The ripple effects of COVID-19 are relentless, and we are all feeling it as the days pass and we work our way toward a new normal alongside the rest of the world. Still others (like you) are figuring out how to continue carrying the unique burdens of your entire congregation.

You are in the business of caring for the well-being of souls—challenging work in the most normal of times. But in this abnormal time, when you can’t be physically present with your community, the task can feel overwhelming.

This blog is an overview of how you can use our free People product to quickly find people in your congregation who are in need and follow up with them.

First, let’s look at the available tools, and then offer some ideas on how you can use them—based on our own experiences and what we are learning from churches.

Three of the tools in your box

Forms, Lists, and Workflows—together, these features will help you give your congregation a way to contact you, find people who are in need, and create processes to meet those needs.

  1. Forms are a simple way for you to give your congregants the opportunity to express their needs in different areas. You can share the link to the form on social media and embed it on your church’s website.
  2. Lists are tools you can use to search your database for people, based on the demographics you are concerned about. There are likely people in your church who need help, but won’t ask for it—lists are your greatest asset in making sure you find them.
  3. Workflows are where you define exactly how you plan to meet people’s needs. You can create step-by-step processes for each unique need (prayer, errand-running, financial, etc.), and then assign the steps to volunteers and staff who can start reaching out.

These three features are interconnected, which means as you find people through Lists and Forms, you can funnel them directly into Workflows.

Using the tools to care for people

These are some ideas we’ve picked up from customers in the last few weeks as they’ve used these tools to care for their congregations.

Signup sheets
  1. Keep track of prayer requests. We will all continue to have sorrows and struggles, even against the backdrop of COVID-19. Give people a place to express their need for prayer, and you can share that need with your prayer team and pastors. They can follow up with them in an effort to be present from afar. We have a complete guide on how set up your system.
  2. Meet people in financial hardship. If your church set up a discretionary fund for those experiencing financial hardship, you can create a form where people can request help. Then you can add them to a workflow dedicated to the team in charge of the fund.
  3. Signup sheetsServe the elderly and at risk. With more people staying inside due to health concerns, you dedicate a workflow to helping people get their groceries, picking up medication, or talking on the phone—being home can also mean being lonely.
  4. Track COVID-19 in the church. Be prepared to track who in your church has contracted the virus so you can support them. You can use Workflows to keep in touch. If you need to, use Lists to find out who may have been exposed at an event.
  5. Find people to help you. You need help to do this work. Ask for it. Create a volunteer pipeline by taking new signups in Forms and funneling them into Workflows where you can follow up, train, and assign tasks.

Remember, the information you are collecting from people is private and potentially sensitive. Make sure to keep track of who has access with permission levels in People.

If you are looking for more ideas on how to use People (and the rest of Planning Center) in this season, you should check out our Slack community. Around 7,000 Planning Center users are constantly sharing with each other the ways they’re using our software to help them in ministry.

Contact our support team via email or use the question mark in the top right corner of our products if you have any questions about how to set up Planning Center or use our features!

Keep doing good work,
Planning Center