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.
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
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
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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.
Here’s the list of the best church bookkeeping tools that I’ll cover in this article.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 Bill.com, KashFlow, and FreeAgent.
Dext costs from $20/user/month and a free trial is available.
7. Realm – Best for ensuring sound financial discipline
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.
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.
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.
10. CMD+ – Best all-in-one bookkeeping and church management
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Managing a church is an enormous undertaking, and according to research, 90% of pastors say they often feel tired and worn out by their weekly or daily tasks. This leaves church leaders with little time and energy to personally attend to church members. One of the best ways to maximize time is by using church administrative software to manage your church.
This article looks closely at some of the best church administration software for church management and how they can help you serve your congregation better.
Here’s the list of the best tools that I’ll cover in this article.
What do I look for when I select the best church administration solution? Here’s a summary of my evaluation criteria:
User Interface (UI): Church leaders need to find useful features quickly, so I look for software with a clean interface.
Usability: Besides church leaders, employees, volunteers, and members will also use the software, so I look for church management software that’s easy to use and master.
Integrations: Churches use several software and tools, so I look for church management software that will work well with other tools.
Value for $: Churches have limited funds, so I look for church management software with many features but reasonable monthly fees.
Church Administration Platform: Key Features
Membership management: The ability to gather and store crucial member information like personal details, contact information, and important dates.
Volunteer management: Allows church leaders to organize, schedule, and communicate with volunteers.
Online giving: Enables churches to receive donations from members and visitors through mobile donations, cask, check, and online donations.
Fund accounting: Bookkeeping feature to help churches monitor funds, payments, receivables, and donations to gauge the financial health of the church.
Worship planning: Allows church leaders to plan and execute worship services.
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Overviews Of The 10 Best Church Administration Software Solution
Here’s a brief description of each church administration app to showcase each tool’s best use case, some noteworthy features, and screenshots to give a snapshot of the user interface.
1. GoDoChurch – Church administration software for boosting discipleship.
GoDoChurch is a church administration software for staying connected to congregants. It has a membership database to record church members and their information. Church leaders can use GoDoChurch to capture and maintain a database of church employee records like employment details, salaries, benefits, and preaching license expiration dates. The software allows you to communicate with church members through custom SMS and emails.
GoDoChurch is the best church administration software if you want to boost the discipleship program of your church because it has a module that church members can use to craft their growth path. GoDoChurch’s Growth Path Module allows members to take classes and seminars to advance their discipleship. Members can tick off activities they’ve completed to concentrate on activities they haven’t attended. Church leaders can use GoDoChurch to monitor the progress of congregants to assist struggling members.
GoDoChurch pricing starts at $22/month/account. You can try their software for free for 30 days.
Ministry Scheduler Pro is church administration software for handling all your church’s scheduling requirements. You can use it to ensure a proper rotation of readers. Ministry Scheduler Pro lets you print sign-in sheets during services and events for attendance tracking purposes. This church software also lets you monitor training and background checks to guarantee that volunteers and employees have proper skills and training.
Ministry Scheduler Pro is the best church administration software if you want to manage the schedule of volunteers effectively. Volunteers can upload their availability to help you avoid scheduling conflicts. You can use this church software to accommodate volunteers’ preferences. Ministry Scheduler Pro automatically sends SMS and email reminders to help minimize no-shows during events and church services.
Ministry Scheduler Pro integrates with other church software, including Access ACS, ParishSOFT, Gabriel Software, and Servant Keeper.
Ministry Scheduler Pro pricing starts at $28/month/up to 100 volunteers and a one-time licensing fee of $350. They offer a 30-day free trial.
3. ChurchSuite – Church administration software with a church membership management feature.
ChurchSuite is church administration software to help you manage members, volunteers, and employees. It has an event management feature for planning and holding free and paid events. ChurchSuite has an attendance tracking feature that includes a secure check-in feature for children and visitors.
ChurchSuite is the best church management software to maintain a comprehensive church membership database. Maintain an address book with critical information like personal details, contact information, and key dates. Your church leadership can add custom tags to church membership database entries to make it easier to search entries. ChurchSuite has a mobile app that allows church members to edit their information, so you always have updated data.
ChurchSuite pricing starts at $15.50/month/account, and they offer a 30-day free trial.
4. Planning Center – Church administration software for building a church website.
Planning Center is church management software with a membership management feature for maintaining a centralized database of membership information. This church management software has an online giving feature that gives church members several donation options, including cash, check, text-to-give, and credit/debit cards. This church management solution has a church community builder feature for organizing and maintaining church teams and groups to keep members engaged.
Planning Center is the best church management software for keeping members informed by building and maintaining a church website and mobile app. This church management system allows you to create a custom home page for welcoming visitors and members to your website. You can use Planning Center to broadcast recorded or live worship services on your church website. This church management software lets you customize the icon systems on your website and mobile app to promote your church branding.
Planning Center integrates with other church management software, including Faithlife Proclaim, MailChimp, MediaShout, and ProPresenter.
Planning Center pricing starts at $14/month/up to 75 group members, and they offer a 30-day free trial.
5. Sunergo – Church administration software with an attendance tracking feature.
Sunergo is a church administration software with a volunteer management feature for volunteer scheduling and database maintenance. This church software has an online giving feature for receiving donations and gifts to help finance church activities. Sunergo has church accounting software for generating financial statements to help you assess your church’s financial health.
Sunergo is the best church management software for gathering insightful data on church members through attendance tracking. You can use this church management solution to record attendance counts and determine which activities attract more members. Sunergo’s attendance tracking feature lets you record and assess individual attendance to know which members require follow-ups. This church management solution also allows church leaders to generate reports on different age groups to know which groups are more active in your church and which ones require more attention.
Sunergo provides pricing information and a demo upon request.
6. PushPay – Church administration software for worship planning.
PushPay is church management software with donor management and online giving tools. You can use this church management system to create and maintain a membership database with personal information, interests, and contact details to get to know your congregation better. It has a resource management feature for managing the availability of venues, tools, and equipment for your church.
PushPay is the best church management software with a worship planning feature for holding successful worship services. You can use this church management system to create detailed worship service plans your staff and volunteers can follow. PushPay allows you to maintain a comprehensive library of songs and lyrics to make worship services livelier. You can use PushPay to generate reports on worship leaders and volunteers to promote participation and prevent burnout.
PushPay pricing is available upon request.
PushPay integrates with other church software, including Fellowship One, Quickbooks, Servant Keeper, and Ministry Safe.
7. DonorPerfect – Church administration software for managing fundraising activities.
DonorPerfect is a church management software for creating a unified constituent database for storing member and donor information. This church management solution has a reporting and analytics feature for analyzing donor information and identifying fundraising opportunities. This church management software lets you automate simple yet repetitive tasks like recording donations and sending thank you notes to help you save time.
