The very core of our mission as church educators is to provide the tools to make sure people are connected, cared for, discipled and launched into ministry. Intrinsically, we know that technology ought to be able to help us accomplish this mission and in many ways it has. If nothing else, it has helped us better clarify the challenges. Let’s explore, at a very high level, two ways automation serves ministry that perhaps you should incorporate into you ministry.
These two ways are:
- Consistently capturing needed information.
- Ensuring the execution of a follow-up strategy.
Consistently Capturing Needed Information
I’ve been around long enough to remember when the idea of giving people the option to fill out connection or response cards in a worship service was new. This one idea was a benchmark for ministry effectiveness. It is probably not incidental that around the same time church staffs began to grow well beyond the Senior Pastor and a secretary. More information meant more work, more ministry and more staff; Staff to do data entry and staff to follow-up.
Fast-forward a few decades. Now, every adult has a device in their pocket or purse for communicating and staying connected. Built into that device is a way for the owner to communicate with others simply by sending a text message. Almost everyone uses text messaging. For many people this has become the tool of choice for communication because of it’s flexibility and ease of use. You can text one person and not have to worry about interrupting them like you would making a phone call. Or, you can text a group of people and carry on a group conversation at a response time convenient to everyone. What you might not have known is that you can use this same device to text directly to your database.
We began evaluating that possibility several years ago and became convinced of the potential in 2016. In 2017 we released a suite of features we call Text-To-Church. With it you can now have people text a keyword to fill out a connection card or register for anything at all. As people adopt this new method of communicating with the church, data entry goes away. No more trying to read people’s writing or mis-typing phone numbers. The whole process is de-centralized and much more efficient and accurate. In fact, not only can people register or express an interest in anything by texting; but they can also give, check-in their kids, see any follow-up assignments they have been assigned, see their volunteer schedule, manage and attend groups they lead, see a directory and update their information! Early adopters of this technology absolutely love it!
Ensure Execution of a Follow-up Strategy
As we all know, data collection is just the starting point. Execution on follow-up is more important. This has required a tedious manipulation of database, email, texting, handwritten notes, sending out letters, and notifying pastors to make calls. What if you could design the system once, then automate the execution of everything but the personal touch and even then automate the notifications sent pastors and staff? Now you can. We call it workflows. We help you map the system, then resource it (emails, texts, personal notifications, data updates, etc.), then build the workflow in the software, and finally start it. Emails and texts are personalized for the recipient and changes can always be made. It is truly an incredible way to know for sure that people are responded to whenever they request more information or sign up for anything.
For a long time we’ve been enamored with the potential of technology. But figuring it out, capturing the data and executing follow-up has been a full time job. By facing head-on the hardships of software development, I’m glad to say there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you are interested in learning more about what we are doing, join me for a live Meet The Software webinar. It’s free and as easy to do as making a phone call and clicking a link. I would love to show you how we can free up your time and get more out of your database.
Boyd Pelley was a discipleship, administration and family pastor from 1990 to 2008. He co-founded Churchteams in 2000 as a small group software and led the expansion starting in 2008 to become a full Church Management System. Married since 1986, he and Pam live in McKinney, Texas and have two grown and married children.