Every church has projects, such as a new program launch, building renovations, outreach events, and more. These efforts normally have a specific deadline, budget, and goals. To keep the team on-task and within the budget, you need a church project manager to keep them organized.
Who is a Church Project Manager?
Think of a project manager as an orchestra conductor. He doesn’t play the instruments, but he keeps the musicians in-sync. A project manager develops a detailed plan of tasks required to complete the project. This individual works with the project team to develop the plan, assign tasks and deadlines, create and monitor the budget, identify success criteria, and provide reports to church leadership. It’s a role that requires strong communication skills, attention to detail, and the ability to problem-solve on the fly.
If your church hasn’t really focused on assigning a project manager to lead each effort, you may not have a staff member who’s trained in that discipline. Thankfully, project management is a skill you can learn with on-the-job training. However, it does require a certain set of innate skills that are harder to teach.
Whether you can hire someone specifically for this role or if you need to see if someone on the team has what it takes, consider these essential traits for a church project manager.
What to Look for in a Church Project Manager
Trait #1: Detail-oriented
Project management involves keeping track of all tasks, purchases, deadlines, vendors, and individuals involved in any given project. If you have someone on staff with a strong attention to detail, you may have a budding project manager.
Trait #2: Loves Lists
If you know someone who’s constantly creating a to-do list, or is even going so far as to write down a task that’s already completed just for the satisfaction of crossing it off, this person might be interested in project management.
Trait #3: Thinks Ahead
A good project manager is always thinking ahead about who needs to accomplish which tasks in the upcoming weeks. He consistently considers the potential implications if a task isn’t completed on time.
When the pastor mentions an idea for a new church event, a potential project manager is already considering the myriad of details needed to accomplish that event and what else it may impact.
Trait #4: Leadership
A strong project manager is also a leader. For example, when you’re planning a marriage retreat, you’ll need to coordinate tasks from various groups within the staff (family ministry leader, marketing department, service announcements, facilities, and more). This requires someone who is comfortable leading a team where no one reports to him directly. They need to be able to rally people to a common goal, respect the skills and demands on the time of each individual, and still be confident enough to hold each team member accountable to deadlines.
An effective project manager earns the respect of each team member and can hold people accountable without alienating the team.
Trait #5: Effective Communicator to Senior Leaders
When you have someone who loves details, it can be challenging for them to provide a high-level summary. However, your senior pastor probably doesn’t want to hear about every single task (nor does he have the time to listen). A great project manager can go from the 30,000-foot view to ground level and back again as needed.
Trait #6: Positive and Realistic Outlook
When your mind is full of details, it’s easy to think, “this is going to be really hard, if not nearly impossible, to accomplish.” However, that’s not an attitude a successful project manager can take.
You need someone who can see all the details and still be confident that the team can pull it off. This individual also needs to be confident enough to raise potential issues early on. He should always provide a few options to solve each issue and be ready to implement whichever solution leadership approves.
Trait #7: Protects the Team
A project manager must look out for his team, making sure they have what they need to be successful and that they aren’t working too much. They need to be able to inspire and motivate their team, be aware of the team’s mood, be willing to listen and be empathetic, all the while keeping the big picture in mind.
Project management is much more than simply keeping track of a massive to-do list and making sure each person gets his/her tasks done on time.