Is your church still using pen-and-paper to plan events and collect guest information? Do you find yourself going in and manually sending follow-up emails or confirming with volunteers? Are you trying to plan events based on the verbal RSVPs you got last service? There is so much going on at your church and if you’ve been relying on any of these methods of organization, it can probably feel pretty overwhelming at times.

Your time matters. There’s a lot happening each week and the last thing you need to do is to manage details that could be automated.

Here are six things you should be automating at your church so you can focus on what you were called to do — leading your church and reaching people for Jesus.

1. Guest Follow-Up

Are you still typing an individual reply to every person that fills out a connection card? Do you find yourself copying and pasting a past email each time you reach out to someone who’s new to the church? It might seem like a small thing, but the collective time and the diverted focus this task is likely causing is a big deal.

While you will still want to be aware of who is new to your church and specific prayer requests, automating a well-crafted welcome note that is sent shortly after someone submits their information won’t just save you time, it also greets new guests in a timely manner. You can also include resources and links to your upcoming events so they can take the next step sooner.

This is actually a really easy automation to set-up! You’ll get any replies straight to your inbox, but all you have to do is write at least one email (though you could set-up more) that runs in the background every time someone new is added to the system.

2. Giving Responses and Follow-Up

Statistics show that you should be thanking givers within 24-48 hours of their gift. Are you aware of when people tithe? Is thanking someone for giving a task that consistently makes it to the bottom of your list or that you feel is just assumed? Odds are if you don’t have an automated system here, some giving is falling through the cracks unnoticed and unthanked.

By automating your giving responses, you can make sure people get thanked right away. This lets people know that their gift went through and gives them confidence that they made the right choice in supporting the ministry. In this automated response, you could also include what their faithful giving has provided or even update them on any special giving progress.

3. Kids Check-In

If you have kids, you know how crazy checking them in can be. And with safety protocols to match up kids with authorized adults, it’s so valuable to have an automated check-in process here. (If you don’t have a process in place for check-in and security, you need to implement one ASAP! This is a crucial part of reaching younger families.)

By implementing an automated system, parents can check their kids in easily with automatically-printed labels containing all the information people need to know, from your child’s name to any allergies they may have. This system can also integrate into helping you track attendance throughout your children’s ministries.

4. Event Confirmations + Follow-Up

If you’ve tried to plan a church event, you know what a headache it already can be to figure out how many people to plan for, not to mention letting everyone know when dates, times, and locations change. So sending out a confirmation email and creating an updated list of event attendees are two things that should be done, but shouldn’t have to be done by hand.

Automating event lists (who’s attending) allows you to communicate with all the right people, rather than email blasting your entire church when the picnic gets rained out. Everyone who signs up gets added to a list. You can easily email (or text) just those people.

And by automating your event confirmations, you can send out event-specific follow-ups to go directly to the people that attended. This ensures people have the location, time, and any other details easily accessible come the day of the event.

5. Task Management

Have you ever had to track someone down to get a progress update about a task? It can be especially difficult in ministry, as you work with a lot of volunteers who help you in their spare time outside of normal work hours. 

By having an automated system to easily assign tasks and get project updates, you don’t have to spend hours or days playing phone tag with someone. And if you have recurring projects, there are many automations, like our Workflows, that will allow you to set up a progression of subtasks, such as sending a follow-up text to a new guest, updating a donor address, or finishing up plans for an aspect of the Sunday service.

6. Attendance Tracking

It’s helpful to know how many people are actually attending your church, and to easily see who is falling away from the life of the church. Or if your church is hosting an event, it’s valuable to easily be able to see who ended up coming and who wasn’t able to.

By automating your service resources through One Church Software, you can create a check-in system so attendance is taken automatically. As an added bonus, you can set-up a notification for a member of your team or an automated follow-up process whenever someone hasn’t made it to a few services (or a workflow trigger of your choice). This is a great way to make sure no one falls through the cracks!

This is just a short list of some of the things you can automate at your church to save you time so you can lead your church more effectively. If you are ready to start automating or are curious what other time-saving automations are out there, check out One Church Software’s features or reach out to see how we can help equip and organize your church so you are structured in a healthy way.

