Category Archives: Administration

A plan for getting there!

I recently had the opportunity to fly to a couple of different areas of the country.  On both instances, I noticed that, although, the airplane was the source of travel, there were a lot of things in place to make sure that both the passengers and the plane were able to make it to where it was supposed to go.  For the passengers, there is a solid system in place of what happens with luggage, what happens with passengers, what happens at security check-points and even what happens when boarding the plane.  For the airplane itself,  there are teams of people directing and guiding the plane to where it should be.  Additionally, the airplane is pointless without a runway for takeoff.  Someone had to think of how all of this would work in order to accomplish the overall purpose of actually riding an airplane from where you are to where you want to go.  A system is simply a plan or structure for doing something that will consistently get you from where you are to where you want to be.

In ministry, our main goal is helping people become who it is God has made them to be by reaching them where they are and helping them to get where God wants them to go.  That is our goal.  But how do we get there? Is there a process, a system, strategy, or a structure in place that will serve as the runway?  The truth is, many times we want the big goal, but fail to put a system in place to accomplish it.  I’ve noticed that having a system or structure is, in fact, a Biblical principle.  If you examine Scripture, you start to discover that God is a God of order and plans.  He has overall goals that He wants to accomplish, but He usually uses a system to accomplish it.  Explore the first chapter of Genesis, the book of Nehemiah, Jesus sending out the disciples, the plan laid out in The Great Commission, Acts 1:8, God’s redemptive plan of Salvation.  In all of these, you can see some sort of structure that was used to move toward the desired goal.

I’ve also noticed that not only is structure a Biblical principle, it is also necessary for us to be able to efficiently accomplish the overall goal.  Below are a few things that help us better understand how it is necessary:

A system is necessary to:

  • Focus our Efforts.  We need to work smarter, not harder.  In order to do this, we must have a plan to include others in the ministry.
  • Minister in our Context.  There are needs that exist around us that can’t be met if we don’t PLAN to meet them.
  • Work with a Team.  If we’re going to all work together in the same direction with the same goals, it must be structured.
  • Communicate Clearly.  We should be able to communicate our vision and our plans simply enough that even a fifth grader can understand them.
  • Stretch our Faith.  As we develop our ministries, we will dream bigger than before, reach further than before and trust God even more in the process.
  • Get us There.  We need to have a system or systems in place with an overall goal that we can see is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time sensitive.  The system doesn’t just help us get there, but it helps us know when we accomplish the objectives of our ministry as well.
The system created must always connect back with the overall vision of the church.  This will ensure that all of the ministries of the church exist to accomplish the overall vision of the church in the community and beyond.  It must also work in unison with all other ministries of the church.  We shouldn’t create anything that competes with or conflicts with the goal of another ministry of our church.  As we develop our system for a specific ministry, it will give us a framework for allotting our time as well as our resources.  Additionally, it allows us to know if we’re moving in the right direction towards our goals or away from them.
As you develop your structure and begin to move forward, it should provide vision for change and focus for the ministry.  It should also give your team, not just a plan, but also a sense of purpose and make it easier to bring others into the ministry.  As I have been developing ministries, I have discovered that failing to provide a clear plan and structure will continue to  cause confusion and frustration for all who are involved.  I would encourage you to start  developing some simple systems that will help you get to where God wants you to go.
The reason I started this blog, www.insideministry.me, is to provide system and structure ideas for various ministries and other random thoughts as I discover new truths in ministry.  If you have any questions or would like help in moving forward with systems, I would be glad to help.  I have just recently started coaching individuals through personal, professional, and ministry related decisions and would be glad to tell you more about it if you’re interested in coaching.  You can go here to find out more.
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Should we use Credit Cards for the Church?

Credit Card

Having a good plan in place for proper use of funds will help with the overall stewardship process of your church. Often the use of credit cards and churches do not mix well.  Some are afraid of unwise use of cards or spending that may or may not be accounted for on a monthly basis.  And there have actually been leaders and pastors who have misused the church funds for their own purposes.  We shouldn’t judge all leaders and pastors on the actions of a few.  There are certain aspects of daily church business that requires some type of cash flow that is available to the leaders, pastors and/or business managers of the church.  I have found the system below to work well in providing accountability of spending and giving freedom to make necessary purchases on a daily basis for ministry functions.

The truth is if we can’t trust those who are leading our ministries and our church, then how they handle the money is the least of our concerns.  How they are leading our ministries and our church should be of a greater concern.

I hope this structure below helps as you develop guidelines for credit card use in your church.

