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How To Conduct Church Financial Management + Best Practices

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

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

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

How To Manage Your Church’s Finances

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

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

How To Create A Church Budget

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

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

Part 1: Evaluating Current Financial Health

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

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

Part 2: Determining Short- And Long-Term Goals

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

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

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

Special Tax Considerations For Churches

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

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

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

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

Best Practices For Church Financial Management

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

Structuring Financial Oversight

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

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

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

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

The finance committee’s duties include:

  • Creating policies
  • Managing funds
  • Keeping financial records

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

Improving Financial Stewardship

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

Some common methods for monitoring your finances are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Use Church Management Software

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

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

  • Attendance and membership trackers
  • Financial management tools
  • Communication aids
  • Event and volunteer organizers
  • Website builders

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

Get Started With Church Financial Management

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

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

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10 Best Church Database Software For Information Management [2022]

Records-keeping is critical for any organization, and churches are no exception. Churches need to keep a record of their properties, financial assets, resources, and memberships. 

Although some churches still keep manual records of this information, using software to maintain these records can help make records-keeping easier and error-free. 

According to Pew Research, there are around 248 million Christians in the United States. Imagine the workforce it takes to maintain and keep track of 248 million member records. 

This article will introduce you to some of the best church database software for information management and how you can use them to improve how you manage your church.

Shortlist 

  1. ChurchTrac 
  2. ACS Suite
  3. Planning Center
  4. ChurchSuite 
  5. Elvanto 
  6. Tithe.ly 
  7. Blackbaud Church Management
  8. Faith Teams 
  9. ChurchTeams 
  10. FellowshipOne 

Comparison Criteria

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

1.   User Interface (UI): A church database software should have a clean user interface so church members can quickly find the features they need. 

2.   Usability: A church database is software for use not just of church leaders but volunteers and church members, so it needs to be user-friendly even to those who are not tech-savvy

3.   Integrations: Church leaders often use a church database software together with other church management software, so it needs to be compatible with other tools and applications

4.   Value for $: Churches often operate on limited funds, so I look for a church database software packed with useful software features but with reasonable pricing. 

Church Database Solutions: Key Features

  1. Membership management: Allows users to maintain a database of church members, their profiles, and contact information
  2. Volunteer management: Allows church leaders to maintain a database of church volunteers and assign tasks during church events.
  3. Fund accounting: Allows users to keep a database of church funds and the projects and activities they support
  4. Donation management: Allows users to accept and maintain a record of donations.
  5. Communication tools: Enables church leaders to communicate with church members via messages from the church website, its social media account, text messages, or emails. 

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Overviews Of The 10 Best Church Database Software Solutions

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

1. Churchtrac – Best for small to mid-sized churches

Churchtrac Church Database Software Screenshot
Churchtrac provides you with unlimited tagging options so you can assign members to different groups.

Churchtrac is an all-in-one church management software you can use to manage your church membership database so you can get to know your members better. You can use it to plan worship services and schedule volunteers, ensuring that worship services will go smoothly. It has a giving feature to help you accept donations through checks, online donations, and text giving, ensuring that you have enough funds to sustain your ministry and all of its programs. 

Churchtrac is the best database software for your church if you want to find group members because of its unlimited tagging options easily. With Churchtrac, you can tag members in the different groups and use the tags as filters making searches easier. You can create custom tags if you have unique groups that don’t match pre-set tags. 

Churchtrac is free church management software but has paid plans that start at $5/month/up to 75 members, and they offer a 30-day free trial.  

2. ACS Suite – Robust church database app with accounting suite

ACS Suite Church Database Software Screenshot
ACS users have access to graphs and reports to present data to members and stakeholders. 

ACS is a church management software you can use to capture and manage member profiles, contact information, history, family relations, and notes, allowing you to get to know your members better. You can use the software to create picture directories to place faces on member names and have a visual aid to recognize members faster. ACS Suite can also help you keep a database of your interactions with church members that you can use as a guide on how to proceed with future interactions and plans on how to improve stewardship programs. 

ACS is the best church database software if you need to present church information because it has customizable pie charts, line graphs, bar graphs, and reports you can use. It also lets you create up to three statistical reports with custom setup options so you can prepare and present the data that you require. With the help of ACS’s reporting capabilities, you can take an in-depth look at the state of your church membership, so you’ll know which areas you need to improve on.  

ACS Suite pricing is available upon request. 

3. Planning Center – Church database with membership management & a calendar

Planning Center Church Database Software Screenshot
Planning Center lets you create and maintain a database of church groups, including archived ones.

Planning Center is a suite of tools you can use to record and maintain critical information about your church and its members. It has a calendar functionality you can use to schedule events and track rooms and resources to avoid scheduling conflicts. Planning Center has a membership management feature to record and organize the personal details of church members like contact information, group memberships, church history, and others. 

Planning Center is the best church database software if your church has many active small groups because it has a group management feature you can use to maintain a database of groups and their members. The software lets you add a comprehensive description of a group and its goals to help encourage new members. You can also use Planning Center to share useful documents, videos, audio, and other files to specific groups to help both the group and its members grow. 

Planning Center integrates with other church management tools, including ProPresenter, PushPay, Worship Extreme, Zapier, etc. 

Each Planning Center module starts at $14/month, and you can get as many add-on modules as you need. 

4. ChurchSuite – Best database to integrate newcomers

ChurchSuite Church Database Software Screenshot
ChurchSuite allows users to append notes, ensuring that you attend to all the needs of your youth ministry.

ChurchSuite is a cloud-based church management software solution for keeping your church members’ details in a secure, centralized location. It can help you maintain a database of important member information like contact details, family members, birthdays, and anniversaries, ensuring that you have access to critical information that will help you minister to members effectively. It has a suite of communication tools so you can send emails or text messages to church members and communicate crucial information about church events and services. 

ChurchSuite is the best church management software if you have many young members because it allows you to securely track and manage your church’s youth and children’s ministry. It has a built-in child check-in functionality to help assure parents that the church is looking after the security and welfare of their children. You can use ChurchSuite to sort children by age group to help you formulate age-appropriate programs and events.

ChurchSuite pricing starts at $21.50/month/license, and they offer a 30-day free trial.  

5. Elvanto – Church database with custom form builder

Elvanto Church Database Software Screenshot
Church leaders can use Elvanto to create custom forms to capture member details and augment their database.

Elvanto is a SaaS church management system for handling administrative tasks like maintaining your church calendar, managing membership database, worship planning, volunteer scheduling, and donor management. It has built-in templates allowing you to send mass emails and SMS to relay critical information to all members. Elvanto has a mobile app version that works on iOS and Android mobile devices so church volunteers can participate in event planning and collaborate with fellow volunteers. 

Elvanto is the best church management system if you want to create custom forms to obtain membership details because of its form builder feature. Elvanto’s form builder feature provides you with customizable forms you can use for group memberships, worship services, fund-raising events, and others. This gives you complete control over the type of information you want to obtain for your church database. You can embed forms on your church website so you can automatically sync information, ensuring that your church database is constantly updated. 

Elvanto integrates with other church management and productivity apps like SongSelect, PayPal, MailChimp, and Stripe. 

Elvanto pricing starts at $50/month/license, and they provide a free demo upon request.

6. Tithe.ly – Best donation database

Tithe.ly Church Database Software Screenshot
Tithe.ly enables church administrators and leaders to keep an accurate record of donors, their contact information, and their donation history. 

