Prevent Pastor Burnout with the E-Reverend App

The Elexio Reverend from Elexio on Vimeo.

Did you know that 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each year, and 80% will burn out within their first five years?

To counteract the intense workload and emotional stress, some try to strike a healthy balance between their work and personal lives while others delegate more tasks to staff or volunteers.

But what if churches could completely eliminate the overwhelming burden placed on pastors—or even the need for a pastor at all?

The Elexio Reverend App is the long-awaited answer to ministry burnout.

Whether you’re too busy to prepare for Sunday’s sermon or you want to avoid another awkward wedding ceremony, the E-Reverend has you covered. And no more chilly dips in the baptismal or answering whether all dogs do, in fact, go to heaven.

With an advanced feature set, the Elexio Reverend App can also:

  • Solve any exegetical disagreement within minutes
  • Calculate how much people should be giving
  • Alert you to signs of the end times
  • Fully explain the Trinity in 30 seconds
  • Answer WWJD in any real-life situation
  • Locate local Christian businesses so you can patronize them only
  • Perform less-desirable tasks like hospital visitations and counseling

With customizable options like traditional suit and tie, clergy, or hipster persona, the E-Reverend is designed to fit your church’s unique needs.

Whether you’re a multi-site megachurch or a new church plant, the Elexio Reverend App is an affordable alternative to a burnt out pastor.

What are you waiting for? Contact us now to get started with the E-Reverend and take some of the ministry workload off your shoulders.

You’ll wonder why your church ever hired a real pastor.

Whiteboard: Robot Church Volunteers?!

In this whiteboard session, Rodney outlines three laws of volunteer management and how your church can simplify the process with technology. 

Elexio Whiteboard – Robot Volunteers?! from Elexio on Vimeo.

Video Transcription:

Hi, welcome to an Elexio Whiteboard. One of my favorite movies in the entire world is I, Robot. This movie takes place in the future at a point in time when robots become as commonplace as vacuum cleaners. Everybody’s got one. I can’t wait till that day happens. Think of the impact on the local church. Our volunteer problems are completely solved. You need volunteers in the nursery? A robot will fill the role. You need volunteers in parking ministry? Robots. Café? Robots. It’s going to be great. But until then, we’re stuck with using human beings to fill our volunteer roles.

Now, calm down. I’m joking. Now, I’m not joking about robots. They’re coming, and they are going to be popular everywhere. But in the local church, it’s the right thing that we will always use humans to fill this role. It’s the right thing, and so today, in our whiteboard, we’re talking about volunteer management.

Real quick, let’s take a look at some numbers related to volunteering. This one is 62 million. That’s the number of people, who on the most recent U.S. census, reported that they gave at least one hour a week in volunteering. That’s awesome. This one is 7 billion. That’s the number of volunteer hours recorded in a year. It’s amazing. Now, an economist took that and did some thinking and said that the value of volunteering to the organizations that get the benefit is $22 an hour. Think about that for your church. What if you had to pay people that much or even a fraction of that to complete and do the things that you are getting from volunteers?

So again, today, in our whiteboard, we’re talking about volunteer management. And I’m no expert, so I interviewed somebody who is. This person has worked in the local church for 20 years in a variety of roles and managed hundreds of volunteers. And from that interview, I distilled three laws of volunteer management. And I’ll use the word VM, and you see it again here. So let’s go over the three laws of volunteer management. A volunteer manager may not devalue a volunteer or, through inaction, allow a volunteer to feel devalued. And that’s really the important part of law number one, this last part about a volunteer feeling devalued. Let’s look at law number two. A volunteer manager must seek biblical guidance when making decisions that affect volunteers. That is law number two. Law number three, a volunteer manager must grow your ministry as long as that growth does not violate laws one and two.

Okay, that is the three laws. They’re designed to be guidance for working with volunteers. Remember, it all came from my interview with this person who’s had both great success and great failures that she admitted and she had learned over the years that if you’ll keep these three things in mind, your volunteer problems certainly won’t go away, but you’ll be well on your way to having valued volunteers. And a valued volunteer’s going to stick with you much more so than someone who doesn’t.

Now, within the confines of our goals here in our whiteboard, we’re going to look at the three laws from a technology perspective and, how can we use technology to help us meet the three laws? And my suggestion is that, if we do that, we’ll end up with, and I’ll abbreviate it again there, I Volunteers. And the I stands for volunteers that are informed and important. That’s an I volunteer, they should be informed and important.

