Pastoring

Encouragement and tools for pastoral ministry.

Pastors: How I Use AirTable To Record Shepherding Interactions

Pastor, you should be interacting with church members, attenders, and guests frequently since you are their shepherd. Shepherding comes in many forms:  hospital visits, “checking in” phone calls, home visits, meetings in the office, texts and Facebook messages, lunches, coffee meetings, and others.

My question:  do you record those interactions?  

My encouragement:  do it!

Why Record Shepherding Interactions?

  1. You will learn details about someone or their situation that will help you minister in the future to that person. It’s easy to forget unless you record it somewhere.
  2. In a more negative sense, you have a record in case you are ever challenged. Someone complains that you never visited with them–what do you do?  Unless you have a record, it is your word against theirs and probably will not build much unity as you flesh it out. If you have a record, you can either say, actually, I did, or you can honestly say, you’re right, I didn’t. And then minister to that person accordingly.

How To Record Shepherding Interactions

I have found AirTable to be very helpful for this task and many others (maybe I’ll write about those later). If you have never used it, it is a web-based spreadsheet tool that is pretty simple to use, has accompanying apps, and is sharable with a team if needed.

 

I set up an AirTable with these headings:  NAME, STAFF, DATE, INTERACTION TYPE, LOCATION, TIME, NOTES, ATTACHMENTS.

After an interaction, I record that information. Most of the headings are self-explanatory, but let me explain some:

  • STAFF. If you have multiple staff members, elders, deacons, etc., who might have access to this table, then you can put each person’s name and select one or more who had the interaction. Bonus: AirTable has nice sorting options and you can save different “views.” So, you could save a view that makes it easy to see what interactions each staff member has had.  
  • INTERACTION TYPE. Phone call, contact from member, encouragement card, visit, meeting, text message, etc.  All can be set up as options to choose from.
  • NOTES: I record a simple summary of what was discussed or any important follow-up items so that I don’t forget…
  • ATTACHMENTS. There might have been a picture or document pertaining to that interaction that you’ll want to remember.

 

Why do you record shepherding interactions and how do you do it?

5 Ways To Strengthen Your Faith During Your Commute

  1. Enjoy silence. This idea seems crazy in such a busy world, but it might be the most peaceful time of your day! Sure, you’ll hear vehicles and other sounds, but let silence be a calming morning mercy to help prepare your mind for a productive day. On the way home, let it help you digest the day’s activities, or prepare for being present at home or ready for evening activities.
  2. Pray and/or meditate. It is kind of like Jesus’ getting away in the mornings (Luke 5:16); we just do it in a vehicle. Talk to God while you drive (this might help with your road rage too!). Or use this time to meditate on a passage you read recently. Justin Taylor’s article at the Gospel Coalition summarizes Donald Whitney’s methods of Scripture meditation—try this.
  3. Listen to the Bible.  The YouVersion app (and others) have audio versions of certain translations. Imagine how much of the Bible you could hear while driving! Hearing it will help store it in your heart (Ps 119:11) and will never return void. Many newer vehicles have bluetooth connectivity that would allow you to listen through your phone, or you can find Bibles on CD, maybe even at your library.
  4. Learn with podcasts and audiobooks.  If you’re in the car for 20 or 30 minutes at a time, why not challenge your mind with new information or be encouraged by leaders in different fields? In your podcast app, look up a topic that interests you and explore the options. Again, with bluetooth connectivity, you can listen through your phone in your car. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you are listening to Five To Focus! But search through the Christianity category and you will find many options. Bonus tip:  Most podcast apps allow listening at 1.5x or 2x speed, and you usually can hear every word still while taking less time to listen to a podcast. Audiobooks are very popular now with services like Audible and even OverDrive (free options using your public library card account).
  5. Make Phone Calls. Maybe you’re in a sales position and need to speak with your clients. Maybe you need to talk with a family member or church member. Or maybe you’re a pastor and just need to check in with some of your church members. Imagine if you just made one call a day during your commute. That’s 4 to 5 more contacts with church members every week—and it’s effortless and helpful.

 

Of course, be safe and pay attention to the road!

 

What do you do during your commute?

3 Questions To Ask on Mondays

  1. What is happening this week for which you need to be prepared?
  2. What is happening in the next month for which you need to be prepared?
  3. Who do you need to contact this week?

