When I started as a church office administrator, one of my first projects was to update member records in a spreadsheet. As I sat typing, I remember thinking, “There must be a software program that can make this process easier… and keep it that way!”
Sure enough, church leadership told me about a software program that could do just that, but they weren’t sure about its quality. I requested a free trial of the software—and let’s just say spreadsheets became a thing of the past.
I discovered this software not only had a membership module but also a module for finances, attendance, and records. Jackpot! We saved time and money and also eliminated a volunteer position, which freed that person to volunteer in another area within the church.
Yes, the software had an initial cost, along with yearly cost for updates and support. But the benefits it provided were well worth it.
That was the first step toward getting the office to run more efficiently. Church offices tend to take the path of least resistance. They adopt the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality. Maybe it’s always ordering the same pew envelopes, paper supplies, offering envelopes, and so forth from the same company. Maybe it’s never bothering to look for a better option.
Sometimes we need to take a moment to evaluate, research, and ensure we’re getting the best product at the best cost. That might mean a change in the companies we order from. But if it cuts the cost in half and the product is just as good, that change is beneficial.
In order to get the church office running like a well-oiled machine and realize time and cost savings for the congregation, I recommend these three steps:
- Evaluate: Assess the overall needs of your church based on the current size of your congregation, as well as other things such as your annual membership growth or contraction rates, church software, office equipment, paper supplies, and current vendors.
- Research: Perform an in-depth analysis of your current office setup. Research ways to increase efficiency, streamline productivity, identify redundancies, and cut costs.
- Ensure: Make sure every effective research avenue has been initiated and monitored through to completion.
Let me list a few key areas I look at and explain how I use the three steps of this process:
Write down the pros and cons of your current software along with the needs of your church. Spend time doing your research on alternative software. Ask other churches what software they use and what they like about it.
This includes copy machines, phone systems, computers, and so on. Let’s use the copy machine as an example.
Start by looking at your congregation’s needs. Ask questions: What’s the size of your congregation? Have you been using the same of size machine for years? Who uses the machine? Are your prints mostly color or black and white? Should you lease or buy?
One church I work for uses a larger machine with color and a finisher because the size of the congregation justifies that product. They also lease their machine. Another church uses a simple black-and-white desktop copy machine because they are a smaller congregation that only prints a couple of times a week. This church buys their machines outright.
Call different copy machine companies and let them help you evaluate the needs of your church office. A word of advice: copy machines break down. It’s just what they do. So customer service is key when choosing a company—which sometimes means paying a bit more for the service contract. And although I’ve been recommending the same company for years, that doesn’t mean I don’t check my options with other companies every time a new machine is needed.
Paper and Supplies
As above, evaluate your needs, and then research different companies for supplying your paper products and office supplies. After doing a bit of research, I found a company with prices comparable to other stores that offers next-day delivery for free! This means no more going to the store—which, again, saves time and money. The same can be said about cleaning supplies, altar supplies, and more.
There are plenty of resources out there to help with all your office needs. I encourage you to take advantage of them and see just how much time, energy, and money you will save.
In the examples above, we’ve shown how to evaluate and research. But don’t forget about that vital last step: ensure. Without this step, all your hard work will be for nothing, and you won’t get the results you want. So be sure to follow through and start using that new company for your copy machine or paper supplies!
Revamping the church office and its functions shouldn’t be daunting. With a little effort and a few steps, the church office will be running more efficiently before you know it.
It is important for your church office to run as efficiently as it can. Church Virtual Office can help by evaluating how your office currently operates and by making recommendations for improvement. They offer a free thirty-minute consultation over the phone.