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

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

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

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

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

I’ll cover:

What Is A Church Risk Management Plan?

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

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

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

How To Create A Church Risk Management Plan?

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

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

1. Identify Risks in Your Church Environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Assess Risks and Their Impacts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Mitigate Risks to Avoid Disaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Document And Monitor Risks

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

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

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

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

Church Risk Management Plan Template

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

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

Risk Management Starts With Our Leaders

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

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

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

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


10 Best Church Payroll Software In 2022

Running payroll can be complicated for both small and large churches. But you can simplify the process with church payroll software. Payroll software automates most, if not every, step in the process, making it easy to manage payments and set up direct deposits. 

Read my review to learn more about the best church payroll software you can use in 2022. My review includes a brief description and a screenshot of every solution that made it on the list, as well as a comparison chart so you can determine which tool could help you manage your church’s payroll. 

Software Shortlist 

Here’s the list of the best tools that I’ll cover in this article.

  1. FellowshipOne
  2. Church Windows
  3. PowerChurch Plus
  4. Wave
  5. CDM+
  6. FreshBooks
  7. QuickBooks
  8. Xero
  9. Rise
  10. Gusto

Comparison Criteria

What do I look for when I select the best church payroll system? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria: 

  1. User Interface (UI): I look for tools that have clean layouts, so you and your church staff don’t waste time trying to find the right features in order to set up payroll. 
  2. Usability: I look for solutions that are easy to use, so church leaders and staff can run payroll with ease. 
  3. Integrations: I look for software that integrates with the other solutions in your app ecosystem, such as church accounting software, church management tools, or communication apps.  
  4. Value for $: I look for tools that allow you to save time when running payroll and managing church finances, so you can get the most out of your investment. 

Church Payroll Software Key Features

  1. Accounting: The payroll tool should act as a basic church finance software and help you with multiple church accounting aspects, such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, and a general ledger. 
  2. Simple Payroll: The solution should help you calculate wages, make deposits and generate tax reports. 
  3. Payroll scheduling: The tool should allow you to schedule payroll so you can pay your staff in a timely manner without difficulty. 
  4. Automation: The solution should enable you to automate some tasks so you can save time when running payroll. 

The Lead Pastor is reader-supported. We may earn a commission when you click through links on our site — learn more about how we aim to stay transparent.

Overviews Of The 10 Best Church Payroll Software Solutions 

Here’s a brief description of each church payroll platform to showcase each tool’s best use case, some noteworthy features, and screenshots to give a snapshot of the user interface. 

1. FellowshipOne – Set up payroll and clergy allocations with a step-by-step guide

fellowshipone church payroll software screenshot
FellowshipOne helps you manage your church’s finances with your favorite device.

FellowshipOne is a payroll and accounting software specifically developed to help church leaders manage their resources. The solution has an integrated payroll processing feature that automatically tracks payments in your general ledger, so you can rest easy knowing that there’s no need to duplicate data. 

One of the great things about this software is that it guides you through the payroll process. You can set up special clergy allocations and benefits, and you can also group employees who earn similar rates for faster processing. 

Fellowship One integrates with EasyTithe, Church Champions, Call-em-all, Brushfire, and Webconnex, among other apps. 

FellowshipOne offers custom pricing upon request. You can try out the platform for free for 30 days. 

2. Church Windows – Run payroll and benefit from dedicated support

church windows church payroll software screenshot
Church Windows helps you run payroll and schedule payments for each member of your staff.

Church Windows is a church management software with a good payroll feature. This solution creates a centralized location for all your accounting and financial information, so you can gain visibility into your finances and simplify your existing processes. 

The highlight of using this platform to run payroll is that it allows you to generate checks, tax forms, reports, and allowances with ease. The Federal and State tax tables are updated when necessary, so you don’t need to change them yourself. You can also transfer your payroll information into the accounting module. 

Church Windows has a slight learning curve, but the software’s support team can guide you through the payroll process. 

Church Windows costs from $279/month. You can access a demo and request a free trial.

3. PowerChurch Plus – All-in-one church software with good payroll features

powerchurch plus church payroll software screenshot
PowerChurch Plus enables you to run payroll and create financial reports.

PowerChurch Plus is an all-in-one church management software with dedicated payroll features. The solution helps you with church bookkeeping, financial management, as well as other aspects of church management. 

This software creates a database for all your financial and personal records, making it easy to access information. You can also run payroll and pull reports on your contributions and accounts payable throughout the fiscal year. 

The solution’s Knowledge Base helps you set up and maintain payroll according to federal and state laws. You can also access detailed guides and screenshots to speed up the setup process. 

PowerChurch software integrates with several apps, including Vanco, Dynamic Systems, Avery, SimpleTexting, Clockify, and Constant Contact. 

PowerChurch Plus costs from $395. You can download a free demo. 

4. Wave – Set up automated tax payments and control your finances

wave church payroll software screenshot
Wave makes it easy to control your cash flow.

Wave is a cloud-based church software that allows you to check your accounting and financial information from wherever you are. The platform covers all the financial needs of a church, from payroll service to online donation processing and bank connections. 

This software stands out thanks to its clean layout. Every feature and functionality is highlighted accordingly, so even people who are not tech-savvy can quickly learn their way around this tool. 

The payroll feature allows you to generate W2 and 1099 forms in preparation for tax season and deposit money into your staff’s bank accounts. Wave also enables you to set up automated tax payments for specific states in the US. 

Wave costs from $20/month. You can try the solution out for free for 30 days. You can also access a free-forever version with limited functionalities. 

5. CDM+ – Schedule direct deposits in advance and automate the payroll process

cdm church payroll software screenshot
CDM+ helps you create different roles for your employees and run payroll with withholding and reporting exemptions.

CDM+ is an online church management software that enables clergy members to speed up their payroll process. The software creates an online portal for your employee so they can access their pay history, pay stubs, withholdings and deductions. 

The solution also allows you to schedule direct deposits in advance, so you can automatically run payroll during bank holidays. The tool also helps you with other financial aspects, such as online giving tracking or fund accounting, and enables you to generate custom reports. 

This software has a mobile-friendly version, so you can access it on any device, from anywhere, at any time. 

CDM+ offers custom pricing upon request. You can schedule a demo and try the solution out for free for three months. 

6. FreshBooks – Keep track of expenses and create personalized invoices

freshbooks church payroll software screenshot
FreshBooks makes it easy to keep track of your expenses.

FreshBooks is a cloud-based accounting software that has a module designed to help the leaders of any faith based organization with bookkeeping and financial management. This solution allows you to track expenses, create reports about your church’s financial situation, and run payroll. 

The platform enables you to create professional-looking invoices for the weddings and christenings you officiate, and keep a record of donations. Community leaders and church members can set recurring payment schedules. The system automatically deducts local, state, and federal taxes from the paychecks, so you’ll never encounter errors. 

FreshBooks integrates with multiple solutions, such as Squarespace, Gusto, Hurdlr, Mailform, and Zapier. 

FreshBooks costs from $4.50/month. You can access a free 30-day trial. 

7. QuickBooks – Automate your tax filing and payroll processes

quickbooks church payroll software screenshot
QuickBooks’ dashboard helps you understand your church’s financial status at a glance.

QuickBooks is a payroll solution that’s ideal for faith leaders, whether you run a large or small church. The platform has a straightforward design, so even older members of your religious organization should be able to use it without difficulty. 

This software enables you to track your staff’s time, approve timesheets, and create invoices on multiple devices. You can automate your payroll, and the solution will even help you calculate and file your federal and state taxes. With Quickbooks Premier, you can receive expert guidance on how to set up your payroll. 

QuickBooks integrates with hundreds of apps, including Square, Paypal, Shopify, Gusto, and CRMs. 

Quickbooks costs from $22.50/month. You can try out the software for free for 30 days.  

8. Xero – Create an online database for your payslips and financial records

xero church payroll software screenshot
Xero helps you pay your employees and keep secure records of your transactions.

Xero is an online accounting solution that doubles as a nonprofit accounting software. The platform has a beautiful build that’s easy to navigate and understand, so you should be able to find and use most of its features with minimal training. 

The payroll tool helps you set up recurring pay runs and keep basic pay records. You can enter employee hours, set up and update hourly rates, and calculate deductions. You can send your staff payslips via email or you can print them. The platform stores the information online, so your church members can check their payslips using mobile devices. 

Xero integrates with dozens of solutions, including EzzyBills, Stripe, Deel, HubSpot, Square, PayPal, and Zapier. 

Xero costs from $12/month You can access a 30-day free trial. 

9. Rise – Put payroll on autopilot and receive notifications if you make errors 

rise church payroll software screenshot
Rise is a customizable online payroll solution you can tailor to your church’s needs.

Rise is a people management platform that enables any nonprofit organization to manage HR, benefits, and payroll. The solution helps you automate your payroll-related payments, so you can focus on worship. 

This software allows you to run payroll as many times as you need, make off-cycle payments, and give bonuses. It calculates your taxes according to federal or local laws, and it accounts for overtime or holiday pay. The solution summarizes everything so you can review your payments and warns you if it detects errors. 

Rise costs from $6/month for businesses with over 20 employees. A $30/month base fee applies for businesses with fewer employees. You can book a free demo.  

10. Gusto – Run payroll with a solution that files your taxes for you

gusto church payroll software screenshot
Gusto makes it easy to create regular payment schedules and run automated payrolls.

Gusto is a popular HR and payroll management solution. The platform is a great choice for modern churches because it enables you to set your employees up with benefits and manage paid time off. And the solution also creates an online database for your staff’s pay stubs, so they can check them out using mobile devices. 

The great thing about using this app is that it files your taxes for you. Every time you run payroll, the solution files your tax sheets with the right federal or state agencies. The software keeps track of tax changes, so you don’t have to worry about misfilings. 

