Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Amid the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, churches are making decisions like never before.
Church leaders are now responsible for providing direction on their church reopening plans, new social distancing policies, and communicating changing church services to their members.
In Jim Collins’ book, Good to Great, he talks about using councils to help guide the organization.
Church councils are made up of a group of the right people to discuss, debate, and make decisions about the administration and management of the organization.
People selected to serve on councils should be those with knowledge, experience, and a passion for the topic.
These knowledge experts are steered by the church board and used to facilitate a decision-making process that benefits the ministry.
Councils should have a clear charter, and someone should be assigned to facilitate the process.
This facilitator is someone who helps the council identify an appropriate team, create a team charter, ground rules, and team goals.
This process gives the team has some accountability and a set direction.
Councils should meet regularly and report to the church board.
6 Examples of Church Guiding Councils
1. Budget Review
The current pandemic situation has put an unexpected financial strain on churches.
The added costs of updated sanitation procedures, additional spending on cleaning products, and new supplies of protective equipment would fall in an unbudgeted expense line.
This is when a budget review council is helpful.
The budget review council should be assigned to review monthly budget numbers, analyze budget variances, and approve non-budget expenditures.
This group is also responsible for meeting with church managers and creating the annual church budget.
The budgeting process forecasts annual revenues, fixed and flexible spending, and anticipates and budgets for large capital expenses.
This group is the financial think-tank and has an identified representative that reports to the church board.
2. Human Resources
The human resource council helps to ensure that policies, procedures, and processes are in place to support church personnel and volunteers and that the ministry complies with and operates within state and federal laws.
An HR council might also have the responsibility to review job applications and approve applicants for the first round of interviews.
The HR Council is responsible for establishing employee pay grades, make decisions on employee benefits, employee policies, training, leadership development, job classifications, employee assistance programs, vacation approval process, compensation strategy, reward and recognition, and performance management.
The greatest responsibility of this group is to ensure that employees and volunteers have the resources and support to do their jobs.
3. Facility Review
Church facilities are now required to accommodate the safety measures to ensure a safe return of church services.
The facility review council meets regularly to discuss strategy for facility management, identify facility update needs, and plan for future expansions or remodels.
This group also facilitates ensuring that staff work areas meet employee job requirements and gives direction on standard furniture, décor colors, campus way-finding, and mechanical equipment needs.
For instance, this active oversight group is key to assisting the church in the planning and execution of sanitation protocol.
This council meets with the budget review committee to ensure large capital expenditures are budgeted, and resources are available when needed.
4. Information Technology
The reliance on technology during this pandemic has been unprecedented. Most churches have some level of virtual services.
This would not be possible without a think-tank that helps identify those technology needs.
The information technology council is responsible for making sure the church has the necessary technology to run its operations.
This may include recommending purchases such as audiovisual equipment for church services, computer software to operate children’s ministry, or assessing whether employees have the right computer equipment and software to perform their job duties.
This council also researches new technologies and ensures the church is using all available technologies that facilitate streamlined work processes.
For example, investing in electronic scanning systems for children’s ministry and adult classes can eliminate the need to manually input attendance information into the church database.
This council is also responsible for establishing ministry guidelines for replacing computers, setting guidelines for internet usage, employee training, communicating policies on employee personal use of church equipment, and establishing any other information technology policy and procedures.
A safety council is responsible for ensuring the church provides a safe environment for visitors and employees.
This is done by reviewing safety procedures for potentially dangerous activities by employees and volunteers.
This group should make routine campus rounds and proactively look for hazards that need to be corrected.
This could be anything within buildings or outside grounds, such as electrical systems, walking surfaces, air quality, fire extinguishers, clutter in hallways, etc.
Proactively looking for things that could pose a threat of harm to employees or visitors can help to avoid an unnecessary incident of injury.
For instance, this council may be called upon to ensure the ministry is complying with CDC Guidelines for reopening.
6. Customer Experience
A customer experience council is responsible for seeking feedback from all customer groups—members, volunteers, and employees—and identifying ways to improve the experience.
This council may be responsible for facilitating a formal feedback process, reviewing feedback data, and developing improvement plans based on that data.
For example, this group may find that volunteers are asking for a more structured training process because they don’t feel adequately trained to perform their job duties.
Managing a church can be challenging, particularly with limited resources and the reliance on volunteer labor.
Identifying the right councils, with the right people to help make recommendations and decisions for the operational side of the church, helps a church stay focused on key priorities and acts as an accountability tool for church leaders.