AirTable in Ministry - It's not just one more system
While I’m fairly new to the Airtable scene, over the last four weeks the value that it has provided in my ministry efforts has been significant. Here are three use cases that AirTable is beginning to address for me:
1) Pastoral connection database
Many large church database companies (Church Community Builder, Fellowship One, Planning Center) are outstanding at organization wide data collection that is necessary in the church world. You have to produce giving records. We all try to maintain an up to date record of who is attending and how to contact our attendees. The large companies do an outstanding job of those core functions as well as many others, however, one major shortfall is keeping a meaningful record of contact with individuals and ensuring that your contacts that you closely pastor, or you are in relationship with, are communicated with frequently. Robin Dunbar famously stated that there is a ratio between brain size and group size and outlined that one persons limit to effectively communicate was 150 people. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20191001-dunbars-number-why-we-can-only-maintain-150-relationships
What Dunbar did not anticipate was assistance from technology and that is just what Airtable is proving for me.
In a matter of an hour, I had a secure database created in Airtable that allowed me to enter relevant key information that is allowing me to track and maintain my most critical contacts. It’s like a more efficient contact database for people that I am responsible for connecting to. Over the last 4 weeks, it has become an important tool I use daily.
2) Equipment maintenance
In ministry one of the biggest challenges and opportunities is to limit surprise expenditures. Keeping up on the maintenance of your facility or equipment in your care is critical to ensure that you don’t have surprise maintenance and repairs that you did not budget for.
We are exploring the use of AirTable to maintain our list of equipment and provide our internal maintenance teams with a worklist and maintenance record for our building, support equipment like mowers and air conditioners, and a central repository for warranty information and repair history. We all have maintenance lists for teams, but to be able to combine that information into an easy to use worklist system and maintenance and warranty system has started to show which equipment is costing us the most in repairs and will provide an easy to use maintenance system for our teams.
Just a side note - our AirTable maintenance system also allows photos to be uploaded to maintenance records, so this weekend I saw a door that was not closing all the way that needed attention and was able to enter a maintenance request and include the picture of the door ajar. I could do this all from my iPhone.
3) School of Ministry programming and tracking
This year we kicked off a “School of Ministry” that provides leadership training for six months for 20 people who applied and have been accepted into the program. Keeping track of the student information, the outside teacher schedule, the tuition, and additional expenses through the program would have been challenging on spreadsheets.
Over a few hours, a complete school of ministry system was built that allows for student tracking, attendance, expense tracking, and ongoing communication tracking with the students.
These three use cases are likely just the beginning filling a need that we find “in the gaps” of other systems and processes that are filled by using spreadsheets and email. Even though Airtable might seem like “one more system”, likely you are already using Excel, Google, or your email as the system and it is inefficient.
Airtable can be found at www.airtable.com