Tithe.ly is a giving platform that churches of all sizes can use to provide members with a wide variety of options for providing financial assistance to the ministry. You can use Tithe.ly to add or update your church members’ contact details, profile images, family members, and other important details you can use to minister to them. Tithe.ly also allows you to conduct background checks for new members and volunteers, ensuring that you protect the other members of your congregation. 

Tithe.ly is the best church management system if you want to manage your church’s fund-raising efforts because it has digital giving tools. You can use this ChMS to keep track of your church’s offline and online giving, like cash and check gifts, ensuring that you can keep tabs on your cash inflow. You can use Tithe.ly to generate comprehensive reports of your gifts, deposits, and other financial transactions, giving you a clear idea of your church’s financial health.  

Tithe.ly pricing starts at $19/month/license plus a one-time setup fee of $149. 

7. Blackbaud Church Management – Best volunteer database

Blackbaud Church Management Church Database Software Screenshot
Blackbaud provides you with a means of maintaining a database of volunteers you can activate for church activities and events.

Blackbaud is a church management software with people and event management capabilities to help you grow your church. It has a reporting and analytics feature to help you gain insights about your church and how you can guide your ministries. You can use Blackbaud’s email function to send follow-ups to specific members or provide updates to the entire congregation about upcoming church events and activities.  

If your church conducts many events and activities like outreach programs, family weekends, or Sunday schools, then Blackbaud is the best church database software for you because of its volunteer management feature. You can use Blackbaud to store volunteer information enabling you to match specific roles to volunteers ensuring that volunteers get assigned roles that match their skillset. You can also use Blackbaud for attendance tracking of volunteers, so you know which volunteers have records of absences so you can reassign them to groups that will pique their interest. 

Blackbaud pricing and demo are available upon request. 

8. Faith Teams – Best dashboards & reports

Faith Teams Church Database Software Screenshot
Faith Teams can help you plan and execute smooth sailing worship services.

Faith Teams is an all-in-one church management system you can use to maintain an updated member directory, ensuring you can get in touch with members to minister to them. It has a contribution management feature so you can track contributions and print year-end statements for donors for transparency. Faith Teams allows you to add an unlimited number of members into your database, making it ideal for large churches and small churches hoping to increase its membership.

Faith Teams is the best church database software to provide excellent worship services to church members because it has a service planner feature. The software lets you maintain a database with all the tools you need to deliver successful worship services, including a database of songs, sermons, Bible texts, and multimedia presentations. Faith Teams also allows you to automate the sending of guests’ follow-ups so you can concentrate on making every worship service a success.  

Faith Teams cost $40/month/account, and they offer a 10-day free trial.

9. ChurchTeams – Best for large churches

ChurchTeams Church Database Software Screenshot
ChurchTeams has an automation feature to streamline processes and make database maintenance easier.

ChurchTeams is a church management software with different features like membership management and volunteer management you can use to attend to the needs of your congregation. It has online giving and donation management features to connect to your church accounting software for financial reporting and ensuring compliance with accounting principles. You can use ChurchTeams to share news, sermons, or upcoming events with church members using emails, text messages, your church website, or social media accounts.    

ChurchTeams is the best church database software for your church to streamline workflows because it has an automation feature. For example, when you add new members to your church database, the system can automatically add new members into classes or groups according to pre-set rules, saving you time from manually looking for a group where a new member will fit. During event registrations, you can design an automated workflow that sends thank you text messages to attendees with a link to future church gatherings or events. 

ChurchTeams pricing starts at $37/month/up to 200 people, and they offer a 30-day free trial. 

10. Fellowship One – Best church mobile app builder

Fellowship One Church Database Software Screenshot
FellowshipOne lets you maintain a record of your church’s finances, enabling you to share fund accounting reports to church members.

FellowshipOne is a church management software you can use to create a membership database allowing you to get to know your congregation better. It has a mobile app version that church members can use to update their personal information and contact details, ensuring that you always have updated information about your flock. You can also use the software to maintain a database of church resources like facilities, volunteers, media files, equipment, and others. 

FellowshipOne is the best church database software to ensure a faithful database of your church’s funds because it has a built-in church accounting software. FellowshipOne’s church accounting software is easy to understand and use, making it ideal for churches and non-profit organizations with no full-time CPA employee. You can use the software to track bills, deposits, and budgets, ensuring that you can access financial information in a centralized location. FellowshipOne lets you track receivables and sync them to your central chart of accounts, so you have a financial database to use in assessing your church’s financial health. 

FellowshipOne pricing is available upon request, and they offer a 30-day free trial.

What do you think about this list?

A church needs a record of its members and resources to minister to its flock effectively. Armed with an extensive database, a church leader can plan worship services, outreach programs, and group activities that will suit the needs of church members. 

Aside from church database software, there are other useful software that church leaders can use to manage their congregation, and you can learn more about them by subscribing to The Lead Pastor newsletter.

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Complete Guide To Church Event Management & Planning

Church events are some of the most important services a church can offer, so effective church event management offers powerful opportunities for growth and outreach. These events can teach, unite families, fundraise, and more. The scope of events are only limited by imagination and your resources. Local churches remain vital places where people can safely gather within their community, and successful events are key in drawing those community members into your doors.

I’m Lexie Schmidt, and I have years of experience in church event management. I’ve done everything from act in and help produce yearly plays with a cast of hundreds to organizing weekly hangouts for teenagers. In this article, I’ll teach you the fundamentals of managing the various aspects of your church’s events.

What Is Church Event Management?

Church event management strategies will differ depending on the size of church you have. For instance, a larger church with several hundred members might have an associate pastor who handles event planning, while a megachurch of thousands of members may have a dedicated event planner who is not part of the ministry team. 

The smallest churches may find that their lead pastor or worship leader handles event management. The church I currently go to is so small that our Treasurer, who is also a deacon, is usually the manager for our events.

No matter who is managing your events, a church event manager needs a few qualities to be successful.

  • Organized: Every successful event has this in common. Without organization, your volunteers will not be able to complete their tasks, and the event may result in failure.
  • People-Oriented: Managing an event is as much about managing the volunteers who help put the event on as it is about managing the people being served in the event.
  • Self-Driven: Your event manager should be able to take instructions and complete them through delegating tasks and hands-on intervention when necessary.
  • Shared Vision: The lead pastor should have a clear vision about the goals of the event, and the event manager should share those goals and be able to communicate them clearly and enthusiastically with your volunteers.

What’s The Difference Between An Event And A Project?

illustration of a hammer and hard hat with the label project and a wedding with the label event
Projects and events are distinct, although they do have some similarities.

Before we continue, we should make sure that your event is an event and not a project. It is common for people to use the terms interchangeably, but they are quite distinct. The easiest way to distinguish between an event and a project is to ask yourself who it serves.

An event serves the community, the congregation, or the greater good. 

Event examples include fundraisers like Fun Runs or bake sales, yearly events like Passion Plays or Christmas Pageants, and even Vacation Bible School would be considered an event. The most common event that churches manage is the wedding.

A project is something that directly benefits the church itself, whether the physical building or the spiritual structure. I won’t delve too deeply into projects here, but think about things like repairs, landscaping, or even developing volunteers into leaders.

Events and projects are linked, though. Frequently, projects require resources above the normal amount that your church has. Most types of events can help you generate those resources. So, if you’re in the right place, read on.

Guidelines For Church Event Management & Planning

When I was in active ministry for a megachurch, my main areas of responsibility were stage management for the main church and youth events for the youth church. After hundreds of events, I was able to learn the five steps to successful event management.

