Effective Church Management

July 8, 2019

by the Rev. Dr. Glenn Kinken is Senior Pastor of Centenary UMC in Winston-Salem, NC.

In Managing the Non-Profit Organization: Principles and Practices, Peter Drucker wrote, “It's [a non-profit institution’s] “product” is neither a pair of shoes {business} nor an effective regulation {government}. Its product is a changed human being (pp. xiv-xv).” In these two sentences, Drucker links the necessity of management principles practiced in the for-profit/governmental world to the craft that we practice in the local church. In order for clergypersons to achieve success, we must effectively manage the inputs (people, facilities, finances) of the local church.

Management of people in the local church encompasses both paid staff and volunteer leadership. It is a function of ensuring that both groups understand the mission, vision, and strategic objectives of the church and are working collaboratively to fulfill them. Effective management of people encompasses intentionality of fit. Does the local church have the proper amount of paid staff? Are the paid staff working in positions for which they have a passion and necessary skill set to perform, excel, and propel the church forward? The same is true of volunteers. Do they have a passion and specific skills for their role in the leadership of the church? Another component of people management is evaluative growth. Does the church staff receive regular feedback on their performance? Do they understand their role in the greater success of the church? Managing people is about performance review, but more importantly, it is about helping volunteers and staff grow and develop. When leaders support and develop the staff and volunteers, transformation happens both in the people, but also in the church.

Management of facilities is an under-appreciated aspect of church ministry. Our facilities can be subtle indicators to passersby, guests, visitors, and even our own members as to how the church cares about its community. If churches are dirty, in need of renovating or lacking in physical care, it could indicate that our pastoral/congregational care of people is lax, haphazard, or not important. The transformation of lives happens in the sanctuary, fellowship hall, family life center, faith-formation classrooms, pre-schools, and even our staff offices. Effective management of facilities is a continuous process of cleaning, maintaining, repairing, renovating, and upgrading the external and internal spaces, the technological systems – audio, video, and computer, and the environmental systems – HVAC, and lighting and electrical.

Finances are an essential part of ministry success. There is no doubt about it. Money makes ministry possible. Management of money is about revenue and expenses. It is obvious that expenses should not exceed revenues, but when it comes to managing financial resources, leaders must consider whether expenses align with the mission, vision, and objectives of the church. The handling of money must be accomplished with the utmost integrity through established policies and procedures. This assures contributors and church members that the financial resources of the church are being accounted for appropriately. Revenue is equally important to manage. Preaching and teaching Christian stewardship is an essential way to ensure that there will be money for ministry to happen. The wise financial manager will have a good understanding of the congregation’s monthly cash flow throughout the year. This helps leaders determine whether the church will be able to meet its budgeted objectives for the current year. The church’s financial resources help the church provide ministries of transformation.

Effective management of the local church in terms of people, facilities, and finances help clergy, staff and lay leaders fulfill our product line – changed lives. It is my hope that the points raised in this article might spark thought as to how you might improve your management of the local church so that we can truly follow Jesus, make disciples, and transform the world.
Leadership Development