Integrates with multiple apps, including Aplos church software, 15Five, 7Shifts, ActiveCampaign, Asana, Clover, QuickBooks, and Bonusly. 

Gusto costs from $40/month plus $6/staff member. You can schedule a live demo. 

Other Church Payroll Options

Here are a few more church payroll tools that didn’t make the top list.

  1. Wagepoint – Payroll simplification solution that helps community leaders run payroll and get support when filing their taxes. 
  2. BambooHR – Online HR platform with a powerful payroll feature that helps you manage your team’s pay. 
  3. Hubstaff – Employee monitoring platform that enables you to track your staff’s activity, create invoices, and automate your payroll process. 

Not looking for church payroll software? Here’s some other types of church software you might be in the market for:

Simplify Your Payroll With Dedicated Software

Church payroll software enables you to automate your payroll and simplify your tax filing process. And the best church accounting software helps you create positive experiences for your employees with benefits management and paid time off tracking. 

And positive staff experiences help your church members be more effective. As a 2017 Salesforce report shows, employees who benefit from positive work experiences are 4.6 times more likely to “give it their all” at work. 

If you want to receive advice on how to lead your church to success from top thinkers in our community, subscribe to The Lead Pastor

Article Insights

What Do Church Admins Actually Do? Simple Church Administration Job Description

Every church requires administrative tasks for the business side to function. The exact type and kind of tasks depend greatly on both the church size and budget. My mother was the administrative assistant at the megachurch where I ended up being assistant youth pastor, so I will be describing her duties here with a quick church administration job description.

If your church is mid-sized or smaller, one of the pastors or board members may act as the administrator. Whoever is administrating your church should always be acting within the local and national laws as well as your church’s bylaws. All that said, let’s get into this quick article about church admins. 

I’ll cover:

A Typical Church Administrator Job Description

In this section, you’ll read a typical job description advertisement for a medium-sized church. Church administration can vary widely from church to church. Very large churches might have these roles spread into several different jobs with a church administrative assistant overseeing them. Smaller churches might lean on volunteers before hiring someone to do these tasks. 

Sample Employment Advertisement

Welcome to Generic Christian Church! We have many exciting career opportunities, including an Administrative Assistant position.

Job responsibilities include:

  • Attending all staff meetings and taking notes.
  • Managing payroll and bookkeeping with oversight from the Treasurer (using payroll software and/or bookkeeping software).
  • Coordinating the church calendar.
  • Maintaining the church’s membership database.
  • Ordering office supplies.
  • Hiring other office personnel as needed.

In addition to these responsibilities, the Administrative Assistant must be competent in our church management software, our budgeting software, and be able to keep their skills relevant in our continually changing digital world.

Requirements are a Bachelor’s degree and four years experience in an office setting. Contact our church if you’re interested today! 

What Does A Church Administrator Do All Day?

A church administrator wears many hats since churches do not always have the resources of for-profit businesses. This means that the church administrator duties go beyond simple administrative support and can include being the church secretary, the office administrator, and business administrator all-in-one. They might even oversee church staff before you develop a human resource department.

The first rule of being a church administrator is organization. Whether you have a personal calendar book, use an app, or have reminders set on your computer, every meeting, phone call, and conversation should be noted. This way, every step of your day can be accounted for.

A typical day starts with walking into the church and sitting down with your schedule. Prepare any notes for your morning meetings and go. From there, the first phone calls of the day usually happen. At some point, you will meet with the pastors or board members you need to that day.

After lunch, come back and organize the morning’s notes and files. Check the budget and payroll requests. Depending on the day of the month, you would also start writing checks for the Treasurer to sign. More phone calls to vendors for the upcoming church summer picnic, then a break to fix the copier because the youth pastor doesn’t know how it works.

The end of the day comes with a final round of filing and generating your daily reports. Then you leave knowing that the church is running well because you did a good job.

Key Skills For Church Administrators

As I mentioned, organization is key. Without a doubt, the number one skill for anyone involved with your church is the ability to stay organized under pressure. Churches are high-intensity pressure cookers behind the scenes, especially as they grow larger. Without competent organizers, churches beyond the smallest size will start to fall apart at the seams.

My personal second is adaptability. Our world is in the middle of many changes that are coming in rapid succession. An administrator who is stuck in the past will cause your church to be left behind, too.

Finally, the best administrators are the best communicators. A church admin is the link between the different departments and ministries and even the link between the church and the rest of the world. The ability to effectively and efficiently communicate the needs, the goals, and the plans of the lead pastor and the board to the rest of the church and the world is invaluable to any organization, but especially churches.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Church administrators are one of your most important employees. A smaller church might have the responsibilities spread between the ministry and volunteers, but the requirements are the same. Keep in mind that churches are vision-based organizations. We exist for a purpose beyond ourselves, and our administrative goals should reflect that.

Comment below with questions or with anything you want to add. I’m Lexie Schmidt, and I hope you learned something from me. God bless!


10 Best Church Attendance Software For Your Congregation In 2022

According to statistics, 91% of pastors experience burnout because of the numerous responsibilities that they need to shoulder. The great news is that many software innovations and tools help pastors make church administration easier to relieve stress and give them more time to minister to their flock.

An attendance tracking software is one such tool, and this article will show you some of the best church attendance software for your congregation and how they can help your ministry grow. 

Church Attendance Software Shortlist 

Here’s the list of the best tools that I’ll cover in this article. 

  1. CHMeetings
  2. Elvanto
  3. Breeze
  4. SimpleChurch CRM
  5. Planning Center
  6. ChurchSuite
  7. Realm
  8. Sunergo
  9. Shelby Systems
  10. Servant Keeper

Comparison Criteria

What do I look for when I select the best church attendance software? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria: 

  1. User Interface (UI): Church leaders have to take care of numerous responsibilities, so I look for one with a clean user interface, so users don’t waste time looking for vital features. 
  2. Usability: Church attendance software is for church leaders, volunteers, and group leaders, so I look for software that anyone can easily master. 
  3. Integrations: Churches use many tools and software, so I look for software that will work well with other tools. 
  4. Value for $: Churches have limited funding, so I look for software with great features but won’t cost too much. 

Church Attendance App Key Features 

  1. Membership management: Lets church leaders create and maintain a comprehensive directory of members.  
  2. Events management: Used for planning and holding events, events registration, and accepting payment for paid events. 
  3. Reporting: Lets users generate attendance reports for assessing attendance history. 
  4. Volunteer management: Used for scheduling, monitoring, communicating, and attendance tracking of church volunteers. 
  5. Group management: For organizing, scheduling, and attendance checking of small groups. 

The Lead Pastor is reader-supported. We may earn a commission when you click through links on our site — learn more about how we aim to stay transparent.

Overviews Of The 10 Best Church Attendance Software Solution 

Here’s a brief description of each church attendance system to showcase each tool’s best use case, some noteworthy features, and screenshots to give a snapshot of the user interface. 

1. CHMeetings – Church attendance software for managing member profiles

chmeetings church attendance software screenshot
CHmeetings lets you generate QR codes to easily share member information.

CHmeetings is a church management software for tracking and managing church members. It has an event management feature for planning and holding church events to boost member engagement. This church management software has events and check-in features to create event registration forms and track attendance to church events. CHmeetings also has an online giving feature to give church members several options to contribute to your church, including debit cards, credit cards, online donations, and bank transfers. 

CHmeetings is the best church attendance software with a contact management system to create a comprehensive directory of church members. You can create profiles for church members with critical information like personal details, contact information, and family details. You can use this church management software to add personal notes to profiles to help you recall important member details. CHmeetings has a filtering feature to select multiple church members using specific attributes easily. 

CHmeetings has a free version with limited features for up to 100 members, while the pricing for paid versions starts at $10/month/up to 250 members. 

2. Elvanto – Church attendance software with online giving feature

elvanto church attendance software screenshot
You can use Elvanto to generate giving statements to inform donors and members of their contributions.

Elvanto is a church management software with a membership management feature for managing church members and groups. It has a form builder feature for creating forms you can embed on your church website to collect members’ data and receive online payments for events. This church management solution has a child check-in feature to keep youth members safe and protected while attending church activities. 

Elvanto is the best church management software with an online giving feature to help church members contribute to your ministry. Elvanto lets you track giving and pledges to help you maintain a record of your finances. This church fund accounting feature enables you to organize giving in several categories to know where donations come from to improve your donation drive. You can use Elvanto to generate giving statements to keep church members and donors aware of where their contributions are going.  

Elvanto integrates with other church management software like Tithely Church Giving, SongSelect, and Faithlife Proclaim. 

Elvanto pricing starts at $50/month/account and offers a demo upon request. 

3. Breeze – Church attendance software with group management feature.

breeze church attendance software screenshot
Breeze lets you group members according to interests, age, gender, or membership history.

Breeze is a church management software that lets you create and share member directories. Breeze is an ideal church management system for large churches because it offers single pricing for an unlimited number of members. It has an online giving and text giving feature, allowing members to contribute using their preferred donation method. 

Breeze is the best church management software with a group management feature for organizing and managing church groups. This church software can group people using your preferred criteria like age, interests, gender, or membership status. Breeze lets you compose and send emails and text messages to keep group members informed about group activities and schedules. 

Breeze has single pricing of $67/month/unlimited members and offers a free demo. 

4. SimpleChurch CRM – Church attendance software with multiple attendance tracking options

simplechurch crm church attendance software screenshot
SimpleChurch CRM lets you turn your mobile devices into attendance tracking devices.

SimpleChurch CRM is a church management solution with a volunteer management feature for scheduling volunteers with enough human resources for events and worship services. It has a membership management feature for creating directories with names, contact information, photos, family details, and notes. It has an online giving and donation management feature to give members flexible giving options to support your church. 

