6 Trends to Pay Attention to as a Result of COVID-19

6 Trends to Pay Attention to as a Result of COVID-19

Epidemics can send shockwaves of panic and disorder through every industry. COVID-19, AKA The CoronaVirus, is presenting new challenges to pastors and church leaders worldwide. Hopefully you have a Coronoavirus response plan, and if you don’t, Northshore Church created a great one. Check it out HERE.

These guides from Tithe.ly also have great information about holding virtual church services, receiving digital contributions, and even serving communion online.

The Church Communications Facebook Group is filled with church communications experts sharing ideas and strategies.

I know you need quick help. I know you need to respond now.

But there will be long-lasting ramifications of this epidemic that churches need to consider.

This is not a “sound the alarm” post, but rather a step-back look at some of the trends you will be likely to see. The last 30 days are just the beginning of what will be a new reality for many churches over the next year.  

We want you to be prepared, not just for the next week or the next month, but for the next years of ministry in your community.  

Here are some trends I see continuing, and questions you need to be asking, well after the immediate effects of COVID-19 are over.

People will get used to watching online.

Some churches will introduce live-streaming or video capabilities for the first time.  Others will see an uptick in viewers as people are forced or choose to stay home.

And you know what? People will like it. They will realize it’s easier.  They may decide it’s quicker, safer, and almost the same as being there.

By the way, the data is also showing an uptick in e-commerce, as people are choosing to shop online for things they used to buy in stores.  Many will keep doing that, creating new patterns.

Ask: How are we going to address, connect, and engage our members online?

Attendance will be slow to recover.

Between realizing they enjoyed online services and the lingering fear of large gatherings, attendance will take a big hit. 

Even when the news quiets down, people will be slow to return to church services, and the lower attendance could carry through the rest of the year. It may be 2021 until attendance trends return to normal.

And of course, attendance affects volunteers, too.  

Ask: How are we going to cover the volunteer gaps and draw people back to services?

Giving will be slow to recover.

Giving doesn’t always track with attendance, but fewer participants usually means lower offerings. 

But in this case, the epidemic came with significant financial implications. We’ve officially dropped into a bear market, which means a 20%+ drop in the market.  Many businesses are struggling and will continue to struggle from the economic impact.  This means people will have less discretionary income. And since most people give to charity out of their discretionary income, we can expect that giving will be down.

Your church may see a 10-20% reduction in overall giving year over year.  As the market and economy will recover, church finances will follow. But it will take time.

Ask: How can we prepare now for a significant decrease in future giving?

Large conferences will take another hit.

We’ve already seen a shift in conference strategy, with boutique events emerging as preferred alternatives to large gatherings.

Some people will remain skeptical and cautious of large gatherings because of germs; others will realize they didn’t really miss out attending the conference that got cancelled. Not to mention that conferences and professional development  are often the first thing to go when church budgets are tightened. This will drive growth small or virtual experiences.

Ask: What conferences do we have coming up? Will we send people? If not, how can we continue training, equipping, and developing our staff and leaders?

People will see benefits in working from home.

So many companies introduced or doubled down on working from home. Most of those will love the freedom and efficiency, so we will see a nationwide uptick in virtual work as a preferred method.  

Remote work management and team collaboration software like Zoom, Slack, Trello, and Loom will begin to replace in-person meetings and communication.

Churches, who are slowly beginning to adopt this trend, will see even more benefits from it. 

Ask: What are some ways we can equip ourselves to function better virtually? 

Division will become more apparent.

An already divided country now has another topic to divide us. It’s not just race, politics, and religion; now you can add medicine to the mix.  Just look at the comments on any post and you’ll find 50% of people sounding the alarm and 50% of the people saying it’s no big deal.

If it wasn’t clear that we’re living in polarizing times, it will be now. Churches will continue to minister in this new reality, realizing they have congregations with wildly differing opinions.  

Ask: How can we communicate important messages to both ends of the spectrum?

At the end of the day, you are the light and the hope. In the darkest of times, the church shines like a beacon, carrying a message that everyone yearns and now realizes, they need to hear. 

Remember, the best plan is one that is written down. Write a plan, consider the potential scenarios, and love people well. In a season where it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with fear, lead with confidence and certainty.  Confidence that you’ve done the work to prepare, and certainty that you’ll show up no matter what.

Five Keys to Effective Follow Up

Five Keys to Effective Follow Up

Following up is one of the biggest missed opportunities in churches. Without a clear follow-up strategy and process, first-time guests don’t feel welcome or get connected, new givers don’t know the impact their donation has and might not feel compelled to give again, and new believers don’t get a clear path for growth.

