Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Churches are birthed out of a desire to help people discover the life-changing transformation that comes from learning, and living life based on Biblical principles.
Every founding pastor can probably tell you when they first felt this aspiration and how it led them down a path to pioneering a church.
Churches grow when they provide members with solid Biblical teaching and discipleship that is supported by structured systems and processes.
Churches Are Operated By Systems
Church systems and processes touch everyone – members, volunteers, visitors, and employees.
And, great systems are consistent, predictable, and streamlined for efficiency.
What Is A Church System?
A church system is documented procedures that articulate how to perform a job or complete a process.
When systems are created, steps to the processes are identified and policies and procedures are birthed.
For instance, let’s assume your church has a volunteer application process. There is probably someone who initially created this process and taught others.
Often the person who first creates a process does so through memory. This person understands why they do what they do and trusts their memory to ensure consistency in practice.
This type of undocumented process results in the organization being vulnerable to variances in how things are done.
Unless these policies and procedures are written down, the system is at the mercy of the person performing them to “remember” all the appropriate steps.
Why Write Down Policies And Procedures?
A written policy sets the expectation for employee and volunteer behaviors and the procedure outlines the steps for it.
This written document ensures consistency in practice and helps to maintain a high level of quality in how things are done.
7 Reasons To Write Down Policies And Procedures
1. Articulate Required Steps
Policies and procedures provide a guide for meeting ministry objectives and help to ensure quality systems and processes support the way church is done.
This guided system is achieved by describing the steps that employees and volunteers are to take when delivering a service.
Specific detail helps employees and volunteers understand what is expected of them and takes the guesswork out of performing job duties.
For example, offering counters should understand the expectations for handling church cash and the steps to sort, count, and deposit the offering into the church safe.
Detailing these procedures helps to ensure that all counters handle church offerings the same way. And, this consistency in practice helps to secure church funds and guards against any possibility of embezzlement.
2. Provides Performance Measures
Procedures can be used to measure how work gets done and assess if the predetermined steps are followed consistently.
This detailed script helps to ensure consistency in how the phone is answered but also provides measures (how often there is variance in practice) that can be used in the annual performance appraisal.
3. Ensures Process Consistency
Written procedures help to provide consistency in practice and help to ensure that all steps are followed and that things are done the same way every time.
When steps in a process get skipped, it creates an inconsistent process that then causes variations in how a service is provided or a task is performed.
For example, if the receptionist answers the telephone differently every time, it is difficult to ensure a good experience for the caller.
4. Serves As A Training Tool
Employee and volunteer training is one of the most valuable investments a church can make.
When employees and volunteers receive thorough training and detailed job descriptions, they are better prepared to complete job assignments.
Using policies and procedures as part of that training helps to ensure that there is consistency in how things are done and reinforces global expectations.
For example, a review of policy and procedures should be incorporated into a new employee and volunteer orientation process.
Employees and volunteers need to be trained on policies and procedures but should also have continuous refreshers to inform them of changes in practice and to remind them of expectations for adhering to church policies.
5. Ensures Safety And Legal Compliance
There are many laws and regulations that churches are required to comply with.
Policies and procedures help to ensure that the organization complies with safe practices and legal regulations.
For instance, policies against sexual harassment may protect against litigation if faced with a sensitive or uncomfortable situation.
6. Training Refresher
A policy and procedure manual can be used as a tool to help train employees and volunteers.
This tool serves as a resource and acts as a reminder of procedure steps and expectations.
For example, every department of the church should have a department-specific policy and procedure manual that employees and volunteers can refer to ensure consistency in how work is performed.
7. Foundation For Process Improvement
Policies and procedures should be a living document that is reviewed and updated once a year.
This consistent evaluation, through the eyes of those working with the policies and procedures, can shed light on areas that can be improved.
For example, a volunteer who works in the nursery may recognize a process that could be done more efficiently.
Volunteers can often shed light on improvement opportunities that a church leader or employee may not see.
Regular Review Of Policies Keeps Them Fresh
Policies and procedures should be consistently reviewed for their effectiveness and to ensure that what is being done in practice is adding value.
As a church grows, internal processes and systems grow with it, creating the need to write things down.
Doing so in a detailed policy and procedure manual can help to ensure that the services that the church provides can consistently maintain the level of quality that the church hopes to achieve.
If you are a member of SCM you can access example policies and procedures by logging into your account here.
If you are not a member and would like access to our growing library of church forms, documents, and job descriptions, you can learn more here.