4 Ways to Make the Most of Limited Church Resources

church resources moneyYou don’t need a multi-million dollar budget and a 100-person staff to operate a church that effectively produces disciples. Whether you’re a church plant, a staff of one, or just tight on time and money, your church should take advantage of some simple ways to make the most of limited resources.

  1. Recruit volunteers and delegate

You might not have the extra funds to hire additional staff, but you’ve got plenty of capable people in your church community that can volunteer their time. You just need to get the word out and make it easy for them to get involved with the right service opportunity. Recruit the right people with the right gifts for each need. Allow them to sign up online, through a mobile app, and on a kiosk in the church lobby. And once you’ve got the volunteers, be willing to give up some control and delegate tasks.

  1. Integrate your systems

From utility providers to insurance companies, you already deal with plenty of vendors each month. Choosing an integrated suite that includes your ChMS database, website CMS, mobile app, and check-in system will mean one bill and one support team for your church software. Integration will also save your staff from reentering data into each platform and will make giving, connecting, and volunteering easier for your church community.

  1. Take advantage of free resources

Many companies and organizations offer a variety of resources to churches and other non-profits. If your church is financially strapped, you probably don’t have much of a marketing budget, but Google’s Ad Grants program could provide your ministry with up to $329 of free online advertising each day. And several websites offer free graphics, videos, templates, and much more specifically for the local church. Check out this list for some ideas to get started and don’t let freebies go to waste.

  1. Give your church community some responsibility

Even with a support staff and volunteers, you can’t do it all. Encourage everyone in your church community to help out by updating their own personal information whenever they move or switch phone numbers. If each person quickly makes these changes from a kiosk on Sunday morning or online whenever they have time, you could redirect hours each week to ministry, not administrative details. You should also task your church community with printing their own contribution statements each tax season. It’s a small, simple step that could reap great rewards for your church.

Don’t let a miniscule budget or small staff keep your church from making an impact. How has your church creatively made the best of limited resources?

Image Credits: istockphoto

8 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Church Mobile App

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It shouldn’t just be a mobile version of your church website. While your website will primarily provide information to potential visitors, a mobile app should offer more engaging content and tools for your church community.

And mobile apps aren’t for every church. If you see more checkbooks than iPhones being used each Sunday, a mobile app probably won’t serve your church well. But if your church community is quick to adopt new technology, a mobile app could be the perfect tool. And here’s how to make sure you’re getting the most out of it:

1. Integrate with your church database

Make sure your mobile app is integrated with your church management software. It will save your staff time and increase the usability for your church community.

2. Provide another giving option

If most people in your church don’t carry cash and have never written a check, mobile giving could provide convenience for your church community and consistency to your giving. The ability to make contributions to different funds and view giving history right on their smartphones will encourage people to be generous and wise stewards.

3. Allow people to check in

If your check-in stations are congested each Sunday morning, including a check-in option on your mobile app could make the process faster, easier, and more organized.

4. Expedite event registration

People might not remember to register for the next conference or retreat once they get home. Encourage them to sign up from their pews and even pay while it’s still on their minds. Mobile registration could lead to a better turn out for your church events.

5. Make the latest sermon series available

A mobile media center will allow people to catch up on services they’ve missed or access relevant resources wherever they are.

6. Simplify connection

Include a church directory in your mobile app so members of your church community can easily connect with each other throughout the week. Look for options that allow staff to take notes and include follow-up tasks so they can stay organized on the go. And consider providing an option for people to get plugged into a small group at their fingertips.

7. Customize

Make your mobile app stand out in the App Store and Google Play with a custom name and unique icon that reflects your church’s branding strategy.  Include other customized content relevant to individual ministries or campaigns so your mobile app isn’t generic—it’s tailored to your church community’s needs.

8. Promote

All these tools will go to waste if your church community doesn’t know that they’re available, so actively promote your mobile app and all the convenience it offers. Demonstrate a feature from the pulpit. Include details in your church newsletter. Place an informational card in the bulletin. Mention it during announcements. Throw a slide up. Plug it on Facebook and your website. And don’t stop after one week. Continue to remind people about your mobile app and show them all it can do.

Check out these other resources to determine if a mobile app is right for your church:

Is Your Church Ready for a Mobile App?

Why and How to Use a Mobile App for Your Church

Does Your Church Need a Mobile App?

Image Credits: istockphoto

Why & How to Increase Church Giving with Text to Give

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According to Pew Research, 81 percent of American adults use cell phones to send or receive text messages. And it’s not just for chatting with friends. One in ten has already made a charitable contribution via text message. In fact, a recent study found that the majority of people named texting as their preferred method of giving.

Your church can take advantage of the shift toward mobile technology and texting—not just for mass communication, but also to provide another giving option for your church.

Why?