Guideline 1: The Plan Is The Key

Without a plan, no one knows what they are doing. My solution was to put plans in binders filled with event details. Hardly any church event is one-off that will never repeat, so keep yourself organized and prepared as events come around again. Your plan should include all the steps to set-up, break-down, and everything in between. Eventually, each type of event should have its own template binder.

I find it helpful to divide each set of instructions into sections based on the areas of responsibility. For example, as a stage manager, lighting, sound, and musicians were under my care. So, in my event binder, I would have a section for each one, plus a section where I wrote instructions for myself in case I was unable to do the event, or I forgot what comes next.

In the church where I worked, we had a very large stage, nearly 200 feet long. For a wedding, lighting would only highlight the center of the stage, where the bridal party would stand as opposed to the entire stage. Our lighting system had specific codes that would program the lights, so those codes were written in the binder. Typically, the lights would be colored to match the bridal party’s dresses and overall theme.

I could continue with each section, but this should give you an idea of the things to put in your plan. When it comes to church event planning, whether a wedding or a fun get-together with your church’s young people, it is not possible to plan too much. The more you plan your first event, the less you have to plan your next church event.

Guideline 2: Know Your Volunteers

Volunteers are the backbone of a church. Without them, we don’t get very far. Take the time to get to know them, their skills, and their passions. The foundation of Christianity is leadership through service, so, as pastors, it is our job to put those who help us serve in positions of success.

Several methods exist to learn who your volunteers are, but my favorite has always been a team dinner. Most commonly, team dinners end up as pizza parties, but feel free to get creative with it. Just be sure to ask about allergies. That’s a mistake I’ll never make twice. If a dinner isn’t feasible (at the time of this writing my current church has canceled all after service dinners due to COVID-19, for instance), you can get on Zoom, send emails, or otherwise engage with your people.

I have been consistently amazed at the things people do in their free time. A steel worker who sews like he was born with a needle in his hand, a housewife who can keep up with professional carpenters, and even children who are better at improvising in difficult situations than their parents. You can never judge a person’s abilities by your first look. Get to know them, and you will find that many of your problems have already been solved.

For a more in-depth look at managing your volunteers, I wrote this article on church volunteer management. It really digs into how to identify and develop your church members.

Guideline 3: Know Your Vendors

One fundamental mistake I see many pastors make is forgetting that their church is a business, at least legally. Specifically, in the US, churches are a commercial business due to their nonprofit tax status under 501c(3). In the smaller churches I have worked in, I’ve seen many pastors go to big box stores and use their tax exempt card, but there is a better way.

As a corporation, most churches are able to buy direct from warehouses and wholesalers of all types. While you may think those big box stores are cheap, their prices are very high compared to what you can find from local vendors. I can’t give specific advice here because prices and availability of products will vary greatly from region to region, but I highly recommend making connections with your local warehousing agents and wholesalers.

For instance, a church retreat might involve camping. You can place orders with a warehouse or wholesaler for the camping supplies (including marshmallows and chocolate!) and pass the savings on to your churchgoers. Tables, chairs, sports equipment, canopies, and everything else your event needs to be successful can be bought near cost. From fun fairs to food drives, any material need can be covered by those local vendors.

In my personal experience, I’ve seen event costs cut in half by making purchase orders from wholesalers rather than pulling those same items off the shelf of a big box store. By shopping smart, you can really stretch your tithes and offerings and even get a return on them.

Guideline 4: There Is No Substitute For Experience

Experience is something that can only come with time. As someone who has had both talent and experience, I can say that experience wins every time. This is why you need to know your volunteers. Your veteran event volunteers should always be training their replacements so that the experience is not lost when the older volunteers retire from serving.

Do this by fostering good friendships and healthy relationships between your older and younger generations. Make sure the communication goes both ways. As much as the older volunteers have to teach, they also have to learn. Young people are fountains of new ideas and rejecting those ideas without considering them is a surefire way to get left behind.

New ideas are not inherently good. In fact, I would estimate about 90% of all new ideas are pretty bad. That’s where the experience comes in to temper the enthusiasm of youth. Show people that you are not afraid to try new things, but also show that everything must be tested to see if it is worthy. Of course, experience will state that new ideas should never be tried on the day of the event.

Guideline 5: Communicate At Each Previous Step

You have binders full of notes, you know your volunteers’ strengths and weaknesses, you’ve found great vendors, and your volunteers have a great amount of experience in the type of event you’re throwing. Now, make it all run smoothly without talking. It’s kind of difficult.

Pastors, especially the lead pastor who preaches every Sunday, are known for their strong voices, usually. If you are not the lead pastor but someone who is taking on the role of church event manager instead, you must find your voice. Sometimes it can be difficult to walk the line between assertive and rude, but experience helps. I never advise yelling or using mean words. You will just discourage people with those techniques.

  • Still, be loud because people like to talk until they are told to listen. 
  • Be clear with your wording. 
  • Write everything down. If it looks strange on paper, it will sound strange in speech. 
  • Make copies of your notes and give each section their own copy. That way they can coordinate with each other and any questions they have will be based on your own words.

Communication makes everything better. Using church event management software can help that. When all else fails, communicate. And if you are struggling with this skill, try following the steps in How To Develop A Church Communications Plan.

Tips & Best Practices For Church Event Management

I have a number of tips and best practices, but the first tip and most important practice is organization. Say it out loud, if you can. “Organize! Organize! Organize!” I stressed the importance of communication and planning in the previous section, because there is nothing to communicate without a plan. Every successful event begins and ends with binders full of notes and schedules.

That said, in addition to organization and communication, I have found the following to be the best practices for pulling off an amazing church event:

  • Excitement: Get your volunteers excited about the event and the goals that define its success.
  • Training: Not every job in an event needs extensive training, but those that do require it should have someone with the right experience. The wrong person in a key position could collapse your event.
  • Teamwork: Just because your volunteers go to the same church, it doesn’t mean they get along. Assign people to sections who work well together and have complementing personalities.
  • Hard work: Putting on events is not easy. Things go wrong quite often. But, hard work in everything from the planning process to event registration will help smooth out the bumps in the road.
  • Praise: While we should always praise the Lord, praising our volunteers will keep up the energy and excitement which will get them through the rough patches.

These are the most important tips I have for a beginner church event manager. As you gain experience, you might come across more of your own. Feel free to share in the comment section below.

Church Event Management Software

To help handle event check-in, credit card processing, RSVPs, and more, you need the best software. Thankfully, this has been covered in depth here in our article on the best church management software.

Church Event Management And You

Successful events are a part of every successful church’s toolkit. By following this guide, you will be able to create a workflow that will extend your church’s community outreach through fun and exciting events. Along the way, you might even find new church leaders that will help you grow as you approach the future.

Thank you for reading with me this far. I sincerely hope that you found the answers you needed. For any further questions, comment below and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. I’ve been Lexie, and you’ve been wonderful today!

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Article How To

Complete How-To Guide To Church Records Management

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

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

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

In this article, I’ll cover:

What Kind Of Records Should Your Church Keep? 

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

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

How Long Should A Church Keep Records? 

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

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

According to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA):

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

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

Records to be kept permanently:

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

Records to be kept 10 years:

  • Insurance policies

Records to be kept seven years:

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

Records to be kept two years:

  • Time cards and time sheets
  • Individual offering envelopes

How To Manage Church Records

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

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

Create A Policy For Record Management

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

Identify The Church Records That You’re Going To Manage

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

Implement A Retention Schedule 

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

Establish Retention And Destruction Policies 

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

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

How To Improve The Process For Church Records Management 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related Read: 10 Best Church Data Management Systems In 2022

Consider Church Management Software

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

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

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

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

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

Keep Your Church Thriving With Strong Records Management 

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

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Article How To

Ultimate Guide To Church Leadership Roles And Responsibilities

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

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

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

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

Here’s what I’ll cover:

Types Of Church Leadership Roles 

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

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

Before continuing, let’s clarify a few terms.

