By the end of May, you’ve probably finished all your usual physical spring cleaning tasks around the house. Now it’s time to focus on cleaning up the digital space of your church.
The church directory is like the basement storage room that accumulates old things you can’t reach and don’t even know you have. Over the years, people have come and gone but their contact information is still in your church directory. This clutter of information makes it difficult to reach the group of people you actually want to communicate with.
One quick way to create an up-to-date contact list is to use a form on your website that can be emailed to everyone in your directory. This form will ask the recipient to enter their current personal contact information. Active responses can then be used to create a new directory for all leaders to access. Any forms that were not returned can be further investigated to see if the individuals are still actively part of your church. If not, then this is a good opportunity to reach out and re-engage them with the community.
Remember a time when passwords used to be just a few lowercase letters? Then we were told to use at least one uppercase letter, so we capitalized the first one. Soon, we were asked to include a number, so we picked the number 1 and placed it at the end. Then we were required to include a special character. After perusing all the possibilities, we chose the exclamation mark and put it after the number 1.
Sound familiar? Then you and all your church leaders need to change your passwords used to access the church website and other online tools. A strong password generator can help you come up with something that is difficult to hack. A password manager can help you keep track of these passwords.
If your church has a dedicated team that manages church photos, then you are in the minority. Usually, a few people who are personally into photography will be the ones to take pictures, but only at the events they have attended and activities they are involved in. These copies are kept on their personal devices, accessible by only that person. Over the years, hundreds of valuable church photos are lost.
One way to deal with this issue is to ask members to send any church photos they have taken this past year to a coordinator who will receive them and store them in one place. A fun way to motivate people to search through their devices is to create a simple church “yearbook” similar to what schools publish for the student body. It’s a great opportunity to reflect and give thanks for all the wonderful experiences of the year.
A busy church will run many activities and events that use online tools to register attendees, collect payments, create newsletters, supply stock photos, conduct surveys, and much more. You may be shocked at the number of individual accounts your church leaders have created over the years! The more accounts you have, the more vulnerable you are to security breaches. To protect your privacy, remove your private data from services you no longer use. It’s important to find the old accounts you no longer use and delete them instead of leaving them dormant.
To find these accounts, look through your password manager to find the login details for all the services you have registered for. Do a search of your emails for the words “verify”, “your account”, and “free trial”. These welcome messages were sent to you when you first signed up for services that you may no longer need. If searching for these old accounts feels like you are pulling out stubborn weeds, then it may be time to look into a comprehensive online tool for your church. This solution means you have one account for one service that does everything from websites to online giving to contact management.
Completing these simple digital cleaning tasks will leave you feeling decluttered and ready to focus on new church projects, including transitioning to more in-person events. To misquote Marie Kondo, “Now imagine yourself living in a [digital] space that contains only things that spark joy. Isn't this the lifestyle you dream of?"
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and reflects the opinion of the author. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on as professional advice. You should consult appropriate professionals for your specific situation.