sometimes, ChMS will also allow you to track your volunteers. I will highlight the best ChMS for churches that are trying to grow their volunteer program.

Here are the criteria I used:

  • Is it user-friendly?
  • Does it have competitive pricing?
  • Is church volunteer scheduling part of its functionality?

After careful analysis and some playing around with demos, I have to recommend ChurchCRM. ChurchCRM is free, easy-to-use, and fits the above criteria. More than just volunteer scheduling software, it has event registration, Sunday school groups, fundraising, and more. Maintain your rosters of volunteers with a few clicks or swipes. Installation can be a bit tricky, but the ChurchCRM team has a very helpful video right on the page I linked.

Church CRM Church Volunteer Management Software Screenshot
ChurchCRM’s demo page. Of note is all the different ways to organize and sort your members and volunteers.

I don’t think ChurchCRM is the end of your search for a management solution, but it is more of a beginning. You can find links to articles that will recommend more specialized and expensive software below. Think of ChurchCRM as something to help your church’s volunteer program grow to new heights. You will find different needs and solutions as you and your volunteers grow in ministry.

If ChurchCRM is a little too techy to start, Flocknote is another option that deals primarily with texts and emails for organizations. The setup is simpler, and it requires a subscription that starts at $8/month to fully unlock its features. Flocknote also requires $39/month to reach a similar level of function as ChurchCRM, although it has a simpler user interface.

Flocknote Church Volunteer Management Software Screenshot
Flocknote looks similar, but costs more than ChurchCRM.

ChMeetings is another option I would recommend. It’s the easiest to use, but it does not have the same robust support for volunteer management as the other two apps.

CHMeetings Church Volunteer Management Software Screenshot
ChMeetings has an easy-to-use interface but does not have the robust volunteer support you might be looking for.

Find specific church volunteer management software here.

If you want more in-depth looks at a variety of software for churches try these:

Most pastors will find that their needs outgrow or simply change from what they were in the past. These articles will give you a nice reference for when that happens.

Church Volunteer Management: What Have We Learned?

We have learned that one of the biggest obstacles is not just volunteer recruitment, but volunteer retention. I looked at ways to raise those retention rates through care and training while maintaining clear roles for our volunteers and giving them realistic goals. Finally, I took a quick look at the best software for a pastor who is looking to dip their toes into church volunteer management in the 21st century.

Comment below with questions or ideas about managing church volunteers. Look for more articles in the future about managing your church, your congregation, and the software that can help you do it.

Related Read:

Check This Out: How To Mentor & Build Devoted Youth Leaders: Youth Discipleship

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Article How To

How To Build And Lead A Worship Team

The time has come; you have finished bible college ready to take on a new leadership role as a worship pastor. Or maybe you have recently planted a new church or inherited a struggling worship team. Whatever it may be, you find yourself starting a new worship team. 

It’s exciting and maybe a bit overwhelming. Where does one start? In this article, we will talk through how to build and lead a worship team!

Some topics we will cover in this article are:

Back in 2011 my husband and I had just moved to a new city. We were eager to find a new church family, so for a few months we tried different churches. We had heard of a new church plant that had just started and we were eager to try it out. 

After the first Sunday morning we attended, we were hooked. We knew we had found our new church family. It was a young church with a group of about 40 people. The service was a little rough, but there was an authenticity that we loved about it. We were excited to join this new worship team in our new church. 

Fast forward 6 months and the senior pastor sat my husband and I down and asked us if we would create and lead a worship team. Whoa! Talk about pressure. I had been involved with training and leading worship teams in the past, and had attended Bible College, but was I really equipped to start from scratch with a 4 person team? 

Establishing Guidelines For Your Worship Team

The first thing I had to establish was, what culture did I want for this worship team? What was my vision for the team? And what expectations did I have for this team?

As a worship pastor, your first priority is to lead your team well, and a huge aspect of that is creating the culture of the team. The culture of the team determines the effectiveness of the team. If you create a culture of camaraderie, connectedness, and encouragement, your worship ministry will be much more effective.

The first step in creating a culture of camaraderie and connectedness is to communicate clear guidelines and expectations right at the start. 

Clear expectations are actually comforting for team members. Knowing what’s expected allows the worship team to relax. There’s nothing more frustrating for a volunteer than committing to something and then finding out they’re expected to do things that they aren’t prepared or qualified to do.

What Worship Team Guidelines Should Cover

Some topics to cover in your worship team guidelines are:

  • Your team’s mission statement
  • Your vision for the worship ministry
  • Expectations around commitment and attending rehearsals
  • Rehearsal schedules
  • Standards for musicians and worship leaders
  • Skills and responsibilities
  • Dress code 
  • Communication tools that the team will use, such as Planning Center

If you want to see some more samples or download a worship team guidelines template, check out my article on how to create worship team guidelines

Worship Team Auditions

Once I had established the guidelines and expectations for being involved in the worship team, it was time to grow the team. 

