I’ve always enjoyed going in church offices.
As a teenager, I became very involved in activities at my church, in everything from the youth group to mission trips to even attending meetings with the Board of PR Communications. It’s safe to say I visited the church office more than most people my age.
The office was closed on Sundays, making it look dark and gloomy, but during the week, it had such a friendly and happy feel. Our church secretaries, Mrs. Geighes and Mrs. Moll, would smile and greet me, asking what was new with me and how my family was doing. Then they’d happily go back to their work. I thought it must be a really fun place to work!
It wasn’t until I became an adult that I learned the truth about church offices. Friendly and happy they may be, but they can also be hectic from all the information channeled through them, and they can be stressful from the amount of work that must get done in a week. And while conversations with visitors can be rewarding, those talks can also be unnecessary interruptions in the day.
In my position at CTS, one of my favorite things to do is to talk with people who work in church offices. I enjoy hearing what they are working on, and I especially love to hear their great suggestions on how they improve efficiency in their work.
Here are just a few of the best suggestions I have received:
Establish job descriptions
If job descriptions don’t exist for the staff in your church office, consider creating them. It’s important to understand what needs to be done to match the right person to the job. “Because they’ve always done it” might not be the best answer for why certain individuals do certain tasks. It also helps establish roles so each employee understands what’s expected of him or her.
Determine a specific time during the week or month for bulletin and newsletter submissions—and stick to it. Be sure everyone is informed of the deadlines. Any changes can easily be posted on your website. As a courtesy, remind both church members and staff to submit their information for the bulletin and newsletter at least 24 hours prior to the deadline.
Don’t print what’s already printed
Many churches have Bibles and hymnals in the pews or project the Scripture readings and hymns on a screen. Save time, ink, and paper by not reprinting in your bulletin what’s already printed elsewhere.
Limit the size of the bulletin and newsletter
At a certain point, it might be necessary to say, “I’m sorry, but we don’t have room for it this week; I’ll be sure to add it next week.” Creating a template with a limited number of pages will help enforce this rule.
Ask for information to be emailed
With the exception of those who don’t have email, ask that bulletin, newsletter, and website updates be emailed to the church office. You’ll not only have everything in one spot, but you’ll also have a digital record of when requests were submitted.
Issue checks on a specific day
The process of printing a single check may not be time consuming, but doing it five times in one week is not efficient or necessary. Make a rule that all checks will be printed on a specific day and ask everyone to plan accordingly.
Use volunteers to complete special registrations and payments
Processing registration and payment for events such as VBS or youth group trips can take a lot of time and often come with a lot of questions that are best answered by those ministry leaders. Require that all registrations be submitted to the ministry leaders to cut down on this type of request.
Establish plans for those seeking help
Many churches have regular requests to help individuals or organizations in need. Talk with your ministry leaders and your staff to determine the best way to handle each kind of request. Inform the person who greets your guests so that every need can be addressed quickly and appropriately, rather than trying to come up with a solution each time a request is received.
Focus on the needs
You’re never going to make everyone happy, so be ready to say “no” sometimes. Focus on the intent behind the request. If you receive the request to print bulletins in size 14 font to make it easier to read for those with vision problems, that is clearly a need. If you receive a request to change your font to Comic Sans because “it is more fun,” keep in mind that is purely that person’s preference.
This blog post is an excerpt from our ebook “51 Ideas to Make Your Church Office Hum.” To read the full document, which includes more ways to increase productivity and efficiency in your church office, download it for free by clicking the button below!