How the right software can help you meet individual needs
Ministry and community are a huge part of what the local church is and should be about. But in the age of the multicampus megachurch, how can the pastors, church staff and members realistically maintain authentic community and effectively minister to thousands of members?
If you’re in a church of 200 to 500 people and John Doe (one of 15 volunteers on Sunday morning) doesn’t show up for his shift of handing out bulletins, chances are someone knows why he isn’t there. This is because in smaller congregations, personal connections happen organically due to family ties, long-standing friendships, and social interaction inside and outside the church.
Now, if the same situation arises in a church of 15,000 members, it becomes much more difficult to maintain that personal level of ministry. If John Doe (one of 200 volunteers on Sunday morning) doesn’t show up for his shift of handing out bulletins, it becomes much less likely that his absence will be noticed—and knowing the reason for his absence becomes even less likely.
A personal level of ministry is just as important to Christians attending megachurches as it is to those who go to smaller churches. The challenge is attaining essential information in order to be able to effectively implement personal ministry. With such high volumes of attendance, it’s imperative to be extremely intentional about making personal connections.
This is where software such as Fellowship One (used at Gateway) comes into play. It is possible to have the same level of personal ministry in large churches as it is in small ones. As membership numbers grow, this ministry-facilitating software allows church staff to know who in their congregation needs help and how to help them.
Something as simple as each of our ministries keeping current information about their connections with people translates into key moments of ministry. Essentially, a small amount of organizational effort yields vast opportunities to serve people, create community and provide personal ministry.
For example, with good church-management software, you can use digital check-in for children and adult activities, so tracking attendance is automated, allowing staff to provide follow-up for those who attended and those who didn’t. This intentionality allows your leaders to know how someone is involved within your church and proactively reach out to those who may have missed as a way to make sure everything is OK. This data gives staff the ability to identify trends that may be early indicators of trouble and reach out to a family and try to meet a need.
I’m sure some of you instantly bristled at the mere mention of the word “software” for a church. Because after all, you’re a church, not a corporation, right? Your goal is helping people; not spending money on computer programs.
But think of this: A program such as Fellowship One or others allows church leadership to access real-time reports that provide detailed analyses of how each ministry interacts with their volunteers and people in their span of care. The numbers and data you get aren’t numbers for the sake of numbers. Each number and piece of data represents a ministry opportunity.
“What pastors need to see past is the idea that this cold piece of software is standing between them and doing ministry,” says Allan Kelsey, pastor of staff development at Gateway Church. “A program like Fellowship One is a partner who, when you include it in what you’re doing, will feed you what you need to effectively do ministry.”
From targeted e-mail communication to volunteer management and following up with first-time visitors, you can place a premium on having as many touch-points as possible in an effort to connect with people and provide timely, pertinent information and personalized care.
This kind of sophisticated software will keep you from missing ministry opportunities and give you the ability within your church to make sure you can give a name to each “John Doe” as well as ensure that he feels at home, valued and cared for.
Anthony D. Coppedge attends and volunteers at Gateway Church in Southlake and North Richland Hills, Texas. He lives with his wife and four children in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
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