Even if your church accepts contributions online, through a mobile app, and on giving kiosks, text to give is a great addition.

For your church community:

1. It’s fast, easy, and convenient

Most people aren’t carrying cash and checks into your church anymore, but they’d never leave the house without their iPhones. And while mobile giving is quick and simple, some people don’t want to install your church’s app just to make a donation. Texting doesn’t require a download or creating an account, making it the best option for first-time givers and guests at your church.

2. It’s safe and secure

With a reliable text giving system, people don’t need to worry that their information might be leaked. And there are no paper checks passing through multiple hands on the way to the bank.

For your church staff and volunteers:

1. It could lead to a giving increase

More options mean more people giving more consistently. Even during the summer lull when a chunk of the congregation is on vacation, your church can maintain regular giving because it’s not limited to Sunday morning. People can shoot a text from the pew or from a beach a thousand miles away.

2. It simplifies reconciliation

If your church uses a text giving service that is completely integrated with your church management software, your staff and volunteers won’t need to reenter data. They’ll save time and won’t worry about human error because the giving information is automatically updated.

How?

It’s easy to get started with a text to give system, but making sure it actually gets used by your church community can be a challenge.

1. Get buy-in from the top down

If your senior pastor demonstrates how easy it is to donate to the church with a simple text message from the pulpit, the church community will be more inclined to use this new method if giving. But if your leadership team isn’t behind the new tool, people will be hesitant to adopt it themselves.

2. Promote

People can’t use text to give if they don’t know it’s an option! Actively promote new giving tools for the first few weeks and provide reminders periodically throughout the year. Throw a slide up on the screen before the service starts. Include instructions in your bulletin. Explain the process on your website.

3. Create separate keywords for multiple funds

You can accept contributions for a variety of ministries in your church, not just the general fund. Simply set up multiple keywords so your church community can support the building fund and missions team, too! These delegated donations will also make reconciliation easier for your staff.

Learn more about Text to Give!

 

6 Things Your Church Should Do in 2015

003As another year winds down, people create lists of New Year’s resolutions that they probably won’t keep. But your church can make a few changes in 2015 that are practical and will leave a lasting impact:

1. Review the systems that you already have in place—like your ChMS. Are you using everything that’s available to you and getting what you pay for? Don’t let valuable tools go to waste!

2. Make sure you’re providing your church community with plenty of giving options. Not everyone carries a checkbook anymore.

  • Online giving makes it easy to set up recurring giving and print contribution statements.
  • Mobile giving allows people to give when and where it’s convenient for them.
  • Giving kiosks provide a convenient option for people at your church.

3. Integrate your ChMS and website to save time, simplify tasks for your staff, and help your church community stay connected.

4. Implement a flexible check-in system that can work offline and allows mobile check-in.

5. Update your web presence.

6. Consider a mobile app to increase engagement with your church community. People can register for events, give, and stay connected right from their smartphones with an app that is integrated with your church database.

What changes is your church making in 2015? 

 

Elexio Whiteboard: How Your Church Can Improvise Like MacGyver

In this whiteboard session, Rodney explains how churches can use technology and the resources they already have to grow deep and wide.

Elexio Whiteboard: Magnets, Velcro, Gravity & MacGyver from Elexio on Vimeo.

Video Transcription:

Hi and welcome to an Elexio whiteboard. If I gave you a magnet, some Velcro, and an apple, what could you do? Could you make something? Well, I would say if you are MacGyver from the hit show from the late ’80s and early ’90s, you might be able to take a magnet, some Velcro, and an apple and make a fully articulated robot or a boat or a car or maybe a key to unlock some terrible trap that you are in. I’m having a bit of fun, but the name MacGyver has almost become synonymous with taking what you have and making something great out of it. If you’re not familiar with the show, almost always, MacGyver got into some situation and he would take whatever he had and make a difference in his situation.

Last week we started talking about this triangle and this book and the idea is an optimized church. And when I think about MacGyver, he’s an optimizer. He takes what he has and affects an outcome. And I love this part of the book where it doesn’t make the suggestion that your church needs to be perfect. It does not suggest that only churches that have unbelievable speakers that happen on Sunday mornings or great music, that those are going to be the reasons why you’re going to grow. It’s not that. It’s taking what you have, taking a hard look at it, and then optimizing it. And the book talks about identifying purpose which will lead to a purpose statement. And then we left off last time looking at the fact that those things will lead to a process, specifically acquisition and maturation processes when we talk about the congregation.

