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Church Management church technology Communication Time Management

Google Apps For Your Church

By: Josh Henry, Managing Partner

In my years of working with churches to help with their IT and communication needs, I have come across some great resources.  For many years, the options available to help churches from an IT standpoint where very costly.  Not only where they expensive to purchase and deploy, but they also had a huge administrative and maintenance cost as a person to manage the resource was necessary.

Now, with many changes in the industry, there are some great technological resources available for a fraction of the costs that was previously required.

Google Apps offers a great suite of tools that a church of any size can implement and utilize.  A FREE version is offered for up to 50 users which I have found to be just about everything you would need to operate your organization.

The main feature of Google Apps is the all inclusive package, all organized by your organizations domain.  All of the tools can be setup and accessed through your organizations unique URL.  For example, your domain is www.yourchurch.org.  This is now the address for each app.  Here is some detail:

email – mail.yourchurch.org
docs – docs.yourchurch.org
calendar – calendar.yourchurch.org
and so on …

Each app can be setup on a sub-domain to make it easy to find and access for those individuals you have setup.  Here is some more detail for each application and potential uses.

Categories
Communication Leadership

Effective Church Communications

I recently happened upon a blog post in Outreach Magazine entitled “The Next Thing in Church Conferences“.  After reading through the post, it was less about new church conferences and more about effective communication principles.  The article talks about how most conferences have a basic programmatic structure that doesn’t lend much room for interaction other than lunch or moving in between sessions.

The article did however mention some snippets of answers they received to a question they posted asking “What are some church communications best practices.”  Some that I found most relevant and useful were:

“Effective communications has less to do with sending the right message, and everything to do with releasing the right response. To release the right response with anyone, you’ve got to take time to figure out what makes your message worth their time; figure out how it relates to their world.” –Kem Meyer, Granger Community Church (@KemMeyer)

“For every piece of communication, before you do anything else, determine the goal. Do whatever you need to do to gain clarity about the desired outcome and keep it in front of you during the entire creation process” –Lori Bailey, LifeChurch.tv (@LoriBailey)

“If your goal in church communication –whether you’re designing a bulletin or launching a social media campaign–is something other than serving people, stop and start over.” –Scott McClellan, Echo Conference (@ScottMcClellan)

“Resist broadcast mode! Megaphoning (a.k.a. “sermonizing”) prevents listening. Ask as often as you answer.” –Cynthia Ware, Pepperdine University (@CynthiaWare)

Church communications is about the audience.  You can put out and preach anything you want, but if no on is there to listen, you are wasting your breath.  Take a few minutes to think about your audience.  How can you more effectively communicate your message to reach your audience?

Categories
Church Management Growing Your Giving Base Leadership

Aware of But Not Focused on Church Numbers

A growing trend among evangelical pastors is to focus on their attendance numbers.  Many have even joked about pastoral counting, which basically means that pastors inflate numbers to make their ministry look larger.  We all know that our society has become enthralled with the notion that bigger is better.  Unfortunately, in ministry we have also at times fallen victim to this mindset.

What can the numbers do for us though?  While counting people to boost your ministry ego is not the point, keeping an accurate count of crucial benchmarks can allow pastors and church leaders to effectively gauge their ministries’ effectiveness.

The opposite extreme is also just as dangerous.  Not keeping track of crucial metrics or ignoring poor counts can cause just as many problems as over-exaggerating the numbers.  A pastor that says he is not concerned about numbers is either so in touch with the congregation that he understands the pulse, or he is ignoring the facts.  Having an accurate reading on key metrics will help a pastor get an idea of the effectiveness of his ministry and outreach.

Some key metrics to keep in mind:

1. Worship Attendance – this may be the most obvious of the things to count, but watching trends in attendance can help church leaders really get an accurate picture of the congregation.  These numbers can be tallied and evaluated against local events, holidays, vacation seasons, etc. to get a real picture of whether the ministry is growing bigger or smaller.

2. Sunday School/ Small Group Attendance – having effective small groups is the best way to grow disciples.  Churches with growing Small Group Ministries will quickly find themselves a healthier church growing and duplicating themselves.

3. Giving per Person – This number can be found by taking the total weekly giving amount and dividing by the giving units.  This number is not an exact figure but rather an approximation but provides an idea for financial forecasting as well as whether the church has healthy givers.

Each of these metrics are just a small part of accurately measuring ministry effectiveness.  For more information on how to accurately measure your church’s health, shoot us an email and we’ll help you out.

What numbers are you using to get an accurate picture of your church?

Categories
Church Management Facility General

Are Your Guests Willing to Come Back?

Lifeway put out a good article last week about your church and it’s openness to guests.  Of course we all say we’re friendly, we all say our doors are open and inviting, and we all SAY that guests are important to us.  But is that portrayed in how we’ve aligned our priorities of our worship services?

Did you know that your guests have made up their mind whether or not they will return to your church in the first 10 minutes of their visit?  What does that tell you about the extensive time and money you put into worship, drama, powerful sermon illustrations, etc.?  Don’t get me wrong, those are all great, but what are you doing to capture your guests in the first 10 minutes of their visit to help assimilate them into the church family?

Here are some ideas:

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Accomplishments Church Management General

TheChurchBusinessGuys.com Helps Church Obtain Financing for a Building Purchase

We had the privilege of seeing a project come to completion today.  We were able to attend the closing on a new building for New Visions World Ministries.  This project has taken several months and required quite a few hours of document and report preparation.

