Staff Turnover and Church Software

church staff turnoverEverything finally seems to be running smoothly. Your staff and volunteers are fairly fluent in the church software you adopted a few years ago. Then the church secretary announces her retirement after years of faithful service. She knows your systems and processes better than anyone else. What do you do now? Even after you find her replacement, how do you get back to where you were before?

Church staff turnover is at its highest as everyone from pastors to administrators are experiencing ministry burnout. But even in churches where people and resources aren’t spread too thin, some staff turnover is inevitable. So as you fill positions with new faces, equip the people who join your team to be successful as they tackle your church software.

  1. Find out their true comfort level with the technology you’re using.

They may have embellished their background in order to land the job. Have they ever used the same church software or something similar in the past? What’s different? How about your terminology? Maybe the term “member” means something different in your database. Address these potential stumbling blocks so you can lay the proper groundwork for new staff members to learn.

  1. Allocate enough resources to ensure they’re properly trained.

Depending on their roles, you might need to spend significant time and money onboarding new employees. Overestimating these needs is better than being unprepared. It’s easy to forget the challenges of overcoming that learning curve, but give new employees enough time to adjust. Ideally you’ll quickly fill positions with enough time for those leaving to provide training, but this isn’t always possible. So encourage other staff members or volunteers to spend time and share their knowledge with new employees. And practice patience as they adjust.

  1. Take advantage of free educational resources.

Your software provider probably has plenty of training and informational tools available online at no cost to your church—video tutorials, blog posts, support materials. These resources may be enough to get your new staff members comfortable with your software and church processes.

  1. Consider investing in additional training.

If you’re hiring several people around the same time, your church might find value in on-site training. While this will be focused on helping new employees and evaluating their roles, training is also a great opportunity to review your current ministry processes, find more efficient ways of accomplishing goals, and learn about features you haven’t been using.

  1. Let them dive in.

You can still hold their hands as they settle into their roles, but don’t be afraid to give up enough control so that new staff members can gain hands-on experience. They may be a little overwhelmed, but this is a great way for them to learn.

How does your church deal with the effects of staff turnover on your church software processes? 

Should your church print weekly bulletins?

church bulletinThe bulletin. Worship guide. Or whatever your church calls those Bible stuffers that leak fluorescent pink sign-up cards all over the foyer.

What’s the purpose? Does your church really need a bulletin?

Many churches have been printing and distributing hundreds of bulletins each week for years without ever considering why. It’s just what they’ve always done. Typically church bulletins keep people informed of what’s going on in the church and include lists of upcoming events, recent giving and attendance stats, and some notes to accompany the sermon. Bulletins might also provide information for visitors and an opportunity for greeters to connect with these guests.

Why are some churches abandoning bulletins?

Even though printed weekly bulletins have effectively communicated these details for years, some churches are shifting away from them for a few reasons:

  • Printing hundreds or thousands of quality bulletins each week can become time-consuming or costly for churches.
  • Printed bulletins don’t allow for much flexibility and can’t be corrected of any errors without additional costs.
  • In some cases, they’re growing obsolete as people embrace new technology. Many people simply grab one because a greeter was there handing out bulletins. But they barely skim it then toss it in the trash.

What are some alternatives to printing a weekly bulletin?

  • Some churches that still want a physical paper bulletin without the hassle and cost of weekly printing opt for a monthly bulletin. This method can save the church money but must be planned even further in advance, so content isn’t as timely.
  • Video announcements have already replaced bulletins in many churches. While more engaging than a piece of paper, they’re also more limited in the amount they can communicate and only reach the people who are in the worship area as they play.
  • Weekly email newsletters have taken the place of bulletins in some churches. Even though most people now have email addresses, these messages often go unread and a portion of the church community never learns about important updates and opportunities.
  • Many churches make the information that would be included in a printed bulletin available through a mobile app. Although this is convenient for most of the church community, visitors probably won’t download an app just to access sermon notes or check out upcoming events.
  • To maintain the hospitality aspect, some churches place volunteers at a welcome station to provide the information that would normally be found in a bulletin. But most guests will be too timid to walk up and ask questions.

