Have you ever participated in an effort to select, buy, and implement a new ChMS? What about completing an overhaul of the church’s HR policies? Or perhaps you’re working on reopening plans amid COVID-19. Those are a few examples of projects you may face.

A great deal of time, money, and work is expended to complete these projects. One way to make that process less expensive and time-consuming (and more successful) is to use a project management process.

After leading many projects in various corporate and church environments, I’ve found that the following steps are effective for church projects:

Step No. 1: Clarify the Vision

What does the church want to achieve with this project? What goals are within the scope of the project? You’ll also want to determine the budget and approximate timeline for the project.

During this step, go ahead and assign a staff member to be the project manager. The individual in this role should be responsible for developing the plan, keeping the team on track, and providing general oversight.

Step No. 2: Develop the Project Plan

A key aspect of the project manager’s role is to create the project plan. This plan is a collection of all the tasks the team must complete to finish the project. It should also include due dates and who is responsible for each task. The project manager should meet with each team member to gather information about what tasks are necessary for the project, along with potential assignments and deadlines.

Step No. 3: Assemble the Project Team

At this point, you’ll need to determine who should be on the project team to make decisions or complete tasks. This may include staff members and volunteers. Clearly define each team member’s role, including any decision-making authority, budget approval ability, and specific responsibilities.

Step No. 4: Work the Plan

This is where the team starts completing tasks from the project plan. Most people want to skip directly to this step since it’s where you actually see progress.

However, if you skip the other steps, you’ll have to plan the project as you work. That’s like trying to build a plane while it’s in flight. Instead, invest the time to complete the first three steps, making planning mistakes on paper instead of in real life. You’ll save time and money when you plan carefully.

Step No. 5: Monitor & Report Progress

Church leadership will want periodic updates to know how the project is coming along. One easy way to keep them updated is with a weekly progress report or dashboard. The project manager can use an online planning tool such as Asana, Trello, or Basecamp to assign tasks and receive updates from the team. From there, he/she can update church leadership on the team’s progress.

Step No. 6: Finish the Project

This is the most satisfying part of the project. It’s where the team’s hard work results in a finished product.

Step No. 7: Lead Post-Project Activities

While the new system or process may be in place, you’re not finished yet. Before you wrap up this project, make sure you do the following:

  • Celebrate the win: Enjoy the moment and celebrate as a team.
  • Conduct a lessons learned meeting: Meet with the team to discuss what went well and what to improve for future projects.
  • Create a project notebook: Compile documents and information the team developed for this project to make future projects easier. This could include the project plan, vendor contracts, lessons learned, training materials, and other documents.

Using a standard process for managing projects might be new to your church. If so, introduce these ideas gradually. Project management isn’t something we immediately think of when it comes to ministry. It may take a bit of convincing to get people on board with a new, more structured process. However, using these steps can support ministry more efficiently and effectively.