Dear Pastor,

What a season we have lived through. You have stood as steady as possible and your church members are starting to trickle back into their “normal” routines. But let’s not forget all that we have been through the last 18 months.

You were suddenly faced with the uncertainty of if you could meet or even if you should.

You’ve had to shoulder the responsibility and weight of keeping your members safe while balancing the toll isolation would take on their souls.

You’ve had to shift to a world of virtual meetings and livestream, likely with little to no experience, equipment, or trained staff.

You’ve had countless conversations that felt like they were a lot less about shepherding someone’s soul, and more about the perspective of politicians and the recommendations of doctors.

When you began meeting in-person again, you noticed every face that wasn’t there. And today, there are still those that have yet to return, if they do at all.

You’ve felt the weight of leading your church in a way that honored Jesus and the call to the gospel, but may be fighting the feeling of personal failure when you see so many believers still fighting amongst ourselves.

You’ve been to all of the funerals but missed all the celebrations.

As you press forward, remember that you also need rest. You also need to be cared for. And instead of looking for the faces that are missing, look instead at the faces that are still there. You have done so much with what felt like so little.

God has given you a special calling to lead these people. And that is not by accident! As you are looking to the future and preparing to face new challenges, remember that God is the one that is equipping you to complete this work. You have what it takes to navigate what’s ahead and to shift your ministry as necessary to best meet the needs of your people.

This work is not easy, but it is the most important work in the world! As you work to serve your church, remember Jesus wants to serve them more. As you love these people, Jesus loves them more. You want to reach lost people; Jesus wants to reach them even more than you do! Jesus is ready to do incredible things in your community and He has chosen you to help do that.

So you may feel discouraged or burnt out going into 2022, but we are here to remind you of your calling. To remind you that this is not the end of the story. That God isn’t done working yet. There is hope and many lost people that He is still calling to Himself.

We believe in you and we are cheering you on! God is still doing a mighty work!

Money can be a taboo topic, can’t it? Money has torn families apart. Money has torn businesses apart. Money has torn churches apart. It can be a difficult subject and, because of that, we sometimes avoid it.

But this doesn’t need to be the case!

Given that money is a sensitive subject in churches for any number of reasons—from sin, to past church hurt, or others—we should talk about money strategically.

Here are five intentional ways churches can talk about money that lead to openness and Christlikeness rather than fear and sin:

1. We should talk about money frequently.

One of the most common mistakes church leaders make is avoiding talking about money and generosity until it’s time to initiate a building campaign or another kind of fundraising initiative to support the work of the church. This not only hinders consistent giving, but it can inhibit the trust of people in your church. Learning to manage money with wisdom and in accordance with Christian values are important to life and pursuing Christlikeness. Discussions about how to manage money or cultivate a heart of generosity should not be reserved for when one aspect of the ministry needs a new or expanded space.

Obviously, talking about money too frequently can hurt trust in another way…by making it sound like all your church cares about is money and gathering money from its people—a fear of many Christians that is all too legitimate.

Talking about money is important. Stay consistent with it. Find a healthy rhythm and balance to keep it at the forefront.

2. We should talk about money without shaming people.

Many churches struggle with church members who consume sermons every week and benefit from the ministries of the church without giving of their time or their money to further the work of the church in the community. It is a sad reality, but this is common, and it should be addressed by church leadership. But handling poor giving and stingy hearts by shaming church members who rarely give or don’t give at all is not the way to approach this difficult situation.

Instead, we need to approach how people give with grace and invitation, just like Jesus did. It’s an opportunity to live a life of generosity. This isn’t forced; it’s an invitation to take a step deeper into their walk with Christ.

3. We should talk about money in relation to discipleship.

Sex and money are two of the most common idols that we humans worship instead of our Creator. Part of the reason we are too afraid to talk about money in relation to our faith is because, deep down, we recognize that we hold on to our money a bit too tightly. How we handle our money is a discipleship issue. Mishandling money by being greedy, cheating people out of money we owe them, or other issues like those are spiritual problems, not just ethical or moral problems.