Church Credit Card Policy

Those who use a credit card to make purchases within the church should follow the procedure listed below:

  1. Get a personal credit card in your name that will be strictly for the purpose of church business.
  2. Use that credit card for all budgeted purchases you make.  (If a purchase has not been budgeted, it will need to be approved prior to the purchase.)
  3. Keep your receipts
  4. Any purchase of more than $250 will need to be approved to check for availability of funds and cash flow.
  5. When the bill/statement comes in either to your address or to the church, you will need to fill out a monthly report indicating account totals (i.e. if you have made several purchases for supplies within your ministry, you will need to enter that on one line with a total that goes into that account)
  6. Turn the Accounting sheet along with the bill & receipts in to accounting to be paid.
Once you receive your bill, identify the account numbers and the total spent within each account and log this below.  Do not show each account more than once.  Simply give an overall total spent within each account.  Place the receipts in an envelope, attach envelope to the bill and turn in for payment

Account # Description of Account Dollar amount spent
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$
$

Timeline Plans for Stewardship

I work best with systems in place.  I don’t have to continually reinvent the wheel, just tweak it from time to time.  The timeline below has worked great in setting up some simple stewardship plans within our church.  Many of these things I have learned by reading after Steve Stroope, Nelson Searcy, and other trainings that I go to on a fairly regular basis.  This plan has been put together as I have taken various aspects of those trainings to create a system.  I hope it is helpful to you.

Annually

Secure an Annual Commitment (Usually in January)

  • Use a card in services: Will you recommit yourself to being in a small group (which group), sharing your faith (who is on your card), quiet time (morning, afternoon or night), Serving (where), Giving (What will you give to general fund, building fund, missions fund). This is usually about the third week of January.  This is recommitting to basic Christian discipline. Allow people to specify how they plan to fulfill their commitments this year (including the amount they plan to give to the general fund, capital campaign and missions).  Don’t base your budget off of this amount – it’s for the individuals themselves. People are 15 times more likely to keep a commitment that they write it down and hand it in.

Receive Christmas Eve Offering (In addition to General Fund Offering)

  • This offering can go towards the Benevolence fund to help meet needs as they arise in the upcoming year.

Receive an Annual Offering (In addition to General Fund & Christmas Eve Offering)

  • This can be done every December.  Most nonprofits send out a lot of requests at this time of year, because they know that it is a time when people are most willing to give.  Identify what the Annual offering is going towards.  If it is missions, identify those areas specifically that people can give to.  Be detailed.  People want to know specifics.  Mail a separate envelope to the homes.  Additionally have a separate envelope in the chairs for this offering.
  • This offering is a special offering given during a set period of time around Christmas.  It encourages people to give over and above their regular tithe and offerings.  The areas this offering goes towards needs to be “Heart” projects.  It encourages people and challenges people to get involved and offers blessings for people who get involved.  The goal for this offering should be set initially to be 2 or 3 times your weekly offering.  Once your church has done this a few times, your goal will more likely be 4 to 6 times your weekly offering.
  • Identify One-time causes and new initiatives to work towards and promote.  Have no more than 3 or 4 heart causes (non-recurring).  Types of “Heart” causes could include: Missions, Church Planting, Servant Evangelism, Counseling, and Benevolence, Help for Poor & Needy, Children’s Ministry, Youth, Seniors, New Church Plant, New Multi-site Locations.  The good thing is if you don’t raise it, you don’t fund it.  These should be things that you can’t do unless people get involved.  Any money given over and above your goal can be divided equally between missions and the annual budget.
  • If you hit your goal before the season for giving is over, you can always expand the goal by adding additional elements to the goal.  Tell the church that “God has bigger plans”.  This would be a true statement if He is bringing in additional funding.
  • Note: If all of the leaders in the church give, you’re more likely to get all of your people to give.  If only half of your leaders give than likely only half of the church will give.  The Pastor and staff needs to step up and give the first gifts towards this offering.  Make it the first and best gift you can give.  If you need to pay over a few weeks, then do it.  Be sure you are a part of setting the example.
  • When you mail out your packet for the Annual Offering include, a letter from the pastor, 2 page overview sheets, Q&A Pages, Giving Envelope – Put all of this in a 6×9 envelope.  Mail this out the week after the offering is announced.  Send it to everyone who has an affiliation with your church.  If you extend the annual offering into the new year, you may want to mail another packet at the beginning of the new year.
  • You should begin your kick off for this offering the Sunday before Thanksgiving (even sooner if possible).  Include it in your Week at A Glance email newsletter every week.  Give updates and tell people where you are at in the campaign beginning in mid December (talk percentages or hard numbers, which ever works best for the time).
  • You should promote the annual offering from the stage, in sermons, in small groups, at events and activities, in leadership training meetings, etc… When you get tired of talking about the Annual Offering, the people will have heard it for the first time.  Use creative redundancy.  Think through how you say it.  Focus on the Why of the offering.  Focus in on a different area of the offering each week.