In some circles, auditioning for a worship band has been a taboo concept. There is an argument that worship bands don’t need perfectionism or professional musicians, and that it’s about our worship to God, and that we need to look at the heart, not about how skilled we are on a Sunday morning. 

But is that really true? How does God really feel about the quality of our music? Does He care about skill or talent during a worship service? Does He care if we can’t play the worship songs well?

Many don’t think He cares at all. Many people believe as long as you are singing good theological songs, nothing else matters. “Let the Holy Spirit do its thing” is what I have often heard. This argument will often arise when people are being pushed past their comfort zones and don’t want to deal with all the practice and rehearsals. I have seen this many times, as not everyone wants to put in the hard work.

Holding auditions for your team is a really easy way to understand and observe a musician’s skill level and desire to serve. It’ll help connect people’s skills to where they can best serve in the church. The end result, a growing and thriving worship team that is passionate about the presence of God, is worth it.

The most important thing to remember when you audition musicians is that it is always easier to add a member to the team than to remove them from the team. No one wants that awkward conversation—been there, done that, never want to do it again.

Take your time in adding members to the worship team. Thankfully, the Lord doesn’t expect a certain sound or instrument to be playing when we are praising him, so we shouldn’t feel any pressure to add a bass player or drummer to the worship band as soon as possible.

Finally, a worship team audition should be a fun experience. It’s important that everyone who auditions feels encouraged, no matter how well they have done or how successful they were.

For more ideas on how to audition your worship band, see my previous article here.

Worship Team Training

Now that you have created your worship team, it’s time to do some training. Wait? Training? If we have set a standard of expectations and you held auditions, why do we need to train? 

Training a worship team, whether it’s musical or nonmusical training, is an important aspect in leading your team. 

Leading worship, as you know, is not just about singing. There are a lot of balls to juggle. Just because the team has the musical ability and all the skills to sound great does not mean that the team has the skills to lead worship. The opposite is also true; if they are not the strongest musicians, this doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t lead worship. 

“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16v7) In the same way, worship leaders should look beyond just talent and look at the heart of their musicians. That being said, the more skillful the team is on their instruments, the more comfortable they will be on a Sunday. This will also draw the congregation into worship more effectively. 

If the musicians and vocalists are having to think too much about playing their piano or guitar, or which chords to play, then they’re not going to be able to fully worship God and lead people to Him as easily. Training and practice will assist team members in this, and if they are constantly improving on their instrument, they will be able to focus more on worshipping. 

For more on how to conduct worship team training, read my article here!

Tips For Leading Worship Teams

Here are my top three tips for leading worship teams effectively and with grace.

1. Build Relationships

Relationships are a huge aspect of your role in building a worship team. Be intentional about developing strong relationships with not only your senior pastor but any support staff as well. 

I can not emphasize this enough. Build strong relationships with your worship team. When tension and storms come to your church and ministry, which I am sorry to say will come, a strong relational connection will help weather those storms.

At my church, we would hold a team night once a month, where we would come together as a team to share food, pray together, and just have some fun. It was a great way to break through relational barriers and to get to know the team members in personal ways. 

Ask them about their families, how their jobs are going, and their hobbies. When your team feels cared for, the bonds between them will strengthen. If they are only looked at as a drummer for Sunday service and as having no value outside of that, this will cause resentment and hurt feelings.  

Although completing tasks is an important part of the worship leading process, it is secondary to relationships—first with God and secondly with each other. If we miss this, we miss everything.

2. Communication

Let’s be honest, there is nothing more annoying than a person with bad communication skills. A great way to honor your team is by practicing good and clear communication. If the idea of phone calls and emails stresses you out, take steps to move past this. 

Promptly returning emails and phone calls is such an important tool in building trust and cohesiveness with your team. Set aside time each day to check your emails, respond to worship team members, and clear your inbox. Don’t allow it to pile up. Focus on this as an utmost priority, because it is.

Stay connected by keeping your contacts organized with these tools: 10 Best Church Contact Management Software [2021]

3. Organization 

Serve your team well by being organized. Have the schedule nailed down on your communication or team management software, plan out rehearsals in advance, and have the setlist out early enough so the team can practice.

A lack of organization can be frustrating to your musicians and singers. So jump into the organization aspect with excellence. Your team will love you, and thank you for this! 

Related Read: 10 Best Church Management Software For Small Churches

Now What?

After all this, the hard work begins. Probably not what you want to hear, right?

While many musicians excel at being relaxed and carefree, the job of the music director or worship pastor can be quite stressful sometimes. There are a lot of moving parts in the worship ministry, and many people to lead and care for.

While being prepared and organized is an essential part of the role, remember that there are times when it will be necessary to relax and have fun! After all, your volunteers are there because they love music and using their talents to serve. 

You want to preserve those passions and foster a team that people are excited to be a part of. As a worship pastor, you will have many moments of exercising your patience. In times of frustration, remember why you are there and why you took the position in the first place. 

If you have any other suggestions or tips for leading a worship team, put them in the comments below, I would love to hear what has worked for other people!

Also Worth Checking Out:

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How To

The First Church Of YouTube: Getting Your Ministry Online Fast!

