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Church Property Management: How To & 12 Simple Maintenance Tips

One of the most time-consuming but important aspects of running a church is church property management. Everything from running routine church maintenance around the premises to various facility management procedures, it is all so crucial to keeping your church in tip-top shape to continue being the spiritual home for your congregation. 

I’ll be the first to admit that church property management is the least exciting part of a job in ministry, but someone has to be the one to clean the bathrooms, restock supplies, and ensure the floral decorations are fresh. 

It’s a mostly thankless job but one that I did for many years as part of my responsibilities. Here are some of the tips and tricks I learned during my time maintaining a church. 

I’ll cover:

What Is Church Property Management?

For starters, let’s talk about what exactly your church property management even is. The property of your church is anything and everything that you own. It’s the land your church building is built on, the other facilities that are connected to it, the parking lot, any signs you have, and everything else that falls within this zone. 

Facility management has to do with maintaining all of the premises, both outdoors and indoors. Every single room, bathroom, office, chair, computer, equipment, and everything else should be properly repaired and checked to ensure that they are up to date and ready for each service and event you do. 

Church property management includes a variety of different roles and hats you have to wear, from plumber to electrician to even IT. There is a lot involved in this process, which is why it is so overwhelming for many churches. This is especially the case the larger your church is and the more church plants you have. 

Who Is Responsible For Property Management In The Church?

At the end of the day, not everyone wants to deal with the facility management at a church and I have seen firsthand some church leaders pass on their responsibilities to someone else (usually me, in my case) to deal with. That said, it is my belief that everyone should contribute to church property management in some way. 

Every one of the full-time staff members should do their part in maintaining the church and its facilities one way or another. It is up to the church management to decide how these responsibilities are divided up, but it should be a team process. 

The best churches I ever served at had pastors and leaders who were not against unclogging a toilet when necessary. We had a motto at one of the churches I worked at where “if you see a problem, fix it.” Don’t wait for someone else to do it or else it likely won’t get done. 

That said, there should also be dedicated janitorial, construction, and repair teams that you have set up at your church. There should be staff who clean the facilities every day and week, and keep plumbers, electricians, painters, security, and the like on call so you can contact them at a moment’s notice for emergencies.

Volunteers can help with church property management, but be sure to have your church staff members ready to tackle mopping, sweeping, and restocking anytime it’s necessary. 

How To Do Church Facility Management: 6 Considerations

There is so much to consider when it comes to church property management that it can be quite overwhelming to tackle. 

Instead of stumbling around, fixing stuff whenever you see an issue, here are the six main areas of your church you need to keep an eye on at all times if you wish to maintain a gorgeous church, inside and out. This applies to both leasing and land ownership situations.

Church Grounds

Firstly, there are your church grounds. These are the outside areas of your church which are, arguably, one of the most important but neglected parts of a church when it comes to upkeep. How your facilities look from the outside will give the first impression for any visitors who show up. Your building maintenance can affect what they think of the rest of your church. 

Make sure to maintain the exterior of buildings, walkways, sidewalks, the parking lot, any parking structures you have, signs, gardens, playgrounds, and anything else that is on-site. If it is within your church’s lands, it is your church grounds, so keep it looking as vibrant and welcoming as you possibly can. 

Security

Security is a particular area where many churches mistakenly trip up, but that shouldn’t be the case in today’s age. There are clear dangers and issues in this fallen world, so ignoring that isn’t taking proper care of the Christians you’ve been given the responsibility of guiding. 

To this point, security encompasses much more than just some cameras here and there. You should have a team of security guards equipped to protect and guard the premises at all hours, and you should absolutely have active eyes on every entrance to your facilities. This goes doubly so for any children or youth ministries you have. 

Maintenance

General maintenance of your facilities is one of the broader considerations you need to have. This includes maintaining the bathrooms, lighting, internet, chairs, tables, HVAC system, and anything else you have in your church. Routine checks of these elements of your buildings is imperative to avoid major problems like flooding and unnecessary blackouts. 

Cleaning

There is also regular cleaning you need for your church. Every week, if not every day, there should be cleaning happening everywhere in your church. Every room and office should be cleaned from top to bottom every week with no concessions. If this means getting a full-on janitorial team to tackle it all, do it. 

You should also do occasional deep cleaning, too. This is one area that some churches skip out on and it eventually shows over time. While it may not be fun, make time to clean those hard-to-reach areas every couple months or so. 

