Whiteboard: The Moses Method For Choosing Church Software

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In this whiteboard session, Rodney provides the initial steps of using the Moses Method to choose the best software for your church.

Video Transcription:

Hi. Welcome to an Elexio Whiteboard. In today’s Whiteboard, we’re talking about the Moses Method. It’s a method for making a software selection and more specifically, making a software selection for your church. A church makes many big decisions, and the process of going about picking a new software product can be challenging. There’s a lot of different types of software that churches use. You’ve got somebody that provides your website, check-in software. You may have different vendors for giving software. And the one that is probably the biggest challenge to go about replacing is your church management software, or sometimes called your church database.

The Moses Method is really designed to be a way to manage that process, and the reason it’s called the Moses Method is that it comes from Numbers 13. It’s a story most of us know, the story of when Moses sends a group of scouts or spies into the Promised Land, the land of Canaan, to take a look and see what they’re up against. Well, I use Numbers 13 as just a guide for making and managing this process of selecting new software.

In today’s Whiteboard, we’ll look at the first two phases. It’s really a four-phase method for managing this. We’ll look at these first two phases, and then in a follow-up Whiteboard, we’ll get into the second half. It’s a logical break because these first two really will take place before you ever talk to a potential new vendor. These are things you can do to prepare and really be ready, to have a successful search and ultimately implementation of a new church database.

Okay, let’s jump right in. Phase one of the Moses Method is Clarity, seeking what I would call “Moses-level clarity”. Now, setting high goals can sometimes be disappointing if you don’t feel like there’s any way you’ll get to them, and this may be one of those. Getting the kind of clarity that Moses had about leading the Israelites probably isn’t realistic. But if you set it as your goal to have definite clarity about whether or not your church is going to purchase new software, can really help you get through the whole process.

So a couple of suggestions on arriving at near Moses-level clarity. You probably won’t get the same kind of communication that Moses got. You’re probably not going to just hear from God to say, “You absolutely need to purchase new church management software.” But what you can do is be prayerful about the challenges your church is having and pray specific technology prayers. If you are struggling with growth, if giving is trailing off, if your children’s ministry is struggling with capturing attendance and managing security and name tags and things of that nature, if your website’s all wrong, whatever it happens to be, those things can be indicators of where technology could play a part in improving your ministry. I don’t mean to suggest that software will solve and be the only part of solving those problems, but they can be clues to a place where a new technology could make an impact.

So again, we’re calling this clarity. And not just any kind of clarity; it’s Moses clarity, really focusing in. And if you can arrive at Moses-level clarity by whatever method that is, it will really help you throughout this entire process. Okay, that’s phase one of the Moses Method for selecting new church management software.

The next one I refer to as 12/4, and really, it’s specifically 12/4 buy-in. If you read in Numbers 13, Moses selects one representative from each tribe, and those become the scouts or the spies that go into the land of Canaan. Now, there’s probably a lot of reasons why he picked 12. It’s logical. There were 12 tribes. But I would certainly think that it had to being going through Moses’ mind that he wanted buy-in. To borrow a common term, a modern day term, he wanted buy-in from all of the tribes, on this move into the Promised Land. And so by selecting 12, he got buy-in.

Well, we know if you read the story, he’s got some challenges on getting buy-in, so I don’t mean to suggest that just what I’m getting ready to talk about, is the only way you’ll get buy-in on making a new software selection. What I do suggest is that you pick a representative group, and that becomes your scout group. So think of them as scouts. You want to pull from a variety of ministry areas. Now, it’s probably not a good idea to pick 12 people to be the scouts because what the scouts will do is they will visit websites for your vendors. They’ll talk to the salespeople from these different software companies. They will participate in, and this is what they’ll spend most of their time doing, they’ll participate in product demonstrations.

Twelve people is too many to do that. I recommend three to six people. Now, you may be doing the math and thinking, “Well, three to six people won’t give me full 12/4-level buy-in across all my ministry areas,” and you’re absolutely right. So what you’ll have to do is get your scouts, whatever it is, three to six people, get those scouts, and you really do need to assign ministry areas for them to represent, and for them to properly represent an area that maybe they don’t work in.