Day after day, the world moves further toward a full service economy where groceries, fast food, and even furniture are delivered to your door. People are living to older ages than ever before, and even people with disabilities are connecting in ways they never could before the age of the Internet. 

According to a U.S. Census report released in April 2021, by 2018, 85% of U.S. households had a broadband internet subscription, and 84% of households used smartphones. Your church members use the internet to connect to the world around them. You can use the internet to connect to them as well.

I’m Lexie Schmidt, and, by the end of this article, I will teach you how to bring your church into the 21st century and start reaching some of our most underserved populations. I was trained to be a pastor by my grandfather, and spent a great deal of time in my youth learning everything he knew about the ministry. When my grandfather was between churches, my mom took my siblings and me to a megachurch where my mom founded the first IT department, which I helped her run. 

That church put on plays, illustrated sermons, and other multimedia presentations. I worked my way up to Assistant Youth Pastor, taking nearly every job in between, where I was in charge of producing announcement videos, coordinating leadership teams, and running sound while playing lead guitar for worship, so multimedia leadership and ministry are my wheelhouse.

This article applies to every church no matter how big or small. Be sure to keep that in mind as you go forward. While this article will have you ready to go live, the actual content you provide depends on your congregation. No one knows your congregation and their specific needs better than you.

Before we get into the nuts-and-bolts of creating your church’s YouTube channel, let’s look at the benefits of having a channel and, at the end of the article, we’ll examine a few goals that your new channel can help you complete.

Here’s what I’ll cover specifically:

Benefits Of Youtube Channels For Ministries 

First, having a YouTube channel makes it easy for members of your congregation who have limited mobility to participate in services from home. This also applies to those who have to work during church hours to provide for their families.

Instead of missing church by two hours, the waitress working the breakfast shift at the local diner can praise the Lord and listen to the Word after her shift. The disabled man who can only come once a month when someone can give him a ride will now be able to attend every service.

Another benefit is that YouTube is free to the user and creator. The ability to reach into someone’s home and touch their hearts is not the realm of the rich anymore. Your church no longer needs expensive television time slots. Your viewers no longer need cable or satellite packages that specifically include Christian content.

How To Set Up Your YouTube Channel

1. Creating a Google Account and Getting to YouTube

Now, to the fun stuff! The first step to creating your channel is to create a Google account. If your church already has a Gmail account, you should use that one. If not, go to Gmail and click on “create account”. Follow the instructions. It should only take a minute or so before you come to a page that looks like this…

Gmail Screenshot
A brand new Gmail account, ready to start a channel.

The circle on the top-right corner is where you can access all of your account information. The nine dots to the left are where you find all of Google’s apps, including YouTube. Click on the YouTube icon, and you will be sent to YouTube’s front page. Once there, click on the circle to get a list of options.

Youtube Account Menu Screenshot
Your account menu on YouTube.

As you can see, I set my appearance to “Dark” which I recommend to anyone who uses a computer for long periods of time. Save yourself from eye strain!

2. Creating Your Channel

Next, click on “Create a channel”. Upload a picture that represents your church. The photo could be of the congregation, a cross, a Bible, or even your church building itself. As long as your photo is easy to identify for your members.

A name will be auto-filled based on the name of your Google account, but you can change it at this stage. Typically, you want your channel to have the same name as your church so that there is no confusion for search engines and people who are less tech-savvy than others.

If you are happy with the photo and name of your channel, click on “Create Channel” in the lower-right corner. Congratulations! Your ministry is now on YouTube. My work here is done. Wait…I promised to get you to your first uploaded video. It is very simple, but I’ll be thorough so that you understand the whole process.

3. Recording A Welcome Video

The next step is recording a welcome video. This video will display on your church’s YouTube page every time someone comes to see what’s new. This video should be around one minute long, and no longer than two minutes. 

Say welcome, state your church’s purpose, and explain what newcomers to your channel can expect. Don’t worry if this first video feels weak. Working in front of a camera is much different than working in front of your congregation, and it can take time to get used to new media.

How To Record The Welcome Video

The easiest way to record is to use your smartphone. A laptop with a built-in camera works, too. As long as the visuals are sharp and the audio is clear, whichever method you choose is the right one. You can upload videos from any device that can access your YouTube account, so don’t be afraid to experiment with a few choices from what is available to you. 

Current smartphone cameras are comparable to television cameras, and their quality is just a bit behind movie cameras since those switched to all-digital productions. If you decide to make more videos, investing in better equipment can help take you to the next level. Until then, stick with what you have at hand.

Camera work, especially for preachers, takes practice. When preaching, you ebb and flow. You’re quiet one moment, shouting the next. You walk from one side of the stage to the other. You hold up the Bible to emphasize a point. For something like a welcome message, you have to speak as though you are talking personally to the viewer. The softness of counseling someone should come through as you invite them to spend time with your ministry in worship and the message you have prepared.

