With the start of a new year, it can seem like everyone is setting a resolution to lose weight, break a bad habit, or start a new hobby. It may feel like setting goals in January is more of a fad that we quickly forget once February arrives. 

However, there is value to setting goals during the start of a new year that shouldn’t be ignored.

Whether this is a new year or just a new season at your church, today we want to share a few principles every church leader should keep in mind when setting goals:

1) Setting goals is an important part of spiritual leadership.

As a leader in your church, people will naturally look to you for guidance and clarity in what direction the church is taking. You have a noble calling to lead and shepherd these people toward Christ and to reach the surrounding community. But this doesn’t just happen. It requires an intentional plan. As such, you should take time to set goals for yourself, your church, and how you will reach others.

In the end, it is God that will bring fruit to our efforts but it’s our job to partner with Him by creating a plan, setting goals, working the plan, and then seeing how God uses those efforts.

2) Don’t just make a to-do list; cast a vision.

It’s easy to set a long list of things to do, but that isn’t actually the point of setting goals for your church. Not to mention, you’d have to create unique to-do lists for each area of your ministry. Instead, you should focus on casting a vision. Help people see how the goals that the church is setting are actually helping the ministry move towards the overall vision.

This is an opportunity to inspire rather than just inform.

3) Don’t be afraid to reach for the stars, but make sure your goals are still realistic.

Michael Hyatt has said, “You can’t get where you want to go unless you start with where you are.” When setting goals, it’s hard to find that middle ground. We want to be ambitious and set near-impossible goals. Or we want to be realistic and don’t dream big enough.

A good goal will stretch us beyond what we are capable of, and will require God to show up in order to achieve it, but it remains in the realm of possibilities. “By next year, our church will take our attendance from 500 to 5,000” is an example of a near-impossible goal (in that timespan).

4) Be sure your goals are SMART.

If you aren’t familiar with the acronym of SMART goals, here’s a quick breakdown:

Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Relevant
Time-bound

The purpose of this acronym is to give you a tool to not only plan, but also achieve your goals. It’s one thing to say, “We want to reach our community.” It’s another thing to say, “By December 31, we will see 100 new connect cards filled out by first-time guests.” One is time-bound and measurable, and the other is not.

Utilize SMART goals in your planning!

5) Check your progress.

Just like those that make New Year’s Resolutions, if you don’t make a plan to follow through on your goals, you will tend to forget about them. The purpose of goal-setting is to keep you accountable to the mission as you move through the year.

Take the time now to set up times to review how you are doing with each goal. Make a reminder in your calendar now so you can look back at your goals and continually track your progress.

Goal-setting can feel like a heavy responsibility and a lot of work. The truth is that it is both of those things! It takes time and effort to set meaningful goals for your church and that is not something that should be taken lightly. The effort is well worth it! 

So this month, feel free to dream big, set goals, cast vision, and get excited about how God will show up to help you meet those goals. Setting goals is a necessary part of being a church leader, and you are equipped to dream about a potential future to pursue alongside your God.

Discover an all-in-one technology solution to help you care for your members, empower your volunteers, & serve your community. Learn more about One Church Software.

“A solid budget and spending plan creates trust between church leaders and church members, which is important because so many people lack trust in churches to manage money well because of past experiences they have had.”

Happy New Year! As we kickoff this fresh year, we’re tackling an important topic: Church budgets.

Most people who find themselves on staff at a local church didn’t go to school for finance or accounting. Few (if any) seminaries have classes about creating or maintaining a church budget. Wise stewardship of parishioners’ tithes can definitely fall into the “nobody-taught-me-how-to-do-this” area of ministry. But if the local church is going to handle money in a trustworthy, God-honoring way while also funding the important work of ministry that church members do, establishing an effective church budget has to be a top priority.

Whether you’re getting ready to plant a church or you’ve become a leader at a centuries-old church that doesn’t have the most solid budget, the best time to create a church budget was yesterday. The second-best time to create a church budget is now.

But where do you even start? How do you create a solid church budget from scratch? Here are a few considerations to get you started down the right path:

1) Consider your values.

Before you get into the weeds of dollar amounts, giving trends, and bookkeeping details, you need to be sure that the budget you’re creating is reflective of your church’s values and the needs of your church family. If your church is mostly made up of young families, it makes more sense to allocate more funds toward the children’s ministry than the senior adult ministry. If your church sits near an underprivileged neighborhood where you do regular ministry, it probably makes more sense to allocate more funds toward that work than it does toward another ministry effort that, though worthwhile, doesn’t fit the work of your church body quite as well.

Ultimately, if you don’t make your budget align with the values of your church, it won’t matter how well you evaluate giving trends or track spending. Why? Because your church members likely won’t give with the same consistency and generosity as they would if your budget aligned appropriately with the values and unique context of your church.

2) Evaluate past and projected giving trends.

Most church giving experts recommend not relying too much on past giving trends or projected giving trends to create your church budget, but to consider both past receipts and future projections. Every church is different, but generally speaking, creating a church budget based on past giving trends may cause you to create a budget that is too conservative, and misinterpreting future giving trends may lead you to create a budget that overestimates the dollars your church will receive in the coming months and years.