Just like you don’t communicate with your 14-year-old nephew and your 80-year-old grandmother the same way, you’ll use many different methods to follow up with different groups in your church. But there are a few defining characteristics of a great follow-up process that are important for every follow up process you have.

#1 – Punctuality

Imagine if you met someone new and sent them a text message two months later saying, “It was so nice meeting you!” They might not believe you. Timeliness in following up with guests is critical. Research has shown that your guest retention rate is highest when you follow up within 48 hours.

In 1987, statistics from Herb Miller reported how many guests will return depending on how quickly someone from the church visits their home.

  • 85% of guests return if visited in 36 hours
  • 60% of guests return if visited in 72 hours
  • 15% of guests return if visited in 7 days

We can replace “visited” with “called,” “emailed,” “texted,” etc. in today’s follow-up strategies, but the point remains strong: following up quickly makes your guests feel seen and valued, which makes them more likely to visit your church again.


#2 – Personalization

Many churches have a follow-up process that includes one automated email with a generic message about coming back soon and listing the service times. If that’s your church, you have a big opportunity to improve your process by personalizing it.

Emails are still effective, but make them more personal with an introduction letter from the pastor and their family, answering frequently asked questions, linking to previous sermons they might find helpful, or a list of ways they and their children can get involved.

The follow-up process is also a great way to involve volunteers. Volunteers can write handwritten notes to first-time guests and givers, make phone calls, or send texts. There’s a place for automation (and, as we mentioned above, a way to make automation feel less automated), but there’s nothing like a personal touch.


#3 – Intentionality

It’s time to get serious about following up. A follow-up process that makes guests feel cared for and helps them get connected in your church doesn’t happen by accident. Those you’re following up with can tell when your efforts are rushed and uncoordinated, so it’s worth taking the time to focus on how your church can intentionally follow up with people.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Start simple by putting a system in place to follow up within 48 hours. Assign parts of the process to different members of your team and ask them to report on how many follow-up postcards, emails, etc. were sent each week.

Download our free Follow-Up Checklist to start evaluating the most important parts of your follow-up processes and establish clarity in ownership, effectiveness, and more.

#4 – Clarity

Your follow-up process should answer the “Now What?” question. It’s up to you and your team to define what the next steps are so you can clearly communicate them when you follow up.

  • “Thank you for giving to our church. Please pray about our upcoming opportunity to reach our community, which your donation will allow us to do in the following ways.”
  • “We’re so glad you accepted Andrea’s invitation to visit our church. We saw that you live in the Fulton County area, and Jennifer leads an awesome group of women there. I’d love to connect you two.”
  • “It’s awesome to see you building your new relationship with Jesus. I’d recommend starting with this Study Bible and devotional.”

Clear and simple next steps give a purpose to your process and give people a path to follow. Once you’ve defined that process, that brings us to the next important part of it…


#5 – Documentation

Don’t assume that everyone on your team knows how to follow up, that guests know what’s next, or that givers know how much you appreciate their giving.

Write it down. Put it on the calendar. Present it to your staff. Documentation takes the guess-work out of what’s next when someone takes an action at your church (visiting, joining a small group, becoming a believer, etc.). It’s hard to follow a process you can’t see, but when your process is documented, your church has an official plan for following up—one of the most important actions a church can take.

To make sure you have everything you need to implement your follow-up process, we created the Follow-Up Checklist to help you get started. This free resource will help you…

  • Evaluate the key pieces of your follow-up process
  • Ask the right who, what, and how questions
  • Establish clarity in ownership, effectiveness, and more

Download it for free below to start improving your church’s follow-up process today.


5 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Church Website

5 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Church Website

Your church website shouldn’t be static.

It's not something you can “set and forget.” 

Rather, it should adapt to updated technology and how people interact with websites, which is continually shifting.

This doesn’t mean you have to revamp your website every month. 

Far from it. 

But there is a precedent for keeping an eye on how well your website is performing. 

Is your website leading people to visit your church? 

Is it helping visitors to engage with your church community? 

To help you assess whether your church website is serving a purpose and not collecting dust, here are five things your site should accomplish—today. 

#1 – Clearly display your purpose

Your website must be (really) clear. 

I’m not talking about the quality of your images. 

Instead, what I have in mind is the communication of the ONE step you want your website visitors to take. 

Do you want them to visit your worship service? 

Do you want them to listen to the most recent sermon? 

Do you want to promote what ministries you have available? 

Ultimately, what ONE action do you want visitors to take? 

Now, let me ask you these follow-up questions:

Is this ONE thing made crystal clear on your website? Can your website visitors easily find this ONE thing? Or is it buried in one of your website’s internal pages, toward the bottom of your homepage, or crowded out by 10 additional calls to action? 

