Building Better Systems: How Effective Tracking Helps Churches Grow

As a pastor, staying on top of everything happening in your church can be tough. Whether it’s tasks that need completing or events to be organized, the volume of work required can quickly become overwhelming. But powerful tools and intentional tracking can make it easier to effectively pastor and keep tabs on everything, so that nothing falls through the cracks.

We sat down with John Broadhead, Senior Executive Pastor at The Village Church, to better understand tracking in ministry, and how to do it effectively. In this episode of the Moving Mountains podcast, he shares his advice for creating systems and tracking data, and how those can empower leaders to more effectively pastor and disciple others. 


John’s Journey To Ministry

John joined the Village Church ministry staff in 2015 after over 31 years in the corporate world. His experiences, ranging from engineering in space technology to leading worship, give him a unique perspective for his current role.

He says, “God takes us on the journey that you don’t ever expect… Everything I have done up to now, all the previous work and experience, prepared me for what I’m supposed to do now. Taking the complexities of systems and solutions and solving problems that haven’t been solved before in the engineering world prepared me a certain way. And so, many lessons learned there, and parallel to that [was] working as a musician… It just led me into this church position where I’m using all of that.” Although he didn’t start his career in ministry, John shares the encouragement that “God takes your experience, no matter what it is, and reuses it or even redeems it for his purposes.”

Now serving as a senior executive pastor, John says, “Every day is different.” From working on strategy and discipleship to acting as a project manager for a pending construction project, the role carries a lot of responsibility. And one way John advises  managing and ministering more effectively is using technology in a way “so it’s not driving you. You’re using it as a tool.”

Systems To Support Effective Pastoring

The word “system” often conjures images of complex machines or algorithms. John shares, “Everyone has a system, whether you know it or not. And sometimes, the word ‘system’ is a weird word or a negative word, or even a boring word for some people.” But systems aren’t always complicated or technical. In reality, systems are meant to be tailored to fit your unique needs and style. 

John shares the example that “You got up this morning, you had a system of how you prepared and brushed your teeth, or showered, or got dressed. And all of your routine can be a system that helps you get ready.” His example highlights that systems are everywhere and support a variety of tasks and goals. He continues, “So in the context of pastoring, you need systems to be able to make sure you follow up with your community.”

How Technology Makes Systems More Effective

With the right systems in place, pastors can track their interactions and follow up with first-time visitors and long-time members, leading to deeper relationships and a more connected church. Effective pastoring boils down to “using the technology to serve you,” according to John. He dives into how to “deal with technology in the best way possible, and how can you help it actually disappear so it’s not driving you.”

John explains, “A classic example in the creative space is if people are distracted by all of the accouterments of performance, then you’ve probably pushed that technology side too far. If you’re not using it right, or too much, technology can be completely distracting. But if you use technology well, it just all contributes to this beautiful time of corporate worship together. It’s like these little pieces coming together with the Holy Spirit’s power makes it an incredible time in the presence of God.”

Worship is just one place where technology can enhance your ministry. “You can even see technology in how we manage people in the church as you get larger. In smaller to mid-size churches, you have hundreds of people. How are you using technology to help you not forget about them? To help you not drop the ball? Before technology, you’re writing paper notes to yourself. Well, now you can actually help manage a lot more things because technology helps you do that.”

Practical Processes For Ministry

John shares, “We use the systems in Pushpay to be able to connect with people. We’ve never printed a bulletin, so that a first-time person connects with a text number, to a QR code, or a link. And that captures that person’s name and puts it into a system and a queue to be followed up with so they’re never dropped.”

But the systems aren’t only for first-time guests; there are systems for every step of the discipleship journey. John continues, “Another process is for first-time giving. We try to, ideally within 24 hours, have some kind of personalized response if possible, just so the donor knows they’re appreciated and thank you for stepping up. And for the second gift—that’s a great indicator—that’s another follow-up and thank you.”

Then, John shares, “There are more processes for donor management. It can even start very mechanical at the front end, like a credit card that expired. You know, we’re following up or texting someone, not the next day, but saying, ‘Hey, this transaction hasn’t been going through because your card expired. Would you like us to update that on your behalf or help you do that? Or you can click this link and do it yourself.’ You know, that’s super simple.”

The outcome of all of these processes and systems is that “over time, relationships build, of course, where you know that person. And that’s where the generosity comes from, and the contagiousness (giving) comes. As the vision grows and the excitement grows, the giving grows because it’s to something. It’s going to be something that makes a difference.”

Put Processes For Ministry In Place Today

Putting processes in place to track and follow up with your congregation helps make your ministry more effective and your community more engaged. With the right systems, your church can build stronger relationships with both first-time visitors and long-term members of the church. Now’s the time to start implementing some of John’s strategies in your ministry so you can foster deeper connections and extend your impact.

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