Limit Special Offerings each year

  • Don’t nickel and dime your church.  You cannot hype something new every month and expect your people to respond fresh every month.

Annual Gifts

  • At the end of each year, everyone who gives over a certain threshold will receive a gift and a letter of appreciation to those givers.  The gift might be “The Treasure Principle”, a DVD of life changes that year, or even a book on spiritual growth. You can determine what the baseline threshold is.  This investment in these people will help them develop in their gift of giving and/or see what their giving has done to impact the Kingdom.

Quarterly Letter/Statements

Send quarterly statements to give people a chance to correct their giving before the end of the year. You need to maximize these quarterly giving statements.  Include a Financial Newsletter; keep it simple and easy to understand.  Make it about more than just finance by including small group involvement, ministry involvement and other areas.  Let people know what their gift has helped you to accomplish over the quarter.  Identify life change stories because of the giving – not just numbers … include names (remember that stewardship is a heart issue).  Let people know how you are accountable for money spent and identify how the money is spent (If you are audited, let them know).  This is a chance to communicate to your people how you (leadership) are being good stewards of the resources they’re giving.  The more formal your giving statements look, the more people give.  There is trust in professionalism.  This letter or newsletter needs to come either from the lead pastor or the executive pastor.  It is always good to remind people to be consistent in their giving (2nd Quarterly statement usually has this theme).  Always put a “P.S.” in your letters – People usually read this first.  Make it more personal by signing it first name only.  Place your title below the P.S.  When sending out your letter, find a strategic time.  You may use it to coincide with helping promote a new series or something that is going to be happening.  Include some add in promotional items with the quarterly statement. It doesn’t have to be right at the end of the quarter.  To grab attention, put teaser notes on the front of your envelope.  Let people know about projects.  Include a list of designated giving options they can give toward ($50 leather-bound bible that is given to new Christians to $50,000 van for the church … this can be things that are in the budget).  This is usually about 14 items. Also tell how to give online, etc… Put camp scholarships in newsletter.  If it is 4th Quarter statement, the front of the envelope can be, “Important 2012 Tax Documents Enclosed”.

Note: You could do another statement at the end of November to help promote year end giving.  This is an opportunity to let people make sure their records are up to date.  If you do send one out at the end of November,  your Third Quarter giving statement should go out at the first of October.  Make sure the 3rd quarter statements go out First Class; this allows you to know if the address is wrong.  Bulk mailing just gets thrown out.  A website resource for ideas on mail outs is lumpymail.com.

Monthly

You can promote giving in your monthly newsletter.  Make a constant box for online giving or automatic giving.  You can also use this section to insert testimonies from members who have seen how giving has changed their lives and their perspective on God.

Weekly

First Time Givers (Send Something)

  • Send out first time giver email… thank them for their gift.  According to our records this is the first time you have given
  • When someone gives to your church it’s a great time to ask for them to give again.
  • Can send a gift to first time givers.  “The blessed life” (Randy Morris) or “Treasure Principle”.
  • First time giving letters should come from the Lead Pastor.
  • Count the number of first time givers and the number of total givers to be able to track trends within giving.

Regular Givers (Thank Them and encourage with books etc..)

  • Get a big giver report every week …  ($1000 for the first time or out of the ordinary).  They will get a handwritten letter from the pastor.  “Dear ___, Thank you for honoring God with your finances.  Your giving helps support the ministry of our church.  (signed by Pastor)  Keep a record of who those notes go out to so you don’t continue to send out the same note. If they have never received the treasure principle book … they get the treasure principle book.  If they have that you can send The Generous Giver book, The Rest of God, Margin, Fields of Gold by Andy Stanley or other life development books could be helpful.

Extravagant Givers

  • Follow the regular givers layout above.  You can also write a personal handwritten note to key givers to thank them for being willing to give.
  • Consider lining up a meal (breakfast or lunch) once or twice a week with key donors.  Once they hit a certain point in giving, have these meals be automatically set up.  This meeting is not to show favoritism to those who give, but to invest in a leader within your church who has been blessed with the spiritual gift of giving.  When you go to this meeting, get a record of their giving.  This card should have the name of the spouse, kids, activity in small group, where they are serving, etc.  Ask the giver, “Is there any way our church can do a better job of helping you grow in Christ?”  Do you have any questions about where our church is going or anything that is going on in our church?” (If they have any concern about the direction or vision of the church it will affect their giving.)  Thank them for giving financially to the church.  Tell a story of a life that was changed in the recent past.  Ask them how you can pray for them and add them to your permanent prayer list.  You generally do not ask for money at these meetings and often times it is not discussed heavily. (If you’re in a capital campaign, ask them to pray about giving the biggest gift that they have ever given.)  The main goal of this meeting is developing relationships and trust with these givers.

