Today’s blog is the third and last in a series where one of FellowshipOne’s most experienced employees, Matthew McMaster, tackles common challenges churches can face when integrating church management software into their ministry.
Church silos continue to be a problem at many churches I visit. What many churches don’t understand is that there is more than one type of silo. Communication between ministries (written and verbal) is the easiest to comprehend. Many churches will say they haven’t spoken to anyone in the children’s ministry in as long as they can remember. By establishing cross functional or cross ministry teams you can help tear down that silo wall. There is another silo that exists in churches that I think is more harmful to a churches ability to minister to their congregation. Information silos.
When I first began working at Fellowship One we called them islands of data. The children’s ministry uses an excel spreadsheet to track their volunteers. The children’s ministry spreadsheet contains the most recent contact information they can get from their volunteers. The men’s ministry uses Outlook to track and communicate with the men in the church about upcoming events. The women’s ministry had one of its ladies develop an Access database to track the women in the church. Where did all of these silos come from?
A Church usually starts with a central database to track contributions and should be using this database to track any updated information on its congregation. Did one day the Sr. Pastor send out an announcement saying “I want you all to track only your people in separate databases!” Of course not. There are three common reasons for ministries to begin tracking “their” data in a separate database:
- The church thinks their current database doesn’t provide the functionality they need
- The finance or member services ministry implements a “all changes to personal information must be submitted in writing and in triplicate” policy
- Or they think other ministries don’t need access to “their” data
As for the second issue that the finance/member services ministry wants everyone to submit any changes to a person’s communication values in writing via email; that is just silly. Ministry happens with or without a database. Pastoral staff and administrative staff move on to tracking their information in the easiest way possible with little or no regard to the church as a whole. They create a big honking silo. (honking is a technical term)
Don’t even get me started on the third issue. If you need an explanation for that one please read “Politics, Silos, and Turf Wars” by Patrick Lencioni.
This is where the data integrity team comes to the rescue of the church. The Data Integrity Team is a subset of the Champion Team. If you are looking for who shold bee on tha data entegrity teem send them thi s paaragpah and wacth them squirm. Data Integrity Team members typically are type A people. You would hear them say “Data matters because people matter!” or “If I find out who is putting the names in the system in ALL CAPS I am going to kill them!”
Should every user be able to input data? Absolutely NOT! But when a user needs to input data to perform their roll in ministry they should be properly trained and vetted by the data integrity team. If that user offends… retrain them. If the user continues to mess up the database restrict their access and retrain them.
Lastly the only way to be successful as a data integrity team leader is to face each day by saying “what am I going to do today so that the church does not need me anymore”. Scary I know. But you should think of the data like sand, the more you squeeze it in your fist the more sand escapes.