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

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

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

Ministry Roles

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

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

Pastor

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

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

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

Minister

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

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

Deacon

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

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

Lay Leader

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

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

Worship Leader

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

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

Church Administration Roles

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

Receptionist

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

Maintenance

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

IT Department

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

Security

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

Legal

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

Church Board Roles

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

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

CEO

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

President

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

Secretary

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

Treasurer

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

Other Positions

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

Wrapping Up The Roles

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

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

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

The Importance Of Church Leadership

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

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

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

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

How To Grow Your Church’s Leadership Team 

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

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

Developing Leaders Within Your Church

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

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

Growing With Your Community

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

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

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

Related Read: 10 Best Church Data Management Systems In 2022

Finding And Developing Church Leaders

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

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

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

Qualities Of Successful Church Leaders

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

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

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

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

Serve Your Congregation With Strong Church Leadership

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

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

Check This Out: 10 Best Worship Presentation Software For Mac In 2022

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What Is Church Leadership? Key Principles & Policies

Jesus said that we are the light of the world in Matthew 5:14, and our light shines most effectively through leadership within the church. Whether you are looking for the best church software or answers about how to disciple small group facilitators, church leadership is central to your decisions.  

Church leadership is the responsibility of every Christian, and a church’s organizational structure, policies, and practices help Christians to understand their leadership roles to successfully fulfill the Great Commission. Whether you are a senior pastor, an elder, or a local church member—all believers receive God’s call to be a part of Christian leadership.

In this article, I’ll cover:

What Is Church Leadership?

The Great Commission in Matthew 28:16–20 commands Christians to disciple the world, and that discipleship requires leadership from us, the church. So, what is church leadership? 

Church leadership is two things: the people who lead the church, and the actions that the church takes in the community. Typically, when talking about the people, we call them the church leadership team. The actions can be any kind of event that the church takes out in the community, from highway clean-up to holiday plays to food pantries.

Primarily, in this article, we will be talking about the leadership team. I will be careful to make it known when each is being talked about.

No matter how the church leadership team is structured, the church is most visible to the world through leadership actions on the local level. People within the congregation often look to the pastor or priest as the lead, and they observe other ministry leaders as models of what good Christian leadership is.

However, church leadership does not stop with the local church government, elder board, or pastor. A healthy church has leadership at all levels. As 1 Peter 2:9 says, every Christian is part of the priesthood, so Christian leadership needs to be undertaken by all believers.

At its core, church leadership means overseeing and shepherding the church, but the shape of leadership changes according to roles within the church.


Related Read: Complete Guide To Church Event Management & Planning

Roles And Responsibilities Of Church Leadership

Here are some of the key roles in the church, along with their core responsibilities. 

  • Pastor: leads the congregation, and represents the church to the public.
  • Deacons: act as ushers and prayer leaders, as well as take offers
  • Lay Leader: in charge of coordinating between the congregation and spiritual leaders.
  • Worship Leader: directs the choir and band, picks the songs, and coordinates with the pastor for consistent messaging.
  • Administration: can act as everything from the receptionist to the maintenance crew and IT department.
  • Church Board: the group that provides accountability for the church to the government and possibly higher authorities in the denomination.

Attributes Of Church Leadership

No matter what position a person fills within your church leadership team, some attributes should be shared amongst everyone. Communication is key, and people who think alike can help avoid miscommunication. Plus, you want people who are as committed to the cause and call of your ministry as you, the head pastor, are.

Here are some key attributes to look for in potential and current church leaders:

  • Motivated: Your team needs to want your mission to be successful.
  • Cooperative: Your church should have leaders willing to work with anyone who volunteers their time and energy.
  • Independent: When you put someone in charge of a project, they should be able to complete it without having their hand held, after having had the proper training.
  • Devoted: This attribute is purely spiritual. Your team must possess a devotion to Christ.
  • Teachable: Every Christian is a disciple, and leaders should be more so.

Related Read: Church Volunteer Management Guide: Strategy, Tips, & Software

Leadership In A Healthy Church

While church leadership is clearly part of maintaining a healthy church, being leadership savvy is secondary to strong pastoring. If leadership establishes effective policies, procedures, and other leaders within the church, this allows pastors to focus on pastoring and being there for the congregation. This makes leading the church much more manageable.

Different Types Of Church Government 

Church government is often responsible for shaping church leadership within a denomination or local church body. One branch of ecclesiology (the study of churches) deals with the government, or polity, of church leadership. Church polity consists of three main types: episcopal, presbyterian, and congregational.

Episcopal Polity

In an episcopal structure, bishops hold authority in the church, providing guidance, support, orthodox theology, and even discipline when necessary. The bishop oversees (Greek episkopoi means “overseer”) a local diocese—a region of churches. In this way, local churches hold accountability to the diocese, and the diocese is accountable to the bishop who represents the diocese worldwide.

Presbyterian Polity

The Greek word for “elder,” presbuteros, is the source of the English word “priest,” but the priest or pastor is not the only authority in the church. Rather, in a presbyterian church government, the pastor is sometimes called a teaching elder. The local church, then, elects elders from the congregation to lead the local church in session, the local governing council, which is moderated by the teaching elder.

Session appoints and oversees deacons, who have local tasks in the church, such as serving communion and shepherding people within the congregation. Deacons are model servant leaders within the church.

Like the diocese in an episcopal structure, presbyterian government organizes elders within a region called a presbytery. Then, multiple presbyteries compose a synod as a larger governing council.

The fourth layer of presbyterian polity is the general assembly, a government gathering of elders from many synods that makes determinations for the church overall.

Congregational Polity

While episcopal polity places authority in an individual overseer, presbyterian government focuses on the “priesthood of all believers” by having teaching and lay elders act in a representative government. Congregational governance is still farther from a central authority within the church. In congregationalism, each church independently determines doctrine, theology, practice, and all matters of function.

Variations In Church Polity

Although these three structures are the main types of church organizational leadership, many churches practice variations. A congregational church, for instance, may elect elders, like a presbyterian model, to a board that provides governance to the local church; unlike presbyterian polity, however, the board of elders may be the final human authority over the local church.

Church Leadership Styles

Church leadership at the local level can take many forms. 

  • Autocratic leadership is where the pastor makes every decision and sets the vision for the church. 
  • Laissez-faire leadership provides minimal direction and disconnects from other leaders in the church to allow the local church to move in its own way. 
  • Democratic leaders, however, fall somewhere between autocratic and laissez-faire, where they guide and counsel the church in a democratic manner. 

No matter the leadership approach, the main objective of a pastor and other church leadership should be to facilitate spiritual growth in their community.