SimpleChurch CRM is the best church management system with multiple attendance tracking options to monitor members using your preferred method. SimpleChurch CRM lets you take attendance using a kiosk, a desktop, or mobile devices. It also has an RFID reader to make attendance tracking easier for large events. This church software has an attendance reporting feature to assess attendance trends and help you come up with plans to help boost attendance for future events. 

SimpleChurch CRM pricing starts at $35.13/month/account and offers a free 30-day trial. 

5. Planning Center – Church attendance software with event registration feature

planning center church attendance software screenshot
Planning Center lets you create different attendee types for better management of event attendees.

Planning Center is a church management solution with church administration features like membership management, facility scheduling, service planning, and volunteer management. You can use Planning Center to create and publish web and mobile app content to communicate with church members. It also has an online giving feature for donation processing and reporting. 

Planning Center is the best church management software with an event registration feature for collecting and organizing information from attendees. It lets you create attendee types with different pricing and requirements like volunteers, VIPs, and children. This church management solution lets attendees purchase add-ons like t-shirts or souvenirs with their tickets. Planning Center lets you create an event page on your church website or app to make sign-ups easier. 

Planning Center integrates with other church software, including ChurchSuite, MediaShout, Online Giving, and Worship Extreme. 

Planning Center pricing starts at $14/month/account and offers a free 30-day trial. 

6. ChurchSuite – Church attendance software with attendance database feature

churchsuite church attendance software screenshot
ChurchSuite lets small group leaders track the attendance of their groups.

ChurchSuite is a church management software for managing church membership with an address book containing critical member information. It has a calendar and event management feature to organize events and embed an events calendar on your church website to keep members in the loop. ChurchSuite has church accounting software for managing online giving and generating financial reports to assess your church’s financial health. 

ChurchSuite is the best church management software with an attendance database feature to help you track your church’s growth. It lets you break down attendance numbers according to events, groups, or activities to know which groups or events attract more attendees. This church management software lets you present attendance numbers in graphs, bars, or charts to make them easier to understand. You can delegate responsibility to group leaders to track the attendance of their small groups to make sure you have attendance records for all groups.  

ChurchSuite pricing starts at $15.50/month/account and offers a 30-day free trial. 

7. Realm – Church attendance software with church accounting software

realm church attendance software screenshot
Realm lets you issue invoices and payments to vendors and suppliers.

Realm is a church attendance software for creating member profiles and directories to get to know your members. It has an event management feature for creating opportunities for members to gather, worship, and socialize. Realm has an event registration feature for tracking attendance and collecting payments for paid events. This church management system has a mobile check-in feature to prevent bottlenecks while taking attendance during events.   

Realm is the best church management software with communications features to help boost attendance. You can use Realm to create posts with details of church activities to encourage attendance. It has a built-in chat feature to directly invite church members to events and follow up on those missing worship services. Realm has a parent oversight feature to communicate with parents and make sure that child members have parental consent before attending church events.

Realm provides pricing details and a free demo upon request.

8. Sunergo – Church attendance software with attendance reporting feature

sunergo church attendance software screenshot
Sunergo has a reporting feature for generating reports on attendance, birthdays, and online donations.

Sunergo is a church administration software for creating a membership directory your church team can use to communicate with church members. It has a volunteer management feature for screening volunteers and managing their schedules. Sunergo has a fund accounting feature for managing online giving and issuing receipts and statements to donors. 

Sunergo is the best church management software with an attendance reporting feature to summarize and compare attendance figures. You can use this church management system to record individual attendance for Sunday school classes. Sunergo also lets you create attendance lists using unique criteria like age, gender, and location. This reporting tool lets you generate reports on birthdays, age groups, interests, and others to get a general sense of your congregation. 

Sunergo gives pricing details and a free demo upon request. 

9. Shelby Systems – Church attendance software with website building capabilities

shelby systems church attendance software screenshot
Shelby Systems lets you create member profiles with vital information like contact details, family information, attendance records, and online giving history.

Shelby Systems is church software with multiple capabilities for caring for your flock, like membership management and online giving. It has a church mobile app that works on iOS and Android mobile devices to keep in touch with church members easily. A church leader can use Shelby Systems to build a church website to reach more people and invite them to your congregation. 

Shelby Systems is the best church management software with church website building features to design and manage your church’s online presence. You can live stream events, worship services, and sermons to reach a wider audience. You can embed event registration forms to better understand expected attendance. Shelby Systems lets you publish blogs and newsletters to inform church members about church happenings. 

Shelby Systems pricing starts at $35.13/month/account and offers a free 30-day trial upon request. 

10. Servant Keeper – Church attendance software with volunteer management feature

servant keeper church attendance software screenshot
Servant Keeper has an informative dashboard to get a complete overview of your church’s health.

Servant Keeper is a church management software with informative dashboards to assess your ministry’s health. It has an events management and attendance feature for planning and executing events while keeping track of attendees. Servant Keeper has a sacraments manager tool for maintaining a secure database of sacramental records. 

Servant Keeper is the best church management solution with a volunteer management feature to fully utilize volunteers. It has a scheduling feature to make sure that all church events and activities have enough human resources. You can use Servant Keeper to track the attendance of volunteers and focus on volunteers with attendance issues. This church management solution lets you send emails and text messages to volunteers to improve communication and foster accountability. 

Servant Keeper pricing starts at $49.99/month/account. 

Other Attendance Software

Here are a few more that didn’t make the top list.

  1. Bitrix24 – Church management platform for improving collaboration, communication, and membership management.  
  2. PHP HR – Attendance software for organizing member information and attendance tracking. 
  3. Replicon – Workforce management solution with configurable timesheets for tracking time-ins and attendance of volunteers and employees.  
  4. AttendanceBot – Time tracking software for monitoring work hours and employee attendance. 
  5. Cvent – Event management solution with attendee check-in feature for easier attendance tracking. 

Not sure if church attendance software is right for your church? Try these instead:

What Do You Think About This List?

Attendance tracking is critical for your church because you can use it to assess your church membership. You can use attendance records to monitor your church’s growth and identify demographics requiring more attention. With the help of attendance tracking software, you can save time taking attendance to focus on other crucial responsibilities. 

Subscribe to The Lead Pastor to learn more about the best church attendance software for your congregation and other fantastic software to help your church grow.


10 Best Church Membership Software In 2022

What are churches without their members? As church leaders, it can help to know who is in your congregation and keep track of personal details and attendance data.

Church membership software enables you to create contact databases so you can best manage your community. It allows pastors and community leaders to send out church announcements, organize events, set up fundraisers, and provide learning materials to their churchgoers. 

Read my review to discover the best church membership software you can use in 2022. The review includes a short description and a screenshot of each tool that made the list, along with a comparison chart so you can determine which solution would be ideal for your church. Let’s get started. 

Church Membership Tool Shortlist 

Here’s the list of the best tools that I’ll cover in this article.

  1. ChurchSuite
  2. Churchteams
  3. ChurchTrac
  4. Planning Center
  5. Sunergo
  6. Neon Membership
  7. Realm
  8. DonorPerfect
  9. Hivebrite
  10. Church Windows

Comparison Criteria

What do I look for when I select the best church membership system? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria: 

  1. User Interface (UI): I look for tools that offer a clean interface, so anyone could navigate them and find the right functionalities, regardless of age and experience with technology. 
  2. Usability: I look for software that’s easy to use. Church leaders, staff members, or volunteers should be able to learn how to make the most out of the tool after a brief onboarding period. 
  3. Integrations: I look for solutions that integrate with other tools you may already use, such as church accounting software, communication tools, church management software, scheduling software, church community builder, and so on. 
  4. Value for $: I look for software that helps you achieve multiple goals so you get a good return on your investment. 

Church Membership Key Features

  1. Contact database: The software should help you create a contact database so you can keep track of church members and gain control over membership management.
  2. Attendance tracking: The solution should enable you to track church attendance so you can identify the active members of your community There’s also specialized church attendance software, which you can learn more about here
  3. Staff or volunteer management: The tool should help you create and schedule workflows for your staff and volunteers. 
  4. Event management or worship planning: The software should enable you to plan out events or worship. 

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Overviews Of The 10 Best Church Membership Software Solutions

Here’s a brief description of each church membership app to showcase each tool’s best use case, some noteworthy features, and screenshots to give a snapshot of the user interface. 

1. ChurchSuite – Create contact groups and communicate with them without leaving the app

churchsuite church membership software screenshot
ChurchSuite enables you to create a detailed contact database, helping you keep track of attendance.

ChurchSuite is a contact management software that was designed to help church leaders of both small and large churches create detailed contact lists of worshipers. The tool has a clean interface that’s easy to navigate and offers a great variety of helpful functionalities. 

This solution makes it easy to communicate with your community. You can contact churchgoers directly from the tool’s address book, eliminating the need for an external communication tool. In addition, the Small Groups feature enables you to segment church members into multiple categories and communicate with one or multiple groups at once. 

ChurchSuite also produces helpful reports that enable you to determine how your church is doing and plan ahead. 

ChurchSuite costs from $15.5/month. The software offers a free 30-day trial. 

2. Churchteams – Oversee the activity of your attendees with the help of detailed reports

churchteams church membership software screenshot
Churchteams creates a metrics card that enables you to keep track of year-to-year worship, group attendance, and fund accounting.

Churchteams is a church membership software that’s optimized for mobile devices. The platform enables community leaders to create in-depth contact databases that include everyone’s information, family structure, church involvement, and attendance over time. 

This solution makes it easy to coordinate your staff, attendees, and volunteers. Everyone can text a local number to contact your church for everything they need, from information about church service to registration or giving for church events. 