Equipment

Equipment in your church includes computers, printers, cleaning equipment, microphones, sound systems, speakers, stage lights, and so on. There is a lot of equipment you need to run a modern church these days, and they should be maintained just like everything else. 

Unfortunately, equipment like computers and the like should require dedicated maintenance from a professional who is involved in IT. This is why I always recommend hiring an IT person and building a relationship with a nice audio and tech store to have any issues fixed before services and events. 

Supplies

Your cleaning supplies and the like are also what you should consider. As part of your church property management, there are the various items you need to keep cleaning every week before and after services. These supplies allow you to keep your facility maintenance strong so never skimp on them. 

Supplies also include things like light bulbs, toilet paper, and other items that ensure the comfort of your church members.

Have backup plans in the event you run out of stuff, but, of course, plan to avoid that with frequent shipments of supplies or by picking them up from a wholesale supplier. 

12 Tips For Church Property Management & Maintenance

I spent most of my teenage and young adult years maintaining a somewhat large church so here are some of the quick tips that I learned during that time: 

  • Get everyone in your church involved. It builds unity between the team and doesn’t allow anyone, including the lead pastor, to feel above the rest of the congregation. 
  • Make use of volunteers and church members who come to help out at your church. They’re usually eager and waiting to help out in any way possible! Sometimes we left our biggest projects, such as remodeling or painting, for when they came to help. 
  • Church property management is perfect for recovery programs. We had a drug addiction recovery program which involved members helping out with maintenance to build strength and stay busy. 
  • Take full advantage of Costco, supplies companies, and the like. Make good use of your tax exemptions, too. 
  • Connect with local law enforcement as it is possible for them to assist with security at large events sometimes or even block off roads when necessary.
  • Have cameras everywhere on your premises (inside and out) to catch anyone who might do graffiti or break in. 
  • Have overnight security guards, if possible, to roam the church grounds. 
  • Keep a detailed maintenance schedule of who cleans what and when. 
  • Also have a routine schedule of when you check out various equipment, such as lighting and computers, so they are always up to date. 
  • Remain compliant with local laws in regards to fire code and practice regular drills. 
  • If you have children’s ministries, connect with legal and licensing authorities, and ensure that you are up to code in all safety and sanitary measures. 
  • Don’t spare expenses when it comes to your cleaning equipment. Get the most powerful industrial vacuums, carpet cleaners, and so on. You’ll need them.

Organizing Your Church Is Next

Maintaining church property management is a valuable part of your church. The look of your church may not make God shine brighter on your congregation, but it will attract more people interested in finding out what you’re all about. However, it isn’t just how your church cosmetically looks but how organized it is that keeps people involved.

As such, I recommend next taking a look at what church administration is all about. Like facility management, your church admin responsibilities aren’t the most glamorous aspect of your church. That said, the effects of neglecting it are clearly felt. Find out more about what the church administration job description entails and why you need it here

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Article How To

How To Set Up Church Administration: 7 Key Steps For Lead Pastors

The peaks of serving in ministry and setting up a church are seeing the fruits of your labor in new church members, salvation, baptism, and more. But the reality is, there is so much that goes into building a church that leads to those moments, such as finding out how to set up church administration. 

Church administration is one of the least exciting parts of creating a church body but it is no less integral to our mission than anything else. In fact, without the organization, structure, and guidance of proper administrators, a church can struggle in every other avenue. 

While it is challenging and sometimes frustrating learning how to set up effective church administration, I hope to simplify that for you. I know from my own experience that budgets, paperwork, software, documents, and all of that can be boring and tedious, but it is worth it. Here’s how to set up and implement church admin in a proper way. 

I’ll cover:

What Is Church Administration?

Before we go any further, it is necessary for you to understand what church administration is. All at once, church admin responsibilities include anything and everything. It is the firm backbone of your ministries from a financial and organizational standpoint. 

All of the structure for your church and your general physical and metaphorical foundation comes from your administration and God. I love how Dylan Miller put it in this breakdown of what you need to know about church administration: basically, the intentional, God-centered method by which you organize all of your resources and church members to love God and love people as the Bible calls us to. 

The stewardship of your financial budget, the structure of your church body, managing church leaders, scheduling, church event details, contact information, and countless other areas are part of your church admin. 

Why Is Church Administration Important?

The importance of properly set up church administration comes from the fact that it sets the foundation for everything else in your ministry. Without it, you have an unorganized mess with no real structure that will struggle much more than it needs to or should.

