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. 

DON’T. 

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. 

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? 

Nope. 

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?

Great!

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.

9 Social Media Ideas for Churches

9 Social Media Ideas for Churches

Whether you’re a social media aficionado, or just your everyday feed-scroller, by now you know that social media influences today’s world significantly. The Church can engage culture like never before through social media, as messages of Gospel hope can be shared on a global scale with the click of a button. In this post, we’re sharing 9 social media post ideas for churches to engage the culture around you. Safe for Instagram and Twitter feeds alike, these crafty ideas make engaging your church community on social media fun and effective.

#1- Local Shops We Love

Highlighting local shops and eateries is a great way to support your community and nudge your congregation into social spaces! Check out this example from Gwinnett Church, with their #ForGwinnett.

#2- New in Town Guide

Consider updating your first time guest gift by including a thoughtful list of places and events where your congregation loves to, well… congregate! This is information is helpful for new people and also for your regular attenders. If you know where/how your church spends their time, you can more effectively plan community events to strengthen your church’s culture of community.

#3- Date Night Conversation Starters

Invest in relationships of every stage with this fun-loving take on date night. To share this on Instagram, simply select 3-5 questions to paste into your church’s Instagram story highlights.

#4- Five Staycation Ideas

A staycation is a vacation, but taken where you currently stay. It’s taking a drive downtown and booking an Airbnb or staying at that cute new hotel near the river. Wherever you stay, it’s a low-maintenance, flight-of-fancy kind of vibe. You can encourage your marrieds to do this quarterly with a church wide “staycation” reminder via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

#5- Summer Calendar for Families

Letting parents know what’s available this summer for their kids is a great way to engage them, and their little ones. The summer calendar from Compass Bible Church does just that. Check out this sweet post that highlights what’s going on, and where to register.

#6- Firework Watching Guide

Who doesn’t love a glittery sky? You can head to google for a quick search on which fireworks are most popularly used in your town’s show and then head to social to share what to look for.

#7- Where Kids Eat Free

An easy win for parents on a budget. Another google search will show you which restaurants in your area cater to kiddos. Be on the lookout for establishments with their own social sites – you’ll be able to retweet or repost and let your people know where to go!

#8- Five Places to Get Outdoors in Our City

For your physically active attenders, a curated list of the best views in town will provide a great weekend of exploration. Just choose your social platform and share!

#9- Advent Devotional Guide

Direct your church’s worship towards the true meaning of Christmas by digitizing your advent guide! Grab inspiration from this post by The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas.

Church Bulletins: 3 Ideas & 4 Alternatives

Church Bulletins: 3 Ideas & 4 Alternatives

Keeping your church and visitors informed is challenging.

Every day, they swim in a sea of information.

From phone calls and emails to social media and television, they hear and see a ton of messages.

Over the years, churches have used printed bulletins to let people know what’s going on. But, with the introduction and proliferation of new technology—in particular, mobile phones—you may wonder if printing a bulletin is still helpful. It can feel like everyone is tuning out your church announcements.

First, let’s agree on one thing:

Keeping people informed in your church is essential.

No one is going to figure out anything by osmosis.

Besides, think about it like this:

Often when you attend an event—say a concert, gala, or game—you receive a program that informs you of the layout and tells you what to expect.

Today, if anything, the idea of church bulletins have become reimagined—not obsolete.

Below, I’m going to share with you four alternatives to a printed church bulletin. But first, there are three things you should consider before trashing your bulletin.

3 ways you can adapt your printed bulletin

Before casting your church bulletin into an eternal abyss, here are three things you can try:

  1. Reduce the size
  2. Print in black and white
  3. Print monthly, not weekly

Is your church bulletin ginormous?

Is it full of a tremendous amount of info?

Before ending your church bulletin, the first thing you can do is reduce the size. To accomplish this goal, really think through the purpose of your bulletin. What is its point?

When you answer this question, filter everything you usually include in the bulletin through this lens to see what does and doesn’t fit. If it doesn’t meet the criteria, then don’t include whatever it is—even if it is a promotion for Aunt Betty’s long-standing quilting ministry.

Do you print your bulletin in color?

If so, then consider printing your bulletin in black and white. If you go this route, you may have to remove images and colorful designs. But it will save you printing costs in the long run.

Finally, another option to consider is to print only one bulletin per month.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should print the same amount of bulletins every week. Instead, for this tactic to work, you’ll need to limit what you share, avoid sharing potentially canceled events, and reduce the number of copies you print per month.