One of the things that make this solution stand out is its reporting dashboard. This dashboard helps pastors and staff members discover how their church is doing by comparing year-to-year giving, year-to-date (YTD) giving by method, year-to-year worship, and attendance. 

Churchteams costs from $37 for a small church of up to 200 people/month. The platform offers a free 30-day trial. 

3. ChurchTrac – Text or email your contacts directly from the app

churchtrac church membership software screenshot
ChurchTrac enables you to add pictures to your database and filter profiles based on various criteria.

ChurchTrac is a church database software that helps you make contact lists you can communicate with. The platform enables you to add pictures to your database, making it easier to keep track of new members. 

With ChurchTrac, you can add different roles to your profiles, such as member, prospect, or donor. In addition, the software also enables you to add private notes to profiles. The private notes can only be accessed by people with certain permission levels. 

ChurchTrac syncs with MailChimp, allowing you to email contacts directly from the app. You can also use the app to text your attendees. 

ChurchTrac costs from $6/75 members/month. The software offers a free-forever version with limited capabilities. 

4. Planning Center – Make your church attendees’ profiles as detailed as you want with custom fields

planning center church membership software screenshot
Planning Center allows you to create custom fields for all your member profiles, so you can keep a record of their interests.

Planning Center is a service planning and scheduling platform with good membership management capabilities. The platform is easy to use, and both its desktop and mobile versions have nice interfaces that are friendly to people who are not tech-savvy. 

This software’s contact database allows you to create custom fields for every profile you create. This helps you keep track of your attendees’ baptism dates, completed classes, or gift assessments, making it easier to build meaningful relationships with them. 

Planning Center keeps accurate records of the activity of your members and their communication, and you can use the platform to search for information when needed. 

Planning Center offers custom pricing upon request. You can access a free 30-day trial.

5. Sunergo – Stay in touch with your members with the help of custom reminders

sunergo church membership software screenshot
Sunergo allows you to attach files to your churchgoers’ profiles and sends reminders for birthdays or anniversaries.

Sunergo is an all-in-one church management system with strong church members management features. The platform helps you create a central location for all your staff and attendees’ profiles, so you can collect information and find it when needed. 

This solution helps you track your congregation’s attendance and event participation, and it sends you custom reminders for birthdays, anniversary dates, or specific achievements. 

One of the nice things about this platform is that it enables you to monitor individual or household attendance trends, helping you plan your church events accordingly. 

Sunergo provides custom pricing upon request. You can schedule a free demo.

6. Neon Membership – Increase member engagement with automated workflows

neon membership church membership software screenshot
Neon Membership allows you to create custom workflows so you can send out welcome emails or event invites.

Neon Membership is a membership management software that’s suitable for church administration. The solution helps you organize your contacts and leverages intelligent marketing tools to help you plan events, deliver personalized communications, and manage donations. 

This platform’s automation features can help you develop personalized workflows to save time and increase membership engagement. You can create automated sequences to greet new members via email or to invite regular attendees to fundraisers or events. 

Neon Membership integrates with popular accounting software, such as QuickBooks.  

Neon Membership costs from $99/month. 

7. Realm – Engage your congregation members from a single location

realm church membership software screenshot
Realm creates a centralized location for your communication, so you can keep track of different conversations with ease.

Realm is an online church management solution that can help you build an engaged community. The platform creates a directory for all your contacts, and you can segment your church members based on different criteria. Realm also creates a central location for all your communications, so you can easily track different conversations. 

The software allows you to create multiple users with different permissions, so church leaders can ensure that staff members don’t stumble upon private information when operating the tool. Even though this tool is cloud-based, it stores contact information on your device, so you can access your attendees’ profiles when you’re not online. 

One of the good things about this platform is that it helps with online giving. The friendly interface makes it easy for your congregation to make a digital donation when they cannot attend service.  

Realm offers custom pricing upon request. You can schedule a free demo. 

8. DonorPerfect – Keep accurate records of volunteers and send automated emails for events

donorperfect church membership software screenshot
DonorPerfect helps you keep accurate records of your volunteers and donations.

DonorPerfect is a customer relationship management (CRM) platform designed for non-profits that’s suitable for any religious organization. The software helps you manage contacts, send emails and other communications, organize fundraising events, and manage donations. 

This solution helps you build a contact database that’s rich in data and includes personal details as well as a history of giving and donations. The tool’s automation features help you send out scheduled emails to let your congregation know about events, volunteer schedules, or Sunday school. 

DonorPerfect integrates with accounting solutions such as QuickBooks. 

DonorPerfect costs from $99/1000 records/month. You can register for a free demo. 

9. Hivebrite – Use automation and personalized messaging to invite your congregation to service

hivebrite church membership software screenshot
Hivebrite helps you keep track of your congregation’s activity and reach out to members in need.

Hivebrite is a popular community management solution that’s popular with non-profit organizations. The platform’s features and simple interface make it perfect for church and community leaders. 

This solution helps you engage with your congregation with personalized messaging so you can prevent them from lapsing. The tool’s analytics features are top-notch and help you identify which members of your community are active and engaged, and which could benefit from your support. 

Hivebrite’s communication features enable you to send the right emails to the right churchgoers. You can set up email campaigns and use dynamic filters to customize your audience for each message. You can also create automated weekly email campaigns to invite your congregation to service. 

Hivebrite integrates with multiple tools, including social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. 

Hivebrite offers custom pricing upon request. You can access a free demo. 

10. Church Windows – Keep track of congregation members and run payroll with a single solution

church windows church membership software screenshot
Church Windows helps you create detailed records of your community members.

Church Windows is a flexible church management software that helps you keep track of attendees’ records. The solution enables you to organize your staff and volunteer schedules, and also enables you to track donations and run payroll. 

This solution offers comprehensive documentation. If you encounter any problems when using it, you can also contact support via phone or email and consult with an expert. 

One of the nice things about this platform is that it creates a trail for every action your contacts make. You can easily track attendance, event participation, and donations. 

Church Windows costs from $279/month. You can request a free trial and schedule a demo. 

Other Options

Here are a few more that didn’t make the top list.

  1. SimpleChurch CRM – Church management software that helps you reach out to members. 
  2. – Giving platform that makes it easy for your community to donate. 
  3. PowerChurch Plus – Church management platform that helps you keep all your church’s information in one place. 
  4. ShelbyNext – Church members management solution that helps you nurture relationships with mass emails and online interactions. 
  5. One Church Software – All-in-one church management solution that helps you keep accurate records of your staff, volunteers, and members. 
  6. MinistryPlatform – Customizable church software that helps you interact with your community online.  
  7. Fellowship One – Church management platform that helps with payment systems, payroll, and accounting. 
  8. Faithlife Equip – All-in-one church software that helps you automate tedious tasks and facilitate online giving. 
  9. MembershipWorks – Complete church solution that allows you to reach out to your congregation and create job boards. 
  10. Wild Apricot – Membership management software that helps you create contact lists and plan events.  
  11. Member Clicks – Membership management platform that enables you to keep in touch with your attendees and share lectures. 

What Do You Think About This List?

Contact management can make a huge difference in your church’s success. As Ludwig Micallef, director of Deloitte Consulting Malta, said

“A very useful side effect of storing all this useful information about your clients is the fact that it will be possible for you to analyze the aggregated data to understand important customer patterns, enabling you to customize your service accordingly. You will be able to identify star customers (and reward them accordingly) or […] clients you are at risk of losing, enabling you to take appropriate corrective action.”

If you want to receive tailored advice on how to make your church more successful from top leaders in the community, subscribe to The Lead Pastor


What Is Church Administration? What Leadership Needs To Know

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

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

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

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

I’ll cover:

What Is Church Administration?

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

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

Church Management: More Than Just A Church Budget

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

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

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

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

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

Church Finances: More Than Financial Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Church Community: Outreach, Discipleship, And Risk Management

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Is A Church Administrator?

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

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

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

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

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

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

All church leaders can consider themselves church administrators.

Church Administration Software

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

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

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

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

What Is Church Administration? Answered

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

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

The simplest things are often the best things.

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


10 Best Church Bookkeeping Software For Church Accounting In 2022

Accurate accounting is important for any religious entity. When your books are in good order, you can manage your church’s affairs responsibly and even increase donations. But managing the books can be a complicated task that consumes a lot of time and resources.

Thankfully, there are now many fantastic tools that make the job much easier. In this article, I’m reviewing the best church bookkeeping software to help you make the best choice. I’ll show you the strengths of each option and highlight the key features you may find helpful.

With the right church bookkeeping system, you can run a tight ship and make money management a breeze. 

Software Shortlist 

Here’s the list of the best church bookkeeping tools that I’ll cover in this article.

  1. FellowshipOne
  2. Church Windows
  3. ZipBooks
  4. QuickBooks Online
  5. Flockbase
  6. Dext
  7. Realm
  8. Aplos
  9. Martus Solutions
  10. CMD+

Comparison Criteria

What do I look for when I select the best church bookkeeping platform? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria: 

  1. User Interface (UI): I look for a bookkeeping system that church leaders and volunteers can get to grips with easily
  2. Usability: I expect all the important features to be accessible with just a few clicks
  3. Integrations: I’m seeking pre-built integrations with popular church management platforms
  4. Value for $: I expect church bookkeeping software to be affordable for congregations of any size

Church Bookkeeping System Key Features

Here are the core features I believe you should find in any software worthy of consideration in this sector:

  1. Integrated payroll: the ability to process pastoral payroll, housing allowances, and tax payments
  2. Donation reporting: manage pledge tracking, lapsed donors, donations by donor, and other forms of online giving
  3. Bill payment: features for making payments to external suppliers as necessary
  4. Invoicing: support for creating invoices and receiving payments online
  5. Bank reconciliation: the ability to keep the books and bank balances in good standing
  6. Check printing: an option to print checks, for times when this is the best payment method
  7. Custom role permissions: give individuals the level of access they need to do their work
  8. Financial statements: features for creating balance sheets, income statements, and other financials for review by church leaders
  9. Budgeting reports: tracking financial health by comparing budgets to actual accounting
  10. Custom reporting: the ability to drill down and create custom reports on various aspects of church accounting

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Overviews Of The 10 Best Church Bookkeeping Software Solution 

Here’s a brief description of each church bookkeeping app, showcasing each tool’s best use case, some noteworthy features, and screenshots to give a snapshot of the user interface. 