Church administration brings necessary and oft-ignored order to what is otherwise a wild and surprising journey in which we follow Jesus. Spontaneity and flexibility are absolutely crucial to bringing in new members to the church, but we often forget about the thoughtful organization that can retain and empower those members. 

Church administration provides the basis from which everything occurs within the local church. It connects the dots between ministries and is the gateway for everything to happen in a peaceful manner. 

Your church admin leaders bridge together your food bank, your homeless ministry, buses, youth group, children’s center, and anything else that makes your church one complete package. This unity is essential for successful churches who wish to continue the mission of spreading the Good News for many generations to come, especially as church growth occurs. 

How To Set Up Church Administration?

The nitty gritty of setting up church administration is not nearly as fun as other parts of your church building. That said, these steps will, hopefully, simplify the process in a slightly less frustrating way. I took these steps from my own time serving as part of a church admin team. 

1. Step Back and Take a Look

Before you can ever have a fully set up church administration, you need to take a moment to assess your unique situation. Every church is different and should be handled in its own dedicated manner. Some of the sections you should look at include: your current structure, various ministries, day-to-day schedule, and staff members. 

The key here is to see an overview of your current situation so you have an idea of where to go from here. This is also where you take a look at the savings your church has, your estimated income each year, and so on. The point here is to look at everything you currently have and write it all down in a clear manner. 

2. Hire the Right People

Once you know and fully understand your situation, it is time to move forward with building out your church admin. It is at this point that I recommend starting to hire the right people for the job with detailed job descriptions. Creating your dedicated administration will cost a fair bit of money but it’s ultimately worth it.

You don’t need to hire your full administrative staff right now, but it is at least worth hiring an administrative assistant and chief financial officer, as well as designating someone in charge of corporate structuring who knows about managing a non-profit. With these fundamental positions filled, you can truly start to create something viable. 

3. Plan Your Infrastructure

With a few members on your staff to be your administrators, you can start to plan out your infrastructure. This includes your general organization for the church as well as financial details like fundraising. It is here that you build out a map of your entire church and its ministries. 

Which ministries are your focal points? Which ones fall under other ones, such as the bus team answering to the youth ministry? How many staff members does each department have or need? What is the budget that you’ll dedicate to each ministry and why? 

This is also where your church staff organization comes into play. Who is in charge of which ministry? Who is the contact point for information regarding your women’s groups, for example? Who leads your various ministries and keeps everyone in check? Where do the church board members and the senior pastor come into play? 

Your infrastructure is a vital part of your church administration, so take your time with this part and truly consider every single section equally. I recommend waiting a few weeks and then reevaluating what you came up with for your infrastructure once finished. This way, you can make changes with a clear mind, if necessary. 

4. Create a Modern IT Department

In the 21st century, the internet dominates the entire world and our culture. It needs to be an active part of your infrastructure, and should be set up early on. I recommend that every church have a full-on IT department or at least an IT technician in charge of everything. 

Your IT person should take care of your computers, software, church website, and other equipment to ensure that it is up to date and capable of everything you need it to be capable of. Each ministry should be equipped with the most recent hardware and software to be able to budget, plan, and execute actions accordingly. 

This is not a place where you cut costs and compromise as you will need the best that you can possibly afford, in terms of both equipment and people, to properly livestream, take photos, share on the internet, and connect your departments together. Your IT department is one of the binding forces between everything that happens in your local church. 

5. Define Your Procedures

Part of the job of your church administrators will be to come up with detailed documentation and procedures for everything that happens in your church. This is where you create your business proposals, mission statements, risk management sequences, and much more. 

The responsibility of the church admin is to provide information about every single aspect of your church. Define all of your ministries, the roles of each church staff member, the steps for every possible scenario from good to bad, and leave no room for surprises. This is how you organize your church in the best manner possible. 

6. Dedicate Your Resources

Part of the administration’s responsibilities are to figure out the best way to allot the resources, both financially and otherwise, for church operations. This is where your accountant and other staff members come into play, as they can focus on the church budget for each ministry, and ensure that you aren’t overreaching. 

In addition, there is the matter of manpower at the same time. The members of your church, including church leadership and volunteers alike, are also resources to allocate in the various outreach ministries and, like money, some departments need them more than others. 

You only have so much available in terms of people and funds so it’s your administration’s job to distribute them adequately. 