The sooner we start treating our relationship with money as a discipleship issue and not just a “money” issue, the sooner we will start handling our money in a more Christlike, God-glorifying way…and the sooner we’ll be generous with the money we’ve been given.

When church leaders talk about money, it is imperative they lead their people to see their relationship with their money as a matter of spiritual concern. This leads people to understand that money is to be handled with great care because it is so intertwined with their worship.

4. We should talk about money in our children’s and student ministries.

Adults give the most money to the local church, so it is only natural that church conversations about money tend to focus on how adults can be more generous with their money. But because our relationship with our money is a discipleship matter, not just a financial matter, church leaders should be sure that the topic of money makes a regular appearance in children’s and student ministry curricula as well.

Because the church is called to lead children and young adults to have the mind of Christ and pursue godliness in all aspects of life, the church should educate its young people on how to handle money in accordance with their young faith.

Just because young people can’t give very much doesn’t mean we shouldn’t teach them the value of generosity!

5. We should talk about money with eternity in mind.

This point has been hinted at in passing throughout this post, but to wrap it up, let’s reiterate: Our relationship with our money is a discipleship matter, which means our relationship with our money is a matter of eternal importance. By God’s grace, those of us who trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ are saved by Him and what He has done for us. But this gracious salvation does not exempt us from opening our hands and giving back to God those dollars which He gave us in the first place.

God sacrificed His Son so that we might know Him and come to salvation, spending eternity with Him in His presence. In return, we can entrust Him with our finances by pursuing the life of generosity He calls us to.

Leaders, let’s be generous. Let’s encourage a culture of generosity in our churches. And let’s not be afraid to talk about money.

Stewardship is a touchy subject in churches today. It’s something pastors often don’t like to preach about. But it’s inevitable.

We’ve all heard of the summer slump. School is out. Summer vacations are in full swing. Church members are gone, and tithes and offerings take a hit. It seems like everyone knows about online giving today, but how many know about text giving?

Have you ever watched a fundraiser on TV that is trying to raise money for a cause or program? The first ones that come to my mind are instances like the Haiti earthquake or 9/11. Across the bottom of the screen you’ll see “text Give to 12345 now.” Why not do that at the church level as well? I’m not saying to commercialize giving by any means. I’m merely suggesting one more way for churches to allow their members to give the way God calls us to. Here are a few reasons why I like text giving:

  1. It affords more people the opportunity to give. Not everyone carries cash or checks. Most carry credit cards, but when was last time you saw a card reader at church? Very seldom, I’m sure. Text giving eliminates the barrier to give for folks who carry no cash or checks. Donors can also set up recurring payments with text giving, increasing the number of times, on average, people give each month.
  2. It’s inexpensive. For example, with One Church Software you can send or receive texts for $0.01 each
  3. Donors can choose which funds they want to donate to. Just like e-giving through the web, text giving allows multiple funds to receive donations via text. Set up is easy, and data can be exported to any ChMS. So if you have someone who wants to give strictly to missions or the youth that is possible.
  4. Your church gets donations in a timely manner. With some e-giving solutions, churches have to wait several days for money to clear aggregate accounts. With text giving, funds are deposited into accounts within a couple of days. This allows churches to be better stewards with their money.
  5. You can use text giving for things other than tithes and offerings.How cool would it be to create custom registration forms for events at your church? You can do that with text giving. Each form generates a unique URL that you can share via your website or social media. Think about the possibilities of being able to pay for mission trips or summer camp through text giving.

There are other benefits as well, like donor history, email receipts, tax reporting, etc., but the ones listed above are the main features I felt compelled to highlight. As technology continues to expand and churches continue to adopt more digital solutions, consider how text giving can benefit your members and your church.

Author: Matt Morris 

Within the church, all of our ministry efforts and communication should serve one purpose: leading people through their next steps with Christ, from the beginning stages of faith through the rest of their journey alongside your church. If the next steps aren’t made clear for people, they will typically choose to do things in whatever way seems best to them.

