You announced it to your leaders, staff, volunteers, and church body. Everyone agrees that it represents what the church stands for and where the church is going.
After hours (or even days) of work, where is your purpose statement supposed to go other than in the back of your mind to inspire you?
There are practical ways you can use your purpose statement that will remind your congregation, community, and internal team why you exist.
#1 – Display it in the lobby.
When people come through the doors of your church, make your vision statement the first thing they see. Decals, signs, and banners are a great way to communicate your church’s vision for all to see.
#2 – Put it on your website.
Many people will visit your church website long before they step foot in the church building. Let them know what your church is all about by displaying your vision statement prominently on your website. You can even use a separate page on your website to further explain what it means for your church’s purpose and role in the community.
#3 – Print it on church merchandise.
A creative way to give your congregation a regular reminder of the church’s vision is to print it on t-shirts, tote bags, buttons, pens, and more. They’ll also be able to use it as a tool to invite people to church when they wear the merchandise out in the community.
#4 – Add it to your staff email signatures.
Besides communicating who you are and what you do, your email signature can also give people a glimpse into the heart of your church.
#5 – Add it to your social media profiles.
It can be tough to know what to include in your bio on social media outside of service times and a link to your website. But the bio section on social media profiles is the perfect place to add your church’s vision statement.
#6 – Print it on your print materials.
Do you ever hand out bulletins on Sundays or post flyers throughout your community during the week? Add your vision statement to programs, business cards, invitation cards, and more.
Every leader has faced that sense of aimlessness as if they’re working toward an ambiguous purpose. When the purpose of your ministry seems unclear, you may find yourself asking, “Why are we even here?”
And that’s why your church needs a purpose statement.
Many use the term purpose, mission, and vision interchangably, but at Church Fuel, we teach them uniquely.
Purpose is your never-changing, deep sense of why. Think “explore space.” Mission is your next current, church-wide objective. Think “go to Mars.” Vision is a preferred picture of the future. Think “everyone has a spirit of exploration.”
A purpose statement that grounds your sense of why can have a big effect, including…
Getting your leadership team and staff on the same page
Helping you mobilize your congregation toward a common goal
Promote unity and understanding between individual ministries
When you’re working with your team to create or update your purpose statement, it helps to have examples on hand to inspire you. Here are twenty-two great purpose statements from churches around the world.
Pastors aren’t always great with the business side of church.
Preaching, casting vision, helping people…those are usually right in their wheelhouse.
But strategy, operations, planning, technology, and finances often feel like they get in the way of real ministry.
“If I didn’t have to do this business stuff, I could do more real people ministry,” pastors think.
Such is the case with systems.
The word “system” itself can create division, with one camp thinking systems and processes are nowhere in the Bible and have little place in the church.
But set up correctly, systems truly enable ministry.
Digging trenches and installing pipes might feel like construction, but if you’re trying to get clean water to people who need it, it’s ministry. Ultimately, good systems in your church could mean that you’re more effective in your mission to make disciples.
Here are seven systems every church needs, along with a few ideas and next steps for each one.
Follow-up is one of the most important parts of ministry, and these follow-up steps happen throughout every ministry and program. As we seek to move people from Point A to Point B, programs and ministries can certainly be involved, but the process itself matters a great deal.
What happens when someone signs up to volunteer? You shouldn’t wonder what to do at that moment; you should have a system.
What happens when a guest visits for the first time? Don’t hope they meet the right person and end up connecting; put your documented follow-up system into place.
Whether you’re following up with first-time guests, new givers, volunteer sign-ups, or event registrations, here are five questions you should ask before designing the actual system. We call this The Follow-Up Framework.
What does success look like?
What do you want people to know?
What do you want people to do?
What do you want people to feel?
What do you want people to believe?
Answer these five questions before you write your emails or set up your automated texting campaign.
We dive deeper into this framework and give recommended campaigns for all sorts of actions in The Follow-Up Course. Learn more here.
#2 – Every church needs a volunteer system.
Churches of all shapes and sizes consistently need volunteers to help do the work of the ministry. The more your church is growing, the more pronounced the need.
I’ve never worked with a church that had too many volunteers.
You can’t rely on great sermons every now and then to fill the volunteer pipeline. And throwing more vision at a group of semi-engaged people isn’t going to be enough.
Since you always need volunteers, you need a great volunteer system.
