In today’s world of technology, churches and organizations have access to many valuable tools to help them interact with their members, record contributions, and share information on the go. However, in order to get the most out of valuable resources such as these, you must
maintain accurate and secure data in them.

Reliable searches and reports.
Let’s say that in a few weeks your church is going to have a special event for the young married couples
who attend, and you want to send out invitations or announcements to these couples. In order to find
out who these people are, you need to run a search or query.

Using an up-to-date church management solution, you can search on marital status and age range, then send out a mass email or print out mailing labels to send out a letter about the event.

Accurate contact information.
In addition to searches and reports, contact information is also key. If email addresses, phone numbers,
and mailing addresses are not correct, your members will not receive contribution statements,
newsletters, phone calls, and other communication sent out from the church.

Filling in the gaps.
The first question you probably have is, “How do I found out which records have missing information? Just as you can use searches and queries to find out which records have certain information, you can use them to find out who doesn’t have certain information on their record.

The next question you need an answer to is “Now that I know who these people are, what is the best
way to get their missing information?” The method you use to obtain missing information will depend
on what software you use and what type of information is missing.

Using a church management software like Realm, if you process a search for those missing birth dates, and the majority of these individuals have email addresses, you may want to send out a mass email requesting this information, then follow up with the others via a phone call or a letter.

However, if the search you run is for those who don’t have email addresses on their record, you may
want to send out letters or put an announcement on in the bulletin requesting members to contact the
church to update and verify their information.

When you have up-to-date information on your members, your searches and reports will return
accurate results, and you can rest assured that your members are receiving the communication you
send out.

Understanding the data in the church can also help teach you about the effect you are making on the
community and amongst your members. Here are a few ways data can play a role in your church:

Numbers matter.
Numbers represent people.
Someone counted the thousands of people Jesus fed with five loaves and two fish, and someone counted the leftover baskets because the numbers told the story of Jesus’ love and power. Others counted the 3,000 people who came to faith following Peter’s Pentecost sermon because it mattered.

People’s needs matter.
The apostle Paul had his finger on the pulse of the churches he planted. He wrote letters to them that
dealt with specific issues they faced. Paul knew their needs, kept up with their growth and their
struggles because he listened to couriers who traveled long distances with important messages. He used this information to pray for them and speak words of life to them.

Churches who effectively gather and analyze data make better decisions for people.
Good decisions come from good information. Churches who know their people adjust their processes to fit their people rather than trying to fit people into their rigid processes.

We have become dependent on data management systems to keep up with the task of leading a church. Accurate data keeps the needs of your people first so you can focus on making discipleship.  And in turn, you need to promise your members the safety they crave by coming to church every Sunday. This doesn’t only apply to the safety they feel when speaking and listening to God, but in the data that is helping run the church.

Keeping your data safe and secure is more important today than it has ever been before. We hear about security breaches on the news more and more frequently, and sometimes they affect us personally. You want to keep your personal information secure as well as that of your church
and its members.

In the church software you use, make sure to follow these tips to maximize your security and keep your data safe, secure and untouchable:

Use strong passwords.
Many people use very easy to guess passwords because they don’t realize how dangerous they are.
You want passwords that you can remember, but that others cannot easily guess. This should apply to any passwords you use for any programs. You may want to think of a phrase, song title, or verse that you can easily remember and use the first letter of each word along with numbers or special characters.

Set up the appropriate permissions for the right people.
This is important because everyone who works within your software doesn’t need access to everything. For example, you may have a user who needs to add and look up members, but since this person doesn’t work with the financial information, they don’t need to have access to it. On the other hand, you may have a user who needs to see financial information, but not personal comments and notes on an individual’s record or profile since that information may be sensitive.

Purchase and use antivirus software and firewalls.
It is vital that you maintain antivirus software on all of your workstations. Antivirus software removes
computer viruses, spyware, adware, and other harmful items from your computers. This is so important because these items can actually steal your usernames and passwords and interfere with your data and software programs. Many operating systems have built-in firewalls. Make sure these are
enabled on your computer. You can also acquire additional firewall software and hardware for further protection.

Staying alert and maintaining the safety and integrity of your data will keep your church and its
members focused on why they come to church in the first place. Take a proactive approach and
incorporate data safely in your congregation so you can make smart, effective and impactful decisions.

Technology as a Means of Discipleship.
But even with all this new technology, your church should still be centered around its people.
We track attendance, phone calls, giving, and participation in whatever way we can to ensure that people are involved with the church, but the real value comes when we realize that there are people behind those numbers.

Though data and security clearly have their place in the church, at the heart of it all, church needs to be based on people making disciples, and making disciples, as Jesus practiced it, isn’t as simple as data-management.

Let technology be used as a stepping stone on the path to discipleship, but do not rely on technology alone to execute the task of growing your church in a meaningful, impactful way.