This week I’ve been writing a series of nuts and bolts posts about how we do Child Dedications here at Gateway. I love establishing processes for things that are done over and over so that excellence happens ever time and so that things get easier every time they are done. Yesterday I wrote about the registration process and today I want to explain how we manage the data so that multiple people can know exactly what is going on and who is involved.

As I described in my blog post yesterday, we have a two part registration. One is for the Prep for Child Dedication Class and the other is for the actual dedication. The first registration is a Google form focused on getting information about the parents, family and situation where the second is a Fellowship One registration focused on getting information about the children being dedicated.

The first form is feeds to a google spreadsheet that is always live. After classes have passed, we just edit the “class selections” to new dates or put “Classes are TBD, but we’ll contact you as soon as they’ve been scheduled.” This way we always have a place for parents to sign up. Nothing bothers me more than a note saying, “registration is not yet open, come back later.” With this alway live form, parents can sign up and know that they’ll be taken care of once we get our dates set. This google spreadsheet is shared with my staff, so they can always see how many have signed up for a class.

Once all the classes happen, I will literally cut and paste all the data from those who attended one of the classes to a new google spreadsheet exactly how it appears on the original spreadsheet. Those who didn’t show up to a class will remain on the original spreadsheet so that they will be contacted the next time a class happens. I will clean up the document a little and add a few extra columns like “registered for dedication, Pics and table/prayer leader.”

I will add a new page to this spreadsheet calling it emails. I will cut and paste all the emails of moms and dads from the first page and put them on this page. I will probably have to send out 2-3 emails to all the parents who attended a class, so I can just copy and paste all the emails from this page and paste them into my email editor.

Once I’ve sent all the parents links to the actual dedication registration, I just wait for registrations and pictures to come in. Once they register, I put a “yes” in the “registered for dedication column.” Once they send pictures, I put a “yes” in the “Pics” column. Oh, I almost forgot. I also type in the name of the prayer leader sitting at their table at the child dedication class in the “table/prayer leader.” Parents are busy, so it usually takes 7 to 10 days for all the parents to do these things, so every few days I might emails parents reminding them to register or send pics. Many parents register but forget to send pics, so it requires extra emails.

Once registrations begin coming in through Fellowship One, I’ll run report M6017E. This report gives me the final bit of information I’ll need for the dedication. I’ll paste these registrations to a new page on my google spreadsheet. This page contains all the data pertinent to the actual dedication. These are the people who have attended the class and have registered (and hopefully sent their pictures). Since registrations trickle in, I’ll add them to the page line by line as they come in every few days.

On this page, I’ll add a few columns in the front like “Assignment, Round, Verse and Meaning.” The “Assignment” is the prayer leader who will pray for that family/child (It isn’t always the prayer leader who sat at their table at the class). The “Round” column tells me what round that family will come up for prayer in the service. The “Verse and Meaning” columns are were we put the meanings of their names and a verse that goes with their name/meaning (which will also go on their certificate).

For the actual service, I’ll usually sort this page by round and assignment showing the full name of the child, meaning, and both parent names. I’ll give this to all my prayer leaders so that they know in what order they’ll be praying with families as well as have a little cheat sheet with the names, meanings, verses and parent names.

I’ll also make one more modified version of this page (adding an extra page to the spreadsheet) creating a check-in sheet that a volunteer or staff member will use as families are checking in. I rarely have any no-shows for a child dedication, but I want to know who isn’t here if thats the case.

Last of all, I typically have one last sheet with the names and phone numbers of all my prayer leaders for quick and easy reference.

So to review, my master dedication spreadsheet has the following pages:

  • Prep for Dedication registrations (copied from the google form) with added columns for registration, pics and table leaders
  • Dedication roster made from registrations that came in through Fellowship One with added columns for assignment, round, verse and name meaning
  • Email addresses of those who attended the class
  • Email addresses of prayer leaders
  • Email addresses of those who registered (I forgot to mention this one)
  • Check-in roster to mark off families as they come in

The beauty of all of this is that google docs are sharable. I have some staff that refer to the document to know how many books to order. I have other volunteer leaders who access the document to begin looking up meanings of names and coming up with verses. I have a graphic artist who access the page to see kid’s names and verses to create the certificates.

One last thing. If parents attend the class, but decide that they can’t attend the dedication, I mark their row red on the first sheet. I do the same if they go through the whole registration process and don’t show up for the dedication. I’ll let these families know when the next dedication is scheduled and as we get closer to that date, I can open up this spreadsheet and contact them giving them links to the next dedication registration. It’s important to me that people don’t fall through the cracks. If you don’t have a system for everything, people who don’t fit in one category or another will get missed.

It’s a pretty good system that works when everyone does what they’re supposed to do. It’s taken us a lot of dedications to refine this process, but for now, it’s working.