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What I’ve Learned About Time Management Now That My Daughter Started School.

kambell-kindergarten-first-dayMy little Kambell is growing up. She started Kindergarten this year and while that first day was definitely harder on my wife than me, it has still slapped me into a new reality. In the last week, I’ve had to learn an entire new schedule for drop off and pickup, but also a new schedule to get my work done. My time in the office has been cut by 2 hours.

There are 7 things about time that this new routine has shown me that are applicable for business owners and pastors alike.

1. Identify your strengths

We are all gifted in certain areas, yet if you’re like me, you want to do it all. What I’ve learned from this is that you are only stretching yourself thin and doing nothing well. Personally, I am working to identify what I do well and find alternatives for those things that I am less than stellar at.

2. Time limitations increases productivity

For as long as I can remember, I have worked better under pressure. Some would call this procrastination. It’s amazing how quickly I can get stuff done when given an impending deadline. Funny thing is, usually I could have had that done much sooner and off my plate because my perception of the task was much larger than the actual reality. Now that I have fewer hours in my office per day, I am learning to get things done much quicker and prioritize projects.

3. Focus on what works

I’m a dreamer.

That’s it. My mind is constantly going and I am always seeing things that I could get myself into or do. Now that my time has been limited, I now have to focus on what works for us. Does that mean stop dreaming? No. But I have learned that Evernote is my friend and when a new idea comes to mind, I take note so I can review later.

4. Prioritize Yourself

We’ve all been on the airplane where the safety briefing says to secure your air mask before your child. You are useless to those that need your help if you’re unconscious. Take the time to keep yourself in order so that you can continue to invest in others.

5. Ignore non-critical task or pay someone to do it

I like to mow my grass. It’s a good excuse for me to spend 30 minutes quiet. I spend a lot of my time mowing in thought and dreaming (see note 3). There are several of my business owner friends that have told me to hire someone to mow my grass so I can focus my time on the business. The good thing for me is that mowing is time I focus on my business. I do get their point though.

I’m sure there are tasks you are taking on that are much easier handled by someone else who has more expertise in that area (see note 1). Plus, there is an opportunity cost related to that task. If it’s taking your time and effort away from something you’re better at, then it’s actually costing you more.

What tasks are you still trying to manage that could be outsourced?

6. Adapt based on limitations

After I pick up my daughter, I still have a few hours at home that I can work before my wife gets home and its family time. I’ve started teaching my daughter a routine to work on her school work or reading while I’m doing the same. My hope is that this will instill in her habits to use for the future. I’ve had to find ways to continue to get work done, in a new environment with new tools since I’m not at my desk.

7. Laugh at yourself

When push comes to shove, we always think we’re under the gun more than we actually are. I know for me, the timelines and pressure I put on myself are far greater than what’s actually expected of me from others. Its good from time to time to take a few minutes and laugh. I’m glad that I’m very good and turning off and doing nothing. While it only lasts a short while before I get fidgety, there are a few minutes where I can say I’m relaxed. You should too.

It’s only been a week so I’m sure this list will grow and be refined, but I am so glad that I have the opportunity to invest in my kids life.

What are some ways you find to effectively manage your time?

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Who’s Left?

We’re doing an informal survey with planters who have launched their churches asking the question, Who from your core group or launch team is left?

Now I realize that semantics can play a big role in this. For most, a launch team is by design not supposed to last once the church has started. That aside, we’d like to know how many people who started with you are still around after 6 months, 1 year, 3 years.

Please respond in the comment section and let us know.

Setup your response as:

start = # people or couples
6 mos = # people
1 yr = # people
3 yr = # people

We’ll hopefully be able to put out the results albeit informally.

Thanks in advance for your time!

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Church Finance Church Thoughts Growing Your Giving Base

Reasons to Thank First Time Givers

Let’s just face it; talking about giving is often the elephant in the room for churches. Yet, we all know what the Bible says about giving. It needs to be encouraged as an act of worship and given that importance and priority in our church.

But really, what are some practical ways we can encourage giving? One way to instill confidence in your givers is to send a thank you note to first time givers.

Everybody likes to be acknowledged

Sometimes it’s just nice to say thank you. I’ve never heard anyone that was upset because someone thanked them, even if it was for something they were supposed to be doing anyway.

It shows you are truly thankful and will be a good steward

One key difference between ministry and business is that you have little to no control over your income. A ministry in most cases is completely dependent on the financial gifts of donors and supporters.

For that matter, it is vital to let those who are donating know that you are truly thankful for their gift and you understand your dependency on their faithfulness and generosity.

