A healthy church has committed leaders, fruitful relationships, a vision to serve God, and...effective church management.
Church management encompasses a wide umbrella of activity. Church finances, service planning, member engagement, communication, human resources, and volunteer administration are all vital parts of church management.
How a church chooses to handle and administrate each of these activities can make or break success in multiple ways. The way a church manages its resources, systems, and people can help it reach its goals and thrive...or nosedive into chaos.
Here are 10 common challenges in church management and how to overcome them.
Problem #1: Inefficient administration.
If you’re over the age of 40, you probably remember a day when we relied on fax machines and hard copies for administration.
Compare those outdated processes to what we do now, and you’ll notice one important fact: Before the age of the Internet, everything took a very long time to accomplish.
Using online tools, email, and text messaging, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that your church staff are “caught up” to the 21st century. Digital tools can still be very inefficient.
If your staff is using multiple platforms or tools to plan, communicate, and execute, then you still have plenty of room for improvement.
In other words, you may be able to save time, labor, and energy by pivoting to a single, streamlined platform for church management. A church management tool can automate workflows, prevent errors, and make internal processes easier and more transparent.
Problem #2: Silos.
Silos happen when information or processes “live” in separate departments, and never cross from one team to another.
Though silos are common–especially in large organizations–they aren’t a good thing. Silos can hide insight, hinder communication, and prevent staff from working together on reaching common goals.
Silos are extremely common at churches. Different departments may seem to have very different agendas. For example, the financial department manages tithes and reports expenses. The worship department plans events and rehearses for services. And senior leadership trains up leaders, meets with congregants, and plans sermon series.
Though different departments may be responsible for different activities, they shouldn’t always operate independently. After all, they are all engaging the same church members and are all focused on advancing the Kingdom of God.
To avoid silos, departments can use the same management platform to share information, communicate effectively, and do a better job at reaching congregants.
Problem #3: Disorganized volunteer coordination.
In many churches, volunteers play a significant role in running Sunday morning services, leading ministries, and reaching out to the community at large.
In other words, volunteers are far from being dispensable.
Recruiting and managing volunteers, however, can be a significant challenge. Churches may be responsible for leading hundreds (or even thousands) of volunteers with jobs and responsibilities that keep them otherwise occupied.
To be strategic about engaging volunteers, church staff can:
- Communicate with volunteers about upcoming events and opportunities…
- Check in volunteers to weekend services and other events….
- And use volunteer profiles to store relevant contact info and manage activity.
Tithe.ly Church Management Software (ChMS) can help staff effectively coordinate volunteers through volunteer check-in, member management, and more.
Problem #4: Project failure.
Follow-through can be a challenge in any organization. In fact, 70% of all projects fail–and the church may be no exception to this statistic.
With a million different ideas for how to reach people, impact a community, share the Gospel, and even disciple congregants, staff may find it challenging to stay aligned and focused.
A transparent project management system is key to accomplishing projects and goals. Whether you want to create a new giving campaign, plan a community outreach, or start new small groups, you’ll want a system for helping staff to follow through.
Tithe.ly ChMS automates workflows so that projects, plans, and communication don’t fall through the cracks.
Problem #5: Slow technology adoption.
“Digital transformation” refers to the process of replacing old technologies or legacy systems with new, more efficient tools and processes.
Ideally, the outcome of digital transformation is a more efficient, more successful organization that leverages what’s available to achieve better outcomes.
Though digital transformation is usually used to describe companies, the term can also apply to churches. Just as secular organizations can use new technology to streamline workflows and offer a better product or service, churches can use technology to improve church management.
The challenge is that churches are often slow to adopt new technology. They may not see the direct benefit of using a new tool or system, maybe even viewing technology as a distraction from people-centered ministry.
What they might not recognize, however, is that technology can ultimately improve church management, solve their challenges, and even create more time and space for what’s really important.
Problem #6: Managing different personality types, ages, & professional backgrounds.
Your church staff likely has a mix of personalities, generations, and professional skill sets.
Some of your staff may be fresh out of college, tech-savvy but inexperienced with team collaboration. Others may be seasoned professionals, with backgrounds in the corporate world and very specific ideas of how things should be done. Still, others may be older employees who have always worked in ministry….and have plenty of wisdom, but not a lot of interest in changing their ways.
While that certainly makes for a dynamic team (and an interesting work environment), variety and diversity can also create challenges when it comes to efficient church management.
Here’s the good news: As church leaders, we’re called to pastor and raise up people of different ages, skill sets, and cultural backgrounds. Likewise, we’re called to manage all kinds of people and help them become stronger and better in their respective roles.
Using a common tool or technology can help bring an entire staff onto the same page, and create common processes and workflows that make collaboration not only possible, but enjoyable.
Problem #7: Hectic schedules & overwhelming workloads.
Despite what some may think, pastors have super hectic, challenging jobs.