If you don’t make your ONE purpose clear on your site, then you’re making a big mistake. 

Here’s why:

Based on a recent study, when someone first visits your church’s website, he or she will only spend 5.59 seconds reading your homepage’s written content.

What’s the moral of the story? 

If the ONE step you want people to take isn’t clearly displayed, then the majority of your website visitors will not take that step. 

Action: Ask five people (friends, colleagues, volunteers, staff) to look at the homepage of your website for six seconds and answer this question: After looking at our website, what would you say is the ONE thing we ask you to do? 

#2 – Improve your website load time

Your website has to be fast. 

Like, really fast. 

According to the same study I mentioned above, nearly half (47%) of the people visiting your website expect it to load in two seconds or less. If it takes your church's website longer than this to load, then your website visitors will bounce. 

Here’s the deal:

You can have a slick website. It can have killer images, crazy good copy, and stunning design. But if it takes longer than two seconds to load, then your website will be more like an online trampoline. 

Action: Go to PageSpeed Insights by Google to see how long it takes for your church’s website to load. This is a free service, and Google will provide you with some tips on how to improve your website’s speed. 

#3 – Help people find your church

Your website doesn’t have to be complicated. 

In fact, most people visiting your website are looking for practical information. 

Based on a report by GreyMatter, here’s what visitors are looking for: 

  • What time are your services?
  • What activities or ministries do you offer?
  • Where are you located? 
  • Can I listen to or watch a sermon? 

Make this information easily accessible. 

Fight the temptation to bury this deep within your website. 

You want your website visitors to quickly figure out where you’re located and what time they need to be there. 

Regarding your sermons, uploading your most recent content is a bonus. 

Here’s why:

Based on a survey conducted by the Pew Research Forum, 83% of respondents said that the “quality” of the sermon influenced whether they chose to visit a church.

When you first read this, you may be tempted to compare  yourself to the local megachurch pastor. 


The definition of “quality” differs from person to person. 

Be faithful. 

Preach the Bible. 

Upload your sermons. 

Call it a day. 

Action: Make practical and useful information available and easy to find on your church’s website. 

#4 – Make your church website is easy to find online

“Churches near me.”

“Easter service near me.”

“Churches in Atlanta.”

“Baptist church Charleston West Virginia.”

These are common phrases people use to find a church in their town. 

If you want these potential first-time guests to visit your worship service, then it’s best for your church’s website to appear on the first page of results. 

Here’s why:

Per MOZ, a leader in search engine optimization, the majority of organic clicks (71.33%) take place on the first page of search results. 

Know what else?

Results that rank in the 1–5 range will receive 67.6% of EVERY click. 

To get the attention of these would-be visitors, you’ll need to brush up on what’s called “search engine optimization” (SEO). I understand this sounds technical. But you don’t need to be a software engineer or have a considerable budget to boost your church’s ranking in search results. 

There are practical things you can do to improve your church’s SEO. 

Action: Read 3–5 articles on church SEO, and see if you or someone in your church can help improve your website’s SEO. If you hit a dead-end, consider hiring an SEO expert to boost your church’s rank.

#5 – Show people what your church is all about

There’s one last way you can make it easier for people to visit your church:

Let them see what your church is like. 

To do this, it’s essential to include photos of your church on your website. 

From pictures of your church staff to candid shots taken during worship services or church events, include as many images as you can. 

Adding photos of your church to your website will help people see what your church is like. It will help them get a better feel for your style of worship, what to wear, and what they should expect. 

Action: Get someone to take high-quality, professional photographs of your staff and candid shots of services or events. This person can be on your staff, a church member, a volunteer, or someone you hire. Upload these images at relevant locations on your church’s website. 

Improve your church’s website

There you have it. 

The five things you can do to improve your church’s website today: 

1. Clearly display your purpose

2. Improve your website load time

3. Help people find your church

4. Make your church website easy to find online

5. Show people what your church is all about

After reading this post, take 10–15 minutes to walk through the action steps above. These short exercises will place you well on your way to making your church’s website a more effective tool for communicating with your church members and community. 

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What to Look for in Church Technology

What to Look for in Church Technology

It’s about relationships.

Technology is no longer just about the latest, greatest, or flashiest thing. It’s about relationships. Think about it: You don’t use the messages app on your phone because it has the coolest or most robust interface, you use it because it enables you to talk to the people you already care about. 

Likewise, your church community expects to be able to interact with your ministry in the same way. But the reality is, while technology is a necessary bridge between a church and its members, most churches struggle to make smart tech-buying decisions that don’t just help connect members in the short term, but help the church fulfill its long-term mission.