Now, there are good videos and bad videos on YouTube. Your loyal members might be forgiving of a bad video, but newcomers are typically harsh, so before you start recording, keep these things in mind:

  • Lighting. Keep yourself in the light, and out of shadow. Sometimes, the best place for this is at your pulpit or in a chair on stage where lighting is already designed to be balanced. Bad lighting can make an otherwise good video unwatchable.
  • Presence. Presence is how you fill the screen and where you are on it. Is this a headshot? Are you sitting in a chair? Do you have a church symbol you want to display next to you? My advice is use a one-quarter shot, which includes your head and shoulders. Your viewers will be able to see you from the tiny box that the welcome video plays in on your channel’s page, while also not being too close for people who watch it in the larger video player. Remember, you’re not filling the entire stage like you are when you preach. Fill the screen.
  • Wardrobe. This should go without saying since pastors are usually expected to be presentable. First impressions are always the most important, so record this in your Sunday best.
  • Smile. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget to smile when you are recording a video. So many other things go through your head that you forget to be pleasant. You are inviting people into your church. Show them you’re happy that they have come.

4. Uploading Your Video

The next step is to go back to YouTube. Make sure you are signed in under the church’s account, not your own or someone else’s account. Click the circle, which should now be the photo you uploaded during channel creation, and click “YouTube Studio.” On the left, you will see this list. If all the options are not visible, the list should be scrollable.

Channel Screen Left Hand Side Screenshot
The left side of your channel screen.

You can play around in all the different areas later. First, click on “Content”. It will say “No content available” just above a button that reads “Upload Videos”. Click the button and select the video from wherever it is saved on your device. A new window will pop up asking for a title and description. More options are available under the description, like “Thumbnail” and “Playlist”. The one to take note of is the only required selection (other than the title), which is whether the video’s intended audience is kids. 

Video Upload Details Screen Screenshot
The Details screen.
Details Screen Continued Screenshot
Details continued. Unless your video is made for your children’s church, select No.

Select “No, it’s not made for kids.” The way that YouTube indexes children’s content can hide it from some people due to how YouTube’s content algorithm works. It can also restrict certain options like comments. Click “Next”. 

Video elements Screenshot
Video Elements. These options add accessibility and can help keep viewers engaged by linking to other videos you make.

The “Video Elements” screen has three options. 

Subtitles

If you are trying to reach people who are deaf and hard of hearing, you might be interested in subtitles. YouTube subtitles are not perfect, but they work. The language selection is on the “Details” screen. Scroll down and click on “Show more” and continue scrolling to the language section. Select your country’s language, and then select “This content has never aired on television in the US” for Caption Certification. Back on “Video Elements”, you can enable subtitles. 

End Screen

“End Screen” is something that will display at the end of your video for a few seconds. Later on, as YouTube becomes a bigger part of your ministry, you might want to consider adding one. 

Cards

“Cards” display over your “End Screen”, if you have one. They are small previews of other videos on your channel that your viewers can click on to watch. If you are doing a multi-part Bible study, for example, you could add links to other videos in the series using the cards option.

Language Captions Screen Screenshot
This is only needed if you want subtitles.

On the next screen,” Checks”, YouTube checks for copyright violations, but you should be fine unless you were playing music in the background of your video. Finally, on “Visibility”, your welcome video should probably be published immediately. Later videos can be published at different times, based on the situation.

Copyright Checks Screen Screenshot
Copyright can get your video taken down. Be careful of music especially.
Visibility Screen Screenshot
Visibility. You decide when your video becomes active and who can see it. These options can be changed later.

Hooray! Your upload is completed, and you have published a video that anyone can see! There is only one thing left to do: make it your channel trailer. Click “Customization” from the list on the left (shown in the third screenshot above), select your welcome video, and you’re done! 

Channel Customization Screenshot
Channel customization. Your channel trailer is the perfect way to highlight your welcome video.

Now, when you want to livestream your Sunday service, click on “Create” next to the circle in the top-right, and click “Go live” from the menu. The method of recording is the same as your other videos, but make sure that the person who is recording has a full view of the stage so that you can preach to the congregation within the building as well. Your live videos of services will, most likely, not be made with the same personal nature that you recorded your welcome video with. 

You may ask why you would want to stream your services live instead of putting up recordings later. The answer is two-fold. First, streamed videos stay on your channel and can be watched later by people as they would a recording. Second, your members who cannot join in person will experience your service at the same time as the members in the building, which increases the feeling of fellowship with their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Upload Live Option Screenshot
Upload or Go Live from the Create button.

Moving Forward Online

This is where your goals come in. A channel is useless without videos to put on it. Videos can come from many sources: your services, your Bible studies, or your prayer meetings. What parts of your ministry do you want to be available to everyone? When they search your church’s name, what do you want to pop up on Google and YouTube? Is there a group in your community that you are trying to make inroads with? The answers to these questions will inform the specific content you make from week to week.

Creating videos is as hard or as easy as you make it, and finding the right tech-wiz in your congregation can make a world of difference, but I hope I’ve shown that you can do this on your own without much trouble. If you have questions or comments about any part of this, comment below. If you would like to see more in-depth tutorials about different aspects of creating content for your YouTube channel, please comment also.