Let’s say you pick one of your scouts to be somebody who currently does contribution data entry for you, and that’s their main task—things related to finance. But you’re going to task that person to also represent the views of, let’s say, the missions team. What do they need in a new church management software? The process of that person, who is a scout representing areas that isn’t their expertise, will cause them to have to go talk to those people and figure out, “What do you need?” And you get a side benefit from this, is that it becomes a team-building effort, that really multiplies this idea of 12/4 buy-in because people have empathy for others and they see that this isn’t just a decision about my needs. I have to look at everybody.

So, super important to following the Moses Method for selecting and having a successful software selection is getting 12/4-level buy-in. So quick review. You as a leader, or whoever it is, some group of people have to get clarity on “Are we going to do this or not?” “Is software the answer or part of the answer?” And then next, move into this idea of, “Okay, we’re going to get a group of scouts together, and they’re going to do most of the leg work.” Ultimately, we all have to do it. They’ll do the initial, but they’ve got to have a multi-phased focus.

One of the biggest mistakes you could make is gathering maybe your admin users together. Maybe they are the biggest users of your current software, and you task them to go out and find new software. If they’re just thinking about things from an administrative standpoint, you could sacrifice a successful purchase process.

Okay, that’s the first half of the Moses Method for buying new software. In our next Whiteboard, we’ll take a look at the next two phases. These take place, when you’re actually doing the search. You’re watching videos, you’re talking to references, all of those different factors that go into making a successful purchase. So we’ll look at these things in our next Elexio Whiteboard. Thanks for watching.

8 ChMS Considerations For Church Plants

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Much prayer and preparation go into a church plant before it ever opens its doors. A secure location, volunteers to manage ministries, and the necessary technology are all important considerations. As church planters determine if they’re ready for a ChMSand which provider to choose, they should keep these eight items in mind:

1. Ease of Use

Church plants might only have one staff member to preach, clean, and pay the bills, so any tools like software should simplify tasks, not make them more challenging. An easy-to-use ChMS will cut down the workload for an overwhelmed staff and make administrative responsibilities more manageable.

2.  Volunteers

Because church plants typically have limited staff, they heavily rely on volunteers to keep things running. Organizing volunteers for every ministry and event can be challenging, even for a church plant. A ChMS should provide simple tools for people to sign up for service opportunities and stay in the loop online.

3. First impressions  

Church plants hope to see dozens of new faces each week as the congregation continues to grow. The experience for those visitors is critical. An efficient way of capturing their contact information and a simple, secure child check-system can make all the difference in that important first impression.

4. Follow-up

Part of growing the church plant is engaging the visitors and getting them to return and ultimately become active members of the church community. A swift follow-up is the first step in transitioning visitors into disciples, so tools that simplify that process are critical to a ChMS for church plants.

5. Assimilation

The assimilation process is often quicker with church plants, and they see a lot of people join within the first year or two. Those new members of the church community need simple ways to connect with a small group and find opportunities to volunteer. An online small group finder or ministry sign-up that’s integrated with the church database will help each person get plugged in.

6. Communication

Communication is always critical to the local church, but especially in the early stages of a church plant. That church needs to communicate with staff, volunteers, visitors, and members in addition to engaging the surrounding community. The ability to reach all these people in a variety of formats from a single platform—within a ChMS—will streamline communication.

7. Giving

During the first year of a church plant, contributions are critical to keeping the ministry alive. Integrated options like text to give, mobile giving, and online giving will make it easy for people to make donations and simplify contribution management.

8. Cost

Budgets are tight for church plants, so some believe that church management software is just a luxury for established churches. But starting off on the right—organized—foot is important and many ChMS providers will provide special pricing for church plants.

Is your church plant utilizing a ChMS as it grows?

How To Choose The Right ChMS For Your Church

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If your church is in the market for church management software, you’re probably overwhelmed by the wide variety of solutions out there. From open source options to paid solutions, you’ve got a lot of information to wade through.

But before you dive in head first, consider a few questions:

1. What are you trying to accomplish through a ChMS?

Consider your ministry goals and the processes that you’ve established in order to meet them. If your church hasn’t already determined these important factors, you may need to take a step back—name the things you’d like to accomplish and determine the steps you must follow to do so.