While each church’s workflow and order of service is different, and every tech solution may not fit every congregation, there are some non-negotiable features you should look for in every potential technology buy:

Does it nurture participation?

Any member-facing tool should have a strong mobile device presence. People already spend, on average, five hours a day on mobile devices. To nurture healthier participation and engagement, strive to get a piece of that time. Through targeted—and actionable—push notifications, quick polls, and consistent delivery of excellent media (sermon videos, music, etc.), congregants can participate in church at their convenience. This is especially helpful for times when people are out of town or sick and unable to attend in person.

Your tech solution should also feature your church’s events on a single platform. Members should be able to register for events at any time, whether they’re at a worship service, lunch, or watching a baseball game.

Does it nurture generosity? 

Your giving solution shouldn’t make it difficult for people to give—it should make it easier for them to give more. This means your giving tool should have strong mobile capabilities since people are familiar with making financial transactions on their mobile devices. Your tech solutions must drive people to mobile so that your community can give whenever and wherever they feel led to do so. Look for features that simplify the process for your donors and helps nurture giving

For example, your church needs a way to easily move people to mobile when they give through other means like cash or check. You’ll want the ability to share preconfigured giving links that allow donors to give a specific amount to a specific cause. Technology should never be a barrier for your givers—it should always make giving simpler.

Does it come with expert coaching and support?

You didn’t get into the ministry to drown in IT and cybersecurity, and you shouldn’t have to launch and sustain your church technology by yourself. Require new partners to come to the table with significant resources in coaching and support. An effective technology partner has helped thousands of other organizations effectively use its product. It’ll lean into that experience to help make your experience better.

Your tech provider’s support team should understand your unique church needs and mission and understand how their product can improve your processes. Because your biggest days are often on weekends, you need support that’s available seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Don’t settle for anything less.

Does it simplify financial workflows?

Your technology should help you manage and engage your donors, tie your financial systems together, and reconcile your finances as simply as possible. Your staff is already trying to do more with less, and your church technology must be able to save them time and effort.

Features like batch entry of digital and offline gifts, annual giving statements, remote check deposit, and historical transaction imports aren’t just features that are nice to have.

These are all must-have features that today’s churches can’t thrive without.

Does it personalize the journey?

Your members expect a personalized experience each time they use your tech offerings. If your tech solution looks templated and impersonal, you lose credibility and trust. Tech giants like Amazon, Ebay, Google, and Netflix have taught users that technology can provide a unique and personalized experience. Your congregants want this same experience from their church.

Your tools should allow you to easily create a personalized experience for your members. They want to see your name, logo, and color palette when they use the tool—not the tech provider’s. The first screen your users visit on your technology will be the most-visited, making it a critical piece of communications real estate. It’s the perfect opportunity to add your church’s mission, vision statement, and images for consistency across platforms.

Does it safeguard trust?

Your congregation must be able to trust your church in order for you to have an effective platform for ministry. Your tech solution should help you build this trust by working effectively every time but especially when you need it the most. Tools like your giving solution should work consistently and safeguard donors’ financial information every time without fail.

What does the data say?

When it comes to evaluating your giving solution, you need to look for an additional feature:

Data. Information about how your members use the giving solution is important to have, not only to make smart decisions concerning new tech options but also to understand and plan around members’ giving patterns.

If your current giving solution can’t answer the following questions, you need a new tool:

  • What percentage of our church currently gives digitally?
  • What percentage of our givers are “recurring givers”?
  • What percentage of our givers give through mobile devices?
  • What percentage of giving happens outside of times when we normally hold services?

Track Record Matters

While every church’s technology use differs, they can certainly learn from each other when it comes to adopting new tech. Whenever you’re looking for tech solutions, ask potential vendors for case studies from churches like yours. Case studies can help you get a picture of how a specific tool has benefited other churches. Ask for references from churches with a similar size and demographic makeup to get a feel for what the platform can do from a church’s perspective. Some tech solutions that work for small churches won’t work for larger ones and visa versa.

For more on buying church technology the right way and getting the right people involved, check out the free ebook from Pushpay, the Church Technology Buyer’s Guide, today!

Congregational Care: A Guide to Building a Caring and Effective Ministry

Congregational Care: A Guide to Building a Caring and Effective Ministry

Pastoral care is a core element of pastoring. 

Hence the keyword “pastoral.” 

It’s a part of who you are (identity) and what you do (calling). 

As a church leader, you’re an under-shepherd of Jesus. 

Said another way, Jesus is the head of the Church—not you.  