I hope you have been as blessed following this tutorial as I have been writing it. The Lead Pastor has many other tutorials, such as these on communicating with your congregation and developing an effective church communications plan, with new ones being added all the time. Check out what we have available, and feel free to suggest new ideas in the comments.

And if you’re just getting started on your journey towards embracing technology, here’s a very helpful list on the 10 Best Church Management Software For Small Churches.

Related Read: 10 Best Online Church Management Software For 2022

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How To

Worship Team Training: An In-Depth Guide For Worship Leaders

Worship team training can be a little daunting. Not all of us worship pastors were high school band teachers, so the idea of having to train worship team members can be a little overwhelming.

Perhaps you inherited a worship team that is struggling or has little training, or maybe you want to spruce up the team you have now with some extra mentoring.

This article will take you through some worship team training ideas. 

In this article I will talk about:

Why Do We Train Worship Teams?

Putting together a worship team is an important task. You are essentially creating a worship ministry that will take the local church on a journey with the Holy Spirit into the heights and depths of the presence of God. 

Think of this “bike analogy”: You can’t steer a bike unless the bike is moving. If the bike is staying put, you can move the front wheel back and forth, but that bike isn’t going to move! There needs to be pedaling and momentum to get the bike to steer in the direction you want. In the same way, our worship team needs to be moving and going forward as we lead worship. 

Also, if there are parts of the bike that are not working properly or cohesively, that bike journey is going to be tough, and you may not get far. Likewise, for our worship teams, if everyone on the team is an expert at their instrument and has amazing skill, but they don’t have purity of heart, humility, or integrity, that team won’t be able to take the church anywhere.

Or the opposite can happen. They may have hearts pure and ready for worship, but they continually play wrong notes or sing off key. This can be a major distraction for church worship and cause a lot of road bumps along the journey. 

Need help coming up with guidelines? Check this out: How To Create Worship Team Guidelines (with examples & template)

Non Musical Training vs Musical Training 

We have to remember something important with our worship teams. Not all worship team training is about the musicianship. Although playing the right notes or electric guitar riffs is important, we need to also talk about the non musical aspects of the worship team, like our passion and spiritual growth. 

Leading your local church in worship is a sacred, holy responsibility that God has entrusted us with as we partner with him. Whether you are a worship pastor, back up vocalist, electric guitar player, bass player, or on the visuals team, the church is led into the Presence of God not just by that person’s instrument, sound, and skill, but more importantly, their heart. 

Non Musical Training

Here are three tips for non-musical worship team training.

1. Be Encouraging  

Encouraging your worship team can be super powerful. As you know, Sundays can be draining, and even preparation throughout the rest of the week can be hard or discouraging.

A weekly email or text out to the team might seem like such a small thing, but it could be a huge motivator to them. Be genuine in your encouragement, even pointing out specific things that you appreciate about the team. 

For example, my team has a WhatsApp group chat where we send encouragement to each other and funny worship YouTube videos. It’s been a great tool to keep the team connected and encouraged throughout the week. 

Creating a culture of encouragement will be an asset, not only for your team, but for the wider church. This culture of encouragement can be a great foundation for the worship team. If members are feeling encouraged and loved, this will help the team in their growth. 

When the team feels encouraged, this will also help them to receive any training or correction with love. Your team should never feel like you are judging them, especially in this very vulnerable area of worship. Applaud the efforts you see in them, and make sure that you balance your critiques with lots of love and encouragement. 

Tell them often that you’re proud of them when they take steps in the right direction.

2. Instill Passion In Your Team

This can be a tricky thing sometimes. How do you train your worship team to be full of passion? The first thing to do is to teach what the bible says on “expressive worship”

  • Psalm 47:1 – “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”
  • Psalm 63:4 – “I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands.”
  • Psalm 95:6– “Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
  • Psalm 149:3 – “Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.”

It’s also important to encourage your team to feel “released” in their worship. Continue encouraging them to feel free to worship expressively, even right before the team is about to go on stage.

It’s also important to model this. Your team should be able to look to you for what’s appropriate for the platform. Make sure you’re walking the talk.

Another great training tool is to record your Sunday morning services. We once set up an iphone to do a wide shot of the stage, and afterwards as a team we did a playback and watched it together. Many musicians were surprised to see how “miserable” they looked; they had no idea what their faces looked like.

Often you won’t need to point it out or say much. The goal is that they see the difference between what they think they are projecting and reality. This often is enough for them to change on their own. 

3. Foster Spiritual Growth Among Your Team

If the members of a worship team do not have a healthy relationship with God, they will not be able to effectively lead worship – no matter how incredible of a musician or singer they are. 

The best thing you can do as a worship leader is lead by example. Dedicate yourself to spending time with God and His Word daily. Your worship ministry will be inspired by your faith and joy, and you can begin mentoring them in this area. 