Church management software is designed to simplify the administrative tasks so staff can focus on ministry, but it’s not a magic solution that will fix every problem your church faces. Keep in mind that ChMS can’t repair broken processes, but it can help you optimize them and facilitate discipleship.

2. What are the details of the switch?

  • What are you switching from?

Is your church currently using another ChMS, making do with spreadsheets, or just winging it with no real form of organization? Your transition—including data conversion and training—will vary based on what you’re using now. This will also affect your expectations of a ChMS. Do you realize how robust some solutions are? Will you be using your ChMS to its fullest potential?

  • What is your motivation for switching?

Why is your church looking to make a switch? Do you want to save time or money? Are you unhappy with your current customer service or lack of new updates? Do you want to work with a well-established company that understands ministry?

3. What features and functions do you need?

Not all church management software is created equal. Each will have its strengths and areas for improvement, and each church will have different needs. Who will be using the software and what will they rely on from the data you put into it? Based on your ministry, you might prioritize reporting capability above resource planning. You might need a tool with strong contribution or event management capabilities. Determine what functions your church must accomplish through a ChMS and what features aren’t your highest priorities but will stay on the wish list. Not sure what to look for? Download this feature checklist to get started.

Beyond the basic features of the software, you might also consider:

  • Is it easy to use?
  • Is it cloud-based or locally-hosted?
  • Can it integrate with your website, mobile app, or check-in kiosks?
  • Is support available?

Once you know what you’re looking for, you have options:

Open source software

Although open source software might be right for some churches, don’t forget to consider some of the associated costs that come with a free solution.

  • The software might not be as robust and offer all the features of a paid solution—or be as efficient.
  • The solution might not have been fully tested, so all the bugs haven’t been worked out yet.
  • The amount of resources spent on bug fixes and future development is typically limited.
  • Training and implementation resources may not be available.
  • Support might not be available—especially without a fee.
  • Security issues are often a concern.

Proprietary software

Most ministries have limited budgets, but that doesn’t mean they can’t afford church management software. Paid solutions typically offer stronger support, greater longevity, and more advanced features. Still not sure which route is right for your church? Check out this comparison of open source and proprietary software.

Making the final decision

Once you decide the tools and features that your church will need, you should be able to narrow down your list of prospects to a handful of providers. You’ll likely have some phone or email correspondence with them, then schedule demos with those that make the cut.

ChMS providers should be able to connect you with references—other churches in your region, of the same size, or in the same denomination—that face similar challenges in ministry.

Get your entire team involved and take the time to consider your options. You don’t want to make a hasty decision because you could end up putting in more time and money when you need to shop around again next year.

Download this feature checklist now so you can evaluate and compare ChMS providers and learn more about the Elexio Database!

Check out these other helpful resources:

The Smart Guide to Buying Church Management Software

Why Is Church Software So Expensive?

But Our Church Has Always Done It This Way

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As churches evaluate their processes and introduce new ways of doing things, the biggest pushback they typically hear is, “that’s not how we’ve always done it.”

The elders don’t want to switch things up. The pastor doesn’t like change. Volunteers are worried new tools will be difficult to learn. Even tools and ideas that will simplify their jobs are shunned.

But we’ve always printed weekly bulletins.

But we’ve always passed the offering plate.

But we’ve always mailed follow-up letters.

Continuing to do things the way you’ve always done them with no consideration of improvements can be detrimental to your ministry for 3 reasons:

1. Your church changes

Is your church exactly the same as it was 25 years ago? Or has it tripled in size, or moved to a new location, or become predominately populated by young families? As the church grows and changes, the way it addresses needs and functions ought to change too. You might need to add ministries for the large number of single parents in your congregation. Your method of follow-up might need to adjust as visitors pour into your church. You may have been able to manage basic member information in Excel as a church plant, but that method just isn’t practical for a thriving church of 1,000. You’ll probably need software to simplify these processes.