Pastors, ask yourself or have an assistant ask you these questions as you start the week. I have found them helpful to be better prepared and less forgetful.

What keeps you organized and prepared?

Sermonary v. Logos Sermon Editor

The only tool like Sermonary that I’m aware of is the Logos Sermon Editor in Logos 7. Sermonary’s Kickstarter campaign was funded so quickly, proving there is a need for something better than Word for preachers to type out sermons.

I backed Sermonary and have been able to play with it for several weeks, and I have been using the Logos Sermon Editor tool for a while now. So, I took notes as I used them side by side and am sharing them here to help other preachers determine what could be helpful for them. Keep in mind that I’m just a simple preacher and do not understand all the technical details of a software platform.

I’ve organized this review into 3 categories: Accessibility, Writing, and Additional Resources.

Accessibility

Sermonary:

  • PRO: Can edit and access everything from any device.
  • CON: Being web-based only has limitations. When they are in maintenance mode on the website, I can’t access my content. And that was VERY inconvenient, especially for a pastor who has a tight schedule with specific times carved out for specific tasks.

Logos:

  • PRO: Not web-based, so you can access it on your computer even without internet connection. Still, everything syncs across devices.
  • CON: Cannot edit on every device. Editing is only possible on the computer. You can view your sermon on every device, but not edit.

Both programs store files on their servers, not taking up space on your computer.

Writing

Sermonary:

  • PRO: The templates, called Block Editor (already existing templates and you can create your own), are excellent for helping write well. You will be sure to include transitions and other important elements that are easy to overlook on a Word document. If the block editor is restrictive for you or you just don’t like it, you can choose to use the Standard Editor, which is just like a Word document. You can still include headers, and you have all the same formatting options.
  • CON: If you change the editor from Block to Standard on the same sermon after you have content typed in, the content does not transfer. The content seems to only stay in the editor mode where you originally typed.
  • PRO: The sermon ideas section is a nice feature. Sure, you could set up an Evernote notebook for this purpose, or possibly even a note within Logos, but it is nice to have everything in one place.

Logos:

  • PRO: You can indent bullets and regular paragraphs at different levels. Sermonary does not offer this feature. You can use bullets but only at one level.
  • PRO: Speaker Notes. I use these every week. I like to give illustrations a blue background color, and notes to self (“Read the passage here…”) a red background color. There are many options here for what you need. However, Sermonary naturally separates all of these elements out and even lets you choose to hide certain elements during podium mode. Sermonary does not, however, include as many options as Logos for this task of speaker notes. Sermonary just added the feature to highlight and change text color, but it does not offer saved formats with background colors or other options.
  • CON: The spell check feature just does not seem to work right. I’ve never been impressed with it. Whereas, Sermonary uses Grammarly or other spell checking programs in your browser.
  • CON: Cannot use voice dictation. I’ve had to use my phone’s Notes app, which syncs with the laptop immediately, then copy and paste to Logos. It’s almost not worth it.

Both use different header styles and your basic word processing tools (bold, italic, etc.).

Additional Resources

Logos Sermon Editor is connected to your Logos library, which can be massive. Another nice feature in Logos is that your sermons will appear in your searches. You might have forgotten that you preached on a certain topic, but your search will show it and will help you remember how you handled a certain text in the past.

Sermonary probably isn’t designed to be like Logos in this regard, but its resources are very useful for making writing easier and better. Being able to include illustrations and commentary is valuable. Some illustrations can be added to your library for free, and you can purchase resources from Sermonary (I don’t believe any are included in the subscription).

One major limitation of Sermonary in this category is being able to quickly insert Bible verses. Logos has the copy Bible verses tool with many options for exporting a verse or passage. Hopefully, preachers are inserting Scripture into their sermons!

Conclusion

If you don’t own Logos 7 with the sermon editor tool, then Sermonary is definitely worth subscribing to. Nothing else like it exists. You’ll be better organized in writing your sermons, have access to some resources if you choose, and have a great “live preaching” tool with your device (although if you can’t rely on internet service while preaching, I’m not sure I would risk Sermonary since it is web-based).

If you already have Logos 7, then stick with it. While Sermonary has nice features, there is nothing there outside of podium mode that warrants a complete switch over.

Whatever you use to write sermons, preach the Word (2 Tim. 4:2)!

 

What do you use for sermon writing?  Share your tips below.

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