Hidden Financial Drains to Avoid

As stewards of the financial resources God has provided, we’re responsible for making sure we use that money wisely. There are several areas where churches spend or waste money without realizing what’s happening. It’s not that people are trying to be irresponsible; they simply didn’t see the issue.

A leaky faucet or pipe isn’t an urgent, immediate issue (unless it’s after midnight and you can’t sleep because the noise is driving you nuts). However, over time, it can increase your water bill or cause water damage to the surrounding areas. Either way, you’ll end up unnecessarily spending money you hadn’t planned on.

Churches have leaky pipes as well. These seemingly small issues can add up over time to become significant financial drains that steal from the church’s vision.

In this four-part series, I’m going to raise key areas that might be costing your church. For this post, let’s deal with inefficient systems and processes.

Now, before you start protesting about how “corporate-y” this sounds, please realize you already have systems and processes. You may not call them that or intentionally focus on them, but you do have them. I like how Ron Edmondson defined systems in a podcast interview by Rich Birch. He stated that, “…systems are just the way you get things done.” “And we all have systems whether we know it or not, the standard way that we do things, that is your system.”

For example, systems in your church include:

  • How you help people move from first-time guest to church member
  • Recruiting and retaining volunteers
  • Training new staff members
  • Maintaining your church campus
  • Requesting and purchasing supplies

For these overarching systems, you likely have processes or a series of steps required to facilitate each such as:

  • Creating and distributing first-time guest cards, receiving filled out cards and entering the information into your church management software, assigning someone to contact the guest for follow-up…
  • Developing descriptions of each volunteer role, determining how many volunteers you need in each ministry area, deciding how you’ll identify people who aren’t already serving who may be a great fit, contacting potential volunteers and inviting them to serve…

You get the idea.

The purpose of having systems and processes defined is two-fold:

#1 – They help you achieve the vision

You’ve probably heard the Zig Ziglar quote “If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” I’ve yet to meet a church leader who didn’t want to help guests get plugged in at their church, have a well-maintained church facility, or more volunteers. However, I’ve met more than a few church leaders who don’t have systems and processes in place to make those goals a reality. The goal here isn’t to have great processes – the goal is to have processes that support the church’s vision and mission.

#2 – They save your team time and energy

I’m pretty sure your church staff and volunteers have plenty on their to-do lists. In fact, they might be a bit overwhelmed at the moment. Documenting and putting consistent systems and processes in place reduces workload. Here’s how I know this: Which is more efficient for your staff? Trying to figure out every week how to follow-up with first-time guests or following a proven process week-after-week?

If you don’t already have systems and processes documented, here’s where to start:

  1. Document what you’re currently doing. Your facilities manager probably has a few routine checks he does each month. The next time he gets ready to perform those checks, have him document them.
  2. Evaluate what you’re currently doing. Are the current processes effective? Do they seem overly time-consuming? Are there better, faster ways of getting the work done? Have a few people review each process (from different ministry areas) to get fresh perspectives.
  3. Update the documentation as you make changes to the process.
  4. Create new processes to replace disjointed efforts across your team. Review the new process with everyone impacted and follow-up to ensure they’re adhering to it.

This doesn’t have to, and likely won’t, be a quick effort. Set deadlines over 3-6 a month period for each ministry area or department to go through this process. Then review each system and process at least annually to determine if it’s still the most effective and efficient method.

Documenting and following a process doesn’t sound much like ministry. However, this effort supports the ministry vision of your church. Your staff will be more productive and you’ll likely find ways to save money as you review each process. This takes discipline and consistency, but it’s an investment that can really pay off for your church.

Not sure where to start?  I’ve got your back!  I created a checklist of church systems to help you get going.  Click below to download your free checklist!

Click Here to Download Your Free Checklist