2. The community around you changes

People probably aren’t looking for the exact same external qualities in a church that they were decades ago. And they certainly aren’t looking for churches in the same way. Many church seekers—millennials in particular—are now looking for a place where they’ll have the opportunity to get involved and make a difference, and they’re searching online for the right fit. Your church didn’t need a website 25 years ago, but people aren’t looking for a new congregation in the phone book when they move into town anymore. Their expectations have changed, and in order to reach them, your church has to adapt.

3. The technology changes

As technology advances at a rapid pace, the variety of tools available to churches only continues to grow. Volunteers no longer need to jot down the name of each kid in nursery—they can use check-in kiosks. Donors don’t have to hit the ATM just so they can make contributions to your church—they can give online. And staff members don’t need to waste hours on data entry—they can integrate their church management software with other tools. Refusing to take advantage of available technology simply because it would mean change could end up costing your church time, money, and disciples in the long run.

If what you’re doing still works, then carry on. But make sure you honestly evaluate your processes and determine that there isn’t a better way before you settle. And be careful not to swing too far in the other direction. Don’t switch things up if there isn’t a better way. You wouldn’t text advice to a person desperate for help. Face-to-face interaction will always be necessary for some things.

When you do adjust the way you do things and get buy-in from leadership, most people will eventually embrace the change if you explain the reasoning. But you can never make everyone happy. You’ll always face some disgruntled people no matter what you choose.

The constant in your church is the truth of the gospel—not offering plates or felt Bible stories or complicated spreadsheets. Embracing some change could mean great opportunity for your church.

How has your church broken free from the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality? 

Staff Turnover And Church Software

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Everything finally seems to be running smoothly. Your staff and volunteers are fairly fluent in the church software you adopted a few years ago. Then the church secretary announces her retirement after years of faithful service. She knows your systems and processes better than anyone else. What do you do now? Even after you find her replacement, how do you get back to where you were before?

Church staff turnover is at its highest as everyone from pastors to administrators are experiencing ministry burnout. But even in churches where people and resources aren’t spread too thin, some staff turnover is inevitable. So as you fill positions with new faces, equip the people who join your team to be successful as they tackle your church software.

Find out their true comfort level with the technology you’re using.

They may have embellished their background in order to land the job. Have they ever used the same church software or something similar in the past? What’s different? How about your terminology? Maybe the term “member” means something different in your database. Address these potential stumbling blocks so you can lay the proper groundwork for new staff members to learn.

Allocate enough resources to ensure they’re properly trained.

Depending on their roles, you might need to spend significant time and money onboarding new employees. Overestimating these needs is better than being unprepared. It’s easy to forget the challenges of overcoming that learning curve, but give new employees enough time to adjust. Ideally you’ll quickly fill positions with enough time for those leaving to provide training, but this isn’t always possible. So encourage other staff members or volunteers to spend time and share their knowledge with new employees. And practice patience as they adjust.

Take advantage of free educational resources.

Your software provider probably has plenty of training and informational tools available online at no cost to your church—video tutorials, blog posts, support materials. These resources may be enough to get your new staff members comfortable with your software and church processes.

Consider investing in additional training.

If you’re hiring several people around the same time, your church might find value in on-site training. While this will be focused on helping new employees and evaluating their roles, training is also a great opportunity to review your current ministry processes, find more efficient ways of accomplishing goals, and learn about features you haven’t been using.

Let them dive in.

You can still hold their hands as they settle into their roles, but don’t be afraid to give up enough control so that new staff members can gain hands-on experience. They may be a little overwhelmed, but this is a great way for them to learn.

How does your church deal with the effects of staff turnover on your church software processes? 

6 Keys To Successful Church Event Management

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From cantatas to conferences to camps, churches typically host dozens of events each year. Hundreds of details need to align so these events can go off without a hitch—that’s where technology comes in and can simplify event management.

But before you even get started with planning, make sure the event is right for your church. Don’t just host a bunch of random events because that’s what you’ve always done. Ask these five questions to determine if the event has a real purpose and is right for your church.

Once you’ve ensured that a banquet or retreat or breakfast will serve your church community well, consider these 6 factors to successfully manage the event:

Communication and promotion

How are you going to get the word out about your next conference or outreach activity? You have plenty of opportunities to make sure people know what’s coming up; you just need to take advantage of them. Promote your event during the Sunday morning service. Use the information you’ve collected to send a mass email to the right audience. Include details on your website. Post on social media to keep your church community informed and allow them to invite guests. And integrate all calendars from your mobile app to your website so you can communicate consistently.

