Pastors and church leaders get into ministry because they want to help people, not because they want to run some small business. However, if churches don’t keep an eye on the business side of running their ministry, those issues can overtake the ministry and cause it to implode. I’ve seen too many good ministries mess up the financial and stewardship side to the detriment of the people-care part of what we do. As a church leader, you are called to be a good steward of the resources God has provided your church.
Here at unSeminary we have a number of resources to help church leaders increase the generosity culture of their churches:
- 5 Free Resources to Increase Your Church’s Generosity
- 6 Practices of Churches with Increasing Generosity
- Next Generation Generosity
- Offering Talk 201 // An Advanced Strategy for Encouraging Generosity at Your Church
However, today we want to look at how we could save your church resources so you can do more ministry. A part of being a good steward is not spending where you don’t have to. Over time, the expense side of a church operation can become bloated if we don’t look carefully at it. Following are some areas that you should renegotiate as a church to decrease the cost of operations or increase the effectiveness of the money you are spending.
- Payment Processing // An increasing amount of your giving is happening online. If your church is experiencing what’s happening in most churches, then you have seen a decrease in people giving by check or in the offering on weekends as they are giving through various online payment platforms. You need to dig into what the transaction costs are for those payments. Typically, most of your vendors are open to saving this expense if you just ask. Even a service like PayPal will reduce its fees if you reach out to them. Although the task of switching to another payment processing service is daunting… every one of those automatic payments needs to be switched… it can be worthwhile in the long run with the savings you’ll see.
- Graphic Design // Most churches are spending on graphic designat some level these days. Graphic design is broken up into two broad categories: creative and production. Creative design is all about making your items unique–looking and polished. It’s about ensuring that your church is on-brand and meeting your standards. Production design is about taking those core looks and replicating them over a wide variety of assets. Think about the last big day at your church—maybe Christmas Eve—when you had a core look that you spent time ensuring was just right, but then had to replicate in a bunch of pieces from program design, to social media graphics, to banners in the foyer. You should be focusing your graphic design spending on creative design and outsourcing the production design. A service like Design Pickle is perfect for passing the repetitive and formulaic graphic design task to. They are professionals at production design and are helping lots of churches today increase their output while decreasing their costs.
- Administrative Support // Once your church grows beyond a few hundred people, the administrative load becomes something that church leaders wrestle with. Pastors are typically amazing at interacting with people but can often let the details fall through the cracks. The problem is those administrative details like appointment scheduling, responding to emails, voicemail management, and social media management can cripple a ministry if not done well. However, the cost of an onsite administrative assistant can be prohibitively high and an ineffective use of resources. Your church needs to consider enlisting remote virtual assistants that can help your team get what needs to be done for a fraction of the cost of onsite staff. Many church leaders have reported the services of Belay Solutions helping them with virtual assistant functions. When you think about what you actually need to get done by an assistant, the majority of it can be performed remotely by a dedicated team member who works over the phone, email, and online rather than sitting in your office. Virtual assistants are becoming the core administrative function of many prevailing organizations today.
- Building Use // The use and management of facilities is a huge place where churches can improve their stewardship. If your church owns the facilities you use, it would be wise to look at all the contracts associated with the running of that facility and see where you could find some savings. Could you find a better price on the cleaning service that you use? How are you removing the snow in winter time for churches in a northern location? Also, the actual running of that facility can probably be improved from a stewardship point of view. I’ve walked into many empty churches in the middle of the summer time with the air conditioning cranking! Switching to LED lighting will save your church in the long run with reduced operational costs. If your church rents its facilities for weekend services then paying close attention to how those contracts are structured is important. Speeding up your set-up process and trimming an hour off the set-up time can save your church in the long run. Finding out if you could reduce the number of staff that the venue provides can bring savings to you.
- Office Supplies, Shipping & Support Functions // This week take a look around and watch the normal operations of your church to see where you may be repeating the use of certain supplies or services. Typically those areas can be places that if you negotiate with the vendors you can reduce the cost. If your church does a lot of photocopying then look very carefully at that contract when it’s time for renewal; switching to a different office supply vendor can be more efficient if you look closely at your options. Even shipping companies can give you a break on your rate if you send all of your outbound traffic their way. The key to this area is to find those items and services you use repeatedly and find a vendor who is willing to talk through a reduced cost.
7 Tips for Renegotiation for Church Leaders
- Go to Them // People feel at ease when you are in their space rather than vice versa. Go out of your way to meet them on ground that’s best for them. They might prefer meeting at their office or a local coffee shop.
- Know Your Value // In some of these categories, the churches can represent a major part of their business. Before you meet with them get a sense of how important your account is to the provider. (Trust me … it is important.)
- Know the Details // Dig into the details of your agreement with them so you know it inside out. Find the leverage point that works best for the church and for the vendor. Go in with a plan of what you are looking for and point the conversation towards that.
- Lead With Questions // People like to solve problems for others. Lead the conversation asking them questions rather than telling them. “Christmas Eve is an important day for us but it’s an extra expense. What would have to happen for us to get that for free this year considering we rent for the rest of the year from you?”
- Know Who to Talk With // Make sure you have the decision maker in the room. Understand the level of decision the people you are meeting with can make. If your contact defers to needing to talk it through with their manager then ask for a conversation with the manager.
- Let Them Go First // Let them offer the first number or solution first. Then work your way down from that. In order to do this you’re going to need to ask them for that number and then let silence ring until they talk next. Don’t fill in that silence… it’s a part of negotiation.
- Be Nice // Ultimately, you want to win the relationship with whomever you’re speaking with. Don’t allow the conversation to degenerate toward an aggressive or hostile exchange. It’s more important for the church long term to have positive relationships than save a few dollars. However, the other side might use anger or disgust as a negotiating tactic so you need to keep the conversation heading towards your end without being drawn into an emotional battle.