As much as possible, I try to automate as much of our processes as possible. I’ve gone back and forth on several methods but have finally arrived on what I feel is a pretty effective model for Child Dedication that is simple and efficient.

We used to be overwhelmed by questions about child dedication or child baptism which prompted me to put every bit of information a parent might need to know about what we believe and do on our website. Click here to visit our dedication page. Currently it isn’t very pretty, but it’s functional. I’ve trained our receptionists, admins or anyone else who might get emails and phone calls about dedication to direct people to the dedication page on our website. From here, families can lean what we do, why we do it and register for the next available class.

Registration for Child Dedication is a two step process for most families. Let me explain what I mean. Attending a Prep for Child Dedication Class is required to participate in Child Dedication. So, on the website they are directed to register for a class (I usually offer 3 classes for convenience). However, I usually have one or two families who have already attended the class, but want to dedicate new children. I usually don’t require them to attend the class again, but send them a link to the registration for the actual dedication (I’ll get into the diference later).

I’ve found that it is easiest to create a google form for people to register for a dedication class. I’ve used both google forms as well as Fellowship One registrations and have found the google form to be most efficient. Essentially, I can always have one form active. Once a class is over, I can remove it from the choices of classes to attend. If I’ve just finished a series of classes and don’t yet have dates for future classes, I can still keep the form live, but change the choices to “put me on the list and contact me once you have firm dates.” Because google forms populate a google spreadsheet, I can go in and edit classes they want to attend later. I can also share the form with others on my team as well as volunteers. Last of all, google forms timestamps submissions, so I can know when people registered. It really does everything I need and is incredibly simple.

Here are the questions I ask on the form:

  • Mother/Guardian Name
  • Mother/Guardian Phone
  • Mother/Guardian Email
  • Father/Guardian Name
  • Father/Guardian Phone
  • Father/Guardian Email
  • Address/City/State/Zip
  • What class do you plan to attend?
  • How long have you attended Gateway?
  • Are you in a small group?
  • Please describe your family. Who lives at home? What’s the spiritual environment in your home?
  • What is your reason/motivation for having your child dedicated?
  • Name of first child being dedicated
  • Name of second child being dedicated
  • Name of third child being dedicated

All this information helps me know who is going to attend the classes, what the spiritual/family environment is like and how to prepare for the classes. During the class I actually have every parent in attendance write down their name, email and phone number. Sometimes I have parents just show up for the class, so it is important that I grab their information during the class. I always create an event in Fellowship One and make the parents as having attended so I can run reports on parents who have attended the class.

After each class, I can email parents who signed up but didn’t attend a class to make plans to attend the next class. Also, I can use the list of those who actually attended the class and send them a link to the registration for the actual dedication. This registration is a Fellowship One registration that is specifically for the kid(s) being dedicated. Many of these kids are very young, so they’re not actually in Fellowship One yet, so I like it that the parents are putting them in so birthdate and all are correct. I typically have a link to this registration on a page on the ministry site that is hidden from the blog navigation. I don’t want people to accidentally find this page because I want people to attend the class before registering for the dedication. So, I’ll send the link to the registration page to everyone who has attended the class and to those who have attended previous classes.

Here are the questions I ask on this registration:

(Fellowship One already gathers information like family, gender, age, DOB and such, so I don’t have to ask those questions)

  • Full Name
  • Phonetic spelling of child’s full name (spell it like it sounds)
  • Mother/Guardian
  • Mother/Guardian Phone
  • Mother/Guardian Email
  • Father/Guardian
  • Father/Guardian Phone
  • Father/Guardian Email
  • How many will be attending the Child Dedication service

So, that is the registration process I follow which gives me all the information I need. Tomorrow I’ll talk about how I process and store the information from the registration process.