Other ideas for sparking spiritual growth in your team: 

  • Start a devotional with your team
  • Spend time at your rehearsals praying for the church and each other 
  • Spend a good chunk of your rehearsal time worshipping; you can’t lead people where you haven’t been
  • Start a team night once a month where you not only spend time learning new songs but spend time as a team praying and worshipping together 

Musical Training 

Here are some notes on training both instrumentalists and vocalists.

Training Instrumentalists

Getting a great rhythm sound from part-time musicians can often be challenging, especially if you have a band where instrumentalists are changing every Sunday as the schedule changes. 

Here are some practical skills you can work on as a team to help you get to the next level.

  • Make sure everyone is listening to each other when they play.
  • All players need to develop a good sense of time. Practicing with a click track can really help. If you don’t have access to click tracks, there are online metronomes you can use. 
  • Decide which instruments will be the lead sound on the different songs you practice, and run through those songs, choosing a different instrument each time.
  • Each instrumentalist should learn or know how to read a basic chord chart.
  • Practice playing by ear.
  • Regularly give the team new songs to listen to and learn. This will help them grow in their playing and stay challenged.
  • Practice how to play spontaneously. This will help in the flow of your Sunday morning worship, and with transitioning between songs. It can be as simple as deciding on a 4 chord progression.

Training Vocalists 

Investing time into your vocalists is so important. Sometimes we tend to focus on musicians only as they do carry a lot of musical responsibility. When we focus on training our vocalists to sing with excellence, they will be more equipped to lead with confidence and sing from their hearts. 

When you work with vocalists, here are some skills and abilties to consider working on:

  • Correctly singing harmonies and melodies
  • Properly listening to and blending with other voices
  • Staying on tempo without rushing or lagging
  • Breathing in the same place
  • Holding notes the same length
  • Memorizing the lyrics and enunciating properly
  • Singing into a microphone properly
  • Body language, like smiling when singing
  • Vocal warmups they can easily do at home

Lastly, make sure to encourage singers to still worship as they sing, which is of course the most important part!

Here is a great vocalist training manual to give you some more tips. 

How To Raise Up New Worship Leaders 

Having someone you have mentored rise up and become a worship leader themselves has to be the most amazing thing. It’s my absolute favourite thing to see. 

Mentoring a team member to become a worship leader takes time. It also takes commitment on their part and yours. But I can’t say it enough — it’s absolutely worth it.  

Raising up worship leaders is a major part of strengthening your worship ministry. There are 4 major steps in this process.

1. Find Team Members With Potential 

Always be on the lookout for team members who may be potential worship leaders. Do they have strong musical talent? Strong leadership skills? A strong worshipper with a heart for serving God? If so, encourage them to think about or try worship leading. 

2. Give Them A Song To Lead During Rehearsals

Find a song that they love to sing, and have them lead the song during rehearsal.  This helps them get the feel for leading a song and gives you an opportunity to observe.

Then, when they become comfortable with that, encourage them to lead the band during worship rehearsal, and encourage them to lead the team like the worship pastor would, to see their comfort level and ability.

Here’s a list of tools that will help make these decisions easier:Worship Software & Tools For Your Church

3. Co-Leading

Once you feel that they have become confident in song leading, it’s time to get them to lead people. Organize a service for you two to co-lead. Invite them to work with you on building a worship set list. Get them to welcome everyone or to pray. This will help the church get comfortable with being led by a new worship leader. 

4. Let Them Lead

Finally, let them lead. Be gracious with their mistakes. Understand they may be nervous, but let them lead. Encourage them to go for it, and remind them that you are there to jump in if they need help. 

This whole process may take a few weeks, or a few months, but be patient. Also, don’t wait until you are absolutely desperate for a worship leader. You don’t want to rush this process either. 

Other Worship Team Training Resources

You can also check out this great training course from Bethel Worship on how to thrive as a worship team. 

Shane & Shane started a worship training website with additional tutorials, and there’s also some great podcasts out there for worship leaders.

Make sure to check out my article on holding worship team auditions as well, if you’re looking for new members to join your team.

For more on worship teams and to connect with other worship leaders and church leaders, join The Lead Pastor community here.

Related Read: Worship Presentation Software

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How To

How To Develop An Effective Church Communications Plan

If you’re wondering what church communications are, what a church communications plan is and how to use one, read on!

In this post, we’re going to tackle some the most relevant questions about developing an effective church communications plan, so you can create your own. Keep reading to find out:

Why develop a church communications plan?

So why should you bother developing a church communications plan? In short, it’s because the good news of the gospel is at stake.

Let me explain.

We all know the gospel is ‘good news.’ But news like the gospel, as good as it is, cannot be called ‘news’ in the first place without also having hands, feet, and mouths planning to communicate it (c.f. Romans 10:14-17).

Here comes the local church: the planner, articulator, and communicator of the message that Jesus Christ laid down his life for those who couldn’t earn God’s love (c.f. Romans 5:8).

Local churches communicate, inside and outside of themselves, in ways that are creative and distinct from one another. But regardless of any creative differences, each church needs to consider how to develop an effective communications plan.

