Once the Christmas services are over and the decorations are put back into storage, it's time to prepare for a new year.
January is when most church business administrators focus on sending out tax donation receipts. However, a new year is also a great time to refresh a few administrative areas.
Here are several ideas for making the administrative aspect of your church run even more effectively this year:
#1 Clean up the church database
Since you need to send out donation receipts soon anyway, the start of a new year is a good time to make sure you have accurate addresses and other data within your church database. Consider sending an email to everyone who's donated within the last year asking them to confirm their mailing address. Recruit a few administrative volunteers to sort through the replies and update the database accordingly.
If your church management software is setup to allow members to log into and update their own profile data, that will make life even easier. Simply send them an email asking them to update their mailing address and other profile information. Using the motivator of making sure they get their tax donation receipt on-time makes January a perfect time for this exercise.
#2 Update the church calendar
If your church doesn't have a central calendar of all events and services, this is a great time to create one. If you do, then it's simply a matter of making sure it's current.
Phill Martin with The Church Network, an association for those working in the administrative aspects of the church, recommends reviewing the church calendar with your church's vision and values in-mind. "Consider whether your church leadership has a strategy in-place and if so, is what we're working on supporting that strategy?"
Check with each ministry leader to get a list of events and dates for each. Put those on the calendar along with regular services. Also, make sure you include any weddings scheduled on the calendar. Talk with the person over facilities about any schedule maintenance he has coming up (if you're having the roof repaired, you probably don’t want any big events happening at the church during that time so putting those instances on the calendar is helpful).
A central calendar helps keep the entire team on the same page and can prevent confusion down the road.
#3 Dust off old policies and procedures
When was the last time anyone read (in detail) your church's employee handbook? If there's no mention of social media usage guidelines, it might be due for an update.
What about the procedure for counting and depositing the offering each week? If that procedure doesn't reference how to account for debit card donations in the week's total, a review is definitely overdue.
There's no point in having policies and procedures if we don't keep them current and relevant. Also, this is a good time to consider if you need to document any new policies or procedures. Work with church leadership to review these documents and update as needed.
#4 Develop an administrative volunteer team
Do you spend hours each week preparing the bulletin for Sunday, sending out postcards to last week's first-time guests, or adding people from your new membership class into the church database? If so, why not invite a few detail-oriented volunteers to handle some of these tasks for you?
Decide what you can delegate to them, document how you want them to perform those tasks, invite detail-oriented people to volunteer, provide training, and get them started.
#5 Prepare church staff for the New Year
After all the effort that goes into the Christmas season, church staff members are probably a bit drained. The New Year is a good time to regroup and bring the team together. "Take time to realign and refocus the staff after the busyness of the holidays. Discuss the goals of the next quarter and year overall." Phill Martin
#6 Review your church's technology setup
Hard drive crashes, malware infections, and securing your church's electronic files are potential issues to address on a regular basis.
Consider the following:
Do you have a regular backup scheduled for all church computers and the church's network? Is that data backed up to the cloud or an off-site location?
Are all church computers up-to-date on the latest antivirus software?
Do you need to upgrade any software programs?
#7 Check on the church's insurance coverage
Now might be a good time to talk with your church's insurance agent to review your coverage.
Are you covered for the natural disasters common in your area?
Have you made any changes to the church facilities or added any significant assets recently? If so, are those changes reflected in your coverage?
Per GuideOne Insurance, "During an insurance review, you and your agent will discuss the church's needs, review your policy's current limits and then make necessary adjustments to the policy so your church isn't underinsured. (And so you aren't overpaying for coverage you don't need.)"
#8 Learn about changing regulations
We've recently seen changes to FLSA classifications that directly impact churches and their employees. The Church Network's eLearning Lab includes training on accounting, human resources, and other regulations. Church Law & Tax and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability are also helpful resources for Church Business Administrators.
#9 Take time to refresh yourself
The Christmas season is both a wonderful and very busy time of year for those on church staff. You've probably put in some extra hours in addition to preparing for your family's Christmas celebrations.
Hopefully, your church gives you a few days (or more) off after Christmas. Enjoy that time and relax. Phill Martin offered this advice: "Look at how you support yourself. What is your support network? How do you recharge yourself spiritually? Be intentional about boundaries to help you be strong in your family relationships, your physical health, and spiritual walk."
#10 Schedule review / refresh activities
Now, you probably have plenty to do in January between wrapping up details from Christmas and preparing tax donation receipts. So you likely won't get around to all the items listed above and that's perfectly okay. Instead of adding to your already packed January to-do list, pull out a calendar and decide when to do each of these items.
There's so much behind-the-scenes work that goes into running a church. If you serve in an administrative role, hopefully this list sparks a few ideas to make 2017 even better for you and your church.