Have you ever seen the “check engine light” lit up on your car’s dashboard? That’s never a fun sign. However, it’s better to see that light and get the car checked out then suddenly breaking down on a busy highway.
Those indicators on your car’s dashboard provide useful information to help you stay safe on the road. Similarly, there are several indicator lights in our churches. These take the form of various pieces of information we can use to determine whether we have a potential problem brewing.
When you’re in a church administration role, there are several areas under your responsibility. These often include finances, facilities, staff leadership, scheduling, and more. With all those on your plate, you need a standard set of reports to review each month that help you detect (and therefore avoid) trouble on the horizon or keep things on a healthy course. Here are several reports that can be those indicator lights for your church:
Financial Health Reporting
#1 – Giving
Once your team closes financial books each month, run reports related to giving.
* How much did people give to the church last month and year-to-date?
* How does that number compare to the same month and year-to-date time period last year?
* How much of total giving came in through digital means (online, text-to-give, in-app giving)?
* How much did people donate to a specific fund?
Take action: If giving numbers are lower than expected, identify a few steps church leadership can do to encourage people to give. Maybe that means reminding people about digital giving options (including setting up recurring giving), preaching a sermon series about the church’s vision and how financial contributions fuel that vision, etc.
#2 – Budget vs. Actual
How much did the church spend by department and by expense category last month? Did you stay within budget in each area or were some areas over budget? If so, why?
Take action: For any budget line items that are significantly over (or even under) budget, talk with the staff member responsible for that line item to get more information. Maybe they had to buy supplies earlier than expected and the following month’s spending will be much lower. Regardless, you need to know what’s causing the variance.
#3 – Cash Flow
Do you have enough money in the bank to cover the next 3-6 months of expenses?
Take action: If the answer is “no,” work with church leadership to decide how to add to your church’s savings so you can create a financial cushion.
Facilities Health Reporting
#1 – Facility Maintenance Status
How many requests for repairs did the facilities team handle last month? Are there areas that keep breaking down month after month (a specific restroom, leak in the roof, etc.)?
Take action: If you see certain pieces of equipment or areas repeatedly needing repairs, that could be a sign that you need to replace it or conduct more extensive repairs that will last longer.
#2 – Facility Maintenance Schedule
What areas are due for inspection or regular maintenance in the coming month? Who is scheduled to handle that work? Did you complete all such work that was due in the prior month?
Take action: If there are any areas not receiving regular maintenance, this is something to focus on. Maintaining equipment should extend its useful life, thereby saving the church money on replacement costs.
#3 – Facilities Use
What services, small group meetings, and events are planned for the upcoming months? Does the Facilities team have the information they need about each activity to properly plan for and support each?
Take action: Look at what’s coming up in the next few months. Consider what maintenance activities you need to complete and where that maintenance will occur (and if that’ll conflict with events). Also, start scheduling the facilities team to support each event as needed.
Staff Health Reporting
#1 – Feedback
Has each staff member received at least one evaluation in the last twelve months? Feedback should occur on a constant basis between the staff member and his/her supervisor. However, a formal evaluation process completed annually is also helpful for each team member’s professional development.
Take action: Talk with the supervisor of any staff member who has not received an evaluation within the last twelve months. Make sure that evaluation occurs asap.
#2 – Time Off
Which staff members have a high amount of unused vacation days? Everyone needs time off to rest, recharge, and relax. Make sure your team members are taking their vacation days. Some people are workaholics when it comes to serving at the church. You may need to protect them from themselves by insisting they take time off throughout the year.
Take action: Talk with staff members who have a large number of unused vacation days. Find out why they haven’t taken time off. If part of the issue is that they don’t have a backup to handle their responsibilities while they’re gone, work with them and their supervisor to correct that issue.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, reviewing these reports each month should provide you with valuable information. Use what you learn from these reports to make informed decisions about how to prioritize your team’s efforts.