DonorPerfect is the best church management software with a fundraising feature for planning and holding fundraising events. Its ReadySetAuction feature allows you to generate auction catalogs, bid sheets, invoices, and receipts to help raise funds by holding auctions. You can use DonorPerfect to create online donor forms and embed them on your church website to convert visitors into supporters.
DonorPerfect integrates with church management software like Givecloud, Volunteer Matrix, and ShopRaise.
DonorPerfect pricing starts at $99/month/up to 1,000 records.
8. Aplos – Church administration software with built-in fund accounting software.
Aplos is a church management software with an online giving feature that allows church members to choose how they want to send gifts and donations like cash, checks, online giving, or mobile giving. This church management software has a membership management feature for keeping an accurate record of membership data to help engage your congregation. It also has a volunteer management feature for scheduling meetings, managing volunteer sign-ups, and delegating tasks.
Aplos is the best church management software if you want to assess your church’s finances because it has integrated church accounting software. This church accounting software can track and pay bills, create invoices, and accept online payments. This church accounting software also has integrated payroll for managing church employees’ salaries, benefits, and taxes.
Aplos church software pricing starts at $39.50/month/account and provides a 15-day free trial.
9. Tithe.ly – Church administration software with event management capabilities.
Tithe.ly is church management software that church leaders can use to manage small groups, volunteers, and employees. It has a worship planning feature for creating service guides, assigning songs, and coordinating volunteers. Tithe.ly has a fund accounting feature for monitoring your church’s financial health.
Tithe.ly is the best church management software with an event management feature for successfully creating and managing church events. You can use Tithe.ly to set up event registrations and customize the information you collect on registration forms. This church management software allows you to create multiple ticket types for paid events. Tithe.ly lets you use QR codes for faster and more accurate event check-ins.
Tithe.ly is free software but charges a fee of 2.9% plus $.30 per transaction.
10. ChurchTrac – Church administration software with children and family check-in feature.
ChurchTrac is church management software with a membership management feature that allows you to maintain a directory of members with contact details and pictures. It has a giving feature for accepting donations and tracking cash and in-kind gifts. ChurchTrac has an event management feature to plan events, handle registrations, and track attendance. You can use ChurchTrac to create custom forms for collecting prayer requests and guests’ information to help you engage members and visitors.
ChurchTrac is the best church management software if you want to heighten the security of your church because it has a child and family check-in feature. You can use ChurchTrac to set up check-in kiosks to register child members as they arrive. This church management software allows you to print security tags, ensuring that child members get released to authorized family members. You can also add special instructions on security tags to note allergies or special needs.
ChurchTrac has a free version with limited features, while the pricing for paid versions starts at $6/month/account.
Managing a church entails many administrative tasks that take up time and resources. With the help of the best church management software, you can quickly take care of administrative tasks like managing volunteers, updating membership directories, and planning worship services to have more time engaging congregation members.
If you want to learn more about other useful software to help you manage your church, subscribe to The Lead Pastor today.
In part 1 of this series, we talked about teaching young leaders. The most important parts of teaching any leader, regardless of their age, are having a curriculum to study and having opportunities to put their new knowledge to use.
In part 2, we are going to examine the methods of both by framing them in two ways: Engaging their minds and engaging their hearts. By the end of this article, you will be able to identify leaders using the techniques you learned in part 1 and then successfully mentor them using the youth discipleship techniques you are about to learn.
Young people have growing brains. As they grow, they retain knowledge more easily than after growing stops. This study shows that teen brains are wired differently from adult brains. Specifically, they seek situations that give them rewards for their actions.
As teens find their most rewarding actions, the brain grows to desire that and reinforces the learning pathways. This can lead to negative effects like addictive behaviors, but positive outcomes, like finding a love for service and self-improvement, are also possible with a little guidance.
Young Minds Are Eager To Learn
The first step in teaching your youth leaders is being adaptable. Every young brain is hungry, but not everyone knows how to focus that hunger into something useful. Get to know the communication styles of your leaders so that you can effectively teach.
Here is a short breakdown of the most common types of learning and the communication styles that pair well with them.
Visual Learning: Visual learners are best at learning through words, drawings, pictures, and videos. A sermon or lecture might go over their head, but they will be able to memorize Bible verses or written plans quickly.
Auditory Learning: Auditory learners are listeners. In many ways, they mirror visual learners in their strengths and weaknesses. Your sermon will be taken to heart at once, but workbook lessons might not be.
Emotional Learning: Emotional learners relate everything to their feelings. Their lessons should be framed through the emotional impact of the Bible stories or leadership goals.
In some ways, every lesson in your discipleship program should contain parts that speak to each type of learner. By doing that, you will model the communication styles that your leaders will need to help their peers when they complete that step of the program.
Young Minds Want To Be Challenged
Challenges, in this case, are not quizzes and tests like you would see in a classroom. Leadership is a hands-on responsibility and requires hands-on training and assessment. Leadership challenges should follow a three-step process to ensure a healthy and positive result.
Teach The Skill. No one is born with specialized skills. As easy as it is to ride a bike, we all must be taught how to do it first. Using the different types of communication here can make a huge difference.
Supervised Assessment. Allow your leader to complete a task with minimal/no intervention from you, e.g. a small group Bible study or an opening prayer. Only get involved if a safety concern or other emergency arises.
Evaluation. Remember the study linked above? Teen minds are reward-seeking. Praise the behavior you want them to remember. Try to never use harsh language or tones. Frequently mistakes made by growing youth leaders come from ignorance which is almost always the fault of the teacher.
One important note related to the evaluation section is that all types of learners do better when you frame your thoughts as questions. As they answer the questions, they learn to self-evaluate and the lessons become even more ingrained.
Young Minds Like Solving Puzzles
Once your youth leaders have proven themselves under supervision, it is time to set goals and challenges that will allow them a little more freedom. For instance, a leader might run a Bible study on their own after running the content by you first.
Each time you send them out to complete a task, they will need to apply the skills you have taught them in sometimes new and surprising ways. Increase their ability to adapt by practicing situations where they have to improvise in order to succeed. The rewards of seeing their skills pay off and the praise from you and their peers both help to solidify the criteria that their minds seek.
Importantly, the puzzles you give them should not be unsolvable or arbitrary. Many young people come to church to get away from that type of behavior at home. You don’t plant a flower in sand then curse it when it doesn’t grow. Plant your leaders in good soil with plenty of fertilizer and sunshine.
Young Hearts Are Open Hearts
As much as youth need to be taught how to learn, they have no problem feeling. Most times, the emotions of the constant changes of adolescence overwhelm and confuse the young adults of your youth church. They can be laughing one moment and crying the next as both life and brand new hormones play with their heartstrings.
