Case Study: Managing Leadership, Elder & PCC Teams
About the author...
Paul, and his wife Fiona, used to lead a Vineyard church in Bournemouth, UK. Paul now heads up customer support and training at ChurchSuite. In this article, he explores how ChurchSuite's features can be used for organising leadership, elder, PCC and trustee teams and meetings.
Several features within ChurchSuite can be used to help churches organise and manage their leadership teams, church council (PCC), trustees or boards of elders. Typically churches will create simple Fixed Tags to group those team/council/board/trustee members. This is perfect for communicating out to the contacts in that tag from your ChurchSuite account, perhaps to remind them of an upcoming team meeting. However, thinking creatively, there are other features in ChurchSuite and My ChurchSuite that can be used very effectively to organise your leadership teams and facilitate better communication between your team members.
Create a Ministry
Why not create your leadership team as a Ministry in the Rotas module? There are lots of advantages - here are just a few:
- They can create a simple ad hoc rota to schedule upcoming meetings.
- They can receive a rota reminder to remind them of each upcoming meeting.
- They can send apologies by recording unavailability for a rota meeting date.
- They can use the rota group email feature in My ChurchSuite to send "closed group" confidential emails that can be viewed by leadership team members in their My Communications section, but that are not visible to your Users in the communication logs in the admin-facing Address Book.
- They can be assigned 'roles' within the ministry so that it's clear what each team member is responsible e.g. "Treasurer", "Senior Pastor", "Chairperson", "Warden", "Lead Elder", "Safeguarding Officer", "Health & Safety Officer" etc.
- Their serving commitment is properly recognised in the system, meaning they'll be excluded from the "not currently serving" reports and Smart Tags results - unless they're in another ministry in your Rotas module, your hard-working leadership team members will inaccurately show on "not currently" serving reports.
- The historic rota can serve as a register of meeting attendance i.e. who was invited/present at meetings, and who was absent (marked unavailable).
- Ad hoc meeting guests can be added to the rota and they'll receive meeting (rota) reminders.
- Rota notes can be used to post links to offline files such as meeting agendas, minutes of meetings, budgets, and policies and procedures.
- Retiring team members can be removed from the underlying ministry and they'll cease to receive meeting (rota) reminders and rota group emails. Similarly, newly appointed team members can be added to the ministry and meeting rota and they'll receive meeting (rota) reminders, and be able to use the rota group email.
When adding the new ministry, you'll be asked to enter the default serving day(s) and times for the ministry. Unlike ministries that serve for your weekend services, leadership teams typically don't have a set serving pattern. For our purposes, though it doesn't matter which day(s) or times are set here, as they can be changed when the meeting rota is created, adding Ad Hoc meeting dates to that rota. Here's my example...
Since ministry Overseers can create and manage rotas in My ChurchSuite (see later), you may wish to add some or all of the leadership team members as overseers; we'll also be adding them as ministry members in the next step.
Next, set up the meeting rota reminder - email and/or SMS. Once set, these will be sent on the defined schedule ahead of each date on the leadership team meeting rota. Note that you only need to add very basic content to your rota reminder emails - ChurchSuite will add details of the meeting rota date, times, team member list, their roles, contact details and unavailability to the reminder email for you each time the reminder email is sent.
Continuing with the ministry set-up, you can now define your team. Add team members and optionally assign any roles to your team members. You can create roles in the Roles section and then assign them to the Team Members.
Add a rota for meeting dates
It's easy to create a rota to manage your leadership team's meeting dates. Likely, your team's meetings don't follow a set pattern. With this in mind, we'll begin by creating a single dated rota for just the next known meeting date. Later you can add further meeting dates to the rota as the dates become known; even setting custom time(s) for meetings on a date-by-date basis. The rota reminder you set up in the previous section will always follow the dates and times of your rota.
Within ChurchSuite, click the Add rota button at the top of the ministry page. In my example, I've set the rota duration to run for a single date for the next known meeting - I don't want to make the rota run for longer than this at this stage, otherwise, a rota date will be added for each Monday between the date range. Instead, I'll later be adding ad hoc dates based on other known meetings. We'll only need to do this step once - with the rota published we'll be able to add further ad hoc meeting dates to extend the meeting rota into the future.
Save the changes and the meeting rota is created. You can now publish the rota. If you've assigned roles in your ministry, you may find it helpful to change the rota Order from the "Name" order to the "Role" order.
At this stage your new rota will have just one date on it, and no people yet. For each known future meeting date, click Add date at the top of the rota and enter the meeting date, start time and any optional note.
Next, add your leadership team members to each date on the meeting rota. Click Add to date...
...and click on the Teams tab so that you can add the entire team in one click...
...you'll see something like this (in role order). Repeat these steps for adding team members to each meeting date on your rota.
You can record known apologies for any team member on a date by selecting Add unavailability.
Unavailable team members will show on the meeting rota and meeting rota reminders in red strikethrough text.
Managing teams and meetings in My ChurchSuite
Within the member-facing My ChurchSuite, the leadership team members see their upcoming meetings in their Next Serving list in My Rotas.
...And they can click through into the Leadership Team meeting rota.
Here, your leadership team can view the meeting Dates, see the leadership team member list, contact details (subject to each member's privacy settings) and roles, and add apologies (unavailability) for any dates they are unable to attend a meeting. The group email option is also accessible here - leadership team members can click the Email members button to send an email to the leadership team members - the message goes to all team members.
The author can select whether replies are sent to just the author (just me), or all other [leadership team] members.
Sent emails are private to the group's members and not logged in the ChurchSuite. However, they are visible to team members in their My Communication section and delivered to their preferred email application. Only the leadership team ministry members can use the ministry's unique email address.
Leadership team appointments
How about creating a Flow to take prospective leadership team members through their approval and appointment process? You could create flow stages and actions to organise your team member vetting processes, form filing, sharing of policies and procedures, confidentiality agreements, disclosures or interests etc.
Online file storage for important documents
While ChurchSuite doesn't currently have in-built file storage functionality, you can easily sign up for a free or inexpensive online storage solution like DropBox, Google Drive, and iCloud. You can easily add links to rota notes and emails to your secure files like meeting agendas, minutes, policies and procedures, and forms.
And if you tag your leadership team members, you can create a custom menu External Link in My ChurchSuite that links to your online file storage. The menu item is only visible to leadership team members in your tag.
How are you using ChurchSuite?
We'd love to hear how you're using ChurchSuite to help you organise and manage your church's leadership team. Please send us your ideas and suggestions and we'll look to incorporate them into this case study so that others can benefit from your ideas too.
I hope the above team management suggestions are helpful to your church. If you have any questions, do get in touch with the support team at ChurchSuite; we'd be delighted to help. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best!