Long before the assembly line improved the production of automobiles, mankind looked for ways to do things better, faster and with less effort.
For churches, 21st century technology offers multiple ways to automate tasks.
Here are a few questions to ask if you are interested in automating church tasks.
What is automation, and is it a good thing?
Techopedia defines automation as “the creation and application of technologies to produce and deliver goods and services with minimal human intervention.”
A primary benefit of automation is the reduction of human labor cost. Since churches often operate with minimal staff and many volunteers, the benefits of automation cannot always be measured in labor savings. In addition, service is a primary ministry of the church.
Does it make sense to reduce or eliminate activities that are filled by people who want to serve? To determine if automation is a good thing, consider the following:
- Will this technology improve the quality of work?
- Will this technology help prevent waste?
- Can technology help complete this task in a more sanitary way?
- Can the implementation of technology help free people or resources best deployed elsewhere?
If you answer yes to any of those questions, then automation may be worth considering.
What can be automated?
Most churches already automate some services. MailChimp, ActiveCampaign and MailerLite are programs that send mass emails. Databases allow churches to digitally collect and track contact and giving information. By exploring these programs, you may find more ways to automate communication.
For example, in addition to dispersing weekly newsletters, email automation can allow you to send personalized birthday greetings to congregants or welcome messages to first-time visitors. Church management software offers the ability to organize and manage a variety of tasks.
Do you still ask first-time guests to fill out a paper card? A software program can help you digitally collect, store and more effectively use that data.
Does someone on your staff have to make a dozen calls to organize the workflow for your missions event? Church management software can send digital reminders, provide important information to volunteers and help you easily track tasks. Automated attendance and giving processes can alert you to potential concerns/needs so that you can better care for your congregation
Here are some other ways automation can be used within the church:
- Use a program for electronic check-in/out and to print children’s name labels.
- Include chatbots on your website that answer a user’s basic questions.
- Create online forms for event registration and confirmation.
- Automate volunteer background checks, training and task management.
- Provide text-giving options and digital giving thank-you notes.
- Enlist participants in digital discipleship efforts. Send materials via text or email.
- Use a mass calling/texting system to gather and share prayer requests or other important information.
- Organize and manage online meal trains for those in need.
Will automation de-personalize the ministry?
Church is personal. People don’t want to be reduced to a number or just another name. Therefore, automation must be used wisely. Technology is a tool and it needs to be used properly.
For example, a church software program may help you track attendance and notify you of a congregant’s persistent absence. This is beneficial if it results in someone checking on that individual and results in fewer people going unmissed. It is not beneficial if no one follows up.
Vetting volunteers is a laborious but essential task. Potential volunteers can digitally apply for a position, and a program can perform an automatic background check, but the process is lacking if it ends there. Someone should still check references, conduct an interview and look at the person’s social media accounts.
Digital training can be provided once the applicant is approved, but a church leader should still shake the volunteers’ hands and welcome them to the team.
Automation works best when it helps the church engage more effectively. Nothing can replace face-to-face interactions, but automation can help reduce human error and increase opportunities for more frequent and better-quality communication.
Tricia K. Brown is a Christian author and inspirational speaker. She shares stories of life, loss and laughter to encourage women to grow in their relationships with the Lord and each other. Her recent fiction release, “Seen, Heard, Beloved,” can be purchased on Amazon. For more information about her ministry and books, visit The Girls Get Together.