This section will guide you through navigating these emotional currents as you try to teach them the lessons and values of becoming a youth leader.
Young Hearts Are New
Young people occupy a very tumultuous phase of life. Some try to cling to childhood while others attempt to become adults too fast. Faced with an onslaught of brand-new emotions, which can vary from romantic to independent to self-reflection, some withdraw from their family and friends and others break open, wearing their heart on their sleeve.
Dealing with all of these emotions is a skill just like riding a bike. For many adults, it is easy to forget that we, once, were new to these feelings, too. If you and the young person’s parents are not teaching them how to deal with and manage these emotions, who is? Most likely their friends or their favorite celebrity.
Help your youth understand their emotions and how to deal with them in a healthy way. Doing so will give them the self-control to be confident in their decisions as leaders and as humans.
Young Hearts Are Quick
Quick to say, “I love you.” Quick to say, “I hate you.” Most of all, young people are quick to blame themselves when things go wrong. This is partly because their lack of understanding turns everything inward. As a pastor, how many children have you counseled who blamed themselves for their parents’ divorce?
Be just as quick in your positive support and embodiment of healthy emotional behaviors. If the youth pastor is quick to anger, the youth will follow. Be a better example. Be quick in analyzing situations, and they will begin to assign less blame and take more responsibility.
Even in the best cases, your leaders will only be able to learn about the risks of a quick heart by getting hurt in friendship, in love, or in teamwork. In these cases, finding a way to explain that their emotions need to be tempered by wisdom can be more than difficult, especially when you are trying to keep from sounding like it’s all their fault.
While many adults, including some I have worked with, consider this attribute of young people a weakness, I have found that it is one of their greatest strengths, as long as it is pointed in the right direction.
Young Hearts Can Be A Force
What do we do with these powerful emotions? I have mentioned providing healthy outlets a few times, and here are some examples that have worked in my experience.
Beach Cleanup. If you show a group of teens a video of aquatic creatures in distress, they might instantly fall in love and grab the nearest cleaning supplies. We did this when I worked with the youth ministry, and after the initial cleanup, we went back several times, and even had youth asking to go to cleanup for months afterward. If you don’t live near a beach, rivers or nature preserves always need volunteers.
Soup Kitchen. If your church does not have its own soup kitchen, partner with one that does. The number of teens who came away with greater respect for those facing food insecurity was staggering. Some of them said it was life-changing.
Group Trips. We often took our leadership team into our local big city to minister at churches, perform our music, or just learn how other places would do things. One time, we got completely lost (this was before smartphones and GPS), but everyone was laughing and singing so it still built the team and provided that pressure relief.
In addition, when the adult church has their events and projects, you will have a force of young people who are trained to accomplish whatever you set in front of them. The sense of accomplishment from outmatching the adult church alone can be enough to clear away the negativity of school, peer pressure, and difficult parents.
Young Christians Can Be Very Smart
We know that individuals vary in intelligence. In aggregate, though, people are generally smart. Only one person needs to see Suzy kissing Johnny before everyone within 10 miles knows. Kids notice everything. Sure, you can fool one youth, but you will never fool a youth group.
Most youth pastors protest that statement by saying that they are not trying to fool anyone. This is not about what you are trying to do. It is about what the youth perceive you to be doing. We are going to look at the good and bad ways of handling those perceptions.
Uniting Hearts And Minds Into One Purpose
As your youth church grows, you will develop a core of youth leaders who will be able to take responsibility for different areas of the service and management just like the adult church has its deacons and elders.
A well-run youth church works like a machine. The young hearts have had their emotions focused toward the purpose of becoming servants of God. The young minds are trained to know what that means. They see an oasis of stability in the chaos of the world, and they carry that peace with them wherever they go.
The youth pastor, as the spiritual leader of the youth, provides the directions and the stability. After all, Jesus Christ said that Simon Peter was the rock on which the church would be built. In that tradition, each individual church, even youth churches inside larger adult churches, are built upon the vision and motivation of the senior pastor.
So, a healthy and growing youth church has solid, steady leadership at the top with ever-wider groups of leaders below who work according to the vision of that leadership.
They Know When They Are Being Overlooked
As an adult, forgetting our teenage years is sometimes too easy. It feels like adults always set you off to the side so they can do more important things. You’re too old to have recess and too young to have freedom. Everyone is always yelling at you for either being lazy or being too active.
Then you go to church on Wednesday night, and they put you in a room in the back so the adults can have “real church” while you sit in your group and listen to an adult tell you about how Jesus loves the little children.
As harsh as that sounds, that is why a church of 2000 members had 50 kids show up for youth group. When we got a youth pastor with a real vision in place, we grew that from 50 to 500 youth in about 18 months. We treated everyone like humans, no matter their ages. We weren’t afraid to tackle complex and difficult spiritual issues, and their hungry minds ate it up.
Your young people know when they deserve better. They may not have the tools to express that in a healthy or appropriate manner because they are still kids, but they know. You should know too. When youth start slipping away, look to yourself and your attitude first.
Youth Church Is Not A Resume Builder
Too many times in that youth group that I grew up in, our youth pastor position was a revolving door. Some pastors used it to see if they would like being a pastor. Some only stayed long enough to get a job as head pastor. Some just didn’t like youth.
For me, this always felt much worse than being overlooked. Being overlooked is hearing, “I know you’re there, but I don’t really see you.” Being a line on someone’s resume is hearing, “I see you, and you only mean as much to me as I can get from you.” This is the worst perception a child can have of themselves or their church leaders.
For the last time, I’ll refer back to the study I linked at the start of this article. Teen minds seek out rewards. Pastors who only look at youth groups as the next rung on their ladder will not provide the structure and stability that rewards the input of a possible youth leader. As my youth pastor once told me, “Get in, or get out. There is no halfway in a youth church.”
Disciples do what their teacher does. Consider that before making your next move.
Growth Through Discipleship: Final Remarks
When talking to people about discipleship, some people find it strange that I speak so much about the pastors rather than the disciples. The reason is that the primary method of learning behaviors is seeing them done. Even though people take in knowledge in different ways, as we covered, behaviors are passed through modeling.
The number rule of discipling others was stated by Jesus when he said, “Go, and do as I have done.” Keep those words in mind as your youth leaders look to you for guidance and support.
In the next article, we are going to take a close look at using fun to attract new converts, keep them engaged, and do it all in a safe and appropriate manner.
In my experiences working in churches, I’ve discovered several church communication best practices that I’ve used to avoid all manner of miscommunications and mishaps (some of which were learned the hard way!)
Here’s a scenario:
The printed flyers for your church’s 10th year anniversary have just been delivered. As you review, you get a sinking feeling in your stomach. Why? You somehow forgot to include the date of the event on the flyer. That’s not all: you also notice a typographical error. What a costly mistake! The flyers have to be redesigned and reprinted, all 5,000 of them.