1. FellowshipOne  – Best for simple church accounting software

fellowshipone church bookkeeping software screenshot
FellowshipOne puts control in the hands of the coordinator.

FellowshipOne assists churches and other religious organizations to structure and manage daily operations. Based in the cloud, the software simplifies administrative tasks, outreach, events, and communications. 

You can automate tasks, improve member data and coordinate complex events. It’s easy to schedule the use of facilities or resources, while also gaining deep insights using the reporting tools. 

You can manage all contributions, gifts, and donations and accept payments by ACH, debit, or credit card. A fully-featured mobile app is included.

This tool offers an API that facilitates integration with other business tools. 

FellowshipOne GO Complete costs from $169/user/month. A free 30-day trial is available. 

2. Church Windows – Best for modular church management software

church windows church bookkeeping software screenshot
ChurchWindows gives you precise control over donor data.

Church Windows is a hybrid church accounting system that helps manage day-to-day activities and interactions with followers. Designed to be flexible, Church Windows offers modules that cover church membership, scheduling, donations, accounting, and payroll.

Administrators can view and track records by households or individuals. They can also customize data fields, record interaction notes and create attendance reports. 

Accounting features include recurring transactions, reconciliation, and charts. The software can create reports on salary history, allowances, taxes, or deductions. 

This tool integrates with software such as Microsoft Excel, KidCheck, and Vanco Faith. 

Church Windows costs from $279, plus $58/user/month for hosting. A downloadable free trial version is available.   

3. ZipBooks – Best for free church bookkeeping software

zipbooks church bookkeeping software screenshot
ZipBooks helps you manage your church books without spending a fortune.

ZipBooks is a bookkeeping system that allows you to access your congregation’s data from anywhere. The system includes payroll, tax preparation, and virtual bookkeeping. You can automate processes with recurring auto-bills, send invoices, and integrate billing into your books. 

Using ZipBooks, you can also tag transactions, generate income statements, manage accounts receivable, and produce other financial reports. Work can be organized into projects or tasks, with time tracked accurately. When you are ready to bill, you can add the tracked time to the invoice with a single click.   

This tool integrates with popular platforms such as Google Drive, PayPal, Slack, and Asana. 

ZipBooks costs from $15/user/month. A 30-day free trial is also available.  

4. QuickBooks Online – Best for auto-tracking income and expenses

quickbooks online church bookkeeping software screenshot
QuickBooks helps churches understand important financial metrics.

QuickBooks Online helps churches, mosques, and temples manage their finances effectively. They can assign every dollar to a committee, program, or worship fund. Offerings can be received online or in-person, using credit card, debit card, or ACH bank transfers.

Administrators can tag donations to specific programs as required. By creating unique user IDs, they can allow employees, volunteers, and accounting contractors to collaborate easily. Each user can be assigned a level of access appropriate to their role.  

This tool integrates with apps such as NeonCRM, DonorPath, Church Office Online, and Kindful.

QuickBooks costs from $12.50/user/month. A free 30-day trial is available. 

5. Flockbase – Best for simple church finance tracking

flockbase church bookkeeping software screenshot
Flockbase keeps you on top of income and expenses. 

FlockBase aims to make tracking church finances simple for both staff and volunteers. Built with true fund accounting, it allows you to manage fund balances with precision.

The payroll capabilities help you pay staff on time, while complying with tax regulations. In addition, the robust reporting features simplify tracking balances, income and expenses.

You can also print checks, pay vendors and manage budgets. FlockBase is designed to be easy to use for both staff and volunteers. 

This tool integrates with platforms such as CSG Forte and Bookafy.

FlockBase costs from $16/user/month and a two-week free trial is available.

6. Dext – Best for reducing data entry

dext church bookkeeping software screenshot
Dext alerts you to priority tasks requiring attention.

Dext aims to eliminate the problems of bad bookkeeping data, manual tasks and overwhelm. The system captures data from cost and revenue documents via mobile app, auto-invoice fetch, or email. You can then extract data quickly and publish to the right place quickly. 

The simple submission methods reduce the likelihood of errors. You can also save on storage, improve communication, and delegate tasks. Overall, Dext helps churches manage their finances more accurately and speedily.

This tool integrates with most major accounting providers, including, KashFlow, and FreeAgent. 

Dext costs from $20/user/month and a free trial is available. 

7. Realm – Best for ensuring sound financial discipline

realm church bookkeeping software screenshot
You can use Realm on both mobile and desktop devices.

Based in the cloud, Realm is a church management package that helps with administration, accounting, and community builder features. It can be used to run reports, manage cash flow, and accept all types of contributions. Users can maintain databases by connecting profiles for individuals, families, or businesses. 

Other features include dashboards, custom fields, and self-managed profiles. The software supports church directory, fund management, batch entry, and group rosters. Church members can post gifts and donations online. 

This tool integrates with applications such as Givelify, and Vanco Faith.

Realm costs from $29/user/month and a free trial is available.  

8. Aplos – Best for tithe tracking

aplos church bookkeeping software screenshot
Aplos reports on all financial activity in your church. 

Aplos church software is an accounting and bookkeeping platform targeting churches and nonprofit organizations. It encompasses fund accounting, fundraising tools, and donation management. Other features include membership management, event scheduling, and custom communications. 

Based in the cloud, Aplos software allows you to track cash flows and create journal entries for direct double-entry accounting. You can also raise funds using online donation tools. The software facilitates custom communications, donor database reports, and event registration. 

This tool integrates with platforms such as Gusto Payroll, Bloomerang, and PayPal. 

Aplos Accounting costs from $39.50/user/month and a 15-day free trial is available.  

9. Martus Solutions – Best for an affordable cloud solution

martus solutions church bookkeeping software screenshot
Martus gives you all the detailed financial information you need.

Martus helps you build budget worksheets in the cloud, monitor conformance with budgets, and drill down into transactional level details. The pre-built planning templates are designed to engage church leaders in the planning process, while accurate, real-time data assists with analyzing budgets.

The system can handle multiple forms of compensation and do forecasting on a ‘what if’ basis. Using this cloud-based solution, you can view graphical representations of performance versus budget. You can also save time by using built-in templates, as well as granting user-level permissions based on individual need. 

This tool integrates with business platforms such as Shelby Systems, Sage Intacct, QuickBooks and ACS Technologies. 

Martus offers customized pricing on request.

10. CMD+ – Best all-in-one bookkeeping and church management

cmd+ church bookkeeping software screenshot
Manage your financial data in the church or on the go.

CDM+ is a church management system that offers contribution management, attendance tracking, event scheduling, planning center, and check-in functionality. Using this software, church administrators can record member information such as names and addresses in a central location. 

They can also pay bills, receive payments, and perform bank reconciliation. The online portal makes it easy to create purchase orders, send invoices and manage vendor payments. Thanks to the Contribution module, they can also track the performance of stewardship programs. 

CDM+ starts at $25/month (25 givers/50 profiles). 

Other Church Bookkeeping Options

Here are a few more that didn’t make the top list.

  1. ChurchTrac – Great for all kinds of nonprofit organizationS
  2. Xero – Best for capturing financial data automatically
  3. Wave Accounting – Best for a simple bookkeeping and payments option
  4. Sage Intacct – Best for advanced cloud-based accounting
  5. ShelbyNext Financials – Accounting software built for churches
  6. Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT – Cloud fund accounting software
  7. Fyle – Best for real-time financial data feeds

What Do You Think About This List?

Are these the best church bookkeeping software tools on the market? If you think otherwise, let us know in the comments. You may also want to check out our articles on the best church accounting software or the best church payroll software to get further insights into good church management. 

Remember to check back often, as we regularly publish valuable content for pastors. Better still, consider joining our community to get even deeper insights. 

Sound financial management is core to running any faith-based organization. With the right church financial software tools, you can stay organized and free up extra time for more important work. 

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8 Church Marketing Strategies: Attract & Retain New Members

In the time of Paul and Peter, you wouldn’t have seen a dedicated marketing expert, social media strategist, or brand manager in the newly founded church. Marketing was something that naturally happened through word-of-mouth and Spirit-led growth (see Acts 9:31). But times inevitably change and so do the church marketing strategies by which we grow the local church, even if the overall Spirit-led purpose remains the same. 

Even though marketing was not originally a part of the local church—at least in the form that we know it today—this does not diminish the importance of it, especially digital marketing. Without a modern marketing plan that matches the necessities of the present day, there is little hope for expansion in your church. 

To this point, I am aiming to offer you some insight into what types of strategies you should use to expand your congregation and retain it. Some of these are simple enough methods that you likely already use, while others are more intangible ideas that are harder to grasp. 

I hope that the hard lessons I learned in my time as a leader in a church in Los Angeles will help you to avoid similar mistakes when it comes to keeping your church population steadfast. 

I’ll cover:

8 Church Marketing Strategies To Grow And Sustain Your Church

Before I dive into the eight church marketing strategies, I should note that numbers are not everything. Growth comes in many different forms and there is need for a small congregation with a couple hundred members in its church attendance just as much as there is need for a church with 10,000 members. 

The important part about growth is that it comes in several forms, including both new members but also in the hearts of your existing members. It is just as important to bring in new members as it is to assist the ones you already have in growing their walk with Christ. Here are eight digital marketing strategies that can help with both of those. 

