A support email came in the other day asking if we had a way to create private notes for a pastor or staff members. I suspect he was thinking about pastoral care or counseling notes that need to be secured.
But, there are many other conversations you have with people that are important not to drop the ball on. Consider these:
You just got off a call with a church member sharing about a major loss in his or her life. Maybe a job change, relational conflict, or worse. You want a reminder to pray and to check back later. You really care and you don't want to forget.
You just responded to a website form, email, or connection card from a guest checking out the church. They had a question about a specific doctrinal detail that was important to them. You want to give them time to review your response and then ask what they thought.
Sunday morning a new member walked up to you and said they were interested in serving in children's ministry. You mentioned the upcoming training class. But, you don't want to forget to email or text them a reminder about the class.
How are you tracking these important conversations and interactions now?
- Hoping that you remember them later?
- Writing them on a sticky note or whatever paper you have handy?
- Putting the onus on them to reach out to you with an email or text?
- Adding a text, email, or other note to yourself?
Consider what you have to lose if you drop the ball.
- An opportunity for ministry.
- An opportunity to demonstarte and model faithfulness.
The good news is that you don't have to lose these. But, it does take a clear, agreed upon system for tracking conversations. And a dash of accountability to get the ball rolling. You have systems for other things like making the sermon and songs complement each other or counting money. Here's how to build a fail proof system in your church management software for following people up.
- Identify which conversations should be tracked and not. This is really important because it clarifies for pastors and staff what interactions are noteworthy. I generally recommend: prayer requests, pastoral care needs, guest information, and volunteer or leadership development. More sensitive notes related to counseling and other areas can be hidden or password protected. You don't want staff to feel like every time they talk to someone they have to write it down. That's way too burdensome.
- Organize note categories in the database. This reminds staff of types of conversations to track. When they enter a note, they use note type to idenify what kind of conversation they are tracking. This provides the data structure to create reports like prayer requests for the week, or last conversation with a recent guest. This article walks you through how to setup secure, password protected notes in Churchteams.
- Get everyone on board. This is probably the most challenging part of getting people to track key conversations. Church pastors and staff are often used to acting independently of one another for things like task management and follow up systems. The key is to help them understand why they need to collaborate. Doing so will help them work more effectively as a team because they are sharing information with each other which makes all their jobs easier.
- Use the Me Card and the Member App. When staff login to Churchteams on their computer, the dashboard has a section we call the Me Card that they can customize to see their upcoming follow up tasks. Similarly, when staff download our Member App on their phone, they will have immediate access to the Follow Up section. Both of these list not only the task, but the person's contact information. They also let you enter a note to summarize the conversation, and set a next follow up assignment. Email and text reminders make sure responders are notified as well.
- Start doing it. Follow each of these steps in order and you will build a system that you are ready to implement. When you launch the system, be sure to talk about the results in staff meetings and other environments. This will help you positively build a culture that embraces the system. If you need to have a more direct conversation, do it with gentleness and love. I've found that avoiding that conversation communicates to the non-adapter that you are not really serious about the system. Once they know you are and they see the value, they will get on board.