Registration and payment

Don’t let a complex registration process deter people from signing up for your event. Online registration forms provide convenience, and a mobile app option allows people to sign up from the pew as your staff announces the event. If your event has a fee, include payment options in the registration process. When all these elements are integrated with your church database, planning will be much simpler for your staff.

Volunteers

For most events that your church hosts, you’ll need some extra hands to get all the work done. When you’re recruiting help, make sure you find the right volunteers with the right talents for the right positions. Let your church community know that you need help and make signing up for these service opportunities easy—like from a kiosk or online. Once you’ve got the people you need, maintain communication with them and let volunteers know what you expect out of them. And after your event, express your gratitude for their service so they’ll be happy to lend a hand again.

Resource planning

Some events will be offsite or require nothing more than just standing room, but others require plenty of church resources like chairs, AV equipment, and designated rooms. Rather than learn at the last minute that the tables you need for the men’s breakfast are all being used for a seminar down the hall, plan and claim everything you’ll need in advance. Keep track of these resources within your church database, so everyone knows what items are up for grabs.

Check-in

Keep a record of everyone who arrives at your event while making the process a breeze for attendees. Allow guests to check in on a kiosk and encourage your church community to check in from their smartphones on the way to the event.

Follow-up

Use those check-in records to send follow up communication to the people that attended your event. You might send them a general thank you, a feedback survey, or complimentary resources. You can also invite them to related events in the future.

Looking for church software that will simplify these elements of event management? Contact us!

 

Image Credits: istockphoto

6 Things Your Church Should Do In 2015

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As another year winds down, people create lists of New Year’s resolutions that they probably won’t keep. But your church can make a few changes in 2015 that are practical and will leave a lasting impact:

1. Review the systems that you already have in place—like your ChMS. Are you using everything that’s available to you and getting what you pay for? Don’t let valuable tools go to waste!

2. Make sure you’re providing your church community with plenty of giving options. Not everyone carries a checkbook anymore.

  • Online giving makes it easy to set up recurring giving and print contribution statements.
  • Mobile giving allows people to give when and where it’s convenient for them.
  • Giving kiosks provide a convenient option for people at your church.

3. Integrate your ChMS and website to save time, simplify tasks for your staff, and help your church community stay connected.

4. Implement a flexible check-in system that can work offline and allows mobile check-in.

5. Update your web presence.

6. Consider a mobile app to increase engagement with your church community. People can register for events, give, and stay connected right from their smartphones with an app that is integrated with your church database.

What changes is your church making in 2015? 

Collaborating With Other Churches Using ChMS

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Probably the most common reason pastors and church staff alike leave the ministry is burnout. With overwhelming expectations and responsibilities, life in ministry can be challenging. But every little detail shouldn’t be a source of anxiety for your team—like frustrations with your software. Find the value in collaborating with others using ChMS in their ministries to alleviate some of the stress.

No matter the size, location, or affiliation of your church, others are struggling to implement best practices just like you. Which reports are the most important to run each week? How can I utilize the software to help the assimilation process? What’s the best way to get people to use our mobile app?

These are the kinds of questions that only other people in ministry could understand. So reach out to fellow church staffers and you’ll find a great resource.

  • Share your daily struggles.

Whether you’re heading up the IT staff and you’ve got extensive technical issues to discuss or you’re pastoring a church of 50 and responsible for the entire database, other people are facing the same challenges.

  • Learn from others’ experiences and strengths. And provide insight, too!

You may be new to implementing a kid’s check-in system, but the children’s pastor at a neighboring church is an expert—and he’d probably like to hear how you got so many people to sign up to serve in the church. Collaborate with others in ministry to diminish your inexperience or weaknesses in certain areas and help out another church.

  • Get ideas and innovate.

As you talk with others in ministry, you’ll gleam bits of knowledge and creative ideas that you can adopt at your church. And when you’re all facing the same hurdles, you can work together to find innovative solutions.

  • Find encouragement.