Key Principles Of Church Leadership 

Brian Dodd outlines many key principles of effective church administration, including the following:

  • Be organized with policies and procedures. Keeping everything in order will prevent chaos from overtaking your church.
  • Be sensible. Always be willing to shift your policies if they are making life difficult for your leaders or members.
  • Be consistent. A consistent message will draw people in and give them a guide to follow when miscommunications happen.
  • Guide others. As the head pastor, your responsibility is to be the teacher of both the leadership team and the general members. Don’t forget to give special workshops for your top leaders.
  • Appoint church leaders who provide solutions. If you follow the Attributes Of Church Leadership section above, you should have this covered.
  • Lead with others. No one person can do it all. The church is called the Body of Christ. The brain can’t work without the heart. The heart can’t pump without the lungs. Raise up people who can help.
  • Delegate to others. Similar to the previous point, give your responsibilities to those who can handle them. Sometimes, the only way to find out if someone is ready to move to the next level is by giving them a chance at something they’ve never done before.
  • Have advisors. Everyone has blindspots and biases. Let your leadership team offer advice and counsel when you don’t know what to do.
  • Study. The Bible is our greatest resource as pastors, but websites such as this one also help as we teach each other and share our experience. Never stop learning.
  • Focus on people, not process. Good people are more important than the specific processes that they follow. A good leader can fix problems as they arise, while a bad leader will fail when problems come. Build your leaders up, and the policies and procedures will become easier to fix when you find flaws.

Forging Church Leaders

As J. D. Greear claims, the church is a place where leaders are made. Current leadership within the church needs to challenge its people to be leaders, empower and equip them to be leaders, and have the courage to send those leaders beyond the local church. An effective church leader inspires church growth in depth and breadth. He strengthens the children’s ministry by challenging and encouraging its leadership team. She teaches leadership principles to her church staff.

If your church models and facilitates effective leadership to grow leaders, then get ahead of the curve and look at our guidance on church planting.

Most importantly, take a clue from the Apostle Paul’s letters. He almost always opens and closes his letters to the churches with callouts to the people who have been helpful to him in his ministry. Positive reinforcement is as old as the New Testament. Use it early and often to help create strong leaders.

Final Thoughts

I hope this article has opened your eyes to the many types and ways that churches can be led. Leaders come in all shapes and sizes, so always be ready for the next church member to step up. In the meantime, stay faithful in prayer and let the Lord Jesus help you create the environment where your leaders can thrive.

I’m Lexie, and God bless!

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Article How To

Church Volunteer Management Guide: Strategy, Tips, & Software

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

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

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

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

How To Manage Church Volunteers

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

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

Recruiting Church Volunteers

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

Step 1: Ask For Help

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

Step 2: Screen For Possible Legal Issues

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

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

Step 3: Get To Know Your Volunteers

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

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

Step 4: Lead From The Front

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

Training Church Volunteers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Caring For Your Volunteers

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

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

The Phone Blitz 

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

Church Announcements

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

Volunteer Retreat

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

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

Church Volunteer Management Tips And Best Practices

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

Establish Clear Roles

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

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

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

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

Define Realistic Goals

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

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

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

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

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

Other Best Practices For Church Volunteer Management

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

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

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

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

Church Volunteer Management Software

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

Here are the criteria I used:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Find specific church volunteer management software here.

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

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

Church Volunteer Management: What Have We Learned?

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

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

Related Read: What Is Church Leadership? Key Principles & Policies

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Article

10 Best Church Leadership Training Programs In 2022

Looking for the best church leadership training in 2022? Join us to explore and rate leadership training programs that will to help you and your teams build stronger church leadership strategies for your congregation. 

10 Best Church Leadership Training Programs

1. Arrow LeadershipFind clarity for an uncertain future

Arrow Leadership screenshot for Church Leadership Training Programs Screenshot
Learn to become a Jesus-centered leader with the Arrow Leadership Program.

The Arrow Leadership Program for church leaders is divided into Team Development, One-on-one Coaching, an Executive Leaders Stream, and an Emerging Leaders Stream. All these modules are structured differently to serve the unique needs of different levels of church leadership. The program offers various resources including small groups, the monthly Sharpening Leaders blog, leadership tune-ups, and free downloadable tools.

The Emerging Leaders Stream launches virtually on March 19, 2021 and runs through June 18, 2022 at $5,500, with a partner pricing option available.

The Virtual Executive Stream for senior church leaders launches on June 25, 2021, and runs through August 26, 2022 at $9,250, also with the partner pricing option available.

2. Foundations in Missional Ministry and Church Leadership CurriculumCertificate and diploma courses in church leadership

Foundations in Missional Ministry and Church Leadership Curriculum Screenshot
Certificate and diploma Christian courses courtesy of Tyndale University.

The Tyndale University church leadership program features a certificate and diploma course. Christian leaders are expected to complete four units for the certificate, and eight units for the diploma course. Students who have completed the certificate can obtain a diploma by studying four more units at the diploma level.

Some of the topics include Bible Interpretation and Survey of the Old and the New Testament.

3. Pastoral Care and Leadership – Short course for advanced pastors

Pastoral Care and Leadership Screenshot for Church Leadership Training Programs
Free online course on pastoral care and leadership.

Dr. John Johson of Western Seminary offers a free online course for advanced pastors on pastoral care and leadership focusing on preaching, leadership, and Biblical theology. A succinct 17 hours, this audio and video course equips you with the skills and knowledge required to be a good leader, nurture good leaders in the local church, grow from conflict, and relate well with the members and church staff. 

4. Mindful Leadership Training – Best customized training for an all-round, healthy church

Mindful Leadership Training for Church Leadership Training Programs Screenshot
Organization-specific training and public eLearning from the Institute for Mindful Leadership.

The Institute for Mindful Leadership has been running this training program for over 15 years with custom offerings to organizations, in-person workshops, and retreats. The program is aimed at equipping leaders with greater resiliency and more capacity for excellence.

The program currently has an online course for February, a workshop for March, and an upcoming retreat whose dates will be released soon.

5. Certificate of Biblical Leadership Course – Learn and grow in leadership for spiritual influence

Certificate of Biblical Leadership Course Screenshot
Three-part, 78-lesson Christian leadership training from Axx.

This course is best for beginner leaders starting their biblical leadership journey and looking to benefit from excellent ministry training for spiritual influence in the church and beyond. Leaders on the program have full lifetime access to the course materials and get a personalized certificate upon completion.

We love the low cost of the program as it is affordable for most leaders at only AUD 30 per month.

6. Administration and Leadership Webinars and Online Classes – Best courses for church administration

Administration and Leadership Webinars and Online Classes for Church Leadership Training Programs Screenshot
Webinars and Online Classes about Administration from Sacred Space Online Learning.

This leadership training focuses on ensuring people in the church leadership pipeline are fully equipped for church administration and religious leadership, with topics such as Nonprofit management, developing leadership styles, church fair trade stores, church websites, running small groups, and volunteer management.

The courses are offered on an on-demand basis across Canada and the U.S.

7. Emotionally Healthy Discipleship – Becoming the emotionally healthy leader your church needs

Emotionally Healthy Discipleship for Church Leadership Training Programs Screenshot
Transform into an emotionally healthy church leader for your church and the world.

Peter Scazzero shows you how to transform from an ordinary to the executive pastor your church needs by improving your emotional intelligence and well-being. You’ll be able to develop a new vision for healthy church leadership, integrate your personality with your calling, and lead the transformation of your church staff.

You’ll also draw inspiration from one of Scazzero’s bestseller leadership books – The Emotionally Healthy Leader.

8. Equipping Leaders International Leadership training – Courses for equipping leaders to transform their world

Equipping Leaders International Leadership Training Screenshot
Training on church leadership development from Equipping Leaders Inc.

Equipping Leaders International focuses on training that covers local church leadership, church rejuvenation, church planting, and administration of Christian schools. It seeks to equip pastors with formal training required for the effective running and management of the rapidly expanding churches.

The course covers the effects of hindrances such as corrupt governments, Western dependence, limited opportunities for ongoing education, and economic poverty to ensure that leaders can still bring glory to God through their service.