Let’s talk about technology in informing volunteers. We could go a lot of directions here. But I want to focus in on what you can do with your church management software. You’re probably using some kind of database to keep track of people. Maybe you’re using multiple things. Keeping people informed, you want to keep them informed about data. Now, I don’t mean analyzing like volunteer rates and how many people are coming. All of those maybe good things to do. I’m talking about the real basics like volunteer schedules, important announcements about volunteer meetings, important announcements about things that are part of the vision of your ministry. Making sure those people are an I volunteer means you’re making sure that they are informed.

And the thing that the ministry professional told me is, “Don’t count on one technology to do that.” She told me a story of volunteers team she was leading. It had about 50 people in it, so big group. They had decided upon using Facebook as their primary means for communicating important information. And she found out after a period of time that there were some people that were kind of pulling away from the ministry. And the thing that they articulated is that they felt alienated because they didn’t use Facebook. Now, people, that’s a choice. So her point is, to really make sure you’re in law number one and not being here where some inaction is causing a volunteer to feel devalued, is to have a multi-pronged technology approach. So send emails with attached PDFs, things that anybody can read. Post to social media, certainly. Do mass texting or individual texting.

So looking at your church management software, it’s a good idea to see, what capabilities does it have and where do I need to supplement? There are people who can help in those areas. So an I volunteer is an informed volunteer, using many things. And one last thing about technology, we tend to think about technology about things that have little keypads and are modern. But technology is also printing a piece of paper and having a volunteer schedule available for somebody to pick up. So don’t forget those things.

Okay, an I Volunteer also feels important. Now, I’ve been a volunteer, and I still am. And sometimes, I’m in organizations where they choose to have like volunteer appreciation month, where I get like a little candy bar with a little note, like a little clever note, about volunteering. Those things are great. I don’t want to say that you shouldn’t do those. But if that is the sole way in which you are making volunteers feel important, you’re missing the mark. What I mean and what the ministry professional I talked to said is people feel important when you know them, meaning you know their family. You know what is going on in their family. You know about their life in the broader part of your church.

So where does technology fit in there? There are tools that you can utilize. We certainly have them at Elexio, where you can take a smart device, tablet, phone, and pull up instantaneously somebody’s record and double-check a couple of things. As your church grows, it’s going to be harder and harder to keep it all up here. So if you can quickly access it through a mobile app, a little bit about the person. Look to see, has there been a hospital visit in this person’s family. What’s their salvation story? All of those things, keeping track of it and having technology serve you in that way. You’ll go a long way to, again, meeting number one.

Okay, let’s talk a little bit, as we finish up here, what happens if you let yourself not follow the three laws. Again, the three laws are meant to be a circle. You’re constantly in check about your desire to grow your ministry but, oh, is that going to violate number one or number two? Well, as I said, it can happen that if you do let this and if you know the movie I, Robot, you know that things go wrong. And you may have noticed, I’m playing on something fun from that movie. There’s something called the three laws of robotics. And it all goes wrong in that movie. And the robots basically take over the world. So that’s certainly something you don’t want to happen. Well, it would be okay if volunteers took over the world. But what I mean by that is something goes wrong in your volunteer ministry. If you don’t pay attention to the three laws, it could happen, and you might not even know it. And all the sudden, you start seeing people drop out the back of your ministry.

Well, that’s all the time we have today for our Elexio Whiteboard. Thank you as always for watching.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

But Our Church Has Always Done It This Way

church resists change

As churches evaluate their processes and introduce new ways of doing things, the biggest pushback they typically hear is, “that’s not how we’ve always done it.”

The elders don’t want to switch things up. The pastor doesn’t like change. Volunteers are worried new tools will be difficult to learn. Even tools and ideas that will simplify their jobs are shunned.

But we’ve always printed weekly bulletins.

But we’ve always passed the offering plate.

But we’ve always mailed follow-up letters.

