Digital giving apps and tools

The 5 Functions of Church Management

In the following article, we’ll discuss 5 functions of church management and how each plays a part in helping your church thrive in all areas of ministry.

Susanna Fleming

What are the primary functions of church management, and what does church management software do? While these may not seem like exciting questions, church management is one of the most valuable topics we can cover regarding church ministry. 

This is because the Church is both an organism and a divine organization. It can be rightfully described as an organism because it is a vibrant and living community – the “Body of Christ” – with Jesus serving as its head (1 Corinthians 12:12-27, Colossians 1:18). At the same time, the Church is designed to function according to a kingdom blueprint that equips believers for a missional purpose. Without any type of organizational structure, the Church cannot fulfill its mission on earth.

Biblical Examples of Church Management

Several biblical examples support the idea of church management. In Luke 10:1, we see that Jesus strategically organized missional teams ahead of him to every place he intended to go. In Acts 6:1-15, we read that the early apostles appointed deacons, who were “full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3), to serve the people who were being neglected in the midst of the apostles’ chaotic schedules. In Exodus 18, we learn that Moses had to implement an organizational restructuring of sorts to ensure that he did not burn out. Had it not been for Jethro’s organizational wisdom and advice, Moses would probably still be judging a long line of minor disputes today! (I jest, of course, but you get the point.)

As you can see, organizational structure is a key component of a thriving, missional church. And this is where we arrive back at the question: what are the primary functions of church management? Let’s get practical and discuss the primary responsibilities and goals of church leadership.

The 5 Functions of Church Management

1. Church Management Focuses on Discipleship

As church leaders, our primary goal is to point people toward Jesus and to support their spiritual growth and discipleship. Discipleship should be the central vision of every local church, and all of our ministries, programs, events, and budget lines should be in support of this objective. 

Importantly, discipleship cannot be reduced to a checklist. While growth tracks and discipleship pathways are practical and even somewhat necessary for supporting the growth of people in your congregation, these organizational tools cannot replace the relational component of discipleship. Church management must figure out ways to walk alongside people. We must engage with young leaders ourselves and empower those leaders to empower other leaders. This takes time and a lot of relational equity, but it is central to what we do and believe as Christians!

2. Church Management Empowers Leaders

As churches grow and church management feels the pressure of leadership tasks and responsibilities, it can be tempting to work to fill gaps rather than actually empower leaders. We reason that the more people we have to complete the tasks we need to get done, the better off we will be. Most of the time, however, this is not the case. Building up a volunteer team is not about getting people to commit to a specific task. The higher function of church management is to empower people to greater levels of their calling. This takes incredible diligence and humility, but it is the clear goal of church leaders in scripture. 

Ephesians 4:12 says that church leaders are called “to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ.” Church management is not just about getting people on our team. We have to be on their team!

3. Church Management Creates (and Reinforces) Healthy Culture

Conversations about church culture have become so prevalent in the last several years that it may be easy for us to tune them out, but I cannot overstate the importance of culture when it comes to the health of both staff and congregation. Culture is the daily waters that a church swims in. It is a combination of the stories we tell, the power structures that exist, and the routines and rituals in which we engage. Put simply, church culture sets the tone for the feelings our staff and congregation have when they engage with our churches. 

Legendary management consultant Peter Drucker once stated that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” This does not mean that strategy is unimportant, but it does mean that culture can make or break a good strategy. So how does a church management team create and reinforce a healthy culture? It starts by prioritizing it! Implementing staff retreats will help ensure unity among teams. Performing an internal evaluation will also be helpful in determining if church values are being actualized in daily operations. It is also incredibly important that church leaders come alongside people who are struggling with bitterness and resentment to help them process and heal. 

And while it is certainly not necessary to create a Google-eqse playground in your church offices to improve culture, we should prioritize a little fun. Our church cultures will be better for it!

4. Church Management Stewards Financial Resources

Financial planning is one of the most important functions of church management. Church leaders can use a church management software solution to track donor gifts, anticipate future donations, and budget carefully and strategically with in-depth reporting. Church leaders must learn to forecast giving trends and work to be transparent with their congregations regarding their budget and spending. We can also implement strategies to make it easier for people to give. A text-to-give strategy is one solution that has worked well for countless churches. 

Because churches are dependent on the financial gifts of church members and other donors, this can feel incredibly vulnerable. Importantly, this is about stewarding what God has given us and trusting Him fully. Every good and perfect gift we have comes from Him (James 1:17). When we start to remind our hearts of this, we can move forward with faith and wisdom.

5. Church Management Plans Strategically

Most strategic planning within a church setting begins with the crafting of a mission statement, a vision statement, and core values. Leaders then work toward a detailed plan for accomplishing these objectives. This plan helps ensure that key leadership stays on the path to a clear destination, even when church ministry becomes chaotic or new staff joins the team. This process is essentially creating a “map to your mission,” and it is both exciting and important. While a type of strategic plan is incredibly important, staff should always hold their plans in tension with the guidance and movement of the Holy Spirit. Just like a basketball coach may tell her team to run a different play in the final minutes of a tied-up game, so might the Holy Spirit speak new life and direction into our churches in different seasons. We must not be married to the plan as much as we are committed to the overarching goal, and the goal is to follow Jesus’ every move.

The right cloud-based church management solution can help with strategic planning by providing in-depth reports on the health of the church. Using technology to get insight on your church giving, member engagement, retention rates, and more can help you set better, more strategic goals!

A church may be much more about ministry than it is about methods, but strategy, structure, and organization help us to partner with God’s mission through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. If your church is in need of organizational support as you work toward your mission, Breeze is a powerful church management software that can help!

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