Outsourcing is the process by which an organization hires an outside vendor to complete work. You may already outsource some aspects of your ministry (i.e., hiring a lawn service to mow the grass or a maintenance company to take care of the HVAC units). If you are looking for ways to stretch your budget or expand your ministry, outsourcing may be a good option.
What services can be outsourced?
Any services that can be handled off campus can be outsourced. If COVID-19 has taught the world anything, it’s that most services can take place at remote locations. Financial and bookkeeping services, payroll, graphic design and printing are some functions your church can outsource. It may be worthwhile to hire someone to take care of church training, social media management or fundraising campaigns.*
Some services that take place on church grounds also can be outsourced. Housekeeping, catering, general maintenance and painting are just a few. Some churches have even begun to outsource positions that have traditionally been filled within the church.
For example, you may want to hire choir members, musicians, nursery workers, church administrators and event planners from other organizations. There are even businesses that cater to outsourcing discipleship and ministry tasks such as sermon preparation.
With the expanded use of virtual assistants, chat bots and other technological supports, the options for outsourcing are almost limitless. However, just because something can be outsourced doesn’t mean it always should.
How do you know when outsourcing makes sense?
In many cases, outsourcing a service can save time and money for your church. For example, it may be cheaper to hire a cleaning service rather than a full-time custodian. Sometimes, outsourcing is more about quality. For example, you may get better stationery if it’s designed and printed by a graphic design firm rather than in-house.
In addition, you should consider how much time you have to spend or how much effort you want to exert on a task. If something is going to take you 10 hours to accomplish, it may make more sense to pay a professional who can get it done in four. Basically, if you struggle to know how to do something, how to do something well, or to find time to do it, outsourcing may be the right solution for the job.
Here are a few questions to consider:
How important is this service to the fulfilment of our primary ministry/mission?
Why should we consider outsourcing this service?
How closely will I (or another church representative) need to monitor the service if outsourced?
How do you think the congregation or general public might respond to the outsourcing?
Is this a service that will not be affected by depersonalization?
Would outsourcing this task cause a potential breach in confidentiality or security?
Is there someone in your congregation who might volunteer to perform this service?
Like any major decision, you should consider the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing. Every church will have different answers for each of the questions and services that are being considered. Answering these questions will help determine if outsourcing is the right move.
How do I choose a provider?
If you decide to outsource, the next step is choosing a provider. Whom you hire and the process you use for hiring will vary from one service to another. There are a few things you should always keep in mind.
First, consider the reputation of the company or individual you are hiring. Try to make sure that your core values and beliefs are in alignment. You never want to hire an individual or business with known integrity or morality issues, as doing so may place your church in a difficult situation. Look for a company or individual that has good standing within your community.
Second, thoroughly consider security and confidentiality issues. The issues surrounding data entry are different from those with housekeeping. Whatever the service, the physical safety of your congregation is paramount. Remember that protecting your congregation extends to data protection and confidentiality. Talk to potential providers about their security measures.
Third, decide what part your church will still play in this service. No job is ever completely outsourced. Someone has to assign the task, collaborate with the provider and review the services rendered. Designate who from your church will take on that role. Clearly define the expectations of all parties and have a process to gauge whether your expectations are met.
To outsource or not is a big decision. Just remember that you don’t have to do everything by yourself — even within the church. Whether your church has a large congregation and wants to expand ministry opportunities or you have a small congregation and need help with weekly tasks, outsourcing might be a solution to consider.
* United Methodist Communications may be able to assist you with some of these services. The Training Team has a variety of options for communications training. The Local Church Services Team also offers social media, website and promotional assistance.
Tricia K. Brown is a writer, editor, keynote speaker and Bible teacher. In addition to being a wife and mother of four sons, she is the sole proprietor of The Girls Get Together, where she and her team provide women's event programs for churches and other organizations. Her latest book, A Year of Yearning: A 12-Month Devotional to Help You Study God's Word More, is available from Amazon.