This option will save you both time and money.

Have you tried these ideas? Or are you convinced you need to can your printed bulletin?

If so, let’s take a look at four alternatives you can pursue.

#1- Video announcements

Do you have the ability to share a video during your worship service?

Is your church open to the usage of video during the worship service?

If you answered “yes” to both of these questions, sharing announcements via video may be a viable option.

Before trodding down this path, you’ll need to consider how to go about making videos. There are two options:

  1. Produce videos in-house
  2. Outsource production

To record video announcements, you can produce them in-house. To pull this off, you’ll need video equipment, someone overseeing production, and a deadline.

Thankfully, you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars for video equipment. You can get a sweet set up for $1,000 or less.

To produce your video announcements, you’ll need to delegate responsibility and authority. Someone will need to be in charge of ensuring everything is produced on time and ready to share during your worship service.

Talking about deadlines, one thing that can quickly derail your production is not setting and adhering to a strict guideline. For example, if you don’t have a drop-dead date for announcement submissions, then your video announcement will barely  be ready by Sunday morning, since you’ll have to make changes constantly.

Trust me.

This is a recipe for disaster and burnout.

The next option you have is to outsource production.

Today, many churches outsource a variety of services—including church announcement videos.

If you outsource your videos, be prepared to submit your announcements in a timely fashion, and be sure whomever you work with can provide consistent production. You’d hate to get into a situation where the style and tone is constantly in flux.

Ready to produce videos?

Hang tight.

There’s one caveat you need to know:

The amount of information you can convey in an announcement is less than what you can share in print.

The medium (video) is simply limited by how many words you can share.

Think about it.

The average novel is 80,000–150,000 words, whereas the average word count for a movie script is 7,500—20,000.

What’s the point?

The amount of information you can share in a video announcement is less than what you can share in a printed bulletin. So, whatever you share needs to be clear and laser-focused.

#2- Email newsletters

Know what church members are continually checking?

Their email.

If you’re not already, you can send your weekly announcements to your church via email.

With email, here are a few best practices to keep in mind:

  • Don’t include everything
  • Send weekly emails
  • Include links (if applicable)
  • Be consistent
  • Include images
  • Write a captivating subject line

Regarding the first point above, you’ll be tempted to share everything, which makes sense. It’s a digital format, and you’re not limited by the number of pages or margins as in a print bulletin.

Don’t do this.

When you send a weekly newsletter to your entire church, most of what you share needs to apply to everyone. If you need to send a message for your music ministry or children’s ministry volunteers, then send this group a separate message. This small pivot in your communication strategy will vastly improve the effectiveness of your communication.

#3- Church apps

A church app can easily replace your printed bulletin.  

I know you may not be a fan of an app.

But there are some important tidbits you need to know.

With a church app, you can:

  • Add events
  • Share content—e.g., sermons, blog posts
  • Provide sermon notes
  • Include social media
  • Send push notifications
  • Share prayer requests
  • Encourage mobile giving

In short, a church app is one destination you can promote for your church members to stay in the know.

Thankfully, today, church apps are affordable. So, you won’t have to take out a second mortgage on your church facility to pay the bill.

After building an app, the only thing you’ll need to do on the regular is to encourage your church to download it and ensure notifications are enabled (they should be by default).

#4- Church website

A mobile website can also do many of the same things a church app can accomplish.

If you want to use your website to replace your printed bulletin, then here’s what you need to know:

  • Simplify your website
  • Make things easy to find
  • Promote your website

There’s one thing to keep in mind with your website:

Today, church websites tend to be the front door for potential visitors, and it may not be the best way to share information with your church community—especially personal info, like prayer requests.

Does this mean you can’t use a website to replace your printed bulletin?

Nope.

It’s just something to keep in mind.

Should you focus on your website or an app?

Again, it just depends.

A church app is different than a mobile website.

For the sake of your replacing your church bulletin, think through what you and your team can reasonably manage from a time and budget standpoint.

Is it time to get rid of your printed bulletin?

Well, that depends.

Before you make a decision, you need to ask yourself these four questions:

  1. How can we best inform church members?
  2. How can we best inform visitors?
  3. What information do we need to share to accomplish these goals?
  4. What are the best mediums (print, email, social media, etc.) to connect with our members and visitors?

After you think through these four questions, you’ll know if you need to keep your printed bulletin the same, adapt it, or replace it with something else entirely.