If it doesn’t, the gospel–the news to be communicated–may itself be at stake.

What is church communications?

Church communications are the ways in which a local church expresses and makes known its mission and message. 

Internal and External Communications

Church communications can both internal communications and external communications.

Venn Diagram Comparing External and Internal Communication  Screenshot
There are two forms of communications: internal and external.

Internal church communications are typically within and on behalf of the local church, who makes its messaging known to its own people, like:

  • church staff,
  • church leaders, 
  • volunteers, 
  • small groups 
  • and church members.

Internal people embrace and advance the mission and the message.

But church communications is also understood by way of external communications, when the church makes known the right message, beyond itself. This could be by way of evangelism or outreach, to the de-churched, unchurched, and so on, using:

  • social media, 
  • podcasts,
  • text messages,
  • live streaming, 
  • the church’s website, and many other options. 

For the local church, people are the mission (c.f. Matt 28:19; 1 Chron 16:24; Matt 9:35-36). So, having people inside the church reaching people outside of it is also an ‘ends’ of the communications plan. People reaching people.

This is significant because we can think of communications plans simply as a ‘means.’ But they aren’t. Here’s a link explaining the idea of fulfilling the mission of God through the multiplication of people via church plants. Good communications help make a ‘means’ also an ‘end’.

Integrated Communications

The internal and external forms of church communications require a little further thought and explanation. They can be discussed separately only in theory because in practice they are highly dependent upon each other. 

For example, let’s say a local church’s goal is to increase outreach and evangelism. This is a communication channel we probably think of as external.

Yet, the best way to ramp up outreach could actually be by addressing an area not outside, but inside–like improving internal church software to better communicate the vision and how this goal is going to be achieved and addressed through ministry.

My local church has just upgraded to the new Planning Center software. This suite of products has helped us keep-on-top-of everything from what’s going on in a ministry team all the way to first-time follow-ups with guests.

It has also been super helpful for scheduling and registering people in church events, like Christmas and Easter, which are especially complicated to plan, communicate, and manage during COVID!  

Mind Map of Integrated Communications Strategy Screenshot
Churches need to decide how their communications are integrated, as typified above.

Each church needs to wrestle with the degree to which its internal and externals communications plans are linked. But it’s hard to think of a good external communications plan without there also being a robust and cohesive team working together behind-the-scenes, with the right tools. 

So, church communications require integration and a blended value approach. This also relates to the church’s overall goals, objectives, and strategy.

Related List of Tools: 10 Best Church Website Builder

How to develop a church communications strategy

The best church communication strategy uses multiple mediums to reach its intended audience with an integrated, foundational idea or message.

In the Church Communications Handbook, George Barna says,

“Most communications experts will tell you that your best media strategy is one that relies upon a blend of several media to reach your desired audience.” 

George Barna

If your goal is to do this online, Brady Shearer’s YouTube video is super helpful in this medium. In particular, his rule #3 highlights what we will pick up below.

Here are 5 steps you can ask in order to develop an integrated communications strategy:

Step 1: Who is the target audience?

A blended church communications strategy first identifies who is being communicated with. This makes sense when talking about the mission and message of the gospel because, in the end, the intended audience of the gospel is everyone (c.f. Rev 7:9). 

Jesus Christ came into the world so that everyone would come to know and experience his love (c.f. Ps 67:2; John 3:16; and 1 Tim 2:4). As we discussed above, the local church owns this communication.

Step 2: Why this target audience?

This is your opportunity to refine your audience. In the case of the gospel, “everyone” is far too large a demographic for any single, local church to bite-off-and-chew on its own. So, with this step, you can ask why or why not this person or group of persons.

“Everyone” has different habits, preferences, and areas of interest, meaning that reaching them with one medium or one strategy in isolation of others is literally impossible. 

So, understanding that local churches can rely upon one another, and we can see the capital “C,” universal Church working across the globe. 

Also, understanding that there are different mediums through which different people can be reached helps you know why one audience can be targeted and another cannot.

After asking the question of why your audience can become more focused and narrow.

Step 3: What to communicate to them?

This is where you clarify your medium and message. The gospel message itself isn’t brand spanking new. But it can be thought of as old news that brings new life in new ways.

So, answering what to communicate is more a matter of what emphasis of the gospel is on display. You can figure that out be addressing these questions:

  • What truth or truths of the gospel are being articulated or supported by this communication?
  • How is Jesus revealed by what I am saying or how I am treating people with what I say?
  • Where is there room for new life to be brought into this medium?

Step 4: When to communicate with the target audience?

The “when” we see in the Bible can be called an “occasion.” It can be reactive or proactive. But the best time to communicate is proactive.

If the Apostle Paul’s writings teach us anything, it is that local churches in different areas of the world work together and, at the same time, focus on specific messaging to specific people on specific occasions (c.f. Gal 1:6-9).

We see biblical authors writing towards a “future” of things that will happen on planned or foreseen occasions. Some examples of this include the Prophetic literature in the Old Testament, but also how believers in a community should behave in the New Testament (e.g. see Gal 5-6 for proactive communications).

