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When the phrase "church administration" comes to mind, you may not instinctively think of cutting-edge digital tools. With the administrator's role centered on organizing information, managing team logistics and communicating information, that is a fair assessment. While the business of the church is not driven by technology, and administrators likely have a longer paper trail, technology can still make an impact on church administration.

Tools and Transactions

The most widely known administrative tool is online giving, most recently taking the form of mobile giving. Online giving has allowed the church administrator to keep tithes and offerings in the forefront as well as special projects like building campaigns.

Not long ago, unless a church member attended a congregation that still handed out a box of tithing envelopes, the member didn't see anything about his giving record until the end of the year. Today, by using technology as a transaction tool for church attendees, we have real-time information as a reminder of their financial role.

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With regard to church administration, processes come to mind ahead of technology. For instance, long gone are handwritten job applications, and job listings have found a home in the digital world. Employee reviews no longer are an end-of-year event but rather a day-to-day conversation using tools such as TrakStar. Scheduling staff for the weekend, managing vacations and tracking time can be managed and viewed at once on an iPhone by using tools like Paycom and Planning Center.

In this day of megachurches, multiple campuses and church ministries starting every day, it can be hard to know where members and attendees are growing or struggling. Used well, church management software helps everyone on staff get the big picture of who's connected through a small group, who is engaged as a part of the church and which classes are the most helpful. Web analytics can support this as well.

Staffing is a significant responsibility for the administrative or executive pastor. The question he may ask is: How do we ensure we have the "right people on the bus in the right seats"? Online assessment tools such as Strength Finder, StandOut and Keirsey Temperament not only get the right people in the right role but also help those with different roles and personalities work well together.

However, these instruments are only helpful when they are actively used, and the administrator, who tends to be more analytical, will find that these sorts of tools are only effective when used outside of the data. Knowing someone's primary aptitude isn't enough. Leaders must nurture these strengths with clear and measurable results while also equipping people with their different skill sets.

Of course, we can't talk digital and not address social media. While social media doesn't directly correlate to the administration to-do list, it should be kept in sight. Executive pastors should consider crafting a social media policy that fits their culture. Administrative staff needs to understand that church leadership expects them to be an extension of the congregation, whether their social media is seen as an extension of their role as staff or is entirely personal.

Members of the communications team also need to understand the expectations of the church regarding tone and boundaries on social media, answering questions such as:

  • Do we allow and retain comments that go against what we are preaching?
  • How do we handle inappropriate or inflammatory comments?
  • Who answers messages asking for church assistance?

Direction and Danger

The biggest opportunity on the horizon is in pulling all of these elements together. Today, a church's website is often static. Everyone is getting the same information. Imagine tying these technologies together and serving the content that matters most.

For instance, instead of showing online to a happily married man that a singles group is meeting Saturday night, the website invites him to watch the game at a men's small group. For the person who attends services but hasn't yet engaged through giving, how about showing him a video of how finances are making an impact through the church in the community? To move in this direction, it's best not to let technology do the leading but to learn from the church administrator who might use technology to better direct and power the ministries of the church.

One of the dangers of technology, in both the church and wider world, is to allow it to drive strategy. Everyone else has a mobile app, so your church builds one. Everyone has big tech on stage, so why shouldn't your church implement it? The problem is we become high in tech but low in strategy, which flatlines our effectiveness. We may have a cool mobile app, but nobody is gaining anything from it and a stage that looks good but doesn't connect to the overall brand of the church or support the weekend series.

It's true that we often don't think of technology when we consider "church administration." But as we let administrators have a say in strategy, the church can then look for ways to support these strategies with technology, bringing significant benefits to the congregation.

Michael Buckingham serves as experience team pastor at Victory World Church (victoryatl.com) in Norcross, Georgia. Email him at mbuckingham@victoryatl.com or connect via Twitter at @mbuckingham.

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