9. Building Church Leaders – Practical training tools for team members

Building Church Leaders Screenshot for Church Leadership Training Programs Screenshot
Best leadership training for a holistic church.

This program aims at producing a holistic church with high capacity ministry leadership across the board from pastors to lay leaders and other general church staff. The training focuses on mentoring church teams to enhance their competencies, gifting, and discipleship with a renewed passion for outreach to bring more people to God.

The training is best for leaders looking to enhance both themselves and their entire church by developing a united church as per the teachings of Ephesians 4.

10. Dallas Theological Seminary courses – Free Christian courses for podcast lovers

Dallas Theological Seminary Courses for Church Leadership Training Program Screenshot
Free podcast and email-based courses from the Dallas Theological Seminary.

The Dallas Theological Seminary offers free Christian courses on church leadership skills and other aspects through their podcast and weekly emails. Key topics include suffering, racial reconciliation, repentance, and walking with God through church leadership.

Next Steps

Finding the best church leadership training for yourself or church staff doesn’t have to be an uphill task if you consider insights from our list. There’s at least one training suitable for your every Christian leadership need! 

In fact, we’ve also compiled a list of the 10 Best Church Leadership Conferences In 2022 to make it easier for you!

If you’re simply looking for more resources to add to your library, here’s our list of the 10 Best Church Leadership Books.

Are you a church leader who wants to connect with others to share knowledge and best practices? Apply to join our exclusive community of church leaders and access to a private, moderated forum with other lead pastors.

Also Worth Checking Out:

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Tools

10 Best Church Finance Software For Payroll & Expenses

Church finance software is a powerful tool that can help users maintain precise accounting of funds, donations, and expenses to ensure the accounting of financial resources. With the help of finance software, churches can manage payrolls easily so church leaders can devote more time addressing the needs of their members. If you are looking for finance software for your church, here are some of the best finance software you can choose from.

Related Read: How To Conduct Church Financial Management + Best Practices

The Best Church Finance Software

Here’s a shortlist of the best finance software:

  1. Xero
  2. QuickBooks Online + Breeze
  3. PowerChurch Plus
  4. CDM+
  5. Realm Church Management
  6. One Church Accounting
  7. FlockBase
  8. Church Windows
  9. Elexio Church Accounting 
  10. Aplos

Finance Software Comparison Criteria

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

User Interface (UI): I’m looking for a software interface that makes sense to accountants and non-accountants alike, as some churches may not have a dedicated bookkeeper.

Usability: I’m looking for a tool that can be used by any church member helping out with the books. Is it easy to use and understand for users without an accounting degree?

Compatibility: Can you use it to connect with other vital devices like check readers. How about credit and debit card readers or mobile kiosks?

Value for $: Does it have features that justify its pricing?

Church Finance Software: Key Features

1. Payroll: a feature that allows users to automate payroll, ensuring that employees receive accurate salaries to prevent payroll disputes.

2. Bank reconciliation: allows users to spot discrepancies and errors between bank balance and book balance.

3. Reporting and analytics: allows users to generate financial reports to assess the church’s financial standing.

4. Tax calculations: automatically calculate, file, and pay taxes ensuring compliance with government regulations. 

Overviews of the 10 Best Church Finance Software

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

1. Xero – Best for small churches

Xero Church Finance Software Screenshot
Xero has a simple payroll system making it ideal for small churches with fewer employees.

Xero is a church accounting software you can use to safely accept donations online so you can replenish funds for your church’s operations and expenses. You can use it to track expenses and settle your bills so your church can continue operating and serving its members. Xero also enables users to track accounts receivables and payables, allowing church administrators a clear view of their churches’ cash flow. 

Xero is best for small churches because it has a basic interface ideal for straightforward and recurring pay runs. A small church can use Xero to compute payroll, and it allows churches to pay employees manually or via batch payments depending on the church’s preference. Xero gives you the option of a third-party payroll app as your church grows and your payroll needs become more complex. 

Xero pricing starts at $30 per month. 

2. QuickBooks Online + Breeze – Best for tax calculations

QuickBooks Online + Breeze Church Finance Software Screenshot
QuickBooks automatically calculates, files, and pays taxes to ensure that your church complies with tax regulations.

QuickBooks is a church accounting software you can use to automatically run payroll daily so you can concentrate on your ministerial duties for your congregation. You can use QuickBooks to manage employee benefits to ensure employee satisfaction and increase loyalty. It has a time-tracking functionality ensuring that timesheets are correct and preventing payroll disputes. 

QuickBooks is best for settling taxes because it automatically calculates, files, and pays payroll taxes for users after setup completion. QuickBooks also provides users with a guarantee that tax calculations are accurate, and QuickBooks promises to cover up to $25,000 of payroll tax penalty if the calculations are incorrect. 

QuickBooks pricing starts at $35 per month plus $4 per employee per month. 

3. PowerChurch Plus – Best for issuance of checks

PowerChurch Plus Church Finance Software Screenshot
PowerChurch Plus allows users to quickly issue and maintain records of checks to ensure accurate bookkeeping.

PowerChurch Plus combines church management and a church accounting system you can use to balance your accounts and produce auditable trails to enhance accountability. It also has a simplified payroll system to plug in specific requirements that will automatically compute for you. The system also allows you to track restricted gifts to ensure compliance with FASB 117.  

PowerChurch Plus is best for religious organizations that issue many checks for their transactions because of its Quick Check feature. You can use Quick Check to print checks for issuance to suppliers, partner organizations, utility companies, and payroll. PowerChurch Plus also allows you to keep an accurate record of issued checks to ensure that your account stays balanced and has available funds for your checks. 

PowerChurch Plus pricing starts at a one-time payment of $395 per user. 

4. CDM+ – Best mobile app version

CDM+ Church Finance Software Screenshot
CDM+ has a mobile app version you can use on iOS and Android mobile devices.

CDM+ is a fund accounting software designed specifically for the unique needs of churches and nonprofits. You can use it to track your income and expenses, ensuring that you have enough funds to attend to your ministry’s needs. Church leaders can use CDM+ to generate reports about the church’s financial health and share them with boards, committees, and staff to give them a clear view of its structure and financial standing. 

CDM+ is best for those who work remotely because it has a mobile app version that you can use on iPhones and Android mobile devices. CDM+ mobile allows users a safe and secure way of accessing sensitive financial information. CDM+ also has features available on church management software like access to the member database, calendar management, and push notifications. 

CDM+ pricing starts at $100 per month per user with a charge of $5 per month per additional user.

5. Realm Church Management – Best for accurate timesheets

Realm Church Management Church Finance Software Screenshot
Realm gives you approval powers ensuring that timesheets get approved promptly.

Realm Church Management is a product of ACS Technologies and has a donation management functionality you can use to track donations and generate year-end reports for compliance purposes. Its online giving feature allows you to accept contributions anywhere you are through Realm Church’s mobile app. Realm Church Management provides your church members with the option to contribute through online donations, text giving, or credit cards and debit cards. 

ACS Technologies’ Realm Church Management is best for those looking for a nonprofit accounting software they can use as a timesheet management system. Users can use it to specify roles, ensuring that employees receive pay commensurate with their positions. You can also use Realm Church management to review timesheets, ensure accurate payrolls, and avoid disputes. 

Realm Church Management’s pricing starts at $29 per month. 

6. One Church Accounting – Best for financial dashboards

One Church Accounting Church Finance Software Screenshot
One Church Accounting’s customizable dashboard allows you an organized view of your church’s financial situation.