Continuing to do things the way you’ve always done them with no consideration of improvements can be detrimental to your ministry for 3 reasons:

1. Your church changes

Is your church exactly the same as it was 25 years ago? Or has it tripled in size, or moved to a new location, or become predominately populated by young families? As the church grows and changes, the way it addresses needs and functions ought to change too. You might need to add ministries for the large number of single parents in your congregation. Your method of follow-up might need to adjust as visitors pour into your church. You may have been able to manage basic member information in Excel as a church plant, but that method just isn’t practical for a thriving church of 1,000. You’ll probably need software to simplify these processes.

2. The community around you changes

People probably aren’t looking for the exact same external qualities in a church that they were decades ago. And they certainly aren’t looking for churches in the same way. Many church seekers—millennials in particular—are now looking for a place where they’ll have the opportunity to get involved and make a difference, and they’re searching online for the right fit. Your church didn’t need a website 25 years ago, but people aren’t looking for a new congregation in the phone book when they move into town anymore. Their expectations have changed, and in order to reach them, your church has to adapt.

3. The technology changes

As technology advances at a rapid pace, the variety of tools available to churches only continues to grow. Volunteers no longer need to jot down the name of each kid in nursery—they can use check-in kiosks. Donors don’t have to hit the ATM just so they can make contributions to your church—they can give online. And staff members don’t need to waste hours on data entry—they can integrate their church management software with other tools. Refusing to take advantage of available technology simply because it would mean change could end up costing your church time, money, and disciples in the long run.

If what you’re doing still works, then carry on. But make sure you honestly evaluate your processes and determine that there isn’t a better way before you settle. And be careful not to swing too far in the other direction. Don’t switch things up if there isn’t a better way. You wouldn’t text advice to a person desperate for help. Face-to-face interaction will always be necessary for some things.

When you do adjust the way you do things and get buy-in from leadership, most people will eventually embrace the change if you explain the reasoning. But you can never make everyone happy. You’ll always face some disgruntled people no matter what you choose.

The constant in your church is the truth of the gospel—not offering plates or felt Bible stories or complicated spreadsheets. Embracing some change could mean great opportunity for your church.

How has your church broken free from the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality? 

8 Ways to Prepare for Easter with Mobile Technology

Easter ChurchIn a 2012 poll by LifeWay Research, 93 percent of pastors reported that Easter topped the list of holidays with the highest church attendance.

Each spring churches see Chreasters pile into these services, but they still struggle to prepare and communicate effectively. Your church can gear up for the busiest Sunday of the year by making wise use of mobile technology in 8 ways:

  1. Don’t make people pinch or scroll.

Google searches for “church” peak each year around Easter, and 56 percent of millennials will scope out churches online before visiting. Most of them will do their research via smartphone. What are they going to find when they get to your website? If your church website isn’t responsive, mobile visitors won’t be able to easily find the information they need and probably won’t visit your church.

  1. Make your mobile app easy-to-find.

You need to keep your regular church community in the know this time of year, too. Customize your mobile app so people can readily find it in the App Store or Google Play and encourage everyone in your church community to install it if they haven’t already.

  1. Keep your mobile information current.

Because of the influx of guests, many churches need to add or adjust service times at Easter. Make sure all these details and any contact information is up-to-date within your mobile app so people don’t show up to an empty building.

  1. Secure volunteers in seconds.

Your church will probably need a few extra greeters and children’s ministry workers on Easter Sunday. Recruit help this week during the morning announcements and encourage people to sign up immediately via a link within your mobile app.

  1. Get your RSVPs.

If you’re hosting any special holiday events that require people to register ahead of time, allow them to sign up from your mobile app while it’s fresh in their minds.

  1. Expedite the check-in process.

Entire families of visitors will be packing into your church Easter weekend which means even more kid’s ministry check-ins. Encourage your church community to utilize mobile check-in to reduce congestion and shorten lines for your guests.

  1. Foster generosity.

Both your regular church community and guests might exhibit extra generosity at Easter, so provide convenient options for them to give. Giving from your mobile app is simple for regulars, and text to give allows first-time givers to make a contribution without setting up an account.

  1. Upload resources.

People might want to catch the service they missed, and guests might want to hear more after Easter, so stock your mobile media center with plenty of audio, video, and notes.

How does your church use mobile technology when preparing for holiday services?

 

Check out these other resources as you prepare for Easter:

7 Suggestions for Easter Preparation

How to Engage Church Attendees…Easter and Beyond

7 Church Tech Tips for Easter Sunday Services

 

Image Credits: istockphoto

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?