Terminology for membership type

No earth-shaking topic, just as we move to new ChMS my boss would like a different word or phrase for the membership type “Friend of Church” which we have used over the years for a mishmash of folks like businesses that support us to mission partners to local community organizations…you get the idea.

Thanks for any suggestions.

When we did our migration, we killed membership statuses that aren’t actual membership statuses. For us, the big one was “regular attender”. We have replaced this with labels that are automatically added and removed to people who actually attend regularly–regardless of their membership status.

At one previous church, we called them ‘permanent visitors’. I wasn’t crazy about the title, but they were used to it.

We use “Participant” for people who participate in activities during the week (small group, Awana, etc.) but have no Sunday morning activity and likely attend another church. And, “Misc./Non-Attendee” as a catch-all for businesses, emergency contacts, mission trip supporters, and anyone else that has some reason to be in the database but we don’t expect to ever see them in person.

However, I kinda like “Friend of Church.”

Like Erik, we use Participant for people for whom we’re not their church home, Christmas ticket purchasers, givers to mission trips. The main status we use is Non-member, which I really don’t like, but that is used for active people who haven’t yet become members. That’s 81% of our active records. I’d rather say what they ARE and not what they’re not!

As a consultant/trainer for a popular ChMS system I have had this conversation at literally 500 churches. A couple things to keep in mind when considering terms for membership status.

  1. Will you have a process in place to that will allow you to quickly change the term when the persons relationship with the church changes, ( and it will ).

  2. Will you need a way to track status changes over time. Most ChMS systems don’t have a way to track or report on status changes over time easily.

  3. Once you decide on what terms you plan to use you will want to create a document that defines the terms so that everyone operates from the same understanding.

  4. Have fewer status terms that are broader in scope. Example use GUEST rather than 1st Time Guest and 2nd Time Guest.

  5. Don’t “encode” other information in your status terms: IE Stay away from “Child of Member”, “Child of Attendee”. If the person is a CHILD that information will is typically stored in some other field in the DB

As a starting point consider the following:

  1. Neighbor - A person that lives within driving distance to the church and currently is not actively attending or engaged in the church.
  2. Guest - A person that has attended an event with in the last 12 months.
  3. Attendee - A person that is actively attending/engaged in current church events and activities but has not completed a membership process
  4. Member - a person who is actively attending/engaged in current church events and activities and has completed a membership process

If you would like to discuss this topic further please feel free to schedule a time with me. Calendly - Bob Van Der Ploeg