See how God is working in other ministries. Learn how He’s using people all over the world. You may be frustrated now, but you’ll see that others have already walked that road and can relate.

Remember that you’re not in a business where everyone needs to keep success secrets to themselves. We’re all working toward the same goal of building the Kingdom! When you collaborate with other churches you’re creating relationships, a support system, and friends.

Collaboration Opportunities:

  • Engage online

It’s easier than ever to connect with people from all over the world through blogs and social media. Check out ministry or church tech blogs. Subscribe and become active in those online communities. Sometimes you’ll learn more in the discussion that happens in the comments than from the post itself and meet some great people. Get started now—we welcome comments and conversation on this blog!

  • Connect with churches in your area or of similar size or ministry process

Other churches in your region or fellow church planters are probably addressing the same issues right now. Find them online or ask your ChMS provider for nearby references—especially if you’re just getting started with the software.

  • Attend conferences

Whether it’s conferences like Catalyst and the Global Leadership Summit or Elexio’s user conference ELEXICON 15 (Educate. Collaborate Innovate.), you can learn from the speakers AND the other attendees!

Does Your Small Church Need ChMS?

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While most discussions surrounding modern ministry turn to packed megachurches, not much attention is given to those that make up the majority of churches in America. According to the National Congregations Study, the average Christian church has 186 regular attendees. And 59% of US churches have 99 or fewer in weekly attendance.

Although small churches may not have the same number of resources and members as a larger church, technology like church management software can still be a valuable tool for them. But taking the step to a ChMS is a major decision. If your small church is considering the move, check out the answers to these four common questions:

1. Does my small church really need a ChMS?

Many small churches may think that a ChMS is unnecessary because of their size—they only have 75 members, so why would they need the same technology as a church of 7,500? But the basic processes that shape how the church operates are the same whether you’re a small congregation or a megachurch.

Every church still needs an organized method for managing membership records, events, and communication. Small churches have donations to record and ministry roles to fill. Just because your country church sees humble attendance numbers doesn’t mean your ministry is any less important than the large urban churches.

In an effort to save money and resources, many smaller churches will turn to a program like Excel for managing all of their church data. But as more and more information is added to the mix, records can become overwhelming to manage in this format.

By streamlining processes with a ChMS, churches can better care for visitors, members, and volunteers. They can easily follow up and monitor the discipleship process. So people aren’t just visiting your church—they’re staying and getting connected. And your church starts to grow.

2. Can my small church afford a ChMS?

Don’t be scared away by confusing pricing pyramids and numbers that seem to exhaust your church budget. The price you pay typically depends on the size of your church—average weekly attendance, for example. So the cost for your small church would be much less than your large counterpart. And many providers, like Elexio, offer special pricing for church plants.

While an added cost each month could seem like a drain on your finances, consider the time your staff and volunteers will save on one-time data entry. When everything is in the same place, you can work efficiently and dedicate more resources to discipleship.

Many churches that adopt church management software and its added giving options also see an increase in donations. People are more inclined to give when it’s easier for them, so the ChMS often begins to pay for itself.

Open source software has become popular among smaller churches because free sounds like a great price. But understand that these products can cost the church in the long run—in more than just financial ways. They often don’t have the funds or manpower to keep the technology current, make bug fixes, or provide support. If you opt for an open source software now, you may eventually need to make the switch to a paid ChMS.

3. How do I know which ChMS is right for my church?

While cost is certainly going to come into play when selecting a ChMS, the price tag should not be the only determining factor. Church management software is not one-size-fits-all. As a small church, you should look for a solution that’s simple enough to use for the basic functions you need right now but can still grow with you. Will it integrate with other solutions when the church grows, yet allow you to engage and connect as you do now?

Some other important questions to consider—especially if a non-tech staff person or volunteer will be managing the system—are: Can they offer the personal support you need? Can you contact them in a variety of ways and expect a timely response? Is it easy for staff and volunteers to use, yet powerful?