I don’t mean for this to sound brazen. Instead, I want to emphasize that Jesus is the leader of his Church and that he takes care of his people through you. Practically speaking, you (church leader) are to care for your church in a way that reflects Jesus’ care. 

Not only are you an under-shepherd. But God has called you to shepherd his people (1 Pet 5:2). God personally etched this responsibility directly into your job description. 

But here’s the deal: 

It’s impossible for one person to provide all of the congregational care. 

The Bible doesn’t support this belief, and it’s practically impossible for any single human being to provide care to a large group of people. 

Think about it. 

Let’s say you have 75 church members. 

To tend to your people, let’s say you decide to spend 30 minutes with everyone—every week. In this example, this means you’ll spend 37.5 hours per week keeping in touch with your church members, hearing what’s going on in their lives, and helping them to live and love like Jesus. 

Add this on top of your other duties, and you have a recipe for a 100-hour workweek. 

Sure, you might be able to maintain this for a few weeks. Or, if you’re really a go-getter, you might be able to keep up with this pace for several months without burning out. 

Or you may be thinking, “Well, that’s not necessary to spend that much time with everyone in my church.” 

If so, I understand where you’re coming from. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make. What I’d love for you to take away is that you should care for your people—but not entirely by yourself. 

As a pastor, you’ll always be in a position to provide care. But as you aim to tend to the needs of your church, you’ll need to focus on building a congregational care ministry.

Before we get into the practical details, let’s take a moment to explore this point since it informs the practical strategy. 

There are three groups of people who can provide care for your church:

  1. Church members
  2. Church leadership
  3. Small groups

First, you have to know your church members to take care of them. In other words, when you offer church membership, you provide a way for people to be a part of your church, and for you to know who’s a member of your church (Acts 20:28). 

Does this mean you can only care for your church members? 


That’s not the case at all. 

In writing to the Church at Galatia, Paul said: 

“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal 6:10). 

Yes, you want to help as many people as you can. But you’re also called to “especially” care for the “household of faith”—your church members. 

Not only do you want to know your church members, but you also want to empower your church members to care for one another. 

This is far from a practical matter—this advice is loaded with dozens of commands from the Bible. 

In the New Testament, dozens of verses emphasize this point in what’s known as the “one another” verses. For example, we read:

  • “Be at peace with one another” (Mark 9:50)
  • “Bear with and forgive one another” (Col 3:13)
  • “Love one another” (John 13:34)
  • “Serve one another” (Gal 5:13)
  • “Pray for one another” (Jas 5:16)

From a sermon series on this topic to Bible studies about taking care of one another, there are several ways you can encourage your church to serve “one another.” This is one part of cultivating a healthy church culture

In short, your church—the body of Christ—was created by God to be just that—a body, a family of brothers and sisters in Christ who encourage and support one another to live and love like Jesus. What is more, the Bible does not say that only pastors can take care of people. 

The second group of people who are called out to care for the Church are elders. 

Now, I understand there are differences between church traditions in how you define the role of elders in your church, and that’s all good. Regardless if you have a board, session, or deacons who serve in some sort of leadership capacity in your church, the essence of church leadership is about serving. 

In serving your church, your church’s leadership will exemplify serving, and they can also provide oversight for your care ministry. As we’ll see below, you’ll need to delegate responsibility to oversee the care of your church members to ensure everyone is taken care of. So, you’ll need to rely upon your church’s leadership to help you care for your church. 

The third group of people who can help you care for your church members is small groups.

A small group ministry is a great way you, your staff, or your church’s leadership can learn about the needs of your church community. 

In many ways, a small group that regularly meets is arguably one of the best ways to place your church members in a position to love “one another.” After spending time together throughout the week, sharing meals, and discussing life and faith, it’s natural to anticipate things to come up during this time. 

Depending on the situation, your small group can care for the individual member of your church. Or, if the situation requires additional help (counseling, financial support, etc.), then your small group leader can share this with your church’s leadership. 

Build a team for congregational care

Your church is a peculiar organization. 

It’s a combination of flesh (people) and bones (organization). 

As you build a church culture that emphasizes taking care of “one another,” you’ll naturally see your church members helping out. People will serve without being asked, and others will volunteer to provide support. Even though this is the case, you’ll still need to put a structure in place to ensure that everyone in your church is cared for.  

This isn’t something you want to overlook. 

Lack of structure was a problem that plagued the early church. 

In recounting the history of the church, Luke shared:

“In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word’” (Acts 6:1–4, emphasis mine). 

What we observe here is a simple trajectory:

  • The church grew
  • People in the church were overlooked
  • The church acknowledged the problem and their limitations
  • The church reorganized itself to take care of its people

In the same way, as your church grows, it’ll be easy f to overlook the needs of your people. I’m not saying you’re a terrible person or that your church will do this on purpose. As your church grows, you’ll become busier and busier, and when you have more people to shepherd, it’s hard to know who’s who and what’s going on unless you have a team and structure in place. 