So we want to look today a little more specific at three, one, two, three, types of process specifically for acquisition. But before we do that we need to talk a little bit about space slugs. Now, if you are someone who loves Star Wars, like I do, you know that Jabba the Hutt is space slug. And that’s probably a little bit harsh. He’s a much more complex character than that. But for our purposes, a slug moves slowly, they’re a little bit annoying and in Jabba’s case, he’s huge. So if he came right now and was with us he would take over the space. And it would really be hard for me to accomplish what I want to do today because he’s in the way. Well, Allen calls out some things in the book that he calls purpose killers. It sounds harsh, but the point is there are things that may be a part of your church like departments. You have the youth department, the missions department, the children’s department. If everybody is in their own very compartmentalized areas, not thinking about the big purpose, that can be something that really messes this up.

He also mentions programs. Those are things that could mess up the church’s purposes, also events. I won’t get into a lot of detail but it’s certainly one of the parts of the book, that when I read it, It was like, “Hmm, maybe I need to really think about that in relation to the church that I’m a part.” So watch out for the space slugs. But let’s get to what we were talking about. What is a process? Well, this part I need to read from the book because it’s really great. Allen gets very clear. He doesn’t just leave that, “Oh, processes” and assume that you know what that means. Here is what Allen describes as a process: “A process is a formalized and systemized collection of defined practices integrated into a strategic and repetitive plan of action,” and I have to take a breath because this is long, “that can be measured and improved.”

Now, if you’d love to know more, again, get a copy of the book. It’s a great book. I’m going to focus in on some of the words that he mentions in that great definition. One of them is formalized, the other is systemized, repetitive, and measured. Processes need those attributes to really be effective. So what are these three microprocesses that help the church with the acquisition efforts that you may be having? Well, they’re actually connected to our little MacGyver things here. Some of your processes will be magnetic. Some of your processes will be like Velcro, and some will be gravitational. Now, we won’t get into all of these. I hope that maybe it makes you think, “Oh, maybe I should read that book.” Let’s talk a little bit about magnetic processes. These are the things that are pre-evangelism. They are things that attract people to your church.

You may be thinking in your head, “I’ve got those.” or “I don’t have those.” Some degree of figuring out do you have them is important. That is one of the processes. Velcro…once you have attracted them, how can you connect them. You know how Velcro works, it’s fascinating. You have the scratchy side and the soft side and somehow they grab together and they’re hard to pull apart. Allen suggests that your church needs those. Now, when I was reading the book and looking at the details of what he talks about in terms of Velcro processes, I thought back to last week when we talked about Cracker Barrel. The idea there is that we said you may go to all this work to come up with a great purpose, a great purpose statement, but then people look at your church and you seem irrelevant to them like the things you see on the wall at Cracker Barrel.

You see a tool…must have a process, but I have no idea what its relevance is to me. Well, when we look at getting specific in this area Allen calls out some things that all churches have, or almost all. Greeters, announcements, good old bulletins, the follow-up call, and notice ‘the’, and the letter. You may be sitting there thinking as you’re watching, “Well, my church tries to get people involved, and our Velcro tries to be somebody at the door that gives them a firm handshake.” Oh, that’s great. We make announcements about things, programs, or events that people will want to come to. Announcements, we also put those in the bulletin in case people want to take it home. We call people. We make one follow-up call to folks after they come. We may even send them a letter.

These aren’t bad things, but Allen wants to flip the script here, and he talks about the fact that everybody who comes through your door has a story or their story and that churches that are really being effective in their Velcro related processes are connecting to people’s stories in some very specific ways. He calls out purposeful people connections, needs identification, linking, and finally sustained follow up. He’s not saying don’t have these things, but he’s saying if you’re trusting these to be your Velcro you’re probably going to not have great success. You’ve got to make purposeful people connections. That is probably more than just somebody greeting them at the door. It’s probably more than just one phone call. In that process, identify their needs. Connect their needs to resources that your church might have or even community resources. And then finally, some sustained follow-up process.

Notice the connections over here. Formalize, systemize, sustained and repetitive, and certainly measureable. Let’s close with some thoughts about what could you do better. I would suggest that technology is certainly a thing that could help you be better. If MacGyver can take a magnet, Velcro, and an apple and as I jokingly said, turn it into a fully articulated robot, imagine what MacGyver could do with real tools. And I would say the same thing about you and your church. You have wonderful people that are a part of your church right now. Imagine what they could do with real tools and real data.

Let me leave you with three data points that Allen says is really what you’re measuring and trying to improve upon. Your visitor volume rate…how many people are coming through your door? Your visitor retention rate. That’s a percentage. Allen suggests that you should be retaining at least 25% of the visitors who come through your door. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll retain more but if you’re happy with 8% or 10%, well, you’re probably not going to be growing at the rates that you want. And finally, your back door rate. After people have been attending for a while do you know how many people are sticking around? There are ways to make an improvement. Some of it might be in getting rid of some space slugs. Some of it might be in adding some technology to support this process, but like we always say in our whiteboard sessions, the key is first identifying where you are and then seeking some help. Thanks for watching an Elexio whiteboard.

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Video transcription by Speechpad.com