4. How can my small church get started?

  • Make sure you have the resources to effectively manage a ChMS database. Even the best solutions will have a learning curve and require substantial time to manage. Recruit the help you’ll need to get started—staff or volunteers who can dedicate the energy needed to effectively use this tool for your ministry.
  • Do your research and take advantage of free demos to find the best fit for your church. Ask questions. Read the reviews. Choosing a ChMS for your church is an important decision.
  • Pray and seek advice as you narrow down the list of contenders. Hopefully you will stick with your ChMS for years to come, so you want to find a good match for your ministry.
Would you like to learn about how Elexio can help the small church? Get started now!

Check out some other great resources for the small church:

Stretchy Software: ChMS that Grows with Your Small Church

The Innovative Small Church

Too Small to Buy Church Management Software?

 

Image Credits: istockphoto

How Well Do You Know Your Church?

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When you’re part of a church plant or new multi-site campus, it’s pretty easy to remember the names of your 25 members, their kids, and how often they’re sitting in their usual spot in the third row on the left.

But as the church starts growing—and hopefully it does—keeping track of all the little details about your congregation becomes much more difficult.

Yet whether your church has 10 members or 10,000, people will expect your staff to be able to recite the names of their entire family and remember each ministry they’re involved with when you run into them at the grocery store.

While you can’t realistically remember the intimate details of every single church member, you can take advantage of technology to keep certain important information accessible at all times.

  • Who are they?

Not just their first names—do you know where their heart for ministry is? How old they are? Who their kids are? Having this information about your church community readily available in a database so you can access it when needed (like on your smartphone during that run-in at the grocery store) can be a great tool for your ministry. You can also keep their contact information and links to their social accounts so you can see what’s important to them. Something as small as sending them happy birthday email or card can be a great encouragement to your people.

  • Are they still attending?

Just because someone was among the original members of your church back in 1992 doesn’t mean you should assume he’s still coming to weekly services. Invest in a church check-insystem that automatically updates your database as people arrive. Look at what classes and events they’re attending and learn what’s important to them. If there’s a shift in attendance, you can then examine the data you’ve collected and determine who’s not coming and why that might be. If you’ve collected all the details, you can also look back at how long they’ve been attending, when they became members, where they came from, and much more. The more information you have available, the better you can lead and serve.

  • Are they giving?

If your church has doubled in size, but the offering totals each week have stayed the same, your church community may not be giving. Find out where the disconnect is. Of course money is not the main focus in a church. But bills still need to be paid and ministries still need to be funded. Especially when dealing with new Christians, they may not know what God’s Word says about giving—today’s culture is charitably benevolent, but have you addressed the concept of Biblical giving? Consider making it easier for them to make contributions with giving kiosks and mobile and online giving—and allow them to access their own financial records.

  • Are they connected?

It’s not difficult to slip into the habit of going to church on Sunday morning, saying hellos to the five people who typically sit in the same section, then go home and not interact with anyone from the church until next Sunday. But getting plugged in and fellowshipping with other believers is so important to the body of Christ. Keeping a record of what small groups—if any—your members are a part of will help you better understand your people and their spiritual growth. If they seem to be disengaged from your church community, how can you help them get better connected?

  • Are they actively involved?

Just as you want your church community to connect with each other, you also want them to actively participate—serve in the nursery, teach a Sunday school class, lead worship. Keep track of where your people are serving and make it easy for them to continue to volunteer. Take time to record where people would fit based on their gifts—someone with no technical knowledge may not be the best person to run your sound system, but might make a wonderful, friendly greeter. Based on people’s ministry strengths, you can actually reach out to them with specific service opportunities.

  • What are their needs?

When a believer is struggling in life—whether it be spiritually or financially or any other area—he should be able to go to the church (specifically leadership) for support and encouragement. Make it easy for people to share prayer request and seek out that support. Keep track of those needs and follow a system for dealing with them. Utilize functions like follow-ups to aide in the discipleship process.

 

Even in a small church, it would be practically impossible to remember each of these details about every single member. But you can utilize technology to keep track of all this information so you can access it whenever you need to. Check out how Elexio’s ChMS can help you know your church community better.

Visit these other great resources for more insight:

Do You Know Who Is in Your Church? (You May Be Surprised)
Are You Getting the Most out of Your Church Software?
Pastor, how well do you know your church?

 

Image Credits: istockphoto