Sadly, it is no fault of the printing company. They sent you the draft and you gave the final approval before it went into print. But this could have been avoided with a proper communication process and strategy in place.
The best practices shared in this article will help to ensure that the intended audience gets your message clearly with minimal to no interference. This will in turn improve turnout at your church’s planned events, increase clarity on your mission and values, and help ensure your congregation and staff members are clear on all the happenings at your church.
I share from my 20+ years experience as a church leader and administrator. I highlight the best practices that I’ve learned, and I also cover several of the most common problems in church communication.
Here are my best practices for ensuring communication within your church helps you spread your message and mission, instead of hindering it.
1. Over Communicating Beats Under Communicating
Sharing an important announcement once does not usually get the job done. There are so many things vying for our attention today that the congregation or intended audience may not remember the announcement once service ends, or once they leave church premises. This is why reminders are imperative. Build reminders into your weekly services, have the information on your church website, and include it in your weekly bulletins.
2. Use A Variety Of Church Communication Software
Church communication software is a broad term that can include any type of software or tool that helps you communicate with your congregation or conduct internal communication with your staff.
Here are a few ideas for types of tools and software you might use. These are great ways to reiterate church announcements.
Mass mailing services such as Mailchimp, Flodesk, or Constant Contact are just a few of the many online email marketing automation platforms that allow you to send one message to hundreds and even thousands of people on your mailing list. These platforms generally require a small monthly fee, although in some cases they might be free, depending on the size of your congregation.
Within these platforms, you are also able to categorize email lists. For example, one category of emails can be for heads of departments, another might be for your general congregation or just new church members, and so forth. This is a very convenient feature that allows you to send certain messages to only the people that need to receive them.
Mass Text Messaging
This type of software is great for sending text message reminders about events to your congregation. Flocknote, EZ Texting, and ChurchCast are just a few of the mass texting platforms that allow you to text your entire congregation at once.
Remember to keep the messages short and straight to the point. No one likes to read lengthy text messages.
By this point, your church should be using social media, be it Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Generally, these pages are public-facing (meaning anyone can see them, unless you adjust your settings to disallow this), so keep in mind that both the intended audience and anyone else who stumbles across your profile can read the information you post here. Not all messages should be posted here, unless the general public is your intended audience.
For example, if your church is hosting a blood drive, or a business fair open to the general public, you will want to post these types of messages on your social media pages. However, a reminder about the upcoming ushers’ meeting should not be posted on a public platform.
Group Chat Applications
WhatsApp (which usually works better for smaller churches) is a favorite and reliable application. You can create a dedicated WhatsApp Group Chat for important church messages and announcements, and use it to reiterate messages or send reminders about upcoming events.
You may need to set boundaries and let users know that the page is strictly for church information. You do not want messages or reminders to get lost in a myriad of other unrelated posts and memes.
Send Reminders Via Heads Of Department
Each head of department or unit at a church will have their trusted and reliable way of communicating with members of their department. You may want to ask them to remind their department members about an upcoming church event that requires their attendance.
For example, you can ask the choir director to remind her department about an upcoming worker’s training seminar. Highlight the specific information that you want shared with departmental members.
3. Emphasize Messages During Church Services
Right before the actual sermon or after it are great opportunities to relay general announcements, upcoming events, and any other tidbits that your congregation at-large should know.
However, avoid overloading announcements: Plan ahead so your church’s weekly announcements are properly spaced. Having too many announcements at one service will lead to people forgetting or missing information.
Ensure that the announcer at the service receives the announcements in good time: This will give enough time for them to review and prepare. Sending the announcements the night before the 8 am service is bad communication practice.
4. Promote Events In A Timely Manner
This is key. If you start to talk about an upcoming event too early, it may dilute the significance of the event as the day approaches because your intended audience has heard it one time too often.
There are a variety of ways to go about mass promotion of major church events: Flyers, posters, banners, or digital adverts. Make sure to use a consistent color theme for all publications. This helps with easy recognition and branding. Decide on a color scheme and use those colors consistently in the creation of posters, flyers and banners—be it digital or hard copies.
5. Double Check Your Work
The scenario I posited in the intro is actually a true story. When I was the administrator of a large international church organization, I learned this lesson the hard way. At the end of what had been an extremely busy work week, I accidentally approved the printing of posters and flyers for a major event. Regretfully, there was a major typo—which I missed.
That painful and costly experience led me to develop an almost foolproof system that I use before approving any information intended for wide distribution.
I created a checklist that includes a list of basic information that goes into every form of mass advertisement used at that church. The checklist included:
Date of the event
Time of the event
Website address of the church
Telephone number of the church
Name of event
By having this checklist handy, I was able to cross-check before giving the go-ahead to print or distribute digitally.
The second step of my system involved enlisting the assistance of at least two other trusted individuals (members of the event planning team) to check to ensure I did not omit important information.
The truth is we are humans and are prone to human error. Having a good system in place will greatly reduce or eliminate costly human errors altogether.
6. Pay Close Attention To The Design Of Any Promotional Material
Let’s say you are organizing a free back-to-school give-away. You want to make sure the purpose of the event is clear at first glance on any flyers or ads. This might mean having the title bolded, along with photos of backpacks and school supplies. A photo of the pastor should not be the most prominent image on the flyer.
Busy designs unrelated to the message take away from the importance of intended messages. Unnecessary floral designs and graphics just make it hard to read the message that you are trying to convey. Your intended audience should not have to fight through unnecessary designs to get to the actual message.
Also, make sure to clearly explain any specific instructions that event attendees will need. For example, say your church is having a toy drive. You’ll want to make sure the following is clear:
The types of toys needed or required.
The toy collection deadline.
Where donors should put the toys. For example, toys should be placed in the collection bins at the main entrance, in the lobby.
Whether cash donations will be accepted in lieu of toys, for those that are unable to purchase toys due to time constraints. How should they make the donation? If giving online, should they type “toy drive” when making their donation?
Whether “toy drive” should be written on the giving envelope.
All of these instructions and more have to be clarified and spelled out to improve the chances of success of your drive.
Common Church Communication Problems
Keep a watchful eye on your communications to ensure you avoid the following.
Ambiguity In The Message
Clarity and specificity are important when crafting your messages—this helps to ensure your messages are clear, well understood, and received by the target audience.
An ambiguous message or announcement might simply state: the senior pastor is meeting with church leadership next Sunday after service.
A clear and specific version of the same message might read: the senior pastor is meeting with elders and associate pastors next Sunday after service to discuss plans for the annual summer picnic event.