So when it comes to our role as leaders (and, in turn, as communicators), our energy should be dedicated to guiding people through those next steps with Christ. And that guidance needs to be clear. Because if it’s not clear, it’s confusing. And if it’s confusing, it’s poor communication. And poor communication is ineffective leadership. Poor communication allows opportunities for agendas and division within the church. Your job as a leader is to keep everyone aligned on mission and focused on the vision of the Church.

So what do we do as Church leaders?

1) You need to define what the “next steps” are.
Most of us like to label keeping people busy as “discipleship.” (I’m right there with you). But, if we’re honest, a lot of times the amount of programs we offer more often hinder people’s abilities to grow spiritually than help it.
We recommend developing a discipleship path to make the journey clear for anyone at your church. That may sound overwhelming, but creating a discipleship path is simply defining the next steps you ask people to take on their spiritual journey. And determining those things specifically will be so helpful in narrowing your ministry focus and prioritizing what you communicate as a church. Pro Tip: The next steps you define should flow out of your specific mission and vision, what God has called your church to accomplish and focus on.

2) Focus on inspiring people to take a next step.
Once you’ve defined the next steps, the goal now becomes leading people through that spiritual journey. You now have the opportunity to get creative by asking the question, “How can we inspire people to take a next step instead of just informing them of what’s available?” Our friends at Fishhook recently wrote a great article on that very topic.

3) Don’t prioritize communicating anything outside of your vision and discipleship plan.
Communication without purpose is just noise. As you define the journey that your church will guide people through, resist the urge to communicate anything that doesn’t fit within that process. Let your vision and discipleship path be the filter that all communication runs through. If it doesn’t make the cut, toss it out.

4) Evaluate your current methods of communication.
Finally, be willing to take an honest inventory of your current methods of communication and their effectiveness. This includes your announcements on Sunday mornings, the layout of your website, your social media presence, your bulletin, and the list goes on…

Don’t let “we’ve always done it this way” be the sole reason you hang on to a method of communication that is outdated or ineffective. And as we mentioned before, measure its worth against the goals you’ve set in both your vision and discipleship plan.

Author: 95Network

Technology is advancing at such a fast pace. It seems like once a tool is introduced to the market, it is out of date very quickly. With SaaS (Software as a service) models being so prevalent in today’s technology environment, updates are frequent. Competition breeds innovation and brings prices down. Software platforms and programs are more affordable than they’ve ever been. 

So how can churches use technology to develop leaders?  

  1. Implement a Learning Management System (LMS). Online learning has been around for almost two decades. During the dot com boom in the late nineties and early 2000’s, online learning companies sprouted up all over the country. I was part of one of those dot com’s. It was a fun ride while it lasted. Many of the smaller companies were acquired by larger companies for their customers. LMS’ in the church world were late to the game, but they’re here now, and there are some really good ones on the market. Online learning allows churches to develop leaders within Her members, equipping them with the right tools they need to become strong leaders and make disciples. 
  2. Make sure you focus on what matters to your church. Denominations are all different. Baptists have different doctrinal beliefs than Catholics do. When developing leaders within your church body, ensure you focus on what matters to you, your doctrine and your theology. Leaders need to know what you believe and why. Online resources in learning management systems allow you to deliver relevant content to your body of believers. In fact, any good LMS will allow you to upload your own content, allowing you to teach exactly what you want to the leaders you are developing.
  3. Developing leaders is a marathon, not a sprint. Some people are natural born leaders, but many are not. Even with natural born leaders, development and continual learning must be a priority. John Rooney said “the quickest way to become and old dog is to stop learning new tricks.” I’m a firm believer in continual education. It is unrealistic to expect leaders to continue to develop without further education. The best leaders I know are learners. They read all of the time. They learn from other leaders. They never cease to stop developing themselves. They have a firm understanding that learning is a process, not a one-time event that makes them a leader. 

One Church Software is excited to announce our ministry partnership with the 95 Network. The 95 Network focuses on connecting small and mid-size churches to BIG resources, by providing content, conferences, and grant funds for coaching and consulting.

This organization is led by a team of phenomenal pastors who have years of experience and success in leading small churches. The 95 Network staff is passionate about seeing churches increase health, grow, and get access to resources.