We were able to prepare all the financial statements, prepare their 2011 budget and present and deliver the documents to our bank contacts.  Rick Parks at Centrue Bank was able to approve financing for the church to finalize the purchase.  It was an enduring process but to finally see it come to fruition was very gratifying.  It is awesome to be a small part of God’s work in Cahokia, Illinois.

We look forward to a continued relationship with New Visions and seeing God move in their congregation.

Categories
Accounting Church Management

Your Virtual Back Office

I saw a commercial last night for a business software program (which will remain nameless) that says it’s like having a ‘virtual back office.’  I was instantly intrigued because, after all, that is a catch phrase we have been using.  After watching the commercial, I realized that yes, it is like having a ‘virtual back office’ with just one problem; You still have to do ALL the work!

This fired me up to spread the concept we have created with even more fervency.  Much like that software, we also provide a ‘virtual back office.’  However, our concept has one vast difference.  We are a virtual back office.  When you partner with us, you are not relying on yourself to input info into the software correctly.  With our concept, you input the information, and our experts take care of making sure the info is handled correctly.  You just sit back, and know that your books are correct, and reports are readily available when you need them.

You are good at what you do.  We are good at what we do.  Let us handle the business so you can focus on your business, ministering to your church.

Categories
Church Management Church Planting General Leadership

Franchise Model for Church Plants

I own a Medicine Shoppe pharmacy.  Med Shoppe’s are franchises and in the years I have owned the store, I have come to see the many great aspects of the franchise model as well as the bad.  For the past few weeks, I have been working through in my mind how to take the franchise model and utilize it for church plants.

Now I am not naive enough to say that this is the end all solution or the next big trend.  I am also not saying that it is a perfect example, but rather an idea to think about as we work to grow churches and spread new plants across the state, nation and world.

I do realize there are some blatant obstacles right up front.  Because plants are designed to reach ‘indigenous people groups’  there is not a perfect box that we can fit everyone into.  There is no magic model that we can take everyone and try to force them into.  This is evidently clear as we see churches in other parts of the world.  Our Americanized church looks quite different from their church, and vice versa.

What then can we learn from the franchise model that will help our church planting efforts?

1. A franchise model is easy to duplicate.

While each church will have its own character and culture, there are a few things that we can take from a franchise model and duplicate across an operation.  By putting a process in place and duplicating that process, we can insure that new churches are being planted that will have a greater chance of success.  This process is not intended to create a box and make everyone try to fit, but rather, a system that allows for planning, development, launch and growth in a systematic way that has been time tested and proven to produce the intended results.

2. A franchise model offers planters a greater economy of scale.

One of the first things that comes to my mind when I hear the term franchise is the golden arches.  It would be difficult to find someone that has not heard about the company.  If you look at their sign, it often brags about their accomplishments, ‘over 1 billion served’.  As you drive down the road and see one red sign with golden arches disappear into your rear-view mirror, you will quickly see the next red and yellow sign down the road touting the same accomplishment.

What is it about the franchise model that makes it so appealing?  Three words – Economies of Scale. By utilizing a franchise system, the company is able to reduce their costs of distribution so low, they can provide their product at a price so low, and still make a profit.  How then can we apply this concept to church planting?

By using a franchise system, where we have an easily duplicated model, we can bring the costs of operations down to where the financial burden on a planter is greatly reduced.  I am sure most planters will find this news very appealing as they are seeking out sources of support.

3. A franchise model offers the ability to share resources.

A great aspect of a franchise model is the ability to share resources across the system.  Often, the cost of these resources will put them out of reach for an independent organization.  By deploying a franchise system, the cost or resources can be spread across the organization enabling the resources to be available in ways that otherwise would have been cost prohibitive.

One huge resource that could be available from theChurchBusinessGuys.com (Shamless Plug!).  Our resources are designed to help churches by taking care of the administrative tasks of the organization.  Everything from bookkeeping and web design to answering the phone, we have systems designed to help.  Our system was designed to be easily duplicated while flexible enough to meet the needs of individual churches.

As you can see, there are many advantages in utilizing this model for church planting.  I welcome your comments, thoughts or experiences to help us refine this concept.

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Church Management

Do you Expect Your Pastor to be Superman?

I am reading a book by Charles Barna, ‘The Power of Team Leadership’.  Just a few pages into the book detailed exactly why our company exists.  In the book, Mr. Barna is stating the case that our (churches) have set the standard required of their leader so high that successfully accomplishing it would be unnattainable.  He states that we are all expecting our pastors to be able to do everything, and be responsible for everything.  It doesn’t take long to see where the break point is going to be in this situation.  No wonder 80% of pastors state they have felt burnt out and needed to take a break from ministry.  Barna re-itterates his point my stating that Jesus choose 12 men to spread the message of Christianity, also stating that if He had depended on one person, we may not have Christianity today.

Why do we put such high expectations on our pastors and leaders?

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Podcasts

Time Management – Podcast Featuring Pastor Robert Weaver

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Church Management Priorities Time Management

Maintaining Balance Part 2 – What are Your Priorities…

I have always been in awe when reading stories of business owners, executives and other leaders that talk about only getting 3-4 hours of sleep per night. I am in awe as I wake up dreary from my 8 hour nightly nap. How are they able to function on such little sleep? And, the more important question, what are they doing with the 20+ waking hours they have at their disposal?

One commodity which levels the playing field for every man, woman, boy and girl no matter what race, religion, creed, color, class or…you name it… is that we are all given 24 hours in a day equally. How we choose to use that time is what separates each of us.

How do you use the time you’ve been allotted?

I realized a few months ago that I was spending a lot of time on activities, processes and work that really didn’t offer me profitable, tangiable and relevant results. I sure looked busy, and was very involved, but when it came time to account for the time I was not producing results.