Too Many Events
If you schedule too many back-to-back events, You might wear out your congregation, and you shouldn’t be surprised at a poor turnout at your church events. Your congregation is just tired and needs to recuperate from last week’s event that required all hands on deck and 2 months of planning.
Does the day and time of the event work for the majority of the intended audience? Not many people will show up if you set a meeting for 6 pm and the majority of those that are expected at the meeting do not finish work until 5.30 pm or 6 pm.
Lack Of Post-Event Meeting
Holding a post-event meeting can help you and your staff analyze how the event went, what could be done better, and what went well, so that you can improve future events.
Let’s say you are planning a repeat of an event that was held before, but the previous event did not meet expectations. If you don’t hold a post-event meeting, solicit feedback, or create a survey to help with improvements at the next event, you can expect a similar disappointing result at the second event.
Go, Implement, & Excel
Implementing all of the aforementioned will not only help to improve the communication practices at your church, it will also lead to better turnout at your events. I hope these strategies will also enable you to identify other areas for improvement in your church communication practices.
If you’re having trouble getting your church communications in order (or even the general administration and management of your church), consider using church management software or a broader church software to start running things smoothly.
I would not be serving my local community today if it weren’t for a dedicated church communication strategy, and more than likely, neither would you. Communication is the very lifeblood of society and humanity as a whole. Without it, meaning and the sharing of information is impossible.
As such, communication is a major key to sharing the gospel of Jesus. If we do not and cannot actively communicate, there is no way to share the Good News like Jesus did (Luke 8:1). Unfortunately, building a comprehensive and efficient church communication strategy is easier said than done.
Here are the topics that we are tackling to help you with this:
A church communication strategy is the means by which you express the gospel to those around you. There are many forms and steps that it takes, and these can differ for each church. This strategy requires careful planning and mindfulness for those who a church is trying to reach.
At its core, church communication strategy is the method of growing and building your community of believers. Communication is the foundational way that we as humans connect, and strategically picking how we do so can spiritually expand the four walls of the church.
It does not happen by accident but necessitates the heartfelt, prayerful intention of the church’s leaders and congregation. In my time in full-time ministry, I see church communication strategy as one of the most crucial parts of sharing God’s message to the world.
Church Communication Plans
Developing a physical, tangible plan for how you communicate is highly recommended. Though some churches are able to grow without the need for schedules, spreadsheets, or dozens of pages of documents, others will benefit from the structure that it provides.
Having a clear picture and idea of what you are trying to communicate, and how you will do it, can prepare your leadership in a great way. This gives a common goal that is easy to grasp and you will more clearly understand the results, too. That is why we previously created a dedicated guide just for making church communication plans.
If you want in-depth insight into how to form a plan of action across multiple forms of communication, including helpful templates, that guide is for you.
How To Develop A Church Communications Strategy?
When it comes to your overall church communication strategy, there are several steps that you should follow. These steps will guide you along the way to finding out what works best for your church. Every community is different, but these steps are a guideline by which you can successfully build your church.
1. Define Your Environment
To start out on the right foot, you need to first look around at your environment. This includes not just the church and its building(s), but the area around it as well. The ultimate goal for us as Christians is to spread the gospel to the entire world, but we cannot just jump straight to that step.
We, first, need to build up to that and it begins with the immediate area around us. The city, county, region, state, and province that we are in is our environment. Start small and clearly define what is happening in your area. Why this is important is because your church’s environment on one side of the world will be completely different than someone else’s on the other side of the world.
There can even be dramatically different situations between churches in the same state, let alone country. It is crucial that you understand the types of people that you are trying to communicate the message of salvation to.
In my experience, our organization initially saw the immediate needs of those in a small neighborhood known as Echo Park, then gradually expanded to involve places like Skid Row, the entirety of LA County, and eventually other nearby places like Long Beach.
Once you define the environment and the needs around you, you can then start to meet those needs and communicate properly. It is imperative that you know the people that live around you every day.
2. Focus On Your Values
Once you know who you are communicating with, it is then important to decide what you will be saying to them. This is where your values come into play. The Bible is universal and necessary for every church, but there are some parts that will be helpful with the situations in your community.
You need to determine the values that your church has, so that you can be transparent in your messages to the community around you. This means creating the fundamentals by which your church stands. What do you believe in? What sort of events do you have each week? What are the goals you have in mind?
These answers may be obvious to you, but it is not necessarily the case for someone unfamiliar with your church. You should be ready to communicate these values clearly so that even the newest believer has an idea of what they are getting involved with.
3. Craft A Flexible Message
With your audience and values in mind, it is time to create your means of communication and messaging. This can be the make it or break it point for some churches in forming their church communication strategy. Above all else, it is imperative that you craft flexible messaging for use everywhere.
The Bible is the versatile form of God’s Word that was created for all people of all ages of all generations. Just as it remains a flexible communication from God, so should the church’s strategy. The values that you have are not meant for a single form of media or one person; it should be malleable to the point of including anyone and everyone at any time.
What this means in practice is that you should be communicating across multiple fields and forms. With these same values in mind, you should execute them in a way that will make sense for the traditional face-to-face meetings with people in your community as well as online in the modern digital age.
Though the words and method may change considerably, the meaning should never. This way, no matter how someone finds out about your church, they will have the same knowledge of it as everyone else.
4. Distribution Is Key
With the modern style of communication, it is vastly different from even at the time of Jesus. This is where your distribution must be flexible as well. Churches should communicate with prospective and current members through a variety of ways. This ensures that everyone gets the message and in the right way for them.
Social media, for instance, is a huge part of modern church communication strategy. If your church does not already have a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, get on that. These are the bare minimum and I think that is even putting it too lightly.
These days, churches should also have a digital service available. Stream your services online on YouTube and elsewhere, or, at the very least, record it for later uploading as a video or podcast. Whether or not you personally agree with church members attending online from their home, this is a must these days for integrating new members and keeping old ones.
Finally on the topic of communication channels, there is TikTok. This is a rising social media app that I highly recommend to any church looking to grow. This is where the younger possible churchgoers will be and the church needs to be there, too, to meet their needs. Communicating your announcements, services, and events online in goofy short social media posts using trending sounds can set your church apart from everyone else.
Of course, you should not forget about the old-fashioned methods of communication as well. Going door-to-door for follow ups, passing out flyers, setting up posters, and all that can still be effective. I know this from personal experience. We dedicated entire days of the week at the LA Dream Center just to pass out flyers in our community.
5. Remember The Goal
Lastly, the final key to excellent church communication strategy is always remembering why you are running this race (Acts 20:24). In every little step that you take, always seek God and His assistance in the matter. Make sure that every part of your strategy aligns with him and that nothing is taken for granted.
With such busy lives and so many avenues for communication, it can be tough to keep up with everything. People can be lost in the process, due to neglect of the church and forgetting about what really matters. This is a common mistake that I’ve found these days.