The timeline above is really based on the idea that stewardship is discipleship.  We must invest in people and encourage them along the journey as they grow spiritually.  I pray that some of the above plans can help you move forward in developing a culture of generosity within your church.

The Joy of Record Keeping

I know if you’re not administratively gifted that keeping records are a thorn in your flesh.  I mean, who really needs to know what people gave on a certain week or exactly how many were in small groups last week?  Aren’t we really seeking to glorify God in what we do?  I would say the answer is we need to know where we have been to know where we are going and by doing that we can glorify God in the results.  It’s interesting to me that as I read scripture, I see that someone was administratively inclined.  There was someone who counted that 3000 were added to the church on the day of Pentecost.  Someone counted that Jesus fed the 5000.  When Jesus sent out the 72 to the towns and cities, how did they know it was 72?  Someone counted that Gideon started with 30,000 men and ended up with 300 men.  The fact is that throughout scripture God is tracking what is happening in the life of the early church.  We can learn from this example and keep records of what is happening in the life of our church as well.  I’ve discovered as I look at real numbers, it is often different from my perception of how things are going.  Sometimes the real numbers encourage me and sometimes they challenge me to reach new goals.  Either way, they are valuable in measuring the physical and spiritual growth of our church.

You can track, attendance of your weekly worship service, tithes and offerings, per capita giving, baptisms, first time guests, new members, small group attendance as well as projections for some of these areas.  By tracking many of these you will be able to see over a period of time how your church is doing at evangelism and outreach, discipleship, assimilation, and other areas.

Many of the church management software today allow you to track and print reports on many of the areas above.  If you don’t have that capability, I am including a digital form (in excel format) I have used over the past several years that can help you keep records of what is taking place on a weekly basis.  You can click here to download it: Church Data Sheet


Are you ready for people to Accept Christ?

I believe that scripture teaches that we should always be willing and ready to share our faith with those around us.  We place such a huge emphasis on people in our churches sharing the gospel.  I think this should be a part of not just our ‘church’ culture but a daily emphasis in the life of every believer.  We should want to tell others about what a difference He has made in our lives and how He could make a difference in the lives of our friends and family.  Imagine what would happen if just half of the believers in the world began to speak out with a passion about what God could do in peoples lives.

But what happens when someone actually does pray and accept Christ as their Savior?  What is the plan then?  I think we often focus so much on the front end of ‘sharing’ that we often fail to develop a plan for follow up with new believers.  We often fail to have a process that links them to discipleship.  This is why so many Christians still live ‘as infants in Christ’.  The following is a process that we have developed at our church and has been effective in not letting new believers fall through the cracks:

Week 1

Sunday:

  • New believers fill-out communication card, speak to a pastor, tell their small group leader, or come forward during invitation, or we are made aware of a decision from the previous week.
  • Assimilation Team enters information into church system.

Monday:

New Believer Package is mailed out by volunteer team with the following:

  • Printed letter from Lead Pastor
  • Baptism Invite
  • Starting Point Invite (This is a meeting of initial orientation to the church and lets people know how to get connected.)
  • Book – ‘Simple’ by Robert J. Morgan
  • Free Coffee & New Believer Bible Certificate
  • Sermon Collection (baptism, evangelism, discipleship, quiet time)

Tuesday:

  • Email from lead Pastor to all new believers
Wednesday:
Phone call from a person on the Prayer Team.

Week 2

Monday:

Phone call from someone on Assimilation Team.

  • Introduce themselves and welcome them to our church.
  • Ask if they picked up their free Bible & series.
  • Encourage reading the Bible and praying daily.
  • Encourage attendance at the next Starting Point (a meeting to get to know our church and how to connect). Try to get confirmation that day.
  • Ask if there is any Prayer requests that we could pray with them about.

Once they are on the Starting Point invitation list, they will receive the same follow-up that all Starting Point attendees receive (monthly invitation calls prior to meeting and follow up calls after the meeting to help them find a small group or ministry if they haven’t plugged in to one), in addition to new believer’s follow-up.