Thankfully, organizing your care ministry isn’t too complicated. 

Depending upon your church’s leadership structure (elders, deacons, board) and size, the structure of your congregational care may look something like this:

  • Pastor
  • Assistant/associate pastor, volunteer leader, or team of leaders
  • Support staff or volunteers

To tend to everyone, your senior pastor (maybe you?) will need to be relieved of the administrative duties of congregational care. He or she can and should continue to provide pastoral care. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be their job to take care of all of the details. 

In this scenario, hire an additional staff member or identify a volunteer leader who can help oversee the care of your congregation. The role of this person or team is to provide oversight and leadership for congregational care. 

Finally, you’ll need additional staff or volunteers to help provide care for your church members. Again, the size and needs of your church will determine how many people you’ll need to recruit to provide support when needed. 

To help you think through the details a bit more, let’s take a look at the type of care you’ll need to prepare to provide. 

Know the care you’ll need to provide

In the life of your church, there are two types of care you’ll need to provide:

  1. Emergency
  2. Support and encouragement

I’ll be the first to admit that everything doesn’t fit that nice and neat into these two categories. But to help you practically think through empowering your church to provide care, you’ll find these two categories helpful. 

Here’s how to differentiate between these two categories:

Emergencies are entirely unplanned situations. From accidents to the sudden death of a church member, these are things you cannot plan for in advance.

Support and encouragement care is the type of thing you can plan for in your church. This includes visiting shut-ins, providing financial help, counseling, weddings, prayer, or births. 

Regardless of how you classify congregational care in your church, the biggest takeaway is to be prepared to handle both emergencies and expected caring situations. The best way to do this is to create a process, which leads us to the next point.

Congregational care process and tools

Creating processes for providing congregational care is essential. 

Processes help to ensure your church members receive care, and they make it a whole lot easier to empower volunteers to provide support too. 

Here are a couple of ways you can create a process around the different types of congregational care you’ll provide, and a few tools to help you along the way. 

Emergency care

As a church leader, you have to prepare for emergencies. This is an unfortunate reality you have to embrace to serve your church well. 

Instead of getting caught off guard, it’s best to prepare how you’ll handle emergencies when—not if—they happen. 

Here are three things you must have in place:

  1. Accessible contact information
  2. Teamwork
  3. Follow-up

Let’s explore these in detail.

#1 – Accessible contact information

Do your church members know how to get in touch with your church’s leadership when there’s an emergency? 

Can they directly contact the pastor?

Do they contact their small group leader? 

Can they find the information online? 

In some situations, there’s a good chance someone in the midst of an emergency will reach out to a friend in the church, who will then contact your church to ask for help.

Regardless of the situation, make sure your church members know how to contact you during an emergency situation, which will require this information to be easily accessible. 

So, for your church, this may involve including a number and email address online, as well as your church’s bulletin. If you go this route, you don’t have to provide your personal contact information. Instead, you can use a service like Google Voice to create a phone number you can share with the public that’ll forward to a different number to protect your identity. 

What is more, you can use a tool like this to change what number it forwards to when you have a team in place to help out with providing pastoral care. 

Why stress this point?

In an emergency, timeliness is vitally important. As a church leader, you want your church to be accessible and present for your church members in any emergency situation to provide comfort and support during times of need.

#2 – Teamwork

Let me reemphasize this point:

You’ll need a team of people to help you provide care. 

For emergency situations, it’s best to create a schedule for people to follow. By creating a schedule, you can protect one pastor, staff member, or volunteer from getting burned out. 

As you develop a process to provide emergency care, revisit the organization you developed in the previous step, and create a plan to delegate responsibility for who’s “on call” to handle emergency situations. 

#3 – Follow-up

The final component you need to create in your emergency care plan is how you’ll follow up. For this process, identify “common” emergency situations, and create a general follow-up process to follow for each. 

Here are some ideas you can include:

  • Phone calls
  • Handwritten notes
  • Flowers
  • Food
  • Prayer
  • Church announcement
  • Everyday support

Before making a public announcement, be sure whomever is in the midst of an emergency is okay with you making such an announcement to your church. 

In the end, for the follow-up process, it’s best to work through whomever is serving as the point person to identify the best way to care for the individual and his or her family during and after their emergency situation. 

Support and encouragement care

The process for providing support and encouragement care is fairly similar to emergency care. But there’s one tool you can use to make this process a whole lot easier: church-management software. 