1. Create A Modern Website For Your Church

Who are you? What is your church? If you cannot answer these questions yet, then you will have a very difficult time successfully completing the next seven steps in marketing your church. First and foremost, it is necessary to create an identity for your church.

I hesitate to use that word since we know our identity is in Christ, but what I mean by that is creating the image that you want your church to portray to everyone. This is done in several different ways, but the first is establishing your beliefs and viewpoints. 

Once this is done, you are ready to create a modern profile for your church. There are several steps involved in this, not least of which is publishing a well-thought out and fun church website. Do not cut back on costs here, but be sure to hire a professional with experience creating websites you think look great. 

Here are two examples I like: I’m biased, but the simplistic and sharp design of Angelus Temple where I used to work is a great example. Another great option is something more flashy but not too overwhelming, such as this brilliant, boxy design that Elevation Church has right now. 

The key goals for your church website should be to clearly present your church’s information in an easy-to-grasp way. Avoid any clutter that can deter interested parties and make sure it is mobile-friendly, too, as that is likely where most of your visitors will be coming from. 

2. Social Media Focus

Social media is a massive part of the external image that you create. If you’re not on all of the various social media platforms online, you are missing out on the future of your church. I get that some churches have existed for well over a century now and didn’t need the internet to do so. 

I also understand that some pastors do not like social media or even use it themselves. At the end of the day, though, this is not a question of your personal preferences or not. If you’re content with sticking to the church growth and size that you currently have, that’s fine. 

But if you are truly intent on growing your congregation, you need social media. Personally, I think you can do without Google ads or email marketing. On the other hand, social media is the very cornerstone of the church’s marketing. However, I think there is more to it than just setting up a Facebook and Twitter page. I always recommend to every church that is serious about expanding that they hire at least one person in charge solely of social media posts.

This person (or, better yet, team) should manage all of the accounts that you have. Here are some of the platforms that you should be on:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Twitch
  • YouTube
  • TikTok

For Facebook and Twitter, these are great for sharing announcements, events, and images. A dedicated photographer on your staff can turn your Instagram into a lovely collage of your church’s journey. 

Twitch and YouTube are necessary for anyone who wishes to livestream their services or upload sermons. Those two places are especially great for welcoming new members who might want to watch online first before attending in person. 

Lastly, there is TikTok. I have said it before on our site and I will say it again: TikTok is the next big social media platform for thriving churches due its video marketing capabilities. If you’re not there making cute motivational videos or hilarious moments from your latest event using a trending (but appropriate) sound, I think you are literally missing out on the entire next generation of Christians. 

3. Cohesive Branding 

It is an old marketing practice to have a cohesive brand that you are promoting to someone unfamiliar with it. Though the church is not a business, branding can still apply here. In fact, the most successful and well-known churches around the world are in that position due to having their own unique church brand image. 

This is established first by choosing key components that make up your church’s “brand.” 

  • What sort of church logo do you want to use? 
  • Is there a special tagline or verse that you want to promote on everything? 
  • What are the colors that you like to associate with your church?

Once you decide these basic brand factors, put them everywhere. Have it on your website, social media page, church sign, shirts, vans, buses, and every thing that you do or touch. If you are hosting a special event or booth in the community, anyone who passes by should know the moment that they look over that it is your church that is holding it. 

This cohesive branding will ensure that your church spreads in the community, and possibly the world, as a recognizable organization. This will not only make you more appealing to newcomers wanting to check out your church but it will create a unified church body. This can help with retaining existing members, too, since they feel part of the same unit. 

4. Define Your Environment

With the more boring, administrative parts of marketing out of the way, we can get to the exciting stuff. The point of marketing your church is to get out there and do something to bring in your target audience. To be able to do this, you need to first define the environment that is surrounding the four walls of your place of worship. 

Every church has a different community and needs to be handled in its own unique way, too. Are you in a small town? Or maybe you are in the suburbs next to a highly populated city. For some churches, the location can affect the concerns in your area as well. For instance, one town might deal with a lot of violent crime while another struggles with an overwhelming number of people with substance use disorders. 

Some of them will, of course, crossover with one another. Tackling these situations and communities will take different approaches. You live in the community where your church is, so you know best the types of people that are there. This means that you know their needs, too. You can cater, specifically, to those needs in your church’s marketing. 

5. Community Outreach

As for how you take the environment around you and market to it, this is where community outreach comes into play. I’ve been approached by several church leaders in the past asking how to create a successful church with plenty of new members. The very first question I ask them always is: do you do outreaches and events in your community?

Nearly all of them replied “no.” My first recommendation to any church looking to expand is to do outreach events. Not only does Jesus call us to go out and tend to the needs around us, but it is one of the best ways to grow your congregation. 

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous church marketing strategy. Take, for instance, the community around the church I previously worked at in Los Angeles. One thing that we noticed about the kids that I worked with was that very few of them had food to eat after school. 

Their only meal a day was lunch at school and nothing else. As such, we began promoting our daily food giveaways to everyone who attended our kids outreach programs. The after-school program grew and, eventually, it led to more kids riding our buses to church and, later, many of their family members, too. 

Word spread quickly that we were the church that was taking care of the kids and it meant something to the community, resulting in further support and new members. If you have community outreaches that fit the environment around you, people will take notice and recognize your image. 

6. Do Not Overextend

There is a warning I must give, too, though. I have also seen far too many churches get too overzealous and overextend their reach. They will be gung-ho about reaching out to everyone in need and do too much far too soon. This is a problem as it can lead to burnout, problems, and even missing the entire point of it all. 

It is crucial that you know your earthly limits and start out with a focused plan, while continuously asking God for his limitless divine help. It is absolutely recommended to have a bigger goal of reaching, let’s say, every kid in your county or state. But let’s start smaller first with the neighborhood around us, then the town, maybe the greater metropolitan city, and then go from there. 

Since you are marketing your church, you want to do it in a controlled manner. Otherwise, you will either fail or people will start to recognize your church for all the wrong reasons, neither of which is productive. 

7. Never Lose Sight Of Existing Members

I will try to tread lightly here but there are some churches in the past that I was involved in (not the one in Los Angeles) that made a huge mistake. They were fantastic about outreach and bringing in tons of new church members but completely failed the existing members of the congregation.

It was a tragic and devastating cycle of bringing in literally hundreds of new people and seeing them on fire only for it to burn out rather quickly. But, instead of helping them in their ongoing walks, they were forgotten and set aside in favor of continuing to bring in new people. So, it was an endless cycle of new people joining, old people leaving, and so on. 

It is crucial in everything that you do that you market your church as not only a home for everyone to come to, but a place where current members will continue to feel welcome. You should always focus on both gaining new members and tending to the older ones, which is much easier said than done. 

8. Dedicated Congregation Development Team

To help with existing churchgoers, I recommend establishing a dedicated congregation development team or system. Promote a path that is all about a person’s journey at the church. It should not start and end with them coming to your services for the first time. What I recommend is to first have a loving and open welcome to the church for everyone who enters. 

From there, offer program(s) that teach the newcomers everything about your church and being a new believer, if applicable. Many churches do these first two steps but nothing else afterward. Small groups are a decent and common option after this, plugging someone into a group of like-minded people who perhaps have similar interests and hobbies. 

But that is not the only option and I will be honest that I am not the only one who is not interested in small groups. In that case, promote incorporating church members into various ministries to help out. A children’s church, youth group, outreach, tech team, women’s or men’s ministry, and countless options are great ideas for this. 

Have a clear path that is rewarding to your church members. Announce exciting trips and enjoyable outings with one another so that there is lots for people to get involved in besides just the church services. 

A team that carefully plans out these events and how and when to promote them to the church with a dedicated budget can ensure that not just the new members feel loved and cared for. This is how you gain and sustain growth in your church community. 

Do Churches Need Marketing?

Many churches, especially those that were established long before the advent of the internet, do not see the importance of marketing. But I will stand by that every single church leader in the present day needs a digital marketing strategy of some kind. Not every church needs an entire team dedicated to it, but at least something or someone. 

You certainly need more than just a social media account, but that is at least the bare minimum that every church should be doing. Even if you have a small church in a town of 1,000 people, you need to market yourself. The kids and young adults these days need guidance and inspiration in their lives, and they will go where they feel most drawn to.

A church that is stuck in the past, ignoring the marketing needs of the present, will absolutely miss out on the next generation. I know this because I am in my 20s myself and I have seen countless churches with so much potential squander it and end up closing their doors or being on the precipice of doing so. 

There are so many people who need Jesus Christ today and a church needs some form of marketing to reach them using adequate church communication. The most successful churches nail this point, no matter their location or size. 

Church Member Retainment Recommendations 

There is a lot of information that I provided in this guide and I get that it can be a tad overwhelming at first. This is doubly the case if someone is newer to dealing with marketing tools like live-streaming and building out a website. Fortunately, we have some other guides to help with those next steps in expanding and retaining your church members. 

For more on streaming, check out the nine best streaming software that you can use to ensure that you can bring in new members who might not be ready to attend your services in-person just yet. And Ashley Vaughan even has a guide for the best ways to build out your website, in particular, if you have not done so already. 


5 Church Staff Communication Tips & Tools For A Unified Team

Church staff communication may not be the most glamorous or interesting facet of building your congregation, but without it, you are already setting off in the wrong direction. It is one of the most essential pieces of building a thriving community of believers. 

I spent several years of my young adult life building a foundation for church staff communication within the kids department I worked in at Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, California. Without much to go on, our team stumbled our way through much of this area and made a lot of mistakes along the way. 