If you’re sticking with the traditional bulletin, how can you make it better?

  • Consider your audience. This bulletin will be handed to both guests and regular attendees. While it should keep your church community informed, a bulletin could serve as the first impression of your church and should be conducive to guests. Avoid church lingo and ministry acronyms. Provide the contact information that visitors need to connect and take the next step. Don’t just tell them to talk to Brother Bill after the service—they have no idea who that is!
  • Include the necessary information—no more, no less. If your bulletin would benefit from a table of contents, it’s too long. People are more likely to read and remember your important announcements if there are fewer distractions. Eliminate the stagnant content and cut down on the amount of announcements. It might leave ministries fighting for inclusion, but you’ll create a more effective bulletin.
  • If you’re going to do it, do it right. Produce a quality bulletin that follows your church branding, contains no grammar or spelling mistakes, and reflects your church well.

So what’s the right choice?

Well, it depends on your individual church. Consider the culture and demographics of your church. And see how many bulletins are just left crumpled in the auditorium after a service.

If you find a way to more effectively disseminate information, don’t be afraid to make a change to the way you’ve always done things. There’s no perfect solution, and you might leave people dissatisfied no matter what you choose.

What do you think—bulletin or no bulletin?

Check out these other resources for more helpful tips and ideas:

15 Lessons from 17 Different Church Bulletins

Simple Guidelines for Better Bulletins

4 Technology Options that Might Kill the Church Bulletin

 

Image Credits: istockphoto

How to Repurpose Content for Your Church

recycle church resourcesDoes your church recycle?

No, I’m not talking cashing in soda cans for nickels or going green—I mean recycling content.

Your church probably has limited resources to work with, so spending several hours each week developing completely new content isn’t practical. But you’ve still got blog posts to create and emails to crank out and social channels to fill. The good news is you already have plenty of great content lying around, waiting to be repurposed. You just need to get a little creative.

  • Sermons

Pastors invest hours studying, researching, and preparing for their sermons. Why not get some extra mileage out of all that work? Post audio or video of the service on your online media center, in your mobile app, and on sites like YouTube and Vimeo. Pull some standout quotes from the message for a simple graphic on social media. Post slides of the major points. Create an infographic from any staggering statistics. Quickly assemble a blog post from further study notes, additional Scripture reading, or anything that couldn’t fit into that Sunday morning timeslot.

  • Sunday School & Small Group Discussions

Small group leaders and Sunday school teachers also share a wealth of information and foster discussion throughout the week. Typically only a handful of people get to benefit from these lessons, but a lot of the content could be beneficial to anyone in your church community. Ask small group leaders to write blog posts covering a recent topic that struck a nerve and highlight some of these details in the church newsletter to encourage people to join a small group.

  • Church Photos

You’ve probably collected thousands of images from events like Easter cantatas and community activities but have no idea how to make use of them. Rather than incorporating stiff stock photos, showcase these (free) genuine images on your website. Create albums on Facebook so your church community can share them with friends. And you’re not limited to photos that were just shot at last week’s BBQ. Use photos from the annual Trunk or Treat in 2010 to promote this year’s event. Dust off a staff photo from 1987 and post to Instagram with #tbt—people will enjoy seeing a fun, relatable side of your church and laughing at the pastor’s choice in acid wash jeans.

  • Stories

Whether it’s a testimony to God’s faithfulness or a report on your church’s sponsored missionaries, repurpose stories to engage your church community and connect with potential visitors. Ask a volunteer youth leader to post that story she shared with your staff about the ministry’s impact on her own life on the church’s blog. It might encourage other people to get involved within the church. Or use that same story to promote your youth ministry to the local community from a unique perspective. Include the message of gratitude from a local shelter in your next newsletter so the church community can see the results of their prayers and financial gifts.