It is a good idea to examine the last few years’ giving, figure out what the “minimum” giving situation may look like to give you a sort of baseline off of which to work, and then project some increase based on higher church attendance or other similar factors.

Again, every church is different and your church’s context may lead you to consider putting more emphasis on either past or future giving…and that is okay! Just be sure to consider all possibilities and not marry your budget to one or the other too strongly.

3. Track every dollar collected and spent.

A fine-tuned budget established by a careful evaluation of past and future giving trends and defined by the values and work of the ministry can be completely and devastatingly sidetracked by poor accounting. What good is a budget if church leaders aren’t intimately aware of how much money is being given to the church in a given week and how much money the church is spending in a given week? Creating an effective budget but not tracking giving and spending is like buying a $300,000 Lamborghini and letting your teenager use it for driver’s ed—it’s foolish and dangerous!

It’s true: tracking every dollar your church collects and spends can be cumbersome. There’s no doubt about it. But effective money management is the gasoline that makes an effective church budget run. By tracking your funds, you provide your church members with a sense of trust that they deserve, and you make your budget more effective for future years.

Budgeting is important! It’s important for families, and it’s just as important for church families! A solid budget and spending plan creates trust between church leaders and church members, which is important because so many people lack trust in churches to manage money well because of past experiences they have had. At the same time, a church budget that is created with your values in mind and maintained by wise financial tracking will make your ministry more effective and help you reach more people with the gospel that we have been charged to share with the world.

Don’t neglect your church’s budget! Make one today.

When you use One Church Software, all of your giving, accounting, and people records are seamlessly connected within your church management software. Learn more about accounting within One Church >>

Holiday decorations? Check. Christmas sermon written? Check. Choir and band ready to perform? Check. Community outreach? Check.

If you are someone that likes checklists, you probably have one similar to the one above. Planning and preparing for the Christmas season is one of the busiest times of the year for church leaders. And you likely spend a large part of this time getting ready to share the hope of this season with your regular churchgoers and new guests.

But after the lights and candy canes are put away, there are still a few things that need to be done that can be easy to forget about.

As you prepare to celebrate with your family and look back on the year, be sure to set aside time to do these items that should be on every church leader’s end-of-the-year checklist:

1) Review your 2021 goals

You (hopefully) took some time to make them at the beginning of the year, so how did you do at achieving those goals? Were there some you didn’t reach or accomplish? Don’t just breeze past them; instead, take some time to review why. If you had too many goals or not enough help in achieving them, that will be important as you set new goals for 2022. It’s even just important to review all that you did in 2021! Celebrate how far you’ve come and the impact your church has had!

2) Evaluate your communication systems and where you can improve.

This is a great time to honestly evaluate how well your church is communicating. What’s working? What’s not? This doesn’t just apply to how you communicate with your church at large, but also how you communicate with your teams. Do you utilize software that helps track and notify team members that are volunteering or supporting a certain ministry? If you already do this, take some time to ask your teams how they feel it’s working and if you need to do anything differently.

3) Thank your faithful givers.

The end of the year is a perfect time to be able to effectively thank not only your regular members, but anyone that has given to your church. Make sure to include updates on special giving campaigns, missionaries, local ministries you support, and what the impact of their giving was in the last year. Saying thank you is so important to let people know that they are making a difference. This may be included with people’s yearly giving statements or it may be in addition to it.

4) Check to see if anyone is in need.

Christmas can be a hard time of the year for some. If they don’t have family, live far away from them, or have maybe experienced a loss this year, Christmas can feel lonely and isolating. Take some time to think about those in your church. Is there anyone that you haven’t seen around in a while that your church should reach out to? Is there someone that has lost their job or had health issues?

5) Give yourself time to rest.

Like really rest. It seems like the last two years have flown by and many church leaders have been working non-stop to adapt how we have done church during this time. Have you taken the time to rest and be still? Even if you’ve already taken some time to do that in the past, this should be a regular habit that is practiced.

As we celebrate Christ’s birth and close out 2021, we hope you plan some extra time to take care of these end-of-the-year tasks, and also to rest and spend meaningful time with family. Leading a church and organizing all of these things takes a lot of work. But we know that Christ is the one that will take our faithful efforts and cause them to bear fruit in 2022.

From all of us here at One Church Software, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

The generous financial gifts of a local church congregation are the backbone of sustaining a local church. Money and giving are twin topics that are often taboo in a local church, and this can obviously inhibit giving and cripple the financial situation of a ministry. It isn’t very fun to think about, but doing ministry does cost money, and the generous giving of church members is needed if the church is to serve their community in tangible ways.

One of the greatest giving pain points in local churches is encouraging giving among young adults. Research shows young people trust churches and church leaders less than their parents or grandparents did at their age. This lack of trust can often lead to a lack of giving. Then, their lack of giving can hobble the ministry of the local church.