I hope to give you some tips that I learned the hard way over the years, so that you do not have to. After all, church staff communication is at the very heart of creating a cohesive and unified team. If you can guide your staff members on the same path with the exact same goals, it will make it all the more easier to bring in new believers and integrate them into your congregation. 

I’ll cover:

How To Improve Communication Between Church Staff Members

I don’t mind being transparent about my previous experiences. I’ve seen people, including several major leaders in past churches I worked with, walk away from a team and, depressingly in some cases, Christianity as a whole due to the lack of proper communication. And they were some of the guiding voices in their churches, too. 

For several of these situations, it was, sadly, very avoidable and due to the lack of proper communication between staff members. We are only human, so conflict is bound to arise, beliefs are going to, unfortunately, differ at times, and feelings are going to get hurt on all sides.

Like you, I wish that this wasn’t the case but it happens nonetheless and we need to create procedures to improve communication and prevent these situations from destroying relationships permanently. The first part of this involves transparency of the highest level. 

This is the one key element that I suggest in all facets of communication and it is always essential. If you have a group of staff members, even if they number in the hundreds, transparency is key. For example, if one group is chosen to lead an outreach program and giveaway in the city, make that clear to everyone and why those selected people were chosen. 

Try to prevent jealousy and other resentful feelings from springing up among staff members. Actively try to keep everyone involved, even if, as in my outreach program example above, it may not be their preferable position in the activity. Having a communications director can help with this, too.

In the same example as above: if someone complains about not being involved in an activity they would like to, carefully explain why you made your decision and perhaps offer the person a chance to help in a different way or with a separate program uniquely made for them to lead. 

How Does Staff Communication Factor Into Your Communication Strategy?

A complete and dedicated plan for your church’s communication can prevent key leaders and Christians from walking away from your congregation. We have talked in the past about communication in general and how crucial it is to sharing the Gospel. 

After all, if we can’t share the Good News using today’s communication methods, it will never be shared with the world who desperately needs it. When determining your overall communication strategy, though, your staff and departments also need to be part of the initiatives. 

It is imperative that you do not forget your co-leaders, co-pastors, and staff members in the process of making a communications plan. It all starts at the top with the leaders in your ministry. If you do not make sure that they are on the right page with one another, it will be near impossible to implement and keep a successful communication strategy. 

That is why I recommend diving a little deeper into what Ben Sampson has to say about creating a church communications plan. There are five main steps to the communication process that involve figuring out your target audience, what to communicate, when to do so, and more. This also involves differentiating between external and internal communications, and integrating them with one another seamlessly. 

5 Church Staff Communication Tips & Best Practices

Here are five of the best church staff communication practices I’ve learned in my time as part of a ministry leadership team. 

1. Create Boundaries And Communication Rules

Knowing when and how to say something to your staff is a delicate balancing act. I recommend establishing some rules regarding how communication works in your church. It is okay and beneficial, in my opinion, to have boundaries. 

Without them, anything and everything can and will happen. You may need an entire communications team dedicated to setting boundaries and rules for communication.

In practice, this means setting staff meeting times and days for communication about what’s happening in the church. If your church is off on Mondays after a long weekend of church services and events, take that day off. Don’t send out work emails and text messages on that day, and don’t allow your staff members to do the same. 

If you’re on vacation, unless it is an absolute emergency, use that time to relax and refresh. It goes beyond just emails and events, though. Create clear cut boundaries between members of the staff team as well. 

I was a young church staff member at one point and I saw firsthand the romance that commonly blooms among workers of a similar mindset, even if I, thankfully, refrained from participating myself. Do not be afraid to wholly discourage dating and the like among staff, or, at the very least, create some guidelines for those situations. 

If these rules are broken, unfortunately, punishments need to be involved. I encourage you to ensure that those consequences accurately reflect the deed done. If a couple of staff members date when they are not allowed to, this does not mean someone needs to be fired, for example. 

Placement in different departments or a temporary suspension may be enough on its own. Ultimately, though, you will need to discuss together with your staff what works best for your church members.

What worked for my church, which was the church leadership having no restrictions whatsoever on dating or communicating even on days off, may not work for your staff. This is especially true if you do not discuss the best path forward with everyone in your staff. 

For me, our church already established its style before I ever arrived. Having little to no boundaries meant that I could be contacted or asked to do something even on vacation. 

I know that being contacted on my day off to open up the church didn’t work for me, and I had no say-so in establishing the communication boundaries.

Funnily enough, even after I left that particular church for another opportunity, I was still contacted regularly for help on how to do certain things. I highly recommend avoiding the same mistakes by allowing everyone to give their input and ideas. 

2. Foster Godly Bonds Evenly

Of course, all work and no play is a problem as well. Rules and guidelines are necessary, but so is having fun. Avoid making church and working in ministry entirely a chore or job, since it is meant to be fun too. Fellowship and bonding with one another is something that dates all the way back to the days of Jesus and his followers (see Mark 2:15). 

There are many ways that you can build bonds between the staff at your church. A few of the ones that I like are outings, game nights, parties, and the like. The Christmas and summer parties at our pastor’s house were always two of the biggest highlights of the year for me when I worked at Angelus Temple. 

Do goofy things like playing charades, sharing favorite foods and desserts, or even giving out awards for hilarious things. I suggest not keeping these events to once or twice a year, either, as it is effective to have monthly staff outings to foster those relationships. 

Having fun and enjoying the victories and defeats together will build your group of staff into the one mind and body that Jesus calls us to be as a church. It will also help with conflicts and problems later down the road, since having close relationships with other staff members can help resolve issues. 

3. Be An Open Book

A major issue that I see often is churches acting as closed books. Don’t keep secrets and allow for rumors to run rampant among your staff. I get it, sometimes there may be something that happened that is embarrassing and you don’t want it spreading around. But, I promise you, it will get out someday and the results will be tremendously worse that way. 

When there are issues, mistakes, or events going on behind the scenes, share it with your staff members as a whole. Make it clear what happened, why it happened, and what the church is doing with the people involved moving forward. Make sure that everyone is on the same page and in agreement with the consequences. 

If you make secrets a tendency in your church, it will lead to distrust, division, and the ultimate failure of your mission as a church. I have seen this first hand. One example that I feel willing to share has to do with a certain minister leaving a church that I attended and served at. 

The circumstances behind their departure were a mystery and their leaving was not even announced. They were just there at church one week, leading the youth group I was once part of, and gone the next. Even as a staff member myself at that church at the time, I had to ask around to get answers. 

Others had to do the same, and they began to distrust the church leaders that would keep information from them. It led to dozens of people, including students in the ministry and other youth group leaders, leaving the church. It took about five years for the youth group to recover to its previous numbers after this one incident. 

People move on and things happen, but it certainly did not have to go down that way. Being open about a situation with your staff can ensure that, while the situation may be rough, you can get through it in the end. 

4. Be Ready For Conflict

It’s worth noting that part of effective communication practice is knowing that conflict is inevitable. We are not perfect people; we’re only humans. People will disagree with one another, someone will make a mistake, and troublesome situations will happen. 

I even find that these issues are more common in church, as the enemy, specifically, goes after thriving congregations who are centered on Jesus (see 1 Peter 5:8). 

The key is not standing around with surprise when something happens, but to always have a plan for conflict. But on the subject of communication problems, specifically, people will often fight and argue, even in ministry. 

Plan ahead for these moments and know what you will do when it happens. If there is a disagreement between two staff members, immediately address it and find the root cause of the problem. If it is a lack of communication on your or another staff member’s part, tackle that and ensure that it does not happen again. 

5. Always Aim For Peace

Always aim for peace in your ministry. Peace should be the goal, with love and unity guiding every action that your team makes. When conflict happens, the utmost goal should be to regain peace in the best way possible. 

To do this, the first step should be to inquire and find out all sides of the matter. Many times, it will be a matter of “he said, she said” with multiple takes on a situation. Understand as much as you can about the miscommunication or dispute and seek Godly counsel before making a decision. 

A lot of times people take sides and are biased, so I recommend reaching out to outside leaders from other churches or to mentors that you might have. They can give you unbiased advice about what to do. When you are ready to make peace, bring the parties together and attempt to resolve it as a group with a transparent and loving conversation. 

An example to give you an idea is of two young staff members who were dating one another (hence my previous point about having boundaries). The relationship ended in a fight and it affected everyone in our ministry. Each of them was taken aside separately and spoken with. 

Both sides were listened to by the other staff members about how and why the relationship ended. They each had a chance to reconcile and decide the next course of action. Since they both had input in the matter, a peaceful agreement was made and one moved into a different department. 

Neither person left the church and they were still able to serve in a field they enjoyed without having resentment or being held back. If you establish that peace is at the core of your staff, then it will be easier to resolve these conflicts in an amicable manner. 

Church Staff Communication Tools

Today, there are so many tools that are at our disposal for communicating with church staff besides just social media and your church website. With the above practices and goals in mind, there are software and programs that can help them happen. 

We have a dedicated guide to the 10 best communication software tools for churches. These include software like Elexio for mass email communications, which is great for connecting with large groups of team members at once, and Breeze that is fantastic for planning outreach events or with nonprofits. 

There are a few more that I would throw out there, such as a dedicated messaging app for your team members. Slack is the go-to chat app that I use in most of my work, as it is far more flexible and fast than an email or even text message in some cases. 

Slack includes instant chat and the ability to create specific channels within a single Slack group for different departments, such as one for the youth ministry, a food bank department, young adults, and more.

I also recommend software like Zoom, which is great when chat messages simply do not cut it, but you’re not all together and need to video call. Lastly, having a shared folder and calendar is a must. Google and its suite of Docs, Sheets, and Calendar is a one-stop shop for planning out events, contributing to project sheets, and being on the same page. 

Your Next Steps

With these tools and practices, I hope that you are able to nail down positive and impactful church staff communication. This is one of the first steps towards a unified church body that is ready to go out there and spread the Gospel of Jesus. 

