Essential Elements of Church Management

A church manager’s job description won’t include pastoral duties, but he/she is obliged to support the pastoral work of the church. Both the pastoral and administrative work of the church should be grounded in the following elements or characteristics:

  • hospitality, especially to the poor and outcast;
  • communion and the breaking of bread together;
  • compassion, mercy and forgiveness;
  • inclusiveness; and
  • service unto others.

Download the complete paper:                                                                                            Essential Elements of Church Management

The Ideal Parish

The management or infrastructure of the church of the future will have a few new positions (shaded in green):

The ultimate goal of a stewardship program is to turn the church parish into an all-inclusive Christian community.

Here’s one way to go about it:                                                                                                                    The Ideal Parish


Why an Employee Handbook?

In today’s increasingly litigious society, not even the church is immune from the predatory practices of those looking to use or beat the system for personal gain.

If an act for which someone is fired [say, for example, using a church computer to surf porn sites] is not covered in the church Employee Handbook, the former employee may claim they didn’t know the particular act was grounds for termination and sue the church.

So, when it comes to Employee Handbooks, the more comprehensive, the better.

Feel free to use the Employee Handbook (linked to below) as a starting point. You may want to add other sections/topics specific to your parish and to your state employment laws.

You’ll also want to substitute your compensation, benefits, time off and leaves of absence  particulars.

Most important, have your first and final drafts reviewed by an employment lawyer.

Employee Handbook

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Parish Planning Playbook

Can you answer these questions?

If your Director of Religious Education suddenly took ill and was unable to perform his/her duties, would a successor immediately be able to pick up where his/her predecessor left off?

If your HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system shut down and was beyond repair, would you have the money in your budget to replace it?

Do you have a protocol in place for handling the media should they come knocking on your door?

Are you aware that your parish demographics are changing and, if so, have you figured out how you’re going to meet the spiritual and service needs of the new people? 

If you’re struggling with these questions, you and your parish will benefit greatly from a Pastoral Planning Playbook.

The benefit of pastoral planning is you and your colleagues will know where your church is now, where you want it to be, and how you are going to get it there.

You’re welcome to use or lift from the Parish Planning Playbook linked to below. It’s written and designed to walk you, step-by-step, through a pastoral planning process. It also provides you with tools that will help you identify, evaluate and execute your goals.

Parish Planning Playbook

Signs that you need pastoral planning:

  • Declining Sunday attendance.
  • Uneven commitment to the church.
  • Uncertainty that RCIA and CCD are doing the job.
  • Young people disengaging from the church.
  • Donations/contributions going down.
  • Inability to keep up with changing community demographics.

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It Takes Two!

As I mentioned in an earlier post (“Identity Crises”), the Church or Parish Business Manager (PBM) is not the church bookkeeper, or the church administrative assistant, or the church office manager. Here is the job description of the Church or Parish Business Manager (aka, business manager) as developed by the ADNY:

Job Description

The Parish Business Manager is a professional administrator supporting the pastor in the stewardship of the temporal activities of the parish. The business manager oversees the following specific areas of parish operations:

  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Property Management
  • Office Management

The business manager should be flexible in his/her approach to job responsibilities to assist the pastor in the management of the parish.

By following the financial policies and procedures, the business manager function ensures that the parish operates in compliance archdiocesan practices.

The business manager maximizes his or her effectiveness by accessing and utilizing archdiocesan support resources (i.e. associate director of finance, parish training director, chancery staff, etc.).

Specific Areas of Emphasis


  • Implements, maintains and ensures compliance with the archdiocesan Policy and Procedures manual.
  • Establishes, maintains and monitors an internal control system.
  • Documents and tracks revenue in accordance with Archdiocesan policies.
  • Prepares annual financial report for parishioners and submits a copy to the archdiocese.

Human Resources

  • Developments, implements and maintains a Personnel Policy.
  • Develops job descriptions, salary scales etc. for all parish employees.
  • Reviews the job descriptions and corresponding compensation of all positions ensuring that the duties and responsibilities are necessary in the execution of the parish mission.
  • Reviews all compensation packages to ensure that remuneration is within archdiocesan guidelines.

Property Maintenance

  • Develops a Business Plan for the effective management of all parish property.
  • Develops a Cost/Benefit Analysis to ensure that rental income adequately compensates for the cost of the facilities.
  • Ensures a regular schedule for maintenance for all buildings and grounds.
  • Maintains lease agreements, schedule of building use and compliance with diocesan policies to include but not limited to insurance compliance.
  • Works with [ADNY approved GM and vendors] for major maintenance projects.
  • Reviews and establishes service contracts.

Office Management

  • Administers all third party relationships of the parish including vendors.
  • Interfaces with the associate director and departments with the Catholic Center to ensure that the parish receives the professional support it needs.
  • Manages technology used by the parish.

NOTE TO PASTORS: Imagine being relieved of all of the above administrative responsibilities enabling you to focus on your pastoral duties.

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Identity Crises

The church or parish manager is a relatively new position in the Catholic church. Based upon the results of a “church manager” job search I did on the major job hunting/posting sites, the position appears to be universally uncommon or simply not yet in search engine’s algorithmic lexicon.

On June 8, 2018, I typed “church manager” in the Indeed job finding website “What” box and no such position, title or job listing came up. Refining the search, I entered my zip code; a listing for “church office manager” appeared,  hardly the position I was looking for.

I entered “church manager” into the Monster job hunting website search box. Below is a snapshot of the first page of listings:

At the top of the Monster page (exhibit above), you’ll notice it reads “church manager Jobs (96 Jobs Found).” In fact, there we no “church manager” job postings …  just postings that contained both words “manager” and “Church” (as in Church Drive-Westover, WV).

What about LinkedIn?  I searched for “church manager” and these were the first few listings:

The first “Business Manager” listing (in the exhibit above) fits the duties/role of a “church manager” but the listing may not have popped up at all if the word “Church” wasn’t elsewhere in the name of the organization or in the job description. The same [find these two words] algorithm, however, generated over a thousand listings that have nothing to do with church management.


Since church manager and parish manager are [or should be] synonymous, I entered “parish manager” in the LinkedIn search box:

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