It’s no secret that certain seasons in the Church Year fall into the category of “busy.” But what about when the pace is a little less rushed and your week isn’t filled with multiple deadlines? Here are some ideas on how to make the most out of a slower or more flexible season in the church office by organizing and updating your records, task lists, and files.
Make a List and Prioritize It
First things first. Get a pen and a piece of scrap paper or open your favorite note app and write down any task that comes to mind. Don’t spend time wondering if something is worth being on your list (that part comes later). Simply let the ideas flow. Use the following items as inspiration, but don’t be limited by them.
Once you have your list, it’s time to prioritize and plot. At this point (and even before), it can be helpful to bring in others who have a stake in how the church office works—like fellow staff members or key volunteers. With resources like time, a budget, and man power in mind, determine your priorities for the season ahead and put them on your calendar.
Go a step further by dividing your prioritized list based on the estimated amount of time for each task. Then, when you have an extra fifteen or twenty minutes, you can spend that time more productively rather than thinking of a way to fill it.
Update and/or Clean Up Records
Review your membership database and check to see that the most up-to-date information is on file. Systematically make your way through the roster to determine how you’ll make contact (a phone call, an email, an in-person visit, a paper form, and so on). Here’s an opportunity to recruit a small, trusted team and to coordinate with congregational leaders like the elders to provide thoughtful care for your people.
Clean Physical Spaces
Now is the time to address the “later” pile that’s built up on your desk or that stretch of office counter. Recycle, shred, and file where appropriate. Think about implementing systems to prevent future stacking.
Have a Staff Retreat
Coordinate with fellow staff members and schedule a retreat. This can be carried out in a variety of ways: a half day, a whole day, or multiple days; on-site, off-site, local, or out of town; self-led/directed or facilitated by an outside source. Check with your district for planning resources!
How you spend your time is also determined by the needs of your team. If you’re starting from scratch, consider going through a short book or study together to see what conversation it spurs. Reserve time for big-picture brainstorming and planning. Focus on rest and renewal. Celebrate what God is doing in and through your congregation and enjoy unhurried time as a ministry team.
Conduct a Church Office Audit
How well does your church office function? The “slower” seasons are a great time for evaluation. Is the layout or setup of your space serving you and your congregation well? Does your software and hardware support the needs of your members, your staff, and your community? Based on what you find, make or initiate the process of making helpful changes.
Work Ahead for Busier Seasons
Consider what you can do now that future you will appreciate. Take a look at your planning rhythms for inspiration. Are there to-dos for Advent or even Lent that you can check off your list before the rush kicks in? Create templates (PowerPoint, bulletins, newsletter, etc.), update forms, organize digital and physical files for simpler access, and program deadline reminders into your calendar for better project pacing.
Put Together a “Handover” File
In the event of an unexpected change in circumstances due to sickness or any number of things, maintaining a file with key information for the church office is a wise practice. Create or update this resource in your free time and share access credentials with two or three trusted leaders who can disseminate the information should the need arise.
Research and Execute Big Changes
Looking to update technology or take on a larger project like redesigning the church website? Use the extra margin available to research, collaborate, make decisions, and carry out the work. Be sure to bring others into the conversation on this sort of project and think through the bigger picture of congregational and community needs and function.
Remember the words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:1: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” This includes the life and work of our church offices. Of course, we want to be faithful stewards of our time and with the resources our congregations have entrusted to us, but don’t forget to enjoy the slower or more flexible pace. Allow space for creativity and rest and see how God provides.
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