Why is management necessary in a church?
To start off, the church is not only the physical building in which services are held. It is first and foremost the people who join a group of likeminded souls with the purpose to serve the Lord. On this level leadership is mostly required, but also a certain amount of management.
Secondly, the church has programs for its members, internal and/or external activities and involvement opportunities. These require also leadership, but a larger portion of management.
Thirdly, the church has to function and operate as an organization and entity. Here leadership is extremely important and of high value, but management becomes more integral to the existence of the organization. Decisions need to be made, administration mechanisms should be in place and strategy for the organization defined, among other things.
All three areas in the church require some sort of structure, that can support the vision and add to the driving force of the organization.
Souls need to be reached, evangelized to and brought into the flock. This then leads to the role of shepherding and taking care of the spiritual needs of each person. This is not the responsibility of the leadership only, but also of each member in the church. Each person can be motivated by the leadership to win souls for Christ, or to take care of the needy, or to pray for the sick, or even just to be there to welcome newcomers at the door on Sundays. All of these areas need a clear definition of what should be discussed at which point in time, who is allocated to which task, and who should report to whom.
Winning souls for Christ does not only require someone to tell someone else about Jesus Christ, but also involves follow-up or some assistance when questions about the church, Christian life, or other problem areas need to be answered. A church actively working in the field, so to speak, needs to take care of what is entrusted to it – whether souls, finances, or goods. Remember that we are not just there to convert millions of people; we are also their mentors and teachers for a time. That is the only way they will grow and become active Christians, sharing their testimonies with others.
Programs can be developed to train new believers, workshops and seminars held for married couples, singles, etc.. The management of these activities and areas of involvement requires clear definition and planning before the success can be determined.
What is church management at all?
When people hear the term “Church Management” they associate this often with the administration involved. The above point give a broad overview of the areas involved in church management, but is it all about?
Management in a church includes normal areas of business, for instance, administration, finance and bookkeeping, human resources, document management and systems. It does not matter what the size of the church is, some aspects are simply essential in ensuring the smooth running of the non-spiritual side of it. However, spiritual areas like taking care of souls, counselling people, praying for the sick, etc. carry an enormous weight in any church. The contribute to the overall organical growth of the church, which in turn adds to the accumulated wealth of The Kingdom of God. Managing these areas does not take away from their spiritual value, it simply gives structure and definition. In order to achieve results, stimulate growth and develop a strategy for the future, the church needs to organize itself. For this reason church management is essential. A church should not be managed just to be able to produce statistics, or to exercise control over people’s lives, but should be managed so that one day we can be held accountable for what was entrusted to us.
How can existing components be evaluated?
My suggestion is to firstly look at what the church’s vision is all about, what you want to achieve, and then to compile a list of all programmes, structures, procedures and protocols on all three levels above.
Now you will be able to compare what your goals should be against what has been achieved. This way you will be able to identify areas to be focussed on when something needs to be brought back on track or simply if some areas require input or assistance from an external source.
What are the basics for effective church management?
1. Clearly define a vision and set goals for each area.
2. Start small, think big.
3. Keep it as simple and straightforward as possible.
4. Be honest in your evaluations.
5. Be realistic when planning for changes/ new implementations/ projects.
6. Stick to Biblical principles.
7. Pray about every aspect, and also ask for wisdom and creativity along with patience – you will need it.
8. Use the resources you have first, before looking elsewhere.
9. Remember that growth requires life, and this you get from God. Growth is a journey and brings change to all travellers.
10. Don’t do everything yourself. Use every member in the Body of Christ. You should not be running a one-man show.
How does management in a church differ from that in a secular business?
Remember that you are working with precious souls, and that they have chosen to be there, because they need a spiritual home – not a business. That is the biggest difference.
The second point is that churches should depend on the life-giving input of the Holy Spirit. Members want to see this, take part in it and contribute towards the growth of the church. The however, don’t get paid for it, they merely receive spiritual food.
Secular businesses are not always known for their Biblical principles or values, or what that faith has to do with the impact it has in the world. A church on the other hand should be operating firstly on Biblical principles and secondly that faith in Jesus Christ is the answer to provide solutions. For that the leadership and or management of a church is dependent on the Holy Spirit.