95% of churches are under 500 in average attendance, and these churches are central to the 95 Network’s ministry.

For more information, please visit the 95 Network webpage.

Obviously, there are many different ways churches can communicate with their members and communities. Years ago, churches all published newsletters. Churches also had bulletins that dumped a lot of content and information on members and visitors each Sunday. With technology, churches have migrated to e-mail newsletters. The invention of Facebook and Twitter has given churches tools to engage and broadcast messages to the church body at no cost. Other tools like Instagram and YouTube allow churches to post photos and videos for everyone to see.

Most churches are behind the curve when it comes to really knowing how to effectively use social media. So, what should churches do in order to make sure they are engaging and communicating effectively with their members?

FOCUS ON THE FOLLOWING:

1) Engage your members where they already are.
If a high percentage of your congregation is on Facebook/Instagram, and most likely they are, start there. As of January 2019, there were over 2.27 billion monthly active users on Facebook. Setting up a Facebook page or Instagram account is simple and doesn’t take much time. Those two forms of social media will help you engage your congregation and community with short messages about what is going on, prayer requests, or daily Bible verses. Make sure you are investing in these two areas.

2) Use social media as an outreach tool.
Many potential visitors will view your social media accounts prior to making a visit to your church. Communicating clearly with effective and engaging messages will say a lot about the vision you are hoping to get across. That leads us to our third point.

3) Keep your content relevant to your church and ministry.
What kind of personality does your church exhibit? Social media reflects your reputation and vision. Make sure the messages you send via social media represent who you are. Do not post anything on social media that could be misconstrued or interpreted in a way you do not intend. Social media is perfect for communicating short messages on a regular basis. Daily Bible verses, prayer requests, information about events or sermon times, etc., are good examples.

4) Who should I choose to lead social media for my church?
First and foremost, make sure that the staff member or volunteer you choose to lead your social media efforts is not a rookie in this area. Is one of your staff members very active and engaged on Twitter while another may use Facebook or Instagram more predominantly? It’s okay to have more than one person for each platform, just make sure they are communicating the same message and vision. In addition, it’s helpful to have one point person to hold multiple social media account owners accountable.

5) It’s ok to NOT be on some social media platforms.
There are multiple social media platforms, and it’s not necessary to have a presence on all of them.

The way we communicate as a church is changing. The way people in your congregation and community consume content is changing. If you haven’t already, adopt new social media tools. They can help you develop new relationships with people outside of your church and enhance existing relationships with the members of your church body.

Author: Matt Morris 

The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow in you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.
— 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Let’s be honest – Stewardship can be a challenge for many church bodies today. Pastors tend to focus on stewardship once or twice per year, and often times, it can be a topic that they just don’t want to preach about. For a church member, being a good steward is something we are called by God to do, but we don’t often make it a priority like we should. E-giving can help address some stewardship issues. In fact, LifeWay Research says that 23% of churches see a greater percentage of the congregation giving on a regular basis with e-giving.

E-GIVING IS A BROAD TERM THAT ENCOMPASSES A FEW DIFFERENT FORMS OF GIVING:

  1. ONLINE GIVING – GIVING VIA YOUR CHURCH WEBSITE
  2. MOBILE GIVING – GIVING VIA YOUR CHURCH MOBILE APP
  3. TEXT-TO-GIVE – TEXTING A NUMBER WITH THE AMOUNT OF YOUR TITHE
  4. KIOSK GIVING – GIVING VIA A KIOSK AT YOUR CHURCH

So how do we as church leaders address issues with giving head-on in a digital world? Long gone are the days when everyone brought his or her offering in an envelope each Sunday. I still see some people do it, but it’s not as commonplace as it was even five years ago. We are seeing a similar shift with Bibles as well. People are leaving their Bibles at home in favor of Bible apps on their smartphones or tablets. With giving, churches need to meet their members where they are. Two of the excuses I hear the most from church leaders who are against e-giving are “It’s not a worship experience” and “It’s not safe.” First, I believe that engaging in stewardship is an act of worship, no matter the method. Beyond that, I’d like to offer you a few points to help you address this possible contention within your church body.

