These are words we often hear in the church, whether it’s in the church office, in a committee meeting, or just in casual conversation. It’s as if the status quo is somehow linked to the sacred rites of the church. The churches that are experiencing growth in these difficult times are those who can look at past practices, keep what works, and then not be afraid to try new things. Sometimes, people that you think won’t be open to new things will surprise you.

Let’s look at a few “We’ve always” statements. Are any of these true at your church? Look at some of the suggestions for change. Perhaps you can think of a better idea for doing these things. Some suggestions are designed to save time and give you more opportunity to do ministry versus spending the time on record keeping.

We’ve always had the same person track giving and also paying the bills, plus had only one person count the money each Sunday.

This is a security issue. There should always be more than one person handling the money. And for fraud protection in the church, the person paying the bills should never deal with the income of the church. “Our people are honest” is not something we can ever take for granted. As designers of Church Windows software program, we often hear from client churches that are going through the painful process of investigating and charging someone for embezzlement.

We’ve always mailed our newsletter.

These days, most churches use their software program to track which members want a paper versus email newsletter copy. Then within the program, select the email people and go straight to the email screen and attach the newsletter. This can save the church a lot of money in paper, duplicating, and postage.

We’ve always communicated with our members through the bulletin.

This assumes that attendees and even pastors read the bulletin. Use email announcements, texts, and automatic phone messaging to convey critical information and reinforce announcements.

We’ve always assumed everyone should put their giving into the collection plate on Sunday.

You’re missing out. Many churches are now using their software to allow people to use electronic transfers to send their giving to the church. This covers those vacation Sundays when they aren’t there and might not “make up” the difference.

We’ve always mailed everyone their giving statements.

Let your software assist you in mailing those who wish to have them mailed and emailing the rest. As long as members receive their statements at the end of the year for tax purposes, the church has fulfilled its responsibility.

We’ve always set up the pastor’s pay according to his or her instructions.

It is wise to use a payroll program designed specifically for pastors to assure that IRS guidelines are being followed. This is especially of importance when it comes to housing allowances, auto reimbursements, and other allowances or deductions. It is better to be certain than to risk liability for the pastor or the church. The office for your ruling church body or a tax professional experienced with the tax characteristics of ministers can provide you with guidelines.

We’ve always passed out paper copies of everyone’s monthly report at our meetings.

How much time is saved if reports are emailed in PDF format to everyone before the meetings? Then, committee members can review the information and be better prepared. Meeting times can be drastically shortened, especially for financial reporting meetings. Many churches are now even conducting their meetings online using a conferencing program or something like GoToMeeting.

These are just a few ways that church work can be streamlined to make the church more effective. Take a look at your church’s “we’ve always” processes. Move into the 21st century.