This volunteer system should have three parts.
What’s your plan to recruit volunteers, either a lot at a time or all throughout the year? In The Volunteer Course, we’ll show you the two main approaches and tell you why you shouldn’t try to mix them.
You MUST have a system to train new and existing volunteers so they can actually be effective. The typical meetings may not work…we’ll show you some better ways.
This is the missing element in most churches. Your volunteers should be the happiest people in your church, not teetering on the verge of burnout. Your system should help you actually pastor and shepherd the people doing the work in the church.
For those who preach every week, you likely have a rhythm to your preparation. Honestly, creating a sermon is a deeply personal experience.
But the more you can streamline your process, the more you can improve as a preacher. And the more you can involve (and even develop) others.
I think about building a sermon in much the same way I think about building a house. Except you don’t have months and months—you have to build a new house every week.
First, there’s the foundation. Just like a foundation is the most important part of a home, the spiritual health of a pastor is the most important part of a sermon. Without this, things eventually fall apart.
Next, you frame the house. Asking key questions about the text, topic, and audience will give you a good structure on which to build.
After framing comes finishing. This is where you write the actual message.
Finally, you furnish and move in. Finally, you practice and evaluate in advance, making sure everything is personalized to you and your congregation.
The Preaching Course, created in conjunction with Ministry Pass, is included in your Church Fuel membership. If you preach on a regular basis or want to develop other speakers in your church, get the course and go through it.
#4 – Every church needs a giving system.
How do you raise money?
How do you manage money?
How do you talk about money the right way?
All important questions for church leaders.
This is not a topic to avoid, because money usually means ministry.
Your giving system is so much more than creating a budget and managing expenses. Your giving system should actually result in an increase in regular giving.
Once a year, finance teams and ministry leaders embark on a process of updating the budget for the new year.
Every church is different, but it’s not unusual for two or three months of reports, requisitions, comparisons, and planning to be debated, crunched, and ultimately presented to the congregation.
A lot of work goes into making a budget, the document that shows how all this money is planned to be spent.
Then throughout the year, there are checks and balances to ensure accountability and wise financial decisions.
But do you know what’s an afterthought in many churches?
Where the money is going to come from.
That’s why we include practical training on the funding plan side in addition to lots of help creating the spending plan part of your budget.
You’ll find this training in The Giving Course, which you can get here. It’s also included for all Church Fuel members.
#5 – Every church needs a connection system.
How do you move people from the community to the congregation to the core? How do you keep people from leaving out the back door? How do you help people engage?
These are all important questions and answering them is crucial to your connection system.
It starts by defining what connected means in your context. Every church is different, but I can tell you how we defined it at the church I helped lead.
We started by answering the question: What do we really want people to do? Then we whittled the answers down to three key actions that went beyond attendance.
We wanted people to give.
We wanted people to join a group.
We wanted people to serve.
Those are all measurable, which means we could quickly identify who was NOT doing them. But if people were doing 2 out of 3, we considered them connected.
Today, we call these the “three key actions” and we have lots of resources to help you lead your church to engage in this way.
How do you define connected or engaged in your church? And do you have a system to lead attenders there? Are you measuring this?
#6 – Every church needs a leadership system.
They asked Ed Catmull, president of Pixar, whether ideas or people were more important.
Here’s his answer.
“Getting the team right is the necessary precursor to getting the ideas right. Ideas come before people. Therefore people are more important than ideas. Find, develop, and support good people, and they, in turn, will find, develop, and own good ideas.”
He went on to say that if you give a great idea to a team of mediocre people, they will screw it up. But if you give a mediocre idea to a team of great people, you’ll have a hit.
In churches today, leadership is the biggest barrier to growth.
Not denomination, facility, or service times.
This means that developing leaders is one of your best opportunities for growth.
It’s not going to take a lot of money, but it is going to require a lot of focus. To do this effectively, you need two things.
Your leadership development cadence answers the question: “When do we do what?” Most development conversations, team building retreats, and training sessions don’t happen because this stuff never makes it to the calendar. It’s something you want to do but not something that actually makes it to your actual calendar. By defining a cadence, you’re setting yourself up for success.
Even if the meetings and conversations are scheduled, you need the content to make it happen. You need the skill-based lesson to teach in the meeting. You need to evaluation form and the growth plan template to have that one-on-one. You need the agenda and toolkit to run the annual strategic meeting.