If necessary, take steps back sometimes and look at the bigger picture. If it is too much for your team to handle, that means it is time to get more help or refocus. Never let the strategy, plans, and methods of saving souls cause you to lose sight of those people.
No matter how big or small your church is, always remember why we are doing this. In my department, we ran programs dealing with over 2000 kids a week in the Los Angeles area. It is a lot to manage and it took a lot of people to make it happen. Sometimes it was a struggle and we made mistakes but we always tried to do the small things.
These include visiting someone’s home to see how they’re doing, bringing cookies or treats just to let someone know you’re thinking of them, sending out personal text messages to first-time guests, and so on. Try not to focus so much on the strategy that you forget the goal.
Internal Church Communication Strategy
A key part about church communication strategy is knowing the differences and similarities between internal and external. Ultimately, they should be one and the same, but there are parts that are unique to each. The internal strategy constitutes your plan when it comes to communicating with the already present congregation.
In this, I think that transparency is absolutely crucial. If we cannot be clear with our church staff and members as communicators, this can lead to distrust. That, in turn, can lead to discourse and the divorce of a church with itself. Even with the difficult topics and scenarios, it is imperative that the church leaders come together and decide a way to communicate what happened with the body.
It is also important for us as church communicators to recognize that some members are at various parts of their walk with Christ. Some are new to this, others have been here for decades, and still others are returning after being away. Each of these scenarios, and the countless individual ones within each category, needs to be handled slightly differently. Adjust your communication plans to welcome and further each group equally.
External Church Communication Strategy
External communication is just as important as internal communication. One cannot succeed without the other. Outside of your church are the possible new members that we would want to add to the community in Christ. This is where outreach, evangelism, community events, and more can be impactful.
Observe and understand the world outside of the four walls of the church building. Use that knowledge to plan events and outreaches that make sense. Pour into non-profits and connect with other churches and organizations that are like-minded.
Figure out a way to seamlessly integrate new members from outside the church into the church community without stopping there. You should always have a strategy for how you will keep someone connected into the church and knowing what’s going on, such as a next steps program and small groups. Make sure that your church website, social media, and everything else is accessible and understandable to anyone that sees it.
Church Communication Style Guide
When it comes to external communication specifically, the style or brand of your church is powerful. You are essentially advertising yourself, so you want to make sure that everything you do is cohesive. This is why, as cheesy as it is, you should market your church’s brand wherever possible.
Every website and social media page you are on, all of the church newsletters you hand out, every Easter event that you hold, and so on should have the same logos, color scheme, and brand. Creating this unified front will ensure that everyone immediately knows who you are and what you do. Your team members should be on the same page as well.
This is especially important if you have more than one church plant or campus. For example, it is possible you’ve heard of a ministry called the Dream Center. The LA Dream Center is the original but there are hundreds around the world that are connected to the source. If you know what the first center does, chances are you already know some of what the partnered centers do, like the one in Australia.
This same idea should apply to your church’s communication, online presence, branding, and marketing. Choose a fun logo, name, and style that is consistent across everything you do. Make t-shirts with it, ensure your church’s website showcases your style, make signs for the church that are instantly recognizable, and use it anywhere else where members of your church, as well as people outside the church, might see it.
Create Your Church Communication Strategy Today
Church communication strategy can be one of the most daunting tasks, and one that many ignore because of it. It takes effort, budgets, people, and spiritual guidance to make it happen. However, if you are able to effectively communicate your church and beliefs to everyone inside and outside of your congregation, you will be in the best position to expand the Kingdom.
I implore you to create a cohesive brand for your church, and start sharing your values to your community in a way that makes sense for your area. And never forget the reason why we are doing this, no matter how large you get, so that your God-driven communication goal is not lost in the process.
The purpose of this series is to teach you how to grow your youth group into a youth church through three methods: leadership, discipleship, and fun. All three are vital for preteens and teens to grow into successful adults who will be great contributors to your church or wherever they end up in life.
As a church grows, it attracts many different types of people and families. Families, of course, mean young people. In this series, we will deal with youth. Children, in the definition that we used at the church where I was assistant youth pastor, were elementary age. Youth were middle and high school age with a grace period up to 21-years-old at most.
I’m Lexie Schmidt, and, of all the positions I have had in the church, I loved being a youth pastor the best. So, let’s get into youth churches and what makes them different from a typical youth group.
The primary difference between a youth group and a youth church is the focus or purpose of the meetings and the investment of time and effort when the group is not in service. For instance, a youth group might meet Wednesday nights during adult church and not do much outside of that.
The youth church might have its own night for service, or might take one from the adults (with the lead pastor’s permission, of course). Functionally, your youth church should be a church-within-a-church.
The second issue is the focus on developing leaders. The adult church develops elders, deacons, and other lay leaders and can prepare people to become clergy. A youth church does the same thing, except the people are younger.
Third, a youth church is a safe harbor for young people who might be going through a difficult time as they move from childhood to adulthood. Physical, mental, and emotional changes wreak havoc on teens, and a constantly shifting network of friends and enemies disorients them to say the least.
If it sounds like you have a youth group, and you want to change things for the better, read on! This is going to be fun.
Growth Through Leadership
The first step in beginning a youth church is developing members of your youth group into spiritual leaders among their peers. This part will show you how to identify, teach, and promote young people into a core group around which you will build the rest of your youth church.
While we are focusing on youth leaders here, your adult leadership team, the youth pastor and other older supervisors, should all be well-versed in your entire plan for your youth church. As amazing as your young people can become, they still feel peer pressure, so you need enough adult voices to mitigate those influences.
Also, you are dealing with minors, so all adults should be fully vetted through background checks and interviews. We’ll get more into safety later in this series.
Identifying Youth Leaders
Young people present a unique problem: they are still growing. While many adults do not know who they are yet, it is true that teens, for the most part, have no idea who they want to be. Adolescence is the time when a person gets to try out any number of new facets.
The ever-changing roles that teenagers play as they find themselves make your job harder, compared to finding what works for your adult church members. The important thing is to never box a teen into a role. The more they can breathe, the more they will grow.
The Natural Leader
Natural leaders are the ones that others look up to without trying. Maybe it’s a guitar player or a singer on your worship team. It might be an athlete or the lead pastor’s kid. This leader is always the center of a conversation, even when they aren’t around.
Natural leaders like to be the center of attention because they usually are. They’re used to the spotlight, and they like it. They might not think to volunteer for the youth church if they learned their leadership skills through sports or academics or other non-church activities.
Natural leaders, like all others, have a number of advantages and traits to look out for.
Charismatic. Natural leaders are usually the ones who are best at preaching and singing, and being seen.
