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Applying TQM in a Church

by Ron Kurtus (updated 21 November 2022)

A church, temple or place of worship is also a nonprofit business operation that has to remain financially viable. Applying our Total Quality Managment (TQM) principles to the operation of your church can help in maintaining its success.

The three parts of implementing TQM are a focus on satisfying the customer, helping the suppliers provide quality goods and services, and continually improving the church's business processes.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Satisfy the Customer

Although they are usually called parishioners or church members, those people who attend your church and give donations are in essence your customers. The goal of your church should be to satisfy those customers by providing them with a high quality religious service that satisfies their needs and expectations.

You want repeat attendance

Like in any business—profit or nonprofit—a satisfied customer will become a regular customer and will also tell others about the business. You want your parishioners to attend church regularly and to bring their friends to the church.

Not only will satisfied attendees to your church come more often and give referrals, but they may also donate more money.

Find reason for attending service

In order to effectively satisfy those attending your church service, you should know why they come in the first place.

Most people attend religious services in order to receive spiritual guidance, assurances, and lessons. They attend to get food for their souls. There are some people who attend a specific church for social, political, or even business reasons. There are others who go only to appease their spouse or perhaps their parents.

Some of the more successful churches have ministers who are charismatic or entertaining orators or preachers. People come to hear the message and be inspired by the minister.

You need to find out why people come to your church, as well as why some did not return. Sometimes a survey or questionairre will provide that information. You may also get suggestions on how to improve the church experience for your members.

Give the customer what he wants and needs

If the attitude of the church is to provide a service to its members and guests, the activities will be to give those people what they came to church for in the first place.

Some years ago, the Catholic Church threatened parishioners with damnation if they did not attend church regularly. This was opposed to the TQM concept of providing a service that would cause them to want to return to recieve more spiritual food. The Church later found their approach no longer worked very well.

Help the suppliers

Another aspect of applying TQM in a church is to help your suppliers provide you with quality goods and services. The objective is to get quality goods on time and at the best price. Also, you want to reduce waste and costs.

Churches receive products and services from external suppliers and companies. They also receive internal services, such as musicians, ushers, chaplains, and youth leaders.

Selecting good suppliers for the church is important. But also, you need to deal with them in a manner that makes them want to do a good job for you. Just because you pay someone money does not mean that you have a right to be demanding.

Make your suppliers want to do business with your church. Find ways to help them and thank them. This will improve the operation of the facility and reduce the chances for problems.

Continuous improvement

Although you may think your church operation is running smoothly, there are always things that can be improved. Seek ways to streamline the operation of the church to make the best use of the money available. Also find ways to better satisfy the congregation and suppliers.

Not only must a church satisfy its customers, but they must also try to continually improve. Is there something they can do better in the church service or in Sunday school or such? You can look at ways to improve the use of your church property. You can try to make the services tighter and more professional.

You can survey the congregation to see if there are areas that need improvement. Is the sound system sufficient? Is the parking good enough? Are there services that the church can provide the community? Are there areas of waste where you are losing money and don't even realize it?

Seek to continually improve the way you do your church business.


A church or place of worship is a nonprofit business operation that has to remain financially viable. Applying our Total Quality Managment (TQM) principles to the operation of your church can help in maintaining its success. The three parts of implementing TQM are to focus on satisfying the customer, help the suppliers provide quality goods and services, and continually improve the church's business processes.

Improve your place of worship

Resources and references

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(Notice: The School for Champions may earn commissions from book purchases)

The Five Star Church: Helping Your Church Provide the Highest Level of Service to God and His People by Stan Toler and Alan Nelson; Regal Books (1999) $25.00

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