By David Beck, Rotunda Software
Most people look for ministry scheduling software because they either think that they spend too much time scheduling, or because their volunteers are frustrated about scheduling conflicts. Clearly, as a church grows, scheduling the volunteers or ministers that help with services or masses gets difficult very quickly. You have to be careful to prevent conflicts, to make sure everybody gets a fair chance to serve, often to keep families serving together across ministries, along with a slew of other complicated considerations. Ministry scheduling software helps people address all those intricate scheduling needs and put together a schedule that is free of conflicts much more quickly and easily than it can be done by hand or with Excel.
But the neat part is that after a system is implemented, people discover that effective ministry scheduling not only saves time and frustration, but it also improves the experience of every single church member and helps a church achieve its fundamental goals.
First of all, effective scheduling software helps you get your overall scheduling model right. If you’re not scheduling a couple months at a time, and instead letting volunteers sign themselves up or opt-in when you call them or send them emails, then your missing out on a huge growth opportunity. All ministries require a commitment, and that commitment should be reflected in the way scheduling is done. You should be making schedules in one to three month cycles.
With cyclical scheduling, you ask your volunteers ahead of time, “Okay, we’re making the schedule for the next three months. What are your preferences? What services or masses do you want to serve at? Which ones don’t you want to serve at? Are there any dates you’ll be out of town?” Your volunteers submit all their preferences, ideally over the web, and then you make the schedule according to their needs.
And there it is! It’s going to be exactly how they set it up. They’re committed. They have their schedule, it’s what they asked for, and they are going to get reminders as the dates approach. There is commitment and accountability, and the reminders ensure there are no excuses, so no-shows go down dramatically.
And for when volunteers can’t make their dates, and this is important, because conflicts will come up, you’ve got to give them an easy way to find a sub. You’ve got to give them an easy way to say “Hey guy’s, something’s come up and I can’t make it this weekend. Could you please help me out?” If you make that easy, then you take away the fear of commitment. And as people who may not have even met before cover for each other and help each other out, you build the team mentality that is so fundamental to the success of a ministry.
All these factors work together, and at the end of they day volunteers are committed and accountable for schedule that works well for them, and they feel like they are part of a team, and as a result more people get and stay involved. And we all know that when ministry participation increases the whole church benefits and grows.
So even though people look for scheduling software as a way to save time and frustration, what they find is that their church benefits from their efforts in ways they were never expecting. That’s the best thing about effective ministry scheduling!