7. Set Up Leadership and Goals for Future Success

Once you finally have your church finances signed off on, everyone is comfortable in their positions, and the church needs are met for each of your ministries, it is time to look to the future. The church administration isn’t just there to evaluate and execute on the current situation in your local church, but the future, too. 

Administrators should help plan for the future, and should be a part of creating the various goals that you have planned. The admin team is your source of planning for how you’ll go about funding various projects and how they’ll get done. 

In addition, they can assist when it comes to expansion and knowing how many new staff members you’ll need down the road and how to go about making that happen. This will all help you set up for future success. 

Church Administration Software for Proper Church Management

A large part of the way that a church administration handles its business is through using dedicated church management software designed to assist with various features and needs. Sure, you’ll need the standard software like Google Workspace, Microsoft Excel, Word, and so on, but there are special programs, too. 

Alexandria Schmidt previously broke down the 10 best church administration software you should consider for your congregation. These go far beyond the traditional spreadsheets and slideshows you might be used to, and help to elevate your administrative capabilities. 

With church management software like GoDoChurch and others, you’ll be able to keep track of employee info, volunteers, church members, events, financial resources, tithing, and more. Administration software is necessary for organizing church communications between departments more easily.

Through the use of this software and with the help of a dedicated IT person, you’ll be able to more easily do the above steps of allocating your resources, planning ahead for the future, creating documentation for all situations, and more. 

How Social Media Fits Into Church Administration?

Church administration encompasses so much throughout your ministry, from the financial side to the organization aspects and beyond. Without a doubt, this is why you need to have a dedicated team of administrators to sift and make sense of every element of your church body. Learn where you can get dedicated church administration training here.

This includes social media, which is a cornerstone of church admin and church marketing, which I didn’t even touch on in this guide. 

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and other apps are all invaluable components of the internet today for every church out there. Navigating those sites can be overwhelming, but I hope that my previous breakdown of everything you need to know about church social media marketing can help. 

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Article How To

Free Download: Church Communication Plan Template & How To Use It

Communication is, by far, the most important job within any church. From your doctrine to your daycare schedule, keeping your leadership team up-to-date with a logical and consistent church communication plan brings you one step closer to completing your mission.

My name is Alexandria Schmidt. I have been in ministry for most of my life. As the Technical Director, and occasional guest preacher, of MCC Illiana, I know what it takes to create clear, concise messaging and make sure the rest of the staff can deliver it.

Church communication is a wide-ranging subject that has many complexities that you and your church staff would do well to study. In this article, we’ll talk about church communication plans, and how to use them. I’ll provide you with a template that you can download.

I’ll cover:

What Is A Church Communication Plan?

A church communication plan is, simply, a document that details how an idea is translated from the lead pastor’s notes to the congregation’s eyes and ears. As always, smaller churches will have some roles overlap, while larger churches might have separate people. 

So, if your Treasurer also prints the bulletins or your deacons are also your greeters (or however your church is structured), use this template, not just as a worksheet but as a living document to suit your church.

The information contained in the church communication plan is the message, how and when the message will be delivered, and who will be delivering it. The message should be self-explanatory. It is your sermon, a church event, or any other information your church staff or members need to know. 

“How” entails a list of all the ways that the information can be delivered to the church members and community. This includes social media posts, podcasts, follow-up ministry, and any other communication channels that help you reach your target audience.

“When” is where your church communications strategy comes in. Do you preview next week’s sermon in this week’s bulletin? How many weeks in advance do you advertise your Trunk-Or-Treat? Do you post upcoming sermon titles on your website or Facebook page? These questions will inform the specific timing of each part of your message. Each “how” must be accompanied by a “when”.

“Who” will usually be self-explanatory as well. The lead pastor usually preaches, unless a guest speaker is invited. The worship leader picks out the right songs and music to accompany the message. The printing team assembles the bulletin to enhance the message. You might even have your greeters incorporate a themed greeting (but try not to be cheesy!).

Overall, you will be able to fill-in the blanks on your church communication plan template, and everyone in your church leadership team will know what to do and when to do it.

Download Our Church Communication Plan Template

Follow the instructions inside the church communication plan template, and you and your church leaders will be on your way to effective communication. You can create an editable document by selecting File, and then Make a copy.

How To Use The Church Communication Plan Template?

The template itself contains instructions, but I will fill out a little more detail here to empower your communications plan.