How does a local church encourage young families to give? Here are three practical steps:

1. Make recurring giving simple.

Very practically, churches must make recurring giving as simple as possible. Once upon a time, churches could count on members remembering to bring their tithes via check or cash every week, or perhaps once per month. With the digital revolution and the relatively recent phenomenon of electronic bill paying, few young people (including people well into their 30s and even 40s) carry cash or checks with any regularity. If your church only has physical giving options available, with no opportunity to automate giving electronically, you’re missing out on a lot of potential to make giving easy for this generation.

Young people are much more likely to regularly and generously give to the local church if they have a way to do so electronically. This obviously has nothing to do with the discipline of generosity that should be important to all believers. Not having an opportunity to give to a church through the internet is no excuse for not giving at all. But local church leaders should recognize that friction can be reduced for young people who want to give by providing plenty of opportunity to set up recurring giving via an app or other kind of payment service. This will ensure regular giving from young people.

But how do these people begin to give generously, rather than just consistently? See steps two and three.

2. Make your values, not your programs, the focus of giving.

Church culture changes over time. This is only natural and has happened generationally for hundreds of years. Worship styles change. How people prefer to gather changes. Preaching styles shift. The Word of God and the message of the Gospel stay the same, but all of the contextual pieces around “how to do church” are pretty fluid.

One way these changes have been manifested in our current context is in how young people view church. Evangelical churches in the late-20th and even early 21st centuries were built on programs. Many young families around the turn of the millennium flocked to churches with the coolest children’s programming, the nicest facilities, or the most fun youth ministry. Do many people still choose churches and generously give to churches for these reasons? Most definitely. But the tides are turning away from programs and more toward values and community.

Plenty of statistics abound about how young people make more decisions based on values than generations who have come before. Young people today are more likely to give to your church because of your values than they are because of your programs. Quality church programming became such an integral part of local church ministry that it was almost commoditized—quality church programming could be found anywhere. Now, with a generation of young Christians who have seen some of their most beloved Christian leaders fall out of ministry because of moral failure or even criminal behavior, they are more likely to give generously to a church with whom their values align and who they can trust than a church with the coolest children’s ministry programs or facilities.

That last point, focused on trust, is our third and final step:

3. Make your church finances and budget transparent.

There is absolutely no reason that church finances and budgets should not be transparent to church members. This doesn’t mean church staff need to project their salaries up on the big screen once a month, but it does mean that church members should have a breakdown on where finances go, so they can make an educated and confident decision as they give.

Church leaders who provide no transparency into how church money is used or how budgets are made have no leg to stand on when it comes to wondering why church members aren’t giving. Young people are more skeptical of church leaders and their authority than any generation in modern history. Church leaders today need to earn the trust and respect of young church members, and when it comes to money, trust and respect is earned with transparency.

Young families will give generously when they realize their values align with the church’s values and when they are assured that the people collecting and spending their money are trustworthy and of Christlike character. Then, churches can encourage frictionless, consistent giving by providing young families with electronic means to set up recurring giving.

Want to read more?
5 Ways We Should Talk About Money at Church
5 Reasons to Consider Text Giving for Your Ministry

Looking for an easy giving solution for your church? Look no further than One Church Giving, Our safe, secure, and fully integrated giving solution. Learn more here.

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.

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

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.

You have between five and 10 seconds to get people focused on who you are and what you are all about. That’s right – between five and 10 seconds. Just to put things into perspective, Krispy Kreme recommends you warm its glazed donuts in the microwave for eight seconds for that “hot donuts now” experience.

Most traffic to your church website is from potential visitors and newcomers. Your site is a virtual welcome center, open 24/7/365. I’ll define a “visitor” as someone who has only been inside your church three or fewer times. Visitors make decisions and form opinions about your church based on the information they see online. Often times, they ask themselves, “Will I/my family fit in?” So, ask yourself, why do people come to our website?


FOCUS ON THE FOLLOWING WITH YOUR WEBSITE:

  1. Who you are and what you are all about should be clear.
    Do you have a lot of young families in your church? Are you an ethnically diverse church? What is your worship style? Contemporary or traditional? What is your theology? You want visitors to know all about your church within seconds of being on your website. Subconsciously, they will form opinions about whether or not they will fit in based solely on your homepage content and images. If you have a contemporary worship style, don’t show a picture of an organ. And don’t show pictures of a bunch of young kids if your church represents an older demographic. Make content a true representation of your church.
  2. Communicate where you are.
    It’s great to tell people in your community all about your church, your mission, vision and values, but if it’s hard for people to find where you’re located, chances are they’re going to stop searching. Make that information easy to find, possibly in a couple of places within your site.
  3. Tell people when to be there.
    If you tell people who you are, what you’re all about, and where you are, but forget to tell them when to be there, how will they know when to come? Make service times a priority just as much as location, even including service times under your address. I’ve seen several churches that have images scrolling on their homepages where one image is dedicated solely to the current sermon series and when to be there. Make people want to come. Tell them when to be there.
  4. Content is key.
    Whatever you decide to include about who you are and what your church is all about is up to you, but keep it simple. Don’t overload people with a ton of useless information. Also, make sure that you are choosing images that correspond to the content on your website. Images solicit emotional responses. Again, people form opinions subconsciously based on what they see
    on your website.

Author: Matt Morris