Step 5: How to communicate with the audience?

This can be called a ‘Big Idea.’ In his book, The Social Church: A Theology of Digital CommunicationJustin Wise suggests that each church needs to develop a “Big Idea” that is “foundational,” from which every other act of communication flows from the base of a pyramid. 

The “Big Idea” that informs strategic communications is developed, for Wise, by receiving life and being breathed on by God the Father. This is no trivial point. Unless the reason why we are communicating is important enough to communicate and empowered by the one who ‘communicated’ life into being, then it doesn’t have much hope of success.

But Wise also gets practical too. He suggests that a “Big Idea” can be formed by approaching the question: “What objectives are we trying to accomplish as a community?” This is integrated not only by things “to do” but by an identity “to be.”

Examples of church communications

Let’s look at some examples of how a local church can use the integrated communications strategy. Pretend that the ‘Big Idea’ of this example is “to spread the worship of Jesus in the city of ‘XYZ’ by increasing the depth and breadth of disciples.”

Church’s Website Strategy

Church websites are a hugely important aspect of any church communication plan. This is the online medium through which first-time guests learn new information about your church, its mission, its message, and its “Big Idea.”

Daniel Babcock suggests in his blog that these people want to join the community, but prefer not to engage right away. If this is true, the website should very quickly include the information you want them to know about the “Big Idea” and how it is directly supported.

This is especially the case because the average website visitor views, says Babcock, only 1 or 2 pages of the website for a very brief amount of time. So brevity is key. 

With our “Big Idea” above, the church website should have an about page that states the “Big Idea” explicitly, making available information about small groups that exist. It should also share how the mission relates to what Jesus wants in city “XYZ.” 

Look at this good and simple example of the landing page at www.life.church. It uses images and banners to point new people directly to areas about the church’s mission.

Lifechurch Homepage Website Strategy Screenshot
Landing page at www.life.church is clear, succinct and interesting.

Any information on the website that doesn’t relate to the ‘Big Idea’ shouldn’t be on the website. 

Social Media Strategy

The “Big Idea” approach translates directly to your church’s social media strategy, content, and messaging. In the book, Social Media Strategy, Keith Quesenberry suggests that:

Social media big ideas must be unifying but also interesting and engaging.

Keith Quesenberry

So, how does your church make your message unifying? Well, your social media strategy can support your “Big Idea” by having some specific objectives, like:

  • Building Awareness: of your mission and message. (i.e. telling people you run small groups in the city).
  • Increasing Engagement: with your church’s communications and community (i.e. showing fun events and activities that are happening in your city that you are engaging with).
  • Raising Conversion: having non-members of the community see, hear, and respond. (i.e. asking for a response with questions or offering prayer or items that require action). 
  • Sharing Vision & Values: see people adopt your message and encourage others to do the same. (i.e. reward and encourage people who are loyal to your mission and message).

These objectives help you target a focused subset of the demographic of “everyone” (discussed above). Each objective relates to the “Big Idea” but can be employed on its own with dedicated social media posts at different times.

Here are some examples of Instagram screenshots from theway_vancouver. They do a great job integrating building awareness and sharing vision through integrated communications.

The WayVancouver Instagram Screenshot
theway_vancouver does a great job integrating communications of its mission and message using social media posts on Instagram.
Social Media Best Practices

This is how you can make your big idea interesting and engaging! Some best practices of how to roll out your engaging “Big Idea” on social media include:

  1. Post more videos: if a picture is worth 1000 words, how many words is a video worth. Here is a blog about the interest that can be generated by video.
  2. Use interesting pictures: the background, lighting, and colour of a photo are important.
  3. Tie the description to the photo: Far too often a video or picture isn’t related to the description or objective of the approach. The post becomes less interesting and engaging when it isn’t unified with itself!
  4. Use a social media calendar: your church can leverage events in your city and culture by posting about how the “Big Idea” relates to that time. (i.e. if your big idea is “to spread the worship of Jesus” then on something like ‘Valentines Day’ you could post about how worshipping Jesus is the ultimate form of love). 
  5. Subscribe to social media management software: all of the above best practices can be challenging to employ manually, say if you’re sharing with a team manually in a google doc. Hootsuite is an excellent platform for scheduling this automatically. Check Hootsuite out here. 

Template for church communications

Here is a great template from the diocese of Scranton that can help you get started with your church communications plan.

It identifies the target audience, highlights the message, and the medium. All of which are tied to the integrated approach described above.

Editorial Plan Example for Church Communication Strategy Screenshot
An example of a completed editorial plan.

Further Reading

If you found this article helpful, you can check out how to leverage church metrics here. Monitoring and measuring metrics are a very helpful way of knowing whether your social media best practices and objectives are unifying, interesting, and especially, engaging!

What do you think?

Are you looking to develop a church communications plan? If so, how are the above insights helpful? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.

Looking for more help managing your church’s resources? Here’s our list of the 10 Best Church Facility Management Software To Optimize Your Spaces.

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