It builds trust in your system

It shows givers that a system is in place to track every dollar that is given. Most people will assume something is in place, but go the extra step and show them the accounting process you have in place.

It’s a chance to share your vision

Vision usually costs money. People will give to things they believe in and usually give more in amount and frequency when they can see their money is going to a goal. Communicate your vision for your ministry and the God sized plans you have.

Use every chance to remind people of the vision and stay consistent with it.

Here’s a bonus idea, my friend Lance Johnson (@pastorlancej) at Skyline Church (www.skylinecc.com) also includes a book from Andy Stanley called Fields of Gold which talks about being a generous giver. It’s a nice touch to say thanks, but also reinforce the message about faithful giving.

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Accounting Church Finance Church Management

Tips to start your next year budget planning

Well it’s June.

Summer schedules are getting into full swing, a time for vacations, barbecues and VBS.

As we mentioned last week in the article Preparing for the summer cash flow lull, now is the time to plan and budget for what often are lower income months for churches.

This is also the perfect time to begin your budget process for the upcoming year.

“WHAT, You say!?!? We’re only 6 months into the year. We have plenty of time to get that done.

While that is true, what appears to be plenty of time now will very quickly become crunch time. Fall will be here before you know it.

Here are 3 tips to start the budgeting process for next year.

(Of course, here I am assuming a calendar year Fiscal Year)

Review your current year budget against YTD spending and expenses

Where are you at currently in year to date spending? Obviously, for many items that spread out over the year, you should be close to 50% of planned spending. There are items that only occur at certain times of the year so that is not going to apply to all expense lines, but will be a good start.
– If you are over or short on some lines that are consistent expenses throughout the year, consider an adjustment.

Take time to review your “Growth Engines”

What are those things in your ministry that are producing “growth.” I chose italics because we don’t want to be too narrow focused that growth is quantifiable numerically. In many cases it will be numbers so what are those things that you are doing that reach people. What is bringing people to the church? What is helping people grow spiritually?

We’d challenge you to consider investing in areas that produce growth and strongly review and consider those items you are spending money on that may not be producing “growth.”

Consider your “Growth Engines” to date and plan a budget increase accordingly

What has happened so far this year in the growth of your ministry? Are you seeing an increase? Has giving increased? If not, you should consider some options we laid out in this post

Now is the time to start praying and seeking the Lord’s guidance for the finances of your ministry. Ask for a big picture approach to the budget. Here are some questions to consider:

What ministry areas do we want to focus on for the upcoming year?

Are new ministry opportunities opening to us?

What’s changing in our community that we need to be aware of and prepare for?

Look to simplify your budget

As your ministry develops and grows, the quantity of expense categories will also grow. Over time, this can get out of hand and lead down a road where future year’s budgets and reports can get confusing and difficult to analyze.

Consider this time to simplify.

We’re not necessarily saying to remove lines, but let’s think about things in terms of bigger buckets. What is your mission of the church? Let’s break up the mission and create those areas as “Expense Buckets”

For instance, let’s consider the following.

Give, Grow, Go, Guide

Using these items we’ll setup the following:

Give – outreach expenses for local ministries, things you’re doing to give back to the community, etc.

Grow – expenses for ministries within the church

Go – expenses for missions

Guide – for lack of a better word and it started with “G”, but this is where I’d put all operational expenses. Utilities, Rent/mortgage, Insurance, Payroll, etc.

Start Today!

Overall, because summer gives most of us a time to slow down, it’s also a great time to review and plan for the upcoming year.

Here is a good rule of thumb for scheduling your budget review. (once again, assuming calendar year fiscal year)

June – begin review of current and big picture plan for next year
August – Begin to formulate upcoming year expense plan
September – Have new year budget prepared for leadership review
October – Have budget prepared for congregational review and vote (if necessary)
November – Finalize budget based on leaders and church response
December – Implement budget adjustments for the next year to hit the ground running Jan 1.

We’ll post next month some info on tips to get more specific with budget planning.

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Church Management church technology Growing Your Giving Base

Top Reasons to Accept Online Giving

LifeWay research revealed earlier this year that only 14% of U.S. Protestant churches offer online giving. That means that although 78% of churches have a Website, an even higher number–86%–of churches offer no method for online giving. It’s most commonly offered in larger churches, and usually has only been in place for one to two years.

While there are equally valid points on either side of the argument, it’s quickly becoming the norm rather than the exception for churches to offer online donations and electronic forms of payment.

Here are a few reasons to offer online giving in your church.

1. Make Giving Easy –

Let’s face it. Very few people are writing checks anymore. In fact, I’d contend that most people only write checks when paying their tithe at church. We are steadily heading towards a time where people don’t carry cash and using a debit card is just easier.