A final aspect is the back-office structure of non-spiritual components like administration, bookkeeping, time management, planning, finances, systems, etc.. If a church has a solid basis on the spiritual side, these areas of business, similar to those in a secular business should be taken care of with the same diligence and precision as if the church were a business.
Second generation management
As mentioned earlier, growth brings about change, and in the process people learn. How they react to what they have gained in knowledge will give the existing leadership a better picture of their leadership qualities and management skills.
Reproduction in a church is just as important to ensure the continuation of the vision and goals of the church as a husband and wife need to reproduce to ensure the continuation of their lineage. How they educate and teach their children will determine the end results of what they have produced. What you put in, is what you get out.
Therefore it is important that the leaders of tomorrow have a life-changing experience with and through the Holy Spirit and bear fruit before being considered for leadership positions. Time should be spent with them, making sure they are true disciples of Jesus Christ. This does not happen overnight, but takes time, patience and willingness from existing leaders. Start early, pray about every person and allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives. Don’t control people, but show trust and faith in their decisions, giving advice and support before they make their final choices. Leaders are born with these characteristics, and should be allowed time to develop and grow into their responsibilities. Managers on the other hand, require similar qualities, but most management skills can be learned. If you find both leadership characteristics and management skills in one person, grab hold of that person and allow spiritual growth to take place.
Titles don’t mean much if they cause people to value themselves above who they are. Authority comes from understanding the process of achieving it. Giving someone a title which carries authority, make sure that person appreciates the accountability and responsibility such authority carries. The title won’t matter then.
A topic as old as the Bible itself, management of that what God entrusts to leadership of churches has been and will be an important aspect of the Kingdom of God.
In a growing world with so many changes, it sometimes becomes necessary to look at the way we are responsible for the day to day tasks in a different way. Businesses the world over invest heaps of money and resources to ensure that the management and operations have the best tools and expertise available to them. Managers are sent on courses, attend seminars and spend hours equipping themselves and those in their teams to be more productive, have better year-end results and at the end of it all to show a profit.
Working in the Kingdom of God, similar objectives are set; the only difference being that the end result is not measured in money and balances, but in the spiritual care and growth of people giving their lives to the Lord. This difference does not mean that churches do not have budgets, do not experience difficulties in securing the right resources or that they should simply be satisfied with what they get. No, it means that in a world where the pace is fast, where survival of the fittest is paramount, The Church has to rely further on her faith in God – on top of all these business factors.
God is a God of order, discipline and structure. We see this already in the first chapter of the Bible as he created the earth and everything else. We see this right through to Revelations.
In a challenging world, how do we apply Biblical principles and vales while managing the daily tasks in The Church? How do we stay focussed on saving souls, caring for those entrusted to us, and sharing the love of Christ when we also have to manage and lead? Better still, how do we lead and manage without losing focus on our mission on earth?
What is important on the non-spiritual side in some large churches, might not be of any value to smaller ones, and vice versa. The basis though, should be a well-developed structure to meet the needs of everyone involved. This structure should be flexible to grow, meet the immediate needs, and easy enough to maintain. This will give the workers, management and others involved the security of working in a framework, yet offer sufficient freedom to focus on the work God called them to do.
In my book
Church Management Basics, I look at the very basic components of this structure and how to adjust these to suit organizations of varying size, capacity and needs.
On this website I have made available a number of tools and links to help churches, missions and other non-profit organizations. The tools include templates, databases, forms, documents and spreadsheets that can be configured to suit your own needs. Needless to say, these are all free of charge, as most of them were provided by the creators of the associated software packages.
Another section on the website deals with software I personally designed and developed. These applications focus on church management and human resource management. To find out more about these innovative products, click here.
Should you as a church, mission or non-profit organization, require my professional services – either to evaluate your current situation, make suggestions about further growth and development, implementation of new software and/or business solutions, or if you would like me to present my ideas in the form of a seminar, workshop or training, I am available throughout the year.