Recently, I was traveling through the vineyards of Temecula to officiate a wedding. If you’ve never traveled through this beautiful part of Southern California, I highly recommend a visit; it’s so beautiful. According to the Temecula Valley Wine Growers Association, Temecula has 47 wineries on approximately 33,000 acres, many with gorgeous wedding venues. As you drive through the wine country, it’s hard not to notice the rows and rows of vineyards. I’m not an agriculturist or vigneron, but based on my observations driving through the vineyards, grapevines thrive on a structure like a post and wires that provide optimal conditions for disease-free growth. I think there are noteworthy similarities between churches and vineyards; producing healthy fruit requires a structure to support growth, and a church’s administrative team provides that structure.
Most people go into ministry because they are passionate about accomplishing the mission Jesus gave to his disciples: “to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). Often, the Bible uses terms like bearing fruit to represent disciples that make disciples. My trip through the Temecula vineyards helped me see that churches need a solid framework to reach their full potential and realize their mission – to bear fruit. Even though it may not seem as “spiritual” as evangelizing or teaching, creating processes and procedures to ensure the smooth operations of the church is a vital, necessary, and biblical function. A solid administrative structure establishes trust, ensures compliance, and maximizes ministry efforts.
Churches rely on generous and often sacrificial donations from those in the congregation to fulfill the mission. Every church must have a plan that estimates the annual donation amount and then allocates every dollar – also known as a budget. The administrative team oversees the creation, implementation, and adjustments to the church budget. In addition to a budget, the administrative team provides periodic reports to the board, the staff, and the congregation to ensure transparency. The administrative team should also monitor the church’s emergency fund, debt levels, internal controls, and money-handling processes and facilitate an outside CPA to review or audit the books. The administrative team understands the importance of fiscal responsibility and its role in accomplishing the mission.
As with any organization, solid processes are necessary to minimize chaos and maximize productivity. The administrative team must establish standard protocols that define the proper way to accomplish tasks. Here are a few examples:
- Finance: Handling cash, making deposits, expense reimbursement, benevolence requests, etc.
- HR: Requesting time off, hiring, terminating, etc.
- Facilities: Room rentals, requesting maintenance or repairs, etc.
- Pastoral: Weddings, memorials, counseling, etc.
- Communications: Promoting events, etc.
Policies and processes create a framework that minimizes confusion and wasted time through developed operational standards that define roles and responsibilities. The administrative team understands, designs, and improves processes that allow the church to function optimally.
Churches are not immune from federal, state, and local laws and ordinances. In today’s overly complicated and litigious society, staying compliant remains an ongoing task. Compliance includes areas such as payroll reporting, minimum wage, understanding pay types, housing allowance, hiring and termination practices, harassment prevention training, etc. In states like California, bills like AB 506 require specific types of background checks and training for those working with children. The administrative team should create an employee handbook that covers the church’s mission statement, the purpose of the employee handbook, the church’s history, policies, benefits, and procedures. This list only shows the tip of the compliance iceberg. Having a team of people dedicated to ensuring the church’s compliance allows the ministry to function in confidence and pursue the mission.
The administrative role is to provide the structure for the ministry team to grow vines that produce fruit. Providing the ministry teams with financial boundaries through the budget, the process to accomplish tasks, and ensuring the church remains compliant allows them to pursue the mission. The structure and the vine are essential; they need each other to thrive. For those with the gift of administration, use it with skill and diligence, knowing you provide the framework for the vines to grow and produce fruit.short url: