Five Must-Do Items You Should Do by Next Quarter
I am so honored and so humbled to serve you as Executive Pastor. I hope you’re as excited as I am about what the year ahead will look like for your organization as we work together. As we think about this year, it’s important to make sure the foundation is solid and that we start the year off right.
In my experience as Director of Marketing for a megachurch in Atlanta, one of the most significant practices we learned—as a result of making many mistakes—was the importance of planning. As we became more organized and effective with our operational practices, we would ensure that each department developed a plan of action for the coming year. This policy made it easy for the Senior Pastor and each department to start the year smoothly and with a clear intention.
As your Executive Pastor, my goal is to help streamline your operations and provide you with the tools and resources that will propel your organization towards the success you envision. The actions below are ideally implemented at the start of each year. But, don’t worry, it’s not too late. As the wise saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” That being said, the best way to kick off your second quarter is to put the following action steps into motion.
1. Database Integrity
Before we address database integrity, we need to discuss the database itself. In this day of technology (and free or affordable technology), it is imperative that your organization manages its members with a reliable database. There are numerous options for church management software and you should find the option that best suits the size and needs of your organization. If you don’t have the right church management software for your organization’s needs, your first step should be to request a demo or a consultation and choose the option that best addresses your specific needs. Your better options will allow you to operate online (or in the cloud) rather than just on a few licensed computers, integrates your membership directory and accounting functions, and is user-friendly or offers you full support. Your best option will have a membership portal where members can login to their account and update their information and download their own tax-donation receipts. Just a few of the options include ServantKeeperand IconSystemsand RollCall—but ask your peers for recommendations and use comparison tables you can find online so that you find the database that is best for you.
Once you have a reliable church management system in place, you need to use it to its fullest potential. At the start of the year, your organization should send out donation receipts. It’s also a great time to purge the system of duplicates and outdated contacts. To do this, you will need to make an announcement from the pulpit letting the congregation know your intention and follow up with an email requesting updated info or directing them to the portal and be sure to offer hard copy contact forms for your members who aren’t as comfortable on the computer. Hosting a database drive one Sunday is an ideal means to motivate the congregation to update their information.
While January is a great month to hold this event, you can still plan a drive at the start of the second quarter. If you have tables set up with computers or laptops or pen and paper forms to update their info, don’t forget to also offer your members a small gift as a token of your appreciation for visiting the table to update their contact information.
This type of database cleanup will take a considerable amount of time and energy but will ultimately save the ministry money and put forth the professional and polished image you want for your organization. To tackle this enormous task, recruit administrative volunteers to sort through the replies and update the database by removing duplicates and outdated information or adding new members.
2. Update the Church Planning Calendar
If you don’t have a planning calendar for the year, now is the time to create one. This isn’t the list of events you publicize to the congregation (although you’ll get that information from this calendar), this is an operational calendar that will help leadership understand what the year ahead will look like and the means to operate most effectively. It is a good practice to do this at the year-end for the coming year and to update it each quarter. Calendar planning should be done with the entire leadership team during an interactive planning session. To develop your calendar, start with a big picture and drill down to the small details. First, add all recognized holidays and then review the year past to plug in dates for any annual church events. It’s also important to make sure that any significant maintenance scheduled for the building is on the calendar—if you are having the roof fixed, you want to note this on your calendar to ensure events are not planned during that time.
You can also include operational projects, like the membership database cleanup effort mentioned above or staff meetings and retreats.
As you look at events for members, it is important that each event aligns with the vision, mission, and church values. Encourage the leadership team to be strategic in their event planning. Hold planning meetings in advance of each event and make sure there is a “WWW” meeting post event—what went well, what went wrong, and what could we do better. Make sure that the information gathered in those meetings is recorded and used at the start of the planning for the same event the next year.
3. Update Policies and Procedures
Do you have policies and procedures (P &P) for every staff and volunteer ministry? If you do, it’s time to dust them off, revamp, and update them. If you don’t, now is the time to start the documentation process for every department. I know it’s a tedious process and many people feel that it is unnecessary, but P & P’s are for your protection and they set uniformity that will make your ministry operate as one united organization rather than disjointed siloes.
This process also includes reviewing and updating the employee handbook. Look for outdated information and missing information. In today’s world of social media, if you don’t already have a policy or guidelines around how your staff represents themselves on their personal social media accounts, it’s time to add it. Hootsuite has posted helpful guidelineshow to create a social media policy for employees. (We’ll talk more about Hootsuite as a tool to manage your social media later in the year.) Just remember, as times and needs change within the ministry, your (P & P) should reflect those changes.
4. Technology Inventory
Having an inventory system in place for your technology is critical. Your inventory list doesn’t need to be complicated, a simple Excel or Word document will do just fine. The inventory list will help you plan for changes and better understand your needs. The inventory list should have a section for date purchased, serial number, warranty, person equipment has been assigned to, next scheduled maintenance, repair, and even a photo of the items. Keeping an up to date inventory helps ensure regular maintenance and will be crucial if you need to file an insurance claim.
Here’s a sample of some items that might appear on your inventory list:
• Television and camera equipment
• Video monitors
• Video projectors
• Desktops and/or laptops
• Software (including antivirus and updates)
• External hard drives
• Lighting equipment
• Audio equipment, mics, lavalier mixing boards amps
• Recording equipment, DVD players
• Live Stream equipment and software
• Phone system
• Cell phones
• Communication equipment (walkies)
• Headsets for communication
• Band equipment
Another thing to consider as you work on this list is a contingency plan for any technologies that may fail. For example, many churches don’t own their production equipment, instead, they use contractor’s equipment. If the contractor decides to leave, the production equipment goes with them. Do you have another contractor in mind or a contingency plan if you can’t get another contractor in time? Use this plan to help forecast so your organization isn’t always in a reactive mode.
5. Church Insurance
Once your inventory list is updated, you’ll want to update it with your insurance policy. Nothing is more important than having enough insurance coverage for all the old and new equipment you have added throughout the year. Also, are you adequately covered for natural disasters common in your area? What about a thief or vandalism? At the beginning of the year, hold meeting with your senior team and your insurance agency to review your insurance coverage. You don’t want to be over or underinsured. This meeting is an opportunity to discuss your policy, current limits, and any adjustments needed based on any changes you’ve made over the past year. And don’t be afraid to comparison price and switch insurance companies if your old company is no longer able to meet your needs.
As you prioritize these five action steps, also build them into your planning calendar for later this year or early next year so that you’re on schedule with these projects in the future. Don’t forget to work with your staff and volunteers to help get the projects done. Decide what actions should be revisited quarterly or mid-year. Decide who on your team is best as a project lead for each action. Determine an accountability process to ensure these actions happen each year. And watch how, by being proactive rather than reactive, your organizational operations become more manageable and your team feels more productive.
The action steps above can feel like dauting projects now, but they will eventually become simple routine tasks. In the meantime, if you are looking for specialized assistance with any of these action steps, feel free to check out the services offered by Roar Media Groupor contact me at Lynette@RoarMediaGroup.com.