Demystify Church Operations: Promoting A Culture of Excellence

Demystify Church Operations: Promoting A Culture of Excellence

Don't you think it's time to get rid of all the mystery that continues to surround our churches, their staffing and business practices?

Don't you think it's time to get rid of all the mystery that continues to surround our churches, their staffing and business practices?

Well, I do, and I have taken my frustrations and put them to use. I am glad and excited to share that it works and works well.

When the same corporate America business practices are put into place in the "Church business arena", the results will have your church running efficiently, and have the staff, pastors and members not only getting along,  but working toward the same goal; with a new standard of excellence.

Some cringe at the idea that there is a business side of church operations.  Yet, without structure - tensions, discord, and a lack of trust can undermine the essence of "team", and can ultimately destroy ministry.

There are various effective ways to use sound corporate business ideas and strategies to help your church operations function better.

Establishing rules, guidelines, job descript ions, S.O.P. ' s (standard operating procedures)  and yes, even an employee handbook creates a standard of expectations, policies, and procedures that will help everyone understand their roles and responsibilities, establish accountability, and create desired equality among your staff.

Once this desired equality and understanding is generated, it is then reinforced by a mid-year review for all staff and pastors, so that each of the above items is graded and discussed. These reviews can help senior pastors and church boards make decisions concerning salary increases, bonuses, etc.

The Employee Handbook is an essential part of your staff equality and understanding of federal, state and church policies and procedures. Each state has a website that clarifies many items needed in your Handbook, along with the understanding of what your church leaders have deemed as part of the employee structure of your individual churches. The Handbook is imperative and needs to be amended as state and church criteria change.

For example, the State of Maryland is adding 16 more hours required for sick leave, giving each employee 56 total hours instead of 40.  As a result, this will be amended in the 2017 handbook. 

You also need to realize the importance of building an actual job description.  Everyone should be given a job description, which is then used throughout his or her tenure at the church. This will also help guide you as you prepare the mid-year review.  
One crucial item is understanding the importance of enforcing the policies and procedures in your employee handbook, by using the "gentle giant concept."  That means being kind, supportive and approachable, while firm and resolute in supporting the mission and vision of the church.

I have found this approach to work well, but your pastors and staff have to get it. They must understand that there are no gray areas, no exceptions, and no favorites. This is especially crucial in the Human Resources department, and the handbook should speak to vacations, personal days, sick time, and national days, and other days off that your church recognizes.
Weekly meetings are necessary to keep everyone on the same page, and improve communications. 

As the saying goes, "all work and no play make Jack a dull boy". You must intentionally incorporate fun and team building events into your calendar. Events such as pastoral retreats, staff retreats, combined team-building outings for pastors and staff, monthly birthday celebrations, and "high fives" (encouragement and recognition), Christmas theme party, and more, are all ways to celebrate your team, create the atmosphere for them to grow in unity, and design the right environment for a healthy, enriching staff and church.

One of the most important things you can do as an Executive or Senior Pastor is to create a pleasant environment where people are inspired and encouraged to serve the Lord through the church. Go above and beyond; it should be a place where people can't wait to come to work.  Do special things that no one is expecting; candy on a desk, a Starbucks gift card just showing up; you get the picture. Make sure every employee has everything they need to be successful; from proper furniture, comfortable chairs, computers, technology, training, etc.

Your staff and pastors' office space should be comfortable, and inspire them to be productive. They know you care when they see you actively involved with them, and for them.

You are truly making a difference in their life. It's truly not a mystery to be a business-minded, well-functioning church from the Senior Pastor to the Church body.  It just takes some time, effort and energy to be on the same page, develop and implement policies and procedures to help you function efficiently, and to empower and invest in your staff.  So let's help each other do some demystifying!

Pastor Craig Whisnand is the executive pastor at Bethel World Outreach Church, and oversees all aspect of church operations. He has nearly 30 years of corporate experience in various roles in the areas of administration, leadership and encouragement. He's served in ministry for more than 30 years as Youth Minister, Education, Discipleship, Church Administrator, and Worship Pastor. 


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