1 Year

Celebrate their first spiritual birthday! Mail a packet including:

  • Celebratory Letter
  • Book – (spiritual growth book of some type: Purpose Driven Life, Christian Atheist, Forgotten God, etc…)
  • Invitation cards
  • Phone Call: A pastor will call to check in on each new believer.
Let’s work together to reach the lost for Christ and build His Kingdom as He opens the doors.  Let’s work just as hard not just to reach them, but to keep them as an essential part of the body of Christ.

Stewardship doesn’t just happen

 

English: One the offering plates At the back o...

Image via Wikipedia

It should answer questions such as, “What happens to the offering when it is collected? Who is in charge of it? Is it ever left alone and/or under what circumstances? What is the process from the time it is received until the time it goes into the bank? Are there multiple ways to give? Are there multiple types of giving funds?  There are many other questions, but you can get the idea.  You want to think it through and involve people in every step of the process.  In setting up our ministry, I developed several different teams through which we accomplish various aspects of this ministry.  Because of this structure, I have been able to involve a larger amount of people on these teams.  The teams are described below:There was a time when I thought the stewardship ministry consisted mostly of receiving the offering on Sunday and making sure the bills were paid.  But over the past couple of years, I have been able to realize that there is much more to it than this.  In developing a Stewardship Ministry at my church I realized that one of the priorities of this ministry should be developing a system that promotes integrity.  This can only be accomplished by having a system that has checks and balances in it.  It requires having multiple people involved in the process and having a well thought out plan for every area that involves church funds.

 

Generosity Team 

 

  • Collecting, Counting & Processing: This is always done by no less than two people.  There is also a detailed cash-out process including a balance sheet.
  • Accounts Receivable: On a weekly basis this team would enter receipts of tithes, offerings, etc.  into the system and prepare deposits.
  • Weekly Contacts: First time giver follow up contacts and other necessary follow up.
  • Quarterly Donation Statements-These would be sent out in April, July, and October and in January.  They are cumulative (the January mailing would be an annual donation statement.)  This will help members be able to have quarterly overviews of their donations.

Accounting Team

 

  • Payroll:  This person would be responsible for getting payroll out on the 10th of each month.  If the 10th falls on a weekend it would be out the Thursday prior to the weekend.  Payroll period would run the first day of the month through the end of the month.  (This would give time between the end of the pay period and the time the checks actually go out.)  The person would also submit quarterly 941 statements, taxes, etc.  In addition would print and distribute the W-2’s at the end of the year.  We have outsourced this portion to a Payroll Company (Paychex).
  • Accounts Payable: This person would handle all of the monthly bills, reimbursements, process payments and make sure that they are mailed in throughout the month.
  • Reconciling: This person would reconcile all accounts.  This would be done on a monthly basis. It is good for accountability purposes to have this person be someone different than the accounts payable and accounts receivable people.
  • Credit Cards: We have moved away from church based credit cards and have developed more of an accountable reimbursement system for ministry expenses.  This has been more effective at tracking expenses.

Finance Team

 

  • Budget Accountability/Management
  • Finance Planning
  • Benevolence
  • IRS Issues

Giving Central Team

 

  • Free Financial Resources on Sundays/Web
  • Ways to Give: Including automated, online, mail-in, on-site
  • Promotional Material (Envelopes & Brochures)

Pastors’ Involvement

 

  • Giving Campaigns
  • Big Giver Follow-Up & Development
  • Stewardship Process & Vision Casting
  • Financial Small Groups, Studies, Messages
  • Development Classes (Membership, Maturity, etc…)
  • Tithe Challenge
This structure serves as a guide for how we accomplish all things stewardship.  It isn’t something that we just let happen at church.  We are intentional in casting vision, raising funds, developing disciples, and being wise and accountable with the funds God allows us to have to fulfill His vision for our church. In the upcoming weeks and months I will be defining these areas in more detail.  You can check back often and simply search for postings on Stewardship.  If you have questions before then, you can contact me @jherring17 or jherring17@gmail.com.

 

 

You may also be interested in checking out a previous blog post on an overview of Stewardship.

 


Food fills an empty soul

Bread rolls

At times when people are hurting or have experienced a loss, providing a meal can help take some of the weight off of those involved in the situation.  Many times this allows an individual not to have to worry about what their family or friends are going to eat as they may be in and out of their house during this time.  When we meet the basic physical needs of people, it often allows us to minister to them spiritually.  When you examine scripture, you find that Jesus often addressed a physical need before he addressed a spiritual need.  We can follow His example.  As we do this simple act of care, we can often help with more than this simple physical need.

A website that I have found to be helpful in coordinating meals for people is www.takethemameal.com. This simplifies the communication and organization of providing for people during times of sorrow and times of celebration.  Very useful, I hope you find it helpful.

For more ideas on Care Ministry click here.


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