For example, many church-management software tools allow you to create forms you can publish on your website, and after someone completes the form, it can be sent to a member of your congregational care team for processing. 

Here are common care-request forms you can create:

  • Prayer
  • Weddings
  • Premarital counseling
  • Building requests
  • Care

With church-management software, you can create whatever form you need to help you gather the necessary information to serve your church members well. 

After you gather this initial information, then a member of your congregational care team can review the request, identify the follow-up process (for example, does a pastor need to be involved?), and follow through with providing the care someone needs. 

The last form suggestion, “care,” can serve as a catchall. For example, if someone is on your website and they’re not sure what form they should submit, then they can click on this form to provide a general request for support or encouragement. 

So, for this form, it’s a good idea to gather information like:

  • Contact information
  • Relationship to your church—e.g., member, regular attendee, or visitor
  • Name of his or her small group leader
  • Reason for contact (this can be an open-ended question)

Providing meals

Providing food will be one practical and ongoing way you can support and encourage your church members. For people in emergency situations or for those experiencing illness or for those welcoming a new baby, this ministry is a tremendous blessing. 

To schedule meals for people, you may be able to use certain features within a church-management software, or you can use one of several online tools, such as:

In general, all three of these services enable you to schedule meals for someone in your church and easily invite people to lend a helping hand. 

To provide meals for someone, here are the steps you’ll need to take:

  • Nail down how long you’ll provide meals
  • Contact the individual or family to find out preferences or dietary restrictions
  • Clarify when food needs to be delivered 
  • Invite people to provide a meal

This simple process will provide practical support for your church members, and help your church members love “one another.” 

Providing congregational care for your church

This three-step process will empower your entire church to care for “one another”:

  1. Build a team for congregational care
  2. Know the care you’ll need to provide
  3. Create an easy-to-use process

As you think through how to care for your congregation, I encourage you to prayerfully consider your church’s unique situation to see how best you can support and encourage your church members.

Project Management for Churches: A Short Guide

Project Management for Churches: A Short Guide

Project management is an essential skill for church leaders.

Not convinced this is the case?

Take this short quiz to find out:

  • Do you regularly miss deadlines?
  • Are your plans consistently over budget?
  • Are your events, programs, or ministries poorly attended?
  • Is your church staff or volunteers experiencing significant stress?
  • Do you or your team burn the midnight oil every week?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then there’s a good chance you need to brush up on your project-management skills (or learn them for the first time).

In this post, I want to help you successfully start and complete any project in your church. I’m going to share with you four essential project-management skills, and different project-management tools your church can consider.

Let’s get started!

#1. Get specific

The first step to completing any project is to know exactly what you want to accomplish. In other words, you need to know what you’re aiming for.

Think about it like this.

In basic firearm safety, the first thing you must do is identify what you’re shooting. The same holds true for church project management. You must identify what you want to accomplish.

At this point, there are two crucial questions you need to answer:

1. What do you want to accomplish?

2. When does it need to be completed?

In answering the first question, do you want to start a small group ministry to disciple new church members? Are you interested in launching a college ministry to reach college students with the gospel? Need to start a capital campaign to fund a new building project?

Don’t worry about all of the details—yet.

What you need to nail down is what you want to achieve.

Know what you want to accomplish?


Now you need to know when you have to complete your objective.

Some of the projects you need to complete will have a hard start and stop. Said another way, the date is inflexible. For other projects in your church, the time can be flexible.

Regardless of the project, you must pick a date it must be completed. Without a specific timeline, your project is nothing more than a dream. So, give your vision some feet and make it walk by giving it a due date.

#2. Delegate responsibility

Here’s the reality of most projects:

They’re unruly like a wild stallion.

When managing a project, expect something to go wrong.

What is more, if you don’t have someone assigned to manage the project, then get ready for it to derail completely.

What’s the moral of the story?

Delegate the responsibility of managing your project.

In your church, this can be to a staff member or volunteer. Regardless of who you choose to manage a project, be sure to give him or her the authority needed to accomplish the goal.

When you assign someone this responsibility, then he or she will be able to corral the project to make sure everything stays on track.

A project manager should:

  • Create a plan
  • Oversee the project
  • Regularly communicate with everyone involved
  • Monitor the progress
  • Overcome problems

Creating a plan and monitoring the progress involve more detail. So, let’s take a more in-depth look at these two tasks.

#3. Create a plan

After you’ve picked a project manager, he or she will need to create a plan to accomplish your goal by the deadline.

Generally speaking, here are five items the project manager must cover in his or her  management plan:

1. Tasks

2. Delegation

3. Timeline

4. Budget

5. Milestones

The first step your project manager must take is to identify every task that needs to be completed. From beginning to end, he or she will need to know what must be accomplished to complete the project.

