I’ve been lucky enough to speak at a number conferences. I’ve asked the question “How many of you have databases on your congregation?” Many have something. When you dive a little deeper though, the information they have is, well, small and basic. From the data and relationships you have in your church, can you truly say you really know your people?
“We just need to keep up-to-date the addresses and phone numbers of people that regularly attended”, is what I hear often. I believe churches could hugely benefit from collecting more data. Many times we don’t know what jobs the people in our congregation do, what their hobbies are, what skills they have, what gifts and talents they have and other experience(s) they have.
Use Case; An Example…
Imagine you were a new pastor at an established church and you walked in to find a complete database telling you about the members of your congregation. Imagine you can look up your database and see which people it would be good to go and talk to about strategy development, people or volunteer management, youth mentoring, website development, social media. Wouldn’t that be amazing? And that is just the beginning!
I was re-listening to podcast episode where Blessing interviewed Bobby Gruenwald. Bobby made a couple of very interesting statements. Blessing had just asked him this question, “What would you say to a church that says, we see the opportunity [for whatever the new tech tool is] but we don’t have the resources to make use of it?”
In response, Bobby said a lack of resource quite often leads to innovation but secondly, and often more importantly, that many churches overlook their greatest resource: people.
More Than One Volunteer Role / Skills
For a time Bobby was just the guy who volunteered to play keyboards for the worship team. He served the church every week, he commented that he felt he was as close to the church as any lay person could possibly be.
“But as close as I was, I never once connected the dot, that what I did in business and with technology and with innovation that it had any application in ministry, I never thought, ‘oh this could be something that could help the church'”.Bobby Gruenewald in this ChurchMag Podcast Episode
He never talked about his work at church and his church leadership had no real idea what Bobby did for a job. They just knew he was there every week, most Saturdays and Sundays serving–playing keyboards.
Connecting With ‘Bobbys’; Connecting The Dots
All changed when Bobby sold the last company that he had. His face appeared in the local paper with all the details of the sale. One of the pastors at his church saw the article and said, “Isn’t that the guy that plays keyboard on the worship team?”
Bobby went on to comment that the pastor didn’t really know him or what he did in business. But the pastor did reach out to him to meet. So they went for lunch and they chatted. And the question that stuck with Bobby that the pastor asked was, “Have you ever thought of using your experience and what you have learned in ministry?” Bobby hadn’t.
The ‘Bobbys’ In Your Church And More
But this post isn’t about Bobby, it’s about the church. It’s a perfect illustration of how very often we don’t know our people. Bobby went on to help Life Church plant 7 new campuses, was a key person in the launch of the Bible app many of us use on our phones, and has helped his church through a number of technology challenges and ideas.
All of our congregation members are gold and we should know them more. If that pastor hadn’t connected with Bobby, things probably would have played out very differently.
We have the same possibilities in our own congregations. We’ve got people who may volunteer in some capacity but they have no idea how they can take their work skills and other experiences and play a part in the church’s bigger mission. Y’know that one Jesus gave us at the end of His ministry of going into all the world and making disciples!
The Start: Better Data
We need to have better data on them so that we can help to equip the saints to do the amazing things God has put them on this earth to do. So some fields to think about adding to your database:
- Job Title
- What do they actually do?
- Past experience
- Greatest challenge they have overcome
- Greatest opportunity they let get away
Here is why:
- Job Title: This gives you a nice generic picture of the sorts of activities they are involved in every day. You can start collecting this sort of data if they are your friends on LinkedIn. It’s usually right there under their name.
- What do they actually do?: My job title doesn’t tell you much. It’s a great starting point. (Look me up on LinkedIn.) It tells you I’m probably good at databases, but it doesn’t tell you that my job involves overseeing a team across the world, dealing with 40+ different countries. It doesn’t tell you that my job is all about persuasion and influencing, training and presenting. Having these bits can be vital.
- Past experience: So much in here. Just start looking and seeing what people have been involved in. Looking to reach out to your community, talk to people that have been involved in sales and marketing.
- Interests and Hobbies: People get passionate about all sorts of things. Knowing these little bits and pieces can bring great insight into tailoring a volunteer role for that person.
- Greatest challenge: This one is such a great piece of information. It gives you direct insight into problem solving and what they are capable of.
- Greatest opportunity: Shows where God might want to bring another opportunity for them but in a ministry rather than a work context.
I strongly recommend getting to know your people. Know congregation better. Collect this data, it will take time, and then use this data to help your church do all that God wants it to do in the community around it!