You’ll find both the cadence and content waiting for you in LeaderPulse. This premium product is a complete leadership development system, easy to customize for your church. It’s not just the recipe, it’s the Hello Fresh style meal prep kit, so you can get going right out of the box.
#7 – Every Church Needs a Communications System
So much of church ministry is communication and messaging. You have to get the right message to the right people.
This means identifying your audiences, creating content, choosing channels and tools, and building a team.
All Systems Fit Together
As you read through this, you probably know a couple of these systems in your church need work. Maybe they don’t exist. Maybe they need a refresh.
You also know they all work together and can help enable ministry.
With the right people, the right programs, and the right processes, you can have a healthy and growing church.
Take the Next Step
Churches tend to focus on people problems, but behind the scenes, broken systems are what’s holding you back.
The Systems Course gives you the training and resources you need to create healthy systems in key areas of your church. This course focuses on key systems like follow-up, assimilation, and stewardship and includes insanely practical video training and actionable resources to help you implement effective systems and processes that help people follow Jesus.
The Covid-19 pandemic wasn’t the first instance of collective grief that congregations around the world have experienced together.
There are congregations in the U.S. that have mourned alongside each other when a domestic terrorist attack happened in their community.
And congregations in China that have grieved the constant persecution their underground church has faced.
Although most pastors have probably helped many individuals walk through grief, the pandemic may be one of the first times they’ve been called on to shepherd an entire congregation through a tough time.
For every congregation walking through grief together—from deaths in their church to challenges in their city—there’s a pastor doing their best to lead them through it.
Along with processing their own grief, pastors wrestle with several questions about how to lead with compassion and discretion.
How can I tactfully recognize a sad season in the life of our church?
What’s the best way to support people without overwhelming them or making things worse?
Should I put on a strong front or be honest about my own distress? How honest?
We have a few best practices and suggestions for how to lead a congregation in a time of grief.
#1 – Acknowledge the pain
When people are grieving, it’s natural to want to gloss over the pain. Acknowledging pain can be uncomfortable and awkward.
But it’s essential for every church and its leaders.
Take the time to establish your theology of pain and suffering before a time of hardship happens. When you’re solid in what you believe about grief, you’re prepared to comfort a mourning congregation in a way that aligns with it. You’ll be able to lead from a place of wisdom and you won’t have to come up with a different, rushed response each time (which can be harmful).
The Covid-19 pandemic reminded us that death isn’t the only type of grief that a congregation might have to go through together.
We saw upticks in job loss, separation from their church community, depression, and more. There were protests, scandals, and political scenarios that also caused grief for many.
Churches can acknowledge the many different types of grief and help people walk through them with hope, encouragement, and support.
As a leadership team, work through ways to acknowledge grief. How will you recognize losses in the life of your congregation? How will you handle times of grief that affect one part of your congregation but not others? What type of action will you take if tragedy strikes? What type of statement are you willing to make?
#2 – Provide support
With so many different kinds of grief, you’ll need to offer various types of support.
People have different needs when they’re grieving. While some may need spiritual encouragement or someone to talk with, others may also need tangible support.
Churches also have more knowledge than the average person about who in their congregation has gone through certain circumstances. Leaders can ask people who have experienced a similar kind of grief to reach out to someone who is currently experiencing it.
#3 – Be honest about your own grief
As a pastor, you may want to look put together and strong at all times. You may want to grieve every sad season of your life in private because you’re afraid that the congregation will view you as weak or unstable.
But you should also want the congregation to see that you’re human. In times of collective grief, it matters that the people in the audience on a Sunday morning know that the pastor leading them has grieved and will grieve with them.
That’s not to say that you have to make your entire personal life public and grieve everything in front of your congregation. But as the Holy Spirit leads, be open to sharing your own pain with your people. Let them comfort you. Let them see that you’ve been through hard times, too.
Being a leader who is honest about their personal grief will make all the difference when the congregation has to grieve together.
#4 – Conduct a survey
Surveying your congregation may seem like a brash way to handle grief, but it’s one of the most caring things you can do.
Don’t wait until a tragedy strikes to find out what your congregation would need in the time of one. When it comes to supporting a grieving congregation, it’s best not to assume what people need.
What do grieving people want you to know? What do people actually need in times of suffering? What was helpful for them in past times of grief and what wasn’t? How did they feel about your church’s response to a previous tough season for the congregation?