First, the messaging section tells you to keep your message concise to avoid different avenues of interpretation. For instance, if you write too much in the messaging section about having a different perspective on Jonah, someone might be able to deduce that you’re going to preach about what the whale is thinking.

Messaging works best when confined to single sentences. Your most complex subjects should take no more than three.

In the second section, what I called the “Hows” and “Whens” are more professionally called the methods and timing of communication. In addition to the examples given in the template, look around your church and find the things that communicate to your members.

One example of this is your lobby area. I know you consider the lobby part of your communication strategy—what church doesn’t communicate their love of Christmas during the holiday season by decorating the lobby? The way you dress your altar, your lighting choices, and many more things all impact your message.

Most importantly, proper timing is the difference maker in good communication. Give your events time to breathe. Let the word-of-mouth develop over weeks and months for larger, yearly events. If you are excited about a sermon that is coming up, let the people know, so they can be excited, too. A ministry that knows timing knows growth.

Rounding Up: Church Communication Plan Template

Don’t be afraid to change your template as often as your church changes. Practice using it every time you need to say something to a number of people. From your first time and every day after, you will grow as a leader and a communicator the more you do.

Read more about church communication here, and learn how church communication software can streamline this process within your church.

I’ve been Lexie, and you’ve been wonderful. Questions or comments can be shared below. God bless!

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Article How To

Ultimate Guide To Church Business Plans: How To & A Free Template

When you hear someone refer to a church as a business, I don’t blame you if you shudder a little bit. The idea of any church running itself as a traditional business is alarming and, rightfully so. That said, the church is technically a business/organization under the government and we can learn from companies through features like a church business plan. 

A church business plan takes the idea of laying out a document with everything someone needs to know at a glance about an organization. Instead of making it about maximizing profits and return on investments, though, it is about building the Kingdom of God. 

In my time serving in a large church, I find the most successful and growing churches nail down an efficient church business plan. 

I’ll cover:

What Is A Church Business Plan?

At its core, a strategic plan isn’t too much different from one you might find in a standard brick-and-mortar store. The idea is to lay out who your business (religious organization, in this case) is, what its purpose is, and how you will go about accomplishing your goals. 

A church business plan doesn’t have to be as detailed or extensive in its raw data, specifics, and legal jargon like you might find in a regular business. It is possible to shrink it down to a single page where you succinctly and adequately describe the top level details of your church. 

A church business plan is a straightforward, technical document. It can include some of your more passionate ideas but this page should essentially be as dry as can be.

Why Do You Need A Church Business Plan?

There are a few reasons why you need a strategic plan, starting with the fact that you should take your church’s plans seriously. If you want to be taken seriously by others and experience church growth, building out a clear plan can help with that. 

The point of the church business plan is to show yourself and your staff members the steps moving forward for your church. Laying this out for your church staff will ensure that everyone is on the same page with a clear focus in front of them. 

This is especially crucial for any new church staff members you add to your team down the road. They weren’t with an original church leader when you first formed your vision and goals, so a business plan can be part of orienting them to your team. 

It goes beyond your church’s four walls, though. A church strategic plan is also essential for partnering with third-parties, be it investors, businesses, charity organizations, donors, and even other churches in your community. 

A business plan that you bring to the table immediately informs and shows the potential partner how serious you are about your business. Since few churches do this from my experience, I find that organizations are more willing to work with a church plant with an actual plan. 

What Should Be Included In Your Business Plan?

The strategic planning process can be daunting, especially if you don’t have a professional on your team with experience with these. I find that a business plan for a church doesn’t need to be as lengthy or specific as one with an actual for-profit company or startup.

That said, there are some bare minimum sections and features you should absolutely include in your church business plan. Here’s what you need:

  • Executive summary (can go by a different name as you will see in our template)
  • Values and vision for your church
  • Mission statement
  • Current goals (both short-term and long-term)
  • Plan of action for how to strategically execute those goals
  • List of ministries and current staff members
  • Financial (can be included in the prior section)

How To Create A Business Plan For Your Church?

When it comes to creating a church business plan, it can be a group effort between a few core staff members. I find this helps alleviate some of the stress and ensures that everyone’s ideas shine through. As mentioned, you can absolutely cover a business plan on a single page or even two without sacrificing the importance of it. 

1. Values and Vision (Executive Summary)

A business plan should begin with the overview of your church and what will be addressed below. Businesses call this the executive summary, but I like to call this area your values and vision. This is where you break down what your church stands for, what it believes in, and what it wants to do. 

