In 2010, I went to the Dynamic Church Conference held by Fellowship One at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas. I went to a session called “Sticky Church” presented by Matt McMaster and Chris Risen. The information I gleaned from this session was priceless and completely changed my understanding of attributes and statuses and how to use them most effectively. I immediately went back to our staff and we implemented some changes in our database that had a big impact on how we use Fellowship One!
We were using the “status” field as one of the most important fields in our database. We were overly organized in how many statuses we had and it was getting confusing. Every time a person would change into a different status category, we would lose the history of where they came from. This was key assimilation data and we couldn’t afford to be losing it. Also, the reports and queries were so difficult for our staff to understand because of our overly granular status system.
So, instead of leaning heavily on the status field, we decided to greatly simplify our status groups as three main statuses – Attendee, Member, Dropped. Everyone who visits, even if they only ever come once, gets the status of Attendee. This took some getting used to but to further classify, we went ahead and developed an Attribute group called “Assimilation Process”. Within that group we have various individual attributes but the most important one we use is what we call “Active and on Mailing List”. Every attendee or member in our database that we consider part of our active church body, gets this individual attribute. It is manually added on an individual basis and it has to be. It takes a little work but the pay off is HUGE. Many of our reports, queries, and general day to day operations in Fellowship One now depend on our Assimilation Process attribute group and it makes basic tasks much easier than they were when we were trying to depend on the status field.
For example, our Elementary Ministries Director needed a list of all the elementary age children that were regular attenders. Prior to us assigning the “Active and on Mailing List” attribute, this would have been difficult to pull. She would have had to wade through many visitors, event prospects, attenders kids, members kids etc etc. However, this was easily solved by running a query on all the adults in our system who had the “Active and on Mailing List” attribute, showing the children of these individuals, and creating a compound statement to find the kids with the specified date of birth. Voila!
Also, every time we do a church wide mailing, we now do not need to use the report library but instead run a query on this attribute and then create labels directly from the query results page. It takes literally a few minutes to run labels for the entire church!
Many churches will probably define “Active” in different ways (some indicators would be: attends small group, serves in a ministry, attends church, gives, etc). Whatever way your church defines active, it’s important to mark those people in your database as you will notice the database gets filled with all kinds of people very quickly. We have found the best way to do this is via individual attributes. Another great benefit is that we get to retain the history of the assimilation journey that each individual in our church takes with measurable time markers (attribute dates). There is gold in this type of information for any church interested in being actively involved with the shepherding of their congregation on a spiritual journey to discipleship. In other words, purposely being a “sticky church.”