One Church Accounting has a bank integration feature that provides users a convenient way of importing and categorizing bank transactions for accurate reconciliation. It has a chart of accounts feature to have a complete listing of every account in a general ledger allowing you an easy-to-understand view of your fund’s subcategories. Its budgeting feature will enable you to track your annual budget and ensure that your expenses are within your church’s financial capability. 

One Church Accounting is best for those who want customizable dashboards for easier viewing of financial records. This church accounting software presents you with graphs and metrics to have an overview of your income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow in a user-friendly and easy-to-understand format. With the real-time data of One Church Accounting’s dashboards, you can immediately address financial concerns and prevent them from becoming major issues. 

One Church Accounting’s pricing starts at $24 per month billed annually. Users can try this church management software for free for 14 days.

7. FlockBase – Best for bank reconciliation

FlockBase Church Finance Software Screenshot
FlockBase has a bank reconciliation feature allowing you to identify differences between your book balance and bank balance.

FlockBase is a church management software you can use to compute payroll, pay your staff and comply with IRS regulations. A fund accounting feature allows you to track your fund balances and ensure that your programs have enough funding. FlockBase also has a robust reporting feature you can use to view balances, funds, and expenses on different levels of your organization. 

FlockBase is the best church accounting software if you want one with a robust bank reconciliation feature that allows you to match your bank balance with your book balance. FlockBase’s bank reconciliation feature allows you to immediately detect accounting and bank errors so you can correct them immediately. This feature also helps your church prevent and detect fraud to protect the fund and needs of your church. 

FlockBase pricing starts at $29 per month for five simultaneous users. FlockBase offers users a 14-day free trial.  

8. Church Windows – Best for offline version

Church Windows Church Finance Software Screenshot
Church Windows works offline to access and use the program when you don’t have a reliable internet connection.

Church Windows is a church management system that can also serve your church’s accounting needs like payroll, accounts receivable, financial reporting, and tax computations. You can use it in event registration, child check-in, and post-event reporting so you can assess the effectiveness of your church’s services. Church Windows allows you to send SMS and email communications to ensure that church members are up-to-date with what’s happening in your church.

Church Windows is best for those who want a software solution that works even with no internet connection because it still allows you to work offline. You can still view and update membership records even if you have no internet connectivity meaning you are always productive. Church Windows also allows you to its accounting program offline with records automatically updated once you have internet connectivity to work on your laptop in an area where you don’t have a reliable internet connection. 

Church Windows’ desktop version requires a one-time payment of $303 per module, $556 for two modules, $796 for three modules, and $856 for four modules. 

9. Elexio Church Accounting – Best cloud-based accounting solution

Elexio Church Accounting Church Finance Software Screenshot
Elexio is a cloud-based system ideal for users who want to access the program anywhere they are.

Elexio is a church management system you can use to manage your church’s database, ensuring that you have up-to-date information on all your members. You can also use Elexio to automate simple and repetitive tasks to streamline workflow so you can concentrate on ministering to your flock. Elexio’s church accounting feature is an add-on you can purchase to ensure that your church complies with government requirements even if you don’t have a CPA on board. 

Elexio is best for those who want access to their ChMS while working remotely because Elexio is a cloud-based system. You can use Elexio wherever you are as long as you have an internet connection. Since it is a cloud-based system, other team members will automatically see any updates or changes you implement on the system, ensuring that there won’t be any conflicts or discrepancies. 

Elexio’s pricing starts at $35.13 per month for one user. 

10. Aplos – Best for reporting and analytics

Aplos Church Finance Software Screenshot
Aplos allows you to generate reports quickly so you can assess your church’s financial standing.

Aplos is a church accounting software with a robust suite of features, including fund accounting, bank integration, bank reconciliation, pledge tracking, and check to print. It also has an integrated payroll system to ensure that all employees receive accurate salaries helping you avoid payroll disputes and ensuring employee satisfaction. Aplos also has a donor portal that allows church members to contribute to your church safely and securely. 

Aplos is best for those who need to generate financial reports so they can get a clear view of their church’s financial health. You can use Aplos to generate budgeting reports to ensure that expenses stay within budget. Aplos also allows you to generate donation reports to give you a better idea of where contributions are coming from and plan how you can improve them. 

Aplos integrates with Gusto Payroll System. 

Aplos pricing starts at $29.50 per month. Aplos offers a 15-day free trial. 

Need expert help selecting the right Payroll Management Software?

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Other NGO finance software options

Here’s a few more that didn’t make the top list. Some are church-specific but others are simply NGO-friendly with free or low-cost plans. 

  1. Gusto – Best for Payroll Systems
  2. Gyve – Best for tithe & donation collection 
  3. ChurchTrac – Best for Recurring Transactions
  4. Sage Intacct – Best for Financial Forecasting
  5. ACS Technologies – Best for Vendor Management
  6. IconCMO – Best for CRA Compliant Receipts
  7. AccountEdge Pro – Best for Custom Paychecks
  8. ZipBooks – Best for Recording Receipts
  9. Botkeeper – Best for Automation
  10. Blackbaud Financial Edge NXT – Best for Fraud Prevention

Is QuickBooks good for churches?

Yes, QuickBooks is good for churches because it can help churches in bookkeeping and financial management. QuickBooks also allows churches to track donations and generate financial reports. 

What software do churches use?

There are several software systems that churches can use depending on their needs. A church can use a website builder if it doesn’t have a website or wants to improve its existing website. A church can also purchase donor management software if it wants a system to manage donors and contributors efficiently. 

Related Read: 10 Best Church Data Management Systems In 2022

What do you think about these financial software?

Finance software can help churches that want to make payroll and expense tracking easier. Using finance software can help church leaders save time because they can automate payroll and accounting needs to concentrate on taking care of the needs of their congregation. If you want to learn about other useful software, sign up with The Lead Pastor newsletter so you can receive the latest news about software systems that can help you manage your flock. 

For even more information, check these articles out:

And for more tools to help you keep up with your growing church:

Categories
Tools

10 Best Church Communication Software & How They Help Lead

Churches today are complex operations with lots of activity and deep roots in the community. Thanks to church communications software, it’s now easier than ever to communicate with congregations, keep people engaged, and maximize attendance. 

The Best Church Communication Software

Here’s a shortlist of the best church communication solutions: 

  1. One Church Software
  2. Planning Center 
  3. Elexio 
  4. Aplos 
  5. Servant Keeper 
  6. Breeze  
  7. Church Windows 
  8. Neon One 
  9. Trumpia 
  10. Pushpay

Church Communication Solutions: Comparison Criteria

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

  1. User Interface (UI): Is it clean, attractive, and appropriate for church use?
  2. Usability: Is it easy for non-professionals (such as church members) to master? Does the company offer tech support, user support, tutorials, and training that works with church needs (like a contact center available on weekends)?
  3. Integrations: Is it easy to connect with other church management tools? Are there any pre-built integrations? Does the tool connect with all popular communication solutions, like email, social media, SMS, website notices, and anything else you use daily?
  4. Value for $: How appropriate is the price for nonprofit organizations? Is pricing clear, transparent and flexible?

Church Communication Tools: Key Features

Here are some key features to look for when selecting church communication software:

  1. Supports your preferred messaging channels: offers a range of options to tailor your communications (from social media to text messages)
  2. Database management: enables you to update your list of contacts easily
  3. Engagement tools: offers features designed to increase engagement from members of the congregation
  4. Integrates with popular church management software: works with church accounting, church management software, etc.
  5. Simple to use: makes it easy for inexperienced team members to start using the software
  6. Scalable: grows as your church and its requirements develop
  7. Faith-based compliance: designed to be suitable for use by most faith-based or religious groups

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Overviews Of The 10 Best Church Communication Software

Here’s a brief description of each of the best church management software solutions with membership communication features. I’ll go over some best use cases, feature highlights, and provide screenshots to give you a glimpse of their inner workings.