HOW TO ADDRESS THIS POSSIBLE CONTENTION WITHIN YOUR CHURCH BODY:
1) Make it easy.
The last thing you want for your members is a clunky, wordy, and sloppy experience. Of course, online givers will have to register once. After a giver sets up his or her account, it should be much easier on subsequent interactions, which only ask for a giver’s tithe amount, the budget to which he or she wants to give and the method of payment. Even the giving transaction itself can be automated based on remembering preferences at the user level.

2) Who is in control?
Your members like to have autonomy. They want to know they can control their giving each and every week. Some givers may want to set up recurring payments using their debit cards. Others may want to give various amounts each week to different ministries via automated checks. Regardless of the circumstance, make sure they have the ability to maintain control of their tithes and offerings.

3) Assure members that it is safe.
PCI compliance isn’t a household term. You may know exactly what I’m talking about, but most of your members probably don’t. People want to make sure their credit, debit, or check information is safe. Of all the places for them to trust, a church should be at the top. But they don’t realize the church isn’t the one processing the payment. That’s why PCI compliance is so important. Make sure you work with a processor who is PCI level 1 compliant. In short, that means they have met the highest level of security standards set by the Payment Card Industry, and they process hundreds of thousands of transactions per year.

4) Worship experiences shouldn’t be confined to your church.
Worship should extend to homes as well. Encourage people to worship with their families as they give their tithes and offerings with their spouse and/or children. Encourage members to use this as a time to teach their children why God calls us to give. In fact, place some educational information in your church bulletin about e-giving. Reinforce the fact that God calls us to be good stewards of what He has entrusted us and explain how their tithes will help make disciples.

E-giving can help engage your members and meet them where they are. Giving them options on how to be good stewards can also enrich their worship experience. Without online giving, we miss out on an incredible way of becoming more like Christ, both as individuals and as a community.

Author: Matt Morris 

How much time each day do you think the average American spends on his/her mobile device? Not talking, but actually consuming content? Take a guess. According to a recent report by eMarketer, people spend 4 hours and 40 minutes each day on their mobile devices. 2 hours and 21 minutes of that time is in an app; the rest is online! People are checking email; perusing websites; checking Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; and playing games. You name it; they do it on their mobile devices. The number one reason people use their mobile devices is because of convenience. It’s easy to consume content when it’s right at their fingertips. Your church website is no different. Most of us probably have a decent church Web page, but how many of you know if your page is responsive to mobile users? Have you checked that out lately? Go ahead. Get out your mobile device and go to your website. Are you pinching and zooming to read what is there? Do images and content scale and reorganize themselves? If not, your website isn’t responsive and needs to be updated. It will provide your users a much more positive and less frustrating experience. Now that we have responsive design out of the way, you’re probably asking, “Does my church need a mobile app now?” There are several advantages in having a mobile app for your church. An app allows members to dive deeper and consume content not on your website. It’s a much more interactive environment. People can listen to sermon audio and view video, upload or view photos, ask for prayer, read your pastor’s blog, tithe through the app and much more.


WHEN/IF YOUR CHURCH DECIDES TO MOVE FORWARD WITH DEVELOPING A MOBILE APP, HERE ARE THREE THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:

  1. Keep content fresh and updated regularly. Having a good content management solution in place will help with this. Find a service or technology tool that allows you to update all of your content channels in a single location, meaning there is no need to update the same information twice. (Hootsuite is a good option for managing all of your social media channels.)
  2. Make sure your app environment is one where people will always want to come back for more. The average lifespan of an app is four months. After that time, people tend to lose interest. Your church app should be different. Keeping your members engaged which will keep them coming back.
  3. Just like your website, make sure you have a clearly defined purpose for your app. It doesn’t need to be purely informational. If it is, you won’t even make the four-month mark. More and more churches are seeing the need for both responsive mobile sites and mobile apps now. However, the majority of churches are late to adopt. Don’t wait until your members start asking if you’re ever going to develop an app. Serve them well by staying ahead of
    the curve.

Author: Matt Morris