Whether you’re scrambling for an idea to boost social media engagement or some copy to complete content marketing efforts, next time try recycling content when racking your brain for a fresh idea.

Check out these other resources for some helpful tips:

How to Blog When You Don’t Have Time

An Intro to Content Marketing and Social Media for Churches

Your Church’s Problem in Social Media

 

Image Credits: istockphoto

6 Keys to Successful Church Event Management

church eventFrom cantatas to conferences to camps, churches typically host dozens of events each year. Hundreds of details need to align so these events can go off without a hitch—that’s where technology comes in and can simplify event management.

But before you even get started with planning, make sure the event is right for your church. Don’t just host a bunch of random events because that’s what you’ve always done. Ask these five questions to determine if the event has a real purpose and is right for your church.

Once you’ve ensured that a banquet or retreat or breakfast will serve your church community well, consider these 6 factors to successfully manage the event:

  1. Communication and promotion

How are you going to get the word out about your next conference or outreach activity? You have plenty of opportunities to make sure people know what’s coming up; you just need to take advantage of them. Promote your event during the Sunday morning service. Use the information you’ve collected to send a mass email to the right audience. Include details on your website. Post on social media to keep your church community informed and allow them to invite guests. And integrate all calendars from your mobile app to your website so you can communicate consistently.

  1. Registration and payment

Don’t let a complex registration process deter people from signing up for your event. Online registration forms provide convenience, and a mobile app option allows people to sign up from the pew as your staff announces the event. If your event has a fee, include payment options in the registration process. When all these elements are integrated with your church database, planning will be much simpler for your staff.

  1. Volunteers

For most events that your church hosts, you’ll need some extra hands to get all the work done. When you’re recruiting help, make sure you find the right volunteers with the right talents for the right positions. Let your church community know that you need help and make signing up for these service opportunities easy—like from a kiosk or online. Once you’ve got the people you need, maintain communication with them and let volunteers know what you expect out of them. And after your event, express your gratitude for their service so they’ll be happy to lend a hand again.

  1. Resource planning

Some events will be offsite or require nothing more than just standing room, but others require plenty of church resources like chairs, AV equipment, and designated rooms. Rather than learn at the last minute that the tables you need for the men’s breakfast are all being used for a seminar down the hall, plan and claim everything you’ll need in advance. Keep track of these resources within your church database, so everyone knows what items are up for grabs.

  1. Check-in

Keep a record of everyone who arrives at your event while making the process a breeze for attendees. Allow guests to check in on a kiosk and encourage your church community to check in from their smartphones on the way to the event.

  1. Follow-up

Use those check-in records to send follow up communication to the people that attended your event. You might send them a general thank you, a feedback survey, or complimentary resources. You can also invite them to related events in the future.

Looking for church software that will simplify these elements of event management? Contact us!

 

Image Credits: istockphoto

Elexio Whiteboard: Online Giving—It’s Not Magic!

In this whiteboard session, Rodney explains the behind-the-scenes process of online giving.

Video Transcription:

Hi and welcome to an Elexio Whiteboard. I was watching television the other day, and I saw a magician and he did a magic trick, and what he did was he took a card and he called somebody up out of the audience and he had that person write their signature on the card and then through a series of interactions he did a couple of tricks and somehow the card ended up in the guy’s back pocket. It was amazing. I mean I watched closely; there was no way this guy had any interaction. There was no way he could’ve slipped it in this guy’s back pocket. It was really cool.

You know, when people see magic tricks they tend to react in one of two ways, they either watch it and they think, “I know how he did it. I can figure that out.” And they spend time. The wheels are clicking in their head trying to figure out exactly how the magician did it. And other people are just entertained and love the end result. Clap and applaud and move on.