1. One Church Software – Best for empowering volunteers

One Church Software Church Communication Software Screenshot
OneChurch helps you stay in touch with visitors and increase return visits.

This cloud-based church management system helps ministries reach out to local communities and streamline daily operations. Features include text messaging, workflow creation, and volunteer management. 

One Church Software allows you to update contact preferences, send follow-up messages through the system, and inform members of upcoming church events. You can automate text in church messaging, emails, communications, and promotions.  

One Church Software costs from $24/user/month and a free 14-day trial is available.

2. Planning Center – Best for managing church resources

Planning Center Church Communication Software Screenshot
Planning Center helps you to organize music and other scheduling items for each service.

Planning Center is a suite of cloud-based applications designed to support church leaders in planning, scheduling, and managing church programs. The software is modular in design, so you only pay for the tools you need.

The publishing module allows you to create content and share it with your congregation. You can use customizable pages and the Android/iOS mobile app to distribute sermons and other messages. 

Planning Center costs from $14/user/month and a 30-day free trial is available. 

3. Elexio – Best for mass email communication

Elexio Church Communication Software Screenshot
Elexio allows you to keep detailed congregation contact records.

Elexio church administration software helps you to communicate with your members using text, mass emails, or voicemail. The system integrates church management software with church website design, check-in, giving kiosks, and a church mobile app. 

Key features include attendance tracking, contribution management, and automated workflows. You can also coordinate worship services and schedule volunteers. 

Elexio costs from $35.13/user/month and a 30-day free trial is available. 

4. Aplos – Best communication software with cash balancing

Aplos Church Communication Software Screenshot
Aplos tracks donations, tithes, and contributions to your church.

This cloud-based solution offers a range of software tools to help large and small churches run more efficiently. Aplos offers custom communications, along with fund accounting software, church membership management, donation management, and reporting.

With Aplos, churches of all sizes can handle all their communications and group management needs in one place. This user-friendly software is well suited to small groups and medium-sized churches. 

Aplos pricing starts from $29.50/user/month and a free trial is available.

5. Servant Keeper – Best for digital discipleship

Servant Keeper Church Communication Software Screenshot
Servant Keeper allows you to contact any member by email from right within the app.

This church management solution helps faith-based organizations organize operations more efficiently. It’s easy to communicate with members by email, track attendance and pinpoint volunteers with skills needed for specific events.

Visitors can be excluded from member-only communications. Other features include modules for child check-in, online scheduling, and accounting. 

Servant Keeper is priced from $9.99/user/month and a free trial is available.

6. Breeze – Best for event planning communication

Breeze Church Communication Software Screenshot
The Breeze ChMS church community builder can be used to book meetings, events, and Bible studies.

Breeze church management software is a cloud-based solution for small to medium-sized churches. The intuitive interface allows you to search and find contact information quickly, tag people as required, and customize accordingly.

Breeze also offers features to help with event registration, printing name tags, and tracking attendance. Alerts can be set to highlight individuals who have ceased attending for a given number of weeks.

This software suite costs from $50/month and a free demo is offered.

7. Church Windows – Best for membership reports

Church Windows Church Communication Software Screenshot
Church Windows offers a range of church management functions, including label printing.

Church Windows helps religious organizations manage administrative tasks and day-to-day interactions with followers. The system can be deployed either in the cloud or on-premises. You can also build a unified church calendar to keep track of community happenings, track your budget, and pay church employees. 

This software suite enables church administrators to view and track household and individual records, record interaction notes, perform accounting duties, and create visitation reports. Church Windows’ customer support is top-notch and they can help you make the most out of the tool according to your needs. 

Pricing starts from $80/user/month. There is no free trial option.

8. Neon One – Best for communication & marketing solution

Neon One Church Communication Software Screenshot
Neon One offers a full suite of nonprofit management software tools.

Neon One is a cloud-based contact management solution for nonprofit organizations of all sizes. The built-in fundraising tools include add-ons for email blasts, donor management, and automated membership renewals. They offer different modules for communication management, customer relationship management (CRM), fundraising, payroll, and website building. 

The system can be customized to match the look and feel of an existing website, and event pages can be configured as required. Administrators can send automated event notifications to registered attendees. They integrate with apps like QuickBooks, Mailchimp, TrueGivers, Eventbrite, and Windfall.

Neon One pricing starts from $49/user/month. There is no free trial, but a demo can be arranged. 

9. Trumpia – Best texting software for churches

Trumpia Church Communication Software Screenshot
Trumpia facilitates managed communications for churches and other nonprofit organizations.

Trumpia helps churches communicate with members through an automated SMS platform. Administrators can easily send messages, collect contacts, conduct outreach, engage with visitors or new members, and improve attendance. 

Features of the system include mobile keywords, mass texting, one-to-one texting, text giving, auto-response, and contact cleanup. Multiple campaigns can be run via SMS, email, or social media platforms.

Trumpia costs from $36/user/month. A free trial is available. 

10. Pushpay – Best for building a church smartphone app

Pushpay Church Communication Software Screenshot
The PushPay dashboard helps you keep tabs on church management functions.

This cloud-based solution assists churches in managing a range of operations. Church admins can create a database of donor information, including contact details. PushPay offers a no-code solution to building a smartphone app for your church, including a dynamic home screen, visual customizations, interactive notifications, and a built-in audio player. 

Data can be imported from third-party sources or uploaded through the PushPay portal. Customer support is available via an online knowledge base. 

Pushpay pricing starts from $199 a month. There is no free trial. 

Other Church Management Software Options

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

  1. Click Nonprofit – Best for free Google advertising
  2. Church Teams – Best for discipleship communications
  3. CDM+ – Best for complete data integration
  4. Excellerate – Best for automated follow-up letters
  5. Faithful Steward by Diakonia – Best for an affordable solution
  6. Donarius – Best for tracking contributions
  7. Wild Apricot – Best for building an online store
  8. Attendance Now – Best HTML email builder
  9. Church Software by Grplife – Best free church website & hosting
  10. TouchPoint by Pursuant – Best for fundraising analytics
  11. Together+ by Aware3 – Best forms & registration tools
  12. ChurchTrac – Best for service outlines with a song library
  13. FellowshipOne – Best for background checks
  14. Connection Card Pro – Best for large churches 
  15. FaithLife – Best for sermon prep

Other tools to consider include ACS and Tithe.ly

What software do churches use?

Most churches today use specialized church management (ChMS) software to run their organizations efficiently. Many different software vendors develop applications specifically for this large, growing market. Pastors may require specialized functionality for venue upkeep, website & app building, real-time communication, discipleship tracking, fundraising & collections, event management, and even accounting & payroll.

What is ChMS software?

Church management software (also known as ChMS software) is the range of applications used by churches and related institutions to manage operations more effectively. ChMS software covers everything from attendance recording to people management and helps to simplify complex church procedures.

Related Read: Complete Guide To Church Management For Lead Pastors

What Do You Think About These Church Management Systems and Communication Tools?

Do these systems help you communicate with your congregation, or are the old ways better? Let us know what you think in the comments below. While you’re here, be sure to check out this article on streaming software for churches, too.

For even more information, we’ve written this article for you:

Complete How-To Guide To Church Records Management

Related Read: Church Volunteer Management Guide: Strategy, Tips, & Software