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We all enjoy receiving a service that is courteous, helpful, and delivered in a way that we expected it to. This kind of intentional service delivery is deemed service quality.
Churches have come to realize the importance of excellence and incorporating quality concepts and tools into their management practices.
Many churches and nonprofit organizations now focus on efficiency and effectiveness in the way their mission is achieved.
While some might argue that quality concepts don’t apply to the church, I would argue that Christian organizations should lead with quality.
Quality is defined by the American Society for Quality (ASQ) as “The characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs, and a product or service free of deficiencies”.
Quality is about how things are done and focuses on data-driven decision-making, learning from mistakes, and a commitment to continuous improvement.
“Excellence is not about impressing other people; it is about doing it right because it is the right thing to do. It is not seen as clearly in the big things as it is in the little things. It’s about learning from our mistakes and implementing improvements based on what we learn.” Phil Baker
6 Examples of How Churches Focus on Quality
1. A Focus on The Customer
Customers are those people who pay the bills. And while this may be a potentially controversial statement, churches do have customers.
Church customers are key stakeholders – members, volunteers, visitors, and employees.
Churches serve their community. This is only possible with members who fund the church operation, volunteers who provide free labor, and employees who facilitate the process.
Each of these groups is an important part of the church community.
A church should take the time to learn about its customer groups and develop systems and programs to support those customers’ needs.
This can be done by soliciting feedback and developing plans to address customer requirements.
For example, you might ask members what kinds of programs could help them. In this case, if your church has a lot of young families, you might learn from parents that it is important to create programs to support children and youth.
Feedback should be organized and put in an improvement plan to address those things that support these valuable stakeholders.
2. Leadership Development
Leadership is about influencing others. For a ministry, it is rallying around a shared mission.
Members support a mission by providing financial support. Volunteers rally around a mission by providing free labor to get the work done. And employees facilitate the process.
Leaders are in every area of ministry. You might have youth leaders or leaders over bible studies. The goal is to use these important members to help restate the mission and remind others why the church exists.
It requires a continual process to be able to develop leaders who will help further the cause.
This ongoing process includes transferring leadership skills and reproducing more leaders for the organization.
For instance, your church may host leadership development classes to instill your church’s core values into a new team of leaders.
Use this development to ensure the people you have leading others have a deep understanding of what the church is trying to achieve.
3. Resource Management
Churches would not exist without their resources.
God blesses churches with valuable resources – people, time, and money.
One of the many responsibilities of church leaders is to be a good steward in efficiently managing those resources.
This effort involves constantly looking for ways to do things cheaper, quicker, and more effectively.
For instance, printing costs can be significant for a church of several hundred people. A team could explore how to reduce those costs by providing otherwise needed information in a digital format.
A church focusing on quality will continually look for ways to save on operational expenses.
4. Training and Development
Employees and volunteers are the labor engine of the church.
This core group of stakeholders needs to be nurtured and developed to advance in their roles.
This includes training and focused role development for increased responsibility.
For instance, let’s say you have an employee who works in the facility department on a part-time basis while they are in school.
Let’s also say this employee has an interest in becoming a minister. Your church might invest time and money into developing this person as part of your succession planning.
5. Improving Internal Processes
Churches are made of processes and systems.
“Every system is perfectly designed to
achieve exactly the results it gets.”
Donald Berwick, MD
For instance, when a child is dropped off at Children’s Church, the parents go through a drop-off and pick-up process.
What this quote means is improvement does not happen without intentionally looking at internal processes and finding ways to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness.
In the example of the children drop off process, you might explore ways to make the process more efficient, more parent (customer) friendly, or effective (all kids accounted for).
6. Management Through Data
Data tells a story, and church decisions should be based on the story data tells.
Churches need to collect data and use it to make informed decisions.
For example, church budget decisions should be based on projected revenue, strategy and annual goals.
Church program development should be based on member demographics, and volunteer training should be based on data gathered from volunteer feedback, and development goals.
A data-driven strategy that enhances decision-making is how successful organizations achieve objectives – for the church, that means mission accomplished!
Christians Should Lead with Quality
Christians are often the only light in a dark, confused world. And credibility is earned by showing the love of Christ efficiently and with excellence.
Church quality assurance is one way of doing that.
How does your church maintain a quality culture?
If you would like to learn more about church quality, check out our book, Church Quality: Why Excellence in the Local Church is Essential for Growth – available on Amazon.
Learn other tips for managing your church by enrolling in our Church Administration course.