This is a brief section, only meant to be a couple of paragraphs at best. I like to divide it between the now (what you believe in and currently do) with the future (what you are praying to see happen). Keep this section as brief and engaging as possible to hook in the reader who might just help you make this all happen. 

2. Mission Statement

Your mission statement should be its own section when it comes to a church business plan, not included in the previous area. This is because your mission is why you are doing what you’re doing. It is the central mantra of your church and should be given the spotlight it deserves. 

The mission is your ultimate goal for your church, which you can word however you like. Any variation of building out the Kingdom of God or seeing everyone become believers works in this case. A couple of sentences or a short paragraph will do here. 

3. Current Goals

This third section is where we get into the nitty gritty of the church business plans. In this area, you lay out your current goals. While your mission statement is to see the whole world believe, your goals are smaller, more focused ideas that you can actually tackle with your church alone. 

These should include both short-term and long-term goals that your church has. A short-term goal might be something like completing the renovations of your sanctuary and buying a new piece of land. A long-term goal, though, could be to take that new land and build a homeless shelter or food bank for the nearby community. 

4. Plan of Action

Your goals and ideas need action to make them happen. This is the section where you detail the strategies you have for tackling your various goals. This could be noting that you need X amount of budget for Y purpose and go over the exact steps needed to happen. 

Your Plan of Action section can take up several pages on its own, so I prefer bullet points here that you can elaborate on in separate documents or meetings. Other Plan of Action could include smaller steps that build up to the greater goals. 

For instance, if you want a new piece of land for creating a new children’s center for the congregation, this is where you note steps for that. It could include meeting with nearby landowners, garnering interest from investors, doing fundraisers to gather funds for it, and finding the right construction company. 

5. Ministries and Staff Members

This final section is a bit of a catch-all area. You want the people you’re possibly partnering with or hiring onto your staff to know more about your church. Here, I like to list out all of the core ministries that you have at your church, a very brief description of them, and your staff members. 

That is rather straightforward enough, but it gives someone who might not regularly attend your weekly church service a better idea of it. In addition, I also like to include any financial areas in this section. 

If you want the person to know how much your church brought in last year, your current capital, and monthly costs, this is the place to do it, or create a separate section for it entirely, if you feel it is necessary. 

Church Business Plan Template & Sample

You can find my church business plan template here (simply click the link and make a copy of the document to edit). This blank template offers you the sections that I believe are crucial to any church serious about organizing its ideas for possible partners.

In addition, I included a sample of a filled-out business plan that offers a look at what you should include in each section. This sample isn’t directly taken from any one church—I used a made-up church in this case—but it is taken from some of the elements of past churches I worked with. 

Plan For The Good And The Bad

The church business plan is a document used for information, growth, and investment in your church. For the most part, everything surrounding this plan is dealing with the hopefuls and positives. But you also need to plan ahead when it comes to the negatives, too. 

There are struggles, disagreements, and issues that will inevitably happen when we come together to make a real change in the world. For those situations, a business plan won’t help in the slightest. I recommend creating a church risk management plan, which is there to mitigate and solve issues that can and will pop up. 

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Article How To

Church Social Media Marketing: Ultimate How To Guide For Pastors

Gone are the days of simply leaving a flyer on someone’s door or putting up a poster around town to spread word about your church. While those elements may still have their place in present-day church marketing, it shouldn’t be your main avenue. Instead, church social media marketing should be the focus of every church today. 

Social media, for better or worse, dominates every aspect of modern life. And every business, company, and person wishing to make an impact today is using it to maximize their spread. So, why shouldn’t churches be doing the same? 

I previously worked in a leadership role for a church in Los Angeles, California, and know firsthand the importance of social media. It was one of the most important reasons for our growth during my time there and it can be for your church, too. 

Social media is daunting and even concerning to some church leaders. But it doesn’t have to be. Here’s what I have learned about church social media marketing and how you can use this knowledge to enhance your church’s presence online. 

I’ll cover:

What Is Social Media Marketing For Churches?

Before we go any further, you should first understand what church social media marketing is. It’s not the same as social media marketing for businesses or celebrities since your goals, mission, and even methods are different. 

When it comes to social media for churches, this form of marketing is all about utilizing different social media sites to grow and inform your church members. It is the primary way of integrating new members into your congregation through sharing your church’s purpose and information about who you are. 