Teachable. Since their leadership often pulls them into situations such as team sports, they can usually identify authority figures and know how to listen.
Strong-willed. These leaders are normally the ones who cause peer pressure instead of succumbing to it, but they are not immune. Still, their influence can be used for good.
Traits to look out for:
Proud. Since these leaders tend to be naturally gifted, many of them have been praised for their talents all their lives. In the worst cases, they will only take criticism or advice from an authority figure.
Questionable Work Ethic. We see this every year when college football players are drafted because of their amazing talent, but they fizzle out because they don’t put in the work. Not every natural leader has this problem, but you will run into it once in a while.
Entitled. The quarterback on my high school football team never did homework because he got the girls to do it for him. He was definitely smart enough to do the work himself, but he didn’t feel like he had to. Again, this is something to look out for, not a guarantee.
I see natural leaders as being like Simon Peter: loud, brash, and bold, but in desperate need of polish before being ready to lead. Whichever type of natural leader you identify, remember that they can be some of your most dynamic leaders as long as you learn their specific weaknesses and help strengthen them.
The Servant Leader
Servant leaders hardly ever need to be recruited. They are always ready and willing to help. While a natural leader leads through command, servant leaders lead through example. Many of them do not realize that others look up to them. Some even cross into being too humble.
Once again, in a reflection of the natural leader, the servant leader will usually need to be thrust into the light, rather than seeking it out. However, given the opportunity, many servant leaders turn out to be hiding amazing gifts and talents that can even rival the natural leaders. It is up to you to bring your leaders and their talents to the front.
Volunteer. To be Christian is to be Christ-like, and volunteering is generally considered one of the most Christ-like things to do. Churches run on volunteers.
Knowledgeable. Hand-in-hand with volunteering is knowing how the church runs. Many times the path to leadership roles and greater responsibility comes through knowing how to get things done.
Listener. A good servant learns how to listen to accomplish the goals of the church. When they move into leadership roles, such as peer support, their ability to listen becomes invaluable.
Traits to look out for:
Background. These usually are not your rock stars and sports stars. They tend to be people who just want to help, nothing more. It’s fine for someone to just volunteer, but that one kid who is an hour early to every service to help setup and stays an hour late to help teardown needs to know that they are called to greater things.
Humility. Jesus showed his humility and service through the washing of feet and the serving of food. Jesus also spoke forcefully when the need arose. Servant leaders sometimes need permission to be strong-willed. We will get into that in the teaching section.
Quiet. Servants get too used to listening. Even when they are in charge of a project, they might not speak loud enough for people to hear or respect. Help them find their voice. Just as the natural leader has a voice but sometimes lacks the work ethic, the servant leader has all the work ethic but lacks a voice.
The first attribute to look for is the kid who is always there. They always ask what to do next. They might even get anxious when everything is done. Your first thought about a servant leader might be that they are annoying. Let that feeling ring a bell in your mind that this person who just won’t leave you alone is actually on a path to leadership.
I compare servant leaders to James: you don’t hear much from him, but, when he does speak, it’s important. Of all three types of leaders, these ones are the easiest to overlook, so always be sure you know who is getting the jobs done in your youth church.
The Reluctant Leader
Reluctant is not the most accurate word for these leaders. When I was assistant youth pastor for 500 teens and young adults, we found that these people almost always had to be dragged into leadership. Several just refused to join the team, and we respected that decision, but we did not agree with it.
So, if “reluctant” is not the most accurate word, what is? Scholar. Seriously, these are people who will bug you constantly about minutia of scripture and Biblical accuracy and so on. Some will even take notes on your sermons and ask you to address certain points. They have been known to induce rage among pastors, but, Good Lord, do they make for amazing teachers.
While that might sound mostly negative, reluctant leaders have a range of advantages as well.
Intelligent. Possibly the smartest people in your church, adult or youth. They constantly question everything about the universe and their place in it. Directed at specific issues, they are problem solvers.
Diligent. Some of the best note takers I have ever known. They tend to be organized, efficient, and calculated.
Cautious. Reluctant leaders also got their name from this trait. They think before they speak or act. They plan for failure and learn from it to mitigate pain in the future.
Traits to look out for:
Overthinkers. Many suffer from “paralysis-by-analysis” when presented with a difficult problem. Another reason behind their name as well. A reluctant leader who learns to trust their instincts becomes a force to be reckoned with.
Slow. Since they constantly reevaluate how things work to find better methods, they can get bogged down in the finer details of processes that already work. The concept of diminishing returns can be lost on them.
Reluctant. Too much caution becomes reluctance, and your leader does nothing. Motivational talks work sometimes, but training in confidence and self esteem works wonders in this area.
Reluctant leaders, when asked if they have any interest in ministry or leadership, often reply, “Oh, I’m just asking questions!” The proper answer is to offer them exactly what they want: answers to more questions. Later on, we will talk about hungry minds, but these minds are starving.
I compare reluctant leaders to Paul: greatly intelligent, but driven in the wrong direction until he was pointed to the right scriptures to complete his transformation. They are the most difficult to recruit, but they make the biggest impact of the three types of youth leaders.
Teaching Youth Leaders
Maybe, as you read the previous section, some of your youth, or even adult, church members sprung to mind. If so, then you are well on your way to gathering potential leaders into a discipleship program. But what is a discipleship program, and how do you develop one to fit you?
A discipleship program prepares regular church members for leadership roles. It ensures that they know the stances that you and your denomination (if any) hold on spiritual issues and gives them the knowledge to deal with various situations—especially when a situation needs to be sent upward to ordained clergy.
Because each denomination has its own set of beliefs and rituals, I cannot give a one-size-fits-all curriculum for you. I can teach you how to develop your own. I’ll also help you figure out how many leaders you need for your youth church and show a few examples of how you can give your youth leaders opportunities for success.
Developing A Curriculum
First, develop your tier system. You should not model it after the adult church, and you should definitely not take the adult ranks and put “youth” in front of them. Nothing sounds worse to a teen than “Youth Deacon”. Nothing sounds less thought out than “Youth Elder”.
I would encourage you to give your youth church a theme and name the tiers after them. Each rank should have both educational and service requirements. We are focusing on education here, and we will get into service requirements in the section on promoting youth leaders.
Your first tier above your church members would simply be someone who knows the basic tenets or catechisms of your denomination (or foundational principles, if non-denominational). Typically, this course of education should not be longer than 8 weeks or shorter than 4 weeks.
The next tier should understand the more advanced concepts of your denomination’s views and be able to apply scripture to various situations. This course needs to prepare them to be peer counselors with a focus on knowing when to bring a situation up the ranks. For my youth church, this tier was about six months of training.
