Developing a church annual report and making it available to the public (particularly current members) is a smart decision—and one that’s strongly recommended.
Because doing so not only demonstrates full transparency to your congregation but also encourages greater involvement. When people see that their efforts actually bear fruit, they’re more inclined to give. And as a result, your church can begin to grow even more.
It may not seem like a high priority, especially considering everything else you have on your plate, but creating a yearly report and releasing it to those in your community is well worth the effort.
“In my years as chief operating officer for global operations at Joyce Meyer Ministries, I was always so proud to show all the incredible work we accomplished around the world… It was so humbling.”
If you want to show how your church has grown, improved, and helped this year, it’s important to take a step back and look at what a church annual report actually is…
What Is a Church Annual Report?
A church annual report is exactly what it sounds like—a report detailing the goings-on at your church over the last year.
If you’re like most leaders, chances are you believe the primary purpose of such a report is to let members know how donated funds were used over the course of the year. Make no mistake—this is a crucial part of your report. However, it can serve a variety of other functions too, allowing you to forge a deeper connection with members and get them more invested in the ministry’s mission.
That’s why I want you to think beyond the basic definition and approach your annual report as a means to…
- Update members on the progress you’ve made regarding your church’s vision
- Inform members of decisions made by staff members and elders
- Inspire members to be more active in the local community
- Communicate to members how God has been working through your church
- Recognize those who have helped make a difference in the church
Your church annual report should be unique to you and your church. After all, that’s what will make members want to read it!
What Should Be Included in a Church Annual Report?
As previously mentioned, your church annual report should be unique, so it doesn’t need to fit a specific template or mimic another church’s report.
However, there are some important elements you need to include.
1) Use of Funds
When members tithe and donate to your church, they need to know their contributions are being used responsibly.
“We are great at asking for financial help, but we have to be even better at showing what we did with it.”
In your report, be transparent and honest in how you used funds over the last year. Let members know about improvements you made to the building, operating expenses you covered, and causes you sponsored.
Moreover, describe to members how their contributions have helped move your church forward and further your mission. This is key, as it proves to members that they play an integral role in supporting the church financially.
Tip: Since not everyone is excited by plain numbers and figures, be sure to include colorful graphs and charts showing how you allocated funds.
2) Member Highlights
Your church is a family in itself, and your annual report should reflect that.
Take the opportunity to highlight members who were active in the community, volunteered at various church functions, or celebrated major life events. You can also welcome a new employee/member with a short bio and photo, as well as feature a long-time elder.
Depending on the size of your church and local community, there’s a chance that some individuals have never met. However, your church annual report can help create a bond between members.
3) Community Outreach
Your church likely participated in a number of outreach efforts over the past year, and it’s important that you feature those in your church annual report.
Share stories from those you helped, include photos of your volunteers in action, and—when possible—add links to videos of members making a difference.
When you show how your ministry is committed to doing good in the world, members feel proud to be a part of your congregation. It reinforces their belief that they’re in the right place, and it may even prompt them to bring in new members/volunteers.
4) Calls to Action
Your church annual report is more than just a summary of the last year; it’s also a means to call your members to action.
Throughout your report, give members a gentle nudge to get more involved. Tie each call to action to a relevant section. For example…
After detailing the success of your outreach efforts, encourage members to volunteer their time.
After showing the impact donated funds had on various aspects of the church, inspire members to give.
After celebrating the small groups that were formed, urge members to join.
Giving members different ways to increase their involvement is important, as it makes it easier for them to find an option that fits their needs.
5) Plans for the Future
Members enjoy seeing how your church has changed and affected the community. But do you know what else they enjoy?
Learning about what they can expect from the church in the future.
In your church annual report, lay out your plans and goals for the coming year. Share your church’s vision for the future—not just next year, but even further down the road.
Make it clear that, although your church has accomplished a lot in the past year, there’s still work to be done. By expressing your hopes and outlining your objectives, you can build on the momentum of the past year. Plus, you can instill confidence in members that the church is headed in the right direction.
The Benefits of Distributing Your Annual Report to Members
When you distribute your church annual report by…
- Sending it via email
- Uploading it to your website
- Mailing it via postal service
…you essentially provide members with a highlight reel. Chances are there are some things members missed over the last 12 months, and giving them a comprehensive summary ensures that they stay informed.
When each member gets a copy of your report, they’re reminded of all the good the church does, which can strengthen their faith and commitment to the church. This can lead to a significant increase in volunteers, funds, and group memberships.
Further, providing access to your report by putting it on your website allows those outside of the church to learn more about you. Individuals in your community—and beyond—can see the value in becoming part of such an impactful ministry, resulting in even greater growth.
A church annual report is a great way to educate, inspire, and encourage your members. By giving them tangible proof that you’ve made progress toward realizing your church’s vision, you can incite passion and increase confidence.
But more than that, making this report available to the public can be an effective means of recruiting new members, allowing your church to grow even more.
So, if you haven’t already done so, be sure to add this project to your to-do list. Rest assured it’s well worth the effort.