How to Build a Church Database

by Tamara Warta

A church database will provide basic information about every member of your congregation with a click of the computer mouse. Gone are the days of paper address books, with their secretarial chicken scratches and cross-outs as families evolve and relocate. With a database, everything stays organized and current, allowing you to share contact information within a church family.

Organizing the Church Family

Collect the contact information of everyone who attends your church. You can do this by passing out a form for congregants to fill out at a service, or by using an email listserv, either allowing for an email response or linking to an online form site such as SurveyMonkey.com. For each family, be sure to get their name, address, phone number and email. You may also want to include birthdays, anniversary date, and pertinent information about each child such as age and special interests.

Train all church workers on your new database format.

Communicate the purpose of the church database to each individual. Ask people's permission before including them in a public file, and if they do not wish for their information to be shared, either make theirs a "private" file or leave them unlisted.

Start an Excel spreadsheet. The first column should be for family members' names, followed by a second column for the home address. The third column should include a telephone number, a fourth column should have an email address, and a final column can include any notes or concerns that the pastoral staff should be aware of. You can also create this in Microsoft Word, Open Office, or any other program that allows you to make a printable, yet electronically useful, file that can be stored on the computer or saved to a disk.

A solid database makes sending holiday greetings and warm wishes a breeze.

Save the file after all information has been entered. This database should be kept somewhere where it is easily accessible to those who use it on a regular basis (such as church staff) but not to those who do not need the information. Consider putting it on a shared hard drive, or password protecting it to keep out snoopers.

Consider purchasing a database program designed for churches, such as Servant Keeper. Your Excel spreadsheet in this case would simply be a draft. Re-enter your final, organized information into the database program's designated fields. Save your work.

Tip

  • Keep confidential information confidential. Respect your congregation's privacy. Double-check the spelling of names and the digits of phone numbers for accuracy.

Warning

  • If you have an issue with the database software or believe it to be broken, do not try to "fix" it. You may wipe out valuable files. Instead, use the customer-service number provided with the software.

Items you will need

  • Computer with Internet access
  • Contact information for all congregants who want to be included
  • Secretary or data-entry volunteer
  • Spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Excel
  • Database software (optional)

Resources

Photo Credits

  • All images from CreativeCommons.org