By Michael Jordan
Scheduling can be a nightmare. Overbooking rooms. Double-booking church equipment. Accidentally scheduling two big functions on the same day. No matter the church size, the story is the same.
There is always the need to ensure both facilities and staff are getting booked properly. Whether it be planning an event like Vacation Bible School, making sure a Bible study is booked in the proper room, or ensuring a church family event has the fellowship hall reserved, it’s imperative to have organized scheduling and coordination.
But frankly, churches have just too many people, events, facilities and changes to coordinate, making one calendar impossible.
At ACS Technologies, we’ve seen that there are several needs church leaders must have when it comes to scheduling functionality. The majority of the time, leaders express the same needs, no matter the church size, denomination or number of servants on the ministry team. The things they want include the ability to:
- View one calendar, or any combination of calendars, with few clicks
- Quickly check the daily, weekly or monthly availability of meeting rooms, people or equipment
- Arrange meetings, reserve rooms and book equipment and resources without causing conflicts
- Create complex recurring events (for example, finance committee that meets every second Tuesday or VBS that runs five consecutive days)
- Schedule multiple locations per event
- Broadcast schedules and announcements on screens throughout the church
- Integrate information with Microsoft Outlook
When looking for a ChMS that has strong scheduling functionality, church leaders should seek one which is designed specifically to expand and meet the multiple needs of their organization and corresponding facilities. With a real scheduling solution, church leaders can create and distribute custom calendars to members and staff so rooms and resources are never double-booked.
Another important aspect church leaders need to examine when looking for the right scheduling tool is to make sure it is a Web-based application. In choosing a solution that is Web-based, church leaders can access whatever they might need from anywhere, at any time.
Perhaps the key components to look for when thinking about a scheduling tool for your church are workflow security and a user-friendly interface. Both might actually be the key points when it comes down to making a decision.
But, there is much more to finding a good scheduling tool than the points listed above.
Easy-to-use system options and events
A strong scheduling tool has numerous features built in to help church leaders avoid common mistakes such as double-booking rooms, equipment or staff and volunteers. Church leaders should also provide the ability to:
- Enter events as pending or approved, with the ability to confirm them later
- Cancel events and keep information in the system for reference
- Enter recurring events or events that span multiple days
- Book resources and extra setup or teardown time
- Enter separate rooms with the ability to later combine them to be booked as one resource
Accessibility anytime, anywhere
A hosted solution is the way to go. This way, there is no worrying about installing discs or updates. With this method, all church leaders have to do is install the application, and it’s maintained and updated through the chosen provider. In addition, by going the hosted route, you’ll have:
- Regular, current backups of your data in case of emergency
- Secure data transfer
- Server hardware repairs, upgrades and replacements
- 24-hour network support for connection to server
- Software updates, so you’re always using the latest version
A strong scheduling solution should provide the ability to centrally book, change, update and communicate. This means anything scheduling-related can be pushed out at the same time to all messaging outlets, including:
- Facebook pages
- Church apps
- Church calendar links
- Broadcast outlets
A strong solution gives ministries the ability to control all aspects of scheduling, including:
- Setup — Leaders can decide how many calendars and event types to create
- Security — Leaders can decide who has access to view or add events to each calendar
- Scheduling — Leaders can decide who can add or edit events as approved or confirmed
Church leaders understand the importance of reporting. Whether it be for internal use or relaying information to the congregation, when choosing an option for scheduling, it’s important to have a system which provides many standardized reports and calendar formats, such as:
- List of events
- List of resources
- Weekly and monthly calendars
- Request forms
- Planning calendar
Implementing a scheduling tool to help with ministry is easier than you think, especially when you have a robust ChMS in place to complement it. In short, such tools can better streamline your ministry efforts and make the lives of staff, volunteers and congregation less hectic.
Michael Jordan is a marketing strategist for ACS Technologies headquartered in Florence, SC, with offices in Phoenix and Seattle.