In fact, “pastor” (or other religious leader) was ranked one of the nine toughest leadership roles in 2014. You can only bet that the role of “pastor” has only grown in stress and difficulty since then–through two very challenging Election seasons, a global pandemic, and a myriad of other social and political crises.
The bottom line is that being pastor can be extremely stressful. Without a strategy for great church management–which encompasses all aspects of the church–that role can become even more burdensome.
The trickle-down effect of a burned-out leader can also damage morale and performance on staff. A study published by the Harvard Business Review found that highly engaged leaders produce highly engaged staff members. In other words, the way a leader is feeling or performing affects the success of everyone else.
Chaotic schedules and heavy workloads at church don’t have to burn out leaders and cause further damage. To help everyone–including leaders–manage their responsibilities well, use a church management system that helps keep everyone in their lane (which brings us to problem #8….).
Problem #8: Ineffective delegation.
Delegation is key to success in any type of organization, and yet it can be a significant challenge in church management.
For example, an original “founding” team of a church may be accustomed to doing everything on their own. The lead pastor might wear multiple hats of pastor, teacher, strategist, writer, and project manager. Other staff may likewise be responsible for all sorts of things, from facilities management to kids pastoring to marketing strategy.
As a church grows, however, leaders should learn to delegate different responsibilities out, either to additional staff or to volunteers. As Forbes put it, “It’s a leader’s primary responsibility to focus on the success of their people.” Without delegation, a leader’s time and focus are consumed by tasks that he or she shouldn’t be carrying.
To delegate well and ensure that everyone can “stay in their lane” churches can:
- Use strategic church management tools that help staff work effectively and take responsibility for projects and department roles….
- Create a culture of empowerment, where leaders are quick to encourage and empower staff and volunteers to lead out in different initiatives….
- And give people the tools, training, and encouragement they need to succeed.
Delegation isn’t just about using a tool. It’s also about training people to succeed with the right habits and mindset.
Problem #9: Getting insight.
If your church is growing, then you’re doing something right. People are visiting services, getting plugged in, and sticking around. Most importantly, you’re helping to lead people closer to Jesus.
The challenge with church growth is an increased lack of insight. As your community grows, it becomes more and more difficult to know who exactly is coming, how often they’re coming, and how they’re participating. And as a result, it becomes more and more difficult to manage, communicate with, and serve people well.
To keep up with church growth and continue getting insight, you’ll want to use a tool that can help you track activity within the church (like Tithe.ly’s ChMS). Ultimately, tracking and reporting can help you take a proactive approach to shepherding your flock well and can help you solve problematic areas before they cause further damage.
Problem #10: Financial management.
Financial management in a church is complex. You’re likely receiving gifts and offerings in multiple forms, budgeting carefully, and constantly making decisions about how to use your resources well.
Not only that, but financial management in a church has several unique aspects, including end of year reporting, giving statements, and a greater need for transparency and accountability.
All of that amounts to a potentially stressful mix of tasks, tools, and systems used to manage money in a church.
To manage financials well, churches can:
- Integrate giving across multiple platforms–so that whether a member gives online or on their phones, everything is funneled to the same place.
- Monitor financial trends and growth for better decision-making.
- Use the same platform to manage all administration–including financials, service coordination, communications, and more.
Financial management doesn’t have to be a headache. It simply requires strategy and the right tools.
Better Church Management → More Effective Ministry
Managing a church well is no small feat. You’re running a complex organization with multiple needs, goals, and even competing voices and opinions. However, church management can be done well–regardless of your church’s size, location, or financial profile.
With the right tools, strategies, and tactics, church management can even become automated, simple, and convenient.
Better church management can help you:
- Prevent miscommunication, stay organized, and keep your staff on the same page.
- Spend more time and energy on discipleship, pastoral care, and sermon prep.
- Build a stronger church with a more unified staff.
- Reach your goals and fulfill your long-term vision.
- And even create a more fruitful giving program.
Tithe.ly ChMS can help your church solve existing challenges with church management, proactively prevent new problems, and build new systems for growth and success. It’s an easy, streamlined platform that includes:
- Tools to manage members, communicate with your congregation, follow up with first-time guests, and more…
- Workflow automation tools to reduce administrative waste, prevent errors, and help staff finish projects and tasks and meet their goals….
- Tithe.ly Group Management for helping small groups to thrive…
- Childcare and volunteer check-in for easy, efficient volunteer management….
- A digital giving platform that allows members to give online, both on their desktop and mobile devices….
- Financial management tools to help track giving and generate reporting…
- Tools for planning worship services throughout the week….
- Reporting to help you stay proactive and informed about your congregation….
- And more…
Best of all, Tithe.ly ChMS can be used by your entire staff to make work more efficient and more enjoyable. It’s a simple tool that was developed with one goal in mind: To help churches streamline administration so that they can focus on what’s really important–worshipping Jesus, loving people, and advancing the Kingdom of God.