2. People Spend Money Online, Why not Give Online?

The boom of ecommerce sites in the late 90s wasn’t a fad. In fact, it was a glimpse of what the future had to hold for us. The days of a brick and morter store surviving on their inventory alone are gone. With the rise of online shopping, the consumer is now in charge. We are able to shop an available inventory of potentially thousands of products.

People are already spending money online, and comfortable with it. Make it easy for them to give to your ministry online.

3. Stay ahead of “slump” times of giving –

It’s a given that churches will go through seasons where giving slows down. This generally is around secular holidays and summer. People are on vacation, out of town or just get busy. Also, there are times throughout the year when weather makes it impossible to get to church. Chances are, there are only a few faithful givers that will make up the gifts they missed because they were unable to attend. Offering online giving options makes that simple.

4. It’s Easy to have the giving conversation –

We all know that money sermons are often ones that make us uncomfortable. Most pastors will avoid them, and even when they do approach the topic, they tread lightly. Online giving options make those talks non-confrontational. Write an article about the reasons to give, engage people online, send an email reminder or newsletter. Oh by the way, remember to include the link to your online giving link in that conversation. It’ll be a good ice-breaker.

5. Stamps are expensive –

Who knows how long the USPS will stay in business. With the cost of stamps going up, people are looking for alternatives to send documents and such. Can your out of town members, visitors, family members easily give to your ministry? Don’t you think they’d rather hop online and make an electronic gift instead of using a stamp?

6. It’s easier on your financial team –

Volunteers are great. Having a team available to count donations from your service is great. However, anytime people are involved, mistakes can be made. Counting cash, recording checks, counting envelopes, there are any number of ways that someone could make an error. Not to mention the threat of stealing.

7. It’s a hedge against embezzlement –

I know, I know, your church is immune. No one would steal from you, you have complete trust in your team. That’s the same thing most people said before they were the next victim in a long list. A transaction directly from the givers account into the churches account is the safest transaction that can happen to receive money. Now, use a good system to manage that money to keep it safe under your control.

8. You’re limiting the amount people will give –

This one is a small stretch, but studies have found that people will tend to give more when doing so electronically. Offering the ability to give online adds another option for giving and may increase the amount you will receive.

If you’d like to know more about how your church can get started offering online giving, we have tools to get you setup. It’s really simple and easy. Contact Us Here to find out more.

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Church Finance Church Thoughts

Preparing for the Summer Cash Flow Lull

Let’s face it, summer is a tough time to do church.

Historically, summer brings a lull in cash flow for churches. Children and Youth programs are in full daily swing as VBS, Camps and Trips send your staff and kids into a frenzy of action. With that also comes a cash outflow that you need to manage well.

Outside of your church events, summer is time for families to travel, vacation and spend time doing things that take them away from the regular schedule of your ministry. Let’s just call it what it is, when people don’t attend, they generally don’t give.

I realize that is a broad generalization and there are faithful saints that give to your ministry regularly without fail, right?

Here are some ideas for you to consider to manage cash flow during the summer giving lull.

1. Offer Online Giving –
If you are not offering an opportunity for your congregation to give electronically, you are missing a huge opportunity. I put this at number 1 because it really transcends a summer issue, and really is an issue you should consider regardless of the time of year. Here in the midwest, we had 2 major snowstorms that happened to hit on Sunday mornings. Most churches cancelled services on those Sundays and from the giving records we manage, most experienced a low week in giving. Some things to consider with online giving:
– Can you setup ACH recurring payments?
– Can you setup multiple giving income accounts?
– Can you see Cash flow forecasts?

we have a solution and company that we’ve partnered with that offers the best bang for your buck that we’ve found.

2. Communication is Key!
During the summer when schedules are crazy, consider several modes of communication. Because your attendance will be intermittent, consider alternative means of getting information out about your church.
– This is a great time to start a WEEKLY newsletter. Keep people in the loop about what’s happening at the church so they can stay connected while they may be out of town. I’m reminded of an old marketing tactic about keeping yourself Top of Mind…

– Consider adding a short video to email, social media or blog post on your website. You’ll be surprised at how many people will take a few minutes to watch a short video message about what’s happening at their church. Webcams and online tools make this simple and almost free.

– Prepare this communication. Let people know what they can expect from the summer before hand, keep them connected while is happening, then recap as thing are winding down back into the fall.

3. Develop Spending Habits to Match Summer Giving.
This takes a bit more time investment and planning but you will see huge benefits in taking the time to set things up. Take a look at your budget and see what expenses can be lowered, delayed or eliminated during the summer. Budget for your larger expenses in the fall or spring. Watch your expenses every 30 days throughout the summer and make adjustments as needed.

