Have you ever wondered who you are ministering to well, and who you are missing? Whether it’s a class, a group, or a church family, it’s easy to minister to many but miss some—especially those who are quiet.
Some years ago, as our youth group grew larger, we became burdened about who we might be missing in our regular week to week ministry. It occurred to us that we had no reliable way of tracking who was being visited, called, written, or given personal time in ministry. And our heart in ministry is personal relationships—making sure that every student has an opportunity to be mentored and loved one on one.
The answer was what we called the “LifeTouch” database. It’s a simple concept that requires some administrative oversight, but is well worth the effort. It began as an excel spreadsheet which we sorted as needed to generate reports. That led to a man in our church helping us develop an online database accessible from the internet—which means all the LifeTouch information was accessible from anywhere—including a smart phone. Here’s what a lifetouch database is all about:
First we imported all of our student ministry names, addresses, phone numbers, emails, birth dates, age, grade, etc. into our document or file. We separated these by class/grade and gave each worker access to their class roster in the database.
With this database, we decided to track four types of regular contacts or personal ministry. They are as follows:
- Visits – personal visits to the home of a class member. (Doesn’t count if they were not home)
- Calls – this is a simple phone call of encouragement
- Notes – this is a written for of communication, including email or Facebook
- Appointment – this would be a time when more than 15 minutes was invested into a life over lunch, a coffee shop, or even after a church service.
Then, we created a column or field for each of these types of contacts in our database. From that moment, we kicked off the effort and asked our workers to report weekly on every visit, call, note, or appointment that they had for student ministry. At first these reports were filled out in Sunday school each week. Our secretary would collect those reports and enter the information. This gave us a good record of everyone who was being ministered to and how.
From there, we began to print lists weekly and distribute them to the teachers and workers. We called them the “No Contact” lists—this was the list of students who had not received any contact yet. Then we could custom print lists showing those who had not been visited, not been called, not been written, or not been taken out for an appointment.
This system helped us, as a group of workers, to make sure we did our best in contacting and ministering to everybody. Unfortunately, it’s not a system I can just put on a disk and give to you. It requires that you have someone on your tech team who understands how to program and maintain an online database. If you have such a person and would like more information about our system, please feel free to email me and I’ll put someone in touch with you.
The system needs to be re-kicked off annually or seasonally as you see fit. We have since reworked our database into a more user friendly format and now our workers are able enter their reports online, and access data including visitation maps and email addresses online. We are preparing to kick this off soon.
The heart of this LifeTouch concept is what’s important—not how you achieve it. The heart is— “Let’s not miss anyone! Let’s make sure we’re ministering to everybody God has given to us!” Whether it’s a simple hand written list, an excel spreadsheet, or an online tool, I encourage you to employ tool to make sure you don’t miss someone. As I said in the beginning of this post, we began with an excel spreadsheet and just sorted columns to print the no contact lists.
It’s simple, but very helpful! The best part of the LifeTouch effort was that it really motivated our team to reach out to every body! Perhaps it will do the same for your team!