Can a Database Benefit Your Church?
Databases For Churches: There are certain things every place of worship needs: among them a faithful leader, a worshipful congregation and a computer database.
If that last item sounds strange to you, consider all the benefits computer databases can offer a church. With databases, church leaders can keep lists of the entire congregation, allowing them to instantly see who has recently made major contributions requiring thank-you letters. They can also see which parishioners are sick and in need of home visits and extra prayers, and even which members haven’t been heard from in a while. They can use a database to keep track, too, of which religious instructors have taken classes in child protection. The list is endless.
When the leaders of a church set up a database, they have an easy way to contact every parishioner, every volunteer and every religious education student. With a database, emailing a particular group of people is easy to accomplish. If you have to cancel a Thursday night adult Bible class at the last minute, for instance, you can reach the entire group with a click of the computer mouse. You don’t have to worry about neglecting somebody, and you also don’t have to worry about bothering people who are not members of that class with an extraneous group email.
Databases are ideal for creating detailed weekly, monthly or even yearly church schedules, sharing those schedules with everyone who needs or wants to see them, and updating them as often as necessary. And if your church ever holds an event without much advance notice – maybe one week the Pope suddenly decides to drop by – you can send an urgent notice to everyone on your database.
Studying Demographic Patterns
Church databases also make it easy to study the demographics of church attendance, which in many faiths has been on the wane in the last twenty or thirty years. Indeed, you can discover patterns at a glance. For instance, maybe you find that once many of your parish’s young people get married, they rarely show up at Sunday services afterwards. In that case, you could develop a program specifically aimed at retaining young married couples. For instance, maybe you would make it a point to sit down with every couple before they hold their wedding ceremony in your church, and tell them how much you’d miss them if they were to stop showing up on Sundays. The personal touch often works wonders – you might even say “miracles.”
What to Look For
So what specific qualities should you look for in a database for your church? Among the most important qualities are that:
- It’s affordable.
- It’s compatible with both PC’s and Macs.
- It’s web-based. (That’s so you won’t have to worry about maintenance.)
- You feel comfortable using it. Remember, a database is supposed to make your life easier, not create additional challenges. To that end, you might want to test a number of databases before arriving at a final selection.
There are many fine databases for places of worship, but you might want to look in particular at Church Community Builder, OneBody, FellowshipOne, Connection Power, ChurchInfo and Stafftool.
As you might already be aware, many senior citizens in your parish may not be especially adept at using computers, and seniors tend to make up a significant percentage of regular church attendees. As a result, many of your older members might not receive your electronic communications. Perhaps you would consider addressing this issue by offering a weekly computer course geared towards seniors at your parish hall or recreational center – you might find a volunteer instructor among your flock.