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06 Aug 2017

Is Your Church Ready for the Harvest?

Raul Rivera

The summertime can be a long and difficult season for churches. It is almost as if many churches go into survival mode. Congregants take vacations, go to the lake on the weekends, or simply become a little more lax with their church attendance.

The decrease in church attendance during the summer can directly affect a church’s finances and is a major factor in the survival mode mentality. However, you are faithful to your call as pastor and during the summer months you continue to work hard knowing that your church will reap a harvest. 

When August hits, many families are gearing up and preparing to send their kids back to school. During this time, families are also hoping to return to a regular routine. 

This means that many families will be looking to get back into the routine of attending church. For some, this may mean attending church for the first time ever. 

The wisest pastors are asking this question: “Is my church ready for the harvest?”

There is more than one way to be ready for your harvest

My guess is that your answer to the above question is, “Yes.” 

You have ministry programs and volunteers in place to serve. You have outreach events planned and maybe even a “family fun night.” Some of you may even have your sermons mapped out for the remainder of the year.

When asked whether or not you and your church are ready for the harvest from a ministry and spiritual aspect, your answer unequivocally is, “Yes!”

What about being ready to reap your harvest from an administrative and compliance aspect? When you think about this aspect of your church or ministry, what areas are you needing to work on or improve in order to reap the full harvest that God has in store for your church?

During this time of year, many churches and ministries begin to evaluate, or reevaluate, their legal foundation and the strategies they have in place to protect their religious liberties. This is one reason why we host so many conferences across the country. 

Find a Conference Near You

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Strengthening your church’s foundation to receive the harvest

I firmly believe that in order to receive the full blessing and harvest that God has in store for your church, you have to be ready and prepared to receive His full blessing and harvest. 

What are the areas in your church that are in need of strengthening?

Based on our experience in guiding and helping pastors strengthen their churches’ legal foundations, we have found that there are generally five areas that pastors tend to work on this time of year.

1. Adding staff members

As your church continues to grow, it is only inevitable that you will need to add staff members to help facilitate the growth. 

Many churches find they need to add staff members during this time of year. However, many churches also find that they are initially a little unsure about how to properly add staff members as well as what their responsibilities are as an employer. 

To keep things simple for the purpose of this blog, the first thing you need to do when you bring on new staff members is determine whether they are an employee of the church or a contract worker.

Making the correct determination of whether a worker is an employee or contract worker is important because it will make all the difference in your church’s responsibility as an employer. 

(Recommended reading: “How to Hire Church Employees the Right Way”)

2. Reviewing board meetings for the first half of the year

Have you held any board meetings this year? Did you take board meeting minutes to record the decisions that were made? Are there board meetings that you were supposed to have but never got around to holding them? 

Now is the perfect time to reflect on and review all the board meetings that happened and did not happen. If there was a board meeting that was missed, then go ahead and schedule the meeting.

Additionally, review your board meeting minutes and make sure they are in proper order. I have said it a thousand times and I will say it again, a board meeting without board meeting minutes is simply called fellowship.

(Recommended reading: “How to Conduct a Better Board Meeting”)

3. Reassessing and improving church bylaws

Bylaws are defined as a set of general rules and regulations that guide and direct the daily affairs of the members of an organization. Bylaws are crucial for churches and ministries because when properly structured, they do the following:

  1. Clarify the purpose of the church;
  2. Provide protection by distinguishing the theocratic government of the church;
  3. Give guidelines for how the board can and cannot make decisions;
  4. Guide the board in how to establish policies and procedures for the church, including succession, finances, ordination, membership, etc.; and
  5. Give guidelines to help ensure that the board is operating according to IRS regulations for tax-exempt organizations.

In essence, bylaws are the driving force that helps a church run smoothly. When bylaws are well written, tailored to your church, and utilized correctly, they can effectively streamline the focus of your church. 

Furthermore, your church’s bylaws can provide invaluable guidance and protection for your church. However, when your church’s bylaws are not structured well and are incompatible with your church’s values and mission, then you may find that you have a document that actually works against you rather than for you. 

If your church is in need of bylaws, or if your church is in need of strengthening its bylaws, now is the time to be proactive. Do not put it off any longer.

Your church’s bylaws can provide invaluable guidance and protection for your church.

4. Reviewing the church budget

Now that we are more than halfway through the year, it is the opportune time to pause and take a look at your church budget.

  • Is your church staying on budget?
  • Are there changes or adjustments that need to be made based on prior months?
  • Will the trends you see this year affect next year’s budget?
  • Does your church even have a budget? 

A budget may seem like an obvious thing to have and operate from, but the fact is that many pastors and church leaders are not sure where to begin when it comes to creating a church budget.

We can help guide you. Consider reading a previous blog post called “6 Simple Ways to Create a Church Budget” or give us a call at 877-494-4655 to find out more about our Bookkeeping Service.

5. Ordaining ministers

There comes a time in every ministry when additional ministers will need to be ordained. Typically this need arises when the church experiences growth. 

As you prepare to reap the harvest that God has in store for your church, I want you to ask yourself, “Will our church need to ordain additional ministers?”

If your answer to that question is, “Yes,” then I have another question for you.

“Does your church have everything in place to legally ordain ministers of the gospel?”

Whenever I ask this question, it usually causes pastors and church leaders to pause and wonder. Most are not exactly sure what I mean by “legally ordain.” In short, legal ordination directly affects tax benefits such as the housing allowance and self-employment tax exemption available to ministers.

Does your church have everything in place to legally ordain ministers of the gospel?

This is a hot topic that we teach about at all of our conferences. Register for one of our conferences today to learn about ten steps you can implement in your church to ensure legal ordination. 

Are you ready to receive your harvest?

I am a firm believer that in order to receive your harvest, you have to be ready for it. Often this lack of preparedness comes from a sense of over confidence.

No matter how many years of ministry experience you have, we can agree that there is always room to grow and improve. One of the ways that we want to help you to prepare to receive your harvest is through our one-day conference.

If you have not attended one of our conferences before, or if it has been a while since you last attended, I invite you to come and grow with us. Allow us to walk with you in this journey.

Register for a Conference Today

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Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

Blessings,
Raul Rivera

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About the Author

Church Planter. Speaker. Author. CEO. Raul Rivera has had ample experience in the church planting world. His current venture, StartCHURCH, has helped 1000's of churches to start right. Raul has compiled an array of manuals and software tools that help churches stay compliant with the IRS. He also hosts over 35 national conferences per year, training pastors on how to launch their churches. Raul is married to his wife Genel, and they and their five children live in Atlanta, GA.