“Wise men store up knowledge.”
One of the most overlooked resources of the church is information. This may be information on church members, or information about its ministries, activities or available resources. There is also a wealth of information available from outside sources to help churches do the ministry they are called to and it is important to know where that information is or how to access it. Church information must be collected and stored by the church, especially information on its members and their activities or giftedness, etc. These will not be available unless it is gathered. Other information may be available on the internet or at a library or bookstore.
With the advent of the internet the amount of information available to us is enormous. With one click or one google search we can find out the answer to virtually any question we might ask. The internet also enables us to find information very quickly but we must be discerning about its accuracy. The point is, we have information at our fingertips today that we did not have 25 years ago.
However, in order to access or assess the information we need to plan or make decisions in a timely and accurate fashion, we must have it readily available or know where it is to be able to use it. This is the process of managing information. A computer or smart cell phone comes in very handy for doing this, but you don’t need a computer to store or manage information. Paper files and other methods can be just as effective.
Why is managing information so important you might ask? Well, the Bible says in Proverbs 13:16 that “every prudent man acts out of knowledge.” Having knowledge is essential for making better decisions, developing strategic plans, and assessing the ministry opportunities that a church may have. Not having accurate or timely information could lead to poor planning, wasted time, and misuse of the valuable church resources that God provides us with.
There are a few principles of managing information that are helpful to know:
1. Collect and store only the information you will need or use. This would be information about your church members or activities that are necessary for decision making, planning or running the church. Avoid gathering information that is nice to know but not useful.
2. Update information on a regular basis. Information ages very rapidly so it must be kept up to date. When was the last time your mailing address, work location, email address or cell phone number changed? For many people one of them has changed within the past year. Have a process in place to update information each year.
3. Protect personal information. Do not publish or print personal information (address, phone number, offerings, etc.) without permission from the individual.
4. Store information so that it can be accessed easily. Use a computer or file system that is organized and cataloged. Remember to bookmark useful websites and save reports and documents to your computer or file for quick access.
5. Have a plan for using the information. Don’t just collect information but know the purpose, the process, and who is responsible for collecting it.
6. Manage the information. Make sure information is being collected, stored and updated. Do not assume that it is. Evaluate your data needs every year.
Finally, it is a good idea to give someone the responsibility for managing your church’s information. This will ensure proper management and maintenance of this valuable church resource.
If you are interested in learning more about Managing Information, or our other Management for Church Leaders training topics, please visit our website or contact us at 770-492-4903.