When you ask, you’ll find better ways to support your congregation when they’re grieving and your church will be better prepared to step in to help.
#5 – Plan individual and collective follow-up
Churches have various follow-up processes to make sure first-time guests and givers don't fall through the cracks. We want to make sure that people know they’re welcomed and we’re punctual about thanking people for supporting the church financially (or at least we should be).
But what about following up with people who are grieving? Do we circle back around to make sure that those who are grieving have the support they need? Do we take care to make sure that they don’t fall through the cracks?
It’s vital for churches to plan follow-up communication for people who are grieving. Following up ensures that the grieving people in your congregation don’t feel forgotten or alone.
When an individual or family is grieving, make sure that they don’t just get one phone call expressing sympathy. Be ready to offer resources for dealing with the death of a loved one, support for job loss and job searching, etc.
When the congregation is grieving together, one email acknowledging the situation isn’t the most helpful. Follow up with ways the church is offering practical support. For example, if a mass shooting occurs in your community, acknowledge it with prayer and lament and follow up with trauma service recommendations and a list of what people can do to serve the families affected by the tragedy.
How do you know a person is flourishing? What factors play into it?
The perspective piece found that there were 5 Prominent Pathways of Human Flourishing:
#1 – Faith
Likely, your team is flourishing in their faith. Our faith is a firm foundation in difficult times, and no one can argue that the past couple of years have had their fair share of difficulty.
If your team is struggling with Faith, they are likely working through deep theological questions and considering their belief system. We are well into a post-Christian culture, and opposing views and deconstruction are rapidly gaining popularity.
Ask your team:
Do you believe the Bible has authority over what you say and do?
How often are you using or interacting with scripture?
How often do you have a meaningful time in prayer with God?
#2 – Relationships
If your team is struggling with relationships, they may feel lonely, discontent with the connections they have or frustrated with a change of activities available to them.
There are many aspects to a struggle with relationships. It could be wrestling with their marriage, singleness, people may have lost friends/family members to political divides, or general family issues have grown or showed themselves were previously hidden.
“From April to September 2020, among people who screened with moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety or depression, 70 percent reported that one of the top three things contributing to their mental health concerns was loneliness or isolation.”
While connections at work are helpful, it’s often the connections outside of work that are the most impactful. Consider creating some space for your team to connect with their family and friends. If you have married staff members, you could hold or send them to marriage “retreats”. Consider how you are supporting your staff members who are single.
Ask your team:
Are you content in your friendships and relationships?
Are your current relationships at a healthy place?
#3 – Vocation
The average tenure for a pastor is on average, 3.6 to 6 years. And that was in 2018. Recent years have certainly created a strain on pastors and church staff in particular. It’s no wonder that your staff may be feeling the weight, more than ever, of their role and question its sustainability.
If your team is struggling with their vocation, perhaps it isn’t “what they thought it would be” or it’s taken an unhealthy toll on their lives and their families.
If this is an area that your staff is struggling with, likely they are:
Feeling their work isn’t having the effect they thought it would
Wondering if working in ministry is the right place for them
Ask your team:
Do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
Are you able to separate your work from your home? If not, how can I help make that line more clear?
What part of your job is the most exciting?
What part of your job is the most difficult?
#4 – Finances
When we’re stressed and stuck with our finances, it affects every area of our lives. While it would be nice to just throw a pile of money at someone who is wrestling with finances, that’s usually not an option (nor is it what will truly help them in most scenarios).
As finances are intensely personal, it can be a sensitive conversation. Consider offering a financial planner as an employee benefit (you may find someone willing to volunteer certain services). You can also point them to free resources like a podcast or a website to help them manage their money and plan for their future.
Ask your team:
How often do you worry about meeting your monthly living expenses?
Do you feel confident in your financial habits and planning?
When talking to your team about health, aim for non-judgemental questions and more than anything, listen.
Ask your team:
How would you rate your overall physical health?
How would you rate your overall mental health?
How are you sleeping?
How can I help?
Take the Next Step
Leading people is one of the most difficult tasks of pastoral leadership.
In our free guide, The Senior Pastor’s Guide to Leading Staff, you'll learn how to clarify the roles and goals of those that you lead, get tips for leading more effective, productive meetings, and work on becoming a better leader yourself so you can lead others at a higher level.