4. Encourage and Be Open about Giving Needs
We all know that giving talks are one of those uncomfortable discussions we all need to overcome. Make it a priority to change the giving culture of your church by being open about what the Bible says about giving. Take it a step further, lets add some practical stories and tid-bits to your messages about giving. Share practically what tangibly has happened for your church because people gave. Share about transformed lives that were made possible because the church had the resources to reach out. Put these stories into short video clips with the people involved sharing from their perspective. You’ll be shocked at the results.

5. Finally, Don’t let the summer slump be a mentality
I’ll admit, its even hard for me to maintain energy through the summer. We know that summer will be a down time in giving, but let’s reframe the conversation and commit summer to be a great time for giving. Keep the mission and vision re-inforced through your communications and let people know its the perfect time for creative and strategic outreach opportunities.

Take a few steps to make this summer the catalyst that kicks off your fall ministry schedules. Start planning now, so summer ministries are successful.

If you’d like help in budgeting or planning your summer finances, get in touch and we’ll help out!

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FAQs

We have a volunteer for that.

We know it’s very common for churches to rely on volunteers.

In many ways, it’s tough for us to compete. Volunteers are able to serve the church at a price point we just can’t touch.

However, as you may already know, volunteers are a two-edged sword.

While they are a great blessing to your ministry, they can also carry an intrinsic cost that may prove expensive over time. Here are a few examples:

– It’s very difficult to fire a volunteer. We’ve all been there in ministry where a volunteer just isn’t in the right position for their skill set, eventhough they really want to be where they are at. There’s a tough conversation that has to happen which is usually not comfortable.

– You often get what you pay for. Just because a person can do bookkeeping or has in the past, doesn’t mean they are the right fit for your church.

– It opens a door for a hyper-control position. We’ve experienced several church bookkeepers that see it their duty to hoard the church’s funds. This makes it very difficult for ministries to grow and develop.

– Just because you can keep a business’ books, doesn’t mean you can do a church. Church accounting is a different animal. There are little nuances that just make things a bit tricky, and there really is no complete church software solution that helps.

– You will always be second fiddle. No matter what, a volunteer will always have something else going on in their lives that the church takes second place to. Whether its a job, family or whatever, by not being paid, even the most servant hearted individual will have other things that require their time.

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FAQs

Why Outsource?

Traditionally, churches have operated under the assumption that everything had to be done in house. Whether that was relying on volunteers, or hiring people to keep the ministry functioning. There was a time where keeping things in house was effective, but now businesses are finding value in outsourcing work to be done. In fact, an entire economy of companies designed to outsource work has developed.

We are one of those companies. We have developed a way to handle your finances in a simple, turn-key solution that offers you the expertise of Church Accounting Experts, while saving the cost of what otherwise would be required to hire someone.

Very simply, by outsourcing you get a greater return for your investment.

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FAQs

Will we lose control of our finances?

Actually, NO.

In fact, we have heard from many of our church partners that they feel more control over their finances by using our team. By consistently matching your transactions and reconciling your accounts, we can provide you an accurate, detailed picture of your church’s financial situation.

This information gives you the insight necessary to make decisions that affect all aspects of the church.

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careers

Office/Business Manager

The Office Manager is responsible for organizing and coordinating office operations and procedures
in order to ensure organizational effectiveness and efficiency

Required Skills
– Comfortable and Proficient with Technology and business applications
– Quickbooks Proficiency
– Ability to design, develop and implement efficient operational systems

Job Responsibilities
– Maintain the business records for the company including monthly bank reconciliations, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Payroll processing, and Reporting.
– Maintain client accounts and communications
– Process daily portal transactions as submitted by clients
– Reconcile Monthly client accounts
– Manage client intake process
– Develop and maintain systems and processes to maintain efficiencies
– Design and implement business process and procedures
– Oversee adherence to Office policies and procedures
– Ensure filing systems are maintained and current
– Handle customer inquiries and complaints
– Other duties as assigned

Qualifications
– Business Degree or equivalent experience (accounting or business management preferred)
– Knowledge of accounting, data and management practices and procedures
– Knowledge of human resource practices and procedures
– Knowledge and proficiency in business and management principles
– Computer skills, knowledge and high level of competency
– Knowledge of religious non-profit management preferred

Skills
– effective communication
– problem solving and analysis
– work and time management
– attention to detail and accuracy
– initiative
– integrity
– adaptability
– team player

Email cover letter and resume to careers@axessnetwork.com