Social media marketing for churches is the gateway from which you share the Gospel and, hopefully, draw people to your various events and church services. It is the first tool that you have at your disposal for promoting your church and interacting with your community. 

Church social media marketing is crucial for newcomers to your church and your most dedicated members alike. When face-to-face interaction isn’t available, social media creates opportunities to build up our community with love, joy, unity, and encouragement. It is part of the church identity and branding that you create. 

Why Should Churches Care About Social Media Marketing?

There are plenty of churches that sit around and do nothing when it comes to marketing and social media. Or, they focus solely on the traditional methods of spreading news. I have seen far too many churches that simply don’t care about social media. 

Ignoring social media marketing is one of the gravest mistakes that I’ve seen in modern churches and it can be easily avoided. You should care about church social media marketing because it is the most successful way of influencing your community and the people around you. 

Before someone can ever join your church, they need to know about you. Without social media, you are essentially up creek without a paddle, so to speak, when it comes to informing potential members. They won’t know about your church at all, let alone have a desire to attend there. 

If you have aspirations or goals for growing your church, you need social media marketing. If you want to have a church identity that is known in your community, you need to be on social media. And if you want to appeal to the current generation of young adults and the ones to come, you absolutely have to use social media marketing. 

What Is A Church Social Media Strategy?

Social media can be a land mine for some churches to navigate. Figuring out which sites to be on, how to interact with the younger generations, and even what can and can’t be said can be challenging. 

You need a church social media strategy where you put together a physical plan and some guidelines for how to handle your social media content. This strategy will determine what your church chooses to do or not do when it comes to various social media platforms. 

A church social media strategy is where you decide the boundaries for how you will handle marketing on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and so on. What will you post on those platforms? How will you engage with your church members? And how will you grow your brand through active engagement? 

These are the parameters that this type of strategy determines.

How To Create A Church Social Media Strategy?

Creating a social media strategy for your church can be daunting, especially if you aren’t an active user yourself. To help with this, I have come up with some basic steps that I believe are easy enough to follow that can help you come up with a church social media strategy of your own. 

1. Selecting the Right Social Channels

Above all else, social media can be daunting because there are so many channels. Before you can hone in on specializing in certain goals and missions, you need to figure out where you’ll do it. 

You don’t have to be on every social media platform out there, but I generally find that the more, the better. Here are the social media channels that you absolutely should be considering:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • TikTok

Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are the more obvious choices that everyone is likely aware of. I think that most churches on social media have a mix of those three and a clear understanding of each of them. TikTok, on the other hand, is the one that puts off a lot of churches. 

I understand that since it has a very specific style and requires short-form video content that not all churches can adhere to. However, I think that TikTok is far more important than the other three combined. Few churches use it to the fullest and they are missing out on an entire generation of possible church members. 

TikTok is all about those bite-sized videos and it can be great for sharing news, making religious memes, or providing a short inspirational message for anyone coming across it. There are so few churches out there doing this and there is such untapped potential because of that. 

Beyond those four required channels, it is up to you where you go from there. If your church is prepared and ready for longer video content, then YouTube or even Twitch might be worth checking out. Discord is another underrated one that I could see churches with lots of small groups handling quite well. 

Not every church is the same so I recommend starting small with the standard sites and then seeing what works best for you after that. 

2. Crafting Manageable Goals

Once you have your channels in mind, it is time to figure out what your goals are when it comes to your presence on the internet. First and foremost, don’t go too crazy and immediately plan to reach a million followers. Instead, start smaller with more manageable and realistic goals. 

For instance, I think starting out with a goal of reaching 100 or 500 followers is a modest and smart start. This can happen quite easily, depending on the size and demographics of your church members. 

From there, you can always adjust your goals or have a short-term and long-term mission at the same time. Perhaps in the short-term, you wish to reach 1000 followers but the long-term goal is to have an average of 1000 retweets or shares on every post you make. 

It isn’t just about your follower size, either. Other goals with social media should include ones that foster your community and can grow it more, like garnering a certain number of likes, shares, and boosting general engagement. 

3. Boosting Engagement With Current Members

Speaking of engagement, this is a part of social media that I think churches miss out on. Many are already on platforms but they just share bible verses and announcements without doing much else. They are speaking into a vacuum that is not helping anyone beyond the same handful of people. 

Engagement and interaction is equally important. When it comes to Twitter, for example, reply to people’s tweets and make them feel welcomed and loved. Take time each day or week to make a post asking for prayer requests. Respond and ensure that the commenters know you are praying for them. 