At the same time, though, knowing what to do and implementing it is easier said than done. I suggest checking out my thoughts on church communication as a whole. Communicating with your staff is one piece of the very large and sometimes intimidating puzzle. Navigating other areas like reaching out to prospective members and the community can be tough, but we are here to help. 


3 Top Tips For Making Church Leadership Fun For Youth

This article is part 3 in our series on turning a youth group into a youth church. If you found this in the wrong order, try looking at part 1 and part 2 to familiarize yourself with the concepts and terms we’ll be using in this conclusion.

To summarize, part 1 talked about developing leaders as they pass through your ministry on their way to becoming members of your adult congregation. Part 2 taught you strategies to grow those leaders into disciples in their own right.

Now, we get to have a conversation about fun. Too many times, I see both older and younger leaders confuse fun with chaos. This article will show you how to let your youth church have fun while also setting limits and being safe at all times.

I’ll cover:

Growth Through Fun

Here’s the definition of fun, according to Merriam-Webster. The word has five definitions, three of which are positive and two are negative. The positive definitions all share amusement and enjoyment while the negative definitions are physically or emotionally violent. 

By structuring your activities to stay within positive guidelines, your youth church will grow by becoming a place associated with happy feelings. As we discussed in the previous articles, this makes you a shelter in the storms of life which young people will flock to when they need help.

Let’s take a closer look at how we accomplish this task.

Creating A Safe Atmosphere

I have experience not only as a minister, but also as an elementary, middle school, and high school chess coach. I’ve seen thousands of kids in my time, and I can say that safety is what they desire more than anything, even if they deny it to the ends of the Earth. They find groups of friends, whether through clubs, sports, or church, and very few teens are true loners.

Not only that, but our children are our most precious resource. Without them, we have no one to replace us when we are gone, so we should do everything we can to make them safe so that they can be ready to go out into the world and be the next pastors, preachers, mayors, governors, and so on.

Adult Leaders Required

Your first mission is to find adult leaders who are both trustworthy and vigilant. Adult leaders can be lay people. Frequently, you will use parents of your youth to help supervise. 

Anytime an adult will be in contact with underage people, they need a background check on file to cover you legally. Consult your attorney for specific laws in your state, province, or county, concerning who can and cannot supervise minors.

Second, make sure your adults understand the order of service and your expectations for when it is fun and when it is serious. An adult who is using their position to stop approved activities is not and should not be helping the situation. Adult vigilance is needed to stop violent, sexual, or otherwise inappropriate situations from happening.

Practice Peace, Follow Jesus

Violence happens. Disagreements turn into arguments which turn into fights. You can help soften this by having dimmer lights during fun times. Music, especially the worship music I hope you’re playing in church, can stop fights before they start. They can still happen because of all the emotional upheaval we talked about in part 2.

Disagreements and arguments can usually be handled by well-trained youth leaders, but escalating circumstances call for direct intervention. All behavior hides an unfulfilled need. Aggressive youth frequently feel lost or uncared-for. Just like Jesus Christ gave all of us a second chance, give your youth the chance to cool down and talk about their needs.

Pursuing peaceful resolutions to violent conflicts creates a feeling of safety in your youth ministry. Without the fear of retribution, young people will be more inclined to talk about their feelings than act them out. This method fosters feelings of family and love among the entire church, not just the leadership.

No Dark Corners

Finally, it should go without saying that hiding places are where bad things happen. Prior to service, any unused doors should be locked (fire exits excepted, of course). When setting up for fun, make sure that all areas can be seen easily, even if you dim the lighting. All keys need to be in trusted hands.

In my experience, it has been best to assign adults to different sections and to use youth leaders as floaters who can stop things before they start. In the early days, before you have well-trained youth leaders, this will be more difficult, but everything is more difficult in the beginning.

Metaphorical dark corners also breed impropriety. By creating a safe space, the youth of your church will feel safe enough to report when inappropriate activity occurs. Our dark corners can be the blind spots in our thinking, so always listen when someone asks for help.

Bring On The Fun

Once you’ve prepared your space and your team to facilitate fun youth group activities, it’s time to start. But what kinds of things can you do? How do you use those activities in the pursuit of discipleship and growth? This section will guide you through the thought process involved in planning many different events, activities, and games for your youth church.

What Activities Are Appropriate For You?

As I say in almost every article, every church and denomination is different. The non-denominational mega-church I worked at was fine with using video games (non-violent and non-sexual, of course) as part of our pre-service activities. My Southern Baptist grandfather would have thrown the game systems out of the window of his church.

So, seek guidance from your church’s lead pastor and your denomination’s literature before deciding on a course of action. Next, talk to your youth leaders and the other members of your youth church. Just because you think an activity is great doesn’t mean that those teens want to do it.

Doing both of those things will give your youth church a constantly revolving set of activities and games that your young people will enjoy. Consider using outdoor spaces in the summer to keep up that variety. Board games or video games in the winter or rainy seasons can also help. A ping-pong table is also a solid investment for any time of year.

When Should Fun Intersect With Service?

Your church service exists to serve the spiritual needs of your young people. It does this in two ways: first, by providing distractions so that troubled teens are not focused on by their peers, and, second, by getting those youths in the door in the first place.

A closer look at the first point deals with peer pressure and social anxiety. My own experience teaches me that young people are concerned with what others think of them. The pressure of needing to look strong and the anxiety that comes with it can be reduced or eliminated by having their peers all looking the other way when those young people need a pastor.

The second point speaks for itself. Fun activities get youth into your church, but they also get your church members talking to their friends about the place they hangout at every week. This is what grows your youth church more than anything. Parents dropping their kids off might stop in the adult church, as well, which makes your lead pastor happy.

Integrating Activities Into Your Sermon

It is imperative to understand that young brains have shorter attention spans than adult brains. You cannot preach your sermon for the same length of time as the pastor of the adult church. Leave some time before and after your youth service for games and other fun, but don’t be afraid to bring the fun into your sermon as well.

For instance, finding a way to integrate the ping-pong table I recommended grabs their attention. Observe which activities have the longest lines and craft a message using them. Get creative and have fun yourself.

Showing that you enjoy the same activities that you use to preach gives your sermons authenticity and truth that your young people crave. The more time you spend interacting with them in their element, the better you can communicate to them when writing your message. Let the fun activities break down the barriers and build bridges of communication.

On a related note, having your church members put on skits that tie into your sermon is a tradition that goes back many centuries in the church. Get your most creative youth leaders on it and bring a whole new dimension to your preaching. 

All Things In Moderation

While fun is great and, well, fun, serious times always come along. Even though the games might get them in the door, some youth need a lot of work before they can become leaders in the church or the community. This means finding a middle ground between too much fun and too much seriousness.

How Do We Find The Balance?

In a word, experiment. It takes time and trials to find the perfect amount of time just like it takes time and trials to find the perfect activities. Just like those activities, the balance can change from week to week. Tragedies happen, and we must take the time to be somber and reflective in those moments.

Other times, it may be useful to take a service where the fun is never shut down, but the altar is open for one-on-one prayer and counseling the whole service. Most services, though, will be that delicate balance of enough fun to bring kids in and enough spiritual meat to fill their spirits.

Don’t ever get too married to one idea of what the balance should be. It is going to change as each young person ages out of your youth church, people move away, or they simply stop coming. You will never find a time when you wished you were less adaptable to the needs of your church.

Permission Is Better Than Forgiveness

One of the most important things to remember is that you are temporarily in charge of other people’s children while they are in your ministry. For this reason, the old adage is reversed. As a parent, I understand how crazy we get when we think our kids are being taken advantage of.

Always have accountability among the adult leaders, including yourself, and have written permission for any outings off of church property. Policies should go through the church board, and any offerings need to have the same oversight as the adult church.

Youth pastors who do not seek permission first usually find themselves having short careers. This does not mean that you should have your lead pastor holding your hand every step of the way. Rather, those steps should be outlined and approved before you start making wholesale changes to your youth program.

Keeping Young People Engaged

Be yourself. Teens, adolescents, however you want to call them, will see right through a fake smile and phony interest. Remember when you were a teen and everything seemed plastic and corporate. Don’t be that person in their lives.

Get excited. You are taking these young people on an adventure into becoming better people. You’re going to be a better person in the process, too. Be happy about it. They are only going to be kids once. It is a privilege to make an impact at this point in their life.

Get decent music. There is a ton of great worship music, no matter your denomination. Don’t sing Amazing Grace or Kumbaya for the thousandth time when songs like Awesome God and Draw Me Close To You exist. Old, tired music will turn young people away. You don’t have to play bands like Skillet or P.O.D. just get close to the modern era.

Fun, In Conclusion

Fun makes everything better when dealing with youth. They retain knowledge better, are more likely to return, and, most importantly, feel safe enough to share the problems that brought them to church in the first place. Just like a well-balanced meal for our body has a variety of nutrients, a well-balanced meal for our spirit has a variety of activities.

I hope you have gained some understanding of what and how to plan fun for your youth church and how to apply that fun to the spiritual growth of your youth.

Finally, A Youth Church

At the end of these three articles, I hope that you have come to the same conclusion as me concerning youth church. Namely, a youth church is only as successful as its pastor allows. Sometimes, that means stepping in and taking control in a crisis. Other times, it means letting your youth leaders develop on their own. You have to be a friend, a pastor, a teacher, and an event organizer all in one.

Use this series to help form a vision that will guide your youth group into becoming an incredible youth church. Don’t be afraid of bumps or hiccups along the way. Some of your greatest teaching moments will be showing your leaders how you handle unexpected situations.

I’m Lexie and thanks for sticking with me so far. Leave any comments or questions in the section below, and I’ll get to them as soon as I can.