Well, today in our whiteboard we are talking about online donations, so your church members or attenders giving money to the church online. Some people treat that like a magic trick and you may think of it and just be glad with the end result, because the end result is your church does receive money. Other people, and I’m going to suggest this might be the way to approach it, which is to really think through what’s happening out there? It’s not magic. So today in our whiteboard we’re going to break through and look at what exactly is happening when somebody gives money to the church in an online fashion. We’ll look at three big questions. Who is involved? What are the costs? And finally do I have a choice? Or, am I handcuffed in and have to do it one particular way?

Well, first of all let’s take a look at who is involved. You’ll be surprised to know that there’s actually four different organizations involved with that money that goes from here to there. First off, it’s called a credit card association. That’s Visa, MasterCard, Discover, all the things you’re used to. It starts with a credit card organization. Up next is what is called an acquiring bank.

Now, you don’t deal with acquiring bank. They deal with the big credit card companies. Up next is an organization called an ISO, which stands for Independent Sales Organization. You don’t deal with the ISO either. You deal directly with a merchant account provider. Merchant account providers are the people that collect the fees for everybody else in the chain. So let’s talk about fees. We now know who is involved, four different big organizations. What are the costs? Well, you’re going to see yearly costs. Yearly costs are things like, you’ll see it on your bill and it might say “IRS Compliance Fee” or “PCI Compliance Fee”. That comes again on a yearly basis. You may also see monthly fees. These are much more straightforward. It’s almost like a membership fee to be connected to the merchant account. Then common to all merchant accounts are transaction fees. So again, as a quick review, you’re going to have a yearly or monthly or both, and you’re most certainly going to have transaction fees.

Transaction fees are either percent-based or flat and really most all merchant account providers do both. So, does everybody pay the same amount? We said we would talk about the cost, but really is everybody paying the same thing? Is it some kind of a law? Is there a mandate that says these are the accepted amounts that the government will allow that to be collected? And the answer is absolutely not.

All kinds of different fees. All kinds of different yearly fees, monthly fees, percent fees and flat fees. It varies widely. So, as we think back to our magic trick concept, this is why I’m suggesting don’t treat this like a magic trick. Take a look at your bill and maybe find out, “What fees are we paying?” And are the rates reasonable? Because the final question, and you may have already been inferring the answer which is, yes, absolutely there is a choice in how you take money online.

So, if you figure it out and you know that maybe your church is paying too much, are you going to change? Well, I’m going to guess that you may feel a little bit like some churches I’ve talked to which is they feel a little bit like their whole online donation thing, because it does have this good end result, they like the feeling of getting the contributions. But this whole thing is kind of like a house built of cards. And, the old metaphor if a house is built of cards the slightest bump is going to make it all fall apart. Because if you do decide you want to change and save some money, if you feel you can, you might be afraid of changing because that’s going to mean that this person has to log in to their computer or their smart phone and change their account up. So the fear is, well, they’re just not going to do that.

Well, I’m going to end our whiteboard with a couple of things. One’s going to be a story which is how I’ll truly end. But I want to suggest a challenge. I think people will follow through and make the change with you if you communicate to them, “Hey, body of the church, we figured out we can save the church some money. And we need you to help us.” They’re going to still want the benefits of the convenience of online donations, and I think they will absolutely follow you to a new merchant account provider if indeed that’s what you believe is best for your church. So it becomes a faith move for you. I said I’d end with a story. One church who didn’t see it as something built on a house of cards, because what they saw is that they could save some pretty serious amount of money. This church, when they did their analysis, they figured out that they could probably be saving anywhere from $500 to $700 per month in fees. Now, I don’t care what size church you are, that’s noticeable money. So, the challenge is, take a look, figure it out. It’s not a magic trick. It’s a simple business transaction and you could be costing your church more money than is necessary.

If you need some help, we here at Elexio can help you analyze it. There are other companies as well.

Hey, thanks for watching on Elexio Whiteboard.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com