The final tier, for my youth pastor and I, was more tailored to the individual and lasted for at least a year. By the end of this tier, a person could preach sermons and lead prayer groups, if called upon to do so. For my part, I was assisting my youth pastor in preparing his sermons and was leading the entire volunteer group that switched the main auditorium to the youth configuration during this period of my training.
You may decide that you want more tiers or fewer tiers, but the important part is that they are challenging, exciting, and dynamic. For larger groups, like the first tier, you can make lessons out of games and contests. In our youth church, each tier had its own color T-shirt, and we made getting a new shirt a constant goal. Whatever you decide, be sure to keep up the energy and excitement.
How Many Leaders Do I Need?
Typically, for every 50 youth, you need at least one adult leader for supervision. I have found that is the maximum one person can keep an eye on. This includes the youth pastor and any former youth who have aged out of the youth church but have stayed on as adult leadership.
For the youth leaders, we would take as many who wanted to join the leadership team. This does not mean that all of them get automatically promoted at the end of their current tier of training. A youth pastor can probably only give the personalized pre-ministry training of a top-tier leader to one or two people at a time. You can have people from higher tiers help train those of lower tiers which definitely reduces strain.
That doesn’t quite answer the question, though. For worship leaders, take anyone who can play an instrument. Band members come and go all the time. Musicians are flighty. Singers are usually more stable, so take as many as you have microphones for or can fit on your stage. Peer counselors should be trained up to around 1 for every 20 church members. They can help pray at the end of service as well.
Don’t forget the volunteers who help with setup and teardown. This number will depend almost entirely on your space and equipment. This is another area where we took as many people as possible who were willing to listen.
Giving Youth Leaders Opportunities To Use Their Skills
The purpose of this education is to train your youth leaders with the skills to help both their peers and themselves succeed as humans and as Christians. With training, you pass your skills to your trainees. And then, comes practice.
So, do we send them out to their peers without guidance? Absolutely not. Have them shadow their trainer for a few instances. Always get the consent of the person who is being helped. Any pastor knows that some situations our congregants bring us are very sensitive, so don’t force a person to take part in the training of someone else.
If you are training someone who is called to preach, start them small with an offering sermon or a call to prayer. Have them speak to smaller groups for Bible study or lower tier training. For worship leaders, switch the lead vocalist in each service or even from one song to the next. Give your leaders space to shine and grow in their talents.
Inevitably, a youth leader will fail in their assignment. Such is the hazard of being human. You get far more out of them by being kind and supportive and helping them learn than by being harsh and punitive. The resiliency of young people astonished me even when I was young myself. Second chances make for great leaders.
Promoting Youth Leaders
The answer to this is both simple and complex: promote your leaders when they are ready. Knowing when they are ready takes time, patience, and development of your skills as a teacher and trainer. You will make mistakes along the way, especially in the beginning, but you will get there. I promise.
Let’s look at an example of leadership tiers and their requirements for completion. After that we’ll look at how to identify the best place for leaders to lead. Finally, we will talk a bit about the process of training someone to go into the ministry.
An Example Of Leadership Tiers And Requirements
I laid out a broad example in the previous section, but now, I am going to get a little detailed. The primary reason we used a tier system for our leadership team was to ensure that the people at the top, our inner circle, were there for the right reasons and had the best intentions.
For that reason, tier 1 was open to all. Many youth would drop out during this, which is fine. People, oftentimes, like the idea of leadership without wanting the work that goes with it. The requirements were a six-week course and a half-hour of volunteering before or after service every week. Upon completion, they got their first T-shirt and a 3-ring binder to put their course work in.
Tier 2 was a little more exclusive, and the requirements themselves stopped most people from even signing up. Six months of training and an hour of volunteering before and after every service is a tough sell, but these leaders would be trusted to lead small groups, pray with their peers, and head sections of the youth church. An upgraded T-shirt and a special prayer for those being promoted were their completion rewards.
Tier 3 was only completed by a few people before I left that church. As far as I know, three total people finished, me being one, with two or three more in the process. Several people started and dropped out. The requirements were one year, minimum, of training and we basically lived at church. This included challenges like “Read the Bible Start to Finish in Three Months” and other intense training. Basically, a person could go from here to Bible college without missing a beat.
Certain leadership roles had special requirements. Anyone on the worship team or other role that put them in front of the crowd had to also volunteer on behind-the-scenes duties like stuffing bulletins or stacking chairs. Tier 3 trainees also had to preach at least once a month. I fulfilled that by preaching in the children’s church on Sunday mornings for about 6 months.
While these requirements may seem steep, remember that you are dealing with teens and young adults who will be acting in leadership roles that many times are held by people two or three times their age in the adult church. If they are not prepared, they will do more harm than good, and it will be on the person who trained them…you.
Assigning Your Leaders To Their Best Positions
The solution here is just simple: try things out until they work. Your worship team will mostly figure it out on their own and come running. Occasionally, you might have to coax someone into worship, but not often. The other positions in your youth church will always be in flux which is not a bad thing.
Remember that I said the purpose of all this education and training is to make your youth successful humans and Christians. Sometimes, the best way to find success is to try a number of different things. Lucky for everyone involved, young people grow up and move on as they should. This means that every year spots that once were held by some will be vacant again. Other times, a leader might ask for a new assignment because they are not being fulfilled where they are.
As the minds of your teens grow, they will change and need to seek out new areas for growth. Allow it. The more they try as leaders, the more well-rounded they will become. Nothing bad comes from letting them try to lead in different ways. You never know what new skills they will unlock.
Assisting Youth Leaders Who Have A Call For Ministry
I have been a part of churches that would allow on-the-job training to lead to ordination and churches that require formal education at a Bible college or seminary. The type of church that you are a part of may change your specific approach for this section, but the principles will apply whether a youth leader works into ordination or goes to college after they pass your final tier (Tier 3 in my example).
As we train young people, some will realize that preaching or leading worship or some other aspect of ministry is their calling in life. So, what can we do? In short, you make them your shadow and provide all the support they need to be successful. In long, think about your own troubles and issues as you studied and trained to be minister and try to smooth those bumps in the road.
That is not to say you should make it easy. Rather, you should not make it harder, and you should clear some of the stumbling blocks in front of your student. By this time, you should know them as well as anyone else in the world. Teach them how to learn. It is our greatest skill as pastors.
Growth Through Leadership: What Have We Learned?
So, this was a lot, wasn’t it? We learned a lot about how a youth church looks and how to build a core of youth leaders through teaching and training them to be the best person they were born to be. Young people are our greatest resource, so let’s give every tool they can use to be successful.
In Part 2: Growth Through Discipleship, I will teach you how to tailor your approach to keep the minds of not just your leaders but your whole youth ministry engaged. We will look at how to deal with the emotional lives of teens and how to take their wonderful minds and powerful emotions and create a force of change in the world.