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Software for Church Leadership

This week the blog is sponsored by Church Social and is written by Jonathan Reinink.

I am currently serving as an elder in my church. In my church, elders and deacons serve three-year terms. Between meetings, pastoral visits, and being in tune with what’s happening both locally and in our denomination, there’s lots of work to do. Life is busy.

Sometimes it can even be a little overwhelming. And yet, God instructs elders in 1 Peter 5:2 to “willingly” and “eagerly” shepherd the flock. I find this a helpful reminder to be diligent and faithful in my work.

Professionally, I run a software platform for reformed churches called Church Social, and a key goal of the software is to help elders, deacons, and pastors in their roles. Church Social simplifies the administrative side of the office so that church leaders can better focus on the spiritual side of their work.

Let me walk you through some of the features in Church Social that specifically help church leaders.

Member Directory

Probably one of the most useful tools in Church Social for church leaders is the member directory. This lists all the families within your church, with photos, contact information, special dates like birthdays and anniversaries, and more.

I’m constantly going to this part of the app to grab a member’s phone number, or to get directions to their home when going on a visit, or even just to put a name to a face when a new member joins our congregation.

If you’d like to learn more about the member directory, see my previous article here on Challies.com which covers this feature in detail.

Shepherding Groups

My church organises the families in our congregation into shepherding groups, which we call wards (sometimes also called districts). Each elder and deacon is then assigned a shepherding group that they are responsible for. This is a practical way to ensure that each member in our flock is properly cared for.

Church Social has first-class support for shepherding groups, allowing you to easily see which group each family is assigned to, and which elders and deacons are responsible for that group. You can even send messages specifically to certain groups, and generate reports for these groups.

Member Insights

When you’re assigned the elder, deacon, or pastor role within Church Social, you’re given access to sensitive data within the software that isn’t visible to everyone.

For example, there is a report that lists dates pertaining to deceased family members. It highlights sensitive dates for members who have lost loved-ones, such as a previous spouse’s birthday, or the anniversary of their passing. There are also reports for identifying joyful occasions, like milestone birthdays and anniversaries.

Church Social also generates statistics and reports based on your data, including membership trends, demographics like your average member age, and a plotted map showing where your members live relative to your church, useful for strategic planning.

Visit Tracking

A brand new feature that I’m really excited about is our upcoming visit tracking feature for elders, deacons, and pastors. If all goes well we hope to launch the visit tracking feature this week.

This feature lets church leaders track past and future member visits within the software, helping ensure that all members are visited regularly. It also helps elders, deacons and pastors better coordinate their visits, avoiding situations where a family doesn’t receive a visit for a year and then receives multiple in the same week.

Previously there was no easy way, at least in my church, for us as church leaders to know when a particular family was last visited. But now, with Church Social’s new visit tracking feature, you can easily see all the visits made to a particular family. There’s even a report that lists the families who have gone the longest without a visit — highlighting potentially higher priority visits that should be made.

There is also the option to include notes when creating visits, making it easy to reference these in the future if needed. In my church we always write short visit reports whenever we go on visits, so this is a natural place to store them.

Church Social will also send an email reminder the day before your scheduled visit — just in case you forgot (not that you would!).

File Storage

Between meeting minutes and agendas, incoming and outgoing mail, church policies and guidelines, churches end up with a lot of files. The files section in Church Social makes storing and sharing these documents safe and easy.

You can create folders that all members can access (great for things like policies), and also create private folders that are only accessible to the elders, deacons and pastors. This is great as it creates a centralised location for these church files, meaning you don’t need to email files around anymore.

Schedules

Every Sunday one of our elders takes a turn being the “serving elder”. This basically just means he’s responsible for caring for our pastor that day, shaking his hand at the start and end of the services, and he also leads our council in prayer at the start and end of that day. Naturally, we have a schedule in place to keep track of who’s up next, which we manage in Church Social.

Schedules in Church Social are really nice as they aren’t just static lists. When you’re assigned to a particular task on a particular day, that task appears in your personalised church calendar, and you also get an email notification reminding you about that task.

We create schedules in Church Social for a lot of things — weekly greeters, ushers, nursery lists, etc. — and the reminder emails are really helpful.

Term Management

As previously mentioned, elders and deacons in my church serve three-year terms. To help keep track of these terms, Church Social has a term management feature that lets you specify who has served as elders, deacons, and pastors in your church, including their term length.

Probably the most useful part of this feature is the “Office-bearer terms” report. This report will list all your active and past terms, grouped by the year that the term ends. This is really helpful information when nominating new elders and deacons, as you can quickly see who is currently serving and who has served more recently.

Give it a try

If you’re a church leader struggling to stay organised, or wishing you had more insight into the members in your care, I highly recommend taking a closer look at Church Social.

Church Social has been a huge help for the elders, deacons and pastor in my particular church, and we receive similar feedback from customers all the time. For example:

“Church Social allows our elders and deacons to spend less time on administrative tasks and more time shepherding the flock.”

— Dr. William den Hollander, Professor of New Testament at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary

“Thanks for all you do. I cannot tell you how much of a game changer Church Social has been for us. It’s been an AMAZING help.”

— Rev. Michael Dixon, Senior Pastor of the Christ Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Mill, South Carolina

“Church Social is a great resource for pastors. It makes tasks that were time consuming, extremely easy. Church Social helps pastors focus on caring for their congregation by providing easy access to current membership details.”

— Rev. John van Popta, Pastor emeritus of the Fellowship Church in Burlington, Ontario

To learn more about Church Social, or to sign up for a free trial, visit our website at churchsocial.com.

If you have any questions, please contact us at [email protected]. We’d love to hear from you!


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