Be active on Instagram, liking and commenting on your church member’s pictures, making sure that they know that their home church cares about their lives and what they’re doing. 

This is where TikTok can come into play, too, with its live videos. Perhaps go live once a week with your worship team and do a short set of songs or perhaps even take requests from the viewers. Maybe share a daily five minute devotional with a rotation of your pastoral staff. 

These are just a few of the ideas that you can use to boost engagement with your current and potential members. This is using social media to the fullest. For reference, I love what Maverick City Music did here by sharing one of their follower’s awesome dance videos. 

@maverickcitymusic YASSSS!! 🙌🏾🙌🏾 love this!! 🎶🎶🎶 CRED: @isa #dance #party #youthcamp #trend #trendy #dance #praise #praisebreak #fyp #fypシ ♬ original sound – Maverick City Music

4. Carefully Expanding to Potential Members and Beyond

Lastly, it isn’t just about the current churchgoers you have but the potential members that you could reach. Once you have a basis for your social media strategy and you’re reaching the goals you care about, it is time to look forward. 

I’m not going to say that you need to bank on every trend out there but it is nice to weigh in on trending topics when they come about. For instance, maybe there is some confusion regarding the state of the world or what is happening in certain countries or situations. 

I think it is amazing to carefully give your church or pastor’s thoughts on the matter. This not only can reassure believers but expand to others who are searching for opinions on that particular situation. If you already have an established community, this is one way to grow it further. 

I will say that you have to tread lightly here as you don’t want to get too controversial. There is a way to speak the truth without causing harm. Above all else, we should be sharing love, and our intention in everything should be to do just that as Jesus would. 

But that is the algorithm of social media; to take advantage of trending topics around the world and be in the midst of the most popular conversations. This can even be lighthearted, too, like using a funny dance, song, or TikTok sound to engage with users like what Elevation Church does these days. 

Finding the Right Social Media Staff Is Key 

Much of church social media marketing can be overwhelming, and that is understandable. The reality is, not every person in the body of Christ is meant to do all things. The Bible makes it clear that we each have a purpose and talent that we are meant to use for the greater good (see Romans 12:4-5).

That is why you’ll see me diving into outreach, tech equipment, and church marketing because I have passion and experience for those aspects. But you won’t probably find me driving a church bus or leading a young adult’s ministry because those aren’t my forte.

It’s totally fine if you are a pastor and church social media marketing isn’t your thing. That is when you know it is time to find church staff members who do have a passion and talent for that. 

If you put the wrong person in charge of social media who doesn’t care about it, it will show in the results. Growth will be minimal, if at all, and the potential of your church’s brand will be wasted. If necessary, look outside of your church’s four walls for a social media or marketing manager and take a risk.

I recommend setting aside a decent budget for social media and church marketing in general. It is a risky venture, for sure, but if done right and with the proper resources, social media marketing can mean the difference between a successful church and an unsuccessful one. 

So, don’t throw just anyone into the role of running your social media platforms. Find the right person to put in charge and once you see some success, expand. Promote that person and start to hire fellow passionate social media users to assist them in growing your church’s branding. 

Social Media Is Just a Slice of Church Marketing

Without a doubt, social media marketing is essential for churches wishing to be successful and relevant in today’s online age. It may be among the most important slices of the church marketing pie, but it is far from the only one that you need to know about. 

Your church environment, church website, the branding that you create, are also key parts of digital marketing. These elements deserve just as much attention as social media does. In fact, pouring resources into these will supplement and even enhance the online presence that you have on social media. 

For your next steps, I recommend learning more about these other aspects of church marketing. I’ve previously covered the eight main strategies that you should know about in order to create and foster the best possible marketing for your church. 

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Article How To

How To Customize A Church Business Meeting Agenda + Free Template

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

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

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

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

I’ll cover:

What Is A Church Business Meeting?

A church meeting can be defined like this:

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

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

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

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

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

What Should Be Covered In A Church Business Meeting?

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

Every agenda should be concerned about:

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

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

The Attendees

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

Orderly Discussion

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

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

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

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

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

The Mission of the Church

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

The Mission of Jesus

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

Decisions to Be Made

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

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

Goals to Be Accomplished

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

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

Customize Appropriately

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

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

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

Church Business Meeting Agenda Template

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

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

Meet With a Purpose

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

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

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Article How To

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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Article How To

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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Article How To

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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