In general, your project manager will have a good idea of what needs to be done. If not, encourage him or her to reach out to someone else for input, and, if necessary, to add different tasks and rearrange the timeline as things come up.

For each task that needs to be completed, your project manager should assign someone to complete that task. The tasks can be assigned to the project manager or someone else on your staff or team.

When your project manager assigns a task, they’ll also need to provide a due date for it to be accomplished. Depending on the assignment, encourage your project manager to connect with whomever they assigned the task to, to make sure he or she has the bandwidth to get it done.

Another big item you need to plan for is your budget. To complete your project, how much money will you need? For larger projects, it’s best to set a range. You'll also need to create a contingency plan if something doesn’t work out as initially planned. For smaller projects, be sure to know how much money you’ll need, and make sure your church’s leadership is informed.

Finally, your project manager should set milestones. To complete your project, what major milestones and deadlines need to be met to ensure the project stays on track? By setting these benchmarks, your project manager will know if the project will be completed on time or if any changes need to be made.

#4. Monitor the progress

One thing you’ll want to emphasize to your project managers is that it’s key for them to consistently monitor the progress of the project. By keeping their thumb on the pulse of the plan, your project manager will be able to guide the project to completion.

To monitor progress, your project manager must regularly communicate in two ways:

1. By keeping in touch with team members

2. By updating key stakeholders

Your project manager should regularly communicate with all team members.

At Church Fuel, we find it helpful to meet as a team once per week to check in on our projects and goals. A weekly meeting is one way you can help your team work together in accomplishing a goal.

What is more, it’s ideal for communicating one-on-one with staff members and volunteers involved in the project throughout the week. When checking in on your team members, ask how things are progressing and if there’s anything you can do to help.

Another group of people your project manager should regularly connect with are the project’s key stakeholders. For your church, this can be your senior pastoral leadership, your church’s leadership (elders, deacons), or volunteer leaders assigned to the project. From the good, bad, and the ugly, your project manager needs to share any pertinent information that will inform decision-makers and let people know of any potential roadblocks.

Whomever you tap to manage your project, ask them to provide weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly updates on the project they are managing. How often you request updates will depend on the scope of the project and the timelines involved.

At this point, you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed.

You’re not alone.

But here’s the good news:

Project management isn’t something you’re born with.

Project management is a skill you can learn.

Know what else?

There are a ton of online tools you can use to better manage your projects.

Below, I’m going to share a few options.

Before I do, I want to make sure you hear this loud and clear:

Project-management tools are only tools.

Like the tools in your garage or kitchen, you need to know how to use them to get the results you want. Without mastering the basic project-management tips I mentioned above, it won’t matter what project-management tool you use.

Alright, with that being said, here are a few tools we recommend.

Project-management solutions for churches

There are numerous project-management tools you can use.

Among these tools, you’ll find a variety of pros and cons.

But here are some of the standard features to look for. You’ll need the ability to:

  • Add projects
  • Assign tasks and due dates
  • Share files
  • Communicate with your team

In short, whatever project-management tool you choose, you’ll be able to fulfill the tips we shared above in one central location. This means there'll be no more email chains, sticky notes, or group text messages.

Not sure what tool to choose?

If you’re just getting started with project management, here’s what we suggest:

Don’t spend hours researching and testing the different options.

Pick a project-management tool to use and hold your team accountable to using it too. Instead of bouncing between different tools, focus on using one for several months to know if it’s going to meet your needs or to figure out what features you like best.

For the sake of this post, I’m not going to be able to cover the ins and outs of every project-management tool. However, I’ll point you in the right direction to get started.

After working with hundreds of church leaders, we’ve found that these three project-management tools are the most popular:

1. Basecamp

2. Asana

3. Trello

All three of these options work well for small churches, they’re cloud-based, and they can scale to meet the needs of larger churches too.

When it comes to pricing, Trello offers more free capabilities compared to Asana and Basecamp. So this is naturally a big win for many churches.

Regardless of what option you choose, there’s a learning curve involved. Plan on spending time figuring out how to maximize whatever tool you choose to use.

At Church Fuel, our CEO, Michael Lukaszewski, swears by Basecamp. The types of projects we manage may look different than your church. But after experimenting with different tools, we’ve found this one meets all of our needs.

Over to you

There you have it: The top project-management tips for churches, and a few suggested project-management solutions to get you started.

As a friendly reminder: The tool you use to manage your projects isn’t as much as a concern as following the project-management tips above.

Focus on nailing these best practices, and you’ll be well on your way to successfully managing any project your church undertakes.