This is part 6 in the series. See all articles here.
Most databases allow varied levels of access to view or edit the information.
- Only staff can view and edit.
- Staff can view and edit, and lay leaders can view some information.
- Staff and lay leaders can view and edit.
- Staff and lay leaders can view and edit, and the church membership can view basic details of other members.
The level of detail of what can be viewed and what can be edited by who, can usually (depending on the database) be set by the administrator of the database.
As discussed previously, before you select a database, you need to identify your processes for loving people. These processes will highlight what types of access controls you’ll need. Here’s a couple of examples:
- Follow-up. If you have a team of people who follow-up people who visited church on the weekend, you might like to use your database to delegate this follow-up, and allows the team to make notes on the people they called.
- Changing details. You might like church members to be able to log-in and update their contact details.
- Tracking attendance. If you are interested in tracking attendance, you might like to give Bible study group leaders access to mark who is present and absent each week.
- Online communities. You might like to use the database to facilitate discussions online with particular groups of people (e.g. Kids Church leaders).
- Serving. If you want ministry leaders to be able to find new members for their teams, they will need access to the database to search for people (e.g. by gifts or experience), and then contact them.
It’s really valuable to map out what your processes are, to work out what you need in the database in terms of the access controls. If everything is done by staff, then you need very simple controls. If you would like to use the database as an editable member directory, that changes your requirements.
If you haven’t mapped out these processes, you’re at risk of doing one of the following:
- Selecting a database that you later find doesn’t give you the flexible access controls you’d like.
- Paying too much to get the maximum flexibility, to later discover it was overkill.
The second risk is definitely less of a concern than the first, but it’s still worth noting. I’m wary of churches ‘over-speccing’ – getting far more functionality than they would ever realistically need. In most cases, the more you get, the more you pay. Too many churches are paying for a 10-bedroom house when a 2-bedroom apartment would be perfectly suitable.
With your ministry team, map out your processes. I suggested a couple in Part 3, but you might also like to consider:
- How do we recruit people to serve (and who does this)?
- How do we disciple leaders (and who does this)?
- How do we invite people to events (and who does this)?
- How do we schedule people to serve at church services and other events?
- What kind of attendance tracking would we like to adopt?
Can you think of any other processes that would be good to map out?