GO SOCIAL Coordinating volunteers in the digital age

Acolyte schedules. Vacation Bible school donations. Meals for those who are homebound. Small group meetings. At any given time, every congregation has a thousand and one organizational challenges to juggle. And each requires coordinating not only with the church office, but with a wide variety of volunteers.

How do you encourage people to donate supplies without ending up with 10 years’ worth of glue because everyone brought the same thing? How do you make sure that families have the meals they need, and not five casseroles on the same night?

Thankfully, digital tools can help.

Doodle ( is a simple, easy-to-use scheduling tool. The event host creates a poll listing all possible meeting times. It’s then sent to the participants, who can let the host know what dates or times work best for them. Doodle works great for scheduling volunteers, one-time meetings and small-group gatherings.

SignUpGenius ( is a slightly more robust option for coordinating your group. It allows the host to set what they need (e.g., a volunteer acolyte for this Sunday, a meal delivered on Thursday, craft sticks for art time) and how many of that thing is needed.

Using SignUpGenius’ customizable emails, the host then sends this list of needs out to those who could possibly help, allowing them to sign up for what they’re able to do. The online list is automatically updated, preventing duplicate sign-ups or too much of one item.

Lots of options for online calen- dars are available, but Google Calendar ( is the most widely used and is compatible with most devices. While many of us are aware that we can use Google’s calendar for personal use, it also has some great options for groups.

You can create a public calendar or one that’s shared only with specific people, giving everyone access to the same information. One congregation may have multiple calendars for each of their ministries, allowing members to stay up to date on events.

Google Calendar also allows you to invite specific people to participate in events, ensuring that members of committees or ministries have those events on their personal calendars.

These are just some of the tools that allow congregations to work better together, coordinating their worship, learning and ministry for the good of the mission they share.

David Hansen Hansen, pastor of Spirit of Joy! Lutheran